Thursday, July 5, 2007

Market Research

The creative process is a funny one isn't it? You never know when inspiration will strike, and sometimes what seems like a great idea may not be all it seems at first. I find the reality check for me comes from either getting a critique from some trusted source(s), and/or having the work at a show to test it out.

Shows are the best way I know to see first hand what people are responding to, or reacting to, in my work. What is drawing people in to look more closely at my work, and what are people actually buying? What colors are selling? What styles are selling? Is any of it selling? Are people avoiding it? Lol!
This last scenario was actually a real life one for me. I had started exploring the idea of pods late last summer. Several iterations have evolved. None of them have had as enthusiastic a response so far as the newest designs. I am showing you the the slow, (sometimes painful) development here as a lesson of sorts. It is that one we learn back in kindergarten, really....if at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again. I knew there was something here that I wanted to work out. I don't know if I have really gotten where I want, or need, it to be. But, after nearly a year of working on this concept, off and on, I have definitely made progress.

The first design was fairly simplistic, and did not really capture the look of a pod. The single bead between the two segments did not really capture the look a pod and seeds that I was going for. And the design was not really effective in how it was strung/constructed.

This pin was the next iteration of the design. The variety of beads/seeds were interesting, but not as successful as I would have liked. The piece was large, and heavy, and making all those different textures on the beads was slow and thus expensive. Not worth the time. Better, but still not working.

I like several things about this next variation of the design better. I liked the more organic shapes. But the pieces were too large for most people to effectively wear. I think they scared people. Not one person wanted to try on any of the necklaces from this iteration, and there were ones that were single pods, and a bit smaller,...the lack of interest was loud and clear,....back to the drawing board.

Finally, I seem to have resolved many of the issues I had with the previous designs. The focus is on the surface finish, the pearls as the beads/seeds works nicely, and the designs have that organic form I was going for. They are thinner than the previous pieces and thus not as heavy. They can be pendants or pins. So far the reactions I have gotten have been largely positive.

Next week I will be in Guilford, CT for the Craft Expo on the town green. This is going to be an important opportunity for me to test out these new designs, along with the ultralight designs. I have been busy making inventory so that I have a range of designs to present.

Shows are about so much more than just sales. They are opportunities for exposure for your work to potential customers. They are a chance to get a clear picture of your customer. And they are a chance to do a bit of test marketing of new products. Sales are the ultimate goal of course. But don't lose sight of what else can be gained from the experience. After all, you are the production department, sales, market research,.....you get the picture. You need to wear all those hats, and sometimes, more than one at a time!

4 comments:

Libby said...

That was a really fun trip through your design evolution. Thanks for sharing it. I am looking forward to seeing your new work in Guilford.

Frivolitea said...

You might be interested in the work of ceramic artist, alice ballard. She works with pods and produces beautiful pieces.
http://www.aliceballardmunn.com/magazine-articles/ballard-athome1.21.pdf

Judy said...

Thanks Libby. It is a bit scary to share the early stages of a design. But that is where the learning is, isn't it?

Thanks Frivoltea for the link. I was not familiar with Alice's work, but it is wonderful!

Lori Greenberg said...

I guess I'm the odd one out. I love the ones that scared people, they remind me of Georgia Okeefe. I like the last one too.