The Business of Fiber Art

We spoke with three fiber artists who use very different techniques, and asked them: What do you do? How do you earn money with your art? Here are their stories.


Feltmaking by fiber artist Sylvia Brestel


Sylvia Brestel, Felted Feather

I participate in local high profile art shows and in art fairs where the emphasis is on the visual arts. I sell my work wholesale and consign to retail galleries. Close contact with galleries is important to see what is selling and to offer new work. My work can be viewed on other websites besides my own, such as guild websites. Newsletters inform my customers of my upcoming exhibits, art shows, or new work. I make it a point to follow up on each sale. Educating potential customers is a very important part of my work. People appreciate hearing about my technique, inspiration, and passion for my art.


Artist Fay Brooks creates handwoven goods


Fay Brooks, Liberty Weaving

I like to promote my fiber art in conversations, informational venues, and by actual peddling. I find my wearable art can naturally work its way into a lot of conversations. I like to keep in touch with various artist support systems for mutual edification. I use social media to engage my customers; and, finally, a big part of marketing is by just old fashioned peddling with art shows, community events, and galleries. Because artists are small businesses, I find thinking all over the box has led to some pretty fantastic pathways for marketing.


Dalani Tanahy makes Hawaiian kapa cloth and teaches the technique


Dalani Tanahy, Kapa Hawaii

As an artist and teacher of kapa making for over 20 years, and kapa being very niche, specialized and with relatively few makers, I developed over that time a reputation within our Hawaiian community as a kapa “go to” person. Five years ago, I decided to do this work full time as a real business. My reputation was almost my sole means of marketing. If someone was looking for kapa, my name was mentioned. I obtained work for the Disney Aulani Resort and the British Museum this way. I’ve had my website since 2008 and that online presence is usually how I’m found for commission works and classes.



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