Archive for the ‘buying art’ Category

Art in 2016 – Part 4 Review – Classes and Shows…and a Book!

This was a big year for showing our work – many more options and acceptances than most of our time in Arizona. We taught a beginning marbling class at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, NY, and in the process of chatting, we became part of their arts curriculum grant project. I’m really looking forward to this activity; I miss the days of working with The Kennedy Center to bring integrated arts into the classrooms in the Chittenden East School District in Vermont.A lot of great memories from the conferences, and then great memories from arts work within the district (need to do a blog post and reflect on the work we did….)

A couple of pictures from our Saranac Lake class, followed by an individual machine quilting class I did for a fellow artist who wanted to expand her techniques. Mary Hill is a mixed media artist, with vibrant work.

We spent Vermont Open Studios sharing space with Mary over Memorial Day Weekend. LOTSSof great discussions on marketing!!

It was a challenge to plan for what could take Mary’s already wonderful art to the next level.

Mary Hill’s “experimenting as a result of our machine quilting class:

Plus, since May I have been working on an interactive teaching manual for the ebook Interactive Edge of the Sea. This takes all I have worked on in curriculum in 40 years of teaching and brings it together for teachers, with a modern update on using all forms of new assessment and social media within the classroom. My hope is that this manual becomes a template for other disciplines, as there are a lot of useful interactive teaching techniques – and everything is correlated to current educational standards. A labor of love with my second mom, Betty Hupp. Here’s the cover:

A snippet of the lesson plan section….

We are just about done with final edits, and after the first of the year it heads off to coding. I have a lot of links to check to be sure they all work!

Bunches of shows…..here are pictures of our small pieces at Sweet Grass Gallery in Williston, VT for the month of November.

There’s still more…..stay tuned!

Gallery Walks and Artists…Oh My!

When we were on our trip to Seattle, we didn’t have a lot of time (coming or going) to do our favorite activity – browse galleries and talk to artists. When we went to Sedona this past weekend, it was high on our list, and we were not disappointed. First up was the Native American artists at the lookout at the top of Oak Creek Canyon. These artists are all certified by the Native Americans for Community Action, and the work is wonderful. We enjoy seeing the contemporary designs in jewelry that have a rich heritage behind them.

Overlook Program: A significant development for NACA was the establishment of a partnership with the United States Forest Service, Coconino National Forest for a project called the Oak Creek Vista Overlook project. Beginning in 1988, the Overlook Project is an economic development program that allows Native Americans artisans to sell their arts, crafts and jewelry at the prime tourist location. This program has grown in popularity and reputation each year. To date this year, 280 vendors have registered to sell their crafts. For many of the vendor, money made through the Overlook is their major source of income.

We bought a plate by a Navaho artist that depicts a wolf, one of hubby’s protective animals. While I love all the jewelry, I really don’t wear much – but I do so enjoy looking. And it was a gorgeous day on the rim, with a light breeze and absolutely gorgeous views.

From Stock Photo, Scott Prokop

We strolled the Hyatt galleries in Sedona, especially our favorite, Visions Art Gallery. The glass chandeliers are always spectacular.

www.ulladarni.com

One of my favorite artists is Alexei Butirskiy. You feel like you are in his paintings.

I also like Eyvind Earle. This is Crimson Eucalyptus.

The Lou DeSerio Gallery has wonderful photographs by both father and son. You need to spend some time looking at their work, especially of amazing Sedona.

We also spent some time at a small art fair in West Sedona. Gabriel and Jennifer Ayala had some really great copper sculptures. The copper weavings are quite interesting, and all completed by hand.

All-a-Glow Jewelry has some great wire work.

This was also Open Studios weekend in Sedona. On Sunday morning we visited two fiber artists, Margaret Anderson and Mary Fisher. Margaret’s work is luminous. She uses silk and cotton as a surface for paint, rather than canvas. She’s been in Visions, Dairy Barn, and Linda Seward’s book on art quilts.

Wildfire, Margaret Anderson

I’m saving the best for last…Mary Fisher’s studio. Check her amazing studio on tomorrow’s blog.

Monday Marketing

Some interesting food for thought from the Fine Art blog…Questions You Don’t Have to Answer. Interesting because I was frustrated at a recent show in northern Arizona. So many of the artists I was looking at did not have websites. One was a great painter, and I knew i would buy anyway, since I was  right there. But now I had no way of looking at his work for future purchases. Yes, a lot of folks take a card, walk on, and you’ve lost your chance for a sale. I don’t shop that way, but I’m guessing I’m in the minority. Thoughts?

I realize a lot of people don’t consider themselves web savvy, and perhaps that’s why they don’t have a site…or even a Facebook page. But I’m figuring the web – and art sales on the web – is here to stay. Yes, we all want the immediate sale, but in this economy, that’s probably not going to happen. I bought from the artist – prints, because the price was right, but if he’d been on line, I would have looked at one of his canvas prints. Now I have to hope I see him at another show…….

Also of interest for marketing is this article posted a while ago in What the Craft – Why Handmade is So Expensive. This is a really good look at how much time goes into each piece we make. If we totaled up all the hours we actually spent, we’d never sell anything…..

And…10 Tips to Increase Your Productivity from The Future Buzz.

For me, my productivity comes from making lists, and then determining which of the big projects to work on next. I keep deadlines in mind, although sometimes I just don’t make them. I have a couple of things coming up that are definite for major art projects, and then my lists help me organize the day-to-day items. The biggest “left-over?”

Well, there are two…..my portfolio revisions, and the newsletter development and schedule. The latter is the most important, and for some reason it just hasn’t made it to the top and actually gotten worked on. That is a goal for the start of next year, so I don’t miss out on the holiday season. However, that said, we have been MUCH better this year about approaching holiday sales.

And in that spirit….this gift basket needs a home…...see the Etsy store…….

Great marbling session on Sunday – expect to see a few more fat quarters show up in Etsy…..

Work in Progress Wednesday

Well, lots of loose ends going round in my head. There are a lot of WIPs, from marketing to fiber projects. First up is my attempt to make some progress with Fine Art America. It occurred to me that rather than wait to get collections completed, I should start putting up a print at a time. Good thought. Turns out the program is not as intuitive as I figured it would be, based on all the great comments. One conclusion I have come to is that it looks like so many of my pieces that I thought were ready to go probably need to be redone, and I’m not sure I remember how I got to each and every layer.

I need to resize a lot of images, and I need to save them at a higher resolution. I am having trouble, for some reason, getting my sizing right for the program. This one to the left, for example, has been resized to an eight by eight, at 250 dpi, and it still doesn’t seem to want to show correctly on line. I also need to look at what I want for costs. The site isn’t completely clear about setting mark-ups.

There are also plug-ins to have your prints and a shopping cart on your Facebook page, as well as your website, which I would definitely like to do, but I think I need to wait until I can figure out how to get work consistently up on the site. After nearly two hours today and about the same amount of time yesterday, I put out a request for assistance on Twitter and Facebook. The site is classy, the work looks good, lots of people have given good feedback about the site, but I can’t seem to get a handle on it. This from the person who has pretty much taught herself everything she can do on the computer. So, yes, I’m frustrated……

I am nearly done zentangling my fake, flammable, plastic pumpkin from China. It looks spectacular. One more section of the pumpkin and then I will spray a fixative and enjoy.

I’m working on the fish quilt, as I want to have it done by the end of the weekend. And we are getting materials ready for the guild presentation next week. Earlier today we created an order form, made a list of everything we will be taking, did the handout for members of the guild, and sketched out what a class would cost, as it looks like we might be moving in that direction again. I also packed up the quilts we will be taking – mostly traditional patterns using marbled fabric, since this is a fairly new and traditional group of quilters. I want to show them my progression with using marbled fabric – from only putting it with blacks to mixing lots of colors. Makes me realize I need a picture of my purple quilt, which is quite colorful, with lots of marbled blocks.

It is so ironic that 10 years ago we used to do a lot of presentations but never looked at “selling” during them. Left a lot of money on the table, as one marketer said. This time we are going with lots of fat quarters and an order form. Maximizing our potential, I think it’s called….

Alum fabric tomorrow, marble on Friday, see what we still might need for gift baskets, and schedule marbling for next week if needed.

Wrote my abundance check today after the new moon. Being positive and thinking about lots of good things developing has really been awesome. The Laws of Abundance and Attraction really work!

Monday Marketing – The “Duh” Moment

Oy, sometimes ya just need to be hit with the proverbial two-by-four….For YEARS we have worked on product with our marbled fabrics, and we have also tried lots of different venues for arts and craft shows. Some product has worked, which has been good. The art and craft show circuit – not at all. We invariably lose money. We take framed work, digital work, fabrics, digital cards…..nothing sells because most people don’t have a clue what to do with the fabric.

Now we’re working on putting together our gift baskets for the holiday season. We know that we can keep these going year round by keeping the hand-crafted bowls a fairly neutral color, as well as adding in some seasonal items. It dawned on us, as we threw away the latest offer for a holiday craft show, that all we could really bring was the baskets.

Well, duh. The baskets all along could have been the seller. All in one place, items for that family member that can be hard to buy for. Shrink-wrapped. Lots of goodies. No worry or muss. No explaining how to use the fabrics.

And then….as we’re talking about maybe choosing a couple of shows for next year, it occurs to us we could offer the gift baskets in two sizes, small and large.

Duh.

All these years, staring us in the face, and we never saw it.

Sometimes we work so hard and miss the obvious. Right now I’m pretty irritated with us for this having taken so long. But on the other hand, now we have a great new product that should work long-term and give us a lot to build on for more stuff in the baskets. Who knows what else we might have missed along the way?

Suggestions?

What’s Available This Week….

  Another busy week, and a new marbling session tomorrow – back to creating lots of fat quarters, and I can’t wait. Lots of silk, ribbon, flowers, and FQ’s headed out of the tray in the next few weeks. We have so many loyal Ebay folks, and our Etsy store is beginning to attract a lot of visitors interested in larger pieces of fabric.

Cafe Press is becoming a place for showing our Digital Marbling (TN). The example below is a set of note cards, using the Grand Canyon as the subject. We took a basic piece of marbled fabric and scanned it. Then we worked within Photoshop  to create a really interesting layer to add mood to the primary image. The shot of the Grand Canyon fit the mood of this additional layer. Part of future plans is a gallery of Digital Marbling (TN), and I want to get back to my “Photoshop Fridays” of explaining how some of these prints come to be. The idea came about because some of the pieces of fabric were just too gorgeous to have only one life as a piece of fabric. This set of cards is available for this week; just click the link.

Ebay this week has hand-marbled silk. We LOVE marbling on silk, and now that we’re back to doing bigger pieces, we should have a lot more silk available. These are available till early Sunday morning.

In Etsy this week is another gorgeous piece of silk, a fat quarter with great movement and detail to the piece.

We are slowly building inventory, and we’ve got some ideas for the holidays, so we will keep you posted on what’s new and developing – marbled silk flowers and leaves, scarves, half yards…lots coming ahead. Got ideas? Let us know!

Monday Marketing….What a Month!

Wow. That’s all I can say….wow wow wow. All the work from June and July really began to pay off at the end of the month. A finished commission, a major fabric order from England, Ebay and Etsy sales, and LOADS of inquires. And…….I got a lot of quilting done, and took two classes in the meantime. I am LOVING every minute!

This time last year I had spend 6 weeks doing a lot of work, and then school started and I lost all momentum – but NOT this year! I don’t have to go back to work next Wednesday. Did I happen to mention I am THRILLED to be retired?!?!?!?

Here’s the plan of attack that seems to be working, after a month of refinement. Each morning I take care of a lot of social media stuff, respond to comments, check out other business pages. Then I try to leave “thinking” time during the day for the long-range goals, and then it’s off to actually create. I feel like the social media piece is no longer controlling the cart – I am, and it’s taking way less time. Each evening I look at my folder – check off what got done for the day, what’s coming up for the next day, and pieces of my various “action lists” for my goals that I want to attempt.

Probably the best thing I did for social media was do my Linked In profile and join a couple of art groups through Linked In. We have been doing round robin on Facebook business pages, and the traffic all around has increased tremendously. Plus – ya gotta admit opening FB comments each morning and seeing what people think of your work is quite the motivator.

I found this morning I had to actually make a list of upcoming shows. deadlines, and commission to be sure I didn’t miss anything. The new newsletter is in the works, and I have actually set up a group for people who are collecting our art – that’s a very cool feeling!

I have over 500 blog entries since I started, as well as over 100 Facebook “Likes,” so it’s time to be thinking about a give-away along with the blog makeover……stay tuned!

Below are a couple of fabric studies done as part of The Artist’s Toolbox class through Quilt University. I am learning a lot about what is working and what isn’t – and why. I recommend these classes – I have now done three, and I learn great stuff each time. In fact, I found myself with the camera out this weekend in Sedona, taking pictures of some incredible textures – 25 pictures of a grouping of sunflowers, because I kept seeing different things!

It’s going to be an AWESOME August! What do you have planned for the month?

 

Monday Marketing – Packaging, Part 2

Since my post on the packaging two weeks ago, I have sold a couple more pieces of the new fabrics I listed, along with how they would be sent, like in the photo above. I also have started looking a lot more closely in the stores at packaging for different items. Now money is an issue, so there isn’t a lot to purchase “extras,” but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the packaging.

For our upcoming show on November 20, all our fabric is wrapped with ribbon, and we purchased colored tissue paper to wrap purchases – not a great as a box, but better than a plastic recycled bag. Because we deal with fabric, I looked into how my local quilt shop packages – and believe me, they do a great job! Lots of rolled fabrics by colors, which makes a great small package. For large fabric purchases they have special white bags with “ribbons” at the top, made from strips of recycled colored papers. You walk out of that store feeling special.

Moda Fabrics started the trend for “jelly rolls” of fabrics, and they have their own “Bake Shop” to capitalize on this idea.

Robert Kaufman fabrics has a great idea for packaging – certainly an eye-catcher:

Further exploration gets us to the gift boxes from PaperMart. Loads to choose from, but I think the key is to be classy and as original as possible. I do like the “take-out” boxes.

Also from PaperMart – I like these because I could roll fabrics and stand them on end in these.

I still have a lot of thinking to do concerning the whole subject of packaging, with less than 2 weeks to go to the show. I’ll do what I can for now, but I’m looking ahead to other shows, plus our Etsy and Ebay sales to make sure our customers get really attractive packaging with their purchases.

How do you package? Any interesting ideas or materials that you use?

You might also be interested in these posts:

Monday Marketing: It’s the Packaging, Stupid!

So Many Outlets, So Little Time!

Monday Marketing – It’s the Packaging, Stupid….

You would think, based on a hubby in retail for so many years, that I would have given packaging more of a priority. Well, no…seems like I’m always rushing to get items ready for shows, and I neglect the packaging. That’s not to say I don’t give a lot of thought to the overall set-up of the art space…just not the packaging.

I had a bit of an epiphany with this upcoming show. I’m sitting in the meeting about the show, listening to explanations of selling, how good a show it is, and the great location. When suddenly I hear “People are gift-buying. They’ll splurge for folks back home with gifts for the holidays.”

Okay, seems obvious. Then hubby says, “Well, they’re not going to buy pieces of fabric, so I’m not sure just what we’ll bring.” That made me fairly depressed. Fabric is what we do: fabric for quilts, wearables, framing – we’ve spent a lot of time brainstorming how folks could use our marbled fabric.

Then it hit. Buy fabric as gifts for the folks in your life who do fiber-related arts. Just package it so it looks like a gift from the heart, not just a piece of fabric in a plastic bag.

Duh. Why did this take so long? We have done so many small shows over the years, including demonstrations, and not once have we packaged ourselves for gift sales. This was definitely something to think about. How could we take a gorgeous piece of fabric that to a non-fiber person just looks like extra pieces of cloth on the table? I started thinking about how I buy small pieces of art, as well as how my local quilt shop packages your purchases. I love having the “back story” or a piece of artwork. In my hutch sits a container of all the small papers of stories collected over the years.

Okay, put together the story of the fabric, the care of the fabric, and ways to contact us (hard to believe we haven’t done all of that in the past).  Wrap the fabric piece with a bow so that it looks special, with the “story” tucked into a fold of the fabric. When purchased, wrap in tissue paper before bagging it.

I played on the computer to come up with something that would have contact information as well as a story about the creation and care of the fabric. With aiming at non-fiber purchasers, I need to provide as many reasons as possible while a piece of “art cloth” would be a great gift. Here’s the “story:”

“This art cloth is a blue silk crepe georgette  fabric, hand-marbled in a contemporary wave pattern, 19 inches by 21 inches. Edges are serged solely to prevent fraying of the fabric. This material has been pre-treated and heat-set, so it is ready to go for your project. If you need to clean this fabric, use warm water and a gentle soap – no Woolite or harsh cleaners, no dry cleaning. Use a dry iron and some Magic Sizing to eliminate wrinkles. Try this as a table-topper, just the way it is, quilt it, or use it in an art quilt for nature elements– lots of imaginative possibilities! This is a great pattern to quilt by itself with lots of decorative threads.”

Along with this is every contact piece – Twitter, Facebook fan page, blog, email and website. Save everything to your computer, and then all you need do is add the new story for each of your pieces.

Here’s the fabric and its packaging:

I will say the piece was up on Etsy for less than an hour before it sold, and all the new pieces of fabric packaged this way have had more views than previously in the shop.

The proof will be the show on November 20; how will people react, and will they buy? Thoughts? What have you done to package your items? Have you noticed a difference in sales?

Thursday Thoughts – 7 Steps to Niche Marketing

It has been a very busy July for marketing and the business. I think those of us who are artists wonder at times about 1) the need to market, 2) continuing to make our own art, and 3) how we pull it all together. I sure don’t have all the answers, but I think at this point I have some insights on the process.

* You need a plan. You may not know what you’re going to do in the plan, but you need one. Sounds contradictory, I know, but you can make it work because part of your plan is to plan your plan. At this point my high school students would look at me and say “Huh?”

* You need to set aside time to read about marketing. What should you be doing? What tools should you be using? Set a deadline, so you don’t spend months at this stage, like I did until I finally started to do some of the things. When I ran my learning center and we had no money, I would do what I called “shoe leather marketing.” I was out talking to everyone I could about our learning center. Nowadays that “shoe leather” is social media, so spend time learning about that. You don’t need to be a net nerd for this step – there’s lots of available materials to read to get you started. Look at Social Media Examiner for a quick tour of Facebook and Twitter and what you need to do. Read Problogger about setting up and running a successful blog. Buy a book or two…or sit with a coffee in Borders or Barnes and Noble and browse the books.

* Set up Twitter and Facebook and start posting. Set up your blog and start posting. Read other blogs and start commenting. This becomes very important as you write more and create more of an active social media presence.

* Make your art. There is no point doing all this if you have nothing to offer the public. In our case, we have already established a few outlets: Ebay and website. Our website has a gallery with art work available for sale. Ebay has small pieces of fabric for buyers to create their own artwork.

* Decide who your customers are. This was a big issue for us, as a result of all the reading I did. I want to sell our larger artwork, but we have a great market in selling small pieces of marbled fabric for others to use in their creations. The more you read about selling on lie, the more you will see the suggestion to develop a product to “launch” and make money. I stumbled with this one. What would I do? Then came the proverbial 2 by 4 over the head – we already had customers. I needed to refine what we had already been doing. Consequently we continue to sell our fabric as well as put our artwork out in shows, galleries, and on line. It’s not an either-or. I am after art collectors who like fiber and mixed media, as well as quilters and crafters who like to do their own thing. Two worlds come together.

* Just do it. To quote Nike, nothing’s going to happen if you don’t do it. Just thinking about it will give you lots of ideas…and will make you go nuts in the “to-do list” department. (Ask me how I know this….) But there comes a point when you have to do it. Then…..

* You need a plan. Yup, all over again. I have discovered that I will need to have a very set plan for how to handle all of this once school starts again and my art/marketing time is limited. So over the next two weeks I will set up a calendar: 1) what gets posted each day, 2) when to write and schedule the blog posts, 3) how to schedule Twitter posts, 4) maintaining the Facebook Fan page, 5) writing a newsletter, and 6) making art.

I’ll keep ya posted! Any suggestions????

Market Research in the Art Buying and Selling Business

I am spending time this week really analyzing what I want to do with this blog and with my art – and the art of those of us in our Mixed Media Arts Tucson group. I am working through BlogMasters Club with David Risley and learning a huge amount of information. Part of me is getting discouraged, but another part of me is extremely excited. For those of you interested in building your art business, let me show you what I’m learning.

There is so much information available on line if you are interested in marketing yourself. Knowing what to look for – and the whole issue of key words – has really confused me. So I am taking this step by step. I went looking on Amazon in the categories of buying art and selling art. No magazines in the buying art, becoming an educated art buyer, but there were a couple if interesting books that could be used as resources to round out my own knowledge. The magazines under “art” tend to be “make it yourself” kind – quilting, scrapbooking, sewing – many of the same magazines I tend to buy. But nothing on how to know what and how to buy art. One magazine, Flaunt – $60.00, 10 issues – is supposedly a trendsetter (their words), but had lousy reviews – magazine was just taking money and not delivering. I keep telling myself not to be discouraged, I really do think this will be a potential market – I will need to tweak things.

The two books I found that look really interesting are “The Art of Buying Art” by Paige West and “The Art of Buying Art” by Alan Bamberger (you can click through to Amazon to purchase).  The interiors looked helpful.

          

From here I went to Google to check out what kinds of forums are available to follow buying and selling art. No question there is traffic here on line, as opposed to strictly magazines. There are about 132,000,000 forums available, I found several within the top fifteen that had potential. They all seem to be focused on artists getting their work out for others to buy. Foundmyself.com is on the honor system for selling, with a first glance of some nice-looking work. I especially like the opening graphic – “artsy” and eye-catching. Emptyeasel.com  had a great article on helping buyers find your work. About three years ago my digital partner and I were talking about an online site to sell art. I think this is going to remorph itself into something within the blog. Given the number of forums, I do think there is market potential. But – I want more than just places to list your art. What about the actual selling – and driving buyers to want to purchase the art? Those are the big questions. Off now to start looking at the keywords.

Now to make some art this weekend! Need to marble some paper, follow up on a wholesale order, get a few fiber pieces ready for a show in March, start planning our new blog Mixed Media Arts Tucson. mark papers, finish the geometry quilt, and get some good walking in. Should be in the 60’s!

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