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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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DaisyOrangeDaisyYellow

So you’d think having been a professional picture framer for like 25 years, I’d be able to know almost magically what frame looks best on my own artwork. Not always so. Or at least my opinion can be swayed.

Here’s an example. Daisy, my sweet little yellow heifer, the first of all the cows for the exhibit this September was sitting in my back room with 2 different samples dangling off the corners. One orange one tangerine yellow. I favored the yellow but most people who ambled into my framing room (in fact all who weighed in liked the orange) so despite personally preferring the yellow, orange is what I got.

Now I know it doesn’t look it but the frame was actually quite expensive, even at cost. It was a deal where my supplier had to special order it from their supplier. So once I got it, I immediately regretted it but couldn’t bring myself to essentially just toss away a pricey frame. I thought … “Meh, I’ll get used to it and eventually it won’t matter.”

Wrong.

Over a year later it still bugged me. But rather than spending big bucks all over again getting the same frame in yellow, another frame line became available which I love. It has ripples running through it which add some whimsy and I’ve actually used this frame in different colors on a couple of my other “Happy Heifers.”  So I ordered it.

A Story To Illustrate My Point

One thing I’ve learned is that what I like (regarding my own art or framing) is not necessarily the best choice for everyone. In fact last year at an art festival I had a customer (who currently has an original of mine) looking at another original piece, went into hysterics over the hideousness of the frame. So she had me try to cover the frame because she just couldn’t get past her overly vocal revulsion, in order to visualize it without. This went on for 15 minutes or more with a packed booth of other people wanting to buy. Finally she left, to my great relief. The next customer in line said “Just so you know, I love that frame and think it makes the painting.”

So there ya go.

You get to weigh in

None the less I am curious, since everyone who offered an opinion at the gallery went orange, I’d like to know what you all think. Just so you know it won’t change anything but I am a glutton for market research and information.

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7_success-is-liking-yourself-liking-what-you-do-and-liking-how-you-do-it

Flying Without A Net

Recently when discussing all things art with a group of fellow artists there was a moment when I was talking about my fears regarding sales for next year. I have sold more original works than I produced for the past several years. This has left my inventory quite depleted. Yes this is a good problem to have … it is none-the-less a “real” problem. Having my own gallery is awesome. It’s also stressful and exhausting. The only way my tiny gallery, in my tiny town keeps my lights on and my belly full is by juggling half a dozen different art related income streams. I gotta keep all the balls in the air to make it work. Drop one … say like loss of original artwork sales for a year … and it could potentially be financially serious. I’m single so it’s all on me to keep the cash flow … well … flowing.

So when trying to broach the subject with my art group I was met with jeers about “Oh poor you, selling too much art.” And I know it was in good fun. These are in fact a group of artists that I have known and consider some of my best friends for 10-15 years. They have been there and supported me during many of life’s trials. So to be clear I was not hurt by it, but it did in fact shame me just a little bit and thus put me on a bit on an introspective path.

I mean did it sound like I was bragging? Did I not include enough hand wringing to be clear it was in fact “not” about that. Or was I just over sharing?

Even now I feel compelled to place a disclaimer “Well, I am not a prolific artist so my outselling what I produce isn’t as impressive as it sounds.” 

When did it become shameful to talk about money?

Money Talk

After spending a summer talking openly about sales with fellow art fair artists I forget sometimes that not everyone is comfortable with this kind of conversation. Many of my art fair artist friends discuss money and sales openly because the exchange of this type of information is invaluable. Speaking vaguely serves no one. My idea of what makes a successful event, and your idea and the guy down the street, will be all very different.

When talking with my art fair friends talking real monetary numbers and whether an event was successful isn’t usually seen as bragging. Merely a sharing of information. therefor shaming at least in my circles, doesn’t occur. But when talking with other artist friends, celebrating one’s success “too much” can be seen as an abundance of ego.

All this got me to thinking and curious what you guys think. As professional artists … do you talk openly about your successes or sales (successful or otherwise) with other artists?

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ThoroughbredStallion

So recently I got an email from a customer who said “Hey, I see your artwork is on puzzles on this site. I hope you knew.”

Well no I didn’t.

What to do … what to do…

Sigh …

So I contact my licensing agent and asked if he wanted to send them a bill for use of my images. And he was all “Hell yeah.”

Okay … that’s paraphrasing on my part … just a little.

Or maybe a lot.

One of those.

But it got me to thinking about how often this happens. Folks using my work thinking it’s free for the taking. And though I have held off doing this it is finally time to watermark all my images on my website. Currently I’m about half way through.

I Probably should have caved years ago but the artist in me wants the images to look nice. You know because people are more apt to buy them if they can see them without a big ol’ watermark across the face. But after much internal dialogue which I will spare you (you’re welcome) I decided to deface my art in order to protect it.

At any rate I don’t expect anything to come of the bill sent to the infringing puzzle company. But it makes me smile a small devious smile to think it may have given them pause.

Even if only for a moment.

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So I Promise Not To Go All Fanatical On You Guys But…
I am spending more and more time looking into online protection of my images. Indeed I really didn’t have to dig very far before I found my art on scraper sites.

Also it seems the internet has decided that artist and/or personal copyright is kinda a frivolous thing so it is constantly trying to undermine one’s right to own ones own images.

See … that’s how annoyed I am. I’ve slipped into talking about myself in the third person.

Okay, okay … taking a moment to gather myself (happy place, happy place)

I was perusing a site that promoted an app in which you can use your friends images from facebook for creating coffee mugs, t-shirts … whatever and you don’t even have to get their consent. Seriously this is the title of their ad. New Service Turns Facebook Photos Into Products Without Your Friend’s Consent

Yeah I know right? Never mind that it might be ILLEGAL!

I am not including the link because I certainly don’t want to promote those … (let’s see this is a PG13 blog so what’s a safe word mofo, arseholes, poopyheads.) But if you are curious contact me and I’ll pass it along.

Anyway lucky for us one of the commenters on this page said how to disable the effectiveness of this app. And since Facebook does not make adjusting your security settings easy well I thought I share it here.

The step by step for disabling photo apps from using your facebook images.
* Top right of your FB page, there’s a cog like round icon
* Click on that for a drop down menu
* Click privacy settings.
* Then in the far left column select Apps
* Then towards the bottom … Apps Others Use
* UNCHECK photos.

OR put an X next to Apps to prevent that app from finding your photos.

Done and done. Now I just need to figure out how to fill out a DMCA to get that the scraper sites to remove my images. (sigh)

UPDATED: I wanted to add one more thing just in case folks think this is just a copyright issue. Since FB and Pinterest have the option to sell or whatever to “any” images posted on their sites there are other things that could happen.

For instance … a site could just collect all the images not really caring much what they were, to create a massive resource site offering them as free to people for wall paper or download or whatever. This huge site would in theory get more and more volumne of people searching for images to use. But the site in itself may not really care what people use them for. So a photo of your child could be displayed next to a photo of the moon which is next to a photo of a body piercing that is next to a p0rn shot.

A site would do this in the hope that someone might click on a ad and they might make a little money.

And in case you think this is far fetched know that I have seen several such sites already. (though most of those just scrape images and do not pay anyone for the privilege) Just yesterday I found my art as well as that of a friends on just such a site.

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WatermarkExample

So I have been digging into copyright issues of late. This all started when I was re-informed that sites like Facebook and Pinterest have a clause in their ToS that states images posted on these sites can be sold by them to any one for any amount of money without so much as a howdy-de-do to the original poster. So yes that means any copyrighted images as well as photos of you and your family are up for grabs.

Now I had first heard of this change before I was ever on facebook and so it went into the circular file labelled “not about me” and I promptly forgot all about it. But recently fate put this concept in front of me again and I’m like “Whaaaaat?”

Now I want to say I don’t plan to get all fanatical about it. Getting robbed in some small way or fashion happens all the time to artists. Personally I know of t-shirts that were made illegally as well as a wall mural. Notecards that were not printed by me have also surfaced. But this I think is bigger and has the potential to really ruin an artist’s livelihood.

So I began digging deeper and realized as someone who makes my living selling my images this could really ruin the whole shebang.

The Plot Thickens
Both Facebook & Pinterest have disclaimers that say things like, they own posted images once posted to their platforms and pinterest states that the pinner must have permission to pin items and that they, the company in fact are not responsible for folks who do inappropriate pinning. When a person signs up for either of these platforms they agree to these terms with the click of a mouse button.

And now Bing has made it ever so easy to pin your favorite whatevers and in fact has gone so far as to offer a tool that you can download so you can pin anything regardless of whether the site has a pin feature. This nifty convenience also bypasses any no-pin code placed on images. (yeah, seriously!)

So Where’s The Harm?

I’ve asked myself this for months now.

Well … if an artist works really hard to be unique and creative and that in and of itself creates collectors. Now let’s say anybody admiring said artist’s style could make copies for themselves with the amazingly simple click of a button … what do you think that does to the market for which the creative individual worked so hard to build and live off of?

Pinterest in particular is creating a world of takers. It’s easy and free so why pay? Hey everybody’s doing it…

But If You Don’t Want It Taken, Don’t Put It Online!
That is the argument one hears over and over again. From every pinner slapped by Pinterest after an artist has issued a takedown notice, or by every blogger using other’s images to illustrate their blog by Google after an artist has issued a DMCA or even major corporations thinking that if it’s been pinned a million times, why should they pay for an image when it’s free from pinterest.

I find this a flawed logic. It’s like saying it you don’t want your writings plagerized don’t be published.

To me someone using my image without my permission is no different than if they walked into my gallery or home and took money off my counter.

So What’s A Gal To Do?
Well I’m back to making it less appealing for someone to pay Facebook or imagery theives to desire my artwork. This means changing my copyright notices on each image to being larger and more invasive. Sadly this means most likely I’ll need to do all of them on my website as well.

Some of you may remember I included a copyright notice at the bottom of my art images posted online. But I kept it small so it was unobtrusive and coincidentally easy to chop off the bottom of the image for any poachers.

In the next post or two
I plan to talk more about ways in which to make your images less tempting and perhaps show how to create a very easy watermark in Photoshop.

I have been reading a bunch of articles, blog posts and news statements about various artists fight to keep their right to their own images. Here’s one that is over long in my opinion but is written with wit and whimsy in a fairytale style. Purple Cow … A Cautionary Tale

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As promised I am running over some basics in regards to selling your product. This seems like a good time to do it since I’m actually preparing for my first event which is this upcoming weekend. My experience selling art is primarily through art fair events where I am the actual seller and these tips are geared for this market, as opposed to galleries where the gallery deals with the patron.

No Hard Selling Please
While hard selling works (think used car salesman) in the end I want anyone buying my work to be thrilled with the experience and definitely don’t want them to have felt pressured into purchasing. Repeat sales are a huge part on my income. I like to develop collectors since I tend to do the same events year after year. Anyone experiencing buyers remorse after feeling pushed into a purchase will not buy from that artist.

The Importance Of Quality
I know you’ve heard me go on and on, on this topic but it’s pretty important. Once again if a product lasts people will be more likely to buy again. For me that means no fading of framing materials or prints and especially NOT the original work from using inferior products. It does cost more but anyone who knows art will appreciate and value this and using all conservation grade products has sold more than one or two pieces for me. Art is often seen as an investment. It needs to last.

Booth Appearance

Keep it neat and professional. This means avoid overcrowding, (yeah I struggle with this one from time to time) never have art setting on the ground, keep it as open and spacious (ie not trap or cave like) so people feel like it “safe” to come in and browse. In a like manner try not to sit in the front. Buyers are wily prey and many will avoid entering on this principle alone.

The “S” Rule

Again regular readers know what this is Shiny Stuff Sells. Lighting is an absolute must for indoor events and when outdoors only use a white tents or canopies. You may think a colored tent stands out in a crowd but it will cast funny colors on your product and/or absorb light once again making your tent a “cave.”

Demonstrating Your Art
Patrons, art event staff and judges all love an artist working their medium. Now I realize depending on your genre’ this may not work but for those who it does, if at all possible demonstrate.

Giving Out Business Cards

So I am kinda against the flow of the general populace on this but I keep my business cards in the back or on my person so a patron needs to ask for one. My reasoning? Well … first if they aren’t willing to ask they probably don’t really intend to use. And most importantly it offers me a chance to interact with the lookie-lou and see if there is something I can help them with (ie to get them to buy now instead of later)

Handling the “Be Backs”
So anyone who has worked any kind of event here’s this statement dozens of times a day. Most people never do and never have any intention of doing so. I’ve come to the conclusion that people really want to tell you they appreciate your work but just not quite enough to spend money on it. Saying this allows them to assuage any guilt they feel for not buying anything. Which of course is unnecessary and has been know to excite the newbie artist. So if you’re a lookie-lou and really don’t plan to come back, then just say you really like the work and move on.

Now for the artist a good plan of action is to have some sort of incentive to bring them back to your booth. Like a flier or postcard saying they get something FREE (everyone’s favorite word) with a purchase made at this event. Now the free thing doesn’t have to be a big thing. Perhaps a free notecard or 10% discount. I also have offered a free shipping deal if they order from my website within the next month. This generally only works a handful of times. Again most people really have no real intention of buying. But then you just never know. NOTE This free promotional piece should not be advertised in front of other patrons or everybody will want to partake of the deal.

So there you have it. If you like more information on what I discussed here as well as more info on the subject in general please visit my squidoo page Selling Art: Tips From An Art Fair Veteran

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