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Posts Tagged ‘Business’

Meaning of Fall

It has always been refreshing for the heat of summer to change gradually to cooler days and nights. I love the colors of leaves changing to lemon yellow, brilliant orange, the many shades of red sheltered by the darker greens. Even before I had the tools to paint, I would roll around in the crisp piles of fallen leaves.

I never questioned why they changed and fell, leaving the bones of the branches bare, ready for winter. It is not information I wanted. It is the emotion of color, the start of school, my birthday that please me. It is Indian Summer.

Fall also meant to me a chance to start something new. To have new shoes, (sturdy enough to last a year), to get new notebooks to fill with notes and doodles, and to dream of books and everything new. I find an exhilaration even now, breathing air just crisp enough, pure enough.

This fall, the word BREATHE has been recommended for journals and art projects. It makes sense to me. The words Renew, redo, reboot, redesign etc. can be found in titles and texts. It is what was old and dispensble, now is the new, new. Who still has the government pamphlets from before World War II? They taught how to organic garden, how to make clothes from feedsacks, and 1,000 ways to use the peanut. Dr. George Washington Carver wrote many of these pamphlets but his name does not appear on them.

And so as the cooler nights are turning a few leaves, I begin to feel the urge to start something new. Friends have opened a booth in Music Valley Antiques and Marketplace (Nashville). They have invited me a place to show my handiwork. It feels like breathing clean, crisp air. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Wish us well

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

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In most endeavors, it helps to have a plan and a destination. That discipline is hard to come by for the flighty, creative thinker. I read the blogs I follow in the morning, and the mental curiosity can divert from the task at hand.

When I started entering shows, being admitted to juried organizations and exhibits, getting gallery representation was difficult. The owners and exhibit staffs wanted a body of work staying in the same style for at least 2 years. My work was too experimental and varied to interest them.

I got very good advice from other artists. Most I failed to try. Buy your glass and frames all one size. You can get the glass by the box and save money. Even when I started watercolors on the same size of paper, I was tempted to trim for the best results. And for style? My friend suggested I was a group show all by myself. When did the discipline begin?

The first main series of women started when I decided to stop  teaching and took a course. I wanted to do whatever I wanted to leave as a statement. The large format (square) paintings led to the women who helped desegregate transportation. There are ten paintings, some of them posted.

The current and most ambitious series is coming to a close. At least that is my plan.  A few years ago, in a new studio, I was intrigued with the story of Deborah Sampson. She was a MA woman who fought in the Revolutionary War. I did not know her story after living near Boston for 10 years!

And so I started a new series of similar women through history. There are many and each has a story to be told. I have selected a variety of women, countries, stories based on how interesting they were. The list could go on far beyond my telling.

I have decided to finish this series at 31. One has been sold (Rosa Bonheur). This would leave an exhibit of thirty. They are smaller that the transportation series (16 x 20) and acrylic rather than oil.

Note:

Whether a visual artist or a writer, a time comes when you have to attend to the business end. If you do not sell your work, it is important to decide on storage and whatever documentation you want to leave with your work. Toni Morrison had her manuscripts and revisions in her home when it burned down. Duplicates, cd’s etc. should be carefully preserved. Leave your work to a relative or friend who will be pleased to have it. Perhaps, they will publish some of your work. Many times the local library will accept your work.

Painters have a bigger problem. This series is smaller because my studio is smaller. Before you frame work, be certain to sign, photograph and document everything. For insurance purposes, place a value on your work whether you intend to sell or not.

Who knew?

A story I heard  about a painting and its value happened when the owner told her friend of its value. She cautioned her not to let it get away when settling her estate.

The day of the funeral the gaudily framed work of art was put under the bed in case the house was robbed. The painting was as ugly as  the frame. But it was taken to be evaluated. The dealer took the frame off and carefully looked at both parts. The painting is worthless, he said. It is a print on cheap cardboard. So disappointed was the new owner until the dealer explained. The value was in the lumpy, gaudy, dark frame. Each hump and bump was a rough gem or precious metal found on the many travels the owner had made. Uncut and unpolished, the value was most generous. So your smallest drawing might , if not already, draw a generous sale price.

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Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn (Photo credit: TheCreativePenn)

Marketing or Promotion?

Definitions:

marketing: a more comprehensive process of getting a product sold. It involves creating the interest, identifying a target group, setting goals for the product and the campaign, advertising using various media, etc.

promotion: one part of a marketing campaign using various techniques including personal contacts to sell a product.

Writers need that extra step of validation and sales. Today it  more important to add the business end to the creative process. So many times writers explain that the work of writing is difficult and lonely. And some get no joy from the final shaping of a publishable article or book.

Add to this, a marketing strategy must be devised and followed aggressively. There is an industry of people who specialize in providing the products and skills needed to put your work on the market. A balance is needed between what you can do well, have the time for and the money left for a profit. Don’t be your own customer.

If you are new to  traditional publishing or self-publishing, how do you avoid pitfalls? You learn as much as you can and sort out advice from others. I find it helpful to be personally involved in each step of a project. That way you will know what to expect when you have the money to hire help. I recently went to a lecture billed “How to Write Your Family Story.”

In fact, it was a retiree, a minister, who had taken on publishing as a second career. He was selling taking your story to print. The samples he showed were glossy books with little content. They were extremely expensive. At these prices, they could not be sold outside of a small interest group.

The most telling part of the presentation came when he talked about his writing services “to help you shape your story.” He offered for you to tell him what you wanted to say and he would write it. Also, if you have written your story and collected the supportive materials, he would act as editor. I found spelling and grammatical errors in his slide presentation. Several in the group asked questions before it was clear: his services were in addition to the printing costs!

To be fair, he had the contact with a printer and the books were attractive. He did nothing about research or sales. Would we know enough about the steps from cover to cover before parting with  our money?

Who knew?

A. J. Race (The Daily Racewood.wordpress) shares his experiences from working alone to hiring some help in publishing a trilogy. A recent find in blogs is advice by Bill Mayer. His use of Slideshare to promote his books is an innovative use of online tools. His post was reblogged by Joanna Penn, a consultant.

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"Self-Portrait"

Photo of abstract painting and artist

 

Something is in the air. Not just the cold winter breezes. But my website

bettye-harwell.artistwebsites.com

and

skype

are down, down, down.

What next?

We exist inside the large and small boxes. Our identity is packaged and molded by 140 carats or the ping of email. Notifications now on my computer show (15) This is election day (delete/snooze).’  Since I voted early, I shall snooze.

Have you tried to look at my website art? If no one can find it, be assured that when it finds me, I will post it.

Who knew?

Internet Archives is a free website for books and music and other cool things. Their goal is to digitize all books and provide other digital services . The YouTube documentary shows a wonderful side of the business which is headquartered in San Francisco.  Be sure to see the chapel.

I like this site very much and have downloaded useful materials. From their newsletter:

Documenting the Internet Archive

A BBC film crew visited the Internet Archive earlier this year; here’s their story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6rsPgnA87Q

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The  decision to go public

Wordsmiths and artists of all disciplines reach a point where they want to share their work beyond family and friends. For each, the reasons are personal and varied. Finding the right venue to meet your goals is one step. But not the first.

Any route you take requires a body of work. Roger Curtis, famous for his seascapes, told his students not to enter classwork in exhibitions. He would embarrass anyone caught doing  it. He would ask a student before demonstrating on her painting. Thus it was not completely your work.

Presentation is the key.

Do you have your painting properly framed for exhIbition. Works on paper require mats and glass. Now wider stretcher bars allow Work on canvas to be unframed. Still the edges must be painted. Is the subject matter suitable for a general audience?

Online  galleries

You may have a full gallery on a website or just a few paintings.  Use the best images to showcase your work. If you are not a good photographer, ask someone to do it. Today digital images are most desired.

Review your submissions with a critical eye.  Others will judge you and compare your art to others.  Now that you are sharing your art and writing with the world, are you satisfied with  the presentation?

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English: iPad picture

English: iPad picture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An article was on FlipBoard, an iPad app told about the explosion of eBook sales. The ‘hesitant’ would-be publishers (present company) should take that first step.

What can you lose? There are free options. It could be a learning experience. You may find you are good at it. Success!

There are things I find I cannot learn. Maybe they just do not interest me enough to put in the time. Maybe it takes away from what I really love doing. Publishing may not meet the goal for money? The turn around time may not be fast enough. Why put yourself out for all to see and comment on your creativity. Bloggng gives you a chance to build an audience. Or not.

My blog, narcissus,hibiscus,mandrake started out with my complete unpublished book, one poem a day.  I decided it was better to give it free. It might build a poetry reading audience. The stats look like a mouthful of teeth and many, many spaces

Who knew?

My poetry did not draw as strong a following as this blog. The followers were faithful and interested. But were there enough to support an eBook? Evaluating these stats may help in making a publishing decision. Have I  taken advantage of free or low cost pre-publishing tutorials?

Do I have the best material?  Have I edited the manuscript with a fine red pen?

Can I drive interest toward my work? Does it fill a niche of interest? Timing is paramount.

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Green Hat with Embellishments

Hat Lady Series

Sink or Swim

Sometimes it takes a friend to sing your praises to make you get into the water. I do it for others and now it has happened to me.

Do you drive looking at the yellow line?

That is a good way to avoid accidents, but you also can miss the businesses along the way. Yesterday I delivered cards to a wonderful store a few blocks from my studio. A friend had been singing my praises there. It was time to make the contact and introduce myself. Now I have stepped up to make a place to show my paintings and cards that no one will see tucked into my studio.

The hat ladies were a commission. Each is an original. Once I got started I wanted to become a hat designer. Whoa, Nellie.

But I will continue making these images for awhile. They will be in this nearby shop (which I can promote) and on my fineartamerica website. Tomorrow I will show some of the miniature hats I made a few years ago. Best I stick to painting!

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over ...

English: Stepping Stones Stepping stones over the River Doe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who knew?

The proprietor and I had both worked for the Girl Scouts! Even if you feel shy about approaching someone for a business deal, there can be a common denominator to make both people feel comfortable.

What do you say to your friend who encourages you? Thanks and maybe lunch?

It is not necessary or even safe to go leaping into situations. Study the pros and cons, and take a chance with baby steps. Share your knowledge with others and they will be tempted to sing your praises,too. (Thanks, Toni.)

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