I've experienced the pros & cons of both approaches. Here are some things I've learned:
Owning the Only-- Few customers love an OOAK creation enough to pay significantly more for it.
Creative Flexibility-- The artist's imagination has total control when creating OOAK inventory. It's fun!
Balancing the Challenge-- ...BUT if the joy of creating OOAK isn't balanced by marketability, prepare to be another Starving Artist:) Also, creating multiples of one's most popular designs is a great Plan B when the creative well runs dry.
Wholesale-- Shops & pricey boutiques may buy a selection from OOAK artists initially. But they'll often followup with requests for multiples of the best selling ones, perhaps in different sizes & colors. To support such a market, consider removing the OOAK label.
Creating Multiples-- Each iteration of the item becomes easier to make. Hopefully that results in more profit as labor becomes more efficient. However, the process gets boring & might feel like the opposite of creativity.
SPECIAL CHALLENGE: Creating Custom Multiples for ONE Customer
Given ONE well-made custom item that meets specs, the customer will likely LOVE it. BUT delivering well-made custom MULTIPLES to a customer is riskier. Because each handmade item will be slightly different, she'll probably prefer ONE & wish all of them looked "exactly" like that one! The more particular the customer is up front, the more likely she'll find a Pick of the Litter & love the others less. It's human nature, even though the artist explains the certainty of differences before taking the job. Hopefully the customer can become happy with the unique beauty of each multiple:)
I have as many questions as answers about these practical aspects of creating art & hope you'll Comment with your own experiences. I'm learning the ropes in the School of Trial and Error. "T & E" is a tough school!
I'm in awe of the internet expertise that's essential for making a business successful online! It's a steep learning curve & I'm slowly moving up 1 clumsy step at a time. I just want to give a public THANK YOU to Kay of A Crafty Arab for holding my hand. With her busy life, I don't know how she does it, BUT I AM GRATEFUL! With luck I'll be tweeting about my jewelry soon:)
When I was a child, the measure of our artistic abilities was how well we colored inside the lines that someone else drew in a coloring book. I was proud that I could stay inside those lines, as this impressed my parents & teachers. I also lived my life "inside the lines." I'm not apologizing for this. Our parents, despite having very little money, worked hard & raised 2 good kids in the days of "Leave It to Beaver" & "Father Knows Best." As a result, I lived as I was expected to live, picked "teacher" among my 3 choices of professions (nurse, teacher, housewife) & was mostly happy. Only in retirement from several great careers did I discover Art & the joy & freedom of coloring outside the lines! And who needs someone else's lines?! The New Me is enjoying a surprising talent for jewelry design that no one suspected, especially me!
Vivi is another story altogether:) I'm thrilled to see artistic freedom encouraged in kids today & nurtured by Vivi's teachers & our daughter. When Vivi spends the night with us, her body's alarm clock rings at 7:30 am, no matter what. One to two hours later when I stumble out of bed, I'm amazed to see her creations on the dining room table & how many of them she produced in 2 hours!
I'm so proud of Vivi & happy that she's discovered her freedom of self-expression at such a young age. Her world is full of open doors, and I couldn't be happier for her!