As the exhibition looms close on the horizon, I am trying to tie up all the loose end. The only major task left to do, was to bar code all the paintings ready for any sales to be processed in the Cathedral shop. The process of selling is a bit complex in the Cathedral, as we, the exhibitors are not able to take any money. All purchases are dealt with through the shop, which means that would-be buyers have to take a docket with the appropriate bar code down to the sales staff, pay for the goods and then bring the receipt back to the Chapter House to collect their purchase. As Wells Cathedral is the only Cathedral in England to have the Chapter House on an upper floor, and the stonesteps have been worn into some very strange shapes over hundreds of years and are very steep, this can be a bit of a chore. In some cases I tend to walk down to the shop with the client and the painting, so that they do not have to make a return journey. This can only happen when there are two of us behind the desk and this year that will not happen very often! All this depends upon trying to explain to non-speaking foriegners why I cannot accept the notes they are offering me, especially for my boxes of cards.
The cards are a great product. They are A4 folded to A3 and there are 8 designs in each boxed set and I sell them for £10.00.Every year I sell out completely so each year I produce a few more boxes and this year there are 30 of them. I hope to sell all of them and the profit (not as much as you would think!) will just about cover all my incidental costs such as advertising, printing, postage, petrol etc.
I try to make the boxes as professional as possible, the card is bought pre-folded and comes with proper card envelopes. Each box is lined with tissue paper and the boxes are white glossy 'book boxes' (size of a standard paperback book)
The above pictures show the box lid design and the selection in the box which is pasted on the base.
Back then to the last remaining task: sticking on the bar codes. This can only be done after I have put the paintings into price groups and decided what price to attach to each group. I find this so hard to do. I do not want to undersell my work, but do not want to appear as if I think the work is worth hundreds. Also, I am aware that times are quite hard financially for lots of people at the moment. And I do want to sell some paintings so that I make a few bob for the cathedral to encourage them to ask me back again next year. Finally I do want to re-coup some of the outlay involved in framing about 85 paintings and mounting another 30 or so.
Some artists measure the painting and charge by the square centimetre, but I find this very unsatisfactory as I always feel some are better works than others even though they are the same size. Also the acrylics often do not have a frame so different rules seem to apply. What I have tried to do is produce a range of sizes and hence prices without compromising the way I want to paint. Although this year my paintings do seem to have grown in size somewhat and therefore I feel I have to charge more for them.
We shall see if I have got it right, although I am sure that the different month this year will have a knock-on effect on sales (last year it was the beginning of July)
As my friend, Jan, is unable to take part this year (she is the landscape painter, to my flower painting) I have included a number of pictures which are not in my usual exhibition range, and I have include one here for you to look at.