My Take on Vendors Licensing and The Rules of Playing the Game

clevelandThere’s been some hoopla this summer in Cleveland regarding proper licensing, especially for transient vendors.

With Holiday Event/Show Season upon us, it seemed a good time for this discussion.

My two cents…

As Creatives, we are running businesses.

As such, we take in monies (hopefully) from sales. By law, we are required to pay taxes. That is just the way things work.

Those working for organizations show up to work their scheduled hours and receive a paycheck itemized with quite a few deductions. Taxes are deducted.

Creatives work differently; it’s on us to come up with a system to track expenses, receipts, sales, and to consult professional accountants/attorney’s if need be. That is all part of running a business. If we don’t know, it’s on us to learn the rules, and the laws. Because that is how professionals operate.

As such, when we take our businesses out to the public, to promote/sell product, we should do so in a proper, professional manner.

Yes, I’m an artist. But I’m also a professional woman, running a creative business.

The best guide I’ve seen comes from The Cleveland Flea:

OUR UNOFFICIAL PRIMER ON NOT PISSING PEOPLE OFF

http://www.theclevelandflea.com/vendor-regulations

The other option…

To show up at an event without proper credentials, and then to complain, argue, and cause a stir. This is NOT the right look for any business. Doing so only shines a spotlight on a creative for being unprepared, makes a person/business look foolish, annoys other vendors, and organizers. Children show up to play a baseball game without a mitt, then throw a tantrum. Adults do not.

I wouldn’t go to the airport without identification and expect to board a plane. And I’m required to be properly credentialed to login to my computer at work with a chipped access card. Without my card, I can’t access my computer. (Yes, I have a full time “day job” along with my Art Business.)

Our creative businesses are no different. We are accountable to the rules/laws that apply to our businesses, just as other organizations are. As non-profits, government entities, private organizations have guidelines to follow, so do we Creatives have our own set of guidelines.

Obviously, it’s impossible to know everything—and to show up once without proper paperwork or to have some type of mishap… that’s probably going to happen. There is a learning curve. All we can do is apologize, and clean it up the best we can. BUT from there on, we should know the rules, the way the game is played.

To continue trying to get away with something is unprofessional and childish. It only serves to make things difficult for organizers, those killing themselves to put on an event. They already have more to do than they can possibly manage. And they have spent considerable time laying the groundwork for us ALL to shine at events.

Take it or leave it.

Get on board. Or don’t.

But expect that being an artist/creative doesn’t preclude you from having guidelines to follow, rules and regulations to adhere to.

Anybody else got anything? Advice? Learning Experiences? Links to Resources?

Comments and Discussion Welcome!!

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.

This Week, I’m an Artist

9614_542728359228816_7288947357352113483_nSeemed a fabulous idea to join Shirley’s Loft at the Home & Remodeling Expo in downtown Cleveland this weekend. And I’m sure it was the right decision—that having some of my art in Booth 100 for three days will be super.

But…

Something had to give. In fact, a lot of things had to give.

Started with Darling Daughter last weekend. She vacationed in San Francisco during her spring break from college and flew into Cleveland last Friday. She is self-supporting, has taken care of herself since she left for college.

And yet, she likes when I “play mom” and cook for her, put flowers on her nightstand, wash her bedding when I know she’s coming.

Best I could do was invite her to hang out at the workshop with Shirley and I as we finished up art for this weekend. I’m sure that was not what she had in mind.

Then there’s the house. Son mostly does his own laundry, and sometimes mine. Floors aren’t mopped or vacuumed like they used to be. The house is not tidy these days—and I’m being kind in that assessment. A dog watcher (thankfully!) comes in during the day to let the dogs out, exercise them—because I’m off to work at 6:30 a.m. for my full-time job—followed by art in the workshop, track meets, and other things in the evenings.

I understand the term “starving artist” now. It isn’t because I (and I am an artist) can’t afford food. It’s because I can’t manage to get to the grocery store. Hence the children are starving. I haven’t cooked, or grocery shopped all week.

My son missed a day of school this week.  Not because he was sick. On Tuesday, my always helpful, cooperative son was absent from school most of the day. When I contacted his school, I called it an “appointment” which was a bit of a stretch…

The boy was up early, loaded the Family Hoopty with my art, then moved on to the workshop to load more equipment, art, and tools.

Hoopty (Noun); an old, worn-out car.  Often cheap, broken down, or embarrassing to drive.

In our family’s case, the Hoopty is a 1999 Chevy Tahoe that gets about 8 miles per gallon. Belongs to my father and his lovely wife and has been driven by most everybody on both sides of the family, has crisscrossed the country from New England states to Florida. It’s like driving a bus. But with comfy leather seats. And it floats down the road, a smooth ride. The rusted thru spots on the exterior are spreading and there are dings/dents. But the Hoopty is loyal and faithful; keeps running, hauling our sh@t all over the place. Lately, that includes poles my son uses for pole vault.

photo 1 (6)Anyways, my son drove the Hoopty into downtown Cleveland, between a couple of buildings, and down a ramp into the Firstmerit Cleveland Convention Center. He unloaded it—helped unload a couple of other vehicles. He also helped put down carpet, so the walls could be built.  Ironically, my son rolled back to school in time for his entrepreneurship class.

If you think about it, Tuesday was almost like a field trip—I’m sure he learned a lot, right?

Where was I during unloading and setup? At work. And I truly love my day job—but such a bummer to miss out on some of the setup. It’s fascinating to see what goes into setting up this type of event. The behind the scenes, as an enormous convention center goes from nothing to something spectacular.

At least I work nearly next door and I was able to walk over after work.

So…

Shirley’s Loft will have Booth 100 at a large show in downtown Cleveland this weekend–and it will be filled with both her art and my art. We work well together. And we’ll enjoy hanging in Booth 100 from Friday until Sunday.

But…

To make that happen, I had to forgo the parenting, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the house. The dogs were lonesome. A nice pair of my work shoes became a dog snack. I had no time to get new tires that I ordered over a week ago put on the car. My nails should have had a manicure early this week (hoping to deal with them tomorrow) and my hair needs cut. The inside of the car resembles a garbage can. I went to work at my full-time job and I did art. That’s it.

The important thing is that the art looks lovely—and it should be a great event. Those going to the Home & Remodeling Expo—make sure to stop and say “hello” to Shirley and I.

Maybe next week, I’ll be a solid mom. Or clean the house?

The “Art” of Teamwork

“Faith” ~ Fluid Art by Shirley Slemc

I’m an artist, among other things…

In September of 2015, Judy Kean pulled together a group of local artists, and hosted It’s Cleveland! Art Gallery Show in her gorgeous new Avon studio, Creative Space Art & More. I was honored to meet Judy, to be asked to be one of those artists. Shirley Slemc, owner of Shirley’s Loft, was also part of that show.

Turned out Shirley lives and has a working studio nearly in my backyard. We traveled nearly an hour and half away from home to meet each other?

Teamwork…

Shirley is currently out of the country at CHIPSA Hospital where her sister is being treated for cancer.

When a piece of Shirley’s art sold online, she called me to see if I could get “Conflicted Desire” to its new owner. No problem. I picked up the art, packaging supplies, marketing materials, a prepaid shipping label, and a Certificate of Authenticity from Shirley’s house last Sunday.

On Monday, I bustled off to work thinking I’d hit the local post office after work. Then Tuesday, we had pot luck at work. I couldn’t possibly carry a crock pot and the Box.

Wednesday was The Day.  Had to be the day I sent “Conflicted Desire” off to California.

It was pouring rain at 6:30 a.m. I gathered everything up into a large black garbage bag and headed to work. (There is a post office in my building.)

At 7:15 a.m.,  I lugged my garbage bag through the parking garage, up a few flights of steps, down East 9th Street, and into my building. My Box, bubble, and art went through the security scanner and I endured some teasing from security. Anything for my Shirley.

Did I mention I work in the Federal Building?

At “break” time, I sat on the office floor, in professional attire. Little bits of tape stuck to my trousers and the copy machine nearby. And I was breaking a sweat getting the series of four canvases that made up one stunning piece of art all bubble wrapped and packaged.

A while later, it was time to take my Box to the post office. The box  was 25” x 16” x 7.5” which I know because I measured it.  The size of a rectangular laundry basket, but only about 8” deep—and no handles.

I hauled my Box (awkwardly) into the elevator, then down to USPS on the first floor.

USPS Lady: Isn’t ours.

Me: Huh?

USPS Lady: It’s NOT ours.

I wasn’t getting it…

USPS Lady: IT’S FEDEX!!

And I was back to security… the information desk in the first floor lobby.  Apparently, there’s a FexEx in the building. In the basement?

I tromped down another flight of stairs. And it turned out there was a basement AND sub-basement.  I’m still NOT sure which one the FedEx box was on, but there were more hallways, and elevator rides, more people giving me directions, until I finally reached FedEx, and it was a little white box for small items. I could not leave my Box there.

By now, it was going on 11:30—and I was hungry. Executive decision;  I was NOT escorting my Box on another elevator ride up to my office, only to ride back down the elevator to the Cafeteria that is below the first floor. I set off with my new “friend” to the cafeteria where I grabbed chicken tenders–and people stared.

“There ain’t no bomb in there, is there?” somebody mumbled, eyebrows raised.

And me, my chicken tenders, and my Box were back in the elevator. Headed back to work.

By the time I finished eating, I’d had it. Figured I’d just pay for USPS, even though my Box had a prepaid FedEx label on it. It would have been $50-60 to buy a new shipping label with USPS.

And I was on the computer, looking for a Kinko’s.

As luck would have it, there was a Kinko’s (with FedEx Shipping Center) a few blocks down East 9th Street. My Box and I were back in the elevator, this time with an umbrella because it was raining again.

On the first floor, I stomped out of the elevator, past a woman I’d seen earlier either in the basement? Or was it the sub-basement?

“You STILL got that thing?” she commented as I lumbered by with my Box.

Back through the lobby, out the front doors, down more steps…I marched down East 9th Street carefully keeping my Box dry under the umbrella. I almost wept with gratitude, as the FedEx Fella took the Box.

Back in the office, a co-worker noticed my Box was finally gone and assured me I’d taken VERY good care of it, “rocked it just like a baby.”

Workplace

Shirley and I…

We’re artists, we don’t complete sentences. We “see” things on a canvas that aren’t actually there yet. And if I had a sister, she might be it. We think alike. We create with similar processes, and so we understand each other in a unique way.

Often, I tell her she’s the best “teammate” I’ve ever had. I’ve played on sports teams, worked as part of teams, been grouped with teams of friends and family, etc. But until now, I’ve never had an “artist teammate” to collaborate with on website building, branding/design, planning for new art pieces, and to help pick up my slack. And it’s like a whole new world.  So when my teammate needed art shipped to California, that art was GOING to California.

It’s probably hanging happily in its new home right now. Looking gorgeous! No idea of how I bumbled about getting it there.

She in the CLE

USA-Cleveland-267x267There’s a new blogger collective in Cleveland and it’s called She in the CLE.

From the She in the CLE site: 

Welcome to She In The CLE! We are a blogger collective dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area. We provide a channel for women to engage and discuss topics at all levels from climbing the corporate ladder to sampling the best eats in the city to raising a family! Our mission isn’t about defining the conversations or topics – it’s all about creating a vibrant, virtual space that allows for networking, continual learning and storytelling.

Happily, I’ll be a contributor.

I’m very much looking forward to connecting with other Cleveland women and the conversations, friendships and connections that lie ahead. Here’s a link to my first post:

From Homemaker to Single, Working Parent (sigh…)

Happy Weekend!!