Note to Readers: This is installment #2 of a 3-part series highlighting some of the center’s top selling artists, exploring why their works are attractive to our patrons, and revealing their offerings of advice for fellow and new artists.
“Perseverance” is one lesson that aspiring artists and crafters should learn from the experience of Karen Briggs, one of the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center’s longest-running and best-selling juried artists. Karen has vivid memories of AACC in the 1980s, when the organization dwelled in a one-room storefront with a wood-burning stove, across the street from our current location in Norris, TN.
For Karen, success with pottery (which constitutes about 90% of her sales, the other 10% in fiber arts) didn’t come fast or easy. Karen took her first pottery class in 1998 and, as she describes the experience, she “was horrible at it.” But she wasn’t done trying. Thinking that her original expectations may have been unrealistic, Karen signed up for a second class about a year later. This time, her approach was to “just have fun.” And she did. So much so that she continued to learn and refine her craft and started her own pottery studio in 2002.
Karen says that through pottery, she discovered a “most relaxing activity” that stimulates creativity while also producing functional art. Over time, she has tweaked certain methods, such as throwing pots while standing and doing more hand-building, allowing her to mitigate the physical toll pottery can exact on its practitioners.
Karen’s top tips for selling artists and wannabe sellers:
- Offer your top quality work – don’t try to sell items with defects.
- If the item is functional, make sure the use is evident or use sales cards to explain or suggest possible uses or spur the buyers imagination.
- Keep up on your inventory and be sure you have sufficient stock of selling items available for buyers.
- Consider how your items are displayed and how they will look to potential buyers.
When an artist becomes a seller, Karen says, “It’s no longer just about what you like to make; you have to consider the buyers and what they want.” Developing a specialty within one’s discipline is a tactic in this vein. For Karen, that specialty is art for the Gardener. A variety of her works are available for purchase at the AACC Gift Shop or online at appalachianarts.net.