Sunday, May 8, 2011

Art as a Business

Before I get to some more serious discussion, here are a couple of small pieces for you to ogle. The first is a fairly recent piece that is completely hand stitched and beaded. I worked on it in small bits of time over a year or so. It was the piece I took with me when I needed some handwork to do at my weekly casual quilt group gathering. It is rather heavy with beads and embroidery floss! The title is: "With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells"

Here is another piece I did fairly recently which sold right away at River's Mist Gallery to our local newspaper owner. It is called "Haiku" because of its somewhat oriental feel and it is a small, simple piece. It received a lot of nice comments when it hung in the gallery.

I have a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and one in Hotel Administration so I have taken my share of marketing and business classes. I am currently not working a 9 to 5 job where I would apply my education, but I find that I am using many of the skills for marketing and promoting my art and myself in the art/quilting community.

I have been successful in getting my work into 8 different area galleries over the past few years and I am continuously showing work in three of them. I prepare paperwork to keep inventory records of what I take and pick up from these venues, I have images of all my work so I have a record of what it looks like, I make up price tags and artist statements and sometimes prepare an artist profile for these various venues, I rotate my work in and out every month or so to keep them fresh, I have insurance coverage for my work and I claim all my art-related expenses and income on my taxes. This serious business!

I spend quite a bit of time organizing my inventory of work for preparing show entries and determining what can be entered where and what is available or in galleries. This is a very complicated task since each show has different requirements for size, type, deadlines for entry and length of commitment for the quilts, and some need the quilts to be for sale so they are then unavailable for entry to later shows until that show is over. I have a good inventory of pieces and I enter quite a few shows, so keeping track of what is available for a particular show can be difficult. My husband is in the process of creating a database for me that might help with this, but I don't think it will eliminate all of the issues. Some of the decisions I have to make are purely subjective like trying to find a piece to fit a theme or style of show.

I try to keep my website and blog updated but haven't been as prompt with that as I should be. I have a slow dial-up computer connection and that makes it a chore to upload images to my blog and even get in and out of the management site for it. I am hoping to keep more current with my blog and vary my topics so that readers might actually feel like they get something out of it. I've tended to go on about my accomplishments more than anything else! I'd rather start sharing some knowledge about how I create my art and run my business.

I have done some lectures and some trunk shows and a few small mini-classes and have found these things rewarding and fun---although I do get very nervous. I am trying to decide about whether to pursue the teaching thing right now and am leaning towards devoting time to writing instead of teaching. Maybe down the road I'll feel more comfortable charging people money to learn something from me, but now I don't feel I can devote the time and effort into it that will make it worth what I want to charge. I'd rather be creating! And writing I can do in little bits of time that I have available as opposed to the intense preparation of materials and curriculum for a successful class. I think I'm just not ready to be a teacher quite yet, but I'm still debating this.

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