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Artist Internet Sales - Poll/Opinion


#1

I’d love to hear opinions on whether or not you think that the
internet has hurt or helped artists in our field. Do you think it has
hurt sales for galleries? What about the oversaturation of jewelry
artists - how much of a part do you think the internet has had in
this? Do you think online sales could be hurting attendance at art
shows? What kind of changes do you see happening in the future? Do
you see online sales becoming the main point of sale versus art
shows?

I don’t really have an opinion set in stone on this yet. I’m trying
to do some future planning and would love to hear different input on
this subject. I know there will be different responses based on the
type of jewelry sales you have - so I’m asking the above questions
with bridge jewelry in mind.


#2
    I'd love to hear opinions on whether or not you think that the
internet has hurt or helped artists in our field. 

It works for me. I used to spend lots of money on print advertising
that meant I had to make and sell a lot more work to pay the bills. I
can make as much profit now on fewer sales because it is so cheap to
have a website.

Stephen Walker


#3

The internet is a world wide brochure burgeoning with ideas both good
and bad. At the very least we can communicate with other artisans
globally with no effort. Items of all description can instantly be
transmitted with crystal clarity and accuracy of color. Ideas and
designs for my customers are easily transmitted for their approval.
In this way, great works can be created. I have used the internet for
inspiration. I tap sources from museums world wide as well as
jewelers, goldsmiths of past and present. Observe the difference
between inspiration and copy. The internet is also a great source for
historic regarding the arts. Most jewelers have never
heard of Cellini, Drais, Ducrolay, Blerzy, on and on. Now they have a
chance to look up these geniuses and study their work and emulate
their techniques. Great artists have always known that one must first
master what has been done, before one can move forward. I site the
case of the Classical symphony of Serge Prokofiev. Though Prokofiev
was a more contemporary styled composer, he still longed to work and
study the classical styles. He felt this gave more quality to his
contemporary compositions, and it probably did. The great artist
Benvenuto Cellini also apprenticed in the old master traditions and
look what he produced in his lifetime. Today we have all that and
more, economically, at our fingertips with out having to leave our
homes. Who could ask for more. It is fast becoming a tool for
artists all over the world to share ideas (hence our Orchid forum).

In no way will the internet hurt sales at trade shows because there
is nothing like the real thing and the personal relationship with the
vendor or artist. If anything it will foster interest and awareness
for our craft.

I would also like to put my 2 cents in about the thread concerning
the pirating of a young ladies pictures. She has the choice to sell
or not, the choice belongs to her and I think she knows that. I
think we all need to relax about people knocking off our designs as
well. I say let them. as far as I am concerned they can copy till
their hearts are content… What makes me unique, as are we all
unique, is our interpretation of the design and no one can duplicate
that. There is no sense in becoming neurotic and paranoid. Neurosis
consumes too much energy, energy which I prefer to channel in to my
work. I have spent a lot of time anxing over such things, but since
I stopped, my designs have improved and my execution has improved
exponentially. Maybe there is something to it…who knows.

Robert
www.robertwhiteside


#4
   I'd love to hear opinions on whether or not you think that the
internet has hurt or helped artists in our field. 

It has helped me, specifically because I live in a very isolated
spot, quite a ways from the flea (small town) on the backside of a
dog. It has helped me to reach markets I wouldn’t otherwise have
access to, and it has helped my customers find someone who does a
particular style that isn’t popular in their area. I live in Wyoming,
and most of my internet sales come from the eastern states.

  Do you think it has hurt sales for galleries? 

The way I have mine set up is that if an item is currently in a
gallery and a customer wants to buy it, I contact the gallery and ask
them to ship to the customer and provide them with the info they need
to process the sale. The gallery makes their commission and they’re
happy with the set up, and I make the sale and didn’t have to go
through the bother of packing and shipping the item, which would
include a trip to the flea town to mail it, since there are no rural
shipping facilities.

      What about the oversaturation of jewelry artists - how much
of a part do you think the internet has had in this? 

Sure, there’s oversaturation, but most people are looking for
something very specific and will use those keywords in their search.
So when I’m setting up the pages, I key in as many words and
misspellings I can think of, so that when they’re looking for that
specific keyword, it comes up. Some examples that seem to get word
hits a lot are: elk teeth, crystal, reticulation, keum-boo, etc.
These are savvy people that know exactly what they want, and if my
style is what they like, then it’s a sale or a commission.

  Do you think online sales could be hurting attendance at art
shows? 

I enter into some art shows, but most people who go to art shows are
there for the experience and actual interaction with the artists.
They are looking for a different experience than the internet
shopper.

  What kind of changes do you see happening in the future? 

I think in the future as the internet becomes more developed and
development tools become easier for non-techy types to use, it will
become more commonplace for people to use them. I see computers and
internet connections becoming as ubiquitous as the television,
phones, cable and wireless capabilities. Poorer countries that don’t
have the physical infrastructure that developed countries have, will
be able to use these new technologies. It is my hope that eventually
it will level the playing field, not by undercutting cheap labor, but
by making labor more equitable, and providing more opportunities for
leveling the global economics.

  Do you see online sales becoming the main point of sale versus
art shows? 

I think the internet will become part of the marketing mix, in
addition to brick-and-mortar storefronts and art shows. It allows
more access to artists for a larger market, and more access to
galleries to find new artists and to reach new markets. Art shows
will still have their place, but I think they will become clustered
around large metropolitan areas that encourage cultural exposure and
face-to-face interaction. Instead of going to half a dozen shows, you
might only go to one or two events per year, both as a customer and
artist.

Much of this is still in the development phase, since the internet
and its place in society is still developing, and often outpaces
itself. Its growth has been exponential, and hard to keep up with
except for the techno geeks, or any teenager. Its hard for us old
fogeys to keep abreast of all the latest. My kids keep hammering at
me: cascading style sheets, javascript–get with it, Mom! And I’m
still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of what those words
are, let alone how I implement them. I have an analog mind in a
digital age, and the only things I multitask at is answering the
phone, while cooking supper, while doing dishes, while chucking a
couple of snacks in the general direction of starving people waiting
for their supper. But don’t expect me to hold a conversation while
I’m resizing an emerald ring :-} !!

And, oh yes, the website is under a reconstruction that will allow
me to keep up with it, without having to wait for one of the kids to
come home from college to help me on the things I don’t know how to
do.


#5

Robert,

  I think we all need to relax about people knocking off our
designs as well. I say let them.  as far as I am concerned they can
copy till their hearts are content...  What makes me unique, as are
we all unique, is our interpretation of the design and no one can
duplicate that. There is no sense in becoming neurotic and
paranoid.  Neurosis consumes too much energy, energy which I prefer
to channel in to my work. I have spent a lot of time anxing over
such things, but since I stopped, my designs have improved and my
execution has improved exponentially. Maybe there is something to
it....who knows.

Well said!

Art and Fear are enemies. I run into people worrying about this,
about copyrights, and all of it and wonder how much they are
stifleing their own creative energy.

Besides, there really isn’t much new – people have been making
jewelry for thousands of years. And it’s interesting to me that the
people who DO come up with something different are usually the ones
so willing to share their techniques.

Nancie
www.moonfishdesign.com


#6
 I think we all need to relax about people knocking off our designs
as well. I say let them.  as far as I am concerned they can copy
till their hearts are content...  What makes me unique, as are we
all unique, is our interpretation of the design and no one can
duplicate that. 

At last, a voice of reason speaks.

We should all spend our time creating and not being concerned about
who copies what.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
@Daniel_R_Spirer
www.spirerjewelers.com


#7

I don’t know where the reference to “copying” came from out of my
post - I missed where the thread went off track.

One of the reasons I posted a thread about internet sales, etc. is
that I’m trying to decide how to sell wholesale again (at shows) and
at the same time sell online. My online retail sales are pretty good
also - something I’m not sure I want to lose. I’ve heard a lot of
artists say don’t sell wholesale and online at the same time - you’ll
be killing your business - galleries don’t want to compete with your
online sales, etc. I guess a better question should have been is
there a way to successfully do both - keep the wholesale and the
online retail. My gut is telling me that if I’m going to go back to
wholesale, I probably have to get rid of the online sales.


#8

I agree. People can copy me as much as they want (and they
occasionally do). I consider it a compliment, and since they are
copying I have a head start and I am on to something else.

John


#9

Catherine,

I sell both online to the end customer and wholesale at shows. I
think you need to keep a few things in mind to make it work.
Communication is very important you must let the wholesale customer
know you sell online. We put our wholesale customers location and
contact on the website. This way a retail customer who
is interested in the work can go to a local store and see it. We
always ask the retail customer where they saw my work. If they
mention a store we try to send them back to the store for the
purchase. This is not always possible either they had a bad
experience with the store or they don’t live near it but for
whatever reason they will not deal with the store. If that is the
case we take the order and send the store a sales commission. This
lets the store know you are keeping their interests as well as your
own in mind. Keep your retail prices at or better yet above keystone
markup. You cannot sell your work at less than keystone if you are
going to sell to both retail and wholesale customers. If you build a
5% buffer in your wholesale pricing (wholesale price is 45% of your
retail) you allow the store to give a “discount” to a good customer
or to deal with the one who says they can get it online with out
paying sales tax well the store can offer a discount to get around
this objection. Also most jewelry craftspersons under price their
work anyway so boosting your retail price to cover this will get you
a better return on your work.

Anyhow it does work if you are willing to deal with it but you must
keep in mind that the retail customer and the wholesale one are both
your customers and treat them accordingly.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#10

Since I wouldn’t be able to have my own jewelry business without it,
I’d say the internet has been a boon to jewelers and to their
customers. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about it is that jewelry
artists who specialize in experimental, avant-garde designs or
themes that appeal to small niche markets can reach their customers
without struggling to survive in a brick-and-mortar storefront.

As more and more jewelers promote their work through the internet,
customers feel more secure about buying jewelry online, and even to
commission custom pieces through e-mails.

I doubt that the internet has hurt galleries or art shows, as savvy
gallery owners and show organizers will promote themselves through
websites, increasing public awareness and helping to boost business.
Furthermore, artists can gain more attention (and profit) by giving
out business cards with their web URL at shows.

On the side of things less directly related to sales, the internet
also makes possible such wonderful things as the Orchid forum,
facilitating a free exchange of and ideas and connecting
members of a far-flung artistic community.

Cheers,

Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio


#11

I am in this same retail/wholesale boat and am trying to figure out
how to address it. At a recent event, I spoke with some gallery
owners and was surprised to hear what they had to say. Many said that
they wouldn’t deal with an artist who sold over the internet. Period.
It seems as if there is an anecdotal fear of all gallery customers
now buying everything direct over the internet in order to avoid the
galleries and get a better deal by going directly to the artist. This
fear seems to be heightened by the hard times many galleries have had
over the past few years. What I’m trying to understand is whether
this fear is real, or just a knee-jerk reaction to something new?
Does anyone know of any actual documentation to back up the fear that
galleries will become obsolete in the internet age? Also, when asked
about getting commissions from work sold over the internet that
might have been sold through their gallery, the owners replied
that was too much extra hassle, see point number one - don’t deal
with artists who sell over the internet. Period. Of course, maybe I
was talking with the wrong gallery owners. Do others find this the
prevalent attitude?

This attitude is frustrating to me as I’ve spent the last 2 years at
retail shows building up a following of customers who use my website
for re-orders and gifts and would hate to give up that revenue
stream. It seems as if there should be a solution to this dilemma
that would work for both sides!

One idea that has been floated is to print a password on the
business cards that are handed out at retail shows. Before a customer
can purchase anything on your website, the customer would login with
that password. This guarantees to the gallery owners that the only
people buying from you are your legitimate retail show customers. I’m
of two minds about this. I’m a lazy internet shopper, so if someone
tries to make the internet buying experience difficult for me, I
generally move onto the next store. Has anyone tried this approach?
What were your results? Do you think the results would be better if
you offered some kind of “return customer” discount to encourage
people not to lose the business card with the password on it?

Thanks for the discussion on this topic so far! This is such a
creative community, it seems like we should be able to come up with
some solution that will be fair to both artists and gallery owners.

Tahmi DeSchepper
http://www.tahmi.com/
Uniquely crafted, handmade jewelry inspired by working
traditional textile techniques in silver and gold wire.


#12

Hi Catherine,

We have big names in the business like Pala Gems or Arnstein
(Sapphire Co.) selling both wholesale and retail. It doesn’t do
anything but bring them greater revenues.

I began selling wholesale and retail online. A ‘very’ few people
suggested I sell to one or the other, so I stopped the retail sales.
The result was 30% less revenue and absolutely no increase or
decrease in wholesale accounts.

I have a problem with wholesalers giving the retail sector the same
prices. I no less than keystone(double) my items while other
companies show only a 10 or 20% difference. I believe the
difference in price is more important.

Ed Cleveland
303-882-8855
www.kashmirblue.com


#13
Art and Fear are enemies. I run into people worrying about this,
about copyrights, and all of it and wonder how much they are
stifleing their own creative energy.

I spent a considerable amount of time worrying about this issue,
because it seemed to me every time I had a good idea for a design,
I’d stumble across somebody else who was already doing it, or
something too close for comfort.

Then I got about half a dozen historical jewelry books from the
library and discovered that nearly everything I thought was
"original" to somebody else (that I thought I’d thought up all on my
own) had already been done, probably by some neolithic “ottist” 5,000
years ago.

Now I don’t much worry about it anymore.

Sojourner
Ottist Itineratus


#14

Tahmi If you haven’t yet done so read Jim Binnion lucid posting on
how he deals with this topic.

https://orchid.ganoksin.com/t/artist-internet-sales-poll-opinion

It seems extremely fair and might be a helpful approach in your
dealings with galleries. As long as galleries provide personal
service I don’t think they’re threatened by the internet. Personal
attention is something one only gets in person.

Kevin Kelly


#15
    I am in this same retail/wholesale boat and am trying to
figure out how to address it. At a recent event, I spoke with some
gallery owners and was surprised to hear what they had to say. Many
said that they wouldn't deal with an artist who sold over the
internet. Period. It seems as if there is an anecdotal fear of all
gallery customers now buying everything direct over the internet in
order to avoid the galleries and get a better deal by going
directly to the artist. This fear seems to be heightened by the
hard times many galleries have had over the past few years. What
I'm trying to understand is whether this fear is real, or just a
knee-jerk reaction to something new? 

Change causes fear, the internet is a big change in the way goods
are sold.

What right does a gallery owner have to tell you how you can make a
living? If they don’t want to buy your work so be it but if they
feel your work is a good fit for their customer base and are any
good at their job (selling jewelry) they will not have any problem
with selling your work in their store as long as you do not under
price them. This is the single most important thing if you are going
to sell both wholesale and retail you must be able to sell your work
to the retailer for at least a keystone discount. If you cannot make
money on each item at keystone than you need to rethink your prices.
You may want to think about even having a sightly greater than
keystone discount built into your pricing structure as many
retailers are finding that they need to mark up at greater than
keystone but keystone is still the “standard”

Many people want to hold the work before they buy, if you have all
your retail locations listed on your website many will go to the
store to look at and buy the work. As long as your prices are not
undercutting the retail store your website is another source of
customers (free advertising for the gallery) for the store. If there
is an occasional lost sale well then there is still most likely a
net gain in sales for the store if your site is sending people to it
and once they are in the store then they may buy other work as well.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#16

I Know, carry the work, and respect the work of James Binnion. What
he seemed to forget to mention is a gallery has much more risk +
overhead than the artist that makes a product in their studio. Even
if the artist sells at the same price as the galleries selling the
artists work, I think it is bad business for any artist to play both
sides of the market. I have been a artist/ gallery owner for 25
years and have had to struggle with some the same issues. Bottom line
many, if not all of the professional artists that we work with, ( and
we support all of our artists in many ways that are not seen i.e.
marketing) direct any potential customers in our area or within a
large territory, to our gallery. To sum it up only several artist
that we represent and it is all pre arranged and agreed upon,
successfully do both without creating some kind of conflict.


#17

If all the gallery/store owners had the professional competency and
personal integrity of the Kaylors then it would be much easier to
only sell wholesale, there is no doubt on that score. A good gallery
does incur a lot of expenses in promoting the work of the artist and
works hard to make the sales so that both the gallery and the artist
make money.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160


@James_Binnion
Member of the Better Business Bureau


#18

I Know, carry the work, and respect the work of James Binnion. What
he seemed to forget to mention is a gallery has much more risk +
overhead than the artist that makes a product in their studio. Even
if the artist sells at the same price as the galleries selling the
artists work, I think it is bad business for any artist to play both
sides of the market. I have been a artist/ gallery owner for 25 years
and have had to struggle with some the same issues. Bottom line many,
if not all of the professional artists that we work with, ( and we
support all of our artists in many ways that are not seen i.e.
marketing) direct any potential customers in our area or within a
large territory, to our gallery. To sum it up only several artist
that we represent and it is all pre arranged and agreed upon,
successfully do both without creating some kind of conflict.

Rob
R. Grey Jewelry Gallery
818 W. Idaho St. Boise,
(208) 385-9337
Fax
(208) 3859382
www.rgreygallery.com


#19

So, I’ve been reading this ongoing debate about websites vs.
galleries, and what I don’t understand is why an artist would list a
product on their website for sale, if it is for sale somewhere else.
If a piece is on a website, but physically on display at a gallery,
why not just caption the picture with on the gallery it
is being sold at? Alternatively, list items that are for sale on the
website but not available in any gallery. I agree that if you are
going to place your work at a gallery for sale, it should not also be
for sale on your website, but I’m sure many of you don’t have all
your pieces in galleries, and want your website to be a showcase for
your work. I think there can be a very symbiotic relationship between
the web, the artist and the gallery, as long as the agreement is
there that pieces on display are not also for sale privately by the
artist (or at least until the gallery is going to stop selling that
item).

My 2 cents.
Amber (grapestain productions).