Research

Inspiration can come from anywhere, even social media.  As I interact with others who share my same interests on social media, I am in awe of their creative ideas and also the ones that begin to flow within me. 

Just seeing how others combine color and movement opens my mind to new ideas.  The amount of works people are producing fuels excitement and drive.  From the beginner to the old world masters, it’s all there.  Of course nothing beats viewing art up-close and in person but the volume of work you can view on-line in a matter of minutes is phenomenal.  

However, don’t spend all your time on social media.  You must find time to put those newfound ideas to use.

Social Media

Inspiration can come from anywhere, even social media.  As I interact with others who share my same interests on social media, I am in awe of their creative ideas and also the ones that begin to flow within me. 

Just seeing how others combine color and movement opens my mind to new ideas.  The amount of works people are producing fuels excitement and drive.  From the beginner to the old world masters, it’s all there.  Of course nothing beats viewing art up-close and in person but the volume of work you can view on-line in a matter of minutes is phenomenal.  

However, don’t spend all your time on social media.  You must find time to put those newfound ideas to use.

Staying Organized

Being disorganized could be hurting your business, even in the world of art.  If you can’t find the number or remember the name of the contact you made yesterday or last week, you could lose out on a potential sale.  Perhaps you have no idea what’s in your inventory or where a particular piece is located.  How would you be able to offer it to a customer?

Here a few tricks to keeping everything organized.

  1. Scale down your online presence.

Don’t spread yourself too thin on the online platforms.  Not every platform will be a good fit for your business.  Social sites take work.  You have to engage with the audience.  Too many sites, can overload and overwhelm yourself. So, there is no need in using them all.  However, there is a need to get your art out there.  Pick a few social sites and galleries. Get to know them.  Test them to see how they work for you and what kind of time you have to devote to them.  If they are working, stick with them.  If you have more time, try a few more.

  1. Quit living by the seat of your pants.  

Take time to plan.  Set aside Friday afternoon or Sunday night to prioritize your goals for the week. Don’t get over-zealous.  Be realistic as to what you can and can’t accomplish.  Set reminders for yourself so you know what’s in the pipeline.

3.   Inventory. 

The more work you produce and the more you show, the harder it is to keep track of where each piece is.  Therefore, taking stock of your inventory is essential.  Keep a list of titles, dimensions, year completed and price.  Keep track of sales and who you sold each piece to.  There are plenty of online resources to help you with this.  Old school notebooks work, too.

Organization will help you save time and have a better sense of how your business is doing.  Remember, art is a business.  Therefore, business rules apply.

Consistent Pricing

Strategically settting prices for your work is essential to growing your business.  Always take into consideration costs, wages and value in order to provide a profit. Setting prices arbitrarily without regard for your costs or the perceived value of your work may be costing you.  So, knowing how to price correctly at the start will help you.

Selling too low creates expectation for further “sales” prices.  Yet, selling too high may cause you to miss opportunities. Find a balance and stay consistent.  Find a formula to keep prices consistent.  Then raise or lower based on that formula.  

You will lose if you don’t know your costs and value.  Expenses are obvious.  You have to know what the materials cost in order to turn a profit.  Your value is part emotional and common sense.  Take into consideration the time you have invested in the piece.  You never want to discount your time.  However, don’t get so emotionally attached to a piece that you over value it.   

If you are represented by someone, undercutting their sales price can hurt their business and in turn yours.  If someone can buy from you for less, why would they buy from you representative?  Obviously, they wouldn’t.  Your rep is important.  Make sure they know that by respecting their prices.

However, discounts can always be made.  For example, should a customer buy more than one piece or select a piece that has been in your inventory for months a discount can easily be added.  Similarly, you can increase prices if the customer wants to commission a piece.  

Find a strategy and stay consistent.

Comments welcome.

Difficult Customers. We All Have Them.

I wish I could tell you that all customers are going to be easy.  But I can’t.  I won’t.  However, I can give you a bit of advice on how to handle them and keep your sanity in doing so.

First of all, don’t take it personally.  If they are difficult with you, then they are probably difficult with a lot of people.  Perhaps they are just having a bad day, week, or year.  Trust me.  People can have a bad year.  Try not to let them drag you into their anger and frustration.  The person who stays in control will remain in control.  

Second…don’t speak.  Sit quietly and listen.  Let them get it all out and then try repeating what they said only in your words.  They will feel heard.  Being heard is what most want anyway.  

Lastly, if possible, try resolving the problem with a couple of different solutions and allow them to chose.  Then follow up with them later.  

I can’t say these suggestions are going to work 100% of the time but they will work from time to time.  Hopefully, you will be able to walk away cool, calm and collected.  

5 Acrylic Techniques to Try

Acrylic.  It dries quickly.  It cleans easily.  It’s simply lovely.  It is also very versatile  There’s just so much you can do with acrylic.  So, if you are one who gets bored doing the same old thing over and over again, acrylic is the medium for you.  Here are five techniques to switch things up and add a little fun to your painting

  1. Palette Knife

It’s kind of like frosting a cake.  Palette knives allow you to smear large patches of color, working quickly you can blend colors easily and smoothly.  If rustic, unpolished is up your alley, palette knives give you that streaked look simply by scraping some of the acrylic off you canvas.  

      2.  Textured Materials

Textured materials such as Black Lava, glass beads, and molding paste are readily available.  Both can be mixed with acrylic to create a 3D surface.  They stick to just about anything and hold whatever acrylic you mix in.  Get creative.

      3.  Glazes

Glazes create an opaque look.  Just mix the glaze with the color and apply it over an existing color.  The glaze will allow what is underneath to show through.  You can create layer on top of layer.  Glazes increase the drying time, giving you more workable to time to create.  

      4.  Metal Foil

Create that metallic look with leafing.  Simply add some glue, preferably glue made specifically for leafing.  Allow it to dry to a tacky consistency.  Place the foil down and gently peal off.  The foil will stick to whatever shape you create with the glue.

      5.  Resin

A two-part resin can be poured onto your board or canvas to create a varnished look to your finished piece.  Be Sure to read the directions before use.  It can be tricky but the end result is worth the effort.  It shines like glass and gives depth to the acrylic.

3 Ways to Learn from Your Competition

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.  All you have to do is make a better wheel.  So, your competition has plenty of information to provide you, and most are willing to share techniques, stories, paths.  

1.  Find the successful artists; the one’s that are recognizable; the present day ones.  Find artists whose work is similar to you.  Perhaps you already know of them; perhaps, you’ve already emulated their style.  They will have insights as to what products they like; why they like them; they may even give reviews on their website or youtube.  

2.  There’s always more to learn than just style.  View their websites, and social media sites.  Study what they post.  Where they show.  If their work is similar to yours, it stands to reason their path might work for you.   

3.  Artist Guilds, and communities and organizations for the arts are always a good source of information.  Find the ones that that are willing to share, especially the ones online, and be willing to reciprocate.  Like, comment, share their work on your sites.  Ask questions.  Give your input.

Getting to know people who have already figured it out can save you time and energy.  You can use their knowledge and build upon it but be sure to then pay it forward.

Tips for Turning Rejection into Insight

Rejection sucks.  Plain and simple.  Perhaps you have been turned down from an exhibition,  not invited to an art fair or ignored on your social media sites.  They all can sting. However, it proves you are doing what is necessary to put yourself out there, just like any entrepreneur.  So, don’t take it personally.  Use the situation just like any business manager would, as a tool for improvement. 

So, once you receive that first “no” and after every “no” thereafter, (and you will receive a no) calmly examine what went wrong.  Begin to analyze the situation.  You will find ways to make improvements.

     Did you follow the rules exactly?

     If it was a blind submission, did you remove your name entirely from the application?

     Did you turn your application in on time?

     Were your images clear and professional?

     Review your artist statement.

     Did you tell your story?

The list goes on.  Sometimes, it’s helpful if you can attend the show that you didn’t get in, so that you can compare your work to those artists were accepted.  Sometimes, art fairs will provide you with applications and images from all those who applied.  Take full advantage of that information.  

And remember, each no is one step closer to yes.  The trick is not to just keep going, but to learn as you go, using each rejection as insight for improvements.  If it were easy, everyone would be an artist.  

Donating Your Art...Beneficial or Not?

Supporting a cause can be a rewarding experience.  However, is donatlng your artwork rewarding? Is it worth it?

Organizations, groups, and charities will often solicit artists for donations.  In return, you get exposure, tax write-offs and the pride of having helped out a worthy cause.  Sounds good.

Well, many times pride is the only thing you’ll receive in return.  And once you donate you’ll be hounded for more donations from more and more organizations.  The tax write-offs are for materials only.  This means you will lose out on all the hours you have invested in creating the piece, making the deduction minuscule from a purely economic perspective.  

The best advice I can give you is if you are going to donate, do so expecting only to receive the good feeling for having done so.  If possible, donate to causes/charities that are somehow related to your work.  If you can tailor your work to fit the cause do so.  For example, if you are a pet portrait artists or your style works with painting animals, donate those types of pieces to organizations supporting animals.  

Feel free to leave your experience with donating art good or bad.  Comments welcome.

The Emotional Connection

Sales.  It’s all about the benefit a product has to offer.  When it comes to art the benefit is mostly emotional.  Art is rarely just a functional purchase.  Yes.  Art fills a space.  But it does more than just fill a void.  It creates an atmosphere.  And through that atmosphere, personality is expressed.  It’s the expression of personality people are buying.  The connection to the work is what the buyer seeks.  They want how it makes them feel and they want to share that side of them with their family and friends.  

So, understanding what it is your art conveys is the key to finding your audience.  The key to selling your work.  If you aren’t clear about what emotion your art evokes, start by asking your friends and family how they feel when they view your work.  Listen to the people who buy your work.  They will tell you.  

If they don’t volunteer the information, ask.  Share your connection to the painting, and then ask what their’s is.  Ask what drew them to their purchase.  Ask what it in particular they like about he piece.  Just ask.  Sometimes it may not be the painting itself.  At a show in Chicago, I had a customer who purchased a piece simply because of the name.  The name reminded her of the drive up The 101 freeway from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  She had fond memories of that drive.  Coincidentally, that was the inspiration for the piece.  

Once you have derived at the emotion connection, sell the emotion.  Work it into your story.    Sell the story.  And see where it leads.  I bet it leads to sales.  

5 Tips for Hanging Your Art

1.     Hang the Showstopper

    Display your work using your best, high-end piece at the center.  Because it’s an eye-catcher, it will create traffic within your booth and help sell the other pieces around it.  Make certain to display work at all price levels within your booth to have something to offer for everyone.   

2.    Hang at Eye Level

   Eye level is the best placement for selling products.  Any one who’s ever worked retail can attest to that.  No one wants to bend down to look at your artwork.  So, take advantage of the eye level strategy by hanging your best pieces at eye level.  

3.    Hang in Odd Numbers

     Even numbered arrangements tend to lack interest.  Odd numbers tend to be more eye catching. So, set up your display in threes or fives to keep the eye moving and maintain customer interest.  

4.    Create a Flow

    When hanging your work, think of the grouping as a work in and of itself.  Try to create a flow from piece to piece just a you would when creating each one on its own.  The flow will keep the customer’s eye moving from one to the next and back again.

5.    De-Clutter

     Remember less is more.  Now that everything is in place, step back and check your arrangement.  Are your pieces crowded?  If so, space them out a little.  Give each piece enough room to be viewed.  Cramped spaces and clutter can create uneasiness and that’s the last thing you want your customer feeling.

Comments welcome.





Wall Art

Made for decorative purposes, wall art is usually a print of an original.  It’s what you buy at Target, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel.  It’s not for every artist.  But it is something to consider when you are picking your style and defining success.  For me, it’s how I got my start.  

As a full-time corporate employee, I didn’t have much time to devote to art.  If I was going to pursue art as a career rather than a hobby, I had to turn out work rapidly, utilize my time wisely.  Every minute counted.

Acrylic dries quickly but the process is not always speedy.  The preparation alone can be time consuming.  A change of clothes.  Paints.  Gels.  Glazes.  Brushes.  And then there’s the clean up.  Acrylic can’t be left out.  My fifteen minute time slot was up and the canvas was still blank.  

I needed something I could walk away from, come back to, finish quickly.  Mixed media wall art fit the bill.  Rarely, do I sell the originals.  They are turned into prints and then used for marketing purposes.  The prints are sold in large quantities over a number of years.  I keep it separate from my other work, which explains one of my split personalities.  

Now, even though I am no longer a corporate employee and am in charge of my time, it still fits the bill.  I still do it.  I still love it.  It cures burn out.  Spawns creativity.  Again, it’s not for everyone, but if time is an issue for you, give it some consideration when selecting your style and defining your success.  You might find it fits.

Karma

What goes around comes around.  It’s true.  Sometimes I have my doubts and sometimes it feels like forever before the old adage rings true.  But it does ring true.  

So, treat others as you would have them treat you.  Share each others’ blogs, artwork, music.  You never know who you know who you may be able to help.  Maybe a friend needs artwork for their new office.  Perhaps another needs to hear an inspirational blog or someone’s music lifted another’s spirit.  

You never know how one like, share or kind word can will blossom in not just one friend’s life but perhaps many.  And you never know how it will come back to you. 

Find Your Style

By now you’ve figured out what you do well and what success is to you.  Sounds weird coming from someone who appears to have three different styles, four if you go back far enough.  I’ll get into my split personalities later on.  For now, just listen to what I’m saying, not what I’m doing.  

Define your style.  It doesn’t matter what your style is.  There is a market for it.  Trust that.  Do what you do well.  You’ll produce better art that way anyway.  

You might encounter more headaches and frustrations from other people telling you to paint realistic flowers when you prefer abstract people or expressionistic landscapes, but you won’t win following someone else’s dream.  Remember, you’re not playing their game.  As you learn to ignore those people, too, you’ll begin to realize there is good to come from headaches and frustrations, too. 

Define Success for You

Is success showing your art in a high-end gallery?  Or are commissions your thing?  Do you want name recognition?  Or do you want a profit?  If your goal is to be in high-end galleries but never sell a painting, will you be happy?  

Believe it or not you could be the next great artist but never make a dime.  Just ask Vincent Van Gogh.  On the other hand, you could make a small fortune through print and online sales and writing blogs.  

At the end of the day, you must define what success is to you or you will never be happy.  You will always be chasing that which you can’t define.  So, decide what success is to you.  There is no right or wrong.  It’s your life.  It’s your choice.  It’s important.  It’s important for your happiness and for the next step.  

However, there is a trick to it.  You must take into consideration the blog, “Know What You Do Well…”  If you’re not Michelangelo, then there’s no sense in trying to achieve his success.  I’m not saying you won’t achieve success equal to his but it will be in a different category.  Apples to oranges.

Know Your Strengths and Your Weaknesses

In regards to talent, I’m pretty sure I will never be Michelangelo.  Perhaps, had I lived his life, I might have been but I didn’t.  I lived my life.  I use my talents, my knowledge, and my experiences.  And I’m ok with that.  Most days.  And I know I’m not Michelangelo.  Most days.  

So, know your talent and work within it.  Use what you have, and use it now.  Let go of what you think you should have, should be, should do.  Today, do what you do well and do it better.

In your spare time, you can still keep trying to be Michelangelo, if you like.  You might master it someday, but today’s not that day.  Today is the day to be you.  

Service and Design

Purchasing art is so much more than taste, price and hue, especially when commissioning a project.  It's concept to completion.  The art must fit the design.  It must fit the space, and it must colorfully coordinate.  And that's just the basics.

Hopefully, your search for art began with finding a professional, and I don't use that word lightly. Whether you've chosen an interior designer, architect, artist rep or the artist herself, she should listen, advise, and complete, just like any profession.

This week, I had the opportunity to work with a team of professionals; architect, designer and gallery.  With tablet in hand, the architect/designer listened to the building owner and designed on the spot, creating digital renderings for the visual aids.  

The artwork style and color must match the proposed ambience and decor.  The size and proposed hanging came down to the inch.  No detail went unnoticed.  

Ignore Most

Thankfully, I was born with the ability to ignore most…somewhat.  I’ve had to ignore my parents, and their outdated ideologies from basically day one.  I’ve spent my life pretty much feeling like not just the outsider, but the outsider people are so desperately trying to push into a game she doesn’t want to play. 

Having to go it alone, I’ve made mistakes.  Some I’m still learning to let go.  But I’m not going to lie, I like my view and I like the game I’m playing.

Hopefully, you’ll have people in your corner fighting for you and not against you.  However, even if you do, more than likely, you, too, are going to encounter not just critics, but people who will dismiss you even after you’ve achieved success.  You will never win trying to prove yourself to them, because you’re not playing their game.  So, stop trying.  

This, I confess, took me a long time to understand.  I thought sooner or later those naysayers would come on board.  Some have.  Some haven’t.  Then I remembered, the person easiest to change is me. 

So, you’ll just have to ignore the critics.  It’s not easy, and I can’t tell you how to do it.  All I can do is guide you back to believing in yourSelf, your talents, your gut.  Take stock of what you have to offer and ignore most everything else, except of course, constructive criticism.  Give that some thought.

I promise you’ll like the view.  Unless, of course, you want the naysayer’s life, then ignore me and yourSelf and do exactly what they do.

Just a note…there’s an old Hindu saying that goes like this, “If we all swept off our own front porch, the world would be a better place.”  

Inspiration is Still in the Air

I love Fall.  Sweaters.  Boots.  Pumpkin lattes.  The colors…chocolate, orange, scarlet.  

The fireplace I had as a child I spoke of earlier, it was accessorized with pellets that turned the flame from orange and scarlet to blue and green.  I was mesmerized by those colors.  All of them.  And I turn to those memories for color combinations over and over again.  As I said, don’t count anything out.  You never know where you will find inspiration or what you will call on for inspiration.  Stay alert.  

Now, I those pellets are sold as campfire enhancers called Cosmic Flames.  Perhaps, I’ll get some for my next camping episode, or bonfire.  It is bonfire time.    

Inspiration is in the Air

Pumpkins.  Pumpkin lattes.  Bonfires.  Fires in general.

Fires.  As a child, we had a wood burning fireplace.  I grew up in the country in an all electric home.  A fireplace was necessary supplemental heating.  My parents partitioned off the house, keeping the kitchen and family room at 70º with the help of the fireplace, while the living room, dinning room and bedrooms were kept at 55º.  Quilts.  Lots and lots of quilts.  

Keeping the fire going through the night every night was the goal.  But during the times we lost electricity, and there were many, sometimes for days and days, keeping the fire going was vital.  But that took effort.  Wood.  All through the day.  All through the night.  Not a task for the lazy.

Not sure my parents slept during those power outages.  Without electricity, we only had the fire for heat.  The bedroom temperatures dropped well below 55º.  So, we all piled in the living room by the fire.  Quilts.  Lots and lots and lots of quilts.  I loved those days.  I loved those quilts.  

Quilts.  They are still useful to me today.  Though not in the same way.  I like the patterns.  They're a great source of inspiration when designing.  Don’t count anything out.  You never know where you will find inspiration.