Recently, a young designer asked how to grow in his craft and how to cost his artwork. I would imagine that every designer and artist is faced with the same dilemma. What determines the cost of an item? How do I translate the value of my thoughts, effort, and hopes into a sale price? Very often the designer and artist have a higher perception of the value than the ordinary buyer and it is on the designer to communicate the same to the buyer as well as at an affordable price.
From my experience of sourcing artwork, I have come across some ideas that work in the whole spectrum from growing the craft.
Mentors: We all need people who will walk with us and provide advice, strength and honest feedback through the course of our work. Mentors can also help us reach new markets and open doors. It is therefore important to find mentors from within the design or art field as well as others outside in areas of growth like sales and marketing. This helps one be balanced and focused.
Positioning: It is important to have a professional profile and portfolio of your work that you can easily share online to potential clients. It should showcase the best of your work and your abilities. Get one of your works in the Kenya Arts Diary for wider publicity. Have a constant online presence across multiple platforms with a consistent tone.
Network: Be very strategic when you network. Introduce yourself to other designers in your field who constantly source artwork and keep them updated on new collections. Be part of an artist community or collective like Kuona Trust, Godown etc. This will draw you into spaces to hear about opportunities you can participate in.
Be seen: It is important to be visible and this can be done in several ways. Attend art exhibitions and talk to the artists or designers even if you are not showcasing your work. Use this as an opportunity to network and meet potential clients.
Presentation: Even as your piece is excellent, ensure your presentation style is just as good. Liaise with partners who add value to your work e.g. material suppliers, high-quality framers and installers etc. In addition, professionalise your trade; have all the necessary business documents like business cards, receipts, invoices etc
Pricing: Price your art correctly. Do not be too cheap or too expensive therefore unreachable. Consider what others in your field are doing but cater for the uniqueness of your work.
Showcase your work: Have at least a piece of your work in the key galleries. Use other avenues of selling work over and above the traditional methods. I have seen some artists put their work as part of a rotating exhibition in serviced offices + public places. That way people get to see your work. Though the owner of the premises may not buy, their clients could consider
Compliance: In preparation for corporate clients, ensure that you are Tax compliant. This includes registration for elements like VAT and taxes for those who must comply.
Henry Ford said 'every object has a story, if you know how to read it, so create a process that will allow potential buyers to understand the story you are telling and then purchase your work.
Wambui Kimutai is a career interior designer and a trusted advisor in hospitality and corporate interior projects. Her designs are anchored on telling the stories of Africa through the pallette of the interior space. She enjoys experiential travels and mentoring younger designers.