Building the market for collectors of contemporary craft in the North West.
Image by Chris Payne
A bit chilly, maybe, but studio 6 at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair was a hotbed of ideas and discussion this October.
The North West Craft Network organised the symposium BUILDING THE MARKET FOR COLLECTORS IN THE NORTH WEST in conjunction with Great Northern Events, who are the brains behind the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.
We had four mini-workshop sessions addressing how we can build the market for collectors of contemporary craft. The results are published here. Lots of interesting stuff to absorb and digest, but it is noticeable that marketing features strongly in the section about what we should do, and building relationships (even, in one case, facilitated by sherry), comes over strongly in the ‘what has worked’ section.
Great to get together curators, makers, policy makers, agencies, collectors, directors and more to put out heads together and see what we can do.
The workshop results will feed into the future plans for the North West Craft Network so watch this space for the group’s next steps.
WHAT SHALL WE DO (COLLECTIVELY AND INDIVIDUALLY) TO BUILD THE MARKET FOR CONTEMPORARY CRAFT IN THE NORTH WEST
Ideas: practical to aspirational; general to specific
Do some research is needed into why the non-purchasing attendees of crafts fairs don’t purchase. They’re obviously interested in craft, but could we investigate what is holding them back from buying?
Getting craft from local makers on TV shows
Craft needs marketing
Craft Magazine on wrong shelf
Posters in public places
Get Art Schools to carry the ‘craft’ brand
We need to talk to brand and advertising and TV
Prada trusted brand – do we need a brand?
Have large brands advocate individual makers like they do with designers!!
Raise awareness through a popular medium – Television – there’s too much cooking and baking!
More high profile personality to advocate
Use the word ‘Design’. Poor craft connotations are negative
Crafts mag off bottom shelf – should be with designer mags
How do we tap into brand led society
Grayson Perry – clear honest presentation
Sponsorship of craft exhibition by fashion design house
INTRODUCE PEOPLE TO CRAFT
Show people it is not intimidating
Take time to talk to visitors
Talk about what you are wearing and what you buy
Wear what you buy
Communicate quality and craft stories to a wider audience (currently non-buyers)
Exhibit stories of why people craft (ordinary people)
Stress the ‘renaissance of quality’ in handmade items
Respect for makers
Communicate the crafters personality
Create aspirational pieces within my work
Be visible as a maker
PROVIDE EXHIBITIONS OPPORTUNITIES
Too few outlets for the region
Emphasis on degree/MA shows and further this to advocate and promote craft – free space
Taking craft to different levels by curating different shows and kinds of retail shows
Curate exhibition on a range of platforms
Have opportunities to bring related craft alongside Art/Craft exhibitions
New venues for new audience
Collaboration – bring in other institutions
Support each other and work to create opps!
Can galleries help? USA?
Networks – talk to people
Be an advocate for craft
Learn a craft yourself?
Buy, buy, buy!
Curating exhibitions in a new way to attract new audiences
Promote work that is not only your taste
Seeing craft in different venues
When buying something from GNCCF, seller to give a card, saying something like ‘congratulations, you are now a collector’
Try to bring the fashionista’s market to craft
Mini craft shows with makers in office blocks
Stories of why people buy
Talks lectures – interior designers
Gallery: Talks and events for our public about craft
Re: Gallery Sector: Educate the public on the levels of training and emotional input that makers put in
How to value time
WHAT HAS WORKED FOR YOU
What has brought great engagement, sales or audiences?
What is your experience?
POSITIVE PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES
Being engaging and likable
Being a good/nice person
Passion about your work
Authentic as a person – authentic work
Creating good work
Building a relationship with the customer
Building up relationships over time
You tell the story of the piece
Personal connection – hearing it straight from the maker
Sharing your story
Telling a story about my work – NOT sell the work
One on one conversation
Engaging with the audience – creates market
Never questioning my audience’s ability to understand or relate to my work
Want to be a friend of the maker/artist
Being there with your work and information the viewer
Website and marketing
New pieces of work promoted well.
Lecturing and demonstrations
Raising awareness of skill and creativity
Persistence – trying all avenues – not giving up
Repeating something – perseverance
Being visible and getting out there
Exposing friends to craft who wouldn’t normally buy craft
Exhibitions that are accessible
Get your work out there
Galleries are a barrier?
Finding the audience
Meeting the audience!
Gallery shop: Running events for people on our mailing list to come for private views to buy craft
Finding the right audience for your work
Let people help you
Networks for makers for mutual support
Engagement with focused makers to get involved with
Showing craft in the gallery space, presented as wearable art. Art/Jewellery crossover
Exhibiting art and craft together. This is an important route to getting the considerable audience for “art” to cross-over into critically engaged “craft”.
New events, fresh ideas for events, unusual locations
Immerse yourself in the commercial world
Public collections – allow public PR: open interpretation
Mentoring (both as mentor and mentee) appropriate to your stage of career
Endorsement by major galleries e.g. exhibitions
Do we have to differentiate between buyers and collectors?
Sherry for customers
Friends groups and patron groups
Showing that they are buying local
BUILDING THE MARKET FOR CONTEMPORARY CRAFT
WHAT CAN YOU OFFER?
Be a proactive maker
The value of buying something original
Enrichment of life
Talk to people and share my knowledge and experience
15 years of experience
Time and conversation at shows
Meet up to set up group
Build confidence of collectors as strong-minded independent thinkers
Opportunities for makers to meet potential customers
A platform for artists/makers and public to come together
Exhibitions – the opportunity to bring audiences and buyers together through events
Galleries could obviously offer shows and artists workshops and talks
Space in gallery shops and display cases
Open days where makers are there to speak through work at galleries
Curated and promoted contemporary shows to promote contemporary craft
Using social media to promote contemporary craft
Shared mailing list clients
Share mailing lists Northwest
BUILDING THE MARKET FOR CONTEMPORARY CRAFT
WHAT DO YOU NEED
Makers to be amazing self publicists (like Louise!)
CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION/ MARKETING
Radio /TV presence
TV coverage showcasing workshops and makers
Strong digital audience
Making connections – more symposiums – more talking encouraging others to meet and discuss – common passion
ACCESS TO COLLECTORS/ BUYERS
Access to collectors (to develop the market need to understand the current market)
Invading the commercial world
An audience that is interested
We need an audience
More time and resources!
A job that pays – more opps for curators
Arts Fund awareness
Other ways to generate income
As a fine art curator I need educating about craft
Talks about how a piece could change their like
Promote long terms benefits for collectors
Potential buyers to be educated
Lectures from makers open to the public
Opportunities to connect with makers
More events in the NW
A secondary market
To support and promote for contemporary craft
Collectors group – share work
Open studios/meet the maker/local