nana Kate's First Art Show Booth in Aug 2018

It has been more than a year since I set myself up for business.  I started with a website with the allusion that; “If I post it, they will come” via the magic on the inter-web.  That may seem pretty naive and in fact, it was because I had a lot to learn about the internet and especially about how to sell creative works.

I am naturally a curious person so I did some research and found The Abundant Artist Association, which I joined.  They have a lot of marketing courses on “How to sell your Art Online” which I studied, but only implemented a small portion of their suggestions.  I found out that it is hard to sell your art online and that you have to talk to people.  In November of 2017, a guest conference call on art shows with Owen Garratt opened my eyes to the possibilities of art shows, but I wasn’t intending to sit outside in the heat and humidity to sell cards.

I retired in January of 2018 and decided to give this art business a good try, so I started making more paintings and cards.  Well now I have inventory, but I needed customers.  In May, I received an email from my local art association, Mt. Horeb Area Arts Association, that announced the Black Earth, WI Chamber wanted artists for a new art show in August.  I discussed this with my husband and we decided to enter.

After I applied for a booth I remembered the program on art shows and the discounted training materials and purchased the videos from Marketing Tools For Artists .  I found out I had made my first mistake by signing up for a new, unproven art show, but I was going to make the best of it and prepare a booth that would dazzle the visitors.

Dave and I worked out a lot of details with the art booth, a lot of thinking, doing and arguing, but in I think we put together a pretty nice booth for first-time art showers.  The art show in Black Earth wasn’t very good because it was poorly advertised and not very many visitors.  It was a great opportunity to try out our booth and we learned a lot and simplified our signs so the next weekend when we set up for the Bailey’s Run Vineyard show we were more prepared.

Bailey’s Run was another new show (remember never to go with new shows) and we didn’t sell too much, but I am satisfied that if I were to go to a larger show, I could sell cards.  What I learned from my experience is you need to go to shows that have at least 1000 people to find a few that will like your stuff.  You need a proven show and you have to find the right type of person for your art.  I also learned that I don’t like being outside in the heat and humidity and will try to find shows that are inside, but that is a luxury.  I liked talking to people, and it was fun, but it is not a social event so tell friends to meet you after the show and not try to socialize while you are marketing.

I will continue to look for shows and I will continue to simplify my set up.  It is one of the quickest ways to get new names for the website subscribing by having a show giveaway and hopefully, someday, I will be able to get people to buy cards online too.

Close up photo of a Pole Bean Flower
Pole Bean Flower

One morning I looked over to our pole bean trellis and saw this tiny little flower that was the sweetest violet-pink color.  Normally I would have just walked past it to my car, but that morning the pink caught my eye and drew me in closer.  It was as if the Holy Spirit was whispering to me, “Come over here, I want to show you something special.”   

As an Extraordinarian, I was obligated to investigate this flower even further, so I took this close up photo with my husband’s help.  It was so beautiful.  In some ways it seemed so frivolous on God’s part to make such a lovely, tiny flower, just to turn it into a green bean.  The real tragedy though is most people probably would never see this little wonder.

That is why I decided to sell cards.  I felt like I had a mission to expose the extraordinary, but if I only sold original paintings or even prints, I would only be able to get my message out to a small group.  If I sold cards, many more people would be able to see the paintings and would have the ability to read about the inspiration for their creation.

I suspect my choice is not the path of great monetary wealth, but each time I look closer at one of God’s creation I am filled with an abundance of His Love that could never be purchased with earthly riches.   I think that is pretty Extraordinary too.

Nana Kate

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Leaning In

Leaning In illustration
Leaning In by Granddaughter S.W.

 

One Sunday morning our Pastor was talking about his decision to take on a position in a different church.  The process to move or stay involved a lot prayer, but it also involved “leaning in “ to the decision.  It wasn’t a quick yes and go, it was a process of elimination, checking out the options.  At each step a decision was made and a new door opened or closed until eventually everything fit into place.

I never really thought about creating an art business, I just liked painting and making cards for people.  In the summer of 2016, I took a watercolor workshop put on by Dave Becker.  I had a wonderful time and learned more than I will be able to remember.  During that workshop I was asking the other painters what did they do with all their paintings.  Most of them worked for fun, some placed them in local galleries and some had websites, but not many were actively trying to sell their work. 

I hadn’t sold any of my paintings and I was beginning to have quite a few that looked pretty good.  I had been creating Christmas cards for fifteen years.  I also made cards of encouragement for friends.   I would put a message on the back and people seemed to like these cards for both the painting and the message.  Several people started asking if I sold them and I said they were just for fun, but it started my “leaning in” process.

I am still “leaning in”, still trying to figure our how to start an art business. I am hoping to help others by writing down my process.  I have been leaning since January 2017 and hope to have my business running with some income by my retirement in February of 2018.  In future blogs I will tell you how I started my business and maybe you can help me get it going. 

Thank you for visiting,

Nana Kate

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