Making a living

Marketing Our Art During A Financial Meltdown, Part 1; EBay; And This Just In: Andrew Wyeth Has Passed Away

Alexander, Relaxed

Alexander, Relaxed

Alex jumped up on the sofa next to me last night and flopped down. I grabbed my sketchbook and had about three minutes to do this sketch. He’s doing great. The other three are pretty much through the cat version of the five stages of grief. In their case it seems to be: Shock, Outrage, Hissy Fits, Observation and Indifference or, in Eowyn’s case, “Hummm, he might have his uses”.

Andrew Wyeth, son of legendary illustrator N.C. Wyeth has died. You can read about it here .  We did go see the Helga paintings, along with about half the population of the country.  I personally didn’t connect with them emotionally, but was awed by a really incredible body of work carried out at the highest level. With luck, he will have been one of the last prominent American painters whose representational work was dismissed as “mere illustration”. Since I trained as an illustrator and would have been perfectly happy to have had a career as one, all I’ll say to that is “don’t get me started”.

TREADING WATER AS OBAMA PADDLES LIKE MAD TO KEEP US ALL FROM GOING DOWN THE DRAIN

So here we are in the middle (at least I hope we’ve gotten to the middle) of a legendary financial meltdown. I was talking yesterday with the FedEx guy who was delivering  two paintings that were just in a Society of Animal Artists “Small Works, Big Impressions” show at The Wildlife Experience near Denver, Colorado. The delivery guys can read the pattern of their jobs like tea leaves. First there’s lots of paperwork, followed by lots of boxes. At this point, the paperwork flow has dried up. The boxes are going out. The quantity is starting to drop as business activity slooows down.

He also observed that huge amounts of recycled paper go to China for reprocessing. The paper is just sitting now, piling up. This will have a ripple effect on recycling. Had you heard about that one? I hadn’t.

The only good news I’ve seen recently, money-wise, is that that I can now get over 1300 Mongolian tugrig for a dollar instead of the 1140 I got last year. So the next trip (post to come) should be a little cheaper.

What to do? What to do? I’m fortunate in that we don’t rely on my income for living expenses. I’ve reached the point where the business has paid for itself the last couple of years and was hoping to move to the next level this year. Instead, my goal is to hold the line and make sure I’m ready for when the turnaround comes, which I think (and the FedEx guy believes) is around 18 months away. It’s gonna be a long slog. The good news is that the feckless idiot, otherwise known as “Dubya”, who caused this is FINALLY gone in four days. Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out, loser.

HERE’S WHAT I’M GOING TO DO, PART ONE

Spend nothing unless it’s absolutely necessary. I just bought some RayMar canvas panels, but only what I know I’ll use soon,  nothing “just in case”. I’ve done some art festivals the past two years at a net loss, but figured they would pay off in the long run. And I find that I enjoy them. Festivals are out. I haven’t done any of them enough to build up a following and can’t afford the up to $1000 cost (entry fees, gas, lodging, food) with next to no chance of even breaking even. There’s one I pulled out of reluctantly and hope that it will make sense to do next year. New music from iTunes? Santy Claus brought me 10 albums, so that will do for awhile.

Update my marketing plan. There are so many ways to promote oneself and it can be hard to figure out what’s best. Well, THAT  just got simpler. I’m goin’ with the ones that either don’t cost money or make direct contact with people I know to be interested in what I do, like a newsletter. If you don’t have a marketing plan, creating one should be at the top of your To Do List for early 2009. Haven’t got a clue how to go about it? Visit Alyson Stanfield’s site at www.artbizcoach.com and find out. Buy her book, which I think meets the above “absolutely necessary” threshold, “I’d Rather Be In The Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion”.

I had sending packets to a bunch of galleries on the “must do” list. Not anymore. There’s a shakeout coming and I don’t want to have original art at a gallery in East Frogmarch and find out they’ve gone under. Who knows at this point which ones will survive? If you’ve got an established relationship with a gallery you trust, that’s one thing. But to be the new kid? Nope. Victoria Wilson-Schultz (see the link to the right) told me a cautionary tale about going over to a local gallery to check on a friend’s work and finding the place closed and a pile of art in the dumpster out back. She pulled out and returned what she could. Her advice to me, and this was before the meltdown, was to only sign on with a gallery that either one can drop into oneself or you have a trustworthy friend who would do the same. Now? I think that goes double.

Julie Chapman will be blogging about marketing too. I’m hoping that we can get some synergy going that will be beneficial to us all.

More next Friday unless something really timely comes up.

USING EBAY

Regular readers know that I’ve started to list small “Studio Studies” and giclees on EBay to see if I can get a revenue stream going and some work out the door.

Those of you who have wandered over from Julie’s blog will have to be patient. There’s between 2 and 3 hours left (at 11:40am PST) on all but one of the current auctions, but I want to get this post, uh, posted. Two bids on two pieces so far. One painting and one on the giclee of the Jack Russell Terrier. I’ll let you know what happens.

Here’s what I said over at Julie’s about how it’s gone so far:

“I sold one 5″x7″ and two 6″x8″ canvas on board pieces for $30 each, so they went for the minimum bid. I have carefully described them in the listing description as “Studio Studies” or older pieces, so I don’t screw up my pricing structure. They are mostly quick studies that I’ve gone back to and repainted as I’ve seen what I should have done. -)

The listing fee ran between $1 to $1.50 for each one. The sales fee under $2.50. I had packing materials laying around and postage through the US mail for one piece was under $3.00 (I sold two to one person, so postage was more).

So I netted around $20-$25 each. Not a lot, but I also now have original work in Missouri and Virginia that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I’m don’t know that I’ll make a lot of money at this, but it feels good to DO something to create selling opportunities.”

What I left out, of course, was the cost of the listings that didn’t sell. There were seven and I sold three. I decided to just get a bunch of listings up there, see what happened, run the numbers and then decide whether or not it made sense. To me it does, but I’ve bumped my opening bid prices up $5 to cover costs better and spread the listing fees of the ones that didn’t sell. I can re-list them at no cost and will do that with some.

TO BE CONTINUED….

Clouds Along Goodall's Cutoff, Idaho  oil 6"x8"

Clouds Along Goodall's Cutoff, Idaho oil 6"x8"

A recent study from reference shot on my way back from Yellowstone last October. With cruise control on a long straightaway and no traffic, I got lots of great shots without even really slowing down. (I don’t do this if anyone else is in the car.)

1 reply »

  1. Thanks for your post! It was very educational. Good luck with the ebay thing. I have sold prints on Ebay and did pretty well. I will look into doing it again.
    Funny note…I have made the most money on old horse tack and show clothes I don’t wear anymore. I even unloaded a couple of saddles on Ebay. Great way to clear out the house and recycle unused stuff.
    Have a great day!!

    Like

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