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June 2-5, 2005
Berea & Hindman, Kentucky

The Business of Art – “New Issues Affecting Today’s Working Artisan”

Moderator:  Nancy Atcher, Product Development Coordinator, Kentucky Craft Marketing Program

Panelist shared their individual stories: 

Victoria Faoro is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.  The Ky Artisan Center is in the Department of Tourism within the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet.

The Business of Art – The Artisan Center is an avenue for artists to make a viable income for their business.  It has the capability to display and market the work in the best ways.  They assist the artists in packaging and merchandising/distribution of their work.  Their “team” of employees has expertise in each of their areas from retail, art/education to tourism.  They have developed an Artist Referral Program and work with the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program as a wholesale showroom for individual wholesale buyers. 

Craig Kaviar, Kaviar Forge  - Kentucky Artist / Gallery Owner
Commission and Tourist Attraction
– Craig has been a working artist for 30 years.  After working in his studio for many years, he broaden his boundaries by participating in national shows and established himself as a national artist and producer of custom work which gave him success in Louisville.  He purchased his studio 20 years ago and just recently opened his gallery employing a couple of staff people.  Craig also serves on the board of the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.  He receives special sponsors to help him with the city Gallery Hops which mainly benefits the promotion of his custom / commission work.  Craig hopes his gallery will soon be making it on its own.

Faith Dickson, Manager of Artique in Lexington, Ky (representing owners, Mike and Kathy Stutland)
Representing Artists with Craft Businesses – Artique was established in 1980 by Mike and Kathy Stutland.  Kathy was a working artist and Mike started exporting work from other countries.  They soon realized that the U.S. had many talented artists to represent and started carrying work from America artists only.  They now have 3 stores in the Lexington area that carry high-end crafts.  Artique has been recognized as one of the “Top 100” retail galleries for the past 8 years and also awarded the “Top Retailer” at Kentucky Crafted: The Market.  The downtown shop in the Civic Center sells more to tourists and downtown residents.  The others shops are in more of a “mall” type setting where they have greatly expanded.  Once the Stutlands have purchased work from an artist, they feel the artist becomes a part of the “family” and encourage the artists to start building relationships with Artique’s customers.  Artique would like to see more artist-to-artist collaborations to introduce new work.  In the future, one of their shops will have a virtual gallery of artists working and showcasing their product. 

Nancy Atcher, Product Development Coordinator, Kentucky Craft Marketing Program, in the Kentucky Arts Council within the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet
In 2000, product development Initiative became a program area of the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program.  From this came the creation of the “Kentucky Collection,” which involved the first 10 artists that became know as the “Platinum 10.”  This consisted of craft, 2-d art, food, and books from Kentucky that were included as the first pilot project of this program area.  Kiosks were built to offer this representation to retailers for a sampling of merchandise and marketing package for their stores.  There are now 13 stores that carry this collection and an additional 10 artists have been added to the Platinum 10.  The   Platinum 10 artists have had numerous meetings and consultations with professionals working on trends, products, price points, etc.  Product development grants are available through an application process.  Three individual grants for $500 are awarded per year.
          A partnership with the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen has allowed the opportunity for more artists to take part in ongoing Product Development workshops around the state.  

Larry Watson, Watson Clay Art  - Kentucky Artist / Studio
– Larry discussed the competition between all the fairs and festivals popping up every where, that the quality of the work represented at these fairs has diminished or “thinned out” due to the participation spreading out among all these fairs.  Booths are filled with lesser quality, lower end crafts.  Larry refers to this as “dummying down.”  Therefore, when the public attends these fairs, their perception of artists and their products is more focused on lesser quality, lower end work.  Due to this happening, Larry strongly believes that all shows should promote excellence and keep their standards high, as well as quality artists in choosing appropriate shows to participate in.  There’s a market for everything, however, artist must look at producing items that are more complex, developing molds and slips, and becoming a designer.  Larry has started having kiln openings to promote his work.  He is also helping to present workshops and feels educating other artists to be successful will increase a better reputation for all artists and in turn helps him, as well with his artistic reputation.
         Larry has created and is continually working on a line of historic ornaments for the Main Street Programs across the state.  He believes that an intuitive process is very important in his work.
         He noted that with an additional 50,000 more organizations in the U.S. to help artists today, funds are greatly depleted.


• Developing products needs facilitation for artists/retailers to work through the process of meeting the needs of both individuals.  Areas to consider would be budgets, consultants, professional development, marketing avenues, etc.
• In a retail setting, educating your staff should be a high priority.
• Artists can always make something cheaper, but there’s room at the top.  Artists in the U.S. need to do their best – there are always places for that cheaper lower quality work.
• Retail markups vary with different shops.  Artique uses a system where the cost of shipping plays a big part in their markup.  For instance – jewelry has a markup of 2.1 and ceramic’s markup is 2.4 due to weight and possible breakage.
• On the cultural side of art, many communities have a variety of cultures inner twined among their neighborhoods.  Retail shops that focus only on American art are able to now include many of these artists from other countries in their retail venue as American citizens / American made.


The Business of Art

Moderator:  Mary Lacer, Managing Director, American Association of Woodturners, St. Paul, MN and CODA Board member 

Discussion focused on selling on the web:

  • Conflict with pricing from being represented in a gallery and on the web.  Pricing on the web should factor in a little less.  Pricing in one state to another has quite a difference in markup.  For instance, in the South could be a 2.1 markup and in California would be a 2.8 markup.  Another advised to keep product separated from what is selling in a gallery to a different product on the web to avoid a conflict with pricing.
  • As for the web audience, usually shoppers 50 or older want to talk with a real person.  This shopper is more informed about art and is more appreciative of the quality.  The younger audience is more into technology and would rather use the web, have less conversation and order quickly.
  • Impact from internet is great with “Guide Books to Shows.”  Works very well using e-blast (not an application) notices to go to a site and check it out.
  • Do people buy without touching, feeling, etc.?  It works as a “hook” and good for those that know your work already.
  • New Hampshire League has a website, but does not sell.  They want people to go to the shops (7 of them).  They find that people like to see first in most cases.  One of their shops has just started testing web sells.  But the down fall of that is they would need a full-time employee just for that.
  • If selling on the web, you need the flexibility for customers to be able to return items not wanted.
  • Several participants felt you were missing out if you didn’t use the internet for sales.
  • Arrowmont School of Craft has on-line registration.  They also have printed catalogs versus on-line catalogs.
  • Mailing a cd with a few images and links to a full catalog works to reduce printing costs.
  • It was noted that artisans are slower to use technology for their business.
  • American Business Institute uses larger postcard as mailer and lists all upcoming dates for the near future.  It’s their only printed item.  All other communication is done through e-mail.
  • As an artist, time is very valuable and important not to be attached to the computer all the time.
  • Trying to communicate with artists and/or applicants for shows is very difficult.  Some prefer to use technology for all their business, other use e-mail as communication only, others don’t want to use if for any business, and others don’t use it or it’s not available.  This makes it very difficult to communicate with a large group of exhibitors at one time.
  • The American Craft Council suggested setting “ground rules” and communicate to members that “this is what we’ll do for these types of things and this is why it’s good for you.”  The Council also said that it took time, but it worked.

Press prefers e-mail now with good size images so they can see the pictures and not links to pictures and no slides.


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