Making Art Work: Mastering Merch (Part One)
“Welcome to the Making Art Work Series! Through this accumulating and growing collection of resource articles, we hope to give insight and suggestions to artists in their journey to becoming their most successful creative selves!”
A big aspect of being an artist is finding ways for people to not only see your art, but purchase it. Depending on what kind of work you have, this can vary greatly. Luckily, there are several of ways to make your work available to buyers and collectors. Here is a loose primer to get you started:
Art Prints/Giclee: Giclee Prints are one of the most highly regarded reproduction methods in the art world due to their archival quality, UV protection and use of resolution of image, extending the lifespan of your work in print form. Most Giclee Prints sell for anywhere from a tenth to a third of the original work depending on the type of print run you are making (a limited run as compared to an extended run, etc.). Many professional and fine artists use the Giclee Printing Method to get their original work reproduced and available to fans and collectors at a more affordable price. See the following site for an example:
Stickers: Stickers are a great supplemental and promotional product to make for fans! They are less fiscally involved, collectible and are great for decoration as well. Stickers have also become a great supplemental item for promotion and networking as well, taking the place of business cards or other novelty items. A knowhow of digital printing is helpful, but there are services that offer help in this process as well! Here is a popular site as an example:
Enamel Pins: The Enamel Pin tradition is returning in popularity thanks to independent artists re-discovering and experimenting with the medium. Pins are collectible, durable, presentable and mobile, all great aspects for artists. They do not take up a lot of space, and can be worn and incorporated more socially in day-to-day life. Enamel Pins have become comparable to Stamp or Coin Collecting, with communities of buyers, makers and sellers trading and making designs to satisfy a growing fanbase. Here is one of many sites you can go to and learn more:
Zines: Zines are an unexpected, fun and collectible form of artwork reproductino. They are easy to make, swiftly reproducible and are a great way to make your work collectible, affordable and accessible. All you need is 8.5x11 copy paper and a copier. An artist can create their own mailing system for their work using very little fiscal sacrifice. Zines are low cost, low labor and can add that personal touch to any contact you make with a potential fan, and like Enamel Pins, there is a still existing sub-culture of zine enthusiasts who love to collect these mini-magazines. Check out our article on zines to learn more here.
Art Books: Art Books are a great way to catalog, collect and distribute accumulated work, especially collecting series of illustrations or other kinds of artwork. The process can be demanding depending on how much work you want to compile, but the overall product can be a great way to distribute your work to people who want to buy it. Here is a great site that can be used to help you get started:
Clothing: T-shirts have been the pinnacle of merchandising success. Nothing gets the word out faster than having your work appear on a wearable piece of clothing. There are a multitude of services available that handle much of the labor involved in making clothing, and there are dozens of independent printers out there that can be helpful in getting your work looking the way you want it to. Here is one of those services:
Keep an eye out for another installment in this article series about services and sites that can help you in getting your work out there! And let us know in the comments if you’ve found a site that we didn’t list that you enjoy working with.
We hope this helps, and keep up the great work!