Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mary Poppins as inspiration

Every year, my artists cooperative has a gallery show in the spring with a different theme. One year, the theme was "egg," another time it was "recycled." All the members make something new for the show and we jury in outside artists and invited guests to make a vibrant body of work. The themes are open enough to allow many different media and ideas but just focused enough as to make an interesting, cohesive show. I can't explain why the association jumped into my head, but when I heard the theme "flight," I thought of Mary Poppins. Not of birds or airplanes but of a woman hanging onto an umbrella flying through the air. It was an odd jumping-off point but I decided to go with it. I thought almost immediately of some little paper umbrellas that I had purchased in a discount bin a few years ago, intending to have a fun party that featured umbrella drinks. I never did have that party so I had lots of umbrellas to work with. I started playing with them with a sculpture of umbrellas flying around in mind. But once I stared gluing them together, these orbs called to me. I am pretty excited that my media is paper and I managed to stick with my media for the show. I had so much fun making these colorful balls that I might just make a whole series for some other venues ... if I can find more umbrellas!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Make Less Art to Sell More of It

An interesting article by Gary Vaynerchuk for all the business/artists out there!

"Creatives lack business skills."

How many times have you heard that? Or a variation on it? Maybe you're creative, an artist, a craftsman, and you heard that and become discouraged. Well, I have good news: it's wrong.

Artists can be business savvy, and can absolutely win in that world. But it's understandable that many artists find the typical business advice, usually geared towards entrepreneurs, bosses, leaders and nine-to-fivers, not applicable or confusing. Maybe you're having trouble figuring out how you work in that world.

To build up your business as an artist, you need to shift your daily output and reconfigure your week. Sound like a lot? It's actually pretty simple.

However, before we get deep into it, we need to determine what "one day's output" is for you. I can't speak to one artist individually, because when you work in that world, your daily output is very different from anyone else's. Whether you're a painter or photographer, the time it takes to create one piece changes so much between artists. So to explore this issue I am writing about, you first need to decide for yourself what one day of work looks like.

Ask yourself: What is the bare minimum amount I need to create every day to keep myself going? Then, stick to that amount. Only make that many pieces, and dedicate the rest of the time, the time you might have spent pushing yourself to make four or five extra things, to developing your business and personal brand.

For example: maybe you decide to make seven pieces in a year instead of thirteen. If you can live off of that (because that is the most important thing) the time you would have spent making the last six could be focused on sharpening your business skills, or really anything else you want to have time for. Maybe you can only afford to make one less piece a year. That doesn't seem like a lot of time, but all those small chunks of time will absolutely add up. By the end of the year, you will be grateful for having allocated even twenty minutes a day.

Building a brand as an artist is tremendously important. While some may disagree, you cannot ignore the power that social media holds for artists, especially with it being such a visual industry. Where do I recommend you put your energy? Pinterest. Instagram. These are the platforms that truly value creativity and put the art first. Twitter is important too, and you know I'm all about Facebook. Write a Medium post. Create content. You should work through all of these things eventually, but Pinterest and Instagram are a great start. Be smart and know the world we are in.

Bonus tip: it may even be helpful to hit up some podcasts or YouTube shows you know and admire. If you don't know any, take the time to look and learn. Networking digitally is just as important (and way more scalable) than networking in-person. Getting a short interview or even a spot on one of them could mean a sale. And hey, I said sale. There is no guarantee that one interview is going to lead you to that huge buyer who wants twenty of your pieces. But guess what? The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities you create for that to happen. It's simple probabilities.

The more noise you create on social media, the more demand you create for yourself. The more demand, the higher your prices can be. We all know that. Use social media to your advantage. Carve out that time. Listen: as you move along, it may even become more cost effective for you to bring someone in to run all that for you. Maybe you're already there now. Evaluate.

The bottom line is this: if you're not building up your equity, you're going to be stuck making hundred dollar pieces when you could be making million dollar pieces.

A great article but I have also noticed a funny trend. The less I have in my shop, the more I have sold in recent months. I think when I had hundreds of items, it was overwhelming to customers and they probably only looked at the first page of items anyway. So I have let a lot of items sell out of my shop and have not replaced them. Good luck out there!