The term starving artist was coined for a good reason. An artist, by nature, is a person that likes to be different and innovative. This is a great trait and it is one of the things that has advanced our culture. There are a few innovative artists that start trends and are seen as being quite different in their presentation. Some of these artists are very successful. Many artists look at this and think that the most important thing an artist can do is to “be true to yourself”. In other words, make what you like to make and don’t worry if anyone else likes it or not.
Being “true to ones self” is a common feeling amongst designers. Designing is a passion. My theory is that designing releases endorphins. I do not have any scientific proof of this, only what I have observed first hand. The designer that I live with is happiest when she is designing.
Designing is a pleasurable and relaxing thing to do when there are no constraints or deadlines. Total freedom is the most fertile environment for creativity. Therefore it is easy to see why a designer would want to “do their own thing”. This creates the ideal situation for a designer. Unfortunately, in business, there are other things to be considered if you want to make money.
If you want to be a starving artist “being true to yourself” is the best approach to take because the chances are high that you will starve. I am sure that some designers do not like to hear this, but if you want to be successful in business there are much more important things to consider than just making your best designs.
Some might look at famous designers like Calvin Kline, Donna Karan, and others that make outrageous clothing that you see on runway models and say that they are “being true to themselves” and doing what they want to do and making lots of money. But how many people do you know that wear those outrageous designs? Movie stars right? Yes, but they don’t pay for them. They get them for free as advertising for the designers.
If famous designers don’t make their money on their runway fashions, where do these designers make their money? They make their money on jeans, tee shirts, perfume, and accessories that they sell to the masses. This is where they make their money. The most famous designers make their money on things that common people actually wear. That is why they are not starving artists.
If you want to be successful at selling your own products, you can not have the attitude that you are just going to make what you want, no matter if anyone likes it or not. It is good to have that much confidence in your designs, but with this attitude you are being very short sighted. This attitude keeps many talented artists from making a lot of money with their talent.
It is sad but true that in general, people with a talent for business make a lot more money than people that have a creative talent. One reason for this is that creative people want to “do their own thing”. To make a lot of money with your designs, you have to add some business sense to your way of thinking.
So, how do you take your talent and turn it to gold? First, you need to do what a person with a good business talent would do. Research. Instead of just wanting to do things that you want to do, use your creativity to make things that people want buy. This is the most important thing that you can do to be successful at making money with your artistic ability.
The truth of the matter is that you do not have to be the best designer in the world to make a lot of money with your designs. You just have to make items that people want to buy. Sometimes things sell that just have a little different twist to them. Sometimes they are common items made into jewelry or furniture or usable art of any kind that people find interesting and buy.
We once exhibited at an artistic wholesale show in Philadelphia. The man in the booth across from us was being very successful at selling sterling silver pendants that he had made in the shape of leaves. They were not fancy, but they sold like hotcakes. Use your creative thinking to come up with ideas for products and then step back and analyze your ideas objectively.
Look around to see what is selling. Determine what people want. You can ask retailers and wholesalers about what items are selling the best. Styles and color preferences change so try to stay current with what is in style. Many designers believe that they can create the new “in” thing, but on a large scale, this takes a lot of money and influence. This does not mean that you can not make a lot of money with you products. Many designers make lots of money in their niche markets.
Research to see what is being done. Use your creativity to come up with ways to do things a little differently. Sometimes small changes make the biggest difference. Radical changes are not usually accepted by the majority of the consumers. Contrary to the “be true to yourself” way of thinking, to make the most money, you have to appeal to as many people as possible.
John and Kay Jacobs have been successfully making and selling their own products for 15 years. They operate a booming internet business selling stone beads and pearls. Their experiences selling at wholesale and retail shows and on the internet gives them an excellent insight into successfully making and selling hand-made products.
The combination of Kay's creativity and John's logic has made them a Platinum Power Seller on eBay and one of the most respected sellers in their field.