Saturday, March 10, 2018

Serious Art Business

I just read a fantastic article for anyone who is serious about their art business.  Here is the link:  

Artrepreneur is an outstanding resource for artists.  I believe it was originally started by a lawyer for the arts, so it always has in-depth reliable information for artists that you just don't get other places.

This article covers the aspects of documenting your artwork.  I can't stress enough how important it is to photograph and save your images of your artwork in several places.  You can insure it, but as someone in the article pointed out, isn't always practical.

For visual artists this is imperative.  The digital age makes this easy and difficult at the same time.  If you shoot film you always have your negatives, but you should also keep digital files of those images. Digital images run the risk of being deleted through computer crashes or the like.  I suggest backing up to an SD card, DVD disk and a Cloud service.  Keep one of the back ups in a different location than your home.

For my jewelry work I started out needing a photo log for inventory, so I use an Excel spreadsheet to add a thumbnail image, SKU number, description, price and a box for where it is, which could be on Etsy, in a gallery or sold.  Very helpful!  I also use this list to accompany my artwork installations as the inventory sheet.

At any rate, taking your small business seriously will include a reliable bookkeeping system which includes tracking your work and safeguarding it.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Successful Self Employment

A lot of people wonder how I survive out here in the toolies without a "real" job, lol, so I decided I should write a few posts about what I actually do to survive.

What I don't do, or have, is any kind of disability income, SSI benefits from former spouses, retirement funds or inheritances.
I actually work for a living, and am completely self employed.

You'll hate this part of course, I actually fell into it about 25 years ago.  I came to this county about 27 years ago with an art degree and a background in mostly office type work.  The opportunities were few and I was actually planning on moving out of the area when a friend of mine suggested I work with her doing commercial cleaning.  I figured it would be a short term thing, keep the bills paid till I figure out where I was going.

Well the years go by and while I did enjoy running a small collective gallery, I really didn't have any better opportunities come up.  My son was still young and as a single parent I needed to work.

I always stayed in the arts, in some form, whether volunteering in a group or creating a space for artists to show and sell their work, but it never made enough money to drop my day gig.

I was supporting myself in my own small business in just two years, cleaning businesses and homes.  We were able to move to a nice place and enjoy our life.

A marriage and a divorce and two houses later I'm on my own.  Son is grown and gone, and I'm here at Huckleberry Hollow.  
Looking back I realize that success is something you build, slowly.  You have to decide for yourself how much money you want to make, where you want to live and who you want to hang out with.
I chose more peace, simplicity, nature and basically just an easier life.

So now I have only commercial cleaning work, and one caretaking job for a vacation home nearby.
The latter gives me a chance to keep my management skills sharp but the landscape maintenance keeps me outside.  The other jobs are good exercise as well and I really like working alone.

The balance to what may seem like a boring job is that I get to have another business in creativity.  While I've always kept my love for photography, and do sell some images through online sites, I also took up metalsmithing about five years ago.  Once I got proficient I began selling my work locally and then online.  
This developed into a second business in no time and last year I started a third business in jewelry supplies.  

So while I tell people I only work 20 to 30 hours a week, it's more like 60 to 80 when you count all of the behind the scenes work.  There's a lot of bookkeeping to do, and I shoot all of my own product photography.  I still work with Excel spreadsheets and easily track inventory and all expenses for all of the businesses.
I do my own taxes.  I'm a one person business!  This keeps overhead down.

It's not for everyone.  Most people want the weekend off.  I used to work nights in the commercial work but I don't have to anymore.  My jobs are all done during the day when they're closed.

What's that saying about what you really want doesn't always turn out to look like what you thought it would.  My dream was to run my own art gallery - full time.  So far it hasn't happened.  But I did succeed at being self employed and self sufficient, which I did want.

The other thing that's vital, is keeping the expenses down.  My needs are minimal and I live small.  I still have running water and electricity and a phone and internet though!  I have a fairly new car too.
I just live lean.  

I keep email and Facebook off my cell phone.  I have office hours on my landline and cell.  I buy clothes that I can deduct (work clothes that can be worn elsewhere).  I can claim part of my phones and internet for work, as well as home improvements, office supplies, etc.  

There's a discipline to this lifestyle but it certainly isn't torture or grueling at all.  It's complete and total freedom!  No bosses to belittle you, work colleagues to contend with, not to mention unstable work, lay offs, low pay.

I just figured out what works for me and eventually it all fell into place.  There are no get rich quick methods to fulfillment.  
I'm not selling anything here - well except my own creations, made by me, but there aren't any affiliate links or ads or scams.  Most of my sales are on Etsy and I do promote my jewelry through my Facebook page and a link box here.  But I do it all with integrity and transparency.  

In upcoming posts I can dive a little deeper into making a creative business prosper and how to keep good records.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

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