Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Two B's or Not Two B's?




The 2 B's that I'm speaking of are Branding and Biography. In my mind there is no question on just how important these two bricks are in the formation of a strong business foundation.  They really are the cornerstones.  This blog today is focusing on the "BRANDING" brick.

So, before you can really launch into a successful art business, you will need to roll up your sleeves, grab some bricks and mortar and start laying a foundational plan for you and your artwork.  Yes, there is just a wee bit more involved to marketing then printing yourself up some business cards but the rewards for the extra effort are great.

Branding is a marketing term that I know you have heard many times before.  I'm pretty sure your mind jumps immediately to any number of large well known corporations and their recognizable logos.  The NIKE swoosh or the McDonald's golden arches are good examples.  The reality is that branding is much more then just designing a catchy logo.  It's the WHOLE experience and it starts with the first interaction you have with a potential collector and continues on beyond the  shipping off your sold artwork.  That is why you have to have this worked out because just "winging" it won't create that consistent impression that you are wanting to achieve.

While this maybe a scary thought but you have to realize that YOU ARE THE BRAND! That's right! Along with being the CEO, CFO and all the other O's rolled into one big art ENCHILADA.  You could be the best artist on the planet and if you don't lay the right foundation then it is doubtful that you will sell the amount of art that you could have.   The old saying "The Buck Stops Here" rings true but if you lay a strong foundation then those bucks won't actually stop but rather will keep flowing right into your bank account.  I love this explanation of branding given by Angela Cross, "Your personal identity as an artist may be the well-spring of your work, but your brand is the vehicle that makes you money. (https://skinnyartist.com/artist-branding-tips/)

So here are some basic questions to help you get started creating your brand.
1.  What's your story?  This might be one of the hardest questions to actually answer.  It doesn't have to be a Greek tragedy or a stand up comic routine.  For goodness sakes, don't make it up or embellish it.  People can tell if you aren't being real.  You just need a story that will help people remember you and your art when they have walked out of the room.

My story is probably typical and a rather boring one, but I can work my story into my motivation to create art and that makes it memorable.  For example, I grew up in the heart of rural America, 1/2 mile down a gravel road in the middle of no where Missouri.  While we didn't own a farm, there was farming all around us and that has left an impression or mark on me, and even though I have lived in a very large city my entire adult life, the experiences of a country childhood have had a huge impact on my life and my art.  

2.  What's your motivation? Why do you create art in the first place?   For me personally, I create my art to find peace in the chaos.  In the process, hopefully bring those that view my art back to a more innocent time in their life.  I want to transport them back to their childhood and memories of visiting their grandparent's farm or family trips to the country.  The ultimate response I am looking for, besides them pulling out the wallet, is a simple "SMILE".  We live in such a dark and sad world and if I can only, for a moment, bring a spark of happiness or a spot of light to their day, then I have accomplished my mission.  After all, I feel that I have a God given talent and it is my ministry to use it to bring Him and His creation glory.

3. What words would you use to describe your style of art?   That was a tough one because I really didn't know.  There are realism, abstractism, impressionism and many other "isms" but none really felt like the correct label for my art.  There is one word that I do hear often from observers of my art and that is the word WHIMSICAL.  So the style I'm embarrassing to describe my art is "Childlike Whimsyism" or "Farmhouse Whimsyism".  It's okay to make up words, because after all, we are artists and the rules that govern proper language don't apply to us. Remember, we have that ace card up our sleeves called "Artistic Liberties".

Once you have determined the style you are passionate about, then stick with it.  Create art that people will recognize to be yours even before they see the title card or your signature.  It's okay in the process to learn the techniques for creating from artists that you respect but the goal here isn't to copy them but to develop those techniques and apply them in your own unique way.  I don't want my art to look like a "Bob Ross" or a "Thomas Kinkade", but rather I want it to look like a "Julie Townsend".

4.  Who is your target market?  It would be amazing if our art could touch the 7.8 billion people that call this planet home but that isn't going to happen. Who would buy your art?  What do they look like?   You really have to consider what the demographics of your customer base looks like so you can come up with a strategy to best reach them.  I love to paint farm animals so it is pretty easy for me to find people on social media (mostly ladies) that share my love of cows, pigs and chickens.

HOMEWORK:  Get yourself a notebook and start jotting down words and phrases that come to mind to help you with your story and your style of art.  You don't have to invent the wheel here.  There are many great examples of successful artists and write them down on a list and then start reading their stories, looking at their websites and what they are doing.  I invite you to check out my Website, Etsy Shop or Facebook Studio Page.  


 

Monday, February 3, 2020

Death, Taxes and Painting

Back a few months ago I had the opportunity to give a presentation to a local artist guild about my "TIPS" on selling art online.  I've been associated with this group of artists now for a number of years and those that are somewhat online savvy have taken note to my recent increase in my Facebook following and sales.

So they asked me to be their guest speaker. Boy was I nervous.  It has been sometime since I stood up in front of a group of people and spoke more than just a few words.  In my previous life (before art) I was the business administrator for a church and private Christian school.  Since it was the law in Nevada that all business over certain number of employees have an acting safety committee I took on the task of creating one and added the hat of Safety Director to my wardrobe.  Let me just say, "I could give a mean BLOODBORNE PATHOGENS TRAINING".  So it isn't completely foreign to me to talk to a crowd but talking about selling art was a quite different than talking about blood and bodily fluids.

My first main slide point in the presentation was more of an outline of what I was going to cover that evening and I thought this might work well also as a guide to my future blog posts.  I mean, if you decide to write a blog then having a blog post plan is quite important and this is going to be mine for the next little while.

So the first point as you can see is REPORTING AND STATISTICS.  I'm sure you are wondering why an artist would first be talking about spreadsheets and numbers but did I mention that I have a business degree?  I've been wired to be an accountant since birth and that is, what I consider to be a gift from God, especially around this time of the year and the start of 2019 tax season.

So let me just say that I keep my whole business bookkeeping on Google Sheets.  This works great for a small business that uses the Cash Accounting method.  I kept my spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel for years but when I started using Windows 10 my old Office Suite program decided to go on strike and Excel no longer wanted to do any work for me.  I was forced to either buy a new program, go to an online subscription or embrace the free spreadsheet program offered by Google.  I chose the latter.  And while there was a bit of a learning curve, it really boils down to a "Spreadsheet is a Spreadsheet".  The one really exciting thing for me besides FREE is that I can now access my files from my phone or Ipad.  This is great for my mileage log because for the first time in 2019 I was able to keep my mileage current as I went and not have to spend hours pouring over my calendar and typing every odometer reading for the year into a spreadsheet.  I just have to add a formula to total my business miles and then print it out.  This has saved me hours of work!

So now you can see that I track my mileage on the spreadsheet and my bookkeeping on a spreadsheet but there are other uses too.  I have my art inventory that I track and a cost breakdown for each product I make on there too.  Spreadsheets are amazing tools and I thought you might actually want to take a closer look at my spreadsheet that I created so I have provided a link to a blank one that you can view.  Link to a spreadsheet file just like the one I use.  Of course this is a "View Only" link and I removed all the numbers but you can see how it works.  If you would like to receive a copy of the spreadsheet for your use then you can send me a message through my Julie Townsend Studio Website or Facebook Studio Art Page and I will send it to you the file.