Swell Fall Notes
I’m planning to have a swell Fall this year. It is only weeks away and I’m thrilled that it is time to say goodbye to heat, hives, bug bites and humidity. I’ve been working diligently on my Etsy shop and miniatures to sell in my Paddiwhack studio. They are the perfect price point for holiday gifts. It is also time to start changing out the paintings for my studio. In September I begin to put out my fall paintings. I don’t really know why, but people like to purchase paintings seasonally. They will hang the painting year round in their home or office, but they like to buy the painting for its proper season. I aim to please, so I hang work according to the season.
Here are some suggestions for artists to get in a swell mood for changes:
Think about ways that you can be unique among artists. What makes you just a bit different or makes you stand out from the pack. That is not necessarily about your art. It could be about the extra level of service you provide. Gift wrapping and shipping services for paintings, delivery and installation, framing consultation are all little extras which will impress future collectors. The easier you make life for them, the more likely they will be to choose you instead of your competitor. One of the things I do is send original miniatures through the mail to regular clients for Lent each February. When I send a thank you note, I will often include a recipe on the back of the note card with an illustration. It is just a bit more special than a regular thank you note.
Update your mailing list. If you have biz cards from potential clients get the addresses on the list. Around the first week of September, it might be good to send out a newsletter about your plans for exhibitions, a new series of paintings and gallery news. Take the time to order your promotional materials like biz cards,post cards,brochures now before the season starts.
If you are gallery represented, it will be time to send out new packets with your current resume, revised statement and bio, along with gallery sheets of images. This is something the gallery can have on hand to show potential clients. It is also time to rotate new work into your galleries. If you hang in alternative spaces like Dr offices, or restaurants, rotate those painting as well. For gift shopping, a variety of sizes as well as miniatures will be appropriate. Something for all price ranges, especially in a weak economy.
Spiff up your studio and plan a party. It can be quite simple with crackers and cheese for 3 or four hours or more elaborate like mine are with a party theme. If you don’t have an appropriate studio space, open up your living room or family room and make it into a gallery space for a day. You can always go in with a few other artists and rent the local woman’s club or a church fellowship hall. Some artists plan openings in hotel rooms and that has actually been quite successful. It’s time for me to start planning my annual hot dog party. I have three swell studio parties each year, all with the same theme and months for each.
What about scheduling a nice demo or art talk at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, Rotary or Kiwanis meeting? At a local art gallery or museum? You could put together a talk with other artists and make it a package deal.
Hold a collectors’ salon where they come to get information about collecting art. You could have the local framer, gallery dealer and your art there to talk with collectors.
Make a deal with a local shopping center to have a demo and display your work out side in front of their store. Most would love to have the extra interest level. A garden shop would be ideal if you are a floral painter.
Order your frames for the season now and get new work framed and ready to go out to all the venues you will use. It is always harder to do framing when you are already busy. I will often order extra frames to have in the studio for unforeseen events. I use a large closet for my frame shop. I staggered bicycle hooks on the walls and they are a swell way to hang a lot of frames.
If you are interested in exhibiting your work, make proposal packets for museums and galleries to send out. Museums make their schedule a couple of years in advance so get started now.
If you teach workshops, now is the time to get your materials together. Most workshops are scheduled for fall and spring, so be prepared.
In a way, artists live with a different yearly calendar than the rest of the world. My year starts in September and ends in May, with the summer being my down time to study and research. I have to do planning for Fall and Spring as my busiest times of the year, so now is the time to figure it all out.
One of the things I do is come up with my goals for the season and decide where my focus must be. I must decide what worked and did not work in terms of marketing for last fall. Repeating the same thing that was a failure dooms me to failure again. My goal in fall this year is to promote my miniatures and my Etsy Shop. I am learning to paint birds this summer and have had good sales of the little paintings. I have learned to improve my online presence and to update my web site. I have partially completed that plan by increasing my blog presence and have learned to improve my web site.
It is even important to consider what medium sells, and what subject if you do more than one. If you make the most money doing landscapes, then you must do a fair number of them to make a living. Why not do drawings and still life as your hobby if you love them? I do lots of different mediums and subjects, and I know I can depend on commissions and landscape paintings to pay the bills.
Clearly, oils and acrylics win in sales for me though my casein miniatures are also popular. Be aware of the medium that will help you sell, but also be practicing with new mediums and subject ideas too. Some mediums simply are not viable for profitable sales. You may love it but should you continue to invest money and materials in a medium that might not ever bring a return? These are hard decisions for a professional artist. We cannot always be led by our hearts. Hobbyists should use whatever medium they love, but pros must consider the business of doing art.
There are those who say I am a sell out for considering these issues. Let them say it!! They don’t pay my bills.
There is a vast difference in artists who must sell to pay bills and those who have other means of support.
It is easy to condemn when your spouse is bringing in a pay check or you have grant money. If I seem prickly about this it is because I have had more than one artist turn up their nose at the idea of sound business and marketing. Being a free spirit costs money and it has to come from somewhere. I would rather be independent, getting up each day with no boss, able to paint every day of my life, than to work full time for someone else and paint only what I want to. I consider my commission work to be my day job. I don’t mind painting oils and acrylics because they sell for more money. That is just the reality of painting for a living. The market rules as always. My advice is to get out your note pad and pencil and figure out what you need to do to get ready for a swell fall season.
More musings for artists and collectors to come….
This one is easy and swell for quick brownies.
1 box (1 lb 2.3 oz) Betty Crocker® fudge brownie mix
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 cup coarsely chopped creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (about 7 cookies)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 to 4 teaspoons milk
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom only of 13×9-inch pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large bowl, stir brownie mix, oil, water and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan. Sprinkle cookies over batter.
2. Bake 24 to 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
3. In small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Drizzle over brownies. For brownies, cut into 5 rows by 4 rows. Store covered at room temperature.