Let me start by saying that I have been drawing all my life. I spent my early adult years in a very stressful Hotel/Event Management career and approx. 9 years ago I went out on a limb and quit my real job and have been a freelance Illustrator since then.
I began doing Sportfishing Tournament art and individual private commissions. I was lucky enough to have made a few well-placed business contacts in my Event job. I got some of my first art jobs through them. I designed artwork for the Private Club that I had resigned from.
I also used the computer/contract/professional skills and confidence that I had learned at my previous job to keep me going.
In event planning no request is too big or too small. You have to be able to handle anything anyone can ask you to figure out, no matter how big, or crazy.
My Parents have a Picture Framing business and that has also helped me out. I meet all kinds of interesting people and learn a lot about art. I was talking to a new artist in town the other day. She is a very talented painter and we started talking about business. She was asking where to go and what to do to get started selling her art in town. I don’t think that she had done much homework yet but had a friend that was photographing her artwork for her and was going to give it to her on a disc. I told her that I do a considerable amount of my own printing and packaging and that she didn’t have to pay someone else to do most of her computer and printing work. I said that I would show her a few things. Then I realized a lot of other Artists could use the same advice.
– You have to invest in your own business. I’m a firm believer in “You have to spend money to make money”. I didn’t have much at the beginning but if you’re careful you don’t need much.
Here are a few of the things I told her, maybe they can help you too:
– If you intend to make selling your artwork your business, buy these books AND read them. “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, Pricing and Ethical Guidelines” it’s full of good information on Legal rights and Issues, Business Practices, Graphic Design/Illustration Trade Practices, Contracts etc. Each year there’s a new “Artists and Graphic Designers Market” – It is full of more useful information and is also a Directory of people who buy art and what they pay, what they require etc. Very helpful.
– Buy your own large format printer. You can buy one that prints up to 13″ x 19″ for around $650.00. That includes a “duplexer” that allows you to print double-sided pages. You’ll need that to produce your own catalogs. You can make a professional catalog on your own. Really. I’ll tell you how later. I have the HP cp1700. I’ve had it for years, it’s printed 1000’s & 1000’s of copies and still going strong. It paid for itself in no time.
– Have Professional Business Cards. If you can’t design your own. Go to www.overnightprints.com. There they walk you through doing the text and uploading your images. They actually print them overnight too.
– Buy (or Borrow) a copy of Adobe Photoshop 7.0 or higher. This is very important. You’ll also need a program to lay out labels, note cards and catalogs. I use Microsoft Publisher. I know some people say it’s outdated but it works for me. It’s also on the second disc of the Microsoft Business Office set that most businesses have. You’ll probably know someone with a copy. Both of these are available on E-bay. You can probably get them at a good price. Make sure that they haven’t been registered and come with the product ID/Code.
– Order bags to package your art in from www.clearbags.com. They are really inexpensive and they look professional.
– Find a local Framer and see if you can get a deal on buying a box of mats and foamcore backing. They come by the 32″ x 40″ sheet and you can cut them yourself. You can also buy smaller mats in standard sizes from www.clearbags.com. There are also a whole bunch of other online sources.
– If you don’t have access to a mat cutter, buy one.
– Now you can produce, mat, back and package your own prints. I t may seem like a lot of money at first. You should buy everything in quantity to get discounts. REMEMBER You are going to need all those supplies – You’re going out there to be successful.
There are also good “Dummies” books for Photoshop and Publisher. I used them. I also spent jillions of hours learing how to make those programs do just what I wanted. I asked a lot of questions and read the “Help” sections a time or twelve. You shoud too.
More tips and resources later.
All the Best to You – Marjorie Chartworks Art