I snuggled into bed the other night with the new Ceramic Monthly and enjoyed reading a "studio visit" with a potter by the name of John Baumen. I enjoyed what he had to say about making work, his studio and how he felt about the web for a long time. Of course I got curious and looked him up. Sure enough he does have a blog and I wanted to support his efforts since we all are in the same boat. I think its cool how years ago I wouldn't even look at others potters work that was not at all like my own but now I find that if I enjoy what another potters has to say, I tend to really respect the work even if its not something I typically would venture towards. I think blogs have done such a great thing for getting everyone to connect who normally, most likely would not. The funny thing is the more we write and read what each other has to say, the more you can see a similar thread between us all that not just clay.
Just a side note....( when I get more time to iron out my thoughts I'll give my own thoughts on this subject)...Ron Philbeck's last post was about shows and forming groups, which of course I think is really a great thing. If your interested in this information click over there and see what he has to say along with the comments!
Happy Wednesday everyone!
Yesterday I managed to break-down a lot of shipping boxes, sweep my studio and get clay ready to pug this week.
I have big plans to make some soup and bread this evening. I feel the need to freeze all sorts of food this January and hunker-down for a cold winter. I know some of you are laughing at this but we do live in a house that is over 100 years old and the breeze and chill seems to blow through the cracks from one end to another and none of the fireplaces work. Such a bummer!
I'm eagerly awaiting a reply from Skutt about parts for my kiln. I'll be checking in with everyone in a few days.
By the way, last night I got a chance to catch up on some blogs and added a few more names to my list. Once again, please forgive me if you don't see your blog listed on my sight. Its not that I don't care, it just takes me a while to update and go "oh yeah...I know this person from my blog" once I sit down and start reading. Many, many apologies for that!
Today I was thinking how last year I didn't feel the need to get out to my studio for a few weeks after Christmas. This year my mind is turning and thinking sooner than it did and I think I may get out there next week and start on a few things. My kiln is in real need of parts and repair so that is first on my list. I'm hoping by the end of January we can move some things around in the house and have a central location for all my books, teaching material and work stuff - more of an office enviroment I hope. At the moment my "work" area is sort of stretched along a long hallway.
Joey and I also have plans to get my etsy site up and running. From what I've read and learned from many of you, this may be a good avenue for someone like me to explore. I enjoy changing things so much that at times I think galleries have a hard time keeping up with me and my lack of consistency. Since I like working this way I think marketing my work myself may be a good thing and hopefully Joey and I can keep up with the posting that need to be done on Etsy. We'll see!
I hope today everyone is having a good time playing with all the Santa toys they got!
The last few days have been great just being with them and doing stuff like playing games, hanging out and not feeling like I have to rush anywhere. I vowed last month to let each child pick a special activity they wanted to do with Mom for a day and I stuck to it. Last weekend Mckenna and I went to the mall shopping and then out to dinner, last week Quaid and I went to movie together and yesterday Aydan and I went ice skating.
Today my pottery "buds" came over for some lunch and Julie used my pug-mill for her porcelain scraps. As always this was fun just getting together to talk shop. In the afternoon, I glazed my last special order for the year and this evening I enjoyed the couch all to myself and a documentary about fashion designer Valentino. Yet again a great creative mind with a strong cantankerous personality and absolutely no business sense. People like this always make me feel better about myself.....if you like stuff like this, rent it - very enjoyable.
Such an enjoyable day!
Now...here's the photo of my pillow tile mural that I promised over a month ago. I just now found the image on my card. ( Crazy me!) I was proud of myself after it got finished and displayed and like I said it brought a ton of people in my booth and boy did I sell some groupings of my pillow tiles! Now I have plans for more things like this which seems very exciting. Once again I'm venturing down yet another path but I need to do stuff like this weather its a good thing for my business or not. It keeps me happy and some days, I can't stop myself from just wanting to do something new.
I want to say that by no means am I making fun of this person who is trying to give this workshop and I know the things that are stated in this email/advertisement are all valid. My only point to this was that it doesn't work for everyone and I'm one of the biggest advocates for those of us who like doing business with gallery owner who understand that many artists are not great business people and also have another life outside of working all the time. All of us have to admit, we spend an enormous amount of time at what we do. And if your really driven like I am, you have a hard time staying away from the studio and trying to make your next pots better than your last group of work. Adding endless hours of marketing always takes second shift for what we make. But I do know some people who have the time and the energy to do just this and I think that is so comendable. Just don't tell me that I'm not doing it right until you step into my shoes. ( Or so the saying goes...)
Today I was talking to my buddy Ron Philbeck about this email and we both agreed at how reading suggestions like these or even listening to someone talk about this can be a real downer in a way because you feel like you just not doing everything right as a business person. I think for me, I sort of look at information like this as another form of critiquing my work. After endless hours of sitting through critiques in what seems like 100 art classes that I have taken you just get to a point where you say to yourself , "well, not everyone can like my work and that's ok...its just their opinion". And really, all these people who tell you what you should and should not do are just critique what they think is right. Unfortunately not all of this works for everyone and that is Ok.
So, read down and please leave any thoughts you wish to add.
Did you know on an average week I may be approached by as many as 20-35 artists looking for gallery representation? Most of them are ineffective. Are you making the same mistakes they are? Before I explain, let me introduce myself. My name is Jason Horejs. I have owned Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona for more than eight years. Last week I sent you an invitation to my upcoming workshops in North Carolina, "Starving" to Successful Get into Galleries and Sell More Art.
I want to take just a moment to personally invite you to join me in January. I am writing you because I saw your work online and thought this workshop would benefit you. This workshop comes from my experiences with artists. Several years ago, I began to wonder why artists were inept talking to galleries. I quickly realized most were unsuccessful because there is very little information explaining the best strategies. That lack of information leads to these blunders:
Mistake #1: Presenting an inconsistent body of work. Artists generally love their freedom. They want to experiment. They love a challenge. They crave variety. All good things, except when you are presenting your work to a gallery. The work you present to a gallery needs to be unified. It doesn't need to be repetitive or formulaic, but it must present you as a consistent artist with a clear vision. Often I feel I am looking at the work of multiple artists as I review a single portfolio. To avoid this problem you need to find focus in your work. If you work in several media and a variety of styles, focus on just one for the next 6-12 months. Create a body of work that feels like a "series". Once you have 20-25 gallery-ready pieces in this series, you will be ready to approach a gallery. You can further create consistency by presenting the work in a consistent way. Use similar frames for paintings and photographs, similar bases for sculpture, similar settings for artistic jewelry. Make it very clear all of the work is by the same artist. If you simply can't rein your style in, consider creating multiple portfolios, one for each style. Don't confuse the galleries you approach with multiple styles in your portfolio.
Mistake #2: Producing insufficient work to sustain gallery sales. Many artists create marketable work, but in quantities too low to make a gallery relationship viable. Successful artists are consistently in the studio creating artwork. You may be surprised to learn the results of a recent survey I conducted. I asked artists how many new works they created in the last twelve months. Painters responded that on average they were creating 53 pieces every twelve months. Sculptors 31. Glass artists 500! A gallery owner needs to feel confident you will replace sold art quickly and maintain high quality. They want to know if you are successful the can replenish their inventory. Don't despair if you are far from reaching this goal. Rather, look at your creative production for the last year and set a goal to increase the production by 25% in the next 12 months.
Several suggestions to increase your productivity:
1. Dedicate time daily to your art. Maybe your schedule will only allow for two hours daily, but you will produce more by working for those two hours every day than you will by waiting for big blocks of time.Treat your studio time as sacred. Train your family and friends to respect that time. You don't interrupt them when they are at work; ask them the same courtesy when you are in the studio.2. Set a production goal. If I could tell you the secret to producing 50, or 100 pieces per year, would you listen? Here it is: create 1 or 2 pieces per week.I know it seems overly simple, yet few artists work in a concerted disciplined way to achieve this goal.(A common objection I hear to this suggestion is that quality will suffer if an artist works this quickly. In my experience, the opposite is true. A certain level of quality may only be obtained by putting miles on the paintbrush, spending hours in the darkroom, moving tons of clay or stone.)
3. Remove distractions from the studio. Move your computer to another room. Unplug the telephone. Nothing kills an artist's focus faster than the constant interruption of technology. Your inbox and voicemail will keep your messages safe while you work.
Mistake #3: Delivering a portfolio in a format inconvenient for gallery review. Often your portfolio is your only chance to show your work to a gallery owner. Poorly formatted portfolios are rarely viewed. Your portfolio should be concise, simple, informative and accessible. 25 years ago, formatting a portfolio was simple. A portfolio was either a literal portfolio with sheet protectors and photos, or a slide sheet. The choices have since multiplied. CD? Digital hardbound photo-book? .Pdf file? Email? Which format is the most effective? None of these, actually. Each has drawbacks limiting effectiveness. They are either too much work for the gallery owner to access, too easy to delete, or too hard for you to maintain. In my workshop I will show an example of a perfect portfolio. Easy to maintain, easy to share. Successful. A couple of things to keep in mind with your portfolio:
1. Your portfolio should contain no more than 20-25 of your most recent works. You should not create an all-inclusive portfolio. A gallery owner does not want to see your life's work. They want to see your best, most current, most relevant work.2. On each page you should include pertinent, relevant information about the art. Include the title, the medium, the size, and the price. Don't include the date of artwork creation.3. Place your bio, artist's statement, and resume at the back of the portfolio, not the beginning. Your artwork is the most important feature of the portfolio, don't bury it behind your info. Limit press clippings, and magazine articles to 2-3 pages.4. Include 2-3 images of sold artwork. You should try to include at least one photo of your artwork installed. These images will establish your credibility more rapidly than any resume ever could. In my upcoming North Carolina workshops I will teach you how to create a powerful portfolio. Your new portfolio will end up in gallery owner's hands, rather than in the garbage can.
Mistake #4: Lacking confidence and consistency in pricing. One of the greatest challenges facing you as an artist is knowing how to correctly value your work. Many artists price their work emotionally, and inconsistently. Galleries can't sell wrongly priced art. Worse, nothing will betray an unprepared artist like not knowing how to price his/her work. Many artists mistakenly under-price their work. They do this because they feel they are not established. They do it because their local art market won't sustain higher prices. They do it because they lack confidence in their work. In the workshop I will help you come up with a consistent, systematic formula for pricing your art. Is your work priced correctly?
Mistake #5: Approaching the wrong galleries. My gallery is located in an art market dominated by Southwest and Western subject matter. My gallery stands apart from most of the galleries in Arizona because I have chosen art outside the norms. Yet I am constantly contacted by Western and Southwestern artists. They seem surprised and hurt when I turn them away. They could have saved us both some discomfort by researching my gallery before approaching. Which markets should you approach first? How should you research the galleries? Is it safe to work with galleries in out-of-state markets? During my workshop I will teach you how to create a list of qualified, appropriate galleries to contact (I will also teach you how to approach them).
Mistake #6: Submitting art through the wrong channels. Conventional wisdom, and even some highly respected art marketing books will advise you to send your portfolio with a cover letter to the gallery. You may also hear it's best to call a gallery and try and make an appointment to meet the owner. You might visit a gallery's website to learn of their submission guidelines. In my experience, these methods all guarantee failure. I will share with you a more direct, simpler approach; this approach will tremendously improve your chances of success. The approach is no secret, and yet most artists don't employ it.Join me onWednesday, January 13 in Greensboro, Thursday, January 14 in Raleigh, or Saturday, January 16, 2010 in Charlotte. In addition to learning how to avoid the mistakes listed above, in this four hour workshop you will also see clearly how to effectively organize your work, build your brand as an artist, communicate effectively with your galleries, and much more. I will give you concrete steps you can take to systematically prepare for gallery relationships. The workshop will be held at the following three locations - register for the one most convenient for you:
Enjoy and leave your comments. I'll have to say that the more I think about this topic the more I feel like each and everyone of us needs to learn by trial and error of what works for each of our specific situations. Weather your a face-paced production potter who is really organized or someone like me who just wants to make interesting work, sell it to people who using it while also trying to juggle a number of various roles in ones life, we each learn by trying different approaches and communicating those to all our peers. I think learning from each other is the best tool I have had in my career.
( now...is anyone else out there sort of chuckling??)
So Quaid had a blast and Joey and I survived the night and our girls had some alone time with my parents. Today I'm working on taxes...yes...late taxes. Shame on me! I usually don't do this but September and Octobers tax information got away from me and now I've got to pay the piper.
This evening I plan on layering-up and going out to my glaze shed and finishing up my special orders. I was even thinking that I may pug up the ton of clay I'm storing in my studio so its all fresh for me to get going after Christmas.
I'm also planning on gathering some of my thoughts about selling my work and posting my opinion on this subject so....stay tuned for that discussion.
Hope everyone is "getting a little Christmas" out there in cyber-world! I'm slowly hammering away at my Santa list!
Thanks to those folks who came out to the sale today. Next year we will be in a barn at Black's Peaches for our event and it will last the entire weekend with many more craftsman selling hand-made items.
I have a good selection of pots and even a few pots that have just a little boo-boo but still need a good home!
If you want a little adventure today, come out to York and stop by. We'll have some champange, hot apple cider and lots of free baked goodies while you shop. I think we may even have a live Hen out front having enjoy a little" free range grass" on my front lawn.
If your in the area, please stop on by and see what all the students have been up. I saw a few really good deals this morning and of course, some Jen Mecca pots where scattered around as well!
I guess this post is more about myself than the show. The show was good, sales where good, my cups display was a hit! All my mugs flew out the door, I didn't come back with any! My pillow mural brought in lots of customers and many compliments. I didn't sell it but that wasn't my intention so I did succeed with what I set out to do. (Once again, I am sorry I didn't get a photo of it...but I will at some point since its all packed up and here with me at home. )
So, I have this part of doing shows down. I have the work, I have the display, I know how to deal with customers its the taking care of myself during the preparations for this type of event or maybe just trying to do it is all is what I don't seem to have down yet. Once again I still think I'm in my 20's and don't need a whole lot of sleep. This year I could really see on my face that this is not the case...I need sleep!! I totally wore myself out leading up to this show and my family dealt with the repercussions. Also, looking around at the vendors for this show, which takes place Thanksgiving weekend, I came to the conclusion that most where either older folks with grown children or couples with no kids. Our children spent the vacation being shuffled around and I was not the most cheeriest Mommy to be around even though I did try to put on a good appearance.My extended family didn't enjoy being around me much either because I kept saying was the "I'm so tired!!" Well in the end I got sick and muddled through the show with a lowgrade temp and a horrible cough.
So, with that and my blurry photo's, I'm sort of just going with the flow this week in getting ready for my home show. I'm really looking forward to next week and only have one very important task to take care of..me and my family.