Most every product and many services are presented to the buyer with some form of packaging – this packaging could be very elaborate or as minimal as a tag. Manufacturers of consumer packaged goods (CPG’s) have known for years that a effective package may mean the difference between making a sale or losing it to their competitors as well as the price(profit) they receive from the sale. Selling art is no different and you can benefit from effective packaging.
Some time ago I was talking to a successful ceramic artist about how he packaged and delivered his work to his customers. Typically his works were quite large, expensive and sold to upscale / well to-do customers.
When asked how he packaged his creations he responded, “I just find an old box that clay came in, put the piece in it and deliver it to the client.” Let me get this right, you invested hours of your time to create a great piece of art, sold it to your customer for a good sum of money and delivered it to their door in an old dirty beat up box – what is this saying about you and your brand? A good package can say a lot about you and your brand!
Packaging is not just about having a container for your art. Your packaging says a lot about your art, your brand and most importantly your customer’s experience in purchasing your art. Packaging serves many purposes and here are just a few:
- Protects the art during handling and shipping
- Printed materials can be included inside the package such as an artist bio, artist statement for the piece, a catalog or information on other art you create and don’t forget your invoice or receipt!
- Packaging gives you the opportunity to tell your story and possibly promote other products
- Packaging is an important part of your overall brand experience
- Packaging will help your art stand out from your competition
- Provides more information about the product such as benefits and features, use and care
- Packaging can be an effective form of advertising
- Packaging can add value to your art and affect the price you can charge
- Packaging can help increase your arts value long after the sale
- Provides contact information about the artist and/or distributor (phone, web address, email…)
- Identifies the art as to title, model, type and price
- For products that are sold in larger retailers there may be a UPC or bar code
- Quality and unique packaging may be saved and possibly used to keep the work (in the case of jewelry)
- Saves you time if you have packaging materials on hand along with a packaging routine
Who is the art intended for?
People may buy your art for themselves, their company or as a gift. If your art is purchased as a gift then packaging may make it more convenient for the purchaser – think of packaging as a way to make your buyer’s life easier (wrapping the gift) and make them more likely to buy. Good packaging will add to the gift receiver’s experience as well!
Even when people buy for themselves they like to show off their purchase to their friends, family or co-workers. Good packaging will add to their experience of your brand and may lead to future purchases and referrals.
Where do people buy your art?
Art is bought and sold in a variety of venues. You may sell your art in a gallery, out of your studio, at an art fair or show, in a retailer, in a mall or on the internet just to name a few venues. If you sell your art in a setting with a large amount of foot traffic (an art fair for example) then your packaging can serve the important purpose of advertising your brand – think of people in malls with bags advertising where they just made a purchase.
Even if people buy your art online, your packaging is important. When they receive a cardboard box in which you ship your art, make sure they have a good experience when they open the “plain brown” wrapper.
Some packaging ideas for artists
Flat or Two Dimensional Art
- Flat art includes paintings, drawings prints, photographs and even some “thin” three dimensional artworks.
- Think of the frame and mat as a form of packaging. Many customers don’t want to go through the trouble of getting art matted and framed – make it easy for them to hang and enjoy your art. If they are giving your art as a gift, this may mean the difference between purchasing and not purchasing.
- For higher end works you may want to consider a box specifically designed for flat art. Many boxes can serve as a shipping package but think of ways how you can step up your game and your brand.
- Include information in your packaging about you and the work.
- Brand your packaging with your logo and great graphics
Here is a link to Masterpak, a company that makes high end packaging for flat artwork. If you receive one of these you will immediately know it is something special! This type of packaging is not inexpensive so make sure you cover these costs in your pricing.
Thinking inside the box and on the box…
Peter Lik is a noted contemporary photographer who is also a master of building his brand and marketing his photography. His works are known all over the world and by some estimates he has sold $100’s of Millions of his photographic prints. His prints are quite expensive but he has come up with a way to introduce people to his works or as in his words “For a taste of the Peter Lik experience without going ‘full size’” with his Elements line of prints. Check out how he uses packaging – Peter Lik Elements
It seems that everywhere I go I see jewelry made by local artists being sold. You can see this jewelry is stores, museum shops, art shows and fairs and even on the street. What strikes me the most is that few of these artists use any form of packaging for display or for the sale. Typically they offer their jewelry laying flat on a piece of cloth. Jewelry artist can easily benefit from packaging – usually in the form of a box. Here are some ideas on packaging for jewelry:
- Get a box for your jewelry – they don’t have to be expensive
- Include your logo/name/graphics on the box
- Insert a small informational piece in the box on you, your art, contact information and possibly product care
- Packaging will make it easy to purchase as a gift
- Packaging will keep the jewelry from getting buried in a pocket or purse
- Packaging may be used to store the jewelry by the purchaser and packaging will make it easier to find
- Simple packaging can add value to jewelry and may provide a brand presence long after the sale is made
Here is one company Nashville Wraps that sells packaging for jewelry. As you can see, packaging for jewelry does not have to be expensive!
For many types of art, a box may not work well for packaging. Think Bags! When you go to a mall you see bags everywhere. These bags are touting the latest brand with great designed logos and graphics – not only do these bags hold the purchase but they also serve as advertising that screams “Look where I went!”
See if bags will work for your art business. If you sell your art at shows or festivals, bags may really help increase your brand awareness and sales. There are many suppliers of bags of all sizes, colors and materials, do a search on the internet to find a supplier.
Here are some ideas on using bags:
- Use bags as a main packaging vehicle or use them in conjunction with other packaging
- Use great designs and imagery on your bags – this is your brand!
- Bags provide a great way to tell your story and provide contact information
- Bags can also provide a “quick” gift wrap for customers shopping for gifts
The Bottom Line(s)…
Packaging can be an important part in growing your art brand and art sales. Not only does packaging protect it can also be a great form of advertising and provide a great customer experience. Good packaging can be used to entertain, surprise and inform your customer. Your packaging does not to be expensive – only good! Standing out in a crowded market is always a challenge and great packaging will give you an edge.
You might also want to check out my article Packaging for Artists : Build Your Brand and Your Profits for a great example of packaging – the Apple iPad. Creating great packaging is another chance to use your creative skills – go for it!
If you would like to learn more about preparing your own business and marketing plan, building your art business and selling more art I invite you to check out my book – The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto