Expanding our markets: Artists

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Example of wonderful image created by graphic artist David Billings, aka Sparky Firepants. I commissioned this with @CharlieGilkey for our Lift Off Retreat participants, as a sticker on their Moleskine notebooks.

Time flies when you are having fun!

This is the second post in a three-week series about using our collective wisdom to help expand the markets for our business.

The professional services crowd has been busy giving each other advice on the first post of this series. Thanks for all your input folks, and keep going!

Today I want to focus on our highly creative, artistic brethren (and sisteren), including:

  • Graphic artists
  • Fine artists
  • Photographers

Here is what to do if you ARE a professional artist business owner:

  1. State the nature of your business, your ideal client descriptionย  and current marketing strategy. If you have an active site, share the link. Let us know where you need help.
  2. Reply to your peers’ comments with your ideas

If you ARE NOT a professional artist, we really need your help!

  1. Reply to specific comments with ideas
  2. Tell us where we are totally missing the boat and thinking too narrowly. Often those outside of our own fields have the most creative ideas!

This is the kind of information that will be useful to share:

  1. Specific marketing tactics (“Have you ever thought about hosting an art show in your neighborhood? … etc)
  2. Good articles about growing a professional artist business
  3. Really smart people who have a definite opinion about this sector of the market (Hugh McLeod comes to mind)
  4. Good blogs on this topic
  5. Anything else that would be useful

As I have said in earlier posts, let’s see where this discussion takes us! I will update this post with links left in the comments so we have an organized list of resources.

Go crazy with ideas people!

I forgot to mention the really good ebook that my bro Chris Guillebeau put together:

The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money.ย  It costs either $39 or $58 depending on your version. Chris’ work is really good quality — you may want to check it out.

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81 Responses to “Expanding our markets: Artists”

  1. Lance Klass says:

    Hi Pam,

    I just discovered your site and am extremely impressed by all the great advice on your site for artists who want to break into the field of art licensing. This is a tremendous service to artists, to art licensing, and also to every business that creates retail products and is dependent on a fresh, new and dynamic supply of artwork for their products. Well done!

    I’ve been posting articles on the Do’s and Don’t’s of Art Licensing on our site (www.porterfieldsfineart.com) for a number of years as well as writing articles for art-related publications on the basics of art licensing. At a time when we’re all under stress from a damaged economy, I think it’s more important than ever to provide workable how-to information for artists who want to get ahead. Keep it up!

  2. DS says:

    Hi everyone…i am new here and have just finished reading Pam’s Escape from Cubicle nation. I am truly inspired.

    I have a full-time job (which i absolutely laoth to the pt of 10 on Pam’s scale) and a part-time artist and art entrepreneur (my passion). My personal paintings are on http://www.arteefartee.com. I have 2 online art galleries http://www.artrism.com (international art) and http://asian.artrism.com (Asian art), which I set up to help artists sell their artworks online, especially Asian artists who are not online savvy, free of charge. I earn a commission for every sale. However, I find it hard as business is really slow. I have done marketing activites like SEM, classified listings, social media but to no avail. I would really appreciate some advice on what I am doing wrong. I have a blog artrism.blogspot.com and a facebook page. Please help!

  3. […] contribute travel pieces anymore — focusing more on cultural identity work and pursuing hybrid entertainment — but since the tourism season approaches here are the points I see differently: Emirgan […]

  4. I’m an on-location portrait and event photographer with my own business, Girl + Camera LLC, based out of the Princeton, NJ area.

    My ideal client is someone in the young-adult to middle-age group (22-60) with an eye and heart for artistic photography who’s very willing to look at both traditional and non-traditional portraits and who appreciates photojournalistic work. My ideal client knows the value of having a personal photographer show up where ever they want in the world to take their photographs and pays accordingly and without reservation.

  5. […] I have been bowled over by the fantastic suggestions and supportive communication flying back and forth on my first two “Expanding our markets” posts, Professional Services and Artists. […]

  6. […] Expanding our markets: Artists Pam Slim, writing on her Escape From Cubicle Nation blog, encourages readers both inside and outside of arts professions to help each other find new and fresh markets for selling their work and their services. […]

  7. Barbara Saunders says:

    If you are a fine artist who sells big-ticket pieces, I suggest exploring BNI networking groups. I was a member for a while but found it not as useful as I might have liked for my high-trust business – personal training. (Basically, people were just more likely to refer people they met to their own personal trainer than to someone they met in a networking group – for good reason!)

    Fine artists did really well. Real estate and mortgage brokers, for example, could refer to a lot of their clients. People in the group bought art for their offices. And fine art is really low trust. If I like your art, I might refer you. I don’t necessarily have to know or like you.

  8. […] Slim’s Expanding Our Markets: Artists has lots of discussion and good ideas for graphic artists, fine artists and […]

  9. Brooke says:

    What a fantastic, supportive community that I’ve just stumbled upon. I can’t help but want to join….

    I am very new to the entrepreneurial world, and thus I don’t know how much help I can offer up to others, but I’ll do my best. I’m somewhat an artist of a different sort, but I have similar marketing and pricing struggles. I have recently started a portable Pilates business, where I teach individual sessions or small-group classes on the client’s site (home, business, etc). While I am not an artist per se, there is quite a bit of creativity involved.

    Aside from general issues with marketing and pricing (believing that I have something to offer!), I’m trying to expand the business with other projects, taking me outside of the Puget Sound area. I’ve recently started becoming more active in the blogosphere to gain notoriety (hopefully in a good way!) to develop a video- and text-based e-course to get people started on Pilates. I have some other thoughts, as well…

    Thanks for any thoughts or ideas! I’m going to re-read everyone else’s posts to see if I have anything to add.

    Thanks so much!

    • Brooke says:

      Ugh. I feel badly. I’m realizing this belongs more on the “professional services” thread that I just found. I’m going to post over there instead… sorry for the confusion. ๐Ÿ™

  10. Carl Beck says:

    Hi Pam,
    thanks for inviting us artists to the table!

    I am a Danish artist, blogger and founder of the Copenhagen Stuckists (see stuckism.com)
    My ideal customer is a person who believes and evangelizes the message that I convey in my artwork. My mission is to express the human condition through art, and I try to make every viewer question her own life assumptions, take responsibility and be the change they want to see in life.

    I mainly use my blog paintshooter.dk as a marketing vehicle, but also make use of facebook and twitter occasionally.
    I recently wrote a post on how to excape the cubicle:
    and I would be very interested in writing a guestpost on your blog at some point.

    At this point I am mostly struggling to punch through the white-wall gallery scene run by Charles Saatchi types.
    The trouble for artists is mostly a matter of establishing authority i guess.
    Any tips are welcome!

    thanks for a great blog!
    best regards Carl Beck

  11. Leanne says:

    In addition to my own business (copywriting, especially for small businesses and artists) I’m a partner in a glassblowing business.

    C&H Glassworks (http://www.chglassworks.com) specializes in artistic pumpkins and gourds, but also offers blown glass vases, paperweights, and now, glasses and lamps.

    C&H’s ideal client is someone who appreciates the artistry of blown glass–and understands that no, it won’t cost what a similar piece in clay would cost, nor are the glass pieces you can buy at big-box stores an accurate reflection of the craft (or its cost!)

    We’re trying to figure out…
    (a) how to develop our clientele into collectors rather than one-off buyers
    (b) how to keep the bread-and-butter production work going while also developing the larger sculptural “art” pieces
    (c) how to expand beyond our audience of gourd-buyers.

    Currently, we’re marketing by actively participating in retail craft shows around the country (including several high-end shows like the Cherry Creek Arts Festival and the Ann Arbor show); by participating in wholesale craft shows such as Buyer’s Market; by reaching out to our existing wholesale and retail buyers regularly. We host an open house in the fall, and we’re looking into ways to increase interest in our glassblowing lessons (including donating lessons to local benefit auctions and posting information about classes on our website and in local classifieds.)

    We’ve gotten good feedback about our website, but having worked the back-end for a while, I *know* there are systems and set-ups that are easier to update… but we just haven’t had the time or the dedicated $ to make that happen just yet.

    Beyond the website, here are some things we’re struggling with/trying to sort through: I’m interested in figuring out how to reach more buyers/clients directly. I’m also intrigued by the idea of developing relationships with interior designers whose clients might like our work, but am not entirely sure how to go about doing that (or what might be involved.) Last, I’d love to get some press coverage of the studio–perhaps in seasonal articles or gift guides–but again, not sure what the best strategy for that might be.

    If anyone is still reading this thread, I’d love to hear any reactions to those ideas or additional suggestions y’all may have!

    • Brooke says:

      One thought I had about turning people into “collectors”: a colleague has used this technique successfully with his wine business. Rather than merely selling the piece in a showroom, find a way to share the history of the piece, or the artist, with the potential customer. Of course, you don’t want to do this with every single piece, but you can showcase a single artist for the month. And if you have a new artist featured every month, this will keep people excited and coming back!

  12. Libby Unwin says:

    Thank you all for your kind comments and input! I very much appreciate what you’re saying. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Oops! In previous comment I forgot to mention some of my favorite resources:
    Pam & Chris’s $100 Business Forum
    Lisa Sonora Beam’s book, The Creative Entrepreneur
    Alyson Stanfield’s book, I’d Rather Be In the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion; her ArtBiz blog: http://artbizblog.com; and online classes

    Hope these are helpful.

  14. Hello, everyone! What an exciting group of responses already.

    I’ve been a professional visual artist for quite a few years, but now I’m also focusing on creating my business to be profitable. I create colorful, tactile, abstract acrylic paintings on panel and paper. You can see the work at my newly redesigned website, http://cynthiamorefield.com.

    My ideal clients value engaging original artwork. They know that soul-feeding artwork can enrich their living or working space. I’m also interested in placing my work in more public spaces, particularly hospitals and other healing environments, so if you’re a consultant for those types of venues, or know someone who is, please let me know!

    Current marketing strategy is to pursue commercial gallery representation across the country (I’m represented by two galleries now), show my work in alternative venues, tell the story of my work and my process on my blog and through artist talks, network on Twitter (@CindyMorefield) and Facebook (CindyMorefield). I just recently discovered http://redbubble.com and think this might be a great way to generate some passive income selling cards and prints, without the hassle of keeping an inventory.

    It’s lovely to meet you all, and I look forward to your ideas!

  15. I’m just getting started as a portrait and food photographer, and I’m technically launching my business next week on my website and on Etsy.

    My ideal clients consist of people who want simple, beautiful photos to put in their homes and people who want genuine, natural portraits of themselves (and others). I’d love to do portraits of bloggers in particular, but I’m not sure exactly how to go about showing people that that’s what I do.

    Next week, I’ll add a services page to my blog, http://www.kyliewrites.com, with information about my portrait services. I’ll also put up my Etsy store, which has food, nature and urban photographs in it. I’m getting in touch with local craft fairs and food events to see if I can either sell my photos there or hang my work. People can also find out about my food photos on my food blog, http://www.thincrustdeepdish.com.

    I guess where I’d like help is in figuring out how to offer my portrait work. I don’t do weddings or events, so I’m unsure about where to connect with the people who need what I do. Any ideas?

    Thanks so much, everyone!

    • Your photographs are great, Kylie. As for your portrait work, you might want to think about non-event contexts where people would want a portrait – headshots, images for websites or other promotional materials, book jackets. Since you are also pursuing food photography, there might be some overlapping interests – the most obvious would be for chefs/cooks who need portraits for promotional materials, but maybe home cooks would also be interested in having a portrait set in their kitchen, or of them (and/or their family) cooking – definitely not the usual portrait venue, but some folks might like it for precisely that reason.

    • Leanne says:

      What about doing photojournalism-style “portraits” at non-art-y, non-wedding-y events? As in, if you’re participating in some benefit for a LGBTQ organization, what about setting up a “portrait corner” where people can come have their photos taken. No obligation; you take the images, collect their contact info, and send them a link to “preview” the images. If they like ’em, they can buy prints from you. Plus, then they see you and will think of you when they want a particular portrait.

      Or similar idea: what about offering to do this at some gathering of bloggers. Blogher?

  16. Thought I’d throw a plug in for this guide by Chris from The Art of NonConformity:


    Best to all,


  17. Meri says:

    What a fortuitious coincidence that I happened upon this site. My dream has always been to earn a living as an artist. I am a filmmaker, musician, actress and writer who has been trying to combine my talents in some way to form a viable business. I do not fit into corporate America very well and would rather be self-employed doing just about anything–and for any number of hours per day–than work for someone else… A career consultant suggested I begin a marketing business as I can write very well, can write ad copy, blogs, web site content, etc., and I can make videos for businesses that can be used for marketing purposes. My challenge has been that there are so many writers trying to do what I want to do–went to a few networking groups and they were filled with people starting up marketing businesses… And with the economy the way it is, I’ve heard many people are outsourcing freelance writing jobs to third world countries.

    However, I just got the inspiration to play classical guitar for weddings. It seems that weddings are something that people will spend money on–even in this economy. I can also make videos for the bride and groom. Perhaps they’d like some of the guests or family members interviewed, and the video could be shown during the reception. A friend of mine is an ordained minister and can conduct wedding ceremonies.

    Anyhow, I’ve set up a web site, put up some videos I’d made, including some samples of my music, so that people can get an idea of my talents.

    My concern is this: I can’t afford the latest and greatest camera equipment. I shoot on mini DV and can convert it to DVD. I can edit the footage using Final Cut Express. But will many people want HD or HQ–thousand dollar camera equipment? My strength is in telling stories with my video. I’m very good at interviewing people and getting people to relax in front of the camera. I can put footage together to tell a compelling story. But I don’t have the latest and greatest equipment, for those people who’ll want the fancy photography. I’m more of a storyteller–a videographer–rather than a photographer, if that makes sense.

    I’m also wondering if my talents inspire anyone out there with more creative ideas on how to market myself? I feel as though there are lots of copy writers out there, and other videographers and classical guitarists. I wonder how to find a niche for myself, how to make what I do unique so that customers would want to choose me. Attracting the right customers is always a challenge.
    There are very few female guitarists, very few people who can write like me, and very few people who can tell stories with their videos the way that I can. I can make just about anyone relax in front of the camera and I get inspired by people’s stories.

    Does any of this inspire anyone out there with helpful suggestions on how I can make a successful business from this? Thanks again!

    • Meri says:

      I guess I didn’t mention my current marketing strategy or who my ideal customers would be. I’d like to promote other artists but artists typically have little money to spend so I’m not sure that would be a good client base–though I just really like meeting other artists and get along with creative people really well. My ideal clients would be happy people who appreciate my work and really want to pay me for it because they believe I deserve to be reimbursed. They would be people who enjoy working with small businesses and giving back to their community. Ideally, my customers would be creative, innovative and artistic types, like me. They’d be just starting out or looking to hire artists who are just starting a business.

      My marketing strategy has been to go on LinkedIn and other social networking sites like this one and to give people a chance to get to know me. I’ve also attended networking events for small business owners and handed out my business cards.

      Finding customers who have money to spend and are willing to spend it on a new, small business rather than an established corporation has been quite the challenge for me. And I’m on a tight financial budget too.

  18. John T Unger says:

    I make my full time living as an artist and have done so since 2000. At present, almost all of my sales are through the internet, including wholesale sales to galleries. You can see my work at http://www.johntunger.com. I’m best known for my Artisanal Firebowl line, but I make a broad variety of artwork in addition to those.

    My quick advice for other artists and creatives who want to make a living through their art is:

    1. As an artist. your business and marketing plan can be as creative as your artworkโ€ฆ in fact they have to be. Find the ways that work for you and that express your vision. Don’t feel you have to reinvent the wheel, but also know that you don’t have to do it the way everyone has told you it must be done.

    2. Business and marketing can feel scary or intimidating, but if you do it right, people will shower you with money and affection. What’s not to like about that? In the end, it’s all about people and their passionsโ€ฆ selling art is a lot like flirting.

    3. If you choose the right customers, there is a much better chance that the customer is always right. You can’t make customers of everyone and you shouldn’t try to. Find the people who are looking for exactly what it is that you doโ€ฆ if someone likes the art you make, there’s a fair chance that you’ll have other things in common with them as well.

    4. Do the math: The biggest mistake I see artists make in business is not paying attention to their overhead and hard costs. If you want to make a profit, you have to know what the work costs you to make and deliver.

    5. Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worthโ€” it’s easier to make a few large sales than thousands of small sales. Every sales takes time away from the studio, so make that time count.

    6. Get a professionally designed site or blog with your own domain, a real shopping cart and clear navigation. Although I also have my work on sites like Etsy, I sell 100 pieces from my own site for every sale I make on Etsy. Just as you would invest in the best possible tools and materials for your art, it matters what tools you use on the web, in business and in marketing. If you want to go pro, buy professional tools.

    7. Don’t make it hard for people to contact you or buy your work. If you require people to contact you to ask the price of a work of art, or if you can’t accept credit cards on your site, you will lose the bulk of your sales. Setting up a merchant account was more expensive and complicated that using PayPal but it increased my sales by 500% overnight. It’s worth it.

    I’ve started a new online radio show, Art Heroes Radio, to share what I know about business and marketing with other artists. Tuesday nights are call-in shows organized around a particular question or theme and Thursday nights are one hour conversations with with established and upcoming artists, creative professionals and experts in related fields. All the shows are archived on the site at http://www.artheroesradio.com. I hope you’ll check it out or subscribe in iTunes.

    • Heather Kozan says:

      Nice work! My metal work isn’t like yours, but I appreciate what you’ve done. ๐Ÿ™‚
      I will check out your radio show. Great list you posted too.

    • Cheryl Kling says:

      Beautiful work John. Your tips are very generous and practical. I’m sharing your radio site with other artist friends.Thanks.

    • Yael Grauer says:

      Good stuff. As a non-artist who sometimes buys artwork, I just want to reiterate how right on number 7 is. I’ve been on sites where I loved the work but because there was no price on there I assumed it was out of my price range and didn’t want to go through the awkwardness of asking and finding that out, so just went to another site. Also, when told to fill out a form for a quote, if I don’t at least get an autoresponder back AND don’t hear from the person within a couple of days I’ve usually found someone else by the time I do.

      • John T Unger says:

        I feel like autoresponders are a bit too impersonal for my clients, but I always try to get back to people asap. If I have to think about the answer to their question, I’ll usually drop them an email or call so that they at least know that I got their message and am working on a response.

        • Yael Grauer says:

          A personal touch is always best. I don’t love autoresponders either, but it’s better than not hearing anything at all, especially when it gives me some idea of how long a response will take. (Not hearing anything at all is a red flag for me.)

          By the way, I’m a big fan of your work!

  19. […] contribute travel pieces anymore — focusing more on cultural identity work and pursuing hybrid entertainment — but since the tourism season approaches here are the points I see differently: Emirgan […]

  20. Tammy Vitale says:

    I have been a full time fine artist for almost 10 years. In the process of learning to be a professional fine artist, (among other things) I developed and ran ArtsAlive!, a non-profit venue to bring diverse artists and art to my area and was also co-owner and curator for The Wylde Womenโ€™s Gallery whose goal was to make a place for artists who โ€œdidnโ€™t fit.โ€ My passion is clay but I also paint and lately make a lot of jewelry. Making a living as an artist requires recognizing the flow – and even in an economic downturn, women buy jewelry.

    My art is represented by a growing number of shops and small galleries in the continental United States and is collected by national and international clients. I sell at larger local fairs and festivals and folks find my work on my blog (http://www.TammyVitale.com/weblog) too. I teach at Annmarie Garden, a local sculpture garden affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute.

    I am also an art business coach – which is really a life coach to entrepreneurs because what are artists if not entrepreneurs and who are we as people if not the artists of the masterpiece of our life?

    My ideal clients (for buying art and for using my coaching services) are actually segmented because I sell person to person and through a 3rd party. My individual peeps tend to be empty nester women 45 – 65 who have their own discretionary income and who are yearning toward and/or moving into their own power. They are drawn to images of the divine feminine and like to have inspirational art around them to remind them of their true self. Often they have put aside their own creativity to care for family and are now ready to care for themselves.

    The shops I do best with tend to be independent, women-owned and have clients who fit my individual demographic.

    I have just finished an Artist Survey: The Business of Art. You can sign up for the report on that, due out early may, here: http://tammyvitale.com/workshopsretreats/artist-survey-the-business-of-art/ . I initially created this survey to help me focus the content of my blog, but have since realized that there are a lot of artists out there reading books by non-artists and not finding what they need. My experience as a career artist gives me insights into the questions under the questions that artists have about dealing with the dual demands of the energy of creativity that needs expression and the requirements of business which have to be in place to support that creativity over the long term.

    The top challenge mentioned most often (from start to finish of the survey) was how to price art. I have created an intensive 5 day eseminar, “Sell Your Art, Keep Your Soul: An Authentic Artist to Artist Thrival Guide” which will be available May 24. And of course it deals with much more than just pricing, because pricing is simply the tip of a very deep iceburg. I’ll have information up on that shortly, in the meantime if you sign in at the above url for the report, I’ll make sure you get information on the eseminar too.

    My Marketing strategy is to meld my 20 years experience as a community-based/issue-based/movement-based organizer with my art and coaching business. In the beginning even I, who always color outside the lines, thought maybe I was a bit crazy thinking that the two equated. NowI find it is no different than the segmenting of the market into “tribes” – same mixture of skill and intuition, different “issue.” Very exciting!

    Folks can find me at my website, http://TammyVitale.com,
    on Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/TammyT Vitale; and on Twitter: @TammyVitale.

    • Leanne says:


      I think pricing art is *always* a challenge, so can’t wait to see your report on the subject.

      Took a quick look at your site and have one comment to share: can you make the links to wholesalecrafts.com go directly to the pages with *your* work on it? As a browser, if I’m going from your site to wc.com, I want to see which of YOUR pieces they’re carrying, not the generic entry page for wholesalecrafts. Right now, your efforts are marketing them, not the other way ’round.

      BTW, I like the sculptures a lot. I agree that jewelry is always a hit and a relatively easy purchase, but I see so much of it that in all honesty, the sculptures stand out a bit more for me.

  21. Kadira says:

    I have left 2 comments here already – for others so I thought I should put up a bit about me.
    As I was saying to Jed – I have been in a long non creative period and have only recently stepped fully onto the creative path. I teach art several days a week and have just begun working on my first major exhibition for 10 years. I feel like Im beginning all over again – however I am coming form a very different place now. I understand much more about marketing and connecting now and I think the advice in Chris’s book is spot on. As artists we can no longer rely on the gallery scene to be our begin and end all for marketing our work. We need to take responsibility for getting our creations into the hands of others and thanks to the internet we now can do that on world wide basis.
    As with many other business I believe art is no different, we have to engage in the new form of marketing – social networking, make friends and connecting with people.

    People buy on emotion, how many times are we told that? And art really is an emotional investment – it is our emotions that respond to certain artworks, they touch something within us that connects us to ourselves. So when we build strong relationships with others they will often naturally gravitate to an attraction to our work. After all no one knows our work better than we do – so who better to sell it.

    My marketing strategy (which is still in its infancy I might add), is based around my blog. I have begun a conversation here – my platform is creativity and an abundance mindset for artists. Personally I am fascinated by creativity and it is my passionate belief that everyone is creative in their own unique way.

    My marketing strategy is to have my blog http://unfoldingcreativity.com as the hub and it will have several things attached to it eventually, like – links to other online galleries I am represented in, a separate personal website which will be my online gallery, a membership site, a newsletter, etc. I am also on Twitter, Facebook and Linked in and currently learning how to maximize and integrate these platforms.

    My biggest challenge currently is getting traffic to my blog. I am finding that Twitter is helping with this – a couple of weeks ago I had 30 people visit from Twitter in one day – that was really exciting – my biggest number yet!

    The next biggest challenge is trying to find time to do everything! I post at least twice a week on my blog and I am still trying to tweek and iron out technical stuff with that as well as getting my artworks priced and up on the blog.

    I wanted to say thanks Pam I love this conversation and am really enjoying being a part of it.

  22. jed morley says:

    Hi there

    After 15 years of waiting, I’m literally making the leap of faith into an artist’s lifestyle; today is my last day of office work! I set-up an account on red-bubble at the turn of the year, and my GF has set me up my own ‘blog-model’ site complete with gallery. I still don’t think I’ve got any pictures online that show how good I can be, but I have enough of a portfolio now to show my potential.

    The plan from here-on in is to promote myself on as many print/gallery sites as possible, trek around london to find hanging space in galleries/pubs/restaurants, and to sell from stalls at various markets. I plan to carry a fair quantity of a3 & a4 originals with optional frames as high-end products, plus prints & postcards for those with smaller budgets. And of course, a large stock of business cards linking to my site & depicting my strongest images.

    This is a big step for me, so any comments/advice/feedback would be more than welcome! :o)


    • Kadira says:

      Hi Jed – wow thats awesome – way to go. I take my hat off to you because its taken me an extra 25 odd years to get around to doing the same thing myself. Im emerging into accepting my life as a creative after being pretty much in denial of that for the last 10 years – a very protracted artists block! I would highly recommed you getting Pams brothers book The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money. I bought it about 5 months ago – its fantastic -love his website too.

      The way to go is to get into social networking are you on twitter and facebook?

  23. Emi Sfard says:

    Hi, thanks for this opportunity to share.
    I’m an illustrator. I worked for several years as a product designer and three years ago decided to dedicate myself fully to art and illustration. My product design background does have some significant impact on my illustration work which mostly revolves around sculptures/puppets that I photograph.
    At this point I’m getting some commissioned work as an illustration but not enough to free myself from other types of freelance work. So definitely this is what I’m working on, trying to increase the volume of commissioned illustration work.
    As a marketing strategy, I just recently decided to be more proactive with my approach, and at this point I’m all over the place, maybe too much so. My husband and me recently redecorated the website (www.emisfard.com), which is a combination of a portfolio website and a blog. I’m trying twitter, facebook and all sorts of SEO tactics. I’m also trying to get in touch with agents and see if I could get an agent to represent me and help me with getting more work.
    My ideal client would be a children’s book publishing that will commission my illustrations for a picture-book, or even better a producer that will want me to work on stop-motion animation (characters/puppets/etc.) They should see the value in the original creative work and have the required patience.

  24. Cheryl Kling says:

    There is so much passion in this group, it’s wonderful. I am going to go through all of your comments and websites again. It’s a joy. I have attended two of Pam’s workshops and recommend her as an excellent teacher.
    I am an artist and art educator. For many years, I’ve had the benefit of loving my teaching job, which nicely supports me. It has provided me time to make art without the pressure of having to sell it. Of course, as it accumulates, I do sell it. I’ve been able to explore and master a variety of media over many years, such as stone carving, jewelry design, printmaking, and painting. My career spans a few decades, so changing media has been about growth and communicating ideas in the best format. More recently I wrote, illustrated and independently published a children’s book (www.cherylkling.com). That was so much fun. I know it sounds like I can’t stay focused on one media, but it’s not like that. Over the years, my teaching job has required all of those skills and also feeds my own creativity process.
    Speaking of creative process, being able to facilitate the development of creative minds is something I am passionate about. Clearly, I’m still doing it after this many years. I write a blog about creativity and how anyone can participate in the process.
    If you check any of those sights , you will see that I’m becoming competent with technology (I’m quite proud of that much, but still learning) and welcome any questions or feedback.
    Ideally, I would like to generate an income doing what I love that is not dependent on getting up at 5 am and standing for 9 hours a day. .I don’t ask much. It is what I am inching toward and I believe that time will be soon.

  25. Libby Unwin says:

    Oh I am intimidated by every last one of you! But Sparky told me to come to here and so I did. I always do what he says.

    State the nature of your business: This is a question I can only recently answer without stumbling over my words or feeling guilty. I am an artist, obsessed with surface design. I draw, then I put the stuff I draw onto other stuff. Fabric, wallpaper, plates, cups, shirts, anything you can stick something to, I’ll stick my art to it. Or carve it in. Or mold it out of gum and paperclips. I just like to see my art on stuff. I also have a big crush on interior design and DIY projects.

    Your ideal client description: A manufacturer/art licensee who enjoys product design/development and wants to put my stuff on their products, or an average Joe who wants some unconventional ideas on how to spruce up his/her home. I recently had someone come to me and say, “This music artist is about to release their first record. How would you accessorize it?” That was awesome. Unlimited potential, and permission to brainstorm. I also like a client pays well. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Current marketing strategy: I just sent my website redesign to a killer developer who is going to help me make my site something a.) people can find and b.) that makes people want to call me. I, too, am a Tara Reed-ite (hi!) and as soon as this website stuff is up and running, I’m going to cold call some manufacturers (I just shuddered). I need to get myself (my person, not just my name) out there and get to know the industry I so desperately want to be part of. That, I guess, is my strategy. I’m not looking for typical design clients anymore — people who need logos or business cards or web sites; I’m looking at a very, very specific niche market, mainly manufacturers. I have a ways to go.

    I’ll admit I am horrified at the concept of SEO, but equally relieved that I can outsource that. The girl redoing my website has promised me lots of lovely things in that area, so I am grateful I don’t have to research it all on my own.

    I have a little twinge of pride that wants to keep me from admitting that I have no idea where to begin to make some kind of marketing promo pack for myself. I mean, isn’t that what designers DO? Plus, being an artist, I just want to sit here and draw all day and the idea of self-promotion is not fun at all. But I know I have to (until I can afford to outsource that, too!).

    Active site link: http://www.lugraphics.com (it will look very different, come May 13 or so!)

    Let us know where you need help. I’ll be honest, I’m afraid to even ask and this is why: I find it overwhelming. The lingo, the technology, the must-do’s and must-haves, all of it. I certainly appreciate it and know it’s necessary. I’ve heard it said many times, many different ways, and for some reason, I’m still sitting here smacking my gum and not doing anything about it. I’m just not wired that way, you know?

    So there you have it. Nice to meet you! Hope your Thursday is going well, all. ๐Ÿ™‚

    xo, LU

    • Heather Kozan says:

      I think your designs would work wonderfully as wallpapers or backgrounds for websites or even in conjunction with sites like Twitter or MySpace. But I do see why you’d want to pursue manufacturing options. I could see items like you show (lamp shades, pillows, etc.) for the home selling in stores like Kohl’s or Target. Or even put onto fabrics to be used by clothing designers. They’d be perfect for notebooks, stationary & office products! I see (after I typed that) you’ve already partnered successfully with a manufacturer. You should quote them on your own website: “Weโ€™re proud to have Libby Unwin as one of our first World-Class designers. Her work is fresh, bold, and with an inimitable style that is unmistakeably modern.” I mean Wow! What wonderful words to read about oneself! Don’t be so shy about your work. It is very nice.

      Promotion is a huge part of being a successful artist. Without marketing & promotions, no one will even be aware of what you’re doing. I can understand your viewpoint, as I tend to be incredibly lazy as well. But I do know getting the word out makes all the difference! Before you can promote or market your wares, you need to have the confidence to back up what you’re doing. Getting help from professionals like your website assistant is a great starting place. But if you’re hesitant at all, you’ll do yourself a disservice. I’d recommend getting more feedback from other artists, like here in this thread, so that you hear from your contemporaries that they appreciate your work. Your designs are very intricate & I love that. I am a person who really likes filigrees, fine details & repetition in designs.

      I understand the fear involved in the process here, don’t get me wrong. Just a few days ago I was wallowing in my own sense of fear & uncertainty. Don’t let that stop you. It’s normal to feel scared when you’re venturing into new territory. Remember, you do this kind of work because you enjoy doing it. Let that joy manifest in how you talk about yourself & your work. If you can do that, it will change your level of energy & the responses you get.
      I apologize if I sound a bit too harsh. I think you hit a nerve with me because of my own doubts. Part of what I typed here is a self pep-talk!

      As far as feeling overwhelmed goes: Just take things one step at a time. Research is crucial. Today I’m sitting here reading all kinds of marketing tips & inspirational words for entrepreneurs. It’s very inspiring & reading up on some of the recommended “how-to’s” or “must-do’s.” Doing that can give you practical advice & help you take the first steps. You’re already ahead of the curve from where I’m at (I don’t have a website or wonderful words of praise from a business partner), so pat yourself on the back! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Libby, your patterns are wonderful. I agree with Heather – get those testimonials up on your website.
      All of us have been at the overwhelmed place, I’d wager, and we go there again from time to time when trying something new and challenging. Just do the next smallest easiest thing. Your art is worth it.

  26. Hi Cherry, I love your tableware and your web site is awesome. The art is right up front, very cool.

    I had a thought (it happens):

    What if you took your tableware to events where restauranteurs and chefs hang out? You could find a local partner (like a pastry shop) who could work with you to offer their stuff for attendees on your tableware?

    That way, the people who would be most directly involved in purchasing tableware for their restaurants would see your plates and bowls with food on them.

    So you and a person from the pastry shop (or whatever) could be at the table, ready to answer questions or offer suggestions.

    Or you could also show your art to manufacturers who could pay you for the design and take on the cost of creating and shipping the actual product.

    • Cherry C. says:

      Thank you, Sparky!
      I like the restaurant idea. I’ll do some footwork on that.

  27. Cherry C. says:

    Hi Pam,
    I got your book from Eugene C. and haven’t looked back since. Thank you for doing an open call to artists!

    I left my career as a city planner and am using that background now to design tableware. I launched my business, August Table, in November. We got some press in various design blogs and we are currently selling in two stores in San Francisco. But I feel like I could do more. I could do more on-line sales. How does one promote that?

    I’m baffled as to how do I get more press and actually be “featured” in design magazines. What is the best approach? I’ve done online submittals but I’ve heard nothing back. Is there some channel that I am not aware of?

    Also, does anyone have good ideas on how to bring “shipping” costs down? I am importing my dishes from Thailand and the shipping costs have eaten up what little profit I could have had.

    I am literally just starting out and I’m grateful for the press and blessings I’ve had so far. Sometimes though, I feel like I am standing on a ledge looking down and I’m waiting for the parachute or a glider, to help me “get there”.

    Any insights, advice, ideas would greatly be appreciated!
    Thank you in advance folks!

    • Leanne says:


      I love the plates! Those are very cool.

      My quick reaction is that what you’re terming “shipping” costs is actually part of your costs of goods sold –ie, you can’t let the costs of getting the plates from point of manufacture to market come out of the profit end; it has to be incorporated into the unit cost of the item. Or are you already doing that?

      Regarding growing sales… one option is to pitch your products to buyers for direct-mail catalogs like Artful Home (http://www.artfulhome.com/). You might also investigate setting up a booth at one of the design or craft trade shows as a means of getting your products in front of buyers for higher-end design/craft stores around the country. Not sure if the Buyer’s Market of American Craft show would be the best fit, but you might want to check it out.

  28. Thanks Pam.

    I’m an entertainment producer. I’m currently looking for an ILLUSTRATOR to storyboard a script into a GRAPHIC NOVEL for iPhone/iPad. (If you’re an illustrator and think your style might lend itself to a smart black comedy about star-crossed mercenaries who also happen to be 17th century English scholars, *contact me*!) After writing it for 2 years (it’s adapted from a novel) and shopping it around Hollywood for a year, the script has been lying fallow for a decade. Now that writers are producers, directors and engineers of their own content, I’m taking it off the shelf.

    NEW LINE OF BUSINESS FOR GRAPHIC ARTISTS? Perhaps the above general idea will be useful to other graphic artists: team up with writers who have screenplays they’ve labored over for years and been unable to get produced through more traditional, low-percentage/high-barrier routes like the film and television business (and like the publishing business, although it’s easier to convert a screenplay into a graphic novel than the non-visual writing/direction of a novel!). We’re legion, I tell you, and I believe there is plenty of good unproduced material out there.

    Would love to keep talking about this idea, and what it will take to bring these two communities together, plus the risk- and profit-sharing models for collaboration, etc.

    • Heather Kozan says:

      Your graphic novel sounds fascinating! I’m interested in learning more about it. I’m not sure if I have the right style for what you’re looking for. It would be worth considering though. I love the idea of illustrating for written works. I designed a cover for a book my mom wrote, but she was a tough client. She didn’t agree with my vision for the style. I should revisit it & see if we can’t work something out. I got frustrated after that & gave up on it. It’s been several years since then. She’s already working on a second book but hasn’t found a publisher for either -yet. I’ve had a long-standing love of book covers. I like walking around in bookstores viewing the 100’s of various styles of covers. It’s interesting how book covers can convey such a different meaning/feel. Even two separate issues of the same book can tell totally different stories based on the covers!

      I think you’re really onto something here. It would be a great way to give artists exposure,while also helping to build their professional portfolio. And who knows? Maybe some day the script/story will go mainstream & be made into a blockbuster movie? Or at the very least, a DVD release that is spread by word of mouth. Those can be relatively successful. I saw an amazing indie film full of incredible art a few months ago. The craftwork that went into the production was stunning. Someone had to edit all of the different artist’s work together to recreate the entire movie Night Of The Living Dead. It was a true labor of love!

    • Emi Sfard says:


      I’m an illustrator, though by the description of your graphic novel, most probably not the right one for you (but who knows). I’ll write a bit more about myself as with another reply to the post. But just wanted to say that the concept for the new line of business you mention is something I have running in my mind for some time now.
      The concept would be of a kind of meeting place for illustrators and writers to discuss, share and team up. There’s just so much potential in that junction and as you say it’s a way to overcome the usual barriers of the more traditional low-percentage routes. I’m thinking of an online community of some kind that could produce teams and encourage collaboration between illustrators and writers. Maybe also encourage larger teams (as most illustrators usually work alone).
      I definitely would like to discuss this concept further, and have some baby ideas about how this could work.
      I didn’t have much time to investigate this concept further, and I really wanted to

  29. So here I am. That’s my art at the top. This is me blushing because I totally took Pam for a ride on that design and she doesn’t even know it. Working on that actually reopened a door into making the kind of art that actually means something to me. So I got a lot more out of it than she and Charlie ever will. Don’t tell them.

    I help people design visuals for their awesome genius content. It’s like Pictionary on pixie sticks. In addition to working with clients, I’m also starting to create stock illustrations and art for licensing by manufacturers.

    I’ve learned that it’s not enough to hang out a shingle and say “I make logos and web graphics.” That business is building steadily, but it’s also important to diversify, to have more than one source of revenue. Actually, Pam has a great post in that vein:

    Super helpful and idea-generating.

    Also, I latched onto the teachings of Tara Reed, art licensing maven. If you’re an artist and want to learn the ropes of the wide world of licensing, Tara is a fantastic guide.

    Right now I’m completely revamping my web site. It’s cute, but it has a big booger hanging out of it’s nose. I’m getting a hankie.

    I’m also working on creating a product. I have no idea what that could be. Complete blank here. Ideas?

    • Tara Reed says:

      Thanks Sparky! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      As David said, I’m an artist who licenses my work. I come from a business background – armed with a degree in marketing, background in sales and obsessive compulsion to create. It has proven to be a great combo in the art licensing world.

      My art site is http://www.TaraReedDesigns.com – where I offer art for licensing to manufacturers to put on products. I exhibit at the SURTEX trade show each year (www.Surtex.com) and have met 75% of my clients for the first time at trade shows.

      I also enjoy writing, sharing and teaching so I started http://www.ArtLicensingInfo.com and the blog – http://www.ArtLicensingBlog.com – to help shed a light of what was a mysterious industry when I got into it in 2004. Through eBooks, teleseminars, free monthly calls and more – we are creating a great community of artists interested in licensing and attracting some of the “big names” to share their experience as well.

      The combination is exciting, feeds my spirit and pays my bills. Who could ask for more?

      So glad I found this site – fabulous!

      • Tara Reed says:

        Forgot one other piece of the puzzle… one thing many creative people, myself included, seem to struggle with is goal setting. I think we resist it with the “I need to work from inspiration” line, “don’t tie me down” mantra… People often create what they need most – that was certainly the case for my Goal Setting System – http://www.TheGoalWheelForArtists.com – based on the color wheel it’s colorful, designed for artists and leaves you room to flow.

  30. Hello everyone! This is a great series! Thanks Pamela for opening up this subject!

    I’m a visual artist and illustrator. I love to make bold and whimsical drawings that open people up to the possibilities in life. I’m also a champion of the idea of doing what you love, and living a creative life—I share this message constantly on my blog where I write about my art, creative inspiration, and life ideas/inspirations in general.

    My ideal client, or perhaps patron, is someone who is looking for inspiration to appreciate life and live his or her best life, has a sense of humor, and is looking to be opened up to new ideas in a fun and creative way.

    I’ll be honest and say that marketing is something I really struggle with—I have trouble finding a balance between the creative aspects of my business and the business-business aspects. My main marketing strategies are blogging, networking through other blogs, regularly updating and renewing items in my shop on Etsy.com, going to craft shows, and I’m also always looking for opportunities to get my general message out by writing—I’m always keeping an eye out for guest-blogging opportunities etc. I’ve also done the standard twitter and facebook stuff, although I’m not very diligent. Really I’m looking for marketing strategies that are authentic for me, creative, and add to my overall message/purpose.

    My business has been growing steadily but slowly over the past couple of years. I’m really looking for ideas about how to get my work out to more people. I feel like I’m having trouble breaking into a larger audience. I’d love to hear any ideas that anyone has! I don’t currently have a website website, but I use my shop and blog as my main online places. Here are the addresses:

    my Etsy shop: http://www.bluebicicletta.etsy.com
    my blog: http://bluebicicletta.wordpress.com


    • Nicole, your work is gorgeous. I mean, wow.

      Have you thought about licensing your art to manufacturers? It seems ideal. If you look at my comment (back a few) I mention it there.

  31. Hi Pam,
    I am a photographer based in Atlanta specializing in wedding and portraits.

    My ideal client recognizes the art of photography and not just snap, snap, done. How often does that client come along? Not very often. One thing that I have working on, is getting out of my comfort zone and let people know who you are and what you do.

    For marketing, I use an iPad which allows me to show perspective clients right then and there my portfolio, instead of handing over a business card and hope that they remember to check out my site when they get home. What’s even better is being able to send someone a picture postcard to their email with a personalized message straight from the iPad.

    Pam, I have read your book, recommended by Willie Jackson, and it has helped to inspire me to start my own business. Which I am in the process of going full time.

    One of the areas that I am looking to expand is racial diversity, I am trying to avoid being pigeonholed.

    My blog is located @ http://www.robertbromfield.com and galleries at http://www.rbromfieldphotography.com

    My Twitter @robertbromfield

  32. Heather Kozan says:

    I’m a graphic designer by trade. I haven’t had luck finding work in my field since I was laid off in the fall of 2008. I suppose I should use this as a launching pad to start freelancing. I don’t have a website put together yet, however. I’m a startup myself!

    I specialize in conceptual art which would be best applied to logo art, branding, or promotional materials. My abilities range from handmade illustrations, digital art, and copy writing. My ideal client would be someone who is just getting started & isn’t sure how to present/represent themselves visually online or otherwise. Or, even a business that’s established but could use a makeover to generate new business & appeal to their target market more directly.

    In addition to graphic arts, I’m currently pursuing a degree in Fine Art. I’ve created 3D sculptures (found art & welded metal), paintings, and mixed media pieces. I’ve had showings of some of my art at various galleries since 2002. I continue to look for further opportunities to create & show new works as well. (I’ve got some shows coming up in May.) Personally I’d like to pursue my fine art as a career, while adding to my graphic art portfolio by helping other businesses with their visual & marketing needs. I am not so savvy about creating websites. I could use help from those with coding expertise & how to get visibility online (the SEO info). I have a degree in advertising art & marketing.

    Twitter username is azul_r0s. (That’s a zero, not a letter O.) Warning: I RT a lot of news stories.

    • Rachael says:

      HEATHER! I would so absolutely love to talk with you about ways we could possibly work together. My email is rachael@caffeinatedelf.com if you’re interested. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Heather! It’s funny but after being independent for a few years I’m finally starting to learn that making the art comes first. That is, I’m realizing that if I make my art the way I want and share it with the world, people start asking me how they can get it. It beats the hell out of hunting for projects on elance (ouch. old strategy).

      Can you put together a book of some kind that uses your art to tell a story or send a message? It might be a great starting point (you’re making art anyway) and a possible door-opener for your biz.

      • Heather Kozan says:

        Thank you for your suggestion about making a “story” with my art. That would be an interesting project to work on. Because of my leanings towards conceptual art my work tends to say something, generally speaking. The more recent pieces I made were abstract representations of real objects. The earlier work I’ve done has been symbolic in a non-objective way.

        The thing I’m realizing now in my art classes is that each artist has a unique gift. We all have our own style & our own way of looking at the world. I’ve especially seen this in the Life Drawing class. It’s always an amazing thing to walk around the room & see how each of us illustrates the same subject. I liken it to a fingerprint- not one is the same. I hear the same thing in my voice class. Each voice is unique. I’m starting to appreciate my own unique style & not feel like the “odd one out” as I’ve often felt. I’m finally learning to embrace my differences & appreciate my quirks & abilities. I don’t think the same way most people do. It’s a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Kadira says:

          Heather, I so relate to your comment about each of us having a unique gift. I call this our Creative Genius. In fact when you said its like a finger print this reminded me – I spent 2 years with a friend developing a tool which we called InnerPrints, which identifies and names exactly that. The tool is so powerful because once you tap into exactly what Creative Genius/InnerPrint is you can access your own place of abundance so much more easily

  33. dcpatton says:

    I do freelance photography. My ideal client is someone who is looking for prints to display in their house or business. I use dcpatton.imagekind.com to sell my work. I also promote my photography at my website dcpatton.com and on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/people/dcpatton/.

    I follow a couple of great blogs, PhotoFocus and This Week In Photography for tips. I hope that these sites will help others.

  34. Hiya Pam,

    Oh! I am so dang passionate about this subject!

    Creatives need a different approach to business — one that uses their creativity to solve the business problems common to “artistic types”.

    A big part of this is acknowledging the internal, creative blocks that are unique to us, that other business tools don’t even address. Since we artists and independent professionals (a consulting business of one, for example) ARE our business, there is naturally, *stuff* we need to deal with in order to do our best work, and in order to effectively market and sell our work in the world. You know, make a living doing what we love.

    Hard work and good intentions aren’t enough. We need strategies, skills and tools that work for creative thinkers.

    As an artist, designer, creativity teacher — I struggled a lot to try and figure all this out — and, even went and got an MBA –UGH! — thinking that would help me.

    So… that’s why I wrote The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook to Making Business Ideas Real. For people who are wanting to do what they love, express their unique gifts and talents AND get paid for it — but are stuck — I’ve outlined lots of ways to get unstuck and get real results.

    I’m happy to answer specific questions, and have a load of free resources on my website:

    Folks can get more info about The Creative Entrepreneur here:

    Pam, I know you’re a fan of the book, so I hope it’s ok to post it here!

    I offer this in the spirit of heartfelt connection to anyone who is struggling to bring their creative vision to life.

    • Heather Kozan says:

      Thanks for posting this. I’ll check your book out, for sure!

    • Lisa,
      As soon as I get home I will be checking out your site.

    • LOVE your book, Lisa, and have been using and sharing it like mad since purchasing several weeks ago. It came across my path at the perfect time, just as I’d finished Pam & Chris’s first $100 Business Forum. Between the two, I managed to finally get a business plan on paper!

  35. Rachael says:

    Pam, you are so awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am a web designer and developer, and I love working with ittybusinesses on their branding and websites.

    My ideal client is an excited, energetic entrepreneur, has an actual website budget (or can barter something that I need and/or value), and respects my expertise and knowledge as a designer for the web. My ideal client is also super happy to talk about their experience with me on Twitter or to their own friends and business contacts.

    My business website (www.thecaffeinateddesignstudio.com) has some (sort of okay) content to market me and my services; I list my prices there as well, to make my potential clients feel comfortable with me right up front. I have a great presence on Twitter (www.twitter.com/caffeinatedelf), and I regularly give away free desktop wallpaper at my personal website (www.caffeinatedelf.com).

    I also write on my website about a range of topics from personal life lessons to business lessons.

    I could use help with my business website copy, because I don’t know specifically what draws people to me (or what keeps them away).

    Thank you in advance! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Rachael, I love the work you just did for Johnny B. Truant’s new site, http://questiontherules.com/

      Very nice, and it captures his personal brand perfectly! Kudos to you.

    • Rachael, your site copy rocks. I covet your copy and your site. There. I said it.

      It seems like you’re doing the right things to reach the clients you want to work with most.

      It would be super cool if you created some sort of event around building a web site, showing the process; why you do certain things and not others. Fun? Valuable?

      • Rachael says:

        I LOVE that idea! Do you have clues for me as to how to make that happen? Drop me a line or we could talk on the phone again. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

        • John T Unger says:


          You could use http://screenr.com to record video of yourself working. It’s a cool free screen recorder that posts inks to the videos to twitter. Pretty sure you could record voiceovers of why you make each choice as you’re recording. (I’ve been meaning to try it out myself to do tutorials).

          BTW, I too love the design you did for Johnny B. Truant.

  36. Anastasia says:

    Thanks Pam.

    I’m an entertainment producer. I’m currently looking for an ILLUSTRATOR to storyboard a script into a GRAPHIC NOVEL for iPhone/iPad. (If you’re an illustrator and think your style might lend itself to a smart black comedy about star-crossed mercenaries who also happen to be 17th century English scholars, *contact me*!) After writing it for 2 years (it’s adapted from a novel) and shopping it around Hollywood for a year, the script has been lying fallow for a decade. Now that writers are producers, directors and engineers of their own content, I’m taking it off the shelf.

    NEW LINE OF BUSINESS FOR GRAPHIC ARTISTS? Perhaps the above general idea will be useful to other graphic artists: team up with writers who have screenplays they’ve labored over for years and been unable to get produced through more traditional, low-percentage/high-barrier routes like the film and television business (and like the publishing business, although it’s easier to convert a screenplay into a graphic novel than the non-visual writing/direction of a novel!). We’re legion, I tell you, and I believe there is plenty of good unproduced material out there.

    Would love to keep talking about this idea, and what it will take to bring these two communities together, plus the risk- and profit-sharing models for collaboration, etc.

  37. Pam, thanks for inviting the artists in your front door!

    I’m a graphic designer and have helped businesses grow by polishing up their marketing for over 20 years. I’m putting together a course for small business owners who need to create their own marketing materials. The course will cover design and marketing basics, and as a bonus, will offer templates for common marketing items that members can modify and use.

    My ideal client knows they need to improve the look of their marketing materials, but can’t afford to hire an agency to handle their work. They want to build their skills in this area so they can handle creating most of their marketing. They also want to understand what makes marketing work so that when they do hire a professional, they get good results.

    The website is: http://www.bigbrandsystem.com

    I’d be happy to answer design and marketing-related questions here. Thanks so much for this opportunity, Pam!

    • Pamela, I love your video and post on drop shadows. I struggle with brevity in my own posts sometimes, so I admire how you made it short and clear. Nice!

      I’m curious to know what kinds of things you struggle with as a design entrepreneur?

      • Honestly, I don’t really struggle as a design entrepreneur anymore. I’ve had my own business for 18+ years and at this point I’ve figured out how to run it, and I make a nice living with it.

        I can tell you one of my secrets if you’d like. I realized early on that if I could get a nice base of projects that repeated on a regular basis โ€“ newsletters, magazines, etc., it would be the closest I could come to having a base salary I could build on. One of my clients is a local college, and they tend to do the same projects over and over for each incoming class of students.

        Those regular projects gave the a sense of security that a nice chunk of my income was covered, and that made a huge difference.

        My struggles right now have to do with the technical aspects of setting up a membership site. Lots to learn in that department, but it’s getting there!

        • It’s awesome that you don’t struggle as an entrepreneur anymore. Maybe “struggle” was a strong word to use in my question. ๐Ÿ™‚

          I’m more curious about what challenges you face in business and how you meet them. There must be something. Even the uber-successful Richard Branson has challenges.

          Your “secret” tip is a good one. I also have retainer agreements which create a more secure base. While that feels good, I don’t trust that those clients will always be there to support me. While I work to keep those relationships solid, there’s an understanding that their own business could change such that they wouldn’t need my regular service anymore.

          That’s my challenge. I meet it by continually creating new relationships. It’s not a struggle, but it’s also not a pretty bed of roses every day โ€“ even when you’re successfully supporting yourself. I think artists just starting their businesses need to hear that. Hear that, artists?

          I don’t believe you ever get to a place as an entrepreneur where you feel 100% secure. Gaaah. Blech. Ptui.

          There is no “I’m here now.” Or at least, I hope not. Because yawn.

          • I’m at a point now where most of my business comes in because of referrals. Between that, and ongoing client relationships, it chugs along pretty well without a lot of effort on my part to bring work in.

            That’s the main reason I started the Big Brand System site and am developing the course. I got to a point about six months ago where I asked myself, “Where does it grow from here?” The course and blog are my answers to that question. I’m enjoying sharing what I know, and helping people to put design and marketing know-how to use in their businesses.

            I was ready for a new challenge, I think, so I made one up for myself! There’s a lot to learn, but I love the process.