How to Convince Customers to Invest In Your Art

I’ve admired Tugboat Printshop’s work before, but when I saw “THE MOON” featured on Design*Sponge, I admit I flipped out a little bit.

“THE MOON” Woodcut Print

When I took a closer look at their product info page, or “sales page” on their site, I marveled at their clever use of photos and story to effectively sell their clients on the price of their artwork.

They show the print in all its glory, and then a closeup with a hand, to give you a sense of scale and detail:

Moon Close Up

“THE MOON” Close Up

"THE MOON" Framed

“THE MOON” Framed

"THE MOON" being carved

“THE MOON” being carved

"THE MOON" being printed

“THE MOON” being printed

With their large, beautiful photos, they show you the print framed, in the context of a home, and with geographic details labeled (which really shows you how much thought and research went into it). The additional process photos and story make it clear how much work and love go into each print.

I couldn’t resist sending some questions over to Paul and Valerie of Tugboat Printshop to get some more info about their process for you.

Your “THE MOON” woodcut is such a unique look at the moon! What gave you the idea to use the moon as a print subject?

It’s always there, and has always been there. When we look at it for a long time, it’s hard not to think about all of the people who have looked at it over the years, what they’ve thought about it, etc. For us, it’s also a symbol of achievement–We (mankind) went to the Moon! That is just remarkable. It’s easy for our generation (30ish) to not think too much about that, but it’s really really incredible, even now. In the cheesiest possible terms, the Moon is telling us every night: “Look what you can do! Look where you can go!”

What kind of research went into its planning?

For us, the biggest part of planning is deciding to do something. When we decided to make “THE MOON”, it was because we wanted to capture the moon with an adventurous, ambitious spirit. We had a pristine Moon drawn out on a much, much smaller block of wood, and decided that it wasn’t nearly big enough, and despite all of its intricacies, didn’t convey that sense of ambition that it does on the larger scale. So Valerie (mostly) painstakingly drew “THE MOON” onto a much much larger block of wood (we always draw everything by hand, never tracing). Then we did some research on the features of the Moon, studied them and got to know them, how all of the craters got their names, where mankind has been, etc. And we looked at the Moon in the sky. We try to strike a balance between being accurate enough to represent the familiar without drawing a technical blueprint and communicating character as we see it.

Your sales page for each woodcut is so unique, and showing what goes into each print makes customers realize how special each one is. Without it, it would be hard for a customer to justify the purchase.

What kind of feedback do you get from your customers about your website or products?

People are generally quite impressed with how much information is on the website, we try to keep everyone informed–Valerie keeps it very well maintained, while Paul is terrified of computers.

Lessons learned?

  • Sometimes you need to forget about keeping things above “the fold” and let your customer scroll and scroll and scroll through your beautiful work.
  • Don’t assume your customers understand your work in the way you do. Rather than being satisfied with simply using the word “woodcut,” Paul and Valerie have shown people who are new to this printing method just how much work it is – and how interesting!
  • Believe in your work. While it could be tempting for Paul and Valerie to price lower, that wouldn’t do their work justice, and would in fact lower its perceived value in the eyes of their customers. See my Pricing Happiness series for explanation of this.
  • Keep your work to your standard. The original smaller moon didn’t fit their vision for the print, so back to the drawing board they went! Your customers will be able to tell when you’re producing your best work.
  • Keep your customer’s questions in mind. Paul and Valerie know that with artwork, people want to know the dimensions, the framing options, and imagine how it might look above their couch. Rather than leaving this to the customer’s imagination, they lay it all out visually.

Please go check out “THE MOON”‘s sales page and imagine how many fewer sales they would get if they just showed the single photo and price! You can see in the comments on Design*Sponge that people truly appreciate the value and worth of these prints.

What questions do you have about displaying product information on your site?