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Diversify Your Portfolio

Have you successfully focused on one style of art to become a recognizable working artist? Do you want to branch out into other areas but not sure where to begin? Would you like to add some excitement to your art with a product line?

For creative entrepreneurs, there are many ways to augment residual income through diversifying your portfolio. Manifesting your desire to branch your art into new areas is gratifying for both you and your customer.

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I have been an illustrator my entire life and knew in 3rd grade I’d become a professional artist. Few are lucky to know what they want in life so early. Fast forward to 2001: I officially launched my fine art career after many years working in corporate USA and it was then I began my CalligraphyPets®, the brush and ink calligraphic illustrations of cats and dogs as original art.

Maintain Your Style
Immediately, I knew from a business perspective, that anyone who wanted to enjoy my CalligraphyPets art could purchase it no matter what their income level. I really love creating fine art and felt that diversifying my portfolio by adding a few reproductions in the form of prints and notecards would enhance the customer’s buying experience.

So, I embarked to develop my first product line with several price points to create for all to enjoy. Doing this also helps any store who wants to carry my work create an array of offerings that makes it easy for the customer to choose.

Since, I’ve broadened my line (pun intended) by diversifying my portfolio in several ways:

  • Original paintings
  • Reproduction Prints (by local printer)
  • Papergoods (by local printer)
  • Home decor (Handcrafted pillows by Andrew & I)
  • Jewelry (Handcrafted by Andrew & I)
  • Leather handbags (Handcrafted by Andrew & I)
  • Leather techware (Handcrafted by Andrew & I)
  • Licensed Products (Produced by US Partners)

As I participated in a few local art shows, many stores and galleries began carrying my work. This all worked in tandem and honestly, I don’t know which came first: the store or the art shows.

Deciding on the best products should make sense when it comes to defining your product plan.

It’s also imperative to keep your style as you broaden your own product line. As you augment your offerings, you want to excite your current customers and bring them with you on your journey towards expansion. Diversifying your portfolio doesn’t mean crafting a brand new style, just extending opportunities to buy your art in thrilling new ways.

Expand Your Product Line Sensibly
Creating a product line should be cultivated with great care. Churning out product for the sake of churning, is my personal definition of a sell-out. Deciding on the best products should make sense when it comes to defining your product plan.

Say, for instance, you’re a:
Flat Surface Artist
As a painter, illustrator, photographer or mixed media artist primarily creating on a flat surface, your natural expansion to consider would be limited-edition prints, art cards, or postcards.

2D Sculptor
As a tile artist, metal artist, fiber artist, or mixed media artist primarily creating on a surface with great texture and depth, your natural expansion to consider could be smaller wearable pieces like broaches, pendants, scarves, wall art. Depending on the structure of your piece, you could also consider expanding into prints and postcards.

3D Sculptor
As a ceramist, figure sculptor, or mixed media artist primarily creating standalone pieces, your natural expansion to consider could be smaller wearable pieces like pendants, tabletop figurines, and other decorative accents for home or garden.

Of course, these are just ideas for the beginning of your product line endeavors, you can always diversify further.

Opposites Attract
Also think about size when you’re considering a new line. If you’re a sculptor of free standing pieces, go small, say for wearables. Same goes for jewelers, if you’re crafting gorgeous little pieces, imagine how splendid they would look large?

Plan 3 different products at 3 different price points
When I decided to create a product line based on my CalligraphyCats, it made sense to both myself and my customer to stay within an area that I knew very well: papergoods. The fine art prints and notecard sets on hand-chosen quality paper resonate very well for art lovers on several levels as the notecards allows them to share the art they love by introducing it to someone across the miles. The prints are a great price point that allows the customer to purchase with confidence and they’re doubly excited at gift-giving time.

In the beginning, I also had a tiny set of cards called LUVBites that became the third product in my lineup, but I have phased that out and turned it into a bonus gift, more on that later.

Here is the original product line breakout:

  • Originals $150
  • Prints $24
  • Notecards $16

As you can see, offering a variety of papergoods products with multiple price points allowed me to offer the customer who is frequently buying gifts and also can’t do without my art herself. The key here is not to overwhelm your customer with too many options, otherwise she won’t buy.

Here is the customer purchasing breakout:

  • Original for customer
  • Print for sister
  • Cards for mom

Remember Your Demographic
How do I know my customers so well? I talk to them. When I’m at a show, I’ll demonstrate the suite of products and they’ll talk aloud about the gifts they need to pick up. Now that it’s 2010, remember your demographic. Moms and grandmoms are still traditional (they love cards) and sisters like to adorn their homes with great art.

Tip: Just because you’ve crafted 3 different price points for all, doesn’t mean that everyone will buy your art; they may not be in your target customer.

Remember 3 Key Points:

  • Maintain your style
  • Expand Your Product Line Sensibly
  • Plan 3 different products at 3 different price points

I know that expanding your product line can be filled with uncertainty, but by talking with your customers and maintaining your style, you should find that adding a few more products with your art will be a smart and rewarding business adventure.

Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence

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Lisa Stewart

CREATIVEGoddess, Design Entrepreneur, Guide for INDIECreatives.com; Huge Pet Advocate; Lover of Wine, Food, Travelling, Tech & Laughing. Dreamy & Practical.


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