Creative Entrepreneurship

Posts tagged ‘Art Biz Blog’

What to do with unsold work?

04-16-08_SantaFeSkies Blech

This is a topic that comes up from time to time, mostly in a cringeworthy fashion, “I can’t believe how far I’ve come since I made that embarrassing piece?!”

Fortunately, with my hand stitched paper art, the materials are so inexpensive, that I feel no remorse in throwing something away if it’s not up to my current standards. Or I’ll disassemble it and reuse the good parts.

(Which reminds me of the time a woman at work, took apart the birthday card I’d given her (a month or two after her birthday, not right away) and gave me back a part I could reuse. She was one of the most frugal people I ever met, so I understood her thinking. And I did reuse it, but it was a little weird! It’s okay if I do it, lol. I was thinking I’d rather she’d thrown the whole thing away then cannibalize it. No, I don’t get me, either.)

I have always thought I would have a section in my booth or online called, “Retired Designs”. It sounds more elegant than, “Crap I Can’t Stand Looking at One Minute More”. But I’ve never really had enough to do that with so I’ve just marked down the price on a few things and of course they sold. And then that irritates me because people are buying according to price not how stunning my work is, she says modestly.

When I’ve written about hating my old work before, people have commented that just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. Another school of thought is, the one I subscribe to for the most part, is that I don’t want my name on anything that doesn’t represent me well.

All of this came to mind when I saw Gia Conti’s invitation to her Super Sale at the upcoming Corn Hill Festival. She’s making a point of letting people know that older works will be marked down so I’m sure her collectors and wannabe collectors will go scoop them up. It seems like such a win/win when it’s someone else doing it.

Then today, Alyson Stanfield wrote about the very same topic, Earlier Work Not Selling. Be sure to read the comments below her post for a myriad of ideas on how to deal with this very subject. The common thread seems to be that one should carefully go through the rejects and deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

What have you done in the past, that’s worked for you?

Robyn 404

“Slow, Steady Slog”

Art Studio 404

For most people, there is no turnkey moment when they say, “NOW I know I’m an artist.” It’s more of a slow, steady slog on the way to the title.

~ Alyson Stanfield, Art Biz Blog

When Steve and I first discussed buying a house together 14 years go, the first thing Steve said to me was, “We need to make sure you have a space of your own.” To which I replied, “You need one too, of course!”

So when the time came to start packing up my apartment, I labeled all boxes with my art & craft gear, “Studio”. It felt odd at first but as it became my normal, I found myself correcting others, “Not craft room, studio.”

The same was true with calling myself an artist. That mindset change took quite a bit longer, because it’s so personal. Thinking back, I can see that others thought of me as an artist long before I did. For years, at my day job, I was the go-to person to make signs for places and things. All I did was open a Word document and choose a cool font. Anyone could have done that. But I really enjoyed it and of course, it wasn’t long before I started figuring out Publisher, adding borders and clip art. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe I’m having this much fun and getting paid.”

Going back even further, our Senior Will in high school, listed me as leaving my needlepoint to the school library. Every spare study hall I had, once done with schoolwork, I’d head to the library and sit in the quiet and work on needlepoint projects. It was just my thing and I was a little surprised anyone else even noticed.

Square Logo 200x200 No Border

Even the name of this Rochester Artisans community evolved over time. We started as Rochester Crafters in 2009. I’d always sort of hated the term crafter, because to me, it denoted hobbyist. But over time I forced myself to get over it and I made peace with the word. As our growth progressed and I decided to create this website, before I purchased the domain, I asked the members for suggestions. Buying the doman would be like carving it in stone so to speak and maybe I wasn’t as peace with Crafters as I’d pretended!

Someone suggested Artisans – and it felt like slipping into a comfortable t-shirt. Thank goodness I’d asked – this is why I say it takes a village!

Cut to this week. I was filling out an application and needed to provide employment history. I listed my businesses of self-employment: Rochester Artisans, then Pine Tree Designs, my paper art business. ::: Smacks forehead ::: Oh wait, I have an actual steady-paying job – so I added that too, as a footnote, after my art jobs. (It’s actually art-related too, but for a non-art-specific company.)

Robyn 404

I’m an artist.
~ Stefani Tadio ~

You can call yourself anything you want, crafter, artist, artisan, maker, designer. Make sure you give yourself full credit for your artful life. Own it with confidence.

Organization Leads to Creativity

Yellow Rickie Tickie Stickies

I’ve always been a fairly organized person. It’s still a running family joke about “Stefani and her clipboard, with lists in triplicate”. Yes, the joke goes back that far – to triplicates with carbon paper. In my defense, I never made lists in triplicate. Owned a clipboard with a giant yellow Rickie Tickie Stickie on it? For sure!

Side note for people of a certain age – ever wonder about the origination of Rickie Tickie Stickies?

Rickie Tickie Stickies

Somewhere in 2011-2012, I lost my organizational juju. I blame it squarely on my former day job, where I worked mega hours and still couldn’t get all the work required completed. (It was the typical corporate scenario, not replacing a lost employee, relying on remaining staff to get the same amount of work done.) I was in constant stress-filled scramble mode and didn’t have time to be organized. I know. That’s ridiculous but sometimes, when you’re in impossible circumstances, the unimaginable happens.

I still thought of myself as organized, because that’s how I’d been my whole life. But my work life and home life didn’t represent that part of me anymore. My home filing was 3 years behind. That’s shocking to me, even now. I recently spent about 2 days shredding old files and records. I get on people about keeping paperwork longer than required. Then I realized I still had every tax return I ever filed: that’s 40ish years. For other stuff, I just had about 3 years of records that could be discarded.

Using boxes we purchased at Home Depot for another purpose, I filled 2 large boxes and 1 medium box, packed tightly with shredding. Turns out I kind of like to shred so I offered to go through some of Steve’s paperwork that belonged to his mom and shred anything appropriate. “Okay if I shred all these cancelled checks, older than 7 years? So do you think these checks from 1954 qualify?” That kind of put my own paperwork in perspective and reinforced how super-happy I am to live in and embrace the digital age! (Three years of filing ain’t what it used to be.)

Going through Steve’s mom’s stuff was like an archaeological dig. His dad died on the day Steve was born, so to find stuff with his handwriting on it was cool. Finding his mom’s mortgage for the purchase of the home Steve grew up in, for $20,000, with monthly payments of $86.40, further strengthened my resolve to steamroll through the payments remaining on our mortgage. I set aside a box full of stuff that I knew Steve would want to keep or would at least get a kick out of reading. The remaining shredding filled the same 2 large boxes and 1 medium box. I’m sure the recycling guys are dreading our house next week, “Surely, she can’t have anything left to shred in that house!” (And don’t call me Shirley.)

I also spent the last week giving away a lot of craft supplies I know I won’t use anymore. I posted it all on the Facebook group I started earlier this year, Art Excess. (Feel free to join – you can ask for stuff, you can get rid of stuff (free, barter or sell) – all art related.) Anything remaining, I took to Craft Bits & Pieces in Fairport. The store is built on an outstanding concept – they sell craft supplies of all types, priced very reasonably, with proceeds going to the local Senior Living Council.

Getting rid of so much stuff has lightened my mental load significantly! I realized I had been semi-avoiding going in to my studio. I am still mildly surprised when I walk into my studio now and see a clean floor!

I’m so happy to let my organizational light shine again! And my creativity is at such a peak, I hardly know where to begin. (Staying off Pinterest would an excellent start!)

Alyson Stanfield of Art Biz Coach wrote a great article on her blog today, How to Find Anything When You Need It. She lists 5 naming tips to help with consistency and ease of finding what you need, when you need it. I’m pretty good at about 4 of them, I’d say. My weakness is titling my artworks. Any time I’ve had to do that, I’ve turned to Google and quite often find myself naming my framed art, for instance, after cities in the US. I did a series of pieces in warm tones and named them after cities in New Mexico. That wasn’t really that helpful because it really didn’t differentiate enough between pieces. I’ll have to work on this one!

Stay Focused, Grasshopper.

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Alyson Stanfield wrote a blog post today, 7 Tips for Staying Focused, that had me revisiting that topic that’s always in my head.

There was a time years ago when I found myself becoming a news junkie. I finally put the brakes on and trained myself to consciously ask myself throughout the day, “Is this moving your business forward?” Obviously I don’t want to be 100% strict about that but it helps me achieve the balance I’m looking for and stay focused on my business.

Then social media showed up. Yikes, what a double-edged sword that stuff is! It’s an important part of what I do for Rochester Artisans and my own business. I freakin’ love Facebook, for business and pleasure. But I have to remind myself every now and then to focus on what’s important.

I’m pretty easily motivated (clutter and looking at my finances are my best motivators!) but even I sometimes experience “Paralysis by Analysis”. Too much to do, where to start? I could do this but really, I should that first, but then this other thing really needs to be done so I do those other things. I finally snap myself out of it because I detest laziness. Just do something.

I clearly remember when my young adult son said to me one time, “I used to wait around for situations to fix themselves. Now I think you just have to do it.”

What?? Are you sure??

Most recently I’ve become a marketing junkie. There are so many marketing blogs and programs out there and when I find one I connect with I subscribe to their newsletter or blog feed. They motivate me so much that I can barely finish the article without wanting to get moving! And because they are good at what they do, their contact is pretty consistent.

I get a lot of email and being a fan of organization, I have lots of rules set up so emails are filtered into specific folders, so stuff doesn’t get lost. Or read, apparently.

I think the volume of unread email is weighing me down and making me feel anxious. So this week I’ve been unsubscribing to a bunch of things I haven’t been reading. It’s like with clothes – they say if you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it. Believe me, going through this process has been both difficult and easy. After all, I subscribed to these things in the first place because I liked them.

Man Touching Tablet

Groupon? I’ve only bought things a few times over time, but I’m on a strict budget now and won’t allow myself to buy anything not 100% necessary. Easy. Unsubscribe.

I even had my beloved Alyson Stanfield going to her own folder! When a friend emailed me a valuable link Alyson had provided recently, I realized I need her front and center. I deleted the rule. Alyson visits me in my In Box now.

I’m not done purging email yet but I already feel better, having made the decision. I liken this to my successful campaign a few years ago to get us removed from junk mail mailing lists. (Find the website, click Contact, fill out the online form or get the appropriate email address and sent them a nice note, asking to be removed from their mailing list, supplying your name & address from the mail received from them. Takes a minute or less. Don’t over-explain, you’re not hurting their feelings, they don’t care – they want a “clean” list!)

Couple that with the fact that we’re an electronic family – most bills and statements are sent to us electronically – we have a decent number of days where we get no US Mail at all.

I’ve already seen a drop in incoming email. It’s a little weird at first, but it’s soon becoming my new normal.

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