Friday, September 23, 2016

The Life of an Artist, part 1

Many people have the idea that being an artist must be fun, and certainly not a "REAL JOB". Because, hey, we just sit around and make art all day. It's not really work, it's play, right?

I wish! Unfortunately, that's far from the truth. Here is a list of some of the art business tasks I have to perfprm, not including actually making the art, or any general "life" stuff (like cooking, laundry, shopping, cleaning, gardening, etc.). Like the general life stuff, almost all of it is ongoing; you don't just do it once and cross it off your list. It's like once you're finished doing it, it's time to do it again.

1. Organize art photos on the computer, so I can find what I need when I need it.

2. Spray all the small collages, and all the big pieces that haven't been sprayed. (Lots and LOTS!)

3. Update images on my website.

4. Update images on pinterest.

5. Update images on facebook.

6. Make sure all work is labeled and signed.

7. Post something on instagram.

8. Post something on twitter.

9. Write a new blog post.

10. Photograph artwork and edit images with photoshop.

11. Re-photograph everything with my phone, including the small ones that have already been scanned, because you can't post to instagram except with your phone.

12. Spray feathers so they won't be eaten by little bugs.

13. Scan and edit images of small pieces.

14. Look for shows to apply for, and apply for them.

15. Figure out how to sell more work online: etsy? facebook? other sites like Saatchi, or Fine Art America? What?

16. Somehow figure out how to keep all my collage materials organized, and put stuff where it goes - ha!

17. Send out newsletter/e-vites. (This exhibit is now closed; I hope you got to see it.)

18. Frame work for shows.

19. Get more gallery representation.

20. Ship stuff to buyers or exhibits.

21. Figure out how to set shipping costs for ecommerce.

22. Find a good app for inventory/tracking artwork, and implement it.

23. Work on expanding my email list.

24. Set up cart feature and prints on demand feature on my website.

framing (bllecchh!)

I'm sure I could come up with more, but you get the picture, right? It's not all fun and games, there is a lot of hard work involved, and much of it tends to be either: a) things we don't know how to do (these things definitely weren't mentioned in school), b) things we hate to do, because they're boring, tedious, and a pain in the butt, or c) both. And for me, since I have mostly sold through galleries, the "business" parts of this list seem obscure and completely overwhelming.

 Of course, I do realize just how very, very fortunate I am to have time to work on my art, and I'm grateful for that every day. But it seems like there should be some better, easier way to sell it. Right now I'm trying to get serious about figuring all this out.

With that in mind, I posted a kind of survey question on my facebook page.  My question was,
 Have you ever taken courses or read articles by any of the many art business coaches out there, such as Ann Rea (Artists Who Thrive), Alyson Stanfield (Art Biz Coach), Gary Bolyer, Jason Horejs (Red Dot Blog), Renee Phillips (The Artrepreneur Coach), Barney Davey (The Art Marketing News), Kym Dolcimascolo (Creative Visions Rising), etc., etc.... And, if you have, which one(s), and did you find them helpful? Most people who responded to this question had never used an art coach; therefore, I didn't get much information where this is concerned. Of those who did use them, it seemed the cost would be prohibitive, at least for me right now. Though most of them do have blogs or videos where they provide some free coaching, these seem to be an entry into to the whole program, which you must pay for. And who can blame them, this is how they make their living, right? Alyson Stanfield was recommended, and I'm going to see if she is offering any online workshops. Feel free to share here if you have any pertinent information.

artwork waiting to be sprayed

Question # 2: Do you use software to inventory and keep track of information about your work, such as dimensions, price, location, etc.? If so, what program do you use, and how well does it work for you? I was a little surprised to find that no one who answered this used art-tracking software; most artists used either Word documents for invoices, etc., and/or Excel for listing and tracking work.

Artwork Inventory

 I know there are several programs out there that are specifically designed for artists, including Artsala, which is put out by Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery. There are several others listed online, such as Artwork Archive , Art Cloud, Gyst, Artwork Inventory, Tessera, Art Engine, eArtist, Working Artist, Artworkspro, vBook, ArtSystems, Artlook, Artist Organizer Pro, and more. Here is a quick comparison of software that is mobile-device friendly, Art Inventory Software Compared by Andrea Buckland. Another comparison article by Christine Wong Yap is here.  Artpromotivate has a comparison article here. Some of these systems are Cloud-based, and some are not. Also there is a wide range of prices; some have monthly fees, while some have a one time purchase fee. Some of them will also host a website for an additional fee.  However, almost all have a free trial, which would be very important to me, since I'm not at all sure what all of this mumbo-jumbo in the reviews and ads mean.      

I haven't looked at any of them in depth yet, but that will be one of my next chores. If you have used any of these, or know anything about them, please share here; there are probably others trying to figure this out as well.

Also, this post has gotten so long that I've decided to divide it into two separate posts. I will be posting another question on facebook, and investigating answers. Please stay tuned for the next post, where we'll get into some other things you may want to know about.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my art business saga! Happy arting!


  1. excellent post, and when you write out all that we do... I feel so overwhelmed!!! xo

    1. It is a big list, isn't it? It feels quite overwhelming to me right now, and I know I shouldn't let it. I'm trying!

  2. There is so much that needs to happen that people don't realize. Creating art b is fun, and usually the easy part. Figuring out how to sell it, that's another thing all together.

    1. You are absolutely right, Mary, and it's something most people don't think about. But it can be very time-consuming, all the business stuff, leaving me wondering when I'll have time to make art!

  3. I'm exhausted already.....but it must be done. Thanks for this post.

    1. Yes, I know what you mean. I was surprised at all the things I do when I listed them out, and I'm sure I skipped some! All we can do is keep moving forward...

  4. it's a good life being an artist & when you break it down all those things on your list can be fun, it's just a matter of how you look at them!
    re selling art, making friends with a good sympathetic gallery owner in your local area is the best way I know of for selling the work.
    personally I can't bear all these life/art coaches making money from the hopes and dreams of artist wannabes just make good work & get it out of the house!

    1. Sorry I'm not able to look at all of these tasks as fun, Mo, but they are not all bad. Looking for a gallery is one of the things on my list, since I lost my gallery in Berea. I'm just not quite sure how to go about it. I agree with you about the art coaches - they give you a bit of free information to entice you to take their very expensive seminars, and it gives me a bad feeling. Thanks so much for sharing your opinion!

  5. Sharmon, I don't frame and I don't have an iphone, so I don't do any of that, but I do sell a lot on line and have to pack up a lot of my own art, you have shipping on your list, but I did not see packing, and standing in line at the UPS store or Post Office. I spend an enormous amount of time photographing art and trying to sell it as I have no partner and if I don't sell I don't eat! But it is the most wonderful life, and something rarely talked about is I need lots of down time to be able to create, anyone else find this to be true? I think Mo has it right and balance is key, I do a little of all of it in a day as the spirit moves or sometimes I spend 4, 9 hour days in the studio and leave all the rest. What good is this wonderful life if we can't go with the flow? Sorry I am going long here :-). xoxo

    1. Oh, yes, I do pack things up and stand in line at the UPS store. Photographing art is enormously important, and I've been struggling with that since my camera died, so I'm taking photos with my phone right now. Doing a little each day is definitely the way to go, and I need to fin that balance. Thanks, Annie!

    2. talking to a friend who runs a gallery she saisd her biggest problem is artists not taking professional photographs of their work for the catalogue, she often has to rephotograph the work with a very good digital SLR, tripod and lighting. Most of my successful artist friends hire a professional photographer for submissions, it's expensive but worth it.

    3. Mo, I agree that taking good quality photos of your work is very important. I've never really had a problem doing it myself until now, but I'm ready to buy a new camera at this point. Unfortunately, I can't afford to hire a professional photographer at this point. But I've never had anyone have to rephotograph my work for the catalog.

  6. je suis encore sur la route des vacances.. je me réjouis de te lire en rentrant!

    1. Hope your vacation is exciting and restful at the same time! xoxo


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