Posted on

A Guide To Merchandising Your Art


Interested in merchandising your art?

Entrepreneurial artistry is skill of it’s own. I’ve been in the business of merchandising your art since 2007. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of musicians, fashionistas, designers, illustrators, and painters who were actively engaging in the business side of their creativity. Today, I thought I’d share with you a few of the benefits and cautions, as well as some tips on product production and vendors.

What Is It?

Art merchandising can be explained in two words: Mickey Mouse. What started as an animated cartoon has become a powerhouse of marketing. Today, Mickey’s likeness can be seen on a massive of apparel, furniture, paper, jewelry, etcetera to infnity! The basic entrepreneurial idea here is: Disney took Mickey out of the realm of animation and into lucrative new mediums. So, if it can be done for Mickey, why can’t it be done for your work too?

Why Should I Do It?

It Lowers Your Price Point

Let’s say you create original oil paintings that sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Printing your amazing image on a wall calendar lowers the price point for fans of your work who can’t afford to purchase an original piece.

Your Work Reaches a Wider Audience

By lowering the price point, you’ve expanded your niche! Instead of making your work available only to a portion of the population, it is now available to a wider range of people who are interested in what you have to offer.

It Can Be Done Inexpensively

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to create reproductions of your work. In fact, it would be wise to expand slowly, so you can see what sells and what doesn’t. Set a budget, any budget, and you can find original items to sell that will expand your reach without breaking the bank.

Create Multiple Streams of Income

Every time you reach into a new market, you create a new stream of income. If you decide to turn your oil paintings into framed pictures, you’ve now created a market for yourself in home décor. If next you decide to make necklaces with your images, you’re now in the market of jewelry. Every time you create a new item, you create a new potential stream of income.

What Types of Stuff Should I Create?

Consider your Audience

Think about the types of stuff YOUR audience would be interested in. If you’re in a band, let’s make some custom buttons! If you’re a makeup artist, let’s make some custom mirrors. If you’re a painter, let’s make some refrigerator magnets. The types of items you choose to invest in will depend completely on who the end user will be.

Drop Shipping vs. Wholesale Purchasing

There are two schools of thought on this one. If you have capital to invest, I strongly recommend purchasing your items wholesale and getting them into your customer’s hands directly. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can work with a company like Zazzle who will drop ship them for you. Just be aware that using a 3rd party shipper takes some of the personality out of your business and quality out of your control.

Strive For Uniqueness

My best advice for you here is to focus on quality, not quantity. Pick and choose the items that will really represent and define your brand. It’s completely ok to look at what your competitors are doing, but at the end of the day, you want to stand out from what they are doing.

Choosing Your Vendors

The truth is: I run an independent business, so I’m biased in favor of the little guy. I recommend selecting your vendors carefully and supporting local and small businesses when you can. You can accomplish your goals by using Zazzle, Vistaprint, and a myriad of other monster companies offering custom goods. However, I would encourage you to think about vendor relationship building in the same way you think about client relationship building. Get to know who you’re working with. Find vendors who are cooperative, trustworthy, and have your best interest in mind.

Finding Balance

Do art and money have to be at odds? My life, my business, and my client’s businesses demonstrate that how art and money can work hand in hand. If you feel you should not be making money from your art, then don’t. If you feel it’s ok for you to earn an income for your time, effort, and supplies, then do!

Don’t overdo it

It’s always best to focus on quality, not quantity. You don’t need to put your mark on t-shirts and coffee mugs just because you can. If you choose to, do it because you feel passionate about the product and you think your customers will too. If you focus only on making money, your entrepreneurial artistry will have an imbalance… and balance is the key to success!