Friday, May 09, 2014

What every art society needs - an exhibition shop

There are lots of people who'd love to buy art but only some can afford to do so. Those who can't afford to buy the original art they like for the price it costs are however happy to settle for the next best thing - the digital fine art print or the fine art card - even if these don't come cheap!

Those who know their customers and markets well make sure they have sufficient stock of both prints and cards available for people to buy at exhibitions - and then display it well.  In other words, there's scope to operate rather like the 'proper' fine art print room at the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts - which does an absolutely amazing amount of sales because the art is so much more affordable compared to the rest of the art for sale. It covers all the bases and satisfies the depth of every pocket. (I'm not denigrating 'proper' fine art prints here so much as making the point that there are always buyers at every price point - but they are not always captured by every exhibition)

I'm starting my posts about the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists with a prompt for those who'd like to make their art society exhibitions even more successful.

Each year, I go to the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists and, in addition to very healthy sales of artwork I always see a very busy 'shop' area where people hand over wads of money for cards, prints and books by members or by the society - plus art materials associated with named artists. I know - because I've been one of the purchasers on a number of occasions.

It normally takes two people operating the card machines to keep the queues down. (This is also separate from the people covering the sale of the original artwork which happens in a different part of the exhibition)

The shop in the Annual Exhibition of the Society of Botanical Artists
This year they've relocated the shop, made even more room available and hung more prints on the wall and it's a pleasure to look at!  Plus they've started a line in SBA products.

Judging by what it looked like when I first took a look (some three hours after the exhibition opened) and when I left near the end of the Private View, visitors managed to purchase an amazing amount of products relating to both member artists and the society on the first day of their exhibition.  In fact it looked like they needed to do a major restock before they opened the following day!

The reason for raising it on my blog is I don't think I've ever seen another art society do it better - with the exception of the permanent shop housed in the Bankside Gallery which benefits members of the RWS and RSPP.

Never ever underestimate how much turnover and commission can be generated for the benefit of both artists and the art society through a well run exhibition shop.

Never ever underestimate just how much stock is needed for a well run and well patronised exhibition shop!

All they need now is a website which can direct purchases all year round to their members' websites.........

[P.S. If you'd like to offer your experience of and/or recommendations for DO's and DON'Ts for an exhibition shop please leave a comment below]