Being an artist isn't enough

October 30, 2012

I love creating jewelry.  A great day is when I get to spend time in the studio- even if I'm just sorting beads.  But hiding out in my studio and making art isn't enough.  Apparently, I have to go sell it, too!  And I'm not a salesperson...  This summer I worked hard with my graphic designer to get line sheets ready to mail to stores and galleries across the country. I thought if I just mailed them out to carefully chosen places, someone would appreciate all my hard work and ask me to send them art.  Sigh.  I can be so naive.  Then I sent emails to all the places I'd mailed line sheets.  And waited. 

Finally, I asked a friend who used to own a boutique what to do.  "Go take your line sheets in to the store and introduce yourself."  Have I mentioned that I'm not a salesperson?  "If you don't sell your pieces, who will?" Point taken.  Why hadn't I called the stores and galleries I'd sent line sheets to?  Why hadn't I visited boutiques trying to sell my work?  Rejection.  I don't know why I still fear it.  I mean, seriously, didn't I grow up a long time ago?!

So today, I took my line sheets to a wonderful shoe/accessories store in Columbia, SC, walked right up to the counter, and tried not to tremble.  The conversation went like this:

"Can I help you?" asked the lovely, young person behind the counter.  

"Well, yes, I'm a silversmith, and I'm wondering if you might be interested in carrying my work (as I thrust my line sheets forward in a defensive manner) in the spring."

The lovely person looked at my line sheets for a few moments as I prepared to slink out of the store.  "Do you have any of your work in your car?"

Blink, blink.  "Really? Because I just came in here without an appointment and..."

"Yes, do you have some of your work in your car?" the poor, perplexed person asked again.  (I'm sure she was wondering if I really wanted to sell anything at this point).

I ran outside, grabbed my jewelry case, and brought it back in.  And she loved it!  I told her I was on my way to take it to another store who was considering carrying my work in the spring.  "Can you sell these pieces?" she asked.  And I hesitated -and then came to my senses.  "Of course, you can buy these pieces!  I would love to sell them to you!"  As I wrote up her order, she commented that she and the owner had been meaning to come to Atlanta to pick up some new jewelry lines and "Now we don't have to, Atlanta has just come to us!"

After this wonderful success, I drove to Augusta to try my hand at another store.  I took in my line sheets and asked if they would please consider my work for the spring.  "Do you have any of your work in your car?"  And what did I do?  Blink, blink. "But I'm just stopping by to leave line sheets."  Wait, wait, I'm starting to get the hang of this.  Yes!  I do! Let me go get it!!  And this wonderful store also decided to start carrying my work. 

And the best part of selling my work today was how much fun I had in both of these stores.  Two fabulous places run by wonderful women.  I can't wait to go back to both of them!  And I'm going to be brave and proud of my work.  Who knew selling art could be so much fun?!  


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