Getting Custom Work
- When Tom Holdman (a local stained glass artist) decided to become a stained glass artist, a neighbor recommended that he go to a wealthy neighborhood and go door to door asking if they need stained glass in their home. He did just that and made a contact with a family who wanted glass and had some influence with the library board. This lead to a commercial job which lead to a great deal of publicity.
- What can we learn from this story? That any friendship or relationship can lead to glass work. What we must do is ask anyone and everyone if they want or need stained glass work. Then, we must doggedly follow-up when someone expresses an interest. It is often amazing how a simple monthly phone call will eventually pay off. There have been many clients in our past who put off their project for a year or more. What you want to remember is that they wanted the window enough to have you design it, so keep in touch. Then they’ll think of you when the finances ease up. Wouldn’t it be sad to have another artist get to build your creation, just because you didn’t phone them every month?
Selling Cabinet Door Inserts
- When a customer asks for cabinet door inserts, it will help the process along if you are ready to ask them the questions which will narrow down their choices and help to determine what you’ll need to do with the doors.
Ask if the doors are new or refurbished. If you can, learn the brand and manufacturer and most importantly, are they routed out for inserts, this will let you know if they can come straight to you for glass or if they need to go to your wood worker to have them modified.
- Helping the customer arrive at what they want will save you and them a lot of time. So ask if they want to use transparent or opaque glass. What colors do they want to introduce and what bevels if any should go into the design. Do they want to add lighting to their cabinets and how much do they plan to spend. Do they want truly leaded panels or will single side leading be adequate. Last, what finish do they want, black, silver, pewter, bright copper or antique copper.
- But how do we find these clients? We advertise in the yellow pages under cabinet makers equipment and supplies and we go to cabinet shops and put samples into their hands. The best thing to do is furnish glass samples of those which we carry and sample glass designs that they can show their customers. I like to furnish 8″ wide by 10″ tall samples because they fit comfortably in a box and are easy for the cabinet sales people to haul around. This is an investment of time, effort and money which is necessary because the salesman won’t sell for me if they don’t think about stained glass when they meet with clients.
Educate Folks About Stained Glass
- Occasionally, in the past, we would moan and complain about the lack of understanding that the public had of what good stained glass was and how it enhances ones environment. Then one day, the light came on and we realized that it was our job to educate the public. We knew that the best clients for custom glass were the ones who had tried it and discovered that it wasn’t all that easy to build glass. They had a higher appreciation for the value of the work.
As artists, we not only have to raise the awareness of our art, we have to teach about the complexities and subtleties of our art. If you don’t point out it’s strengths, who will?
- We discovered that one way to educate the community was to hold free or low cost seminars and workshops. This leads to many opportunities to share your knowledge of the stained glass industry and techniques. It also serves to raise the consciousness level of the community of stained glass around them.
- You know how it is, you start looking for a leather sofa, or buy one and everywhere you look, you find leather sofas. Then you find a brand of running shoes that are particularly comfortable and you suddenly notice that “everyone” is wearing that brand of shoes. Your consciousness level has been raised and once it’s been raised, it will never be the same again.
That’s what you want to have happen with the community as far as stained glass is concerned.
- We also found that the decorators and designers that often recommend us to their clients needed to be educated in the subtitles of stained glass art. They often didn’t know the finishes available or what the difference between the leaded method and copper foil were.