Friday, January 24, 2014

An Artist Work Is Never Done

The life of an artist is anything but boring. There are a lot of misconceptions about artists. People think we have all the free time in the world to do whatever we want. People have no idea what is involved in doing what we do. First and foremost you have to stay on top of your craft, things change constantly, what was popular a few months ago is blassie today. There are new products coming onto the market every week, this is true in just about any medium you work with whether it's painting, sewing, woodworking, floral design or glass work. This means you spend a lot of time researching new products that you'll use in the making of your craft or art and finding them at the best prices. You must stay on top of new trends be it the trending colors for this year or fonts if you paint signs and other designs that might be used in glass or wood or for sewing projects. There's no point in making the same thing that was popular a year ago because now that's outdated.

Once you have made the best product that you can then you must find a way to market and sell your work. Today with the internet the world is a lot smaller and your computer will bring customers to you but only if you have marketed your work the right way. So where to start. You have to have good quality pictures. Lets face it most of us are not photographers and we are not lucky enough to have a family member or friend that can take quality pictures for us. So that means you get out the camera and learn to do it yourself. Once you have those picture you have options of different sites online such as EBay and the most popular Etsy and others where you can post those pic's and that takes time. Time is spent setting up the page and getting the right look and designing a banner that represents the perfect look for your items. Once you have this page set up you need to monitor it everyday and keep it updated.  

Let's say you decide to go store front with your product, maybe in a shop that sells on commission or maybe you join a co-op like I have done. This will involve an investment in the co-op of money for space fees each month and days where you will work the shop. 
Time will be spent planning and setting up your display, waiting on customers, keeping the shop clean and in order, maybe designing business cards  or working on advertising and the list goes on.
There will be events that you will participate in to raise extra money for the shop and you will pay a commission to the shop from each item you sell. 

You might decide to bypass all that thinking that you'll set up an online shop. Unless you have lots of money to hire someone else to build and maintain your website you will need to figure this out on your own to. There are sites that are reasonably priced where you can build your site. You'll need really good pictures to have a nice website so again you either hire someone or you learn how to do your own. And it's not just the website that will need your attention, lets not forget Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and you might as well try your hand at a blog while you're at it, heck what's one more thing to add to your list of things to do. 

Now we have all this going on and another crafter tells you about a great craft show coming up in just a few months. So you make the contact with the show promoter and you pay the fee for the show. Well darn now you've done it, you've got to work like a crazy person to get more product made to be ready for this show you just paid for. So you'll work day and night, yes, that's right, nights too, heck who needs sleep....LOL.  You work right up till the last minute till you have to pack and load your vehicle to leave for the show. You'll do your own setup, work your space running mostly on adrenaline and caffeine , make some sales if you're lucky then at the end of the day pack up whatever is left over and drag back home so tired you can't stand up. Are you tired yet? 

Now you want to hear something crazy? Most of the artists, craftsmen and women that I know don't do just one of these things I've listed above. Nope some of them do all of it, and many of us do it on our own. Yes some have enlisted help from their spouse or kids. But that's not always the case. So you see being an artist is a full time job above and beyond working on your art. So much for having all the time in the world to do whatever we want.

I can say from experience that I've worked other jobs in my lifetime but never have I learned more or worked harder for anyone then for myself. Most likely you won't get rich doing this but you will be doing what you love and you will meet some of the nicest people ever. They are some of the hardest working people you'll ever meet and they're always willing to lend a helping hand or pass on a good tip whenever they can. I'm blessed to count many of the local crafters and artists in my community among my friends. 

So the next time you find yourself at a craft show I hope you'll think about all that is involved in what we do and that you'll see us in a different light. Supporting your local artists is so important in keeping local and American made products available for generations to come. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome 2014

A fresh new start to the year always make me wonder what will happen in the coming months and what changes while occur in my life. As an artist I have many friends who are artists and they have made a good life working doing what they have a passion for and what they love. You know the saying, find what you love to do and you'll never work a day in your life.
That sounds great and many have been able to do just that over the last thirty years or so but in the last few years that's not the case and 2013 has been the most difficult to eek out a living from our art. The title of starving artists comes to mind, well maybe not starving but it's getting more difficult to pay the bills. Even those who license their designs for manufactured products are jumping through hoops to come up with dozens of new designs only to have a handful excepted and still only make pennies on each piece sold. Selling store front is great except the commissions are at 50% or more so you raise your prices and it doesn't sell because the price is too high. So what do you do?
Most are still struggling to continue on in the hopes that the economy will change and things in this country will improve. With Government sequestration, layoffs and jobs that are unstable that doesn't help the cause. Small businesses are the ones that make and sell American made products. When you purchase from a local artist or craftsman in your community more than 60% of that money stays right in your community and keeps other businesses open.
I hope when you shop this year you will take the time to seek out the local shops and will help your neighbors in your own community to continue to do what they love and provide our country with quality made products. It might seem like a small thing to you but it could make a big difference in where this country is heading in the future. Change was promised some years back and it seems that's about all we have left in our pockets these days is a hand full of change. I'm not going to get into any political rant I'm just stating the obvious as I watch one small business after another pop up with terrific products and great hopes and expectations for the future only to see them close a year or two later. Or the saddest of all, the long time privately owned business that's been around for years and all of a sudden fades away.
That's what's on my mind today and I hope you will take this to heart and help those that you can.
I wish everyone a Happy and Blessed New Year.

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