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Posts Tagged ‘art business’

MyBoothIowaStateFair

So it’s been forever and I’m sorry,

No really, I am.

But if not for an email from a reader saying they missed me here I probably wouldn’t have written even now. I kinda bit off more than I can chew this year, so things like facebook and the particularly the blog tended to get swept under the rug.

In this instance, I decided to be a vendor at the Iowa State Fair. This was a monumental undertaking for me since I didn’t cut any of my usual events. I quite literally worked 7 days a week anywhere from 10-16 hour days for 6 weeks in preparation and the event lasted 2 weeks. And I’m still working that schedule for at least another month. But it’s all good. Nothing a whole lotta sleep and a really good cry won’t fix.

I survived
I was told repeatedly that I wouldn’t be able to do it alone.

I’d burn out.

It’d be too much.

Which if ya’ll know me I’m like “Hell Yea, I can too do it all by myself!”

And so I did.

And frankly it was exhausting running on 5-6 hours sleep each night and getting up and being to the building at 7am all the while bearing in mind that no matter how crabby I felt, stabbing people was wrong! When the building closed at 9 pm, I’d head back and shower and crash. Rinse and repeat.

It was okay sales wise. I was hoping for more though I’m not sure if that’s not always the case. I made some great contacts, took lots of photos and in general thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Yes, I will do it again and at least this time I’ll know what to expect. The bulk of my stress was not knowing anything about the event, the crowds, the buying patterns, parking etc etc.

I do tend to update on facebook more because it’s not the process I go through uploading photos and such. For those who’d like to see more photos and some horse videos and a work in progress piece that I demonstrated with, check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WildFacesGallery

 

MeConnieIowaStateFair

The Folks Who Made Me Look Good

So as much as I’d like to pretend I’m Wonder Woman the truth is there was a whole slew of people helping me out in various ways.

Barb McGee. She saved my butt my bringing a load of inventory down for me as well as helped with set up. Not to mention got me a place to stay with family 15 minutes from the fairgrounds. This was so huge! I can’t express how much both mentally and physically and financially this helped. Thank you dear one.

Amanda and family for opening their home to a complete stranger for 2 weeks.

Louise and Bill Shimon for being my plan B on all fronts and just always being there for me.

Connie Braunschweig (in photo above with me) who helped me navigate the chaos of doing this monumental undertaking, told me I could do it and helped introduce me to the walnut center arts family. Hugs to you. I never felt alone because you were here at my side.

Inee & Diane neighbor artists who I often found Manning my booth and making sales when I’d run off when the allure of horse flesh just outside the building doors got too great. And Bill too. 🙂 You all kept me laughing.

All the folks at the Walnut Center who checked on me, offered help, rides, breaks and support. So happy to be welcomed into the family.

And lastly those at home who made it possible for me to leave for 2 weeks knowing my fur babies are taken care of. Gordon, Cheryl Hawk and Mike.

I am mightily blessed to have such great friends. Thank you.

 

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SiouxCenterHospitalMe1000

So they have been hanging at the new hospital in Sioux Center Iowa in the cafeteria for the past 3 months and yesterday Barb and I ran down to pick them up. Hospitals are often looking for new art exhibitions but I rarely partake of them. Most showings in hospitals (for me at least) don’t have sales though striking up a relationship isn’t a bad plan of action. Sometimes when they do go out for permanent art you might be one of them that they call.  I had a showing at the Mayo clinic like a decade ago which was excellent and did sell multiple works as well as resulted in people coming to the gallery to buy. But none the less, on the whole I usually avoid them.

On the other hand…

It beats having them sitting in the gallery in the middle of an Iowa winter too. The liaison was a delight which is no surprise as she was an artist too and I do like how they look on the green wall. We over packed the space just a little though.

I wonder what everyone thought about being watched by a couple dozen cows as they ate their roast beef lunches. Which BTW is why I have such a Buddha belly in the photo. I just has some a big lunch of roast beef with taters and salads. Yum.

Okay soon I’ll carry on with my diatribe on diabetes. Next post probably.

 

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It’s A Good News, Bad News Sort Of A Thing

So part of my Holiday fun this year was spent sending dmca take down notices to Amazon. I was alerted by a fellow Zazzler that a third party seller (actually more than one store) was offering my art on their items.

The good news Amazon does make it fairly easy to lodge a complaint. The bad news … Despite the automated emails saying they really care about intellectual property rights and copyright infringement they don’t really do much to prove it. Yes they took down the offending items. But this shop had been reported prior for the same thing and was still live when I reported them.They’ve been closed down since then but have undoubtedly they reopened under a new persona as is so often the case with these sorts of sellers.

I don’t know what the answer is. Better vetting of sellers perhaps. Make the application process more rigorous providing proof that they are the legal creators or licensee of imagery they sell? I am an approved manufacturer on Etsy (which is different than being a seller of which I also am) and that process required detailed information, personal statements about my business why and how I do what I do and photos. It wasn’t just a “click this box to acknowledge you are the legal copyright owner” which allows the platform to then pretend they’ve done all they can do on the subject like so many Print on Demand companies as well as third party sellers like Amazon and Ebay and such.

It’s A Big ‘Ol Can Of Worms

So truthfully I don’t look too hard to see “who’s stolen my images now for their own personal gain.”

Why?

Two reasons. 1. Because I will always find some and then I feel obligated to do something about it and 2. Because it just pisses me off. And in order for me to create my happy little birds and happy little trees … (oh wait … I may have been channeling Bob Ross there so um …) happy little goats and happy little cows. (yeah that’s better) I need to be in my happy place. Or at least it helps when creating.

So How Does This Affect Me?

But if let’s say, I chose to do nothing regarding these (in this instance) Chinese based stores using my imagery for sales … well, what’s the worst that could happen? Probably not much other than ….

I doubt very much they actually fulfilled any sales they might have made. I’m guessing it’s a hit and run scam get as many orders as they can, then when they inevitably got shut down, they take the money and run. I mean knowing something needs to be imported means longer shipping delays so they have a bigger window to sell, sell sell.

Buyers are probably not going to associate my imagery with the Chinese shops. And probably not even with Amazon. More than likely they’ll associate with me.

What’s to be done

I joined another facebook copyright infringement group called “Who stole my images” It’s a real eye opener reading peoples stories. On there someone is starting a petition to make Amazon more accountable for their selling practices. It’s needs 1000 signatures to move forward. Mine was 888. If you’re curious or would like to add your name, you can find the petition here.

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2015 My Year On Etsy

snapshot5

So after the loss of my Squidoo income I kinda looked around for something to help make up for the hefty monthly income that I was no longer getting. Of all the options I looked at, Etsy seemed like the best/ within my comfort zone direction.

Originally I had opened my Wild Faces Gallery Etsy store in 2008 sold a few prints then dropped it when ebay sales exploded. Ebay far outsold etsy and so I put all my energies into it. But I got burned out listing and relisting on ebay and eventually quit doing it as well. Remember how much work ebay was I opted to reopen my etsy shop. One listing lasts 4 months, this was something I could handle as a part time gig.

Now I’m not a New Years resolution kinda gal but I am a goal setter and so my goals for Etsy in 2015 was to have 200 items in my shop and 100 sales by year’s end. To be clear if one person buys 7 prints (which happen much more often than I’d ever expected) it still counts as only one sale.

I crossed the 200 inventory mark in early October and crossed the 100 sales in early December. It’s been exciting to see the growth of my little shop and it even out sold my own website in gross annual sales. I ead somewhere there are over a million shops (though how many are active I don’t know) on etsy with over 19 million registered users. It’s a great built in market.

Looking Forward

So I’m not really sure what my goals for etsy should be this year. I’m probably gonna go with double my 2015. Shoot for 400 items and twice the gross sales. I’ve learned a lot this year on etsy. I like how I can try new things that I can’t add to my website. Etsy is flexible and allows for all sorts of variations.

There are all sorts of thing you can get at my etsy store that you can’t find on my website. I really need to look into that in regards to updating my website.

At any rate if you want to see what’s new check out my etsy store.

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BigRedWIP5-1000

Big Red is not done … despite the fact that I signed it. I need to tweak the background and some of the feathers only have the base wash done. But I’m gonna set him aside for a bit and move on. The gallery work has been streaming in so time to shift focus for a bit. The colors are a bit blown out, particularly in his comb. I think I should have tried taking the photo in a shadier spot but you get the idea. It’s about a 13 1/2 x 18 piece but I am seriously considering cropping it some. See cropped version below. What do ya’ll think?

BigRedWIP5-1000Crop

Funny How The Universe Works Some times

A few days after making the decision to do this little scheme of mine I was contacted by someone looking to license my work …

specifically farms animals …

specifically several of the animals on my short list including a rooster and pig (which I have drawn out) and an alpaca which just that day I’d selected a photo of an alpaca to do.

I find the timing fascinating.

95% Never Manifest

Now I’m certainly not counting my chickens before they hatch as it were (Geez … how many bad chicken puns do you think I can some up with) but the timing suggests I may be on to a good idea. Sort of the Universe’s way of saying “Yes, follow this idea.”

I am contacted weekly by people who look like they could be a potential money maker. We may exchange multiple emails, talk for weeks hashing out details, they are all excited and say they’re ready to progress and then … never hear from them again.

After an appropriate amount of time I may contact them asking if they plan to mover forward or if they no longer want to, well that’s okay, just let me know.

… (crickets) …

So if this licensing deal comes to fruition I will certainly let ya’ll know.

The Art Of Licensing

I have been asked many time to talk about licensing but never have. Partly because I don’t consider myself all that knowledgeable and partly because I have yet to find it hugely financially rewarding. But I’m going to make at least one blog post on the subject. It’s high time I get back to sharing real information on what it’s like being an artist.

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Updated: Once again my poll seems to have gone missing. I’ve tried uploading again but it still isn’t showing. So here’s hoping the problem will resolve itself. I apologize if you came to vote and it’s gone. Dang it!

 

It’s been pretty quiet around here lately on my blog so launching a poll right now may not be the best timing, but since this is something I’m pondering right now regarding my own work … well … the timing is right for that. So here it goes …

Over the past decade or so I usually get asked multiple times a year (particularly when I’m doing an art fair) by various art centers and galleries if I’d like to exhibit with them. Up until recently I’ve always said no. My reason being

  • I don’t want to create a body of work I can’t sell for a year or longer. Sell now over sell later.
  • I sell my work easily enough at art fairs, most of the time I don’t have enough left over. Let alone for a themed exhibit.
  • I was doubtful it would be profitable.
  • Gallery folk quite often just aren’t “my tribe.”

But as you know I did begin accepting exhibition opportunities albeit turning them to themed group showings. I figured it wasn’t something I’d explored much, and since my art is my livelihood it seemed stubborn of me to assume it just wasn’t a venue in which I could make money. And thus “cowgirls” and now “Down On The Farm” were born.

I’d guess I’ve spent around $1500 on Cowgirls so far for framing.(and that’s cost since I have a frame shop)  Now it’s not like that money is lost. Truthfully any art I create I frame, but again … it’s money spent with no potential return on until the exhibit is over. There are other costs like the time and gas it takes for installation, receptions and tear down after the event which also need to be looked at.

In the end the “Cowgirls” show has been profitable but only because I’ve been selling prints and note cards of the new art at my usual venues. The two exhibits thus far have produced gas money at best. It doesn’t mean I’m quitting the idea. 2 exhibitions does not an informed decision make and that’s why I thought I’d ask you all.

BTW: The results of my last  poll were quite interesting. In the end it was almost a 50/50 split between the orange frame and the yellow frame with a handful of comments suggesting other color like green. Judging by my prints sales of that image with matting … yellow way out sells orange and green. In fact the only time I sell a different color is when the yellow is sold out. There was a total of 54 votes with 51.85% yellow and 48.15% for orange.

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BigRedWIP3-1000Get it? Hatching … rooster. Ah,(sighs) I crack my self up. Ooh .. I did it again.

I have an artist friend, (Leonard Olson who makes all sort of wonderful and whimsical things from wood including this) who when the wind is blowing in the right direction, pops in the gallery from time to time to chat about marketing. After getting comfy on the couch he usually begins with a twinkle in his eye, occasionally rubbing his hands together and says “You wanna hear my latest scheme?” 

So Here’s My Latest Scheme

I’m stealing Leonard’s schtick and calling this latest inspiration a “scheme.” I plan to bundle one idea into multiple marketable plans of action. I am seriously considering having a booth as a vendor at the Iowa State Fair this coming year. It’s expensive and the days are gruelling (something like 7am-10ish at night for 10 days) Add on driving an hour each way well … if I’m gonna do it, I need to commit to it fully. It needs a big financial payoff for the amount of money and physical energy I’ll be putting in it.

My plan … more farm animals. I need to expand my offerings, Lord knows I’ve got the cows but I need chickens, pigs, goats and sheep… alpacas? I don’t plan to dress down my booth. It will be much like it is at art fairs with original work and such but I will come heavy with smaller items like small prints, cards and magnets. The plan is to make sets of like 3 or 4 images of chickens, pigs, horses etc. that I can bundle and market as print sets not to mention boxed card sets. The cowgirl card sets were very popular this year so why not take something that works and expand.

Expanding this idea’s marketing potential

Etsy is cracking right along but if I ever plan to have it be a real money maker for me I need more images. I have over 200 listings right now but like anything I do online I know to increase income means to increase quantity. More images plus more variety of critters is all good. My original goal was 250 listing by end of year. After that I’ll work toward 500 then 800.

Lastly I do have a solo show booked for October of 2016 and maybe instead of rolling it over to my group showing of “Cowgirls” I will keep this one to myself. I can take all this farm critter collection and make it a themed exhibition who’s working title is “Down On The Farm” which I love but has been used so many times for so many things it would be good to shoot for something a little more clever and original. But until that happens DOTF it is.

So All This Brings Me To “Big Red”

“Big Red” is the first of my chicken/rooster series. My intention is to do a very similar color story as that of “Young Tess.” And since this post has gotten rather shockingly long and most people today have the attention span of a gnat, I’ll go into more detail later.

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