The biggest difference between a professional artist and a hobbyist is not their level of skill, but instead how each piece in a body of work is developed.
While the weekend artist can enjoy an impulsive approach to making things, the professional artist must employ a more organized and thoughtful approach. A signature style and a cohesive body of work are necessary for marketing and connecting with buyers of all types.
Think of terms of a collection
Is your style recognizable, and does that style symbolize your entire line? Do the individual items work together, and give even greater impact when displayed as a collection? Each collection of work that you create should be developed as a “family”, with parent and child pieces – in size, and varied price points. These pieces work together when displayed or worn, and represent you as an artist, as well as your brand.
Think of your entire body of work as a tree with branches. Each collection sprouts smaller extended limbs that continue to grow outwards from the central style or idea. “Grow” your collection by spinning off ideas related to that central theme, and exploring more deeply into looks that are intriguing, and are getting traction with your buyers. Presenting your work in collections is also a wonderful way to gain sales by cross-selling or upselling to existing customers.
Does size really matter?
Yes, and you can see this easily by walking a weekend retail fair. Some pieces just aren’t sized properly to sell successfully. When you develop a new object, it helps to close your eyes and imagine exactly how it will be used and where it will be placed in its final destination.
If you create wall décor, is your work correctly sized to fit a space and make impact? If not, could you create diptychs or triptychs that make more sense? Are your prints or originals a standard size, or do they require custom framing? Are your sculptural pieces too wide to fit on shelving, either in a home or a retail store?
Functional vs. non-functional art
It’s an age-old question, but the true answer is that all art is functional. Think about “why” a collector will purchase your work. Will it bring back a special memory? Inspire a smile? Does your work communicate emotion or a message for gifting? Does the design bring order to a world of clutter, or does it add chaos to an environment? Does it add a punch of color in a neutral space? Does your artwork force the owner to face some difficult social or moral issue? Which function do you believe can command a higher price value? Why?
Create your line mindfully
As you develop your product line, understand exactly why you are creating each piece and how it works as part of the whole. When you market and sell your work, reaction from customers will help you tailor it to create a more solid, saleable line.
Once you have a number of reliable bestsellers, you will find that they often are the backbone of your business and income. Work toward a goal of having a stable and reliable product line. This is the “bread and butter” of your business. It also enables you to start developing more adventurous new lines which fulfill your creative urge and allow you to offer new and exciting products to your customers.