By Carolyn Edlund
What happens when the theme of your paintings strikes a huge chord with a niche audience?
If you are Shannon Grissom, you create a whole business out of it. Originally, Shannon came up with the idea to paint a sock monkey. Turns out that the sock monkey is one of those nostalgic, childhood memories which has obsessive fans all over the country. There is even a Sock Monkey Festival taking place each year in Rockford, Illinois (where she is a popular exhibitor.)
She then wrote a book about sock monkeys, which included more of her paintings. During a book signing at a country club, Shannon was given the idea to make monkey golf club covers, and came up with a prototype. Subsequently, she partnered with Daphne’s Headcovers to develop a whole line of sock monkey golf covers, which became top sellers for the company.
She now licenses her sock monkey designs for needlepoint kits, offers other themed merchandise on her website, and sells prints of the art. Regular posts on her website offer downloadable coloring pages with a sock monkey theme to keep visitors coming back. Tying profits in with children’s charities helps to provide an additional boost to her sales.
Other activities Shannon is involved in which help to promote and sell her sock monkey art:
- Focused presence on social media sites (with over 17,000 Twitter followers)
- Created sock monkey golf video
- Solo gallery show of sock monkey art
- Participates in a local Art Studio Tour
- Hosted TV show “Give Your Walls Some Soul” which taught painting, and opened each episode with a sock monkey image
- Speaking engagements with talks tied into sock monkey theme
- Offering free sock monkey calendars
Originally thinking that her audience would be young mothers, Shannon has found that admirers of her work also include baby boomers, grandparents and nostalgia buffs – plus all those golfers. She intends to keep up the momentum by continuing to reach out on different levels with her marketing and publicity efforts. She says, “Everything I do has to go beyond today. It’s got to keep living.”