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Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 5

Following on from yesterday’s mini-blog, my job as an artist also involves the following:

Image from Pixabay

8. Research

When I paint an endangered animal, I like to know something about them, so spend a little time researching them and their habitat so that I can create an authentic setting in the illustration.

Part of building an art business also means researching merchandising options and retailers. My target audience is animal-art lovers! I am aware that not everyone wants to buy an original painting or print, but most of us like to wear t-shirts, use tea towels and notebooks, build jigsaw puzzles, etc.

With that in mind, I am constantly researching manufacturing options for New Zealand-made, natural fibres, non-polluting, sustainable, reusable environmentally-friendly products. I am so grateful that I can work with Digitees (https://www.digitees.co.nz/), who print my designs on 100% cotton ethical clothing (the adult clothing is 100% organic cotton too!) with eco-friendly inks.

Image from Pixabay

9. Uploading designs to merchandise

Once a design is digitised, it needs to be uploaded for merchandise. Although I have designs on three print-on-demand platforms (Zazzle, Society6 and Redbubble), I only load designs on Redbubble now, as I hardly ever sell anything on the others. Redbubble is also, by far, the easiest platform to use. It costs nothing for me to put my designs on items, but in return, the royalties are small, and I dare not push them up for fear of chasing away customers with excessive prices.

Recently I started to sell my work on 100% cotton t-shirts on my own store, which are printed and drop shipped by Digitees (https://www.digitees.co.nz/), a Kiwi business. I am also proud to be part of the Kiwi artist collaboration, doodlewear (https://www.doodlewear.co.nz/) and sell my designs on 100% cotton sweatshirts and hoodies.

My endangered animals’ designs are also printed as giclee prints and greeting cards. These are sold on my online store (https://www.bumble-beesartandcrafts.com/).

All this merchandising work takes considerable time – creating merchandise options and entries on the online store and Facebook are very time-consuming, but it needs to be done so that customers can buy what they like and when it is done, it is rewarding.

Tomorrow I will share some more of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the fifth part of a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 4

Following on from yesterday’s mini-blog, my job as an artist also involves following:

Image from Pixabay

6. Teaching

Early on in my art career, I was advised to teach classes. I love teaching children and adults watercolour, cognitive drawing and embroidery, and always hope that advertised courses run. Unfortunately, between one-third and half of all my advertised classes have been cancelled due to a lack of enrolments. When I have a class, I really enjoy it, even if it means teaching until 9 pm followed by a 5 am wake up (which is hard for a night owl!). Even if a class does not go ahead, I have still prepared material, written notes, created samples and examples, etc.

So why don’t I teach online? I do not have a studio and work in the living room – filming is tricky when folk are around. Plus, I simply do not have time or knowledge to edit film. It would complicate an already frenetic schedule, and I am super introverted and filming myself is acutely uncomfortable.

Image from Pixabay

7. Digitisation

When I finish an illustration designed for merchandise, I need to use image-editing software to remove the background paper or canvas from vignette illustrations. Although there are a multitude of ways to do this, the methods I found to ensure the best results, are not quick. I find this work exhausting and try to do it straight away and not save it up and spend days digitising multiple artworks. If there is a job in my business I dread, this is it – however, I am always figuring out better ways of doing the work, which brings considerable satisfaction. It is essential to use a tablet (Huion or Wacom) and a stylus or an iPad and pencil. It is simply not possible to do this work with a mouse if you create highly-detailed designs.

On Sunday I will share some more of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the fourth part of a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 3

Following on from yesterday’s mini-blog, my job as an artist also involves the following:

Image from Pixabay

4. Planning

I use a diary-planner and a couple of notebooks to plan and implement tasks to promote business growth. Once a week, after I do the banking and accounts, I sit and plan what needs to be done during the week. A list can sometimes have between 20 and 30 tasks, varying in time requirements and complexity. Some of those tasks will be transferred to the following week’s list as I am working on them over a long period of time. Other jobs take just a couple of minutes and provides satisfaction as they are crossed off the list. Nothing is better than finally crossing off a job I have been working on for days or weeks.

I constantly need to remind myself that it may be months or years before some of my actions reach fruition. This can be discouraging, but all I can do is my best, take appropriate actions and hope they pay off at some point. I have had to accept, at times, that it is best to abandon certain parts of the business as they were not gaining momentum, despite hard work.

Image from Pixabay

5. Banking and accounts

I do business banking and accounts every week. It really pays off at the end of the financial year, as everything is already in order and can be wrapped up and sent off to the accountant quickly and easily. Each year I figure out new ways of streamlining and improving my processes to make it more efficient.

Tomorrow I will share more of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the third part of a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 2

Following on from yesterday’s introduction, my job as an artist involves all the following:

Image from Pixabay
  1. Correspondence

I do my best to deal with all email and social media correspondence as soon as possible. It is the first task six days a week. Since I prioritise communication with customers, etc. I sometimes experience frustration that others do not do the same. I am learning to understand that other folk may have other priorities and choose not to get annoyed when someone’s response is considerably delayed, or I am stone-walled (which happens regularly).

Image from Pixabay

2. Marketing, promoting, etc.

I am grateful to use Ampjar (https://ampjar.com/) for promotion. Businesses that join Ampjar shout out other businesses to help promote and gain visibility for them. In turn, someone else shouts out your business. It has been amazing getting to know some other business owners, both here in New Zealand and overseas. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this platform.

I would like to encourage small and micro business owners to be a little altruistic and willing to support other businesses, because when one small business operator supports another, a positive ripple effect will take place and an economy can grow.

As you know, I recently ran a couple of promotions for new merchandise:

  • Rare Wear t-shirts: my new 100% pure cotton t-shirts that share the conservation awareness message.
  • doodlewear artist collaboration sweatshirts and hoodies.

I am planning other promotions for future business developments, which will happen when they happen. I always have time goals but have learned to bend when the wind blows my timeframes far away.

Image from Pixabay

3. Promotion Pathways

I view the following as different pathways to promote my business, communicate with customers and interested parties and market my products:

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters

It is a lot of work for one person to do and I am always researching how to use all these ‘paths’ better. I have just started learning how to use MailChimp, so hopefully the new newsletter format will be appealing to those who receive them.

Tomorrow I will share some more of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is the second part of a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…

Art Business

The Many Hats Artists Wear – Part 1

Image from Pixabay.

I recently reflected on what it means to be an artist and thought about how many of an artist’s day-to-day tasks do not directly involve art. I thought I would write a blog entitled ‘A Day in the Life of an Artist’, but it is more accurate to name it ‘The Many Hats Artists Wear’, because being an artist is so much more than being creative. Creating art is not the whole story. Artists also must be business owners, do marketing and promotion, etc. as well as dealing with the mundane tasks of daily living.

Creating art employs creative thinking. Even when I am not painting an endangered animal, I am using creative, problem solving and critical thinking to complete business chores.

I learned to be at peace with the knowledge that my work is more than just using pencil, paint or embroidery thread. It is more than the euphoria of creating something that pleases the eye. It is about sustaining a business that gives me the opportunity to paint, draw and embroider; and hopefully, increasingly becomes financially sustainable.

A few months back I did an online workshop with Sonja Smalheer (The Artist Success Guide), and I am slowly implementing her tips to take my art business from the red to the black (from not even mediocre to dynamic), and even to turn a profit. It is taking me a while to do so, as I also tutor children with learning difficulties and have all the usual life responsibilities, so my ‘art time’ is a brief period of each day.

Tomorrow I will start to share some of the ‘many hats’ I don on a daily basis. Today’s blog is merely the introduction to a series of mini blogs, which I will post over the coming days.

I would really love to hear about your art business, or your thoughts if you are contemplating becoming a self-employed artist. As always, I am also keen to read any tips you may have.

Until then…