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A Glass Blower’s Companion with Jason Michael -Helping Today's Glass Artist Think Like an Artistic Entrepreneur

Jul 13, 2016

Episode 116- Commisions and Customs : part3/5 selling your art
B to C
As the functional
Glass scene continues to evolve with social media taking over a big portion of the landscape in tegards to marketing it gives the artist an
Opportunity to promote theirselves.  One area that not all artists participate in is customs or commissions.  
In my opinion this area is one that will give you an opportunity to promote your work in a more intimate way. When you create a one of a kind for a client  they are more likely to promote your work not only  through their social media feeds but also in person with their friends.  Imagine if your client takes your work in the road and share it with others while traveling. The potential first hand exposure and function of your work is exponentially greater then if they shared it in Instagram.  Even if say they get 1,000 likes on an image or video of the client using your work the 20-30 friends or aqua intended that they share your work with will be more likely to contact you to purchase their own custom or seek your work out in their local retail spots.   Word of mouth is and has always been the greatest form of advertisement.  
With all that being said before we get into the details
On how To go about setting up a custom order it is imperative that we give thanks and acknowledge that the retail stores are  on the front lines of our industry and shouldn't be overlooked when it comes to selling your work. This episode is dedicated to the process of working with a client for a commission as well as how to set yourself up with your work to give you an easier system to give your clients to follow making the custom order a fun and engaging process from start to finish. 
Over the span of my glass career I've had the opportunity to create some amazing works of art for clients creating everything from $20,000.00 chandeliers to $3500.00 rigs and everything in between.  By working hard at my craft as well as having been exposed to interior designers and other types of retail entities,  I've learned through observation how to go about the process of working with your potential client from the initial consultation to the final install.  Every client has their own needs and wants and it's your job to find out exactly what they are looking for and visualizing in their head   
One of the worst thing a client can say to you is "your the artist, have fun!"   In the end this can be the worse situation to be in.  Finding some form of direction will helo you finetune the price of the work as well as give yourself and your client an estimated time of completion   Start off by asking your client what their budget is.  This will give you a guide and a boundary to set based on what you are being asked to make.  This will also give you a chance to estimate the time it will take from start to finish making sure you aren't undercharging or overcharging.  One way to help you in this process is to finetune your lines of work which will give you a baseline to work with   Here's how I go about making this work. This is from my personal experiences and a way that had made this process less of a challange and more of a fun time for both parties involved 
Let's use a custom 14mm WyzGuy water pipe  for example :
My baseline retail price for a standard 14mm WyzGuy is $180.00.  This model is a clear body with colored accents. Brows and wings and a male joint. 
If a client asks for a full color WyzGuy my base price is $225.00. If they want opals I charge $25.00 per opal. If they want a full crushed opal body it's an additional $100.00.  The wings on the standard WyzGuy are flat against the body. If they want them extended out at its sides it's 25.00 extra.  All these extras are my way of upwelling my work. So instead of selling a cheese burger I'm also adding fries and a coke.   
This gives me a way to finetune a price and time to produce .   
Now another area of commissions is work that is outside of your norm.  For instance a specific character or maybe even a style rig you've never made before but maybe always wanted to.  Sometimes a commission will give you the opportunity to try and make new items. Whether a character or new model this type of commission can be a little tricky. Based on your skill level don't be ashamed to let a client know tat you are not ready to make something that they are asking.  We all
Have limits it just depends on your Time and financial situations to whether or not you can take a risk by trying to make something. There has been several
Times where a specific custom took 3-4 attempts to get it right without catastrophe. This can get expensive and defeating.   So step outside your box but maybe not too far.  
To get in the same page with your client you'll need to establish a few details beige getting started. 
  • For one like before find out if they have a budget This will give you a chance to say no right away of it feelsLike they are low balling the work. 
  • Next once a specific budget is established and an idea is formed ask your client to find references for you to go off of and you do the same.  This will establish a foundation for the commission and help you finetune the price and time 
  • Once above is establish its time to do some sketches.  Do a detailed drawing showing what colors your using and where they're being used. Show function. Mouth piece, joint , etc. estimate size as well.  If it's not a character that you are familiar with or they want a certain style rig have them tag you in images on Instagram to get a better idea of what they're looking for.  
  • Once you've got this done it's time to establish a deposit.  I personally require half down and non-refundable   This way they know you are serious and that they are as well. It will also give you some cash to purchase any necessary materials as well as help you float financially if needed while completing the item. Especially if you have other orders pending or have upcoming bills due.  
  • Once you obtain the deposit make sure to give them an invoice showing the details of the order including deposit made. Balance due and estimated time of completion. This will establish a trust which is the first thing we are selling to begin with.   
  • One easy way to accomplish this task is by creating a freshbooks account. The first month is free and after it starts at 10.00/month.  For the monthly cost of doing business it will
  • Keep you organized and your clients happy 
As you begin the process of creating the commission bring the client along the journey by taking and sending them profess shots or even short videos. They will love it. They may give feedback which can be helpful but overall this simple gesture will give them insight into what it takes to make their new pride and joy