Garson Kanin said it: Amateurs hope, professionals work.

So what does that mean? Think about the words 'art practice'. To have a practice infers consistency, regular hours, a schedule. It also implies that there is practice going on – a masterpiece isn't made every time one creates.

There is a great blog article on this here: http://jamesclear.com/schedule

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Honesty with Self

March 19, 2014

Okay, I admit it: I am in love with possibilities. Doesn't this seem like a good thing? Always? Well, not necessarily. I just caught myself looking very intently at a new craft storage box as if it were so all important to know everything about it. Yet here I am divesting of tons of stuff, digging out my studio and lusting for actual space. So what is it about that sudden keen interest in yet another storage box when I already have a *whole box of storage boxes* waiting to be used? Possibilities!

The possibility that maybe this one will cure all my storage ills. The possibility that THIS one will be just the thing I need to turn the magic nut and PRANG! ALL WILL BE WONDERFULLY STORED, put away, easy to find, easy to put away again and I will see the floor again. I will be able to walk straight ahead without turning this way and that to avoid collisions…

Conclusion: it is way more fun to think about all of the possibilities than it is to just clean up the space! So guess where I'm off to? Back to putting all that stuff away! There WILL be visible floor and I will have room to work again – all without some perceived magic wand.

Artisan craft show in Switzerland, Nov. 2012

Big topic for a Friday! As an artist's coach, speaker and teacher in the business of art I know this is a hot topic. Artists struggle with pricing their work more than anything. Why? Because it's so close to home. Being intimately familiar with the creation of their work makes it hard to be objective about pricing that work. How do you price your soul? There is also the extra added feature of anxiety: 'am I that good?'. Somehow pricing our work gets tangled up in our self worth issues (everybody has those – not just artists!). This is where things go really sideways just about every time.

I know we all hear about pricing formulas such as: cost of materials + time = cost of goods but this really over simplifies the whole equation. The cost of overhead isn't really in that formula. Okay I see your eyes glazing over… Here is what it costs you to paint a picture, shoot a photograph or make a thing:

Equipment (brushes, camera/computer/memory cards or tools)

Space to compose what you're making (studio, office, etc.)

Education (art school, school of hard knocks, workshops, seminars, books, magazines, late fees at the library, etc.)

Health (shelter, food, clothes, shoes, vitamins, coffee, etc.)

Transportation (car, bus, bicycle, teleportation device)

This is all besides your time. And you thought it was going to be hard to figure out what your time is worth, didn't you? If it were that simple then pricing wouldn't be such a hot topic. Everything that brought you to this moment, to this point to create this work of art comes into play in the piece you've created. You had to eat, have shelter and transportation, gain experience, and stay healthy to get to this moment to create this piece. All of these things are costs and someone paid for it. A healthy business recoups these initial investment costs. There isn't any existential self worth issues involved. It's a matter of business survival. If a business charged exactly what it cost to make a thing then all these associated costs wouldn't be covered. Heat, rent, lights, insurance and other things need to be paid so charge something for it.

Next time: Pricing Part 2!

 

Opportunities

February 17, 2013

Artists like to create in a solo environment typically. I know I do. It's treasured time when I get to revel in my own process and I can do that so much more thoroughly when I'm alone. As a teacher I am either subject to others process or helping others find their process or incorporating their process with a new medium all the time. It's rare that I get to just be in my own space. However, I find there is more opportunity when I am creating with others like in an open studio environment. There are expanded options and new avenues that I might not have found when on my own. It's the same when you're associated with a group or organization. Opportunities may be offered to a group before it's offered to you alone. This is true with group shows and organizational events. I've found that the more I'm not going 'solo' in my every day practice the more my opportunities expand.

Investing into an artists group or even a group of friends regularly provides a trustworthy sounding board, a safe place for critique, and multiplies avenues of resources for everything from supplies to techniques which provides a lot of benefits for when you are working solo. This is one of the biggest challenges I see for artists in general. They have a difficult time consistently investing in being a part of a group. Just remember: there is power in numbers!

I have to say that my life really is quite an adventure. The things that come across my desk (so to speak), are incredibly diverse and not what one would expect of a middle aged artist. Every once in awhile I stop and sum up what is in front of me and I have to say that more often than not, I'm surprised. I'm surprised by offers, opportunities and the details mixed in with the usual suspects that I expect in my business. Are you ready for this? In the past 6 months I've received:

An inquiry from a producer to be a juror on a TV show for…taxidermy art – just a forewarning if you Google that. It's very odd, some weird, some wonderful…some could cause nightmares…but I would do it. Why not?

A book proposal – me write a book? Okay!

Two requests for submission of my work in other people's books

Two video deals pending – one an interview and one to produce a how-to

A request to teach at Jewel School Institute for Jewelry TV – yup, I'll be there in March for Mixed Media Madness!

And then there's my every day work: a new business I'm working on, deadlines for submissions for next year, pictures to be shot, cropped and sent, contracts to read, revise, sign, galleries to get work to and somewhere in there I need to make that work. Then I have the day job: ArtWorks, which requires a lot of attention, too.

Then in January all at once both cars had to go into the shop, there have been some family situations requiring a lot of driving (I rented a car), and my house phone stopped working! Hmmm, no wonder my house is a wreck. I'm hoping this means I get past a lot of chaos and the rest of the year will be a calm oasis of island breezes…HA!

 

Merry Merry Ho! Ho! Ho!

December 22, 2012

Okay, I love red and green, especially red, Christmas lights, anything cozy or cottage-ish like Putz houses (look it up!), happy Father Christmas, but not cutesy or cartoony. I love Christmas magic, sweet stories, making handmade gifts, baking (still working on wheat free success though), and watching the winter bird show out in the yard at the feeders. Most of all I love getting the chance to hang out with friends, especially when we're making things, and we get to hide out from the holiday hubbub and make the holiday our own artist time. Yesterday was one of these days. I have a tradition at ArtWorks on the last Friday before Christmas to bring my home made truffles to Art Spa Open Studio for whomever shows up. They really are very good, so good they've ruined me from ever buying truffles ever again. But it's best to see other people get the chance to enjoy them even though they are so sinful. It's better than eating them all myself! So the day started with breakfast at the tea shop with Deb and Carol and ended with Nan and Tonnie at ArtWorks. What a great day! Thanks for the day my friends!

The picture is the beginning of a garland I started making at Art Spa. It's my own version of what a wonderful metal artist does in Switzerland. Happy Holidays everyone!

 

Dreaming of Things to Come

October 25, 2012

I'm working away like mad making new jewelry for the show in Switzerland. My time is running short and of course life doesn't just stop when you have big things to do and little time to get them done. I got 4 contracts today – all of which need thorough reading and who knows what else. Then it occurs to me that I need to finish some things for one of the galleries that carries my work so they'll have it for holiday season. When it rains, it pours. This is one of those times when I remember the days when I didn't have my work anywhere, I wasn't working in any art related field, and I just dreamed of the day when I would be steeped in art every day in some way. Here I am! NO complaints! So what are the big dreams of things to come now?

Lately I've been daydreaming about a proper Jeweler's bench and dust extractor system. Weird, I know. But check these benches out!

I think I have bench lust though I like the bench I recently made and am using. I'm thrilled to be working in the studio after such a long hiatus. I can't wait to get home and get in there after work or on my days off. Right now it's late evening and I'm already looking forward to what I'll work on tomorrow. So what does that take? To get that excitement in doing your own work? I think getting out of your own way. The joy is in the doing. The more you do, the more intrigued you become. Make your work your priority and it all falls into place. So while I do have bench lust, wish for a bigger space to work in and all that I'm really dreaming of things to come: finishing the pieces on my bench so I can move on to those other pieces I have in my head!
 

 

   With the way that I am I’ve found that usually wherever I am is where I want to be.  It’s the ‘getting there’ part that’s hard.  It may be because I have a lot of disruption in my life due to traveling to teach or I have an issue with transitions that I haven’t really looked at, I’m not sure.  However once I get to where I’m going I’m fine.  It could be I just hate to leave home…=)

  I’ve been working on just being glad I am here wherever that might be instead of looking at all the things I wish I were doing or could be.  In other words, there is a point to be made for just really looking at where you are and making the most of that.  Does this make sense?  It’s okay that your work isn’t earth shattering Monet level or on the lips of every person on the planet.

    The American culture has a preoccupation with being famous.  It’s obvious to me now that this comes back to seeing oneself as special.  If others see you as special then there’s the proof that you are.  But guess what?  You should know this without that external validation.  If you love your art then that’s enough.  So if you find yourself envying others that ‘seem’ more visible, become more visible to yourself.  The rest will follow.  I can tell you from experience that having people know your name in a random elevator is not a comfortable position to be in.  Think about it: you don’t know them but they ‘know’ you.  It’s actually disconcerting especially at night when away from home.  And what is it that these people ‘know’ about you anyway?  I mean really.  So understand that being known shouldn’t ever be a goal.  It’s so much better for your work to be what’s known, isn’t it?

  I had written a whole blog under this title when iPad crashed out and lost it…naughty iPad!  The title is actually a line from a Peter Gabriel song and it hit me like a ton of bricks…again.  This time it spoke to the constant striving I’ve been doing to get ‘there’, wherever ‘there’ is.  I asked myself: how do you know you’re ‘there’?  What if you’re ‘there’ and just don’t know it?  These seem like simple questions until you really start thinking about them.

  Some years ago I wished I were gainfully employed in the arts.  I wanted to be teaching artists, teaching my own art related classes, mentoring artists and making my own work.  I wanted my work in a gallery or two as well. 

  So I created programs to teach, made samples and pix of the samples, put together class descriptions, materials lists and pictures for proposals and sent them in to places I targeted.  I took on coordinating a 50 hour professional development program designed for artists for a college and the job of running a small art center part-time when that became available as well.  One day I realized that when I wasn’t In a classroom teaching or working on scheduling/growing the art center, I was putting together submissions for classes next quarter, next year, the next 4 shows, and so on.  I was working 24/7 or darn near to it as one could get.  I was blogging, keeping my website updated, juggling my scheduling, traveling, teaching and art center concerns.  This has gone on for a few years now and it was time to take stock.  What had I been doing?  Were we there yet?

  

  Fun artist’s website: http://www.fimp.net/index.html  

 

 

 

I work with artists just about every day of every week.  I see where and why people are either successful artists or not.  I can tell you that it really comes back to some simple fundamentals.  I know the advice I offer may seem overly simplistic but I can’t tell you how many times in a day I see what I’m talking about.  And really, if you can’t get the fundamental basics under your belt how far can you really get to where you want to go?  It’s like sitting in a perfectly good car but not stepping on the gas pedal.  If you don’t step on that gas pedal you’re not going to get very far, are you?  You’re just going to sit in this fine car thinking: wouldn’t it be great if this went somewhere? 
 So what do I see almost every day across the board that would be considered a fumble rather than a successful play?  Artists missing a deadline and still wanting consideration in spite of the fact that there are those that took that extra effort to be on time and meet that deadline.  Artists having everything but a critical piece of information, paperwork, a date, or a business card. When someone is interested in your work and you don’t have something to give them to remember you by or to contact you for follow up, how will that contact turn into a successful scenario for you?  Anyone ever read The Grasshopper and the Ants? 
Your success requires your commitment to work for it.  It’s that simple.  Once the commitment is made, everything else follows because it becomes a no brainer to have a business card, supply all requested information, meet that deadline you’re really interested in.  But commitment requires constant investment.  So what are you investing in today, this minute?  Tomorrow?  Next year?  If you aren’t investing in your success, who will?