Category: business talk

Does it Pay to Specialize as an Artist?

I was quoted in an article over at CreativeBloq, “Does it pay to specialise as an artist?” 

Featuring some familiar faces and some of my own art and thoughts as well!  I’ve struggled for years to find my artistic voice and sort out my passions from my wide array of interests. Hopefully these words of wisdom help others figure things out for themselves as well!

Patreon Project Kit for Artists

Cross-posted from The Muse’s Library.

I’ve been on Patreon now for about a year since the site went live. I’ve tried a lot of different experiments in that time and have built a small, but dedicated following via this community-driven site. I’m a firm believer that crowd-funding is the wave of the future and the core building block of a growing breed of artist-entrepreneurs.

I thought I’d share that spirit of giving by sharing the structure, templates, and other resources that keep my Patreon ticking!  I hope it helps other artists out there considering promoting their projects via this site.  Let’s make a Patreon!

Patreon Profile Image

Release Schedule

When you set up your account, it’s important to have an idea of how and when your releases will occur and also other notices you’d like to send to your Patrons so you can be aware of how much you might be spamming them at once so they don’t get fatigued by your posts. Mine go something like this:

– Last Day of the Month.  Patreon begins charging your Patrons on the 1st of the month, so let’s start there!  The monthly image is uploaded. I only release one painting per month to keep things simple, but you may want to release more frequently! If I ever do more than one painting a month, I stagger out my releases so that there’s always one being posted per month.  However, I do not charge monthly because I am a slow worker and I’d rather my Patrons only get paid when I release a painting, rather than taking a chance that they might not receive anything if I’m not productive enough.

– Within the First Week of the Month.  Rewards for all levels are posted in individual posts (one for each tier) and a PM is sent out regarding my Keyword Inspiration sketch (an event I hold monthly for $5+ Patrons where they turn in prompts and I draw the most inspiring prompt).

– The 15th of Every Month.  A mid-month reminder post reminding people to attend my monthly Studio Hangout (with a link to the Event on Google+), sharing a WiP of that month’s art, and any other important reminders that might be relevant. The 15th is also my internal deadline to have the physical Rewards mailed out.

Last Wednesday of Every Month.  A link to the recording of my live Studio Hangout is posted.  The recording is auto-generated by Hangouts and posted to YouTube for me, which makes things easy.

Digital File Rewards

Digital Rewards are the cornerstone of any Patreon since they’re easy to fulfill and require less of an expense on the artist’s part. Here are a few ideas for distributing digital items.

Patreon Attachments. The downside is a user might have to sift through a lot of posts to find the older Rewards that wouldn’t have been emailed to them. Storing a master list with links that you can link Patrons to in a private Rewards post is another idea to help keep track of older Rewards for new users.

DeviantART’s DA’s allows for private viewing of file links for anonymous viewers who have the url. You can store any kind of file (image, video, etc.) and also ‘stack’ them if you have multiple releases you’d like to show at a single url. The current default limit for free users of DA is 2GB while Premium members get 10GB. Another random perk is that you can also hotlink to files if you are embedding images into html on other sites.

YouTube. YouTube allows you to upload videos at private links (called ‘unlisted videos’) that are only accessible to those who have the link.  It’s a good alternative if you want to offer a streaming option for videos instead of requiring a complete download of the entire file.

Private Journal Entries

Sharing exclusive posts can really make Patrons feel special! However, Patreon’s current journal function is very limited and doesn’t allow images and text to be formatted easily. For this reason, here are some suggestions for ways to share private journals:

WordPress Public Draft Previews. If you run a site built with WordPress, the Simple Preview plugin allows you to share a link to a Draft which is private and only accessible by those who know the url. The downside is comments currently don’t function on these posts. A workaround is to disable comments on the post and request that Patrons comment on the original Patreon post that led them, including a link so they can easily access the correct url to post their comments.

DeviantART’s While also useful for storing files, you can also use Writer to create more robust journal entries than Patreon currently does. These private journals also allow users to comment on them.

Physical Rewards

Postcard and Greeting Card Mailings. I use for a fast, secure, and easy solution for mailing out postcards (ie. Christmas cards, Thank You cards, etc.) to my Patrons. You can personalize your cards online, though they will not be handwritten.

Prints. I usually print off my own prints via an Epson Artisan 1430 which boasts lightfast inks and wide format printing (up to 13×19 inches), but when I need bigger and/or fancier prints (ie. giclee, canvas, mounted prints, etc.), I turn to (tell them Angela Sasser sent you and we both get Thank You dollars when you make your first order!).

Reader Suggestions

Before I get to the Templates, I’d love to hear your reader suggestions in comments!
If you have any tips or resources you’d like to add that I find particularly helpful,
I’ll add your tip to this journal entry with a link to your Patreon page.
Let’s make this entry a great resource for the community!


It’s important to have a link to your Patreon wherever you promote your work. Here are a few buttons and banners to help you out with that!

Download the editable files all at once here.

Profile Image Montage:


Event Banner:


Book Club: Artist As Brand Part 7 – The Art of Social Media

My reading of Greg Spalenka’s Artist As Brand continues with section VII. Brand Promotion – The Art of Social Media.

I found the book for a great deal on the Nook.
Or you can buy it via my Amazon referral link
and give me a little kickback!
You can also buy direct from the author!

This section  provides a detailed list of forums and communities for networking, many of which I hadn’t heard of before.  There are a lot of sites dedicated specifically to networking ‘tribes’ (ie. and that I have yet to tap!  I’ll have to post later over at The Muse’s Library with some thoughts on these sites and their usefulness for artists once I’ve had a chance to properly assess them.

Shop Tips

Spalenka also makes a strong argument for having a shop on your website instead of using a portal shop like the many POD sites (Zazzle, Fine Art America, etc.) or markets like Etsy.  I’ve been back and forth on this issue for years now.  Running a shop on Etsy, for instance, gives me a shop front that’s easily accessible and discoverable by a public market and is supported by the marketplace.  Etsy does take a percentage, but the setup provides a nice backbone for a shop that I didn’t have to build myself.

I’ve built shops from the ground up, spending hours upon hours perfecting it, only to have something go wrong on the technical side of things.  Not to mention the fact my website alone simply does not get the traffic of eBay or Etsy, no matter how much I promote it.  Even still, Spalenka argues that marketplace trends are always changing while your website will always be the same central location and this is very true.

Etsy, for instance, is battling with changes at a corporate level with many artists left disgruntled by the flood of wholesalers taking over the market.  Your central website, however, will never go out of style and a shop would be easy to find if it were located there.

Bearing this in mind, I aspire to create a shop front on my site using WooCommerce, which I hope will be an easy to implement plugin for this WordPress based site.  I’ll probably still use Etsy during high traffic seasons and to sell quirky cute handmade things featuring my art, but it will probably not be my main shop front anymore, granted I can get WooCommerce working!  Adding one more thing to my business re-organization to-do list.

Publicity Tips

This section also features some fantastic tips on publicity, such as ideas for blog events and links to press kit tutorials.  It’s a bit overwhelming!  I know I need to hit publicity harder, as it’s something I really haven’t relied upon. I’m just never sure where genre art like mine can find an audience and partner site to be featured on, since I don’t work with well known IP’s, nor do I have a really recognizable body of work, just yet.

Putting a pin on this section to come back later when I feel I’m finally ready with a decently sized body of consistent (theme and skillwise) work!

I’ve left out SO much concerning all the various resources Spalenka mentioned, so definitely go support Spalenka’s book/workshop if you are finding this blog series helpful!

Next Up: What Makes a Great Website/Blog

Artists and Schedules – Maintaining Creative Flow Without Going Insane

As is usual with any time that I’m forced to sit on my duff with hours of free time, I start thinking of a thousand ways to strategize what I’m going to work on next, how I’m going to improve towards my career goals, the meaning of life, etc.  Gallbladder removal has been a massively introspective and motivating time for me.  The whole year has been, really, as constant road blocks have forced me to slow down and think of my physical and mental health more carefully.

I’ve finally had to admit to myself that my schedule hasn’t been the healthiest.  I have often ended my work days feeling anxious and unfulfilled.  I never seem to get enough done!  I would often find myself working late and fretting, which in turn, worried my partner on multiple levels.  That constant feeling of ‘not getting enough done’ made me unhappy, just as the constant nagging feeling of ‘you should be producing more’ made the times I should have been relaxing with loved ones a nerve-wracking experience. I always wanted to ‘escape’ and slink back to the studio to work because if I could just get one more thing done, I could finish and be at peace and enjoy myself during downtime, guilt free!

Enjoying myself outside of work and even simply doing art for fun became a distant memory.

I never could put my finger on why this always seemed to happen to me until I sat down and wrote an hourly work schedule representing my work habits as they were.  I split my time between leather crafting in the mornings, illustration client commissions after lunch, and finally, the rest of whatever’s leftover of my day, should I finish client work, was spent trying to cram in those precious portfolio pieces and studies that are so important to the long term development of my career.  Broken down, I was only getting a couple hours dedicated to each thing and that’s barely enough to enter any kind of ‘flow’!  I define flow as that creative trance you enter which usually takes me more than two hours to achieve since I have a very particular work space I have to set up, which usually takes some of that precious time to arrange.  I don’t work well in spurts, it seems.  Discovering this about myself has proven so very useful!
The solution?  Schedule myself and train my brain to be satisfied with what gets done in a day.  It helped to start thinking of my leather crafts as a part-time job, which it has become, much to my surprise.  Leather crafts make up a good chunk of my income when art sales are low.  The schedule is looking something like this now:
Monday to Tuesday – Work ONLY on leathercrafts!  That way I can take time with my craft projects and look forward to those days coming later in the week when I can return to my true love, illustration!  I’ve noticed delegating these days for only crafts has actually made me more inspired to do this kind of work because I don’t mentally associate craft-time as ‘the time I take away from doing art and rushing to fill every order before arttime’.  I actually have had time to create new patterns and have some exciting new product lines to release in the near future thanks to the simple switch of days!
Wednesday – I update my website first thing with the rest of the day dedicated to art at the coffee shop.  I noticed my website was constantly falling behind because I had no set time I’d update it, so I’d just forget!  Including website updating on my weekly schedule has helped me to keep it updated, which is important for any Art Directors who might have their eye on me or others who need to see that my site is updated and I am active.  If my website is already up to date, I spend that time posting to other neglected galleries online because goodness knows there’s enough of them!  Behance, FurAffinity, Epilogue.  The list goes on!  As much as I wish I had a personal webmonkey to handle all of my website updates, I’m still only a one-woman show, at the moment!  Forsooth! I’ve even managed to fit in time I actually leave the studio in this schedule!  A little fresh air goes a long way when you start seeing faces in the proverbial yellow wallpaper of your studio walls. 
Thursday to Friday – Glorious 2D art-only days!  I’ve decided to start my art-only days with warm-up exercises, either life drawings or daily prompts (ie. Spitpaint).  Then the rest of the day can be spent in creative flow, rather than split up trying to do a billion different things, which just hasn’t proven conducive to my sense of satisfaction and frankly my productivity as an artist!  Trying to do everything has given me a year in which I’ve not produced much at all, for as much as I scramble and am ‘busy’ all of the time to the point of nervousness when I am not working.  I also know if I don’t make time to do studies, I’ll just skip right to trying to solve the ‘masterpieces’, and that’s a fast ticket to frustration since I’m not stopping to learn what I need to learn to attain the level of Mastery I need for the kind of work I want to be doing.
Saturday and Sunday – I try not to work these days unless I am behind or have a rush deadline.  It is incredibly important to me that I do not work every day of the week!  Everyone needs the downtime and these are days I’d rather be spending time with loved ones.

And there you have it!  My prototype of a schedule.  I’ve tried it for a week already and I must say I’m already feeling ten times less stressed out!  There’s no telling how this schedule will be upturned by conventions, rush orders, and other such things, but I can say from experience thus far that discovering what my tolerance for a creative flow has been a life-changing experience.
So my advice to you and any other freelance creative professionals is to learn what your ‘flow’ threshold is, especially if you’re like me and have to work your art time around other activities.  The excellent book Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art really helped me as far as figuring out how to get the most out of my day.  Artists from all walks of life, married, with kids, full-time, part-time, etc. give their best advice for how not to go insane keeping your ‘creative flow’ strong.

How do you maintain ‘flow’ throughout your day?  Share your tips in comments!

A bit of shameless self-promo before I go. If you do end up getting the book, you can use my Amazon referral link to buy it and give me a nice little earning from your purchase! I’d appreciate it very much and the book is well worth adding to one’s library if you are a creative professional.

The Importance of Self-Critique

This new year has me feeling very introspective of late.  There are 11 more months ahead of us and I have been thinking how I really want to make this year count towards making an improvement in my life and my art.  I’ve already mentioned a possible career shift, and this has moved me into vastly unfamiliar territory where I can no longer just ‘get by’ doing what I’m doing at my current skill level.  A veil of soft, plushy dream blanket has been torn away to reveal the cold, hard facts I need to realize about myself and my work.

If I want to compete in a competitive business like concept art/licensing/whatever art job I might want in the future, I’m going to have to be able to compete with people who are already in the business.  I’m going to have to sit and take a look at my own work and honestly ask myself the question “Are you as good as them?”.  I’m going to have to be the one to face up to the weaknesses in my work and make myself do what it takes to improve.  I am no longer a child nor am I a student in a classroom.  I am an adult, an independent, self-employed artist and nobody else in the world is going to make me sit and study and do the work it takes to improve except little ‘ol me.

It’s so easy to get trapped in what’s comfortable. So easy to say “yeah I’m just not good at that”.  But that is not how an artist becomes better (and it’s not how you get an art job either).  There are too many people out there who have great skill and passion.  If you have even less passion, what makes you think you’ll be picked over that passionate person?   Maybe you will, but I prefer to hedge my bets with a little more than a ‘maybe’.

These thoughts have equaled a downturn in productivity for more than a few months now, but I feel like I’m finally finding my balance again.  I’ve started doing a few studies a night now or taking time to just sit and collect inspirational references and think about what they can teach me about my work.  While the studies I’m doing right now aren’t masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination, they’re helping to build the visual vocabulary I have been lacking for whatever reason.  I’m also finding the lack of a particular strength is no longer my focus (and downfall), but rather filling that lack.  It took a lot of brow beating to get to this point, but obsessing over what exactly was lacking for too long put me in a downturn that I almost couldn’t dig out of.  It’s time to fess up.  Time to put my kicking boots on!

And on that note, I did a MEME.  I’m considering this my visual ‘strategic plan’ for what exact actions I want to take to become a better artist this year.  I may not get it all done this year, but at least I’m finally starting the process, and that is sometimes the most difficult part of improving!

(Click to Enlarge)

If you’d like to take the Artist’s Oath to Improve with me, you can download the blank template here!
I hope my triumphs and failures help somebody out there.  I hope I have the energy to keep going!
But I know it’s all going to pay off if I can keep this ball rolling.
To our success!

Post-Con Aftermath Procedures

Quick! Duck and Cover! Roll on the floor! No wait, I’m talking about what to do in the case of finishing a convention, not a disaster (though the two can be easily confused). Right now after doing a few conventions in consecutive order, I’m home, finally caught up on sleep, and deciding what should be done first now that I have a small break before the next event comes along.

Cleaning and MORE Cleaning

First, after cleaning up the disaster zone that is my bedroom turned office and studio, I lay out all the collateral I’ve picked up (or had left for me at my table) from other artists and convention pluggers. I’ve been trying to do this right after cons since my goldfish memory will insure that if I do it later, I’ll have no idea why I even saved that artist’s card or what the event I’ve been invited to was about. Most of the time, events are time sensitive as well so it’s best to be right on top of those! I can’t count the number of people at AWA and DragonCon who handed me flyers to things that were within the next couple of months OR who had cutoffs for vendor singup that were rapidly approaching.

Business Card Pet Peeves

Just a note about business cards for artists. I personally hate the heavy gloss covered or plastic kind I can’t write on. I tend to write a little note saying where and how I met someone along with any other useful info right on the business card itself, so this gloss varnish thing, while pretty, is annoying for me. Also, I will probably throw away your card unless I picked it up for a specific reason or like the art on it. Sorry, but this is just a harsh fact of life. I just cannot keep up with the piles of things that accrue after each event. Anything useful, I file in a business card holder or a file in my filebox dedicated to flyers for events of interest.

Even if I do throw away business cards or event flyers, I try to keep a record of the interesting/important ones in an Excel spreadsheet noting where and why I took an interest in any particular card/flyer/etc. I also have a large list of bookmarks in my internet browser where I sort the websites of artists and conventions. Keeping records of contacts in Excel also helps me avoid papers piling up, a MUST when you don’t have a huge space to work with!

Follow-Up! OR ELSE!

Following up with other artists and events is also a must after each con! This is the time I contact people to thank them for stopping by, especially those who offered to exchange services, collaborate on future projects, or to network beyond the scope of the one con.  You never know when you might see each other in the future, which is highly possible, especially in local circuits. It’s always good to make friends at events especially if you run into trouble later and could use a helping hand.

Trading is Okay..but…

A note about trading between artists at cons. I don’t generally do them unless I really genuinely like your work. Your work could be wonderful, but still not the kind I like to collect.  In my opinion, one should never force a trade on another.  It is very rude. I’m more likely to gift a piece to someone I admire rather than to ask for something in return, though a gesture of appreciation would never be turned down, of course!  Politely asking for a trade, being sure to say that it’s acceptable for you to refuse, is one thing that is totally acceptable, but shoving your print at another person and ganking one of theirs before asking is unacceptable (and yes, this HAS happened to me before).

Tax Time! Not as fun as tea time

Moving on, I try to take care of my taxes during this period by taking a percentage for self-employment tax out of my sales and putting it into Savings, where it can accrue interest till tax time.  This is also the time for filing receipts in Quicken and filling out one time MISC EVENTS form Georgia requires for any events where you are a vendor.  I like to send this out along with a check for state taxes owed so I don’t have to worry about owing the state at the end of the year or about my goldfish memory forgetting that I owe the state.  I  store my con-related receipts in their prospective convention expense and income in envelopes marked with the name of the convention and the event’s dates.

Inventory Check!

THEN (you thought we were finished?) I make sure to go through my inventory and make sure all the numbers match the quantity of each product in my Access inventory database. With the craze of conventions, its easy to sell something on the fly and lose count of what you do have in stock.  You mustn’t forget to do this or you could end up in trouble with last minute restocking, especially if you run multiple stores online that need to be continually stocked!  Even moreso if you are penalized for being late on shipments, like you are if you have a shop with Amazon!

Almost Theeere!

Once cleaning, follow-up, tax pre-prep, and inventory maintenance are complete, then it’s generally back to ye olde grind for me!  I’d love to know how my procedures differ from others, especially since this is a rather new thing for me! I am sure I will grow and change what I do after each con as the years pass, as well.

What do you guys do for after conventions?  Do tell!

Con Report: Anime Weekend Atlanta 2010

It’s that time again! Convention report time!

Personal Stuffs

AWA has been one of the old mainstays for me in days gone by. It was the very first convention I ever attended, the very first Artist Alley I ever sold in. I always get nostalgic when I go to this con. I had many folks who had seen me at past AWA’s  (and from this year’s DragonCon) stop by to show their support and say hello. That made me feel so special and my thanks go out to everyone who came by to see me!

Check out Fev’s amazing

I left the con with some amazingly cool swag! I am the proud owner of a lovingly crafted Assassin’s belt created by the multi-talent Fev, who sculpted it herself! (You can see her creative process here). My boyfriend also gifted me with a book I’d been drooling over ever since I spotted it in the Dealer’s Room, the Granado Espada Visual Guide!

For those who don’t know it, Granado Espada (or Sword of the New World) is an MMO which is an alternate history of the settlement of ‘the New World’ mixed with fantasy elements. As such, the character designs and settings are influenced by 18th century flair with the extravagant stylization of anime and video game design! You can preview the book here to see what I’m talking about. It is GORGEOUS and I intend to use it as a springboard for inspiration for my own characters’ wardrobes.


Where would a con be without amazing costumes? You can see my photo album here!  And now my mini cosplay awards!

Most Creative – A young lady who cosplayed the art book version of a character from Trinity Blood.

Most Original – Taokaka, the creepy cat character from the BlazBlue fighting game that NOBODY cosplays.

Most Humorous – The guy dressed up as bacon! He tortured us all with bacon cravings every time he walked by in the Alley.

The Business Stuff

Despite the positive experience with meeting old friends at this con, I had a terrible selling year here compared to last year, where I made twice as much. I did, however, do better in the art show, no doubt thanks to the art show’s new location at the front of the room.  I barely broke even this time around and I have decided I will no longer be selling in the Alley at this convention.

I’ve made this decision for multiple reasons, mainly the fact that I feel I have outgrown the Alley. While other artists charge $15 for two 8×10’s, I’m selling a single 8×10 print for just as much. While I had very meticulously hand-crafted leather carved masks for $45 at the cheapest, there was another table selling plastic ones for $20. Meanwhile, other artists were selling quick commission sketches for $5 a piece, something which I simply cannot do.

I feel this Alley caters to a younger audience with a limited budget while my art appeals to a more mature audience with a larger income. I’m planning to try for Dealer’s Room next year and if that doesn’t pan out, I’ll probably be showing up only to put my work in the Art Show and to visit with friends.

I just feel too old for this con. I don’t have the enthusiasm for anime as I used to in college and would rather just watch it in the comfort of my own home cozied up with tea and a few close friends.  For this reason, I have a feeling I won’t be attending any anime conventions unless I can make Dealer’s Room, and even then, I am not sure I’ll do well there either.  I just don’t have the energy for it anymore, especially when it seems anime conventions don’t bring in a decent consistent profit for me.

Maybe it’s my style? (I am very non-anime) Maybe I just can’t compete unless I bring prices down? (Something I am unwilling to do).  Either way, I feel this is a natural part of my business evolution and while I give a very fond farewell to anime cons, I am looking forward to spreading my roots to other events that are catered more to my interests.

C’est la vie!

I sold not a ONE of my X of Swords prints at AWA! Since I can’t sell them elsewhere, I’m having a sale. Check it out! Help me get rid of them as I can’t sell them legally elsewhere. Only a very limited number available!

Con Report: DragonCon 2010

My last entry covered most of my personal experiences with this year’s DragonCon. Now, it’s time for the convention report which I try to lean more towards business and artist related matters.

In a word, this DragonCon was a LIFESAVER.  I’ve heretofore done horribly at most conventions this year, as far as sales (but wonderfully as far as networking).  Not only did I break even, but I made a good little chunk of change to put towards my table fees for Atlanta Comic Con in December, and then some!

My display at this year’s DragonCon, 2010.
Introducing Shay, the Sassy Mannequin Head!
I attribute my success this year to a few changes in my table and gallery display. Last year, my table had barely more than prints stocked on top of it and no vertical motion at all. This year, I was able to project products from the table surface with the help of gridwall cubes, my new mannequin head (lovingly named Shay), and a couple of velvet necklace forms. I’ll be doing a post later with a more detailed breakdown of the evolution of my table and where I got my supplies, for the curious.
You can see more views of my gallery panel at my Facebook fan page.

As for my gallery display, my experiment of description cards next to the big pieces added a level of interest that enticed people to stay longer, as I suspected they would. None of the framed originals sold, but I did sell a decent amount of matted embellished prints, which proves that adding a special touch to your display really can make a difference! I don’t think I’ve ever sold that much out of my gallery panel in the few years I’ve been displaying in the show.

I also tried a strategy of marking up my after auction prices higher than quick sale or minimum bid prices, which made the need to bid more immediate lest one be forced to pay more later. This year I had a minor bid war over one of my matted limited edition pieces, which has never happened before.  A losing bidder actually came to my table to buy the print directly from me after he couldn’t bid higher, which proves having a bazaar table presence in the Alley is also a smart thing.

Once again, it seems my usable art sold better than my prints. The addition of my hobby items, including leather masks and keychains, was the driving force behind the majority of my higher priced sales.  I all but sold out of keychains and half of my masks, the most expensive being my limited edition January Mask at $135. (Amusingly, this mask sold to a tall bearded gentleman in handsome red leather armor. It actually suited him quite nicely!). This once again proves that people like art they can use.

Speaking of higher priced sales, I would not have done as well without my credit card terminal, which accounted for nearly half of my sales.  It’s made back its cost many times over by now!  I’m currently using First National Processing with a $22 fee while my terminal is active and a $7 statement fee when it’s deactivated (with low cost transaction fees and no limit on total sales).  I have a Nurit 8000 which I got for $200 included with a new member special offer when I first joined (a steal really!).

I had considered using my phone for running transactions, but reception has been very poor at nearly every con. Since the Nurit connects with satellites directly, it has no problem with reception and batches and authorizes cards wirelessly without having to call everything in via a phone. I’m bound to a 1 year contract, but if things keep going well, I’ll be sticking with First National for my credit card processing needs.  The only thing I don’t like is you can’t turn it off and on each month, you have to leave it activated for a few months at a time to be considered ‘seasonal’ before being able to turn it off without being charged a fee.

My charity “Bag of Holding”.

Anyhoo, back to the show!  As always, DragonCon’s art show staff was amazingly fast, helpful, and organized!  The addition of a traffic officer to help direct artists during load-in was a godsend.  Many thanks go out to John and Anne for being completely amazing organizers!  This year we did charity fund-raising for the Lupus Foundation by decorating Bags of Holding. How lucky for me that the Lupus symbol was a purple butterfly!

Things I learned this year:

  • Draping canvas over a backdrop frame lets you pin images to the back.
  • Banners hanging in or above gallery panels look really good AND give extra exposure for your name!
  • Never hurts to have signs in your gallery panel saying you also have a table in the artist alley/exhibitors hall.
  • People came to my table first and bypassed the panels. Seems like traffic is drawn to where they can meet people before they ever head to the panels.

Things I want to do next year:

  • Move to the exhibitors hall. Looks like the sales would be even better there! (Anyone in need of an exhibitor booth buddy? I’m in the market to share!)
  • Find a groovy way to display my books which will be out by then!
  • Find a better way to display my banner. Backdrop set is a minor pain! Those knock down ProPanels look super professional AND would fit in my little hatchback.
And that about wraps things up for this year!  I’ve left the show with many ideas for the future and the usual inspiration to do better next time.  Thanks for a great show, everyone!

The Outer Limits – Income Beyond the Art Gallery

The first few years of my university art education were spent thinking that if I could not sell or show my work in a gallery, then I could not be an artist of worth, nor able to earn an income. My future seemed inextricably tied to a particular community which I never felt that I fit into, being primarily a fantasy artist. Angels and elves never quite fit right next to abstract expressionism and moody landscapes. Fantasy was not ‘fine art’ nor ‘classical’ and was therefore unworthy of being shown in galleries (though this is thankfully changing in recent times!)

It seemed foolish and hopeless to think that an artist could be worthwhile or make a living any other way. A worthless dreamer was I who could not find a place in a gallery without tearing up bits of journals pages and pretending some kind of political or personal agenda was imbued into each piece of work. This sort of work has its place, but I did not feel that it was mine. I reserve my emotions for other means of expression.

Years passed. I started moving in different circles. Research began for my MA thesis on e-marketing for artists. My field of vision began to widen as I found more and more cases of artists such as Valentina Trevino, more commonly known as Val of ValsArtDiary.

A relatively young artist in her 20’s, Val was like many artists who come out of school feeling hopeless, unable to find gallery representation, and working meaningless jobs to pay the bills. She became independently successful after setting up her own website and marketing herself via social media. She is most well known for her videos on YouTube that showcase her painting process. Each video ends with a link to an eBay auction where one can purchase her paintings. Within 2 years, she had had found success and sold every single one of her original paintings.

It is with Val’s example in mind that I am hopeful in pursuing my own path outside the Gallery market. My Thesis research revealed a myriad of options from art licensing to selling face to face at art fairs to video and online marketing a la Val’s strategy. All of which I hope to talk more about here as I prepare to do some ‘field research’ for my own art career.

Welcome to the outer limits of the art world, my friend! I hope to stay awhile.

Going Official Celebration! + More Art to Come

There is a saying that every journey begins with a single step. Sometimes we fall, trip, or get distracted from the path by shiny objects. Eventually we reach a point where we can stop and realize there is more of the road behind us than there is ahead. You’re almost there! Almost…

I’m happy to report that after much deliberation on the matter, I have finally registered as a sole proprietor art studio in my county. It was not as scary as I would have thought it to be. I was imagining men in suits with monocles there to tell me I didn’t make enough or that I suddenly owed money because I haven’t been organized with my practices till this point. Instead, I got pleasant clerks who kindly directed me to the proper locations and smiled wide at my mom and I high-fiving when we finally received the little cardstock business license. There wasn’t much fuss, besides filing the wrong paperwork because I didn’t realize we’re technically an unincorporated residence out here in the boonies of Georgia.

If anyone is particularly curious, we are registered as a home-based business, which means that no retail sales are occurring on the premises (as I sell art purely online or via 3rd party venues, at this point). This sort of designation works for artists, authors, seamstresses, etc who provide a service without actually handling retail sales in a structure (meaning we don’t need to worry about safety permits and the like that other businesses would need, or at least this is how things work in my county)

Numbers can be scary, and while this means I will have to pay more attention to things like proper book keeping, I am so relieved to finally be organized, to have all those numbers and slips of papers that mean I have nothing holding me back from moving forward with this venture. The number of things to fear are growing less and less.

Now pass around the margaritas, throw a steak on the barbie, and shout to the Heavens, it’s time to kick some butt and show the world I mean business (literally).

For the next entry, I think I’m going to actually show you guys progress shots of the next paintings I’m working on. I realized that for a blog entitled ‘the Art Blog of Angela Sasser’, I haven’t really posted much artwork!

So prepare thyselves for some visual stimulation, in the meanwhile.