Thursday, May 6, 2010

Business Card Etiquette

I propose this question to Artists as this past weekend made me realize the issue...  When is it right to plant your business card at a local shop or gallery?  By plant, I don't just mean handing them one and telling them you want to sell your work there.  I mean putting a stack on their table of cards (many of the businesses in Pittsburgh's local city art scene have tables at the front of their stores to promote other local businesses and happenings).

Now you may ask why this question has arose...  And why am I so concerned about card etiquette?

This past weekend was the opening night of the house artist's show at Trinity Gallery.  I myself am in this mad dash to sell around $200 worth of artwork (regular price or extremely reduced).  While I don't have the time for commissions, I have many pieces floating around.  And any recognition I can acquire to get these pieces sold is key!  What slightly worries me is unintentional misdirection.  See at the gallery they have a table in the back room for business cards.  A friend of mine who came with me last year to this exhibit had wanted to place her cards on the table.  But I told her that she ought to ask before placing just incase the gallery owners want only their house artists on the table (there wasn't many cards there at the time and the gallery owners organize their shows so that no two artists with the same style end up competing for sales).  I forget if she asked or not but I don't recall her putting the cards down.  However, at this past show, I noticed her cards on the table and not seeing her at the show realized she must have dropped them off at one point over the last 6 months.  Under most normal circumstances I wouldn't be bothered as I don't do this for profit but rather as a hobby for fun.  But her cards are highly recognizable as being that of a Chinese Brush Painting artist as her red seal is stamped on the front.  Mine on the other hand have the seal and another stamp on the back.  As I had just letterpressed my cards, I put my red seal and a dragonfly stamp on the back until I could sit down and find the proper positions on the front.


My biggest fear is that someone who hasn't looked too closely to find my name, may see her seal and pick up the card to see what else might be available from the artist on display at Trinity.  Sadly, they will be picking up the wrong card and contacting the wrong artist.  And inadvertently she will be getting possible sales that I would have made as a direct result of my art exhibit.  This loss of sales will hinder my efforts over the next month to gather the funds for my city hall dress.  Now she is a sweet friend who I trust will direct the sales back to me if someone mentions seeing asian inspired artwork at Trinity but I still worry about that initial misdirection.

So I propose the initial question again...  When is it appropriate to plant your business card?  In retail shops with a wide variety of merchandise, it may not be such a big factor.  But in a small gallery featuring artists who do the same media and style, should you refrain from planting out of respect?

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