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Multiple income streams from your art?

December 4th, 2014

Multiple income streams from your art?

I had an interesting conversation with another artist last weekend. We were both at the Artist Alley table in the exhibition hall at Detcon1 in Detroit Michigan. I had mentioned that I was planning to try making a more significant income from my art, with a 5-7 year plan for reaching my goals. His response was positive, and he actually thought I only needed 2-3 years. He makes a living at his art, and the key, he said, was multiple income streams. It made me start thinking, and I realized that in a way, I was already planning in that direction.

Currently, I'm showing my original art and limited edition prints through science fiction/fantasy conventions. But I'm also selling prints of my art online, and planning my portfolio for attempting to get gallery representation. I've been thinking about researching selling my art on t-shirts and creating puzzles from some of my more complex pieces. I'm starting to research the interior decorator market, since I'm perfectly willing to do custom pieces and custom color pallets. I also have some ideas for the wedding/family market. I was working on some 6x6 inch pieces during the convention, and several people mentioned art tiles, another product area. An interior designer who looked at my work mentioned one of my pieces would look fabulous as a custom high-end silk scarf, leading to thoughts of the fashion industry, wallpaper patterns, fabric patterns, etc.

If you just read the last paragraph and felt a bit overwhelmed, I reached that point this weekend as well. The sheer number of products that have art on them is huge. How do you decide which options to pursue? Will selling a license to print your art on a greeting card make your original painting more or less valuable? Do you only want to sell to high-end buyers or do you want to market to anyone who might like your work? Do you limit yourself to just one or two outlets, or do you try to get your art anywhere and everywhere? Do you specifically cater to markets by painting what is "popular", or do you create what you want and then look for a market for it?

Lots of tough questions, and I'm just beginning the process of determining which paths to take. One thing I do know is that I don't want to just pick one path. But since I'm just starting out, picking ALL the paths is also a bad idea. Having too many goals just makes it harder, if not impossible, to meet any of them. So I'm going to pick 3 or 4 and try those, then re-evaluate. Gallery representation is definitely on the list, as is the interior decorator market. I'll continue to show at the science fiction conventions, since they're something I enjoy doing. What else I target is still up in the air, but I would like to try at least one "popular product" like t-shirts, puzzles, mugs or the like with some of my simpler pieces.

I just have to keep reminding myself that I don't have to meet all of my goals *today*. I have many years ahead of me creating my art, and I just need to take it one step at a time.

Preparing for an art show

July 8th, 2014

Preparing for an art show

Last weekend I was in the Creator's Alley at InConJunction, a science fiction convention. Generally the Creator's Alley, or Artist's Alley, is an area of the convention where artists can show and sell their work, take commissions, create instant art for sale, and demo their artwork. It generally is fairly inexpensive compared to getting a table in the dealer's hall, and is restricted to only those people who create their own work to sell.

I actually wasn't expecting to have a table there, as they had sold out by the time I contacted them. But 2 weeks before the convention, they let me know that a table had opened up. Panic time! Prior to that, I had planned my schedule around my next show at Detcon a couple weeks later. Now I had to put my schedule into overdrive, doing all the things needed for a decent display in two weeks instead of four. Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My! I'm still gearing up for doing art shows and fairs, so I'm in the process of creating an art booth display. I had an idea in mind, but not a lot of it was actually implemented yet. So what did I need to get done?

  • Create to-do list
  • Complete 2 new pieces before Monday. (I try to get at least one new piece finished for each show I do.)
  • Bring new art to printer for scanning.
  • Order more prints of certain pieces, including new ones.
  • Order matboard, so I can "frame" prints for sale.
  • Create/print "we take credit card" sign.
  • Create/print title card for each art piece - 2 for those also in the art show at the convention.
  • Create/print mailing list form to collect emails at the convention.
  • Finalize/print large version of business logo/sign for use in display.
  • Prepare/update inventory and prices in Square app.
  • Print several catalogs detailing the sizes/prices available for each piece through my website.
  • Work with my husband on the backdrop stand for displaying artwork behind table.
  • Prepare documentation for the table and art show - bid sheets, table contract, etc.
  • Create/print custom receipts with my logo and contact information.
  • Confirm hotel reservations.
  • Prepare pieces for art show.
  • Purchase fabric to match logo/sign, plus matching contrast fabric and backdrop fabric.
  • purchase "bins" to display prints
  • Ack! Matboard order didn't arrive, so frantically re-work art show pieces and reprint control sheets and bid sheets the night before the convention!
  • Pack everything for trip.
  • Finish drawing/inking new seasonal pieces.
  • Bring new pieces to printer for initial scanning.
  • Upload the scans of the 2 new color pieces to my print-on-demand site.
  • Upload new B/W pieces to my print-on-demand site.
  • Upload pictures of new color pieces to Facebook.
  • Add pricetags to all prints.
  • Create/print generic price list - ie. 9x12 print = $25, etc.
  • Order some greetings cards from print-on-demand site for point-of-sale purchase.
  • Purchase portfolio book for customers to flip through to see all work available.

Of course, this doesn't include things I had already finished, including getting my website set up, my print-on-demand account created and populated with most of my work, business cards designed/printed, Facebook page created for my art, and Paypal account and Square account set up for taking credit card sales. With my preparation time cut in half, I obviously didn't get everything done. The items above in italics were at the bottom of my list and had to wait until after the convention, either because I ran out of time, or because I didn't receive my order in time. The matboard order, which also included acid free tape, backing board, and clear bags for my matted prints actually reached my local FedEx office, but didn't get delivered to my house before we had to leave, so most of my prints were loose. The backdrop wasn't finished yet, so I had to make do with a big piece of cardboard propped up on a chair. Did that affect sales? Probably a bit, since people like to buy something they can hang immediately, and a professional looking setup gives a better impression to potential buyers.

With all that work, you may wonder if it is worth it to do shows. In this case, a slow year at the convention led to no sales for many of us. However, since it is a convention my husband and I attend regularly, the discounted registration cost for being a vendor made up for the cost of the table. Also, I did get several new names for my mailing list, and a lot more people took my business card after spending some time looking at my art and speaking with me. Many people exclaimed about how beautiful they thought the art was, so I'm hoping to get some sales, or at least some more mailing list subscriptions out of it. Plus, they encourage artists to demo their process, so I was able to make significant progress on one of my new pieces during the show. My neighbor, a web comic artist, also gave me some good information about shows in Wisconsin, which isn't too much of a distance for me to travel. Of course, I would have been happier if I sold some pieces, but in all it was a good networking weekend. Plus, many things on that first to-do list were one-time tasks, to create a new booth setup for 2D art, so I won't have to do them again. I can concentrate on making something new, instead!

For those of you who do art or craft shows, is there anything else you consider a must-have item? What does your list look like when preparing and packing for a show?

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Welcome to Tangitude Artworks

July 7th, 2014

Welcome to Tangitude Artworks

Hi there and welcome!

I'm going to try to update this blog about once a week, or at least twice a month. Here you will find my thoughts on creating, samples of works in progress, and other interesting tidbits I decide to share with you. The world of art often seems to be a vast, mysterious place, but I intend to share with you some of my mystery. Artists are like most people - we work hard, continuously learn new things to make our work better, and try to have fun while we're doing it. So read on to hear about my trials, tribulations, and triumphs as I explore this new world of drawing on paper.

What kinds of things will you see here? Well, you'll see posts about works in progress, like the image in this post of interlocked squares. That's "Nanobot Warmups", the inked version of one of my first pieces, based on a card game created by Benji Michalek of Derpy Games. Nanobot Battle Arena is a cool game, and Benji gave me permission to create a piece based on the images he uses on the cards. I named it 'Nanobot Warmups" because the bots in each square can't get to each other, so clearly they aren't in a battle yet. I figured, just like any arena battle, the players need to get warmed up first! Once finished, it will be quite the rainbow of color!

You'll also see stories and pictures of the things that inspire me, information about some of my finished pieces explaining where I came up with the ideas and symbols I used, articles about creating with colored pencils, posts about experiments in new techniques - both what worked and what didn't. So far, (knock on wood,) I haven't had any major disasters, but if I do, I'm sure I'll be sharing them as well. Shows I attend will be posted in my calendar, found at the Events tab, but I may occasionally post about a previous event if something interesting happens during the show.