Running an Art Business – The Truth

packaging gift bags.JPGI’d never discourage anybody, because the rewards are great. As I grow, the questions keep coming, often from those in creative businesses. I thought some honesty might be in order.

Expect to spend time creating art, or your chosen creative product.

But there is so much more to be done…

Products need packaged, will require bags, tissue, tags, and often bubble wrap, boxes, and other materials if they need shipped to customers.

Expect to spend far more time on branding, marketing, not just building—but constantly maintaining a website, building social media reach, creating social media content.

Then there are the business tasks; tax forms, vendors’ licenses, insurance, accounting, managing expenses/receipts, tracking sales/analytics, strategic planning to lay groundwork for future growth, and so much more.

Those doing events/shows can expect to network, apply to shows, and communicate with event planners regarding payment, setup, teardown, and rules/regulations for event. Every event is different. Does the venue require white tent? Are you required to rent white tent/tables from them? Will you accept cash only, or bring a card reader/tablet? Is there power to keep devices charged?

There is learning. I’m currently doing “Like a Boss” a course offered by Amy Cseh, of Schoolhouse Salvage with online modules, twice weekly conference calls—with a group of creatives from across the United States. There is no success for those who don’t invest in learning. I often do online tutorials, and am always reading a book, looking for ways to improve my business.

Let’s talk about “Starving Artists”…

Starving artist (definition): An artist who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. They typically live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes toward art projects.

Everybody knows the term starving artist. Many fail to address the above issues; they do not run their Art Business as a “Business”’ and they WILL starve if they pursue art as their primary career.

Seriously, if you are an Artist—then you have an Art Business. Unless your goal is to have a hobby.

I have a day job; because I really enjoy my job, but also because I enjoy having medical benefits. My hours are 7:30-3:30 and there are many other upsides that allow me to continue with my art. I’ve tried many variations, but the current one is the best for me.

me messy at beach

Me at the beach, looking “put together” after being hit by a wave. Again.

 

Often, there is no balance…

Sometimes I stop at the drive thru for dinner; sometimes that happens with too much frequency.

Sometimes I miss days of exercise.

There are Saturday nights I stay in, create art, or attend to the many items needing my attention. Sometimes too many in a row.

Being an artist can be solitary, lonely at times.

There are many days I wonder WHY I do it, why I put myself thru it, think there is SURELY an easier way, a better use of my time?

And then the art grabs me again, with an invite to a big event, a great week of sales, a lovely write-up online, a custom order so near to my heart, I desperately want to do it for free. And I fall in love with my art all over again.

Relationships…

At the moment, I’m single. Not because there aren’t single fellas to date out there, but because my schedule is packed. Between work, my children, family/friends, my art business, and art events, I almost can’t squeeze one more item into my schedule, and dating falls off the list.

If I’m being honest, my “dream man” is a guy with barn full of tools; table saw, miter saw, cordless drills, tile cutter, biscuit joiner… I could go on and on, really. A truck, pickup or SUV would do—and perhaps some carpentry skills?

I also (accidentally) discovered that my dreamboat should like sand. A while back, I talked to, and met up with the nicest eligible bachelor; educated, great job, handsome, a guy who will make the right woman swoon. He wasn’t into the beach, didn’t want to get sand in his toes. And so he and I would NOT work, because there is sand in my car, sprinkled by my sliding door, and sometimes in my art. I bring the beach home with me in the form of glass, metal, driftwood, plastic, and wire.

Sometimes, I pat my dog on her back and sand falls off of her. Sometimes she is laying on my couch when this happens…

Yep, I’ll be needing a special person to tolerate the sand. And he’ll certainly need to be into the beach. Walking the beach, dragging my finds off the beach, vacationing at the beach with my family.

Wrapping this up…

When you see photos of me at an event, or hop on my website to have a look at the art—know that much time, effort, planning, training, and money have gone into my Art Business. And there is far more to it than simply creating art.

Interested in learning more? I’m happy to blog about topics other artists have questions about. Contact me, or comment, and I’ll share my experiences.

Playing with Perfect Part II

Prop bros

Property Brothers and Me

Ever wonder what comes after the mess?

Quite a few years ago I started blogging about being a single parent. I had a house, a pool, a marriage, kids, dogs, a life, and a PLAN. I was a stay at home mother, with a BA in Management/Finance that I’d never used. I knew who I was and where I belonged. And then I didn’t. That’s when things got interesting…

Playing with Perfect was born.

In the blog, I told stories of the adventure of becoming a single parent, setting up a new household with me (gasp…) at the helm, and the bumpy process of entering the workforce at 38 years old—in an economic downturn, after home values and investments tanked, and when the world didn’t need another “bust out” looking for a job/career. It should have been a complete disaster, but it ended up being really, really fun. Playing with Perfect Part I was quite a ride. I will always value the lessons learned.

Part II of Playing with Perfect begins now—in 2017.

Another volume, with new stories.

The Kids: Are lovely; both in college and they come home for visits. We continue to make memories and I adore the adults they’ve become.

Me: I’m still single. (For now…) But I’m far more open to meeting the right person, than I used to be. I’m more established now, have a solid job in downtown Cleveland, own my own home, have a small art business, and the nest is empty. Just me and my trusty dog, Grace. For the first time in my adult life, it’s all about me, and I’m enjoying it. I’ve often joked that it would take quite a fella to drag me into a serious commitment.

My Home: In the summer of 2016, I bought a HUD/Bank Owned property. Though most would have seen an oversized outbuilding in disrepair, I saw a cozy cottage—my future dream home. It was in rough shape, but I’m slowly renovating it. Ever so slowly… Far more slowly than I’d planned! I’ll be posting more on this, with photos, for those who wanting to follow the progress.

My Art: I’ve lived my whole life in cities along Lake Erie’s shoreline. The beach is my happy, peaceful place. I’ve always walked outdoors, in the woods, and along the beaches of Lake Erie, east of Cleveland; always brought nature indoors in the form of pinecones, leaves, flowers, branches, beach glass, and driftwood. Eventually, my “found objects” made their way onto canvas, housed in antique/vintage frames, and this year onto salvage wood. Did I mention that I adore vintage? That I find ways to repurpose, upcycle anything old? Furniture, frames, vintage jewelry…and apparently homes? Or at least my current home.

Art in Cleveland: Over the years art has grown into a small business. With my background in Business/Management, it makes Perfect sense. I’m blessed to marry my creativity with my love of marketing, writing, my college studies, and professional experiences. I sometimes collaborate with Shirley’s Loft on 185th Street in Cleveland, do shows/events around town, but more often sell art online thru my website.

Onward…

My blog posts dropped off as the kids motored through high school, and started college.

But I’ve been thinking it would be fun to start writing again, to tell stories of being an empty nester, renovating a home, creating art, being single in my 40s, and (God help me) visits with the adult children. There are so many stories to tell.

Turns out there’s life after raising children, after we mop up the messes our younger selves created.

Here’s to Playing with Perfect Part II and another new beginning.