Category : Business Stuff

Worktable Wednesday

I am currently engaged in my annual tradition of beating myself up over having procrastinated doing inventory.

I’m my defense, I’ve been helping my puppy recover after being hit by a car. How can you resist a dog in a sweater?

Of course, the truth is that I would have procrastinated anyway. I.hate.inventory.

I like math, but counting stuff is boring.

I do, however, enjoy putting post-it flags on things that are done being counted. It’s like checking off a box.

Plastic shoeboxes on shelves

 Looking forward to finishing inventory so I can get back to finishing my Improv books!


Worktable Wednesday

Messy worktable - annual studio inventory


I should have my inventory done by now, but I got a late start after being sick for FOREVER. I don’t enjoy being under such pressure, but taxes are due in less than a month.

And I know that I’ve avoided the studio because I have to do inventory. As a result, I haven’t made much and I can feel it in my bones.

I am aching for making.

Next week I’m going to make a point of scheduling in more creative time – hopefully it will make me feel less resentful about having to do the other stuff.

Marketing 101 for Book Artists with Laura Russell

I had the pleasure of attending the Focus on Book Arts conference last month and one of the highlights was Laura Russell‘s keynote, Marketing 101 for Book Artists. She is not only the owner of 23 Sandy Gallery, which has book arts as the focus of gallery exhibitions, but is also a book artist herself.

Laura gave lots of good advice during her keynote. The point she couldn’t stress enough – be good at shameless self-promotion. The only person you can count on to be your biggest fan is yourself.

Marketing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s necessary if you want to get your name and your work out there. There are a number of ways to gain exposure:

  • Submit your work to juried shows: Galleries will often produce an exhibition catalog, which will include your work. The great thing about this is that you gain exposure long after the exhibit closes. In addition, a gallery will advertise their shows and this could have a larger reach than your marketing efforts – they will get your work in front of a new audience.
  • Sell to organizations with special collections: This includes public libraries, university libraries, and museums.
  • Self-marketing: Use your blog, Email newsletter, listservs, press releases, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. to announce anything new – new work, events, awards and recognition, important acquisitions – who just purchased your work?

Delving further into self-marketing, if you like writing – share what you know. Your experience and knowledge may be of great value to others in the field. Show others that you’re an “expert” and you’ll gain exposure.

There are several ways to do this:

Paid and/or free advertising is another way to get exposure. With print media, you can take out ads in magazines, newsletters, or directories. There are also online directories where you can list your business, such as Google Places. Book arts-related options include Artist Book News, Artist Book Yearbook, Miniature Book Society, Moveable Book Society, or the Book Arts Newsletter.

Laura said something that I’m sure most of us already know:

The book arts world in underpriced for what we have as original art.

Pricing is a sticky issue! She suggested that when you set your prices, take your experience level into account – until you have made a name for yourself, it will be hard to sell your work at high prices. Try checking out work that is similar to yours – what are those books selling for?

Start low and increase your prices as needed – it’s hard to go down and those who have already purchased your work will be angry that they were charged a higher price. For the same reason, you want to keep your pricing consistent across all venues – it’s unfair to undercut your galleries and no one wants to feel like they’ve been overcharged.

Some options on how to sell new edition work:

  • Pre-publication discounts: If someone buys your work in advance, they get a special deal. Once the work has been completed, the price goes up. This is a great way to help institutions (universities, libraries) to stretch their budgets.
  • Standing order plans: Libraries and other institutions will sometimes get a “subscription” to your work, meaning that they will automatically receive every new piece you produce.

Laura recommended that for every book you create, you write a book information sheet. Librarians find this document useful because it’s used for their cataloging system. This document includes anything relevant to your work, including:

  • Artist statement
  • Biography
  • Directions on how to set up your book for display
  • Colophon/technical details
  • Photograph

You can view a pdf sample book information sheet on page 11 of Artists’ Books Creative Production and Marketing by Sarah Bodman.

Laura had some suggestions on how to approach dealers, galleries, and libraries. Be sure to look for submission policies on website, including who to contact, how to contact them, and how to submit your work. Make sure you are sending them everything they ask for – artist statement, resume, slides/jpegs, etc. You don’t want to irritate anyone just because you failed to do your research.

Whenever possible, schedule an appointment, don’t just drop in – be respectful of others’ time. For more information, check out Laura’s great blog article, The Business of Being an Artist: How To Get Your Work Into Art Galleries.

I hope this information has been useful to you. Laura Russell has such a wealth of knowledge that I wanted to share it with you.

Below you will find a number of resources to help you with marketing your work. If you have any other resources you’d like to share, please send me an Email and I’ll write a follow-up post.





Book shows and fairs:

Artist Book dealers:

Retail book stores:

Art Galleries:

Book Arts Resources:

General Resources:



Note: This post was originally published on the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team blog.

If you’d like to learn more about Laura Russell, here’s how you can connect with her:


Worktable Wednesday

Sadly, today was much more office-based than studio-based. Phone calls and Emails and bills...snooozzze!

I cut materials for two photo albums I’ll be working on tomorrow – I’m feeling sick and didn’t think I’d have any muscle to put into gluing.

Everything is ready to go first thing tomorrow morning:

When my energy ran out, I worked on inventory. I love math, but really hate hate hate counting things.

I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use every year for my inventory. I start out by updating the costs for any recent purchases. I also have a rocking checklist (who, me?) to help keep me focused.

As cranky as I was about counting, I was happy to rummage through my two shoe boxes full of chopsticks. Yes, I said two. And now I’m craving noodles.

Here’s hoping that I’ll feel better tomorrow!

Vermont Arts Council grant – the sequel

I have been remiss in talking about something awesome that happened this past summer – I was awarded my second grant from the Vermont Arts Council! I consider myself very fortunate.

The grant came from a special funding pool available only to students of the VAC’s Breaking into Business workshop program. The program offers artist-specific business and marketing planning. It was such a rewarding experience – if you are Vermont artist, I highly recommend attending the program.

My grant was for the design and printing of a professional identity package, including letterhead, note cards, and shipping labels.

I’ve always felt that if you’re in business, you should have letterhead – it makes you more official. Unfortunately, when faced with the cost of such items, I had to make a choice between letterhead and supplies – it’s a not-so-fun game of Rock, Paper, Letterhead.

FYI: Paper always wins.

Well, that’s not true. Since I received the grant, letterhead won. And paper won a little bit because I got to pick the paper for my letterhead – I chose Strathmore Writing 25% cotton in Bright White Wove finish. An eco-friendly choice, the paper is Green-e Certified and is manufactured using wind power. It has a nice subtle texture to it. Yum.

And I lloooovvvee that the ink is such a rich shade of blue.

The design of the shipping labels is flexible enough for me to use them for the covers of promotional packets (or more grant applications). I look forward to using the labels on my packaging for orders – I think they’ll help me present a more professional image.

Just like last time, I took pictures of my application before I submitted it:

Once again, I proudly state the following:

This project was supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thank you thank you thank you to the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts for helping to make me feel that much more of a professional artist.

NEA logo

VT Arts Council Logo

Vermont Crafts Council Spring Marketing Conference 2010

Yesterday, for the third year in a row, I presented at the Vermont Crafts Council’s Spring Marketing Conference. This year I presented on two different topics –Social Media for Artists and Etsy for Beginners.

I think actually out-talked my mouth. I didn’t know that was possible. Seriously though, I had such an awesome time.

It seemed like there was a lot of fun in the room this time. I managed to stumble onto a doozy of a blooper. While talking about Etsy, I meant to say “You can keep your favorites private.” It came out as “You can keep your favorite privates.” As soon as I heard myself say it, I just put my head down on the table because I knew I was in for it. And let me say this – if someone else had done the same, I would have laughed just as hard. But you know what, it was so worth it.

I get really anxious before doing presentations and a good laugh can help break the tension for me. Now I’m thinking about how I can better structure a technology workshop like a comedy sketch.

So here’s a big howdy to any of those folks who came to my blog after attending either of my workshops. If you ever have any more questions, feel free to contact me. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I like to talk.

Today is your last chance to enter my Hedi Kyle Festschrift giveaway – you have until midnight EST tonight. If you’re on the fence about entering the giveaway, then maybe this will change your mind – the book is a lovely shade of orange and you know you don’t have enough orange books. This will fill the void in your library. Enter now.

Good luck!

I’m on Etsy!

Blue Roof Designs Etsy screenshotIt’s official – I finally have work available for purchase on Etsy! Here’s the link to my shop:

Okay, so it’s only three things but you have to start somewhere, right? I’ll be listing more items over the coming weeks (I’m still working on photos and item descriptions).

If you’ve never visited Etsy before, it’s an online marketplace for handmade items. Their slogan – Buy, Sell, and Live Handmade. Hey, I do that!

Seriously, I am feeling such a tremendous feeling of relief today.

I have wanted to get my work on Etsy for a really long time. In fact, it’s been more than 4 years since I joined Etsy. I’m not making that up, see?

Etsy screen shot

For now, I’m only set up to ship to the United States. That’s mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to international shipping. I’m hoping to sort that out in the near future.

If anyone has any tips and/or advice, I’m all ears!

Vermont Crafts Council Spring Marketing Conference 2009

Today, for the second year in a row, I presented at the Vermont Crafts Council’s Spring Marketing Conference.

First things first – I am now laughing at myself. I looked at the post I wrote last year about the conference and here’s a direct quote:

I learned something new about myself today – I can talk for an hour and a half without stopping. And it was something I hadn’t spoken about in public before. And I was up at 1 a.m. last night preparing for the discussion. And I did it without severe coffee abuse.

I am seriously a creature of habit. Last night I was up until 1:30 a.m. And I did it without coffee. And apparently I am still capable of blabbering for 1 1/2 hours. [end self-mocking]

The conference began with a keynote by Judy Dunn. When I first met Judy at an Artrider show in NYC a few years ago, I was instantly taken with her warm personality. She’s just one of those people who can’t help but be a sweetheart.

Judy creates, and likely invented, polymer clay origami. She once told someone that she was thinking of trying to make origami cranes out of polymer clay and they told her it wasn’t possible. So she did what any sane artist would do – she ignored them and tried it anyway. Her cranes are pretty fabulous. She started her Iraq War Memorial Project to commemorate the lives lost during the war in Iraq – each crane she creates represents a life. It’s powerful stuff.

Judy also has a blog that I follow regularly, Artrepreneur: The Collision of Art & Business. I think the title is pretty self-explanatory.

Judy’s keynote was entitled Untangling the Web. She gave folks an overview of the internet landscape as it relates to the use of social media. My presentation dovetailed off hers and I focused more specifically on using blogging, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter as promotional tools. Luckily, the computer gods were on my side and I encountered no technical problems any worse than the internet being slow.

I feel comfortable quoting what I said after last year’s conference as it still seems appropriate:

I was really happy with how it went [read: I did not vomit or pass out]. I hope that I was able to pass along some useful information to those who attended. Note: If you came to my presentation and you’re reading this now, hiya! Now that you’re here, sign up for your own blog.

I hope that folks got the message that using social media can be of great benefit to artists. However, it doesn’t mean that every single tool out there has to work for you.

Take it slowly.

Twitter scares the crap out of me sometimes, but I’m hanging in there. I may ultimately decide that it isn’t my ball of cheese and that’s okay.

I took all of the resource handouts from the workshop and converted them into pdf format – now you can just click on links in the document and get to the websites without having to type them manually (hooray!).

Just click on the following link and you’re good to go: Social Media Resources for Artists

P.S. This post was spell-checked four times.

Trying to feel like a “real” artist

So I’ve officially been a full-time artist for three months. Technically, I’m full-time but I don’t feel full-time yet. In the past few months, I’ve accessed a number of resources that will hopefully guide me on my journey.

This morning I was lucky enough to have a one-hour coaching session with creativity coach Quinn McDonald. So many ideas were generated in that hour. I’ve always been stuck on the idea that as an artist, you had to show that your product met a customer’s need. It was the word “need” that got me.

Quinn framed it differently – she asked me what opportunities or possibilities my work could provide for people. That made a lot more sense to me, as it was an approach that seemed more creative and less sales-ish. It’s those little nuggets that can really get things moving for me.

Tomorrow I will attend my second meeting of the Artist’s Learning Circle, hosted by the Vermont Women’s Business Center. From the VWBC website:

Artists’ Learning Circles are an informal, fluid gathering of artists who meet to help and support each other through the challenges unique to artists as business people. All are welcome. FREE; facilitated by VWBC staff; no pre-registration required – just show up.

I think that the fact the group exists is just fabulous. I’m not someone who can just sit in her studio all day, happily making books ’til the cows come home.

I need to talk to people.

I have a mouth on me, let me tell you. It was this mouth of mine that got me roped into doing a presentation tomorrow on how blogging can benefit artists. At the last meeting I attended, I talked about using social media as a cost-effective way to reach out to and gain customers. The group facilitator sent me a follow-up Email asking if I could talk more about blogging.

The timing of this couldn’t be better as I’m just 2 days away from my one-year blogiversary. I think it’s good to look back and see what this blog has given to me.

After I finish my presentation for tomorrow.

Break out the cheese – I just finished my inventory!

I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud. I just finished the inventory of my studio for the 2008 tax year. I’ve been working from home for 3 months now and it took me longer to do my inventory this year than it did last year – when I was working full-time out of the house.


Now I have about 2 1/2 weeks to do my taxes. I actually like doing taxes because I love math. My hubby and I keep really good records, so the process should be pretty smooth.

Well that was stupid. I just cursed myself. [cue thunder]

Every year, I wonder if there’s a way for me to streamline the whole inventory process. Unfortunately, I just end up getting a bad feeling in my gut and end up going overboard in measuring paper, bookcloth, and board in square inches.

Hello my name is paranoid name tag

It’s just that I’ve heard horror stories about artists being prime targets for IRS audits. I have nothing to hide, but I figure if I’m anal right from the start, then it will mean less work if the A-word comes to pass.


[just indulge the delusion]

If you’re an artist, use an actual accountant instead of TurboTax, and you have received advice on how to better handle your annual inventory, I’m all ears. Mostly because my fingers are tired from using the calculator all day.

I need cheese.

Pin It on Pinterest