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Sometimes You Need an Adventure….

Wow!  As I look back at my last blog post, it was 2013!  Time flies and how life changes.  Bob and I are still video gaming…Destiny is our latest game of choice.  In the time between 2013 and today though, we “arted” on walls, furniture and more, retired and found retirement to be boring so we bought a laser to art some more.  Bob expressed his artsy side with funky fish and bugs made of wood and copper.  We adventured through the Steampunk theme dressing the part and doing art/craft shows at the Steampunk Industrial Show with  Renninger’s Flea Market in Mt. Dora, Florida and the Shark’s Tooth Festival in Venice, Florida.

DSCN2622Well, the weather got hotter, the traffic totally maddening, the hurricanes too close for comfort and being a farm girl at heart, the last straw was when they built condos on the last grassy pasture at the edge of Venice. That made me very, very sad.

Last year we attended DragonCon in Atlanta with our wonderful friend, Susan Klaus and experienced cool evening breezes in September.  What a welcome relief from those every day mid 90 degree Florida temperatures with humidity so thick sweat ran down your spine and soaked your clothes just walking outside. Driving back from Atlanta we were welcomed by Hurricane Irma that left us without electricity for a week, luckily with no damage to our home.  Bob and I decided it was time to move. We weren’t getting any younger and in 22 years in paradise twice we have had close calls with the hurricanes.  I felt the urging presence that third time’s the charm.

Together we decided it was time to move. We wanted to stay just below the Snowbelt and  with less Florida humidity  Considering what we experienced during our Atlanta visit, we began searching the internet for the perfect spot to move.  Georgia prices were unbelievably affordable compared to Florida.  We could actually afford acreage and not break the bank.  The week before Thanksgiving, we traveled to Georgia, looked at houses, bought a house and by the end of the year packed up our belongings and moved to the foothills of Jefferson, Georgia.

“Georgia?” people, including family, would ask…”why would you move to Georgia.”  Well, let me tell you it was an awesome move. We have seasons once again with little to no snowfall.  We laugh when there is a threat of snow and everything, I do mean EVERY-THING, in the state closes down…and then it doesn’t snow.  Halloween pumpkins don’t rot in one day.  We have lightning bugs in the summer and deer in the front yard. Our home sits on a little over an acre of wooded land providing us with a daily dose of colorful birds.  Gold Finches, Cardinals, Bluebirds, Baltimore Orioles, Grosbeaks and our favorite couple, the Carolina Wrens make up our natural aviary!  We put up feeders and suet and then laughed until we cried at the antics of the squirrels trying to outwit the Slinkys we put on the poles, which is fodder for another post.

Unbeknownst to us upon purchase, our beautiful home was a fixer-upper.  I could list all of the things that we have done, but it could fill a book on its own. We cried over replacing the furnace and roof but we have had so much fun turning this little neglected kingdom into our personal sanctuary that the move became a God given blessing.

The most surprising thing about this move was that our life finally became about “the two of us.” We needed an adventure and this is exactly what it became. We love our family and all of our dear, dear friends we left behind in Florida.  We miss them.  But working through all of the trials, creating our personal space and making this home what it was intended to be has brought Bob and I closer together than ever before.  It is a gift from God that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Shrinking Violet Art Marketing

I’ve never been one to shout from the rooftops about my art and tell everyone how wonderful I am. Shrinking VioletsI am somewhat shy and stumble around when someone asks me about what I do.  I get bashful when someone else talks to strangers in front of me about my work and how much they like it.  That is who I am…a shrinking violet who loves to create art yet shares it with the world.

For the past year I have been reading a lot of blogs, taking all kinds of business webinars and am currently in the first quarter of an marketing bootcamp…and you know what?  All of these things have made me realize that I’ve been doing it right all along.  If I follow someone else’s rootin’- tootin’ promotion formula, I will not be the artist I was born to be.  So if there are others out there who feel like me, take heart.  You can be successful by being yourself.  The following is some of the insights I have discovered along the way.

  • Let your art speak for itself.  Create lots and lots of art.  The more you do the better you get.  You develop a style and a voice that automatically tells the world who you are.  Without your art there is nothing for anyone to talk about and nothing for anyone to buy.  The ART comes FIRST.
  • GET IT OUT THERE!  As artists we live in a wonderful time.  Our culture craves art. It is everywhere you look. People have to see your art in order to buy your art.  If art shows make your eyes roll back into your head, use the internet as your showcase. If setting up a website scrambles your brain, ask a computer savvy family member or friend to help you set up your web presence. I have a Facebook fan page posting all of my latest projects as I finish them.  It is relatively easy to manage and provides a colorful and interesting timeline that my fans love.  If you’d rather not manage a website yourself, then there are numerous art showcase websites out there to show and sell your work.  The bigger your internet presence, the greater the demand will be for your artwork.
  • Let your friends and clients toot your horn.  For the past ten years I have been blessed with a wonderful client friend who believes in me and loves my work.  She has been instrumental in getting me thousands of dollars worth of work and has shared her Jane Crick excitement with her entire community.  If you have someone like this in your life, appreciate them.  Send them thank you cards or take them to lunch.  Send them flowers or remember them with a Christmas gift preferably something you’ve painted or made.  Make sure you arm these promotion angels with business cards and any promotional materials you have as well. They are allies to your success.
  • Be open to opportunities.  In 1989 I created and painted numerous samples using a craft product to be displayed at a painting convention.  This show board of samples caught the eye of a book publisher who contracted me for six instructional books.  Painting those samples opened up a whole new chapter of my life.  Watch for unusual opportunities to get your art in front of people.
  • Think BIG. Study your art. Canvas and watercolor paper are only one tiny way your art can be shared. The more ways your art can be used or reproduced on products, magazine covers and more, the more money you will make.

As artists we simply need to be proactive.  Seek and investigate ways to share your love of creation using the positive ways that are natural to you. We artists don’t need to starve.

 

 

 

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…Why Artists Starve…

There is such joy and satisfaction in being “artistic”… in letting the inner soul out from your heart through your hands, sharing your beliefs and secrets with the world.  A friend of mine likened art to having a baby.  Blood, sweat and tears go into producing this baby.  How could you not feel maternal about it?  You loved it into existence and it pleases you.  You want to share it with the world What is a Daybut you are so involved with it that to you it’s priceless….so you have a hard time pricing this art baby for what it’s worth.

I come to this crossroads over and over again.  I am much, much better than I used to be.  Awhile back I put pricing guidelines in place in my mind, but depending on circumstances such as did the water heater break and I really need X number of dollars to fix it or I know this person cannot afford the work but I really, really like them. Pricing simply goes out the window.

To defy the odds and be a successful artist making a living at making art, know your worth.  Too many artists undervalue their work.  Recently my eyes were opened to this fact when I visited a newly opened store filled with work by other artists and artisans.  Beautiful hand painted works of art on canvas were priced so low by the time the store takes their cut and the artist pays for the canvas and paints they will be lucky to be making minimum wage.  How can one ever think of leaving the  job they despise to pursue a life of art making less than minimum wage?

I have done a lot of research on how to price art work and I would like to share some of them with you as well as my own pricing structure. These are only guidelines and each artist must find that comfort zone that lets you feel the price is fair for both the buyer and the artist.

Canvas prices range from $ .65 to $2.25 per square inch.  Oils command higher prices.  Murals range from $35 per square foot to $50 per square foot.  Design work and sketches go from $100 to $500 depending on the complexity of the project.  One can also come from the hourly side.  I charge no less than $50 per hour.  Sometimes I make as much as $100 an hour.  I have years of experience behind me and and thousands of pieces of work floating around the country.  I have written 15 books and numerous articles for the craft industry and illustrated 5 books in the publishing industry.  I know that my work is worthy of the price I command and when I get the guts I will raise my prices again.

Artists…how much is a day of your life worth?

Newsflash … The Flamingos are coming to Osprey, Florida!!!

Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m. The Flamingos Nest opens its doors for business.  With the focus on artist and artisan works of art, furniture and decorative accessories, Bob and I delivered a van full of painted furniture to the store that will be for sale exclusively through The Flamingos Nest.

The Flamingos NextDarrell and Nicki Hoke have created a tropical paradise in Osprey, Florida.  Their wit and ingenuity will delight your senses when you walk into the 10,500 square foot store.   A custom-made boardwalk and beach area leads you into the store past the little beach car, flamingos and an alligator spitting water into a pool to the left.  Lights made from sand buckets hang over the bamboo checkout counter at the back.  Delightful touches that inspire.

On the floor you will find quality new furnishings by Tommy Bahama, Seawinds, Broyhill, Lexington and many, many more mixed with on-of -a-kind creations by hand-picked artists and artisans from Florida and neighboring states.  If you see it and love it you had better buy it right then as you may never  see it again.

Their sister store, Pelican Cottage, is just down the street.  The focus there is on new and used furniture and high quality consignment items.  Spend a day cruising these tropical retreats and then do lunch at one of the nearby restaurants to end the day.  Check out their websites at http://www.theflamingosnest.com and http://www.pelicancottage.net and see what they are all about.

 

 

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Artist Rules for Working With Clients

“When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em “Certainly I can!”  Then get busy and find out how to do it”….Teddy Roosevelt

How refreshing that is for clients to hear…”Certainly. I can!”  So many times they are told, “No, it can’t be done,” when the truth is anything can be done in the manner you want for a price.

Entertainment armoireBob and I have become the Venice, Florida go-to-people for projects that other companies turn down or would turn into their own projects.  It would be done their way, with their selected materials and end up not accomplishing what the client wanted in the first place. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time we hit the nail on the head and the people are so pleased that we are showered with more business.

Our business success comes from living by these rules:

1.  First and foremost…get into the client’s head. Put aside your own preconceived notions and listen to what they have to say.  What do they really want?  Absorb their surroundings.  Find out about their roots, where they come from and why they moved to wherever it is they live now.  Is it a get-a-way home or a permanent residence?  Are they fun people or traditional people?

2. Find out what they want to accomplish with the work they ask you to do.  Do they want a feeling of paradise or the Orient?  Do they want functionality or decorative.  Do they hate the color orange or love it?  I always ask if mural clients have an aversion to lizards or dragonflies if I am doing a nature mural because I usually use these creatures in nature settings.  Some people hate them, most people love them.

 

 

 

 

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3.  Never argue and never say no.  If a purple flamingo with green eyes is what they want…give them a purple flamingo with green eyes no matter how you feel about it. (This is a hard one for an artist or a decorator) Even if you hate it, the purple flamingo with green eyes is what the client really wants.

4.  If the project is going to be expensive to execute the way the client wants, by all means present them with a couple of options; one exactly what they asked for and one with a less expensive alternative. Some will choose the more expensive way and some will choose the less expensive way.  Don’t be afraid to price the project for what it is worth.

5.  If you do have to say the dirty word “No”, have someone lined up who will do the job in the manner that you would be proud of.  Bob and I have learned over the years that whatever you take on that you hate doing will multiply.  We do not paint whole houses or do whole house faux finishes…except for very special people where the word “no” does not exist.

6.  Do your work as if you were doing it for yourself.  Superb craftsmanship whether you are working for  a company or yourself builds forever relationships.

7.  Always be honest.  Stand by your word and be truthful in what you say and do.  Having integrity not only endears you to clients it enables you to have a good night’s sleep.

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone….

“Life Begins at the end of your comfort zone”…. what a statement!  It brought back memories of the ride I took through the rain forests of Puerto Rico suspended hundreds of feet in the air on a wire.  Ziplining in Puerto RicoAs if that weren’t bad enough, I then had to rappel 80 feet down from the branches of the tree I had just landed in.  A feat accomplished with body intact by a woman afraid of heights.  On one of our trips to Key West my little speed demon husband flipped our Skidoo and us upside down in the water leaving us struggling to get to the surface.  My daughter-in-law thought I would come up swinging, but Bob survived and so did I and in the end it was exhilarating.

Throughout my life and my art career I have been blessed with many opportunities to step out of my comfort zone….some intentional…some not so intentional, like the Skidoo episode.  But, I think about where I would be now if I had said “no” to making a career out of art and taken a “real” job instead; said “no” to my publisher because I was afraid I wasn’t “good” enough or “no” to moving to Florida where I didn’t know anyone other than my parents who were here only four months out of the year.  When the opportunities presented themselves, I juggled the yes and no because they were life changing events.  In the end ” yes” won out and I gained one of life’s greatest rewards…I GREW!  My art expanded, my reputation expanded and my life expanded.

May your faith be bigger than your fears!

 

 

 

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The Weeks of Fifty Flamingos

The weeks..(yes, I said weeks)… of fifty plus flamingos has finally been delivered!  Have you ever had a job in your life that simply makes you crazy?  Something that seems so simple turns into an elephant on your chest at every turn?  I felt as fiftyflamingosthough my feet were stuck in mud sucking the life out of me.  It made me grouchy, which made Bob grouchy.  In the middle of the flock I swore I would NEVER do this kind of work again!

Then we made the delivery. The decorator loved it.  She love it so much that she said it was “perfect”…no corrections, additions or color changes.  She told me I had a “Warhol” style… and as quick as that it felt like those grueling weeks weren’t so bad after all.

So what did I learn from this experience?  (I’ve traveled this road before).  I recognize three trains of thought in the work that I do.  One….you create your own works of art exactly the way you want to on canvas or furniture and put it out there for sale through art shows, galleries or on-line. Maybe it will sell…maybe it won’t.

Two…you do commissioned work…working directly with the clients..creating works of art that enhance people’s lives and their homes.  They value your opinions and are open to possibilities.  The best thing of all is they are always full of joy when the job is complete and they always pay upon delivery.

Three…working with an interior designer.  They have their own artistic vision: therefore, you must stifle your own creativity and paint it the way they see it.  Unfortunately and fortunately…number three has been the most lucrative for me by far.  So why am I complaining?  The biggest problem is I feel a sense of loss of my own creative voice.  Yes, I painted it, but it was created by someone else’s vision.  For awhile I was teased into thinking that I would be allowed to paint it in my “style” but in my heart I knew that I should just shut up and paint it the way they wanted it in the first place.  So that’s exactly what I did.

I will probably try the decorator deal one more time.  The money is fantastic and I think I have decorators figured out.  Once you have them figured out you know what to expect and know how to feel when they tell you to change something or to just do it their way.  My dad always told me I was too emotional and as an adult I have tried to temper that and not get my feelings hurt by trivial things.  The other side of the coin is being emotional is what drives art; but there is a fine line between making great money and being a starving artist.  We’ll see what the future brings.

 

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