So, this isn’t a ‘formal’ business plan, but more of an outline of my goals, plans, and strategy for the year regarding my art. To see the outline of intended subjects for the paintings, take a look at my Ozark Birds of Prey page. It’ll give you an idea of the focus and scope of the project.
And just so you know, I am still writing on my novel, too. I just don’t have a plan for the writing business… I just keep adding words and I’m doing that on a nearly, but not quite daily basis. There’s a note posted on the shelf in front of my computer to remind me to at least write ONE sentence every day.
Paintings: the focus of my Artist’s Business Plan
Producing new paintings monthly is the primary goal this year.
My focus for the works planned for this year, which will likely stretch into the foreseen future, is to complete a few series of Birds of Prey. Specifically, I am interested in painting the ones found here in the Ozarks. We have a lot of resident raptors and several that visit us only during winter or summer. But where we live represents only a small part of the Ozarks. Since the Ozarks spans more than just Arkansas, it includes a few species less common to my immediate area. The states included are Arkansas, Missouri, and far eastern Oklahoma.
Here’s a link to the birds on my list, and that list has links to the paintings of the ones I’ve done so far. I’ve only begun to get started and it looks like I have my life’s work cut out for me with only this narrow focus!
Before I make a painting, I make the paint if I don’t already have some on hand. When I do that, I put the excess into decorative containers to sell at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and on Etsy. I’ll continue to do this, but my main focus is on making the paintings, not necessarily selling the paint. I am only going to do the farmer’s market during the indoor winter market months. Once it moves outdoors (in April), I’ll focus more on Etsy and Downtown Roger’s Art on the Bricks, and contests/exhibits.
I’ll definitely keep making prints of my art. These sell quite well at the market and on Etsy I’ve sold a few. Anywhere I can make some money (while staying focused on the art) to keep funding the art is on my list of things to do, ha.
I am loving my stationery sets and stickers and have been using them to send letters to friends and family. These haven’t caught on much yet (well the stickers sell, but they’re a very low-dollar item) at the markets, but I hope they will. If they haven’t by the end of the year, I’ll probably drop this from my list of products and just focus more on the original paintings.
The Strategy and Artist’s Business Plan
My production rate of new paintings has been averaging about one per month. I want to keep that pace and perhaps squeeze out two on some months. Once I have paintings, then I will enter them into exhibits, contests and shows. The paintings may or may not be listed ‘for sale’ during the exhibits or contests. It depends on whether it’s part of a completed series or one still in progress. Getting into exhibits helps to build my CV and gain exposure to more people.
The ‘getting into’ exhibits isn’t necessarily a straight-forward thing, nor is it free. Each entry has a fee associated with it, normally $35-$50. And just because the fee is paid, it doesn’t mean my entry will be accepted. So this is one of the expenses in an artist business, and the selling of other things helps me to afford those fees.
Not only that, if it’s a show, then there’s usually a booth fee if the art is accepted. If it’s an exhibit and not local, then there’s shipping costs associated with getting the art to the exhibit. And then home to me once it’s over.
At least the rocks I use to make the paint is free! However, the paper I prefer to paint on is not. It’s quite pricey, in fact. So there’s another expense. I’ve been very discouraged by how expensive it is to get a work of art framed properly for shows/exhibits. That’s a major expense I’ll need to plan for, because the painting can’t be displayed in shows, contests, or exhibits without framing.
Keeping Track of Expenses
This year I’ll do a better job of tracking expenses and income directly related to the art. I’m curious to see how that turns out. In general, it’s fairly difficult to make a living as a painter. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘starving artist’. I’m planning to buck that stereotype this year, though. The derivatives, like the paints, stationery, stickers, and prints are where I expect to make the income to fund the paintings. Perhaps if I’d finish my books, I could rely on a little income from that too… but it seems that ‘starving writer’ might be a pretty accurate phrase, too. But thank goodness I’m not relying on my art and writing for my everyday expenses! And when Rob gets to working in his workshop again, we’ll have woodworking to add to our inventory of things to sell.