Saturday, February 7, 2009

Artist to Artist...A time to reflect and look ahead.

Yes..."Mr. Lincoln" is up here again
Not for you this time but for my benefit.
He's back on my drawing table and next on my addenda.
I hope to have updates soon.

This has been a year of many changes for me and most likely for you as well. Each fork in the road as we move through life changes the direction of our future. Some decisions are hard, some are major sacrifices, and some are out of our hands.

As most of you who read this blog regularly know...I am not a 'working artist' I am an 'artist who works'. It's a constant struggle for me to protect the precious little time I have set aside each week to be in my studio.

A couple of years ago I started taking off the month of January to just reflect on the year past and plan for the year ahead. (no art and no blogging)

I use the time to analyze the 'business' end of my life, both my art and the salon. I clean out the files in my computer (perhaps a couple of closets while I'm at it), get my tax information together (which is usually an eyeopener), and plan for the coming year.

The computer files are cleaned out, my figures for 2008 are with the accountant, and I'm looking toward 2009 and the months ahead with hope and anticipation.

"I'm not going to do Art Fairs this year."...WOW!...there I really said it out loud. This was a tough decision. My season last year was not that bad. Sales were pretty close to the year before but towards the end, expenses were just over the top. I didn't say 'never again'...but I will say the last year was just hard...this artist isn't getting any younger and outdoor venues are grueling.

As the season was coming to a close and I saw the writing on the wall...I wondered what I would do. This was a major source of income for me and income I depended on. Besides, once set up, I enjoyed the contact with the people.

As one door was closing another opened. In late August I was approached to do Tech Support for my website hosting service, FineArtStudioOnline. What can I say?...I absolutely love it. I was scared to death, afraid I couldn't do the job. I have learned so much and I've made connections with so many wonderful artists. It blends perfectly with my salon hours and I have my weekends free for my art...who could ask for more?

Isn't it interesting...we think we know where our lives are going. We plan, make life altering decisions, hit bumps in the road and think we have failed only to was that part of the trip that got us to where we are now. Failure isn't always as it appears...failure is doing nothing...failure is not trying.

Had I not stepped out as a 'late in life artist', seven years ago, to see if I had what it took to be at least minimally successful, I would not have this tech support position. It was my journey that provided the knowledge for the position.

So, if I'm not going to do art fairs...what then? First of all, I intend to fine tune my website and new information more consistently and build more content with better use of key words and phrases. Link more to other sites and provide more 'deep links' to my own content. And yes, be more appreciative of your efforts by being a better 'commenter' on your blogs.

I want to refine my newsletter. It's been fairly consistent, sent out around the first of the month...but I can do better. I can write a more interesting newsletter that my readers will anticipate receiving. I believe I can improve on the content.

As far as sales go. My commission work is fairly consistent as a result of my website and blog and print sales have increased since adding PayPal, (I know, you said they would).

But I still need to search out some additional venues for my original pieces. Perhaps some galleries or national exhibits...You know, where my art goes on the trip and I get to stay home.

This will take some time and research to develop properly. We'll just have to see. I will keep you posted.

PS...It feels good to be back. I missed blogging and I missed you.


Paul said...

Are you kidding? You need to at least to do the local events. That's great and all that you are going to apply your talents online but seriously... I've seen you in action and half of what makes your work special is the way you engage your visitors. I've been doing my thing on the internet since 2001 and sure it's been a blast to participate in this universal medium but nothing compares to real time interaction. Besides, you can't tell me that people watching isn't a hoot and especially for some of the characters that stroll through the Decatur events lol.

Marian Fortunati said...

Glad you're back and refreshed Marsha!!
Yes, life often takes us places we don't expect... ... the best we can do is dig in and enjoy the ride!
You go girl!

Angela Finney said...

I am a late in life, but emerging, artist. I will be participating in my first art fair this August. I can understand how they could be grueling. Your information on art fair equipment will be very helpful as I get ready. I hope your new year ventures are very successful, and I look forward to hearing more about them.
I have not gotten any commissions or sales from my website as yet. Do the workers give at Fine Art Studios Online give technical advice regarding key words? I barely understand what you are saying about that.

Karen Hargett said...

Hey you're back! I'm so glad.

I've missed your blogging - giving us a peek at your art and letting us know what is on your mind and giving valued insights.

I can definitely relate to "no art fairs" and I'm not doing any planned ones this year either and all for the same reasons you stated.

2009 should be an interesting year!

Marsha Robinett said...

I knew you would be surprised and your response made me chuckle...only because it is so you. Not showing this season was one of the hardest decision I've made.

Many of the artists who do the same show circuit are doing the same. Art fairs (one in St Lewis, two from the Chicago area and my own hometown of Lincoln have extended their entry deadlines, some more than once. This tells me they are not getting the entries they are accustomed to.

I feel the quality of art shown is going to suffer and that those who attend will be mostly 'lookers' not buyers because of the economy. Yes, I could have done some local art fairs but Decatur was the only decent one last season and it was down considerably from the year before.

I'm not done least I don't think so. You're right I enjoyed the personal contact with the public.

Yes, It's good to be back and Yes, isn't life's ride great? How boring would things be if we knew what was down every road.

Good luck on your first art fair and I'm glad my blog posts have been helpful.

You ask about Key Words and other marketing advise. Absolutely, FASO tech support can guide you. I will look at your site, set up a support ticket and send you some information sometime next week. I work. (Tue.-Fri. evenings)

It's good to know I was missed and glad you enjoy my ramblings.

I do believe 'no art fairs' is the right decision this year although there will always be that twinge of doubt until I see what happens later this summer.

What a contradiction of thought!

Paul said...

I applaud you for keeping on and refocusing your energies instead of succumbing to apathy and blaming the economy (like myself lol). I'm still pretty much absent from "the scene" and miss the BCA immensely but just not feeling ready to come back. Ultimately I just want to do the two local events as an independent. It's a pride thing but seeing how you've done it for the past few years is why I now feel I must fly solo or not at all. Anyways good for you on getting picked up by your webhost as tech support. Couldn't be more proud and to think... I remember when you were all thumbs with the keyboard :)

Christy DeKoning said...

Hi Marsha, it really is difficult making these kinds of decisions isn't it? There are so many forks in the road and we can't take them all at the same time.
I think it will be a great break for you to relax this year from the pressure of the shows. If you miss it too much there is always next year - think positive!
As for selling venues - have you considered Etsy for your prints or commissions? I get 90% of my commissions from my Etsy shop, and very few from my "official" gallery website. In fact, I had over 40 commissions in November from Etsy alone!
Food for thought :-)

Marsha Robinett said...

Thank you for your difficult as the decision to sit out this art fair season, I find myself looking forward to 'free weekends'.

I took a look at your Etsy site. I've thought of this in the past...your site looks great and your paintings are wonderful. I'm definitely going to consider this and most likely will be contacting you for advise.

Thank you so much for the encouragement and advise.

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