I hope I don't hit any bad chords by saying this, but I was reading the archives and it kind of got me to thinking. As you know, I absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE teddy bears and I'm kind of obsessed with them to the annoyance of my poor husband, but we are also both disabled and on a very fixed income. I've always collected regular manufactured teddy bears from the store and my new passion is to rescue secondhand bears and plushies that no one wants anymore and take them home and give them love.
In the past year, since being on teddy bear forums and since I've started making bears, I've become fascinated by artist bears. How they're made or what materials are used or the labels don't mean anything to me, probably because I can't see them, but I love the thought of having a bear that someone has made by hand. I now have a few artist bears, three that I've bought, a few that some artists that I've gotten really close to have given me, and one I got in a swop. I think they're the coolest thing since sliced bread, not necessarily because they're worth a lot, but because they're handmade and because they have a different feel than my other bears and it's something you don't see every day.
There is an artist that I love, her as a person and her bears, Eva J., who made child safe bears that are priced reasonably and they're very accessible for anyone who loves bears. Sadly, she is not making bears anymore and she's switched to restoring dolls *cries on a bear*. She still has bears left and I'm working, slowly but surely, on adopting every bear she has left, which is going to take me forever because of the way our financial situation is, but I'm wondering if there are any other bear artists like her so I'll have another artist I can get bears from. Of course I hope that by the time I've adopted all of Eva J.'s bears, we'll have jobs and then I can support artists whose bears are a little more pricey, but I would love to find more artist bears like Eva makes, or at least in that same style. Eva says I should stick with my manufactured plushies, which I'll never stop collecting no matter how many artist bears I'm able to have.
I have taken that direction with my bears, but I'm curious about how to go about marketing that type of bear. I would like to reach avid collectors, but also I would like for anyone to be able to have my bears. I'm curious to know what collectors of artist bears think about this. I think it would be cool to make a few really expensive bears, but I don't know how that would work selling them alongside my cheaper bears. Besides, I know that the expensive bears have a lot of elaborate visual detail, which I don't think I'll be able to do because I've never had vision in my life, so I don't look at a bear I make and say, "He needs this or that visual thing done to him." It's just not there and I can't wrap my brain around it. I appologize for the long post, but I guess I have a lot of questions.
I have taken that direction with my bears, but I'm curious about how to go about marketing that type of bear. I would like to reach avid collectors, but also I would like for anyone to be able to have my bears. I'm curious to know what collectors of artist bears think about this. I think it would be cool to make a few really expensive bears, but I don't know how that would work selling them alongside my cheaper bears.
In all of my writings about teddy bears, I have always made one point explicitly clear -- that for me personally collecting teddy bears is not for monetary value. For some people that is, and if they've the money to do that; to have the most expensive, most sought-after teddy bear, or any other collectors' item, so be it. That's their choice, and likely they'll be unhappy with the end result.
But for me, my passion tends to command more money overall for a teddy bear because I like traditional teddy bears. So in my hug, I do have quite a few expensive teddy bears -- or rather, some people would think so. I own a few Steiff teddy bears, I own a Chiltern Hugmee, etc., but I bought them because I liked the style of bear. That's the really important point about this -- collectors collect on appeal and with reason, not for price. If you happen to list two different teddy bears at polar-opposites in terms of price, to the educated eye who is looking for a bear, the price comparison is likely secondary to appreciating the bear.
-- Thomas Adam
As a show promoter I can tell you that people are always looking for child-safe HANDMADE bears... now more than ever as people are tired of everything coming from China and want something special for their kids. I am very frequently asked for names of bear makers who make affordable, handmade, child-safe bears or asked if any such bear makers will be at my shows. If you do or are willing to use plastic safety joints and eyes you could have quite a following for affordable bears! I know Eva's bears were child-safe and with so many high-end artists out there the lower priced, child-safe market is really lacking... you could do well!
I agree you would do very well ~ I get tired of seeing the reaction of customers once I explain our bears are not suitable for children under the age of 14. It makes me sad, not just to lose the customer but that another child can't appreciate that bear.
I say go for it! Make child-safe bears artist bears to the best of your ability and just wait and see where it takes you I think you'd be surprised so I say dive right in Good luck!