Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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To Market, To Market

Continuing my periodic posts on my progress in the Right Brain Business Plan e-course, the next topic is determining your target market and finances.

Up to this point, we’ve discussed values and our business vision, the business self-portrait and the business landscape. However, now that you’ve got this great product or business idea, you have to think about who you’re selling to; your target market.

Target Markets

Unless your product or service is geared to a specific customer base, determining your target market requires a bit of educated guessing. Historically, I’ve known that women are my primary market. But which demographic of women?

Some areas to consider when determining your target market include the potential customer’s age, education, financial background, career, and location (urban/suburban/rural.) Those are the fairly straight-forward, easy to answer questions.

Then there are the demographics that might not be as easy to answer, such as shopping preferences, forms of entertainment, and likes and dislikes. We refer to those as the “I’m making up these answers” type of demographic questions.

As I started to write down the details about my ideal customer, I realized the description seemed to fit me. I guess it is good to know I might actually buy my own artwork. However, it is also important to stretch beyond the familiar.

To that end, I came up with two groups women for my target market:

The mid 20’s to 40 year old group

Customer Collage 20's-40 y.o group

I’ve defined the 20-40 year old market as those entering their professional or career world, D.I.Y, Etsy or handmade nation supporters/creatives; supporters of the green movement, including recycling/up-cycling. They shop online and are technology savvy. They have an interest in art/craft and learning something new and would like to earn some money using their craft skills.

These women are making a name for themselves and are entrepreneurial. They enjoy social networking, social media and have an interest in self-care and holistic areas. They are primarily college educated. May be dealing with debt issues, especially student loans. This may effect what they buy and spend money on.

The 40’s to 70’s group

Customer Collage 40's-70's group

This target group is comprised, primarily, of college educated, professional women who are questioning the “next step” in their lives. They want to express themselves creatively but may not know how to access and express their creative muse. Therefore they are seeking guidance on creativity; how to be creative, how to make art/craft.

Within this group are those who will be or are empty-nesters, including active retirees. All of these women want balance and fulfillment and seek how to make meaning in their lives. For the most part, these women are comfortable in their own skin.

I put the two collages shown above in my Vision Book in an envelope titled “Target Market.” On the back of each collage I wrote down some of the demographics as listed above.

Playing With Numbers

After we determined our target market, it was time to look at the finances. (Or, as Jen puts it “Making the Moola.” Doesn’t that sound more fun?) Not always a pleasant task and probably the one area that many creatives hate to deal with. We like to bring in the money; it is the money going out that pains us.

Way back, I used to keep track of my finances with an Excel spreadsheet. As my business grew, I switched to Quickbooks. QB is great because you can generate a variety of reports, depending on your needs. This year I was better about setting a budget for those costs which are fairly static and for some expenses I knew were coming up this year.

However, setting financial goals and writing them down has never been my strong suit. We all have our issues with money; voices and impressions from childhood that stick with us. Another reason this has been difficult is the feeling (an excuse???) that I can’t make someone buy my artwork. So how could I possibly set a revenue goal?

However, with encouragement through the RBBP process, I set a financial goal for the year. Then I looked at all the areas where the business generates revenue, including 3 new areas that I’m pursuing this year, and determined the percentage of income each area needs to produce. In July, I will review these goals, see how I’m doing and determine the appropriate follow-up action.

How about you? Who is your target market? Have you set any financial goals for the year? How do the money ‘voices’ impact your progress?

Next: Creative cohorts and goal setting


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The Belle of Bell Tavern

Earlier this spring I accepted an invitation to participate in an art exhibit, Historic Interpretations: Contemporary Artists Interpret the Historic Collection, at the Peabody Historical Museum. Historic Interpretations challenged artists to choose an historical item from the museum and to reinterpret it in any art medium.  Per the historical society:

“The Society is seeking to remove traditional forms of interpretive practice, leaving the object’s interpretation to the participating artist.”

The historical artifact I chose was a 19th century wallpaper fragment from the Bell Tavern in Danvers, MA.

phswallpapersample2-version-2

After some research, I learned that in 1797 Hannah Webster Foster wrote a novel, The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton, which detailed a much publicized account of a socially elite Connecticut woman’s death in a tavern after giving birth to a stillborn, illegitimate child. Foster’s novel became a statement for women on the issues of individualism, social conformity, social class, and female friendship in the early American republic.

With this information, I was inspired to create The Belle of Bell Tavern.

Using this photo, I sculpted Eliza Wharton from polymer clay.

Eliza Wharton

Eliza Wharton

Here she is, head attached to the body, before going into the oven. (Doesn’t that sound a little sadistic?)

BelleofBellTavernBaldFull

And then I realized I forgot to give her eyebrows!

BelleofBellTavernBaldHead

Here is The Belle of Bell Tavern completely assembled. I really must order a larger photo cube. Belle is 16″ tall when assembled and these larger pieces don’t fit in a 20″ cube. Below are two shots of her; one in the photo cube and one against a black background.

BelleofBellTavern1

BelleofBellTavern2Black

BelleofBellTavernHead

Belle is attached to an antique wall shelf that I inverted for her skirt. Accompanying her is a handmade journal that opens, a pair of slippers, a suitcase, a gold key, and scrolls of love letters to an unknown beau.

BelleofBellTavernJournal

BelleofBellTavernJournalOpen

The quote attached to her skirt reads: I’ll toll you in if you have need, feed you well, wish you speed. These words hung over the door in front of the Bell Tavern.  From what I’ve learned about Eliza, she was a woman who found herself in a difficult situation, surrounded by friends who criticized her actions and warned her against further wrongdoing. Eliza desired independence and freedom. She wanted to avoid a loveless marriage, to choose a relationship on her own terms, and did not accept the idea of a woman being another person’s personal property.

This piece was great fun to create. Who would’ve thought a simple wallpaper sample could provide so much history.

The exhibit runs August 15-October 18. Opening weekend is August 15, 12:00-7:00 pm and August 16, 12:00-3:00 pm. The exhibit is displayed in two houses, the Osborne-Salata House and the Gideon Foster House. For more information, visit the Peabody Historical Society and Musuem.

To read more about the development of this piece go to this post and this post.


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Historic Interpretations

On Sunday, March 2, during a lightly falling, fluffy snow, Brenda, Laura, and I drove to Peabody. A few weeks earlier I had received an email from the Artists Foundation announcing a call for artists from the Peabody Historical Society regarding a future exhibit. The exhibit, “Historic Interpretations: Artists Interpret the Historic Collection” asks interested artists to create a new work inspired by a chosen historical artifact from the Society’s collection.

This sounded like a wonderful, unique challenge; one that the three of us were all likely to accept.

Arriving at the historical society, we were presented with two binders full of pictures of the historical artifacts contained in Osborne-Salata and Gideon Foster Houses. Artists were invited to look through the binders to choose at least one historical artifact. We were also encouraged to walk through both houses to see the artifacts up-close.

Choosing one artifact would not be as easy as first thought!

Artifacts in the Osborne-Salata and Gideon Foster homes included period clothing, signs, furniture, sculptures, lamps, wallpaper fragments, and pictures. Our minds were a bit overwhelmed with choices and possibilities.

I narrowed down my choices to two items: a bas-relief wooden sign featuring three faces and an eagle overhead and a wallpaper fragment.

As we walked through both houses checking out the items we were considering, I found myself drawn to the wallpaper fragment. It was the first item that caught my attention in the first binder I opened. And I know well enough that I should go with my first choice.

So that is what I did.

Here are pictures of the wallpaper fragment:

phswallpapersample3 phswallpapersample2

phswallpapersample2-version-2

What drew me to this artifact was the shape of the wallpaper fragment. I believe the open ended aspect of this artifact presents a wonderful challenge. So many ideas for what I could create started to come to mind the longer I looked at this piece. I thought about recreating the design in polymer (challenge #1 as I rarely make cane designs in polymer clay.) I considered the shape of the fragment; curvaceous and feminine.

And then I learned more about the history of this wallpaper fragment.

The wallpaper fragment is from the early 19th century and taken from the Bell Tavern located at the corner of Washington and Main Streets in Danvers.  The Bell Tavern is where the Minutemen gathered before traveling to Lexington. Hanna Webster Foster wrote a novel, The Coquette or The History of Eliza Wharton, which is a fictionalized account of the death of a socially elite Connecticut woman who dies in a room at a roadside tavern after giving birth to a stillborn, illegitimate child.

The tavern where this happened? The Bell Tavern. The character Eliza Wharton is based on the real-life Elizabeth Whitman who died at age 37 after giving birth to a stillborn child.

Who knew all this history could be contained in a wallpaper fragment?

What else would this fragment tell me if it could talk?

And how will this information influence and inspire the piece I create?

The mind boggles. I can’t wait to get started.