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Lanctot’s Loveables Teddy - Handmade collectible teddy bears by Rhonda-Lynne Lanctôt. Bears ranging in size from 0.75 inches to 21 inches.

kezjoy KezjoyKritterz
Gippsland Victoria
Posts: 185

Ive entered a few bear shows over the years, both in the fur and online. Ive recieved a few second and third place medals, but never been first (always the bridesmaid..lol)..Someone told me I could be concidered Award Winning..but if ive never been first I wouldn't think this was the case. Is there a concensus on things like that?? Not that it matters as I don't have a website etc to write that in..but Im just curious
Kerrilyn

lorna-littell Posts: 11
kezjoy wrote:

Ive entered a few bear shows over the years, both in the fur and online. Ive recieved a few second and third place medals, but never been first (always the bridesmaid..lol)..Someone told me I could be concidered Award Winning..but if ive never been first I wouldn't think this was the case. Is there a concensus on things like that?? Not that it matters as I don't have a website etc to write that in..but Im just curious
Kerrilyn

Hi - I've been collecting bears since 1986 and I think if you placed first, second or third out of lots of entries you should be considered award winning.  I for one consider this when buying bears online.  Just IMHO.  Lorna L.

kezjoy KezjoyKritterz
Gippsland Victoria
Posts: 185

Thanks Lorna for replying..does anyone else have anything to say about it??\Kerrilyn

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Kent
Posts: 5,162
Website

My view is that if a bear artist wants to use the title 'award winning' in promotional materials etc., it might be useful to include which competition award their statement relates to and when that award was achieved.

I must admit I try to avoid using the 'award winning' tag simply because it becomes so outdated so quickly.  I mean, if you win an award this year, it may be another five years before you are fortunate enough to win another, so when do you stop using the tag in your promotion?   I think the tag can become a wee bit misleading for collectors if not used carefully. 

That said, I don't think there is any reason not to use a photograph of your award winning bear on your promotional materials so that collectors can see exactly which bear was deemed to be 'award winning', for which competition the award was presented and the date it was awarded.

It would be a pity not to mention your successes and I know plenty of bear artists who list their achievements on their websites.  They include details of which bear, which competition and when the award (winner or runner-up) was presented to them.  I've opted for a 'Very Important Bears' page on my own website, which includes not only my award winning bears, but also my other special bears ie., bears created for charitable and other special events.

All in all, I think achievements should be celebrated, but shouldn't be overplayed.  After all, there are many extremely talented bear artists worldwide who never even enter competitions.  Also, competitions are so subjective that what may be deemed 'award winning' by one panel of judges, could just as easily be rejected by another!

kezjoy KezjoyKritterz
Gippsland Victoria
Posts: 185

Good answer, thankyou Paula
I think when i do eventually do a website i'll do what you do and have section for those special bears..but the last time I had a place was last year..so i wouldn't say i was award winning on a business card..if i was to do a business card...thanks again
Kerrilyn

Peggy Lakeland Teddies
Bonnyville, Alberta
Posts: 221

I am one of the teddy bear artists that has never entered a contest and mostly because I consider myself fairly new at it yet and perhaps feel that I am unworthy.  It does seem to make a difference though when trying to sell my bears.  I barely am able to break even and most times my bears don't sell the first time I list them so that eats away at the little profit there is.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to better market bears when you haven't won any awards or is winning an award the only way that collectors will take notice of you?

Peggy

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,273

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Peggy, lots of collectors subscribe to the bear magazines and if you can afford to advertise in them periodically, they will begin to take notice.

Peggy Lakeland Teddies
Bonnyville, Alberta
Posts: 221

Thanks Sue Ann.   I'll check into that.

Peggy

nimbleknot Cupcake Bears
Austin, Texas
Posts: 711
Website
Peggy wrote:

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to better market bears when you haven't won any awards or is winning an award the only way that collectors will take notice of you?

Peggy

I have never won any awards, I have never entered any contests or tried to send photos to magazines. The thing that got my bears noticed was blogging, flickr, ebay and etsy. All those things combined has gotten me a little following of great customers...repeat customers. And above all..."time" so all those things can work together.

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Kent
Posts: 5,162
Website

Hi Peggy!

I'm not convinced that winning awards does make much difference to selling bears, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.  However, there are several things that really can make a difference:

The first thing almost goes without saying - your product:  There is no question that it has to be of excellent quality and of course, eye-catching.  Also, bear in mind, your customer service - if you take orders, you must be able to create what your customer is expecting to receive and create it to an agreed deadline.

The next thing is marketing:  You really will have to work hard to get your bears noticed.  Taking part in TT is a great way to start because that means you've already sussed the value of the internet for promotional purposes.  Not everyone sells the same way, so you need to decide how you would prefer to sell; by that I mean, work out what kind of selling strategy suits you best.  For example, I am most comfortable selling via my website, so I put a heap of effort into keeping it up-to-date with good quality pictures and information, registering it with directories and search engines and so on.  I also keep a regular blog to give collectors a 'behind the scenes' look at my and me bears ... bear in mind that in the main, collectors love personal contact with their bear artists.  Also, if you want collectors to come back, keep them informed by means of a regular newsletter ... when someone contacts you, ask if they would like to be added to your mailing list.  I back up my online business with a couple of shows each year, but my main focus is online.

I also take part in whatever online marketing opportunities I think might work for me.  We've already mentioned the TT forum, but of course, there are many other outlets too, it's a case of finding them and concentrating on those that work best for you.  A good way of finding out what's 'out there' is to visit other bear artists' websites and see where they are linking to.  You can never do too much research!

Others may disagree, but I don't think it's practical to think you can create strong interest in your work without attempting to have it included in specialist collectors' mags, when first trying to develop your market.  Collectors will often make their first point of contact with a new artist through editorial/advertising coverage published in a magazine.  As with all things though, this doesn't happen overnight, so if you manage to secure some editorial for example, why not back it up with a small advertisement a month or two later?  Also, bear in mind, the bear market is worldwide ... so don't forget to check out other country's magazine opportunities too.  The best way to secure magazine coverage in my view is to write to the editor and send a few quality photographs of your very best work.  Tell the editor about your work, bearing in mind they've heard it all before so your blurb needs to have an interesting angle to catch their attention!

Many artists opt to sell their work regularly through Ebay.  This isn't my preferred way of selling, although I do dabble very occasionally.  I think it can be a bit of a rollercoaster and doesn't necessarily get your work noticed or appreciated where it could be most beneficial to you long-term.  That said, a few of our TT artists regularly attract high bids and have much success, bearing out my 'find out what works best for you', theory!

I'm not sure how the shows are running in Canada these days, but it is also worth considering exhibiting at a couple of good quality shows.  You may have to wait for a stand to become free, but there's nothing to stop you sending a biography and some great pics to show promoters to let them know you are trading and would like to participate.  Don't forget to update the pics from time to time to remind the promoters you are still hopeful of trading at their event!  While you are waiting for a table to become free, visit shows and get a feel for what seems to be working best for exhibiting artists ... check out their displays, their bears, their approach to collectors.

You may decide that selling through shops would be of interest to you.  There are a few pitfalls to be aware of, (pricing, minimum orders, sale or return terms, etc etc) but if you find a shop or two, willing to sell your work regularly on agreeable terms, it might be worth considering.  Once again, pics and blurb sent through to the shops will let them know you are actively creating bears for sale.  Bear in mind, shops can introduce your work to new collectors.  Do consider that if you sell to shops you really want the shop to work hard to promote your work in areas you can't reach yourself.

Finally, a word on the bigger picture.  As you see, award winning bears are really not the issue when it comes to selling. If you look at the bear industry as a whole and work out what you can contribute to that whole, you will create a solid grounding for developing your business.  We are all in business to ideally earn ourselves a profit creating what we love, but unless we all take responsibility for 'growing' the interest in what we are doing as a whole, our industry stagnates. 

Selling bears really isn't easy, it takes commitment, a broad view and occasionally even a thick skin.  Those artists achieving regular sales over a period of time, do so because they have taken a rounded focus on both their bear crafting business and their place within the bear industry.

Oh and don't forget, it might not make a huge difference to your immediate sales, but winning the occasional award here and there, or even just taking part, will certainly help to promote not only your bears, but also our bear industry!

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
WA
Posts: 5,551

Well said Paula bear_thumb  A great read bear_thumb

kellydean k e l l y d e a n & c o m p a n y
Narrowsburg, New York
Posts: 718
Website

very well said.   :clap:

edie Bears by Edie
Southern Alberta
Posts: 2,068

That was great, Paula! When does the Paula Carter book on bear marketing come out - I'll stand in line for it!  bear_grin

I totally agree - saying you are an award winning artist does little to improve your sales. I think the only marketing value in being an award winning artist is if it is an award that somehow brings your bears to the attention of the buying public - anything that puts your bears in the limelight has the potential to increase your market base.
That said, to get back to the main topic, I think that Kerrilyn can definitely say she is an award winning artist if she wants to - second and third are still awards. However as Paula said previously, unless you specify the award it doesn't really mean that much.

bearhug07 Strange Bears
Sydney
Posts: 444

Hi

Just a quick word as an editor of a magazine........I always try and support the bear competitions by showing photographs of the top three bears from the larger shows or even the smaller ones where I know the judges are excellent and the number of bears entered make for a good comptition......ie the bear had to have something to win.

So as far as I can tell..........while being able to write "award winning" may be nice and help sales.......being in the top three in your catergory will.......at least in Australia......get you some free publicity in Bear Creations in the right competition.

The from this I often get requests to see more of a persons work and I will then approach them to do a profile or something else in the magazine.

So while for those of you in Australia and some competitions overseas......here is one magazine editor who uses the photos of the winners to help promote the industry and those artists......so please don't dismiss competitions as not worth entering.  Also many of us are looking for what is happening and new for artists........personally I am now using some of these photos sent to me in my editorial........similar to editors pick of the month...... bear_grin So even if you don't win....send an editor a photo and info.....you may be surprised what comes from it.

bearhugs

puca bears puca bears
Posts: 1,934

Sandra - you beat me to it!
I was just about to post along the same lines..........
I freely admit to being a bit of a competition junkie........it's exciting, and there is always something to look forward to...... and i agree - competitions WILL bring you publicity. Most are associated with magazines, who publish pics of the nominated bears and the eventual winners - plus, as you said, Sandra, some magazines will give you a mention if you've won something interesting. Here in Germany, something like a TOBY will guarantee you a paragraph, as there are usually only a couple of winners here. And I certainly noticed the effects this year at the Teddybar Total show - many of the visitors to my table had recently seen my TOBY IC bear in a couple of magazines, and had actively sought me out...............can't be bad?!
So while i agree that winning competitions doesn't make you a super star, and a lot of fabulous artists don't ever enter comps, it is a good way of publicising your work.
huggies
Maria

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Kent
Posts: 5,162
Website

Sandra wrote: Just a quick word as an editor of a magazine........I always try and support the bear competitions by showing photographs of the top three bears from the larger shows or even the smaller ones where I know the judges are excellent and the number of bears entered make for a good comptition......ie the bear had to have something to win.

I freely confess, it's the potential for free magazine coverage that lures me into entering competitions in the main! bear_happy  There's nothing quite like seeing your bear(s) celebrated in a magazine!  bear_tongue

Peggy Lakeland Teddies
Bonnyville, Alberta
Posts: 221

Thank you ladies for your advice.  And a special thank you to Paula for taking the time to write such an informative article for me.  I will certainly take note of it all and will get busy, busy, busy trying harder to promote my work.

Peggy

matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
WA
Posts: 5,551

I must add one point that has been missed........competitions can be expensive.
Which means lots of varietables need to be looked into for each artists situation.

bearhug07 Strange Bears
Sydney
Posts: 444

I agree that competitions can be expensive but artists that do enter and win regularly and then pick and choose their comps do get sort out at shows and also get to increase the price of their bears. Also remember you don't need to keep competing. After a while it is better if you don't compete as others feel they won't win if the regular winner competes.

I do know of onw artist who regularly entered and won a small regional show.......very littel professional competition, alwyas promoted herself as a "An Award Winning Artist" but would never enter a large or popular show as she knew she wouldn't win. That is manipulation of a situation and also why the term does not carry a lot of credibilty in my view.

So yes........please judge the shows and competitions you enter

* evaluate the cost against the return......who will see your entry and what coverage will the show will get - chances of publicty
* who will be the judges - do you respect them and their opinion
* will the time spent on the piece be worth not making other bears
* if you win will you be able to paart with the bear.
* is the competition large enough and will it have enough entries to make winning worthwhile.

Contact the organiser, magazine editors and other artists to get the info you need.

In my opinion, competitions are an important part of our industry not only for prestige for artists personally, but for promotion....great for other media besides dedicated mags, pushing artists to try new techniques and materials and moving the industry forward,education and keeping collectors interested and informed.

I know of artists who have never traded at shows but built a whole business from winning competitions..........do not discount the publicity gained from them..........I can only repeat........being able to say "award winning artist" is minimal to getting your name know from being written up for winning the competition.

bearhugs

puca bears puca bears
Posts: 1,934

I'm with you again, Sandra!
Yes competitions can be expensive, but they are still cheaper, in the main, than taking out advertisements.
And entering a competition is a great opportunity to challenge YOURSELF - time permitting, I find it immensely enjoyable to let my imagination run riot, and  just PLAY!
And as for making space for others to have a chance of winning - two of the big comps here in Germany have done just this, by introducing a "Master Class". The Ted Worldwide has three classes - Hobbyist, Artist and Master - in each
getting two nominations means that you move up to the next class...........and the Master Class is the toughest, in that it has been combined with manufactured bears. The Golden George has a Premium class - win once, and you go up into the Master Class, again, against manufactured bears.
Of course, there is a whole new discussion just waiting for us (!) - which is better? Comps judged by knowledgeable "bear people" or by public voting...........one thing I'm sure of - they are all and always unpredictable!
huggies
Maria

teeeej Brisbane
Posts: 623
bearhug07 wrote:

I do know of an artist who regularly entered and won a small regional show.......very little professional competition, always promoted herself as a "An Award Winning Artist" but would never enter a large or popular show as she knew she wouldn't win. That is manipulation of a situation and also why the term does not carry a lot of credibility in my view.

I have noticed some bearmakers flooding the regional shows with entries yet have none in the bigger bear shows. Which is a real pity I think they are missing out not having real competition for their bears. I guess now I know which awards to look out for.

I have started entering shows myself for the first time this year. I am about to start entering open class. I do not sell my bears - so getting my name out there isnt too big a concern for me. The competitions do allow me to get feedback on my bears allowing me to refine my skills. I am enjoying the experience of competitions. Plus it gives me an excuse to go to the shows - to see my bears! bear_grin I was soo happy when I won my first rosette for my bear in June (I won one section in the Beginners category). My Mum had to go out and tell everyone, and the bear had to take centre stage in my display cabinet. I had to remind her that it was just one little section. She can go nuts if I win bear of show one day ( I can always dream :crackup:).

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Kent
Posts: 5,162
Website

bearhug07 wrote:
I do know of an artist who regularly entered and won a small regional show.......very little professional competition, always promoted herself as a "An Award Winning Artist" but would never enter a large or popular show as she knew she wouldn't win. That is manipulation of a situation and also why the term does not carry a lot of credibility in my view.

Talking on a general level and with no reference to your 'award winning artist', I'd say sometimes it can be tricky call to decide which competitions to enter, particularly as one of the more established artists.  I'm always interested in new ventures to encourage bear crafting, so for example, wouldn't necessarily rule out entering a less well known competition to help lend a 'name' to it (I do hope that doesn't sound pretentious ... it isn't intended to! :redface: ) on the understanding that I mustn't be complacent, there are some great new talents out there and I may well be trounced by a relative 'unknown'!  It's a chance to take but all in a good cause! bear_tongue

On the other hand, I think setting yourself competitively against your peers in a really aspirational competition is a great leveller ... on the one hand it really stretches you creatively (and we all need to challenge ourselves from time to time) and other the other hand it's a way of taking the plunge and saying 'take my work seriously please, I do'!

I remember the very first competition I ever entered, boy was I nervous!  It was part of a major bear show and there were several categories ... I opted to enter the 'new bear maker under 18 months' and also the daunting 'big bear' category - that one set me against my idols, Frank Webster, Janet Clark, Sandra Wickenden, Gregory Gyllenship ... you get the picture!  I was embarrassed and terrified, but went for it anyway, placing my entries on the white clothed tables shoulder to furry shoulder with the wonderful entries of the artists that were leading the way for us in the UK.  Needless to say I wasn't placed in either category that year, but I was thrilled to have the opportunity to enter against such talented and legendary bear artists and it certainly didn't put me off entering the next year ... and the one after that ...

When I hear bear makers say 'I'm not ready to enter against such talent yet', I wonder when they ever think they will be ready.  A couple of years later I entered the same competition and beat Janet Clark ... and several other notables!  I'm sure we were both utterly shocked and she probably never knew I spent the next year certain I shouldn't have entered the competition because I'd convinced myself it couldn't have been a fair judgement.  I really couldn't enjoy my accolade.  It took a long while after that before I realised I had in fact been placed on merit, because I had created a well made and unique bear, using a brave and creative design.  So the moral is, anyone can win a competition, whether they think they are ready to enter or not and whether they think they are worthy of winning or not. bear_thumb

bearhug07 Strange Bears
Sydney
Posts: 444

Paula I totally agree that a "name" artist entering a small competition who also works to promote that competition and encourage others is more than worthwhile and again it works to show people what a collector bear is and the quality of work available.

I often volunteer my time to judge these shows and also promote them through the magazine to encourage artists to enter them. The more artist bears there are to be seen at smaller shows the more people know.

All competitions have there place and if well run and promoted can offer a lot to the industry and artists.

I am a strong believer in the value of competitions and as shown the another thread .. (Wendy and her olympic entry)...mainstream newpapers etc can pick up stories and offer great publicity.

bearhugs

Boogaloo Bears Boogaloo Bears
united kingdom
Posts: 1,096

Hi

I work full time so bear making is purely a wonderful hobby for me to enjoy, however I have been fortunate enough to be featured in Teddy Bear Club International this month (August edition). I also placed an advertisement and would recommend doing the same if you can afford to do so.

Unfortunately I can't afford to advertise all of the time, however it is not as important to me as other bear artists, as bear making is not my full time job.

Lisa  bear_tongue

Pumpkin & Pickle Bears Pumpkin & Pickle Bears
East Sussex
Posts: 2,047
Website

I have won 3 British Bear Artist Awards and DO say 'Award-winning Artist' on my business cards and whenever I have a bear on ebay (which is very rarely). I feel that I deserve to mention it to potential new customers as I'm very proud of it! I entered not expecting to win but more to challenge myself...I was up against other Artists who have been making bears for FAR longer than me (some of them for 20+ years compared to my 2.5 years) and I wanted to see how I'd compare to them. The thing I like about the BBAA's is that your bear is not just judged on 'looks' but also on how well it is made - loose eyes, wonky stitches on the nose, uneven limbs and noticible stitches where the seams have been closed are all looked at becuase the bears are present and judged on the day....basically there's no way of hiding imperfections!

I would LOVE to enter the bigger awards and I fully intend to for 2009 - my problem is I am confused at the amount of them and when the entries have to be in for each one.

I have bought bears on the internet before and been a little saddened when it's arrived as it wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be in terms of quality....I feel that mentioning these awards gives customers peace of mind that their money is being well-spent as the quality of work has been inspected by the judges.

I know there are lots of Artists who don't enter the competitions who's work is outstanding, but for me, I like to know that I'm doing it right and i feel having a bear judged does just that.

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