Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


4 Comments

Friday Finds

Recently I decided to make Fridays a non-production work day which may mean a little shopping and/or working on projects not related to the usual production work. Last week Friday I treated myself to some shopping at a couple local stores: Aquarius Sanctuary and Ink About It.

Aquarius Sanctuary is a holistic, new thought store.  They carry books, jewelry, music and have a small sitting area where people can gather to talk and drink tea.  Here I bought a crystal for my studio to help with energy flow.  I have, according to Feng Shui principles, a “poison arrow” or wall that juts into the room.  The crystal counteracts the “poison arrow.”  The crystal, created by a local artist, is suspended from beading wire. Daisy charms and amerzinite stones are also on the wire.  It is quite lovely but difficult to photograph.

I also bought a book at Aquarius Sanctuary, The Painting Path: Embodying Spiritual Discovery through Yoga, Brush and Color by Linda Novick.  In this book the reader is led through a series of simple yoga inspired breathing and stretching exercises, followed by an art project using either paints, oil pastels, batik or collage, and finishes with reflective questions about the project.

I’ve found that creative ideas often emerge during or just after my yoga practice.  Combine that with my desire to work with other art materials and this should prove to be an interesting book.

Ink About It is a rubberstamp and scrapbook store in Westford. It opened several years ago in a small storefront. Last year they moved into a larger storefront which gave them more retail and classroom space.  It is always great to see a local store grow because of customer demand and interest.

At Ink About It I bought the following:

Feather Your Nest Images

Feather Your Nest Images

This is a great collage sheet of birds, feathers and eggs by ARTchixstudio.  As soon as I saw it I was reminded of Joseph Cornell.

Rubberstamps and doo-dads

Rubberstamps and doo-dads

I love these rubberstamps by Invoke Arts.  I was also taken with the replica door pull by 7Gypsies which I can see as part of a mosiac piece or perhaps on a large art doll.  And I was completely won over by the Artgirlz charms.  I’m a sucker for faces and eyes.  These charms look like small masks a la Phantom of the Opera.

Colorful cabs

Colorful cabs

When I visit Ink About It, I typically walk through the entire store first to check out all the goodies.  Then I’ll go back and choose what I want to buy.  These Robin’s Nest cabs called to me three times before I chose the ones I wanted.  They come in a great assortment of colors with names like getaway, water, Paris, and winter retreat. Each bottle contains tints, tones, and accents of one primary and/or complimentary color.  I can see these as embellishments on Spirit Messengers and Icons or perhaps as grout filler for mosiacs.  Yummy!

Water cabs

Water cabs

A close up of the water cabs.

Now to decide what exactly to do with all these goodies.  Stay tuned!


4 Comments

Tuesday’s Business: Promoting Yourself

Now that you’ve put together some of the components of your business plan, you have to think about how you’re going to promote yourself if you are not doing so already. How else will you reach your target market? Yes, promoting yourself can be scary, especially for us artists who tend to be introverted. But I can assure you that once you’ve promoted yourself, each successive one gets easier.

So acknowledge the butterflies in your stomach, don’t run and hide, and give it a try.

The Portfolio

In terms of promoting yourself, the portfolio refers to all those items you currently use to promote yourself. This might include letterhead, business cards, an artist statement, a resume, a biography, images of your work, brochures or spec sheets, a web site, blog, or Flickr site, and a cohesive body of work.

Considering the above list, what items do you currently use to promote yourself? Are there items in this list that you haven’t considered? For those items that you do use, how do you use them?

Do you carry business cards with you at all times? Do you take pictures of new work as soon as it is completed and upload it to your web site or blog or Flickr site? Do you send announcements to your mailing list on your new work?

One of the big considerations when promoting yourself is consistency in design and information. This includes developing a logo, if desired, and using the same font across all your promotional materials. Consistency gives you a cohesive look.

Choose a font that is legible and not too funky. Keep in mind that what might look groovy in print may not translate well when viewed on screen (and vice versa.) Keep in mind too who your target market is; radical or grungy or cutting edge promotional materials may go over well with urban customers/collectors but not suburban or rural customers/collectors. Think about your body of work. Is there a font that captures or compliments the essence of the body of work.

Once you’ve decided upon a consistent look for your promotional materials, remember to update them on a regular basis. You want to be prepared for those dream opportunities.

Name Recognition

Another aspect to promoting yourself is building name recognition. The idea here is that the more people relate to you, the more they will be interested in your art. So how does one build name recognition?

The simplest way is that customer mailing list. Start one if you haven’t already and if you do have one remember to update it regularly. Now I admit this is one of my weak areas. I have a customer mailing list, but I typically use it only to promote shows. And with the fluctuating economy, I’m doing fewer and fewer shows. So where does that leave my customer mailing list…other than collecting virtual dust?

Recently I put together a new product announcement in Word, converted it into a PDF, and emailed it to several gallery customers. To my pleasant surprise it garnered one new order. Mailing lists can work for you because it keeps your name and work in front of the customer/collector. Again the key here is consistency and finding an acceptable frequency. This could range from monthly to quarterly, depending on how prolific you are in creating your art.

Think about how you can use your mailing list other than show or open studio announcements. Do you have upcoming exhibit? Perhaps you recently received recognition or an award? Has a trip or book influenced your work? These are all bits of information you can share with people on your mailing list via email announcements or postcards.

Other ways to build name recognition is to join community art groups, teach, provide demonstrations, blog, write articles and put together short videos. And don’t forget press releases.

Promotional Goals

In our Art Salon, Alyson Stanfield provided the following list of promotional goals for artists to consider. Choose the ones that are most applicable to you.

Creating a mailing list
Send out mailings
Develop a newsletter
Meeting influential people
Writing articles about your work
Exhibition entries
Grant applications
Teaching and/or demonstrations
Public talks
Open studios
Gallery representation
Web site

And I’ll add:

Blogs
Flickr
Squidoo lens
Informative videos
Local cable access program
Twitter
Facebook

As artists in the 21st century, we have many exciting and challenging options when it comes to promoting ourselves. You may have to try a few before finding one that works well. And keep in mind that multiple formats of promotion are better than one. Think out of the box and get creative.


8 Comments

Lessons My Cats Have Taught Me

  • Start each day with a long stretch.
Woody yawns

  • Hold your head high when you enter a room.
  • Look the challenge in the eye…then pounce.
  • Sit in the sun every day you can.

  • Snuggle.
  • A daily “nutty” burns off excess energy.
  • Running around in circles is no guarantee you’ll ever catch your tail.
  • Naps are rejuvenating.
  • Continue to pursue your dreams (see #7).
  • Eating too fast may make you sick.
  • Ask for a massage and you just might get it.
  • Share…even when you don’t want to.

  • A deep sigh can clear your head.
  • It is okay to go to your safe spot when scared.
  • Proceed with caution when necessary.
  • Hug.
  • Be flexible.


7 Comments

Dreamkeeper and Wishmaker

In July I was invited to participate in Raining Art Dolls, an art doll exhibit hosted by wonderful art doll artist Patricia Anders. The Raining Art Dolls exhibit is being held at Ten Women Gallery in Venice, CA, September 1 to September 30. Twenty-nine artists will have art dolls in this exhibit.

Three parameters anchor the exhibit: the art dolls, the size requirement (8″ in length) and that all the art dolls will be suspended in the front window at Ten Women Gallery. It should be quite a visual treat.

I submitted two art dolls for this installation: Dorian the Dreamkeeper and Wyan the Wishmaker.

Dorian the Dreamkeeper

Dorian the Dreamkeeper

Wyan the Wishmaker

Wyan the Wishmaker

Dorian and Wyan feature hand sculpted heads that are attached to hand-formed hollow bodies.

You can read some local press on the exhibit here.

If you are in the Venice area, please stop by to see the exhibit. Ten Women Gallery is located at 1237 Abbot Kinney Blvd.


Leave a comment

Tuesday’s Business-Assessing Sales Opportunities

As you put together your business plan, you need to consider where you’re going to sell your work. What venues or markets you’ll target. Heck, even without a business plan, I’m sure this is something you’ll consider as you decide to sell your work.

When determining where to show and sell your work, you need to think about your long term goals. However, I think it is pretty common for many of us when we start selling our work to try lots of different venues, especially when it comes to shows. This is what I did and I wasn’t thinking about a long term goal when I did it. Call it testing the waters. I needed to get a few shows (for better or worse) under my belt in order to determine what worked and what didn’t; what sold and what didn’t and what shows I might do again and which ones I wouldn’t consider in the future.

Assuming you are selling your work, start by listing those places where you sell your work. Now ask yourself where you are making sales. Take it a step further and assess what sells best in these venues. Would you like to continue selling at this venue? Look back at that customer base you’re targeting and those you’d like to target. Do these venues fit into that target market?

Now this is where the long term goal comes into play. When you assess the venues where you sell, you need to determine if you’ve outgrown a place, especially if it isn’t doing well for you. Continuing to show or sell in venues that you’ve outgrown saps your energy and dampens your spirits. Making that decision isn’t always easy but it is part of business. So assuming one of your long term goals is to generate an income, you need to assess selling opportunities on a regular basis.

Is a particular venue good for me?

When choosing a venue for potential selling opportunities, there are several aspects to consider:

Foot traffic: Whether a retail store front or an art/craft show, you want to assess the foot traffic. For the store front, consider their location. Are they on a main street or off the beaten path? If off the beaten path, how do they draw people into the store? With shows, foot traffic can be highly variable but the promoter should be able to give you an attendance figure based on previous shows. Parking may also be a consideration in both cases.

Surrounding businesses: Is the retail store surrounded by other stores, which in turn helps to generate foot traffic. Are there other galleries in proximity to the store which potentially increases competition? (Remember, competition is not necessarily a bad thing.)

Physical space: This includes security, insurance, and appearance of the store. Is care taken when displaying the art work? Are precious works displayed in cases? Is the store neat, clean, well-lit, etc.

Fees: Does the store sell on consignment or wholesale? How are special orders or commissions handled? Are you renting space within the store to display your work?

Advertising: How does the store promote itself? Do they run ads in the local paper and/or online? Do they have a customer mailing list? Do they host artist events or participate in gallery walks?

Online Sales Venues

Other than participating in Wholesalecrafts.com, I have no experience selling on other popular online sites such as Etsy or Trunkt. And I do not sell my work through my web site (e.g. no shopping cart.) However, if these are venues you’d like to pursue, I imagine several of the same considerations can be applied.

I do believe that artists today have many more opportunities to consider when selling their art. It is up to us to think out of the box and to pursue non-traditional venues.


10 Comments

Is the Law of Attraction Crap?

Okay, maybe that is a bit terse, but after so many months of sharing thoughts on trying to live in the present moment, being positive, getting clear, and all that “woo-woo” stuff, I feel like kicking it all in the pants. And admit it; haven’t you wondered or wanted to do the same thing?

To borrow some worn out words “It is hard work.”

But I didn’t think it was supposed to be “hard work.” I thought it was supposed to be effortless. Aren’t I just supposed to “show up” and let the universe take care of the rest?

Can you tell I’m feeling a bit frustrated?

Actually I do believe that the law of attraction, or aligning yourself with the universe, or opening yourself to the universe or however you wish to describe it, does work. Problem is, it seems to be rather inconsistent. Or maybe I’m just not always “in the moment.”

My current feeling brings to mind an article I read in the March 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun by Brad Warner titled “That’s Not Very Buddhist of You.” In a nutshell, Warner, a Buddhist, discusses the issue of being told that you are doing something that others perceive as “not being very Buddhist.” That when when we don’t live up to someone’s idealized version or image, look out.

And that may be my problem with the Law of Attraction. I have, at times, held this idealized image of what it means to follow the Law of Attraction. That by being positive and upbeat and spreading the good karma and setting intentions and getting clear, I should get whatever I bloody well want.

Ouch!

Warner states “it is of no importance at all to try to live up to some media stereotype of a supposedly ‘typical Buddhist.’ In fact, that’s one of the most self-destructive activities you can engage in. Buddhism must always be grounded in reality.”

And so it is with the Law of Attraction. The reality of the Law of Attraction is that it happens in its own perfect time. It isn’t something you can force, push, or hurry along. When the time is right, it will happen.

The admittedly frustrating part is setting those intentions, being open to intuition, to the universe, getting clear, and nothing. So you keep on doing what you’re doing and waiting a little longer and, nope, not yet.

The universe sure is a big ol’ tease.

Some say that while you’re setting your intentions and getting clear and being open, the universe is aligning behind the scenes. Small things are happening. Perhaps you’re not paying attention to the small things because you’re waiting for the big wham-o. And when the big wham-o doesn’t smack you in the face, you think what is big deal with this?

Yet, if you look back, reassess your day, your week, the past month, you become aware of all the small things that did take place. The universe really did align and it did bring you to where you are today.

As Warner stated in his article “Our intuition never actually fails us, even though we often think that it does. We only fail to hear it over the noise we generate in our heads. We all have this intuition. But we’ve learned how to shout it down with our thoughts and emotions to the extent that it’s sometimes impossible to hear that small, still voice.”

I have sometimes felt that the Law of Attraction has failed me when in reality I have not paid enough attention to the small signs and trusted my intuition. When the negative voice or ego is on a roll, getting “uppity” you might say, I have to shift my thoughts and return to that place of stillness. After all, compassion begins with being compassionate with yourself.

Warner ends his article saying “Our practice will never make us perfect, when perfection is merely an image created by thought. Real perfection is just to keep on practicing.”

And so it is with the Law of Attraction. It is a daily practice to set intentions, to get clear, to be open. Some days I fail and and I have to get clear again. And some days I realize I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Note: Christine Kane wrote a series earlier this year on the 6 Snarkiest Misconceptions about the Law of Attraction. I’m going to read these posts again. You’ll find misconception #1 here. Links to consecutive posts are at the top.


6 Comments

Two Glasses of Wine Theory

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine theory…

A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items on his desk in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘YES.’

The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things; your family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions; things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car.

The sand is everything else; the small stuff.

If you put the sand into the jar first’, he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the good things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Play with your children.

Take time to get medical checkups.

Take your partner out to dinner.

Play another 18 holes.

Do one more run down the ski slope.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first; the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented.

The professor smiled.. ‘I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of glasses of wine with a friend.’


4 Comments

Tuesday’s Business-Know Your Customers/Collectors

Thus far in our discussion on writing a business plan, we’ve talked about several components: writing goals, defining your art, and knowing who your competition is. This week the focus is on describing and knowing who your customers and collectors are.

As you put together your business plan, you need to think about who is buying your art and who will buy your art. Knowing who your customers and collectors are currently and who you’d like as future customers and collectors also helps you define your goals and refine your marketing.

Why am I writing this as customer/collector? Because in the ideal situation all artists hope to have collectors; those people who buy our art, who keep buying from us, and start a collection of our work. When you start to think of the person buying your art as a collector, the mood changes. It feels more professional.

Demographics

The easiest way to describe your customers and collectors is with demographics. This includes sex (M/F), age, income, education level, and occupation. In addition to these standard demographics, you can expand further to include where your customers/collectors live (urban, suburban, rural) and how they pay for their purchases (cash, check, credit card, installments). You may even begin to think about the type of home they live in and the cars they drive.

Here is an example of how I’ve defined my customers in the recent past:

Urban and suburban women in their late 20’s to early 70’s who are predominantly college educated in professional careers that pay for their purchases with credit cards, cash, and occasionally by check.

If you aren’t sure who your customers/collectors are, write down who your ideal customer/collector would be. And if you already have an idea of who is buying your art and if you’d like to focus on another market, write down who those people would be too. In both cases you’ll develop a better idea of your customer/collector and can begin to think about how to find them and how to market to them.

Another aspect to consider when defining your customer/collector is why these people buy from you. Is it for personal or sentimental reasons? Does your art work fill a blank spot in their home? Are you providing a piece of art that happens to be in the right color? Is your work a functional object?

And if you have repeat customers/collectors, can you determine how often they buy from you? Some people talk about the 80/20 rule. This theory says 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. If this is true, are you keeping in touch with your current customers?

Which leads us to…

Keeping Track of Customers/Collectors

How many of you have a customer mailing list? When you sell at an art/craft show, do you have a clipboard, notebook, or journal to collect contact information on your customers? If so, is it out and visible to people as they enter your booth?

I know that we all feel like we get too much information already via snail mail and email. However, when you start selling a product, you need to start building a mailing list in order to, hopefully, grow your business.

When someone expresses interest in your work and doesn’t make a purchase, encourage them to leave their contact information so you can update them on future shows and/or new art work. They may make a purchase in the future. They may share information on your art with a friend or family member who in turn may make a purchase. Without their contact information, a potential opportunity is lost.

In the last few years, my mailing list has grown to almost 300 customers/collectors. This list includes friends, neighbors, people in different organizations I belong to, former co-workers, Eric’s co-workers, and many people I meet at art/craft shows.

If you haven’t started a customer mailing list and you’re saying to yourself “I don’t know who to put on my list” think about people you know who have expressed an interest in your work or who have made casual purchases. Start with your neighbors or co-workers. I bet you can easily come up with 5-10 people to start your list.

Niche Markets

One last area to consider when it comes to customers/collectors is the niche market. A niche market is a specialized market. Does the art you make fit into a niche market? Do you specialize in specific theme(s) with your art? Look at your art and think about whether you could create for a niche market. When your work fits a niche market, you have a better idea of who to target with your marketing. You have an easier time finding an audience because it is “built in.”

Next week: Sales Opportunities

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 333 other followers