I’ve been asked by a few people how I got stores to invite me to attend in-store events such as the pre-release for Dragons of Tarkir. I am not a Magic: the Gathering artist… yet. How did I get noticed by local stores?
This post will talk about how I specifically made this happen, but the methods can be applied for many different types of artists. My hope is that you can get yourself in front of a local fanbase, which is the beginning of really taking control of your own art career!
1. Identify stores with products or art that is similar to your own.
First things first (I’m the realest). What type of art do you produce? For me, it was really easy to find which stores may be interested in my art, because I am a Fantasy RPG artist. My paintings already seem to fit well in games such as Magic: the Gathering, Lord of the Rings LCG, Pathfinder RPG, and Game of Thrones LCG. Knowing this, I located stores in my area (a radius of approximately 2 hours) that hold events that cater to games such as these. Friday Night Magic, Sunday D&D, Thursday Night Commander, etc. It does help that I have clients such as Fantasy Flight Games and Paizo, though, but that is just another bonus selling point. Figure out your specific bonus selling points!
2. Prepare your pitch.
These stores are running a business. While a few of them will be interested in supporting local artists (these gems are amazing to find, by the way, much love to store owners who want to showcase local talent.), most of them are going to be more interested in what your presence in their store will do for them. In my case, I sell playmats that tabletop gamers are interested in and I am open to sketch commissions. Custom ACEO sketch cards are a great low-dollar item you can offer to fans and gamers to decorate their card boxes or to be used as tokens in-game.
Before you go to the location, gather up your merchandise and do not forget business cards! At the very least, you can ask if you can leave behind a few cards, and customers may contact you for commissions. Take 1 or 2 of each item you want to offer into the store with you, but have more in the car! If they want to carry your merchandise, it’ll help if you have plenty on offer.
Knowing that many gamers are eager to pick up original art to show off during tournaments, you can talk to the owner/manager of the store about the possibility of advertising your appearance in conjunction with a tournament or expansion release date to draw in more players. Once you’ve had one successful in-store event, players generally ask the store employees when you’ll be returning!
Another thing I do as an incentive for the store is offer my merchandise at a discount for them to sell at retail. That way, everyone makes a cut of the profit. Some stores will go for this, especially if they want to support a local artist, and some will pass up the deal because my prices will generally be higher than, say, StarCityGames.com or another mass producer of playmats. That’s fine. Maybe they’ll do consignment. Or maybe they’re only interested in having you come by for appearances. Decide what you’re comfortable with, and be flexible!
Me upon introducing myself:
3. Ask yourself all of these questions, and have answers ready:
How much are you selling your item for at retail? How much are you willing to mark it down for retailers? For what percentage are you willing to sell it on consignment?
Generally, I mark off about 10% for retailers for consignment, and up to 20% for retail (meaning, they buy the item outright, and sell it for whatever they think it will sell). Keep in mind that, while you won’t make as much cash off of a transaction when dealing with the retailers, you are getting your products in front of the public in ways you may not have been able to before. The in-store appearances are where you’ll make the best cash!
4. Be presentable.
This seems like common sense, but I’m going to include it anyway. When I make the rounds to introduce myself to new store managers/owners, and especially when I show up for an in-store appearance, I make sure I’m at the top of my game. Not only does a kick ass outfit and on-point hair and makeup look nice, it makes me feel more confident! So, take the time to make yourself look amazing, and you’ll feel amazing.
5. Follow up!
One of the best things you can do, especially if you left the store with a lot of maybes, is to follow up with either an email or a phone call. I tend to lean toward email for myself, because I’m better with the written word than the spoken. I can review what I’m going to say, as well as have a record of the conversation afterward.
Remind them of who you are, who you spoke with at the store, and what you discussed. Let them know of your availability. Assert yourself, politely, on the assumption that of course they want you to attend an in-store event!
6. Extra Credit!
Another way to get “in” with local shops is to become a frequent flyer. Go to the location, play their games or interact with the employees. Be friendly and develop a (friendly, professional) relationship. Networking is key, and it will get you everywhere you want to go. I have an entire blog post about networking planned, so check back for that!
I hope this has helped you, and remember to be creative in your approach. Put yourself in their shoes and figure out what will benefit everyone involved. Do you have any suggestions that should be included in this post, or any creative ideas for what works for you? Post them in the comments!
In another post, I’ll talk about how to have a successful event and what kind of merchandise I’ve learned moves well!
Oh hello readers…
First and foremost – The Reckless Deck challenge on The Art Order! AH!!: http://www.theartorder.com/blog/rd_challenge
A really cool art tutorial page: http://androidarts.com/art_tut.htm
Lauren continues her series on the 7 Deadly Sins of Art: http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-7-deadly-art-sins-sloth.html
Studio Catawampus is having a sale: http://studiocatawampus.tumblr.com/post/104949339558/studiocatawampus-5-off-everything-in-my-shop
KELLY WENT TO BAG END OMG JEALOUS: http://kmcmorris.blogspot.com/2014/12/personal-work-summer-at-bag-end.html
Kiri has had a Women in Fantasy Illustration series for ages, go check that out asap: http://kirileonard.com/blog/
Jennifer is talking about her Schoolism class each week: http://studybrush.blogspot.com/2014/12/schoolism-class-week-7.html
We have our heading. Here we gooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Some new art by Tyler Jacobson: http://tylerjacobson.blogspot.com/2014/11/elspeth-vs-kiora.html
Tom Sarmo at it again with some Saturday scribbles: http://tomsarmo.blogspot.com/2014/11/art-saturday-morning-and-saturday-night.html
Arnie Fenner continued his series on the basics about publishing over on Muddy Colors: http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2014/11/some-basics-about-publishing-part-4.html (extremely useful information regarding the hows and whys of what you can publish when it comes to licensed characters)
Every Day Original Launch! http://muddycolors.blogspot.com/2014/12/every-day-original-launch.html
Today, I want to share with y’all the quotes that really help me to push through when I’m experiencing a funk or a down-day. I’ve compiled these through the years and continue to collect them. Feel free to share your favorites!
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them; disagree with them; glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. –Unknown
When life slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the fuzzy walls… -Aldous Snow
Nothing is impossible. The word itself says “I’m Possible!” – Audrey Hepburn
We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down. -Kurt Vonnegut
Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. –Pablo Picasso
Creativity takes courage. -Henri Matisse
Creativity is contagious. Pass it on. -Albert Einstein
Truly creative people care little about what they have done, and a lot about what they are doing. -Alan Cohen
Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. -Alan Alda
One with true creativity can erase their one past, and replace it with an infinite number of pasts, creating new possibilities for the future. -Lionel Suggs
Pencil. Paper. Forget the world. -Shaun Hick
I am super excited and nervous to announce that I have launched an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to fund my trip to Illustration Master Class! Please take a few minutes to check it out and see if you’d like to contribute! Also, please please share this with your friends. This class means the world to me and I am really excited to attend!
Here is the link!: