Why Jewelry Artists Fail At Business

Warren Feld
11 min readApr 15, 2020

BUSINESS AND JEWELRY ART

To what extent do (and should) business concerns influence the artistic choices bead and jewelry artists make?

I’d say “A Lot!”

But this isn’t what a lot of artists like to hear.

You have to market to audiences. You may have to standardize things to be able to make the same thing over and over again. You may have to work in a production mode and repeat making certain designs, rather than freely create and design anew each time. You have to price things so that they will sell, and you have to price things so that you can make a sufficient profit. You can’t undersell yourself, like offering discounts to family, friends and co-workers.

You have to conform to prevalent styles and colors and forms. You have to make things which will photograph well for sale online. You have to make things that local stores want and are willing to buy or put on consignment. You may end up with a lot of “one size fits all.”

You find that if you want to make your jewelry design into a successful business, you may have to compromise with yourself, your artistic drives and sensibilities. You may have to limit what you offer. In order to make that sale. In order to make a profit. And stay in business.

Business involves:
– Putting your artwork on a sound cost/revenue footing
– Developing market-driven strategies (as opposed to product-driven ones)
– Pricing your pieces for sale
– Implementing various selling strategies
– Compromising artistic and design choices, in the interest of the business
— Understanding how the creative marketplace works

Over and over again, I have seen one jewelry artist after another fail as a business. The reasons repeat themselves as well.

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business.

Many jewelry artists get so excited after selling their first piece, that they think they don’t have to get too involved with business principles. They understand their “business” as a “necklace-by-necklace” endeavor. Make something, sell it…

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Warren Feld

Beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures, from custom work, production work, and teaching. *Design is about the ability to make smart choices.