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How To Be A Professional Quilt Artist: #1 "Gallery To Go..." posted: 12/4/2003
by Carolyn Lee Vehslage Printable Page
Category: Tips Method: All Series: Be A Professional Quilt Artist
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A simple, yet very effective marketing tool is to organize photographs and information of your art quilts in a "portable gallery". The next time you have an exhibition opening, booth at a craft fair, or any opportunity to show your portfolio to potential collectors, present your artwork professionally in a binder.

My gallery book has garnered me several commissions and sales of available quilts. As the viewer leafs through the pages, they see that others have collected my art quilts or have ordered custom wall hangings. It gets them thinking in terms of "owning" a unique piece rather then "buying" i.e. spending hard earned cash.

To get started: pick one of your quilts that has "a good story" and gather all the information and images for it. Compose a page in a word document, page layout program, or image-processing package such as MS Word, MS Publisher, Quark Xpress or Adobe PageMaker. The "Hall's Hobies" example from my "portable gallery" was created in Adobe Photoshop.

Use high-resolution .jpg images of at least 300 dpi or remember to leave adequate space to mount a crisp, clear and colorful photograph of your quilt on the page. Print the page on card stock to make it more durable and insert it in a clear plastic protector before placing it in your binder.

In addition to the Title, Dimensions, Copyright, and Date, each of my quilts has a story behind it and the book does the telling. Often, I'll include the original sketches, scraps of material, or embellishment items right on the page.

For one client, I literally had to "match the couch", so a fabric swatch from their sofa is pasted on that page. These extras bring interest to your artwork. Photos of you creating in your studio are also a plus.

Let the viewer know a little bit of how you create your quilts. On my "Gardens of the World" page, I've written a description of the techniques used to develop the piece. One picture shows how I used textile acrylics to paint the "Keukenhof Park, The Netherlands" panel of the 6 block quilt. The other one was photographed after it was appliquéd, embroidered, embellished, quilted, and over-painted.

You might want to list the specific exhibitions an individual quilt has been in. Some collectors perceive and added value to know where the artwork has been shown. Additional sections in the gallery book should include your resume, biography, art statement, press releases, and publication clippings.

It takes a bit of organizing and motivation to create your portable gallery. However, I can guarantee that the results are worth it. When people sit and read through story after story of other people commissioning an original, handcrafted piece of artwork, it plants the seed that they can own a unique art quilt as well.

©2003 Carolyn Lee Vehslage maintains an onboard studio on their Mariner Yacht "Fandango". Several of her quilted wall hangings that were created while cruising, are viewable online at Her artwork is currently touring North, Central, South America, Europe, and New Zealand.

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