Glass artist Helen Rudy creates stunning work for interiors. She talks about her work and her market.
ABI: What is your background and how did you become interested in working with glass?
HR: I started out many years ago when living in the UK as a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and when I moved to Vail Colorado I worked as a construction manager. When living in Vail I started to look for a hobby that would keep me entertained during the winter months. It gets very cold in the evenings so outdoor activity is out.
I needed a hobby that would keep me off the couch. I first tried stained glass and did not take to it. I then tried my hand at fusing glass with a friend who had a kiln. I got hooked instantly. I have always been artistic but not in the traditional ways. I have a knack for design, landscaping and making things. Fused glass ignited my passion for creating and making art that can be both functional as well as decorative.
ABI: What did you learn at the Arts Business Institute workshop that inspired you to wholesale your work?
HR: When I attended the ABI workshop I had been thinking about wholesaling my work but did not know enough to make the step. My work was represented in a number of galleries but on consignment. I wanted to wholesale to enable me to even out the cash flow swings.
The seminars I attended gave me the all the tools I needed to make sure I had the paperwork, terms and policies in place to look and behave professionally in a wholesale environment. The ABI also gave me enough information to be able to create an attractive booth so that when I showed up at my first wholesale event I would not appear to be a complete amateur.
ABI: Who would you say is your ideal customer?
HR: My ideal customer is a high end high quality retailer/ gallery that focuses on modern and contemporary glass and works of art. For example, Pismo Glass Gallery. The price point of my work is not appropriate for the more traditional volume retailer.
ABI: From your trade show experience, what advice would you give to new artists who may want to exhibit?
HR: I would not do anything different if I was starting out again. I would recommend any newbie to wholesaling to attend the ABI seminars. The two days of seminars gave me all I needed to make the next step.
The whole sale shows are expensive to attend. If at all possible, save up money and budget for a show. I think overall the cost for me was about $10,000 door to door. My shipping costs alone were $2000.00. I just about covered my costs at the first show and I hope that as the repeat orders come in I will be ahead.