Posted By Kathleen David on October 9, 2012
I had an interesting discussion with a fellow artist and friend of mine about this past year conventions and what sold for her and what didn’t. Among the trends that we both saw and liked were people buy original art again and sales being up over all for most of the shows we both did. I think it was one of my best years for sales over all. We’ll see if I can match my NYCC total from last year to make it truly the best year in sales in a rather long time.
We also talked about playing to the customer and putting out what we like to see if anyone else likes it and is willing to buy it. I talked last week about shoulder dragons and that the structure is such so there are only so many ways you can weight them and get them to work properly. Also these are dragons and in our minds we know what looks like a dragon and what doesn’t.
Other than commissions, I tend to make things that I like and amuse me. Things I am passionate about just work better for me to make. I have made things that others wanted or things that I thought others wanted. And those tend to sit around for a long time. I think I have found my niche in the Fandom Convention Art World. I make puppets and dolls. I want to continue to show my dolls. I am still playing around with them to find my type of dolls that I can sell. I think I am on the track for that.
Some artists can judge the market very well and set their skills into filling that market need. Others see what is selling and make things along similar lines hoping to sell them too. Considers what you see from year to year at these art shows and at Ren Faires. It is the artists that figure out the next trend that seem to make the most money.
Fan art is a whole other kettle of fish. Fandom is a funny beast. Some fandoms have a few loyal fans so the market is small. Others, even over the years, have lots of fans and a larger market. But one has to understand the fandom to be able to cater to it. I have been making noises of about a set of Firefly hand puppets I have wanted to make. I have also been thinking about Torchwood first season puppets. Now I know that both fandoms are still very active. Browncoats are a little like B5 fans in that they take pride that they are still fans of the show even though it has been off the air for a while. Doctor Who fans continued to support the show while it was on hiatus and bought art based on their favorite TV show. Other shows seem to be a flash in the pan and the audience moves onto to the next show. I tend to make things in fandoms that I like.
We talk about knowing your market. And figuring out if what you do is a hobby or a business. Hobby seems to have one set of rules and business has a totally different set and some serious reality checks. I have had friends who have worked very hard to get to the point where their hobby became their job and they couldn’t be happier. I have had others find out that they liked what they were doing when it was a hobby rather than their job. Both are fine. Not everything suits everyone and it is good to learn what suits you. Just know that when it becomes a job, it has to be thought of as a job not just something you do on the side. And not everything you make is going to be a hit. Know your audience that you are trying to appeal to and make things that you have passion about because it shows in the work.
I am grateful for the passion I have about things.