Falling Off the Cliff

"Karma""Good Karma"No, not the fiscal cliff, the artistic cliff. Have you ever been asked to create something you have no history with? Did it make you have flop sweat or feel slightly sick?  You are not alone.

Recently I was asked to paint a portrait of a dog. Having never painted or drawn a dog, I was nervous.

I wasn’t sure I could do it or if they would like it.  But, I chose to step outside my comfort zone and am glad I did.

For many people a dog is a member of the family.  Trying to capture the personality that they know and love can be tricky, especially if you have never met the dog.  I worked from pictures and made it clear to the client that there was no obligation to like the painting.  I felt that gave us each an option to walk away if things did not work out.

The first painting was well received and someone else saw it and asked me to do their dog (the one pictured here). That became a surprise Christmas present and the person receiving it was delighted.

I captured the heart shape spot on the nose and it was (unbeknownst to me) a special feature on their dog.
I now have two more paintings I am going to do.

Stretching your abilities is very scary and thrilling at the same time.  I guess the lesson here is that you should never be afraid to try something new. And in trying it, you may find there is an area of Art that you enjoy doing.

Keep making Art.

Selling You and Your Art

You cannot seperate you from your art.  You are the one who creates the art, so your soul and personality are front and center whether you are in the room or not.  Get used to the idea that you become part of what is being marketed.  Marketing is a multi-level effort, so I will first talk about the one piece of advertising that every artist should use, your business card.  It is the first impression people get of you as a professional artist and if it is not inspiring, it may be the last.

A representation of your art on your card becomes your “logo” that reminds people of your art.  I recently went through some artist cards I had saved and found one with no image.  I have no idea what the artist does or why I was interested enough to save his card.  I could probably find out by visiting his web site, but in this busy world can you blame people for just dumping it?  So, be sure to show your art.

When I first needed cards, I tried to save money by using the computer paper that pulls apart into cards.  Of course my computer skills were less than perfect and my Photoshop knowledge was non-existent.  But, even if I had all the skills, these cards would not have impressed.  The paper quality is too light and the finish has to be printable, so it cannot have a nice coating..

I started collecting other artists cards and seperated them into successful and non-successful cards.  Things started to stand out.  Whether you print on both sides or not is up to you.  If you print on the back, you lose the spot you can write a note such as the name, price , and size of a piece a client is interested in.  On the positive side, you get more coverage; more information out there.

Putting your image on the card with lettering over the top can be problematic.  If your letters get lost over part of the image because the colors are too similar, you defeat the purpose.  Keeping the image and the lettering seperate works the best, although it decreases the size of the printed area.  One way to make this all look good is to stick with one really easy to read font and change the size or boldness to highlight information.  Keep it simple.  Pick out the most important information, you name, perhaps a phone number, e-mail, or website.  If in doubt, leave something out.  This is not your entire resume, just a way for people to contact you.

Start small with a few cards.  Good sources of cards in small numbers are www.vistaprint.com or www.overnightprints.com.  They both have great deals on a small number of cards.  250 business cards for $15 plus shipping or some variation.  The great part  is you can keep the general layout each time you print and simply change out your image.  I have seen artists lay out several piles of business cards with a different image used for each stack.  It can work as an opinion poll, the image that gets taken the most is a winner!

The most important thing is to get a card!  Everyone expects you to have one, live up to those expectations, keep it professional and keep making art.