Thursday, April 30, 2009

Social Media for Artists: Twitter

Next up in our series on how to use social media to grow your business is Twitter. Now, Twitter seems like it is of little consequence until you start to notice the big buzz around this little micro-blogging service. Part of the appeal of Twitter, as you'll see, is the small amount of effort required to stay connected to your hand-picked audience of followers.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service which allows you to send quick, frequent updates to the question "What are you doing?" You can update by using the Twitter site or your cell phone. When you send an update all of your friends, or followers, see what you're doing at that very moment. In turn, you get an often-updated stream of your friend's answers on your homepage.

The real usefulness of Twitter lies in the ability to quickly scan many of the replies and find that which interests you. Also, your audience of followers will hopefully find your updates equally as interesting.

Your updates on Twitter are called 'Tweets'. Here are some things that are good to Tweet about:

1. New Blog posts on your website

2. Specials and coupons

3. Interesting travel updates

4. Anything!

Yes, anything. But - you should keep in mind that your audience is following you because they are interested in your work and Twitter will be most effective for you if you stick to talking business with a little bit of personal information thrown in (not your Social Security card or anything - perhaps a morsel about your favorite movie!) Twitter works to connect you with an audience of potential customers and helps keep you fresh in their mind.

You can find Twitter users interested in specific crafts or arts by using the Twitter search engine: and type in a keyword to see Tweets about any topic!

So go ahead and get Tweeting - and add ABI while you're at it, okay?

You can follow us here:

Coming soon - Facebook and Linked-In!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Social Media for Artists

Social Media is a term that is all the rage these days. Social media includes services such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogging.  For artists,  it may not be immediately apparent how social media can assist a business. However, by leveraging the power of social media artists can reach new audiences and new customers online.  

This series of posts will explore which tools are the most relevant for artists and how to use them. 

First up - we'll talk blogging

Blogs are places where artists can showcase their latest work and day to day activities by posting updates. Popular free blogging platforms include: 



1.) Sign up for a blog with a name that reflects your artistic brand. For example, our blog name is - which is easy to remember and reflects who we are. 

2.) Make the blog look like your brand. 

Your blog should look and feel like your brand. For example, if you use trees and the color green on your product cards - then your blog should also contain trees in the header image and the color green should be prominent. 

3.) Writing your blog posts 

You want to gain an audience for your blog and connect with people who want to buy your products. Blog posts can be about many different things depending on your personal style. Blogs can be personal, funny, informative and show the human side of your business. Also, blogs are great places to hold contests or give coupons so your readers feel an incentive to read about your daily adventures. Blogs can also assist in telling your story and building a stronger brand which leads to better recognition and ultimately more sales. 

Here are some examples of effective artist and artist-related blogs which you can use as a guide to setting up your own blog:


Jane Wynn 


Next up - Twitter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fig's and Ginger Profile

Here at ABI part of our mission is to help artists share their story. One of the new ways that we are sharing stories is by publishing artists profiles on the ABI blog. If you are interested in sharing your story please email us at with the subject line "Profile".

The first ABI Artists Profile is an interview with Rhonda and Elijah from Figs and Ginger. Figs & Ginger is a husband and wife team making Eco-Friendly sterling jewelry. Each piece is made by hand and much of their work is inspired by the simple beauty found in forests, both imaginary & real. You can find them in select galleries & shops across the country and abroad. You can visit their website for more information about their works and mission at:

Where are you from originally?
Well, Rhonda was born in Fayetteville, NC but grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. I (Elijah) was born in La Jolla, CA grew up in Oceanside, CA but moved to Massachusetts. Now we both live in Asheville, NC and love it.

How did Figs & Ginger start?

Rhonda studied jewelry at Rhode Island School of Design and Alchimia in Florence, Italy. She's been making and selling jewelry since she was in college. About five years ago we got married and got really involved in the indie-craft scene. Rhonda had been making birds all through college, and a new design took flight (pardon the pun.) unexpectedly. We were a bit surprised when we started selling well. The foundations of our business are definitely based in indie-craft and a DIY aesthetic.

How did you two meet?
Rhonda had organized an art exhibit at a music festival I was playing at. It was raining the whole weekend, but with abnormal foresight I had brought an umbrella. Rhonda and I kind of knew each other through friends and I offered to share my umbrella because I thought she was cute.

Tell me about your workspace and why you chose those particular spaces.
We have a design studio in our back yard, and we work from home a lot. Obviously we work there because it's awesome to not have to leave the house in the morning. We also have a studio at the Phil Mechanic Studio in the River Arts District in Asheville. It's a cool building with nice folks who work out of there. It's really nice to have most of the business out of our house now.

What's a typical day like for you?
We wake up at 9ish and head over to the studio. Most days we have a Stephanie, our studio manager, working with us for a few hours. We work a good 8-12 hours depending on the day. Sometimes we head home and work a bit more online. Most days Rhonda is making jewelry and I'm working on promoting and shipping orders. Sometimes we bicker and then make up.

What are your biggest influences? Artists you admire?
Rhonda likes: Aster & Sage, Foundling, Jen Corace, Harry Potter Audio Book, and Mirah.
Elijah likes: Final Approach, NPR, The Book of Lost Things, and John Vanderslice.

Tell me about being eco-friendly
We consider our impact on the environment in every decision we make for Figs. We also try and be transparent about what we're consuming to run our business. It's important to us that we aren't just, "green" because it's good publicity. We want to be for real.

What's on the horizon for Figs? Any new projects or designs coming out?
We're working on some 100% recycled content wedding rings. Rhonda made a cute prototype that I love.

What's a project you'd like to work on in the next year?
We'd like Figs & Ginger to be more philanthropic. As a rule we give discounts to shops within arboretums or conservation based organizations. We're brainstorming about ways that we can give back to the earth more than we take. We're also giving away jewelry this month to people who plant trees and send us a picture.

If you had a chance to tell yourself one piece of advice when you first started, knowing what you know now, what would you say?
Stop sawing out by hand hundreds of tiny birds and fawns, cast them already! Or maybe, focus your product line.

You can visit their website for more information about their works and mission at:

Friday, April 3, 2009

Economic Importance of Art

I just sat down at my desk after listing to a wonderful presentation on the newly released study on the Economic Impact of the Professional Craft Industry in Western North Carolina. It is incredible to hear leaders such as North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle, University of North Carolina – Asheville, Brent Skidmore, HandMade in America Geraldine Plato, The Center for Craft Creativity and Design, Dian Magie, Haywood Community College Meg White, Penland School of Crafts Jean McLaughlin, speak about the strong role the arts play in our economy. The art and craft economics have made a clear revival on the past few decades and it is time that we take hold of that presence. Jobs are becoming more and more scarce and it is imperative that the government leaders, community leaders and artists acknowledge the impacts of the art economy. This study shows in clear detail how WNC crafts people are contributing to the economy.

Here are a few detail from the report:
Estimated Total Direct Economic Impact of the Craft Industry in WNC. The total direct economic impact of the WNC craft industry is the sum of:
$31,478,262 the craft consumer tourism direct economic impact
$86,218,808 the craft artisan direct economic impact
$57,651,405 the craft gallery and shop direct economic impact
$11,779,124 the craft educator direct economic impact
$ 4,406,000 the craft organization direct economic impact
$15,000,000 the craft supplier and publisher direct economic impact
Therefore, $206,533,599 is estimated to be the total estimated direct economic impact for the craft industry in Western North Carolina.

28% of WNC Craft artists subcontract their work
79% of WNC Craft artists work from a home studio
21% of WNC Craft artists are over 65 years of age
70% of WNC Craft Artists are between 36 and 65 years of age
33% have lived in WNC over 30 years
8% of WNC Craft Artists are under the age of 30
16% of WNC Craft Artists have arrived in the last five years

Those numbers really show the importance that artists have in our economy and the study only show cases the WNC, it makes very proud to be able to say that ABI reaches over 1,000 artists per year providing them with the business education that they need to be able to produce their craft and have a sustainable living.

Full details on this report as well as details about grant resources for artists are listed at
The Center for Craft Creativtly and Design.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What to do about wholesaling?

Well this question is becoming more and more prevalent. At ABI workshops it is common for artists to inform me that they do not wholesale and have been in business for 20 years without wholesale.

So why should they wholesale?
Wholesaling brings a new element to your business. It allows you to reach an audience that you would otherwise never reach, create reliable income, receive professional feedback about your work and sharpen your business skills.

What are the downsides? It is another level of bookkeeping, it requires a different set of business skills and more customers to keep track of.
What we see is that there is an entire industry built of the model of wholesaling. It is how products end up in stores nation wide. The craft industry is a prime example of this. You might be an artist living in the backwoods of Vermont and you can still have your work in 30 different states.

One way to start wholesaling is to exhibit at a wholesale show, however that has a pretty large learning curve. You can also start with a grassroots effort. The door-to-door salesman method, we here at ABI do not recommend this method, but that does not mean it doesn’t work.

ABI Wholesale Workshops
The Business of Wholesale Relationships with Galleries, Teleconference

There are also online wholesale resources

There are several wholesale shows in the craft industry Buyers Market of American Craft American Craft Council American Craft retailers Association