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Category Archives: Of Art and Business

…Why Artists Starve…

There is such joy and satisfaction in being “artistic”… in letting the inner soul out from your heart through your hands, sharing your beliefs and secrets with the world.  A friend of mine likened art to having a baby.  Blood, sweat and tears go into producing this baby.  How could you not feel maternal about it?  You loved it into existence and it pleases you.  You want to share it with the world What is a Daybut you are so involved with it that to you it’s priceless….so you have a hard time pricing this art baby for what it’s worth.

I come to this crossroads over and over again.  I am much, much better than I used to be.  Awhile back I put pricing guidelines in place in my mind, but depending on circumstances such as did the water heater break and I really need X number of dollars to fix it or I know this person cannot afford the work but I really, really like them. Pricing simply goes out the window.

To defy the odds and be a successful artist making a living at making art, know your worth.  Too many artists undervalue their work.  Recently my eyes were opened to this fact when I visited a newly opened store filled with work by other artists and artisans.  Beautiful hand painted works of art on canvas were priced so low by the time the store takes their cut and the artist pays for the canvas and paints they will be lucky to be making minimum wage.  How can one ever think of leaving the  job they despise to pursue a life of art making less than minimum wage?

I have done a lot of research on how to price art work and I would like to share some of them with you as well as my own pricing structure. These are only guidelines and each artist must find that comfort zone that lets you feel the price is fair for both the buyer and the artist.

Canvas prices range from $ .65 to $2.25 per square inch.  Oils command higher prices.  Murals range from $35 per square foot to $50 per square foot.  Design work and sketches go from $100 to $500 depending on the complexity of the project.  One can also come from the hourly side.  I charge no less than $50 per hour.  Sometimes I make as much as $100 an hour.  I have years of experience behind me and and thousands of pieces of work floating around the country.  I have written 15 books and numerous articles for the craft industry and illustrated 5 books in the publishing industry.  I know that my work is worthy of the price I command and when I get the guts I will raise my prices again.

Artists…how much is a day of your life worth?

Artist Rules for Working With Clients

“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em “Certainly I can!”  Then get busy and find out how to do it”….Teddy Roosevelt

How refreshing that is for clients to hear…”Certainly. I can!”  So many times they are told, “No, it can’t be done,” when the truth is anything can be done in the manner you want for a price.

Entertainment armoireBob and I have become the Venice, Florida go-to-people for projects that other companies turn down or would turn into their own projects.  It would be done their way, with their selected materials and end up not accomplishing what the client wanted in the first place. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time we hit the nail on the head and the people are so pleased that we are showered with more business.

Our business success comes from living by these rules:

1.  First and foremost…get into the client’s head. Put aside your own preconceived notions and listen to what they have to say.  What do they really want?  Absorb their surroundings.  Find out about their roots, where they come from and why they moved to wherever it is they live now.  Is it a get-a-way home or a permanent residence?  Are they fun people or traditional people?

2. Find out what they want to accomplish with the work they ask you to do.  Do they want a feeling of paradise or the Orient?  Do they want functionality or decorative.  Do they hate the color orange or love it?  I always ask if mural clients have an aversion to lizards or dragonflies if I am doing a nature mural because I usually use these creatures in nature settings.  Some people hate them, most people love them.

 

 

 

 

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3.  Never argue and never say no.  If a purple flamingo with green eyes is what they want…give them a purple flamingo with green eyes no matter how you feel about it. (This is a hard one for an artist or a decorator) Even if you hate it, the purple flamingo with green eyes is what the client really wants.

4.  If the project is going to be expensive to execute the way the client wants, by all means present them with a couple of options; one exactly what they asked for and one with a less expensive alternative. Some will choose the more expensive way and some will choose the less expensive way.  Don’t be afraid to price the project for what it is worth.

5.  If you do have to say the dirty word “No”, have someone lined up who will do the job in the manner that you would be proud of.  Bob and I have learned over the years that whatever you take on that you hate doing will multiply.  We do not paint whole houses or do whole house faux finishes…except for very special people where the word “no” does not exist.

6.  Do your work as if you were doing it for yourself.  Superb craftsmanship whether you are working for  a company or yourself builds forever relationships.

7.  Always be honest.  Stand by your word and be truthful in what you say and do.  Having integrity not only endears you to clients it enables you to have a good night’s sleep.

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone….

“Life Begins at the end of your comfort zone”…. what a statement!  It brought back memories of the ride I took through the rain forests of Puerto Rico suspended hundreds of feet in the air on a wire.  Ziplining in Puerto RicoAs if that weren’t bad enough, I then had to rappel 80 feet down from the branches of the tree I had just landed in.  A feat accomplished with body intact by a woman afraid of heights.  On one of our trips to Key West my little speed demon husband flipped our Skidoo and us upside down in the water leaving us struggling to get to the surface.  My daughter-in-law thought I would come up swinging, but Bob survived and so did I and in the end it was exhilarating.

Throughout my life and my art career I have been blessed with many opportunities to step out of my comfort zone….some intentional…some not so intentional, like the Skidoo episode.  But, I think about where I would be now if I had said “no” to making a career out of art and taken a “real” job instead; said “no” to my publisher because I was afraid I wasn’t “good” enough or “no” to moving to Florida where I didn’t know anyone other than my parents who were here only four months out of the year.  When the opportunities presented themselves, I juggled the yes and no because they were life changing events.  In the end ” yes” won out and I gained one of life’s greatest rewards…I GREW!  My art expanded, my reputation expanded and my life expanded.

May your faith be bigger than your fears!

 

 

 

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The Weeks of Fifty Flamingos

The weeks..(yes, I said weeks)… of fifty plus flamingos has finally been delivered!  Have you ever had a job in your life that simply makes you crazy?  Something that seems so simple turns into an elephant on your chest at every turn?  I felt as fiftyflamingosthough my feet were stuck in mud sucking the life out of me.  It made me grouchy, which made Bob grouchy.  In the middle of the flock I swore I would NEVER do this kind of work again!

Then we made the delivery. The decorator loved it.  She love it so much that she said it was “perfect”…no corrections, additions or color changes.  She told me I had a “Warhol” style… and as quick as that it felt like those grueling weeks weren’t so bad after all.

So what did I learn from this experience?  (I’ve traveled this road before).  I recognize three trains of thought in the work that I do.  One….you create your own works of art exactly the way you want to on canvas or furniture and put it out there for sale through art shows, galleries or on-line. Maybe it will sell…maybe it won’t.

Two…you do commissioned work…working directly with the clients..creating works of art that enhance people’s lives and their homes.  They value your opinions and are open to possibilities.  The best thing of all is they are always full of joy when the job is complete and they always pay upon delivery.

Three…working with an interior designer.  They have their own artistic vision: therefore, you must stifle your own creativity and paint it the way they see it.  Unfortunately and fortunately…number three has been the most lucrative for me by far.  So why am I complaining?  The biggest problem is I feel a sense of loss of my own creative voice.  Yes, I painted it, but it was created by someone else’s vision.  For awhile I was teased into thinking that I would be allowed to paint it in my “style” but in my heart I knew that I should just shut up and paint it the way they wanted it in the first place.  So that’s exactly what I did.

I will probably try the decorator deal one more time.  The money is fantastic and I think I have decorators figured out.  Once you have them figured out you know what to expect and know how to feel when they tell you to change something or to just do it their way.  My dad always told me I was too emotional and as an adult I have tried to temper that and not get my feelings hurt by trivial things.  The other side of the coin is being emotional is what drives art; but there is a fine line between making great money and being a starving artist.  We’ll see what the future brings.

 

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Happy Thanksgiving!!! …and Bring It Home…Shop Your Local Businesses for the Holidays

Wishing you all out there a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Bob and I have so very much to be thankful for this year.  We experienced a terrible summer in business this year that others have experienced far longer than we did, but the good Lord, our family, friends and especially our client friends helped to turn the tide and so we end the year on a positive note.  I am also grateful for the many business blogs, newsletters and video newsletters that helped to direct and refocus the business.  Not only were they uplifting but they helped me to keep the faith in knowing we are headed in the right direction with exciting things on the horizon for 2013.

With Black Friday on the doorstep, I would also like to mention that the Buy Small…Buy Local Day sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is this Saturday, November 24th.  The charm of Christmas will be found in the cool little shops in your historic districts…the great bike and board shop off the beaten path…an extremely unique liquor store  (Brindley’s comes to mind) as well as any of your favorite artists (possibly Jane Crick?), photographers, artisans, authors or craftsmen.  They can provide you with very unique and sometimes one-of-a-kind holiday gifts.  The little people of business like these people are what keeps the economy chugging along in spite of what’s going on in the rest of the world. I remember as I was closing out my gallery and having the end of business sale so many people stopped in saying they had always meant to stop and never did.  If you are saying that about a local business that you drive by on a regular basis or know of one off the beaten path….stop in and spend some of your holiday dollars with them.  You won’t regret it!

Riding the Business Energy Wave!

Happy Halloween to all of my friends out there in Bloggerville!  This is one of my favorite times of year with the fun and color of Halloween and everything pumpkin…pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins and even a most wonderful cream liquor, Mother’s Pumpkin Spice that we discovered at Brindley’s open house!  By itself, it tastes just like a piece of liquid pumpkin pie.  Or you can give your afternoon coffee a pumpkin kick with a shot of this creamy liquor.  Simply delicious.  Another fall delight that a client shared with me is to take a can of Spanish peanuts with the red hulls on and mix in half a bag of candy corn.  Eat a hand full of this mix and you think you are eating a Babe Ruth candy bar…except easier on the teeth.  So much for the diet during the next few months!

So to finish up about the Brindley job and tell a little tale on myself, Bob and I worked hard to get all of the wine and liquor signs done before the grand re-opening.  Bob made the wine signs out of cherry plywood to match the wooden wine rack fixtures in the store.  He also cut out thin plywood bunches of grapes that I painted and then glued in place.  I then hand lettered each sign using a font that made me think of wine.  For the liquors, Bob cut out little surfboards that I base painted in Brindley’s lime green theme color and then painted a bright tropical colored stripe down the middle.  I chose a funky font and a deep sea blue for the lettering.  We made the deadline with the delivery early Friday morning.  Friday afternoon we entered the store and I looked up at a couple of our signs with the the word Bourbon on it.  They both had a red “O” on white paper taped over the “A” I had mistakenly painted…Bourban… on it.  We were in such a rush…and I am not a Bourbon drinker….that Bob and I both missed the misspelling!  I had thought about checking all of the boards to make sure I had spelled everything right, but as I am here to tell, I didn’t.  Thank goodness it is a fun place because everyone thought that it was funny…except probably for the Bourbon drinkers and me!  So friends, I will ALWAYS proofread my work from now on!  My next project for Brindley’s will be the theme park store map.  You can be sure I will check and recheck my spelling for that!

This week I took a couple of days to rest and regroup.  Bob and I were both wiped out.  Monday I had one appointment in Sarasota to look at a faux finish touch-up job for a restaurant and Thursday I am looking at another exterior commercial job with the potential of getting my painted furniture placed in their new store as well.  Tomorrow I head back to Orchid Beach to work on the sea turtle mural and discuss the canvases. Business energy is flowing and we are riding the wave!

 

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