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Positioning Your 3-D Art for Increased Visibility January 19, 2010

Posted by Deb Kosiba in Convention Art Shows.
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This isn’t a post about leveraging social media for more sales, or boosting your SEO. This post is literally about getting your art off of the tables and up to eye level where they can be seen.

Back when I first started selling my metalwork (read: jewelry) at SF cons I displayed my pieces on a table.  After all, that’s the way everyone else did it.  Being new to how the Art Shows worked, I had no clue about how to price for sales, how to increase the number of pieces going to auction, where was the best place to hang bid sheets, what images sell, or even what the general process was.  So I observed.  I looked at how others did everything and paid attention to what sold and for how much. And one thing caught my eye.

The art hanging on panels had more sales and sold for more money than the art sitting on tables.

Specifically, If Artist A had 10 pieces on a panel and Artist B had 10 pieces on a table, Artist A might sell 7 pieces while Artist B sold 3.  And the 3 pieces that did sell from Artist B would generally go for minimum bid, while more of the 7 pieces from Artist A would go to auction.

Why was this?

Was 2-D art more popular?  Do fewer people want jewelry and sculpture?  While that may explain why more hung pieces sold over table pieces, that didn’t really explain why table pieces sold for less money.

I tried an experiment.

I bought some cheap frames, replaced the glass with padded velvet, and used them to display my pieces on a panel instead of on a table.  As a bonus, I let the buyer keep the frame so they could hang it in their own home as art.

My sales went through the roof.  More pieces went to auction.  My pieces sold for more money.

My interpretation of why this happens is that there is a perception in fandom that Art is more valuable than Craft.  If it is on a panel it is perceived to be Art, and if it is on a table it is perceived to be Craft.

The lesson learned was get your art off of the tables and up on the panels.

Necklaces and pins are fairly easy.  You can use the same picture frame solution I used.  My friend Moira makes these amazing Steampumk bracelets and she built a display for them using random stuff from the hardware store.  Her overall display at the conventions is very eye catching.

Sculpture is a little harder to do.  Small pieces can sit on little corbels hung on the panels.  You can find them at most home decoration stores. You can place a board across 2 corbels or brackets to make a shelf for multiple pieces.

Some pieces may be too large to hang, like large sculpture.  Put your pieces on a display stand, pedestal, or hunk of driftwood.  Anything to get it up closer to eye level.

If, for whatever reason, you must display your work on a table, don’t have the pieces all on the same level.  Get boxes or blocks of different sizes and cover them in interesting paper.  Or drape a flowing fabric over all the blocks for a more unified feel. By placing the taller displays in the back and the shorter ones in the front it will let the potential buyer see each one from the front instead of looking at everything from the top.

I’m going to cut this off before I go too far into display brainstorm mode.  The goal was to inspire you to think about how your 3-D pieces are displayed in convention Art Shows and how improving your display can improve your sales.

If you have any ideas aboout how to display your 3-D SF&F Art, I’d love to hear about it!  I would especially love to get photos (or links to photos) of your display and how-to articles about making interesting displays.

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