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Minimizing the Burden of Art Inventory

As I mentioned in the previous blog, carrying inventory is such a drag but yet it becomes a necessary evil. The question is how to best deal with inventory…

1. Reviews – Ensure the pictures you select are the most marketable. Do not go just by gut feeling UNLESS you have a proven track record. Rather seek the opinions of others. But not just ANYBODY. Not your mom. Not the people who think dark and creepy is cool (even though it might be). Rather, seek those people whose taste probably best match the buying public. There are plenty of opportunities for this. You can have samples printed up and ask friends an coworkers their thoughts. Or simply post the pictures in FACEBOOK and judge people’s reactions. Not only judge the reactions, but judge the people who make the reactions. A opinion of a middle class woman in her late 30’s carries a lot more weight, in my mind at least, than a teenage boy because after buying the latest games and CD’s the boy has no money to spend. Not only that he only has four walls, at best, to decorate.

2. Galleries – while is doesn’t minimize your actual inventory placing your work in various galleries does help keep down the house clutter during the off-season. Why stick your pictures under your bed when they could be hanging somewhere with a chance to be sold.

3. De-emphasis that portion of your business. I am not joking. Unless you are moving your goods quickly OR unless you have some huge markup that makes a few sales extremely profitable, this will NOT be a good money making venture. That are other avenues in photography that do no make the inventory demands that fine art does.

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Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Business Advice

 

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Inventory Is Evil

Selling fine art photography is a lot like owning a store since they both require that you have a physical product on hand for the customer to see and experience, otherwise you are not going to sell anything. People don’t go to a brick and mortar store to look at a catalogue and they don’t go to art fairs to look through brochures. They have money in hand and want to take that piece of art home shortly after the purchase.

But why is inventory evil, at least for the proprietor?

Inventory is speculation. When filling up my frames and bins for the season, I have no idea what is going to sell. I have some history on things that have sold in the past, but I really don’t know what people are looking for at any particular moment. Often my sensibilities do not line up with the average art buyer. I might have some biases towards a particular piece that causes me to favor something that will not sell or to reject something that will. It is inevitable that in the process of stocking the booth, good money is put into products that will not sell. Ever.  It is lost forever.

Inventory is space. What does store all those framed prints? They have to go somewhere. For me, they take residence in our bedroom. The plastic storage tub does not make for attractive décor. Since it is a given that we don’t store our prints areas of high humidity, that makes some of the most convenient places the most undesirable. Basements, garages and sheds often provide sufficient room but in the short time their environment will destroy your work. So unless you have a home or office with extra room in a climate controlled environment, you work often has to be stored in places that are not convenient.

Inventory is at risk – The more the work gets handled (in and out of boxes) the more it is at risk for damage. This is especially true of hard and fragile objects like picture frames. I did not sell many framed works last year and the frame show wear and tear. I have seen enough abrasions, scuffing, scratches on my frames to make me sick in the stomach.

What is the answer? I have a few thoughts, but will save them for another post….Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2010 in Business Advice

 

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