Free Tutorial

How to Make the World´s Most Original Arts & Crafts and How to Sell Them

by 50 year multi-media Artist Allan Ryan

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The opinions expressed here are simply ones I find have worked for me over my 50 year career, to date. As they say "Use at your own peril". If you read between the lines, you will find a thousand ideas, new and old that can line your pockets, put a smile on your face and save years of obstinate fooling around.

Nothing sells like True Originality

O.K. so you are bursting with raw creativity but folks just don't see the effort and talent you put into your work. Setting your own personal goals is the first and easiest way, so get your highlighter out and lets go.........

1-) Why not create your own Art or Craft Medium that has never been seen anywhere before? Oh come on, it's not that hard when you know how. We all want to be healthy, wealthy, loved and wise. If your calling is that of an Original Artisan then nothing else will make your heart sing so. Be warned though, like most of us creative types, a good part of your new wealth will be paid in personal satisfaction from your new accomplishments.

Blending several crafts in one new and magical medium is the only logical direction

2-) Becoming a Jewelry Maker is a good choice. It's a very compact and portable medium when compared to being a potter or furniture maker. It's easy to cart your essentials with you and its fast to set-up and take down your display. With a mindset for a steady, daily push towards excellence, it is not too long a voyage for the moderately talented to surpass 98% of all the so called "Jewelry Artists", and here is how:

3-)The biggest roadblock to your progress is influence from well meaning family and friends and quite often your own pre-conceived ideas. The French have coined a phrase "l'idee fix" meaning a potentially path blocking idea that is stuck in your head for right or wrong but very difficult to dislodge. Creativity requires Free Thinking and using the right side of the brain. History is jammed full of traditions designed to restrict Free Thinking. These were perpetrated to keep the peasants in line by the Ruling Class before anyone could read. So put tradition aside when you are creating your next Arts & Crafts project as it has little to do with moving towards the True Originality you should be reaching for. The only tradition we Artists will never let go of is honoring the Masters, the ones any one can name a few of. Their contributions and our aspirations are indelibly bonded like a holy brotherhood/sisterhood. We all need role models but stay humble. Rodin considered himself to be "just a craftsman" rather than one of the World's greatest Artists.

4-) We all drag old, unusable ideas with us. These must be displaced with new, correct for us and the times ones and even then we must remind ourselves to keep an open mind for further change. We are all judged by the company we keep so choose wisely. There is "having fun" then there is Rewarding Fun all of your life. Every situation becomes some part of you, for better or for worse.

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5-) There are six billion plus of us riding this rock. Every one has their own personal, always changing and often hidden and very competitive agenda, (things of personal importance) all quite different from and often conflicting with your own. Stay alert and observe. Ask lots of well thought out questions of people outside your regular friends and family. Seasoned Artists, Art teachers and small suppliers are usually genuinely sympathetic to your calling and when you show them you are looking beyond the usual they will be inspired to help you. Burst in on them when they are busy and they will tell you to…….. The more Qualified the opinions you seek the better the choices you can then make from your findings. There is a lot of erroneous and useless information around all wrapped up in golden words for profit, so beware. Never forget that assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.

6-) I believe that the meaning of life is learning and the secret of life is knowing what to expect. It is often said you can't love another until you learn to love yourself. Most importantly, you must learn to believe in yourself before this belief will manifest itself through your works. There is no greater feeling than practicing Free Thinking. Once you get into practice, it's just like first love, every time.

7-) If your spouse or partner is not an Artist, always remind them of your gratitude for putting up with your calling. If you haven't got one, get out there and find a rich and sympathetic one.

8-) A few of us have discovered the invaluable belief in what is sometimes called "the universal unconscious"; that is to say that he key to all knowledge ever to be known exists all around us and can be tapped into simply by believing it exists for our use. Faith begins by having faith in ourselves, always. This doesn't mean there is no hard work involved.

9-) Lots of brilliant young people drift out of school because they are simply not interested in the subject matter as presented. The best way to motivate people is to make them think they thought of it. With the right knowledge you can do anything! Be your own Most Resourceful true self. Keep the development of new ideas to yourself until your take on them becomes solidified. Always exhaust your own resources before asking others. You want to keep it purely yours. If you can imagine it, you can always discover a way to do it. Never be afraid of big challenges. Try simply dividing it into workable pieces. You will find you already have answers for many of the parts and the rest will reveal themselves with patience.

10-) Say NO to negativity but Never take NO for an answer. Being your most positive will draw out the most useful answers from your own resourcefulness and that of others. Avoid "the takers" and those who are vexations to your spirit. There is no fear except the fear of the unlearned. Look out for those "sticky individuals" who trade false flattery to take advantage of talent they don't have. When you do something a few times the brain opens a channel for the procedure making it faster and easier every time.

11-) Create every design element in your work from scratch for unquestionable originality. Short cuts like using found objects and cheap pre-made parts online strangle your reputation for quality and originality.

12-) Be painfully honest with yourself when evaluating your own work and worth. Creative people have a habit of exaggerating their success to themselves and others. How well your creations are selling today tells you how well you are really doing.. Be in sync with the World around you without being consumed by it.

13-) No matter how excited you become over a new creation, take it across the internet to verify its originality. If it is even close to another, don't go there, rework it. It's originality will come to fruition.

14-) Work, daily, as if you are trying to create that new medium of your own but realize it may take years, even decades to fully form. A valid and original way to discover a strikingly new look is to "play in the cracks". That is, to pick out a series of different but related works from the internet; choose ones you wish you had made and then let your imagination fly as it blends with designs and techniques you already know, a hundred ways,

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until you discover a new and blended form of you own. Never stop blending these findings amongst themselves. There is always room for improvement. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like hearing someone who should know better, telling me "Oh, you can't do that". Put your faith in yourself to the test by proving them wrong. It's bliss! You are never stuck but merely momentarily challenged.

15-) It takes a lifetime to dare to call yourself a Master Artisan but what a voyage. At 65, I run into somewhat older, retired Artisans I have known and shown with for decades. Too many are retired for health reasons, often through their own carelessness, but they always say the same thing "Wasn't it a great life, making beautiful things?"

16-) However you choose to create, build-in numerous simple ways to vary each piece. Do it something like Danish pastry where you fold the dough once and you have two layers, again it's four, eight, six-teen and so on into infinity. The more mediums you combine, the more shapes and colors you employ, the easier it is to add original variety to your smallest works. If you blend three mediums in one and have a hundred variations for each, you will have the possibility of a million originals. Work in periods of varying styles and materials.

17-) I find most Artists have the stingiest supply of materials and this severely restricts their creativity and originality. Visitors to my studio describe it as an enviable cornucopia of every imaginable tool and Arts & Crafts supply. Become known for working in various mediums so you get better at all. Get everyone you meet to be on the lookout for the most unlikely materials, books and tools. You will be surprised what a wild selection you will collect, often for free or by trading your work. Don't forget to save every kind of container, disposable brushes from hair dye, syringes from filling your ink cartridges and the like. Some things you may not use for years but by regularly tidying-up of your collection you will develop a mental inventory that will constantly provide inspiration. You will have a head start with many needs already at your finger tips to begin piecing together project after project. Seek solid old tools and the friendship of seasoned Artisans as these arrive pre-charged with the magical inspiration of The Arts & Crafts Spirit.

18-) Stop dreaming about "What if ?" Learn to make and modify tools, jigs, fixtures and gadgets that will ease and speed the work while advancing what's possible. Learn to sharpen tools. A dull knife is far more likely to cut you and ruin your project than a razor sharp one. Learn to join all materials. I was recently told that I couldn't cut out intricate shapes from sterling sheet using fragile jewelers' blades in a power scroll saw. A few adaptations and now it's not only possible, it's fun and it's faster, leaves a much smoother finish, allows finer detail and a lot less broken blades than by hand saw. Bliss!

19-) Take great care of your tools and supplies. Many friendships have dissolved over the lending of tools. Your success (agenda) depends on everything being in top shape when you need it. "It's a poor craftsperson that blames their tools".

20-) Take great care of yourself and your work space. Safety should be number one when handling any materials, or tools, familiar or unfamiliar. Read directions and cautions on all substances. Don't chance mixing chemicals without full knowledge of their proper handling and known hazards. Wear prescribed safety gear. Power vent all fumes and dust. Wash your hands often. Label everything clearly. Prevent possible accidents, electrical hazards and potential causes of fire. I constantly hear of Artists who can no longer work because they ignored very obvious health risks for years. As a multi-media Artisan the risks do increase. Make your studio safe for others.

21-) Again, If you want good answers, always ask well prepared questions. Maintain a priority list in order of the things you want to know and keep it at hand. Being a Top Artisan is a serious business that takes a lifetime of dedication. When you stop learning you begin to get brittle inside and the World becomes a burden. There is great reward in being a shining example to others and passing on your discoveries, skills and capacity for dedication to the deserving. It bothers me how potters can make the same old matching things year after year.

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22-) Don't knock any Arts & Crafts advice, book, or tutorial no matter how juvenile it appears. There is always something new to learn, hidden in the weeds. Teach children and they will teach you a great deal about yourself.

23-) Since the invention of the camera all the known single medium Arts & Crafts have been milked of almost any possibility of further originality. Layering several crafts in one is your best chance of discovering a new medium that looks great, works great, sells great and you get the credit for and sometimes even money. Look for and try the latest materials. The space program has created fabulous new supplies for Artisan glass makers. Use mirror or in-side-out thinking. Read between the lines in old books on Arts & Crafts procedures. Applying new knowledge, tools and supplies to procedures that stymied Artisans back then may now provide the key to more new discoveries.

24-) Almost everyone is bouncing around on exercise equipment these days including yours truly. This is essential to staying alert. However, so many people neglect the most important part of themselves, their Spirits (that thing that connects your brain's right hemisphere to all creation and the only part you get to take with you). It's just a matter of believing in yourself no matter what anyone says. Practice saying "I can do this. I will find a way!" If you don't pull out that cork you will never taste the wine. I just read fabulous and very helpful book written by Jill Bolte Taylor/Viking Press called "My stroke of insight". The author is a neuroanatomist PhD (brain mapping) who has a massive stroke in the left hemisphere (functional half) leaving her right (creative half) side intact. With a little outside help she recovers over an eight year period from near coma to fully functional. The book will tell you how to train your brain so you can follow your ideal agenda. Seeing her having cured herself works for me. Reading it will cure anyone from everfeeling sorry for themselves again. Reading is the first Art. The more books on all subjects that you read the more depth will become obvious in the progression of your works.

25-) Should you be fortunate enough to eventually create an interesting new medium unlike any other, it certainly won't be in your best interests to tell everyone the particular secrets of how you do it. I am constantly quizzed on how I fire my fine silver designs directly to my Art Glass. Yes, there are painstaking, lengthy and expensive ways to fire silver and glass together. My method, however, allows a wonderful liquid Artistic freedom, economy and takes no time at all, as reflected in my low prices and quite respectable profits. New discoveries worth keeping under wraps may only become common knowledge when their creator publishes or dies and copyrights run out. By then this kind of knowledge becomes either a tradition or obsolete. Anything that is original by you can never be so to anyone else. You can sometimes state that your work is in homage to another Artist's works but it must be an extension or advancement inspired by them but with your significant differences. Still, it's usually 90% painstakingly learned Artistry, focus, determination and hard work and just 10% secret methods. The arrival of the Magic Fairies, as too many believe, just is not going to happen. Only you can develop your own magic. Just make sure that others can see it if you want to eat. Continuing further on paths of genuine praise brings reward.

26-) Only Free Thinking, beyond all of the intimidating rules, can create the newness and freshness that is heavenly to work with and that Arts & Crafts lovers crave enough to pay for. It's true, variety is the spice of life. Don't stagnate in passed achievements. Developments like High Definition television and the latest automobiles bombard the World with brilliant images and ideas that demand that new Arts & Crafts Design reach unprecedented levels of excellence and impact in order to sell at all. New ideas don't just pop up all ready for you to assemble. They usually begin as flashes of ecstasy that, to survive at all, have to be captured, carefully nurtured and evolved over weeks and sometimes years. The seed of a great and original idea is a very fragile thing easily watered down beyond recognition, especially by others conflicting agendas.

27-) Keeping a pencil and little pocket note book handy at all times allows you to record fleeting inspirations, day or night, with words and sketches before they disappear forever.

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Scratch it down immediately then recopy it clearly before it escapes you forever. Always date everything and maintain a great filing system. Staple little notes to a full sheet to prevent loss as you soon will be older than the glue on Scotch Tape. Sleeping on an idea rather than working it to death is far more productive in the end.

28-) About 40 years ago I noticed an accelerating mass of imported, mass manufactured, so called arts & crafts being presented by décor magazine gurus as "the last word". This "decorate this year and throw it out the next" phenomena has been displacing the market for our own Quality Arts & Fine Crafts. The good news is that people coming into my gallery absolutely agree; civilized nations are absolutely fed up with imported crap. Every home tells the story of its people. It is every Artist's first job to teach the public the immense joy and inspiration of surrounding ourselves with True Originals by makers known to them.

29-) The sleeping brain is the ultimate computer, clicking away while we are unaware, asleep or awake. Have more faith in your own problem solving and resource abilities. The most impossible challenges late in the day often disappear after a good night's sleep.

30-) Always develop your ideas like engineers do. Create BOLD prototypes. Each new edition will usually be better than the last. Even if you work in metals don't be afraid to build a paper model. Of course it won't look like much at the start but slap on a dash of watercolor, tape on a live flower, a feather, textured fabric or whatever in place to test the various effects. Do whatever it takes to get your mind to translate your thoughts and passions into a final work that feels right for the chosen mediums. One trick I do for example is to use my torch to put a certain texture and patina on copper so it creates the illusion of being ancient leather. This never fails to both puzzle and delight the patron's touch and eye. We are all looking for that original quality whether creators or collectors.

31-) Stop strutting around. If your work is that good your customers will go on and on about it right in front of you. Every time you complete "your best piece", before anyone sees it, ask yourself "How can I make it better this time and next?" O.K., so you worked real late and you are really tired. Take a good look at it in the morning.

32-) If you really get going and think you may need employees consider these points. Unless you have a real handle on labor management and proven lost sales because you can't do it alone, then forget about hiring people. It's a huge step away from your creative agenda. You might be better off putting in a few more hours yourself. You get the most out of help when you are right there setting the pace, working with them. They have to be continuously interested. Don't hire know-it-all's, chatter boxes or ones that spend all day telling you what changes you need to make. Have helpers sign a simple agreement stating they are sub-contractors responsible for their own insurance, safety and safety equipment and procedures plus taxes and the normal contributions. Use them only on a weekly basis and pay them the gross, marking the checks "sub contract to date" even though they might do the work in your studio. This way you have no payroll headaches and minimal liabilities. Avoid giving them dangerous work. Get them to do the routine stuff where there is the least chance of failure. Teach them to check their work and then you check after at each stage. When the cat's away, the mice will play. Lock up your supplies. Forbid private projects, borrowing tools and walking off with any materials or scraps. It's far better for your creativity to have two or three people the same two days a week than have one person clogging your creative freedom all week. You are an Artisan after all. Possibly the best idea is to go through "production only" periods as long as you don't over produce un-proven designs. Most crafters have a basement full of unsold items. Lots of very earnest Art students are available over the summer months. Set up some real operations you expect them to do and test them actually doing it well before hiring. Choose happy people not ones you feel sorry for, especially not friends (you will need them later). Avoid partnerships unless you are the lesser skilled by far.

33-) A word on perfection: To my mind, striving for perfection smells of that greatest of all sins, obsession. This is exactly that thing that milks the magic and joy out of too many of Arts & Crafts. Those quaint little Old English cottages everyone loves didn't look anywhere as quaint when they were first built all straight and new with farm

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animals wandering through the yard instead of the manicured English garden. As humans we are filled with an insatiable hunger for infinite variation, color, textures and character just as real Art should be. Give me the works of Emily Carr and Sofi Mathilde Baker's Northern Landscape Pottery, any day. If you have a piece of Sofi's work, put it up on a high shelf today as it is now worth a fortune. Sofi has been bravely fighting M.S. for years. She has just recently found she can no longer continue at her Art. Sofi's work is the most original craft I have ever seen in my 50 years. A few of her pieces can be seen on our site. The bowl shown has the most beautiful ring to it, a call to all you Artisans to get off your asses and Get Original!

34-) As a multi-discipline Artist I am never bogged down for ideas. I switch tasks or purely work on marketing for a while. Reorganizing my studio and reviewing notes, travel, sharpening tools or giving lessons to young people always refreshes and inspires me. I read everything I can get my hands on. Do remember, books on Artist's lives are history. That's where starry eyed biographers get creative and somewhat romantic in their portrayals. The real magic is in their works and not in their human foibles.

35-) For an Artist, having too little money may limit time and materials. The Artist having too much money, on the other hand, is constantly lured from their Art by tempting but unrelated pleasures along the path of least resistance. In either case, good Art requires discipline, dedication and focus away from distractions.

36-) Before I forget, you will find many more useful things on my Information Website at Feel free to download and even translate portions for others. But please remember all my designs are copyright.

37-) There is a huge difference between being able to sell your jewelry yourself and getting it so attractive that it sells itself when others are keeping shop. When your work begins to sell itself you will know you are moving in the right direction. But! Never stop experimenting, evolving and improving. Become fluent in every possible medium. Give yourself the no fear know-how and the means to soar with your Art. The more crafts you master the easier the next is learned and the combinations you will discover "in the cracks" will wow both you and your patrons. It's amazing how audience interest, like the cash register ringing, creates all kinds of energy. If it is not selling, you have not been doing your homework! If you know your work is not up to par and sales are slow, there is nothing like selling other's good work to sharpen you up for your next creative go.

Selling is where the money is made!

38-) To sell well and easily you have to have the best possible products you can make in order to hear excited customers saying things like "Now, that's different!", "Your prices are very good!" and "Come look at this". With my jewelry, I have heard repeatedly, "It's simply mouthwatering". I have heard it so often that I painted "Ryan's Mouthwatering Jewelry" on the outside of my Walk-in Gallery. Now when first time customers come in with their hands on their hips asking "What's this nonsense about mouthwatering?", before they get another word out we hear "Oh! It really is mouthwatering". With 25 or so Top Artisans represented in my walk-in Gallery, we see 70% of total sales are for my own jewelry. This is a direct result of having taken my work little farther every day for 50 years so far and always pricing it right. Another encouraging line heard since the first day our Gallery opened is "I'll be back!" We printed it on our Gallery/B&B flyers a while back and now our regulars all say it with a chuckle in their smiles as they leave. And they do come back!

39-) Some folks are extra flashy in their dress and manner while others prefer keeping a low profile. Try to create something for every taste but never think you can please all of the people all of the time. Sometimes you need to take a different selection of works to different shows; such as a The One of a Kind Christmas show in posh downtown Toronto vs. a Christmas show at a university where students are looking for lower priced gift items.

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Also remember you can't change people over to your style. At shows, if you and your work looks too extreme, only the extreme, or those needing a laugh, will stop by your booth. Being too bland doesn't work either. Your work must be infused with a good measure of your own Artistic Excitement and Mystique that patrons come to Arts & Crafts events to discover. Grandmothers do buy things for themselves and they do have daughters and granddaughters, often right in the building that they may send over, or buy for. Treat them right. And, don't forget, smiling is contagious.

40-) An incredible number of shoppers return to their first choice after looking at everything in your booth. There are those who look over every piece then ask for the one you don't have and seldom buy anything. It's the same with self proclaimed critics. There are the ones that specialize in categorizing you, as in "Oh. That's just like…." Then there is the bargain hunter with the line, "What kind of a deal can you give me on this?" I am always tempted to ask them if their boss uses that line on them on payday. You work too hard not to stand your ground but being polite pays off. Another sign you are doing it right is in the frequency of customers asking if you teach. Caution, a number of these are researching their own products under cover.

41-) There is a lot to see at a good Arts & Crafts show. Big brash pieces start the critics off on a tirade so they miss your smaller best sellers displayed in between. Wonderful, large pieces can attract visitors from a distance. I place one of my much loved $1700.00 Hot Sculptured Art Glass Lamps at each end of the booth where they catch eyes from a distance while helping light my jewelry. Men like them too, so it brings the whole family into my booth. I keep a dozen or so clear top jewelry display trays behind my sales counter so my visible display remains full but not cluttered. When a customer shows interest in a certain size, style and/or color I pull out more pieces in that range. This gives an impression of magical personal service and we all enjoy being catered to. I always include a tray of marked down, older stock. I pull these out only when their interest begins to fade and only when the booth is quiet. Often the "bargain aspect" works best when you quote the original cost saying "This piece is the last one in a series, so it's a deal". Never have more than one price on things. We never use "Sale" stickers or garish signs like "75% OFF". Giving customers a little off the tag price on any item or throwing in a $1.75 blue polishing cloth you normally sell for $4.00 (from goes a long way to creating that good word of mouth that attracts more customers by personal endorsement. Word of mouth is your very best advertising and it's free. Remember that about half of any Artist's time and expenses are invested in sales. Forget about advertising commercially and come up with highly original work that sells itself.

42-) Forget about any kind of fast profits at the start but cover your costs. Keep working on your designs and prices until they sell well. Then, go back and streamline the production time and ease. Hit suppliers up for wholesale pricing on volume buys.

43-) Selling "seconds" attracts the dumpster divers and is a reputation killer for Artisans. At shows, when you are getting attention from a number of other Artisans, this is a sign you are doing it better than right. Don't forget, all makers are always hunting for new ideas, so don't tell them everything.

44-) Be your own Star Maker Machinery. Very few of us are led by the hand to the hollow world of fame and fortune. Greet your customers with a genuine smile. Be enthusiastic about your work, it's catching. Work at promoting yourself at every turn. Keep the tone somewhere between boasting and shyness. Praise or at least show interest by asking about the jewelry they are wearing. If you are proud of your work speak right up and tell them an interesting fact or to. Get them talking, then let them lead and keep it light. Even if your favorite aunt was just run over by a steam roller, don't go there. Countless more up-to-date selling strategies are described online free so get Googling. Practice makes perfect. Tell your customers only what they want to hear as long as it is good for the sale. Learn how to end conversations nicely with the poor and lonely. Keep that pocket notebook handy to remind you of sales improvements for the next show.

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45-) Our own wholesale items arrive all neatly packed in sealed, super clear cello envelopes with interesting information on the back and retail price tag on the hanging-display tab. The appearance of your booth as well as your self are huge factors in selling. Avoid perfumes as many are allergic and will flee. Again, ask those Artisans who are succeeding how your booth looks, but tell them to be brutally honest. You are not asking to be cheered up with more fibs; you want to learn how to sell the most. More ideas on my info site www.www.ryanartsbnb.comlike Easy Cleaning of Artisan Jewelry.

46-) Get honest with yourself about your real craft income. Calculate last year's sales less all expenses. Not too many Artisans clearing above $15.00 per hour! So, go easy on the pricing. Everything has an ideal Price Cap that it sells best at that has little or nothing to do with your real time and materials spent when first test selling new designs. Shows in different areas may call for a price adjustment. Best to mark things with your regular price and offer a deal like no tax in poorer areas. People are constantly comparison shopping for value. Have unique features and point them out. When you have sold a lot of a new item then start making them in bigger quantities always looking for ways to increase appeal. Keep cutting your time and costs so they get a deal and you make money. In real business, it's the (highly theoretical) market research that dictates production levels. Often the economy or special expenses require extra cash. I have always had a second line of "lighter" items that are a sketch of my more detailed pieces. These feature all the style basics and the variation tricks of the more expensive pieces but with higher volume production, simpler methods and scaled down sizes and materials. Design simplicity makes it easier to profit from part time help thus lower prices to stimulate sales. This kind of production can create a break from high energy work like development and experimentation. Often, skipping all the bells and whistles creates an even more appealing product. Change brings inspiration.

47-) You have to be very productive to earn any living. It is always a thrill to make something new but being an Artisan is not la-la land. Some designs simply can't be hand-made at saleable prices. Lots of folks buy things they really don't need just because they are On Sale. Some Artisans arrange their pricing so they can say, when required, "Let me give you 10% off on that today". It works. With my jewelry every piece is a distinct one of a kind original. Some same sized pieces may have more highly worked designs. In every batch there are a few exceptional pieces. Prices are set by size, detail, materials, time and sales appeal, all coordinated by our 50 years sales experience. Pieces of our glass that are not quite right are pulled out of production early and broken up into components for the next batch. Every piece we offer is first quality so always highly re-saleable. Slipping in a single second with a customer's wholesale order can ruin the business you do with them. Our Infinite Originality rules out having a fixed design catalogue. You can see the unique way we deal on our Information Site under "Ryan Wholesale Catalogue" on my website.

48-) Never cheap-out on the quality of materials you buy. Here are a few examples: A lot of Asian "sterling" has a much higher percentage of copper than real .925. This is the principal cause of rapid tarnishing as the copper comes to the surface. Always buy North American or British silver. Tell your suppliers, every order, to send only their best, no scratches (especially on sheet silver) and no discoloration. Beads have to be picked out in person. Quality sterling silver parts, like earring posts, smoothly finished, are the only kind anyone should stick in their ears. Stay away from nickel and sharp, plated ones. Forget gold, the price is through the roof and customers for gold scarce these days anyways. Jewelers working with gold and diamonds are often robbed. Plating gold over silver is nice but a tricky art in itself best left to job shops for large lots.

49-) Too few folks care that a piece is hand crafted, local or original. A genuine signature causes notice. I tell folks that I have archived all of my designs, catalogues and photos since the beginning. Much glass jewelry sold at $60.00 and $70.00 in Venice can be found on line for $2.00 from the same Eastern factory! There are tons of people posing as North American Artisans and signing and selling as their own, low priced imports of no originality and questionable quality and worth. It's up to Artisans to educate their public on recognizing real North American hand-made originals as well as the charm of owning them! But, keep it positive and directed to

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support each sale without insulting the jewelry your customer may already be wearing. Bringing some work in to do at shows during slow periods is good time use. But, demonstrating some interesting but non-secret phase of your process in the show booth draws a crowd but requires a second person handling sales. Having a few people in conversation in your booth always attracts more customers. Good sized color blow up photos of interesting things that can only happen in your studio may be a little expensive but a very worthwhile investment. Arrange them on the back of the booth. (From your best images at most copy centers). Everyone is fascinated by your procedures, studio and home. This is why Studio Tours are so popular and they are cheap. Visitors can see right into my studio from the Gallery entrance. It really gets them into the "The Spirit of The Arts & Crafts Movement" that the agendas of antique sellers try to tell us ended early in the last century. Surprise boys and girls, it has been going steady since Eve carved the first apple.

50-) When applying for show space be sure to ask to be well spaced away from all other jewelry makers so customers refresh their outlook with in between crafts other than more jewelry before they come to you. Most visitors walk the whole show then go back where it's most interesting to them. Ask not to be near anyone demonstrating with a microphone like the salad chopper guy. Avoid shows that don't police the sale of imports so often presented as hand-made here. These sell much cheaper and will seriously lower your sales. That beautiful $10.00 Asian mug at Hallmark cost 25 cents on the pier. Look for shows where your offerings have mid price status, if you can figure that one out. The established down town shows are attended by more affluent folks looking for the cream. Some creations sell better at small shows where the "real folks come". Shows with high entrance fees and parking costs had better be well established and well attended so well worth it to the public.

51-) Again, never get into conversations where you become negative. Stick positively to your good points. Trained sales people are told "If it doesn't promote the sale, don't go there".

52-) Stay focused at shows. You are there to sell your creations and build your reputation. Even if it's tough times, always leave them with a great impression and your business card with website address for when times improve. If you treat every one of them nicely they will remember your smile and may well buy in future and tell their friends. Your show booth is no place to visit with friends and family. Tell them ahead to come by and make a big fuss over your work like they just discovered you. Once they have attracted a crowd then give them the signal to disappear off to see the rest of show. A really nice booth catches browsers attention from a distance before they see your work itself and may create a tendency for people to skip over other exhibitors in between.

53-) If you are just starting out or you have been at it for years and have decided to put your pride aside and are looking for new directions, visit the big, expensive shows twice each, by yourself. The first time, go mid-day Saturday when it's the busiest. Take notes on the booths doing the most business. They won't be interested in stopping sales to talk to you right then but try to figure out the secrets of their success. Go back early on Sunday morning when it's not busy and talk to the successful ones you spotted on Saturday. Taking photos without permission is taboo at Arts & Crafts shows! Evaluate even what they may not be telling you. Get over any shyness. Be bold and resourceful. Call ahead and ask the show management when a good time would be to show you around. Act interested. Get them to give you tips and leads on selling as you tour. Wear some of your best work and ask exhibitors what other shows would be good for your creations. Take notes. Decide where you would like to be situated if you were an exhibitor there. There are sites where Artisans in various regions rate the shows. The OCC prints a book of annual shows around Ontario. Well worth Googling before you get burned.

54-) Back to being HIGHLY ORIGINAL. Every other profession in the World these days is making remarkable discoveries and innovations to boost interest and sales. Artists, on the other hand, have always tried to distance themselves from commercialism. To sell well, your creations have to look as impressive and appealing as the new HD television sets and next year's automobiles. It's just the kind of Commercial World we live in that trains people what to look for, what's cool and in.

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To leave a legacy as a stand out Artisan you have to be one of those pioneers in Art like The French Impressionists who took a beating in their day to break away from tradition and do their thing. When I was fifteen my father told me "Your works will sell for a fortune one day, after you are dead!". It may have had something to do with his plans to see me in his business, trained as an engineer.

55-) Doing Some Wholesaling is a better deal than most Artisans think. No retailer wants unproven designs. It's got to be hot so you have to pre-test designs by doing a number of different shows. Remember you spend half your costs and time on sales when you retail but substantially less wholesaling; once you set up your own method to sell direct to those who will retail it for you. At shows there are quite a few retailers looking for the unusual and they find these by looking for busy booths. You don't want a sign that says "we wholesale" because it kills the retail. Do have a few attractive pamphlets handy under the table, made almost free on your computer, to hand over with reference to your website (Unless it's one of those really embarrassing ones most Artisans have). Have a short introductory speech ready. Being retailers, they know you have to get back to retailing and that you will get back to them, after the show.

56-) If there is a Wholesale Jewelry Show (Dealers Only) that you can talk your way into as a future participant, here's what you will find out: Renting a booth there is as steep as the best big city Arts & Crafts Christmas Shows and remember you are selling wholesale (half price or lower). Buyers are much tougher than at retail craft shows because they have to resell it. Success is by volume and that throws the Originality of each piece into the fire. Thinking of hiring a sales agent? They take about 20% of your wholesale price and do little for you unless you are a very hot and proven seller ready to pass at least a hundred thousand dollars plus through their fingers annually. Every six months they will want a line change with a snappy hard copy color catalogue mailed out. Don't go there. Even if your designs are great you will turn into a harried manufacturer. Creative Freedom will all but die. If someone offers to buy you out, go for it and use the cash to start all over to develop something much better from your experience. You are quite welcome to check out my approach at under "Wholesale Catalogue". Perhaps you can teach me a thing or two.

57-) Consigning your works is another headache you probably don't need. Stores push the items they have their money tied up in. You may leave their store with a center showcase display but return in 60 days and often they will have trouble finding your things let alone the paperwork. One in five or so are worthwhile but when they own it they will push it. There is nothing like asking other consignment vendors in each shop. Better to give shops 50% or more off and get paid by invoice. Giving 60 days to pay is becoming normal. If you have done your homework in product development they should be phoning you for more merchandise well before 60 days.

58-) Having a good website is essential these days but remember it is only a catalogue that only you can get your customers find. Beware when creating a website, there are all sorts of companies selling seedy looking template websites and promising to put you first on Google, etc. They can take $3,000 or more from you and in three months you are back to no hits. Mine was professionally done by Paul Harrington in Waterloo, Ontario at Tel. 519 504-0459. Print your web address on everything especially business cards. A color picture of your present, best selling work on the card will remind them who you are in six months. Link it to every free tourism, craft, etc. website you can find on Google, etc. Use a reputable web person a number of others recommend. Having a "Bricks & Mortar Gallery" says a lot about your success level, your integrity as an Artist and your credibility when selling online. No one wants to deal online with a business that does not disclose their address or one that is less than professional. With jewelry, retail is a tough go on line. There are 200,000 shops on etsy alone. The average sales for the year is about $600.00. But, your website catalogue and info can be a big help finding people to sell for you (wholesale-direct) when you run corresponding kijiji ads and other tricks. The best idea is to befriend someone who is doing it right in a non competing Art.

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59-) Never assume that people will drop dead over your jewelry from a tiny picture online no matter how wonderful. A low price tag or few colorful beads on an elastic can catch the eye of speeding browsers better than your best creations. For handcrafts, buying at the lowest price (like a Cracker Jack prize that comes in the mail) is much of what the internet is about. Only selling in person, where retail customers meet you and your work, face to face, works for Top Arts & Crafts. Why do you think best selling writers go through the pain of doing book signings? (If you want to make real money then forget about Art & originality). Your customers want to be friends with cool Arts people like you. They want to take home a piece of you and talk about the "Far Out" experience while showing off their latest acquisition. The latest fashion colors are very important so Google for them seasonally.

60-) Belonging to a Quality an Arts & Crafts co-op shop is very good exposure. Again, display and presentation is essential. A busy location, especially in an up and up mall is best. There is always a member who can manage your display, on site, for a consideration. Expect a tendency from other members to be a little jealous of better sellers. Expect them to push the sale of their own works ahead of yours on their volunteer day. Everything needs to be handled very carefully to stay well respected and recommended by other members. Throwing a pot luck supper and being known as a peace maker will go a long way to calming the waters. We Artists are a pretty odd bunch but we try, eh?

61-) Selling on line is a whole profession in itself. People are very tactile, they like to get merchandise in their hands, try it on, smell it, measure it, and see the colors against their skin and so on. It works well for known, Brand Name commodities like Airline tickets, cameras, golf clubs, electronics, etc. It works best for all things familiar. It really eats up you time. Point of Sale is when Arts and crafts sell a hundred times better; when the maker is right there with the work, giving their own pitch. Two things the internet can do for Artists is finding dozens of tutorials on improving skills of all types and offering & managing your catalogue and contact info.

62-) Jewelry sales stagnating? The hardest thing in life is to see ourselves and our works as others do. Nothing will inspire you to create Truly Original Designs faster than trying this: Next show, slip a few pieces of my "Mouthwatering" Kaleido-Dichroic™ Jewelry in with your own creations then observe without taking sides. Before you know it you will see the interest my work generates because it doesn't look like anything else in the World. As your work improves so will your sales and very soon you won't need me! We have a deal on now where you can buy just six "Inspirational" pieces of my best selling wholesale jewelry at 50% off. Now, perhaps after reading through this Tutorial and even trying the ideas above, you realize Selling, not Making, may be your calling at the moment. Take a look at selling Ryan's "Mouthwatering Jewelry for us at It is already "The Best" so start up in sales is rapid, if you are doing your homework!

Sell your way - Anywhere - Any time - No minimums - No contracts - No quotas - Money back guarantee*

Please feel free to download this Tutorial and even translate it into other languages. Bind it in a duo-tang folder and keep it in your library as a future reference with my compliments and do tell friends.

Hopefully these words will inspire you on to greater things. Thank you, Allan Ryan

E-mail me anytime direct at visit and (our historic Bed & Breakfast)

*See our "policy" section on

© Allan Ryan 2011

© 2010 Ryan Studio