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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.






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.

The Peril of Living in Paradise

We’ve returned from the grocery and checking houses before Hurricane Isaac comes to town!  Bob is preparing the blender now for our hurricane party libations.  I’m sure the rest of the world shakes their heads in dismay that we coastal states make a party out of a hurricane.  But you have to live here to understand.  Hurricane days in Florida are much like snow days up north. People stock up on supplies, schools and businesses close and then everyone left in town hunkers down for the storm. The TV weather forecaster works you up for about two weeks giving blow-by-blow movement of the storm and every day he warns you to get ready with all your supplies.  The first summer we were here there were 18 threats of hurricanes.  We wondered if we had made a huge mistake moving here.  But after a few summers of the “little boy who cried wolf,” we came to realize we didn’t need to worry quite that much.  That’s not to say we aren’t prepared today with water, canned goods and a non-electric can opener, but we are relaxed about it and going on with life.  It’s one of the perils of living in Paradise!

Our home is about a mile and a half from the Gulf of Mexico as the crow flies and for the past 17 years we’ve never really had a close call except for Hurricane Charlie. Charlie worried us because Venice was supposed to be a direct hit.  Instead the warmer waters of Charlotte Harbor sucked it in and the hurricane tracked to the northeast through the middle of the state and up through Orlando where people had been advised to flee to.  It just goes to show you, no one can predict exactly what the storm will do.  Our son, Jeremy and our daughter-in-law, Sarah, lived in New Orleans when Katrina hit.  Bob and I had a real bad feeling about that storm and we told them they had better get out.  They didn’t leave until her parents insisted, so the kids ended up getting caught in the grueling exodus away from the city.  In a day and a half they only managed to put 50 miles between them and the city.  Fortunately they found a hotel with 2 rooms left…one with a leak in the ceiling and the other which became theirs.  They stayed there through the storm and the next day and then drove east and south to Venice.  The good Lord was looking out for them as the roads were clear enough to get through and they found gas all the way.  After that Bob and I decided unless it was the hurricane of the century heading straight our way, we would prepare but stay put and avoid the hurricane gridlock.  We will live in God’s hands.

So Key West has battened down the hatches and Hurricane Parties abound.  With that thought in mind I am compelled to start the first canvas of my Key West collection.  I love the feel of the quaint yet quirky island. Funky art is the name of the game and I intend to play!

When Life Gives You Limes…Make a Margarita!

It’s summertime in Florida…hot days and stormy afternoons.  Traffic is tolerable and we can get into our favorite restaurants with no waiting!   Thanks to our “Snowbirds” (our winter residents from October through April) I paint on demand for clients up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida from Tampa to Marco Island.  Up until this year we really didn’t have a summer lull in business…we were the lucky ones.  This year we’ve had two to three weeks with no phones ringing, which was a little scary.  But instead of getting too excited over it (after all, it is an election year) I’ve decided to put the found time to good use.  I’ve started this blog, updated my website and Facebook, cleaned up 99 percent of my little odd painting jobs and am getting my head into the game to create some new art and hopefully expand myself.  I am seeking out inspiration through other people’s blogs and websites and would like to experiment with mediums I haven’t dabbled with for a while.  I’m also seriously looking at the financial side of our business.  I have been attending a lot of online

seminars with Score and have been reading business art coaches blogs and newsletters.  Bob and I been “making a living” with what we do but there’s definitely room for improvement. When you really love what you do you give it your all and you don’t really care what you make because you love it so much.  But the elephant in the room is, if you ever want to make a great living at it, you have to do the math.   Figure out your costs and keep track of your time..boring, I know, but you have to do it. I am finally learning my worth and the value my work actually has.  Now I just have to put this knowledge into practice.

I also have painted furniture sitting around my dining room walls and library and living room crying to be sold which I will soon be putting them on my website for sale.  I’ve tried consignment shops and furniture stores but when it comes to collecting the money they owed me it was always an uphill battle.  What got me was they approached me and I placed my works in good faith. Nevertheless, it really takes the joy out of the creating when you have to fight for your money.  On my checklist of things to remember when things sound too good to be true…do my homework.  Really check into the business that is interested in you and your work.  Talk to people who know them or have done business with them.  You are most likely doing them a favor rather than the other way around.  Several people over the past couple of years  have recommended the Etsy website.  I’ve been reading the posts about the different subjects with Etsy and it sounds like it is good for some and not so good for others.  I would most likely have to ship the furniture and that can be a headache.  I may end up having to do an arts and crafts show to move this stuff… but right now, I think I’ll have that Margarita!