Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Sounding Off

ACEO Colored Pencil Drawing
"Bright Eyes"
2.5 x 3.5"
Having already spent most of my working life in corporate America or running my own small business, which was a highly monitored franchise, I have been able to apply those skills toward my work as an artist. The following are several things I think every working artist should know:
  • Keep track of stuff: set up files, notebooks, whatever, but keep track of your expenses, income, taxes, etc. Go to an office supply store and go crazy. If that fails, hire an accountant or an organizer!
  • Keep a calendar and check it often. It amazes me how many artists miss submission deadlines, openings, take-in dates for shows and more because they have forgotten about them. Figure it out; put it on your calendar!
  • Keep records of your work: Take notes, take pictures, take measurements, list the media, paper, or support you've used. You may be asked about any of this sometime or want to repeat a previous style. Also, the art historians will thank you - so will your progeny.
  • Keep a list of your customers! Yikes, if you aren't keeping track of who your patrons are, how can you expect to be successful? Mailing lists cost a fortune and these people have already found you, so keep track and send them notices of your upcoming shows, awards, classes, etc. Just ask a stock broker how much his "book" is worth.
  • Keep your appointments and commitments! We all have to cancel from time to time, but I have seen a little too much of this from my fellow artists; behave as a working artist and not a hobbyist - unless that's what you want to be.
  • Keep putting yourself out there. It's really, really hard to sell yourself and your work. I tell my friends that it feels like I'm singing naked on a street corner (I've never done that as I recall, but I can imagine). Nevertheless, people will not "find" your work or you if you stay in your studio. You're good, but not that good.
  • Finish your art. I have seen some wonderful pieces framed so badly that the client either backs out of the sale or negotiates for a lower price. Not good, not good at all. It reflects on you as a professional and changes the perception of the quality of your art. Learn to frame well, or find someone who can do it for you.

Reality check: You may have to spend 20% of your time "doing business". Sometimes, more, sometimes less. (Groan.)

Just keep in mind that being an artist can be so wonderful and such a blessing. But if you want to be a successful artist, you have to recognize that you and your work are a small business, and most small businesses fail, not because the owner doesn't have a great product, but because he doesn't know how to run his business. Go run your business!


Quilt Knit said...

Hi! What did you think of my comments about the floating Lady Painting?
Have you read Maggie's post? Full of good advise about deadlines for artist. Your post and Hers are great. I saw the Edward Hopper show. He and His wife kept tremendous ledgers of His work that included graphite sketches of the works. All documented - Where, When, Why, What used, Who purchased and How the ideas began.
I learned a lot.
Love the doggie.

((( circle of Hugs )))

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Not sure what to think about the "floating lady" comment. Was it a praise or a criticism? Anyway, it's framed and in a show, so hope it's ok as is!

Yes, love Maggie, and all her posts. She entertains us and keeps us in line at the same time!

Thanks for all your support and encouragment lately. It means a lot.