Category: business talk

DragonCon Diary 09 – The Rush Begins

Diary Entries Thus Far:
Dragon Con Diary 09: Pre-Con Prep
Dragon Con Diary 09: To Charge or Not to Charge?
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Rush Begins
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Calm Before the Storm
Dragon Con Diary 09: Matting Madness!
Dragon Con Diary 09: The Aftermath
Dragon Con Diary 09: Video & Photo Stream

With a little over a month until Dragon Con, it seems like it will take a miracle to get everything I’d like to do done. Now it seems I’ve been accepted into the Artist Alley of Anime Weekend Atlanta (table 38), which means I’m preparing for this convention at the same time as Dcon, since AWA is a mere week after it.

The plan? To sell off any extra I might have leftover from dcon at AWA, but also to have enough prepared so that there will BE extra items for the pandering after Dragon Con. San Diego Comic Con has just finished so I’m hoping my artwork will be returned in time to use for the next few cons. I’m also hoping I did well so that any sales will help fund the incoming round of craziness!

Without further ado, here are the ultra fun lists of my progress thus far!

Things I’ve completed (Hurray!):

  • Finished my layout for my art show panel at Dragon Con. (Get a sneak peek at my layout here)
  • Applied for and waiting on my EIN (employer tax ID number) so I can be eligible for merchant status and fun things like credit card chargers
  • Ordered print and products for standing inventory and sorted it into an Access database
  • Started keeping better records of receipts and invoices in Quicken
  • Got a shiny beautiful vinyl banner for my table printed by my awesome brother, Roland.

  • Things I’m currently doing:

  • Working on a new batch of cameo and art tile necklaces
  • Sketching the centerpiece painting for my Dragon Con layout (It needs to be done by August 15th for a contest I want to enter, as well!)
  • Developing a hopefully healthy addiction to green tea

  • Things I still need to do!:

  • Work on designs for my three ceramic piggy banks for the charity auction. I’m thinking a Three Muses theme with gold leaf and rhinestones! I love some blingy pigs.
  • Fill two Itoya portfolios with pretties for people to look at
  • Ponder if I’ll need a pvc frame to hang my banner on or if I can use my backdrop set to double as a hangy thingie. Experimentation is in order.
  • Mat about 40 or more things! I’m avoiding this currently because I REALLY hate matting. I also want to play with the mats by dripping some paint on them or doing some custom designs in acrylic. Still pondering what to do!
  • Received my dcon barcodes and now ready to attach lots of sticky things to my stuff bound for Dcon’s artist alley and art show!
  • Design and print bookmark brochures for my freebie items
  • Working on a makeshift homage costume of Dawn just for kicks (because I’m masochist and don’t already have enough to do). Currently searching for a corset and preparing to make a leather mask and wrist rose.
  • Organize an unofficial little luncheon for artists at the con. I’m looking into reserving space at the Brazilian restaurant, Fire on Brazil on Saturday. Will be sending emails about this one as soon as I know more details!

  • And somewhere during all that, I’ve got to keep working on my book, which is coming along nicely! I’ve reached the halfway mark and will soon be able to reveal a little more about what has been secretly keeping me busy for the past few months. I’ve got many more plans for the future AFTER the con, but I’ll save that for another entry.

    Right now, let us drink in the glory and the caffeine of the pre-con rush!

    eBay Shop Review

    Back in 2001 or so, I got wind of eBay shops, tried it for a little while, and then gave up when it didn’t seem like I was getting many bites at all. At that stage in my development, I chocked it up to not having enough quality inventory nor much presence on the internet in general. The fees proved too much and I was simply not selling enough to cover the $15 a month bill.

    8 years later I decided to try eBay shops again in December of last year. I had built up a decent inventory of art since my first try and had several communities and websites to my name to promote the shop at. eBay shops had improved much in my absence, such as a greater ability to organize your inventory, greater search engine compatibility, cross promotion capabilities, and the integration of Store search results with eBay’s main search page (which was one of its main failings previously). Another handy feature is the ability to export sales reports and integrate the eBay shop with organizational software. There are definitely a few more bells and whistles than it had during its infancy.

    In the three months I’ve used it, I’ve gotten a few inquiries on items, but never sales. I tried customizing my options with the Bold higlighting as well as the international listing option which allows my items to be seen by eBayers in the UK. I got plenty of views, but still no bites even with proper cross-promotion from my other websites. Meanwhile, the wracked up fees from listing my inventory and auctions plus the $15 for maintaining the shop produced a $30 drain per month rather than merely a $15. Add onto that the 12% commission eBay would take out of my final sales and you have a store that eats profits rather than creates them.

    The Bottom Line: eBay shops seems best suited for those of you who may be able to move items faster (ie. if you sell collectible items, cosplay, or other in-demand things), therefore making the monthly drain not so detrimental. The interface is customizable with lots of features, but the majority of your pageviews come from active Auctions and not standing inventory (at least in my experience with Shops).

    From my time with eBay Shops, it seems to me that to make a shop work successfully, you must keep both a regiment of active auctions and an in-demand inventory, something which is hard to do if your inventory is in less of a demand and you are not producing work for auction monthly. I looked up the best tech products to sell on this HPE vs Dell Servers article. It is a good alternative if you can move items quickly and don’t want to deal with the headache of programming inventory pages yourself, but not recommended for those with slower high priced luxury inventory like fine art unless your name just has that much demand behind it and you have the budget to support the shop, while there are other shops online where you can find your favorite products, using coupons from sites as so you can also have discounts in these products as well.

    For now, I’ve decided to focus on revamping my website store with the free shopping cart Mal-E, which integrates Paypal, Google Checkout, and other useful payment methods so that my website becomes the one stop shop for personalized items rather than eBay. I still plan to post eBay auctions at random per month to give people a chance at acquiring originals and commissions for less and to draw traffic to my website store, but my shop on eBay is closing indefinitely this time unless their fees decrease and their benefits increase.

    My website store isn’t completely finished yet, but here’s a sneak peek for the curious. I welcome any comments or suggestions you might have!

    I welcome any comments from those of you who have eBay shops that are actually operating at a profit. Please share your stories and advice!

    In Other News…
    I’m heading off to New Orleans for a mini-vacation with Windfalcon and Girlanime so you may not see posts or replies from me till late next week. I hope to return with a video journal of the madness and sketches from our sojourn into the French Quarter’s cemeteries, mask shops, pubs, and corner markets.

    Upcoming Blog Posts
    – The “Confessions” Series continues with a discussion of how to present your artwork. Is your artwork safe from your own bad habits?

    – Professional or Sellout? Prepare for a rant about this demeaning stereotype.

    – Introducing the Muses, allow me to introduce some of the characters that continually popup in my work.

    Till next time, keep your creative spirit strong!

    Serious Business!

    There’s that funny word ‘business’ popping up in this journal again. As many of you know, or may not know, I’ve been working towards getting my studio name, Angelic Shades, off the ground as an independent, one employee, go-to art studio for fantasy illustration for the past couple of years. My dream is to work in illustration while writing and illustrating my own books. I didn’t think about seriously establishing it as a business till I wrote business and marketing plans for Angelic Shades in grad school last year. It occurred to me that perhaps it WASN’T so impossible as everyone made it out to be.

    Even still, I’ve waffled back and forth on what to do and ran away screaming when I’ve come up against the extra taxes, registration fees, and insurance that come along with starting a business. Lately, with the promise of a huge commercial project on the horizon, I realize I need to get serious about incorporating if art is going to be my main means for an income for my own sake, and for the sake of organizing my finances. I’ve been looking at the following forms of business setups and trying to make a decision. I am in no way a lawyer or an accountant. These descriptions are what I’ve garnered from my own readings and attending lectures and are how I understand them:

    Sole Proprietorship – This form of business is the easiest to form. All you need is a business license, employer ID number, and tax ID number.


      * Easy to setup and manage

      * Tax forms are filed as part of your personal taxes


      * There is no separation between your personal income and your business income, meaning your assets are in danger and you have no liability protection if sued for damages, or any other such reason.

    The Limited Liability Corporation – The LLC combines the best of the sole proprietorship and allows for great flexibility in taxation, depending on what form of LLC is chosen.


      * Protection of personal assets from damage claims.

      * Taxes are handled as an attachment on your personal taxes for each managing member (or in this case just you if you are operating it alone)

      * Flexible taxation. LLC can be changed to suit the business’ needs


      * More complicated setup process involving the creation of articles of formation and other declarative documents.

      * Higher fees for registration.

    And let’s not forget the PRO for starting a business or being self-employed in general:

    TAX DEDUCTIONS! This subject is a whole other ball of wax that I’ll go into on a later post.

    Many of the artists I have interviewed chose a Sole Proprietorship as their business format due to its ease, but also, I believe, because they began practice before the establishment of the relatively new form of LLC, which first came about in the late 70’s. I also noticed a few of the artists I’ve spoken to have opted to form Corporations for themselves, due to the heavy amount of product licensing and business dealings they handle. Personally, I am avoiding the Corporation as the thought of double taxation on shares and having to do separate tax forms sounds like a bit of overkill for my small start. In the future, I may tackle the formation of a Corporation, but for now, LLC sounds like the way I want to go!

    It may be more setup, but the protection against losing my personal assets sounds wonderful if, for example, a piece of art should fall on someone’s head at an art show or someone decides to sue me for copyright infringement for whatever reason. These cases are extreme, but they can and do happen.

    So now begins my quest to tackle my fear of paperwork, tax forms, and record-keeping. I hope that in a month from now, I can proudly declare that I am no longer just Angelic Shades, but Angelic Shades incorporated!

    If any of you have already incorporated your small businesses (or are thinking about it), what business formats have you chosen? How has it helped you with furthering your ambitions? I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.