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Low-Cost Promotion for the Professional Crafter
There are many ways to achieve promotion of your crafting talents
without a large outlay of cash but teaching classes can be one of the most effective. This
article was written with the decorative painter in mind, but these ideas apply to all
other kinds of crafts as well.
How to do it:
- Approach shops with portfolio of pieces or actual pieces that they
can use for display purposes.
- Original projects are always great, especially if a unusual surface
or technique. Make sure you are an expert on that technique if you are teaching a
technique. Teaching is not just about self promotion but also about sharing and caring!
- Teach a class at a local rec center, hospital, old folks home on a
volunteer basis. This helps establish your credentials, while you are looking for a paid
- Make it easy for the shop or center by providing a class write-up and
description, even an estimate of cost.
- Resubmit new projects and write-ups allowing for change in seasons
(seasonal appropriate). Example: Dont keep flogging a Christmas project in spring
- Dont forget that teachers need to be knowledgeable on new
trends and techniques as well so read lots of current trade magazines and whenever
possible take classes yourself with a variety of teachers.
How to make up a portfolio:
- Get professional pictures made of your projects or if you are good
with a camera do your own. Other options?? Trade with a photographer for art work! Stay
away from black backgrounds. Pictures with a lot of black do not reproduce well. Remember
. . . a picture is like a thousand words!
- Buy a portfolio or make your own. I use a zippered binder with clear
page inserts in it. I place colored stock paper (different colors) in these pages and tack
my photos of projects on them.
- Try for one project per page so the image is not competing with
others on the same page. Its a good idea to have one larger image and smaller detail
images of the piece. Remember a picture tells a thousand words. (A good picture, that is.)
- Use the back of the page to provide a class write up with material
costs, size of project, even color palette used. Sometimes I include a strip with the
actual colors painted.
- Give your project a title thats catchy. Example: youve
painted a floorcloth with vines and flowers on it. Chances are without a title the store
will name the class for you. If you were going to take a class and you only saw a write up
for registration purposes, which would be more inviting to you: "Floorcloth with
Vines and Flowers" or something like "Spring Rhapsody Floorcloth." Easy to
see the difference right?
- No imagination, or feel like you have no writing skills?? Use lots of
verbs, just like writing a good resume. Still stuck? Gather up print material on classes
from various places and follow these examples till you get great at describing your
- A title always gives special presence to something. Use your title on
the page that you are presenting with the project. Type it in large letters and paste-on,
hand-letter if you are good at calligraphy, or even use Letraset (rub on letters for
- Include in your folio any advertising flyers or brochures from
classes you have taught previously.
- Include an artist C.V. (Curriculum Vitae) to highlight your
credentials, any special works you have done, commissions etc. and any letters of
- If you are submitting pieces for teaching consideration know your
shop first. Go ahead, case it out beforehand. Chances are that pieces on display are the
types of projects the shop finds popular to its students. If in doubt, ask what kind of
projects the shop has featured in the past, and what they are looking for now.
- Take small portable pieces to show -- preferably not breakable. Make
sure you already have pictures of them, in case the shop wants you to leave them.
Dont take too many because there may be too many things to have to choose from.
- Do make sure that the projects you present are your best work. This
is your work, sign it. If it is original, copyright it. Copyright by signing your name and
add the copyright symbol (c circled) after your name and list the date created with the
Submitting pieces which are not your original designs
- A good rule of thumb is to write the original artists name
followed by painted by and your name. No copyright symbol if it is not your own design.
Artists work very hard on original designs and although you can take credit for painting
or rendering it, do not try to take credit for the design.
- Also make sure if you are painting someone elses design, that
you have permission to reproduce it for teaching purposes, before you try to teach it in a
Other Location Options for Teaching
- Use your house! (If you have a large enough home to accommodate a
studio for teaching and parking for your students).
- Use a friends home (maybe one with a studio already or perhaps
a project(s) she already teaches or would like to.
- Other solutions -- rent a space (be confident that you will fill some
classes beforehand, renting space can be very expensive).
Submitting teaching topics for conventions
- Send a variety of projects, rather that just one. Make sure you have
the best photos available.
- Make it easy for the selection committee. Include the cost/type of
surface and size/skill level, and time needed to complete. Sometimes great projects are
slipped into the "no" file because the committee doesnt have information
- Try for pictures that are taken to reflect the object centered. That
way the photo can be reduced or enlarged for a better fit in the convention catalog.
- Remember, at convention not all classes go, simply because there are
so many variables: number of registrations; cost of project; competition with other
classes. If your classes dont go, dont be discouraged! Try again, maybe try
different projects, look at your project cost or even the surface. You can have a great
design on a poor surface or vice versa.
- If your projects are chosen for a show catalog for a convention you
are getting FREE ADVERTISING. Advertising which will make you better known,
whether you get a full class or not.
- Conventions like to see new projects and original designs.
- Try for a variety of skill levels or at least a variety of surfaces.
- Remember that convention pieces need to be portable (many people
travel to these).
- Demonstrating your craft is an excellent method of creating interest
for your work and your classes. Dont forget to have advertising material on hand to
talk about your skill or upcoming classes you will be teaching.
- Tie in with a local shop to demonstrate your skills or try a open
house at a Rec Center or Seniors center. You can even try the craft fairs and
- You can apply for CPD certification (Certified Professional
Demonstrator and become known to companies who hire CPDs to showcase their product.
Again another way to become better known, as well as perfecting your skills. Being able to
get up in front of a large group will do wonderful things for your self esteem and is a
real plus when teaching a class.
Alannaha Pritchard is a decorative painter and teacher who lives
in Victoria, BC. She is currently organizing a convention for decorative painters to be
held in Victoria, B.C and Calgary, AB.
More info on West Coast
"Paint-In" -- Decorative Paint Conference
CRAFTLINK Taking Care of Business
CRAFTLINK Professional Panel
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