ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 10 * * All Arts News On the Web * * May 18, 2006


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons at 1 p.m., at ChowBella or at the Overtime Saloon in St Albans 8-10 p.m. most Wednesday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The newly-formed Saint Albans Artists' Guild will hold its first public gathering on Saturday at 1:00p.m. Bliss Memorial Auditorium at the Saint Albans Historical Museum. Artists and supporters of the visual arts are invited to attend. Email for more info.


BURLINGTON--Burlington Flatbread presents Choro da Estrela Norte with Will Patton, Dono Schabner and Dominique Gagne tonight from 8 to 11 p.m.

MORRISVILLE--The Bees Knees presents Will Patton and Dono Schabner tomorrow evening, 7-10 p.m. They play fiery Gypsy jazz and Brasilian Choros.

ST. ALBANS--The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra Spring Concert with special guest champion fiddler Ron West Saturday at 7 p.m. at St. Albans City Elementary School Gymnasium. Call Woodbury Strings (802.223.8945) or click here for more info.

RANDOLPH--The Beaudoin Project Soiree Concert features Nina Beaudoin, Carmen Bombardier, Glenn Bombardier, Nikki Bombardier Charbonneau, Elena Bombardier Alexander, Donna Hebert, George Wilson, Pete and Karen Sutherland, Liza Constable, Selma Kaplan, Mark Sustic, Claude Methe and Dana Whittle, Scott Campbell, Rick and Donna Commo and Master of Ceremonies Andy Wallace, all on Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Chandler Music Hall.
      Call 802.728.6464 for tickets, click here, or email for more info about the Beaudoin Project.

BURLINGTON--Burlington Parks and Recreation presents Kidís Day featuring Gary Dulabaum and Mark Sustic, Fiddleheads and others on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Waterfront Park. Click here for more info.


      Exhibition of the finished palette art in Palettes of Vermont begins statewide at Open Studio Weekend and continues through Halloween. The community arts program has distributed 7,000 maple palettes and over 30,000 paper palettes around the state including hundreds in Franklin County.
      "The Franklin County palettes are due at Open Studio weekend, but we would like to collect them as soon as possible," SAFF's Karen Bresnahan said.
      The All Arts Council and St. Albans for the Future will host an Open Studio event on next Saturday, May 27, in Taylor Park. Although the statewide event spotlights Vermont artists and craftspeople working in their own studios, area artists are invited to go to work for the day under cover in Taylor Park. Expect to have people looking over your shoulder. Some of them will buy the work they see. The event will include an exhibit of the World's Largest Palette and an art show/sale.
      Palettes of Vermont will be on display in our Open Studio show as well as at the Vermont State Craft Center and elsewhere around the state during Open Studio Weekend. The palettes and the PALETTE will also take part in the Memorial Day Parade.
      Call Karen Bresnahan (802.524.1500) or email for more info.


     "Show your work on," reads the enticement. That site offers a personal web site and address for a portfolio with room to display up to 50 images at what they call "a fraction of the cost of setting up your own site."
      "Artleby makes it easy for you to sell your work online, never takes a commission on your sales, and our helpful customer support is there to answer your questions." The Spring Special, running through May 31, offers a 6 month subscription for $20.00.
      Sounds like a great deal, right?
      Perhaps. But perhaps not. That "fraction of the cost of setting up your own site" is a bargain if and only if their visitors actually buy your work. Here are ten quick rules to use to evaluate this kind of offer:
      Rule 1: You can't sell anything without buyers.
      Figure out who your buyers are before you spend any time or money on advertising (or anything else like inventory). The art buyers you need to reach may be a certain age; they have hobbies and wants and needs and passions. And they are a tiny percentage of the entire population. You can't sell them anything if you don't know who or where they are.
      Rule 2: You have to spend something to sell anything.
      The something you spend may be your time. It may be cash money. Set a budget for marketing. Stick to it.
      A costly, magnificent, extensive, pretty web site that your mother loves is a joy to have. So is a Golden Retriever. Both will make you happy every time you look at them. Neither one is any good at selling much besides Bush's Baked Beans.
      Rule 3: You can't sell anything without buyers.
      Rule 4: Marketing motivates an actual buyer to buy your stuff. A marketing plan tells you how you are going to do that.
      Graphic artists are not marketers.
      Web designers are not marketers.
      Most ad agencies are not marketers.
      A web site is not a marketing plan.
      Rule 5: You can't sell anything without buyers.
      Rule 6: Figure out how to get those buyers to visit your website.
      This is really Rule 4(a) because it is part of the Marketing Plan. You can have the best website on the Internet but it won't sell a thing if no one visits. Make a plan to get buyers to visit.
      Rule 7: You can't sell anything without buyers.
      Rule 8: Don't think that Google will send buyers to your website.
      This is really Rule 4(b) because it is also part of the Marketing Plan. A couple of years ago, a Google search on "Dick Harper" brought me up first. And second. And third. And so on. Now, thanks to the remake of the movie Fun with Dick and Jane, I'm lucky to make page 7 of the listings behind Jim Carrey. No one reads all the way to page 7. One of my clients sells real estate. A Google search on "Vermont Realtors" puts his firm on page 10. If no one reads all the way to page 7, you can imagine how happy he is to be on page 10.
      How will you get visitors to your site? Figure that out before you go on.
      Rule 9: You can't sell anything without buyers.
      Rule 10: Go back and reread Rules 1-9. Now apply your marketing plan.
      Hereís an inside joke from the ad business. Ads that win awards rarely sell well. Your website has one job: it must convince its viewers to try your product once. After that initial trial, only your art (and their wall space) can make them come back for more.
      Did you know that long copy always sells better than short copy? Before you design that beautiful website, read a good book. Read Ogilvy on Advertising or Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins. These are advertisers who know the secrets of marketing.
      The effect of a good site is to target a specific visitor and motivate that visitor to action. In an artsy site, that means not just any visitor. Not your wife or your teenage son or your neighbor who lives in a shoe. A targeted art buyer. Your site should be designed only for that visitor.
      Artleby's may have the best website on the Internet but it won't sell a thing if no one visits. Before you buy their program or anyone else's, tell me how you are going to get actual buyers to visit you there.

[Disclaimer: Dick Harper builds and maintains web sites for some area artists and businesses. You should apply these same rules to a site he or any other web developer offers.]


     Photographer Janet Bonneau of Vermont Homestead Yarns will sponsor a team for the 2006 Franklin County Relay for Life at the Collins Perley Sports Complex in June.
      "Join our 'Knit for Life' team and knit an item to be raffled at the event," Ms. Bonneau said. The store will also donate 10% of sales of selected yarns between now and June 15 to the American Cancer Society. The store is located in Champlain Commons.
      Call 1.800.ACS.2345 for more info about the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.


     Artist Susan Wahlrab of Maple Corner describes the beauty she feels in the natural world. Her technique builds as many as 50 layers of paint to describe the complexity of life. Her site includes a gallery of paintings and new work, a biography, and contact info.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2006 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.