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…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?

Newsflash … The Flamingos are coming to Osprey, Florida!!!

Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m. The Flamingos Nest opens its doors for business.  With the focus on artist and artisan works of art, furniture and decorative accessories, Bob and I delivered a van full of painted furniture to the store that will be for sale exclusively through The Flamingos Nest.

The Flamingos NextDarrell and Nicki Hoke have created a tropical paradise in Osprey, Florida.  Their wit and ingenuity will delight your senses when you walk into the 10,500 square foot store.   A custom-made boardwalk and beach area leads you into the store past the little beach car, flamingos and an alligator spitting water into a pool to the left.  Lights made from sand buckets hang over the bamboo checkout counter at the back.  Delightful touches that inspire.

On the floor you will find quality new furnishings by Tommy Bahama, Seawinds, Broyhill, Lexington and many, many more mixed with on-of -a-kind creations by hand-picked artists and artisans from Florida and neighboring states.  If you see it and love it you had better buy it right then as you may never  see it again.

Their sister store, Pelican Cottage, is just down the street.  The focus there is on new and used furniture and high quality consignment items.  Spend a day cruising these tropical retreats and then do lunch at one of the nearby restaurants to end the day.  Check out their websites at http://www.theflamingosnest.com and http://www.pelicancottage.net and see what they are all about.

 

 

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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.

Building an Art Wall: It’s Done!

Today is a great day!  The staining and finishing has come to an end.  I’ve always felt uncomfortable about staining something on site and something that’s already built in, but this job was fun.  I could rely on the client’s input for color and sheen and it made the job much easier.  Lighting is such an important factor in any kind of decorating, whether it’s furniture, wall color, accessories, flooring and so on.  You have to consider outdoor light coming into the room and the ambient light in the home.  I could see the different lighting effects from trying to get a great photo of the finished work of art Art Wall.  Thank goodness for Photoshop!  I’ve tried to find a study on photographing indoor room settings but haven’t yet been successful.  If anyone out there in the photography world knows of a great blog, website or book or have tips of their own, let me know.

Back to the Art Wall…the clients had a party over the weekend and all of their guests were highly impressed.  The dimensionality of the unit and the color balance in the room are impressive and completed the family room/kitchen/breakfast nook area.  They are thrilled and so are we!

My next project is a commercial job at Brindley’s on the Island in downtown Venice, Florida.  I am starting it today and what fun this will be.  Bob cut valance boards to go around the entire front of the store.  Today I am going to give them the color base coats of the store’s logo and then the fun begins.  As it develops I will post on this project.

Building an Art Wall: Part One

Today Bob and I are sunburned and bone tired. We’ve been working on a large art wall/entertainment center for a client for the past five days. The piece is being created on site so with Bob’s saws and equipment outside we’ve battled the Florida elements of rain, steam (when the hot sun burns off the dampness), wasps and dragonflies. In spite of it all, the project is turning out so well and the clients are so pleased that it makes it all worthwhile.

This project first began with the design work.  The clients gave us their idea of what they would like to see.  They had specific pieces of sculpture they wanted to showcase in this wall as well as house the TV and the components.  I took photos of the empty wall and then computer generated our design with their specifications for the art wall onto their wall photo with Photoshop. We made a few tweaks here and there, then it was Bob’s turn. He drew the unit to scale which took some adjustment to my work…it always does.  Once that was done, the building began.

First he took 2×4’s and framed in all of the little cubby holes. That was a feat in itself as the design is complex with different depths and heights of the six sections.  (Two are hidden behind the TV in the photo.) For the last three days he and I have man-handled nine 4’x8′ sheets of cherry plywood cutting each piece to size, edge banding each one and are working on building the art boxes. I will post another picture of our progress tomorrow … for tomorrow is another day!