Friday, August 29, 2008

Marketing Your Work 101

I have known for a long time that I needed to focus more attention on the internet as a way to connect with students, buyers, my collectors and friends. With the crazy life I live it has been a big problem getting around to this, but this clump of time in my life seems to be fueled by some kind of driven energy, and so many things have been accomplished recently, including my first newsletter which you are welcome to get by emailing me at and request to be on my email list or go to my website and click on "Monthly Newsletter" in the left navigation links.

I am so pleased with the response to my first newsletter. Many of my friends have send unsolicited responses to me with very complimentary comments about the newsletter and the images on it. My idea is to use this type of communication to feature new work, shows I'm in, classes and workshops that are upcoming, and various other items of interest. This first offering was done in little batches, so my internet server would mail my emails, but next time I hope to have paid for a marketing list which will allow people to opt out easily, and give me an opportunity to upload the whole list at one time and away they go!

I read somewhere, in one of the books I have on the "business of art" that marketing your work will take 75% of your time, leaving 25% of your time for studio work. Isn't that amazing! It is so true, and having struggled with this unbalanced situation most of my life I don't really know that there is a solution to it, for me at least. Even with a gallery and/or agent I found it didn't redistribute the percentages at all, and it still required lots of time for schlepping my work all over the place and when I had my own gallery and teaching facility it was probably even less time for studio work with all the management details and the effort to find students. And putting this newsletter, blog, website, email list and everything I have had to do to learn to do all this has been at least a 75% time management problem.

My mother used to say, much to my disgust, "it's who you know". In my naive early years, I thought art was sold on merit...if someone saw a good painting they would buy it, of course, if they liked it. In New York, at Art School, I was somewhat befuddled by the mania in the 60s for the bizarre, strange, and downright ugly, art that was being sold hand over fist. Later I learned that much of this was organized by very skilled and clever art whizzes who could sell anything they liked to anyone who came within their sphere of influence, and artists could get on this bandwagon by schmoozing with the glitterati at parties and soirees and presto they were household names!

My eyes were opened somewhat by observing a very odd phenomenon; a formal show of my work would generate amazing sales, expecially if there were good finger foods and a good quality wine. Some of the sales were to people who saw the works in my studio. But it took a formal, and expensive opening, invitations, cards on the wall, jacked up prices to pay for all this, to encourage people to part with their cash. Go figure!

I still don't know how to market my work. I am amazed at what people will buy. I am stupefied by some of the celebrity artists who have works of art that look like candidates for the nearest trash can. I guess it will remain a mystery, for me, at least. And in the meantime I slave away at the computer, while the painting in the studio is crying out for attention....later, later. I say to the painting in the studio "I still have another 60% of marketing time to do before I can get to you...just wait awhile longer!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shame Report 1- A Wasted Weekend

I had planned to work on Shame for two days. Saturday dawned with the news that tropical storm Fay was headed directly for our manufactured home in Zephyrhills, north of Tampa. I fussed all day, unable to focus on the task of getting my paints ready for a full session of painting. Needless to say the painting is along well enough now so some of the hard work, decisions, and drawing are pretty much nailed down. The painting is not easy to look at, although I hope that it will have some artistic merits, it is certainly one that raises many "issues" that lie buried in my subconscious mind, and some that are very much in the conscious memory banks.

Saturday seemed like a useless day. I have been working on the project of getting our slide collection onto digital media for at least 3 years. The approaching storm pushed me into a flurry of activity and I shot quite a few slides before packing them up to go to the "safer" storage facility made of steel and cinder block. I made the decision to save myself buckets of money by doing it myself, rather than having them professionally scanned and put on DVDs. It is unbelievably tedious work! I place the slides in a black holder (actually the slide holder that came with one of my old scanners)on my light table and shoot each slide with my digital camera. It came with a sun shade that screws onto the lens and provides a stable stand so I can shoot quite a few slides at a time. I decided not to shoot all of them, but select the best and take ones that show us, or people we know. The pretty scenes are pretty much, just that, pretty scenes, which at the time were incredible, but now, 20 years later, rather ho-hum to me, while shots of George hooking up the Airstream are precious memories.

Sunday I exhausted myself by removing all the loose gear from the carport and garden area. I had hoped for the focus to come in the afternoon, but my anxiety about moving out of my house to a Special Needs shelter was enough to make painting nearly an impossibility. All the photographs, a couple of paintings, and some other stuff all had to get to the storage unit. And I was also aware that I had to leave around 4pm to drive an hour away for a special birthday party in Springhill.

I must say that procrastination is very irritating, and after 7 years of procrastinating on this painting now that it is on my easel I feel somehow compelled to work on it as often as I can. What this week will bring is anyone's guess. The weather gurus can't seem to predict much about Fay and so I fret and try to get ready to leave my house with a few supplies and umpteen bottles of oxygen and myriad bottles of medications. Wish us luck!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Progress on Shame

As I write this tonight I am totally exhausted...spent, from working all afternoon on the Shame painting. It is coming along very well. Eventually I will post a photograph of it on this blog, but it needs a tweak in the composition which will have to happen next time I can work on it.

I don't like the multi-tasking that my life demands these days. But I have to manage everything, juggling time and tasks like rubber balls. Today, before I finally got into my studio around 1:00 I had to work on two websites I am redesigning in FrontPage, work on some postal cards and poster for an upcoming North Tampa Arts League Show, print 50 copies of the newsletter I produce for the job I do, fiddle with the laundry which has been in the dryer for at least 10 days (it is still there), and do some more work on my garden refit to make it less work and easier to manage. I finally quit working around 6:00 and only then cleaned up the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, soaked the coffee and tea makers in chlorox, and applied lineament to my sore shoulder.

The good news is that I was able to paint longer and more focused than last week, so progress is being made, not only with the painting but with the battle of my aging body!