In sharing my Artists In Jackson project, I reached out to some artists for feedback. What did they think? What can I do differently next time?
One artist in particular – raised in Jackson, went on to great success – gave me some really great advice. For one, he was worried about me producing a book. “Nobody buys books,” he wrote, “not even if you price them at $10 a piece.”
He, however, knew how to sell books. Case in point: a $500 book, limited to 50 editions, and he sold out of his print run in just a few weeks. This artist offered an experience, not just a book. It became a pride point to own one of his books.
“The book was only a bonus and personal brag piece to tell their friends the damn book cost $500,” he said. “It’s the experience, not the money.”
His experience was, he only printed 50 of them, and he included a personal sketch inside each one.
You can’t rely on friends and family to support your art, he told me. And people in the community who say they support the arts? They’re mostly fibbing. Few back up their support with actual dollars.
Some of this I wished I had heard before I started the project, though I doubt that would’ve dissuaded me. I wanted to make a quality book for people to buy, and I felt like I had enough of an audience to sell a decent amount.
Aside from the book, my main motivation was to brag about the artistic talent in Jackson, and to get to know some local artists. Take economics out of it, and I feel like my project was very successful.
Put economics back in, and I think the advice I received was pretty spot-on. My “experience” was a limited run of books signed by me, with a free eBook download and dibs on info like extra editions and events. I could do a lot more to up the “experience” level.
I don’t think that a high price tag would go over well in the community, however. Jackson is a pretty cheapskate kind of town.
Granted, this artist has a huge following, and sells work for thousands of dollars. He works on a totally different level than this local photographer with a super local project.
But for future projects, his advice is worthwhile.