Tag Archives: Art Business

Giving Etsy it’s own department at the Center for Lessons Learned….

15 Apr

8 months… holy shit…. It’s been 8 months since I’ve posted anything on here!!  Dear lord, my bunnies- if I had known that time had actually sped up while I wasn’t looking I would have adjusted my life accordingly.  Let me say that the past 8 months have been a foggy blur, and I’m sorry for the dead air coming from my end, and let us move forward.  🙂

What has brought me out of the black hole I’ve been living in was an extremely shocking experience with the DIY shopping site Etsy.com.  When I’ve lectured at art schools or been asked in interviews/blogs/etc what a good way to start selling art/arty goods is, my first response has always been Etsy.  It’s a great way to get exposure because of it’s social media aspect, and it’s really cheap and easy to use.  Just as an experiment to see how many new people I could draw to my works, I decided to open an Etsy store in addition to my official webstore where I offered smaller one-of-a-kind arty things as well as my sunglasses line.  It was going great, and was cheaper than my official webstore so I decided to drop my big webstore and move everything over to Etsy.  Here’s where the problems started.

The day after I announced on my facebook fanpage that I would be moving everything over from my webstore to my Etsy store, I got an email from Etsy saying that items of mine had been flagged because they didn’t meet the Etsy requirements- and they had shut my whole store down.  I’d like to think that the timing of my posting the store move and my items being flagged were a coincidence… but there are a handful of creepers out there who don’t like me, and realistically one of them reported my store to be a dick.  Eyerolls and sighs all around.

So here is the nutso part of this… in the email from Etsy, here is a list of what I had to provide to them in order to get my entire store reopened:

  1. All shop info
  2. The names of everyone involved in any aspect of my shop from ideas to creation to shipping,etc
  3. Location of shop, identities of photographers, shipping locations, etc
  4. Photos of everyone involved in the shop
  5. Detailed description of how all items are made
  6. Length of time to make each item
  7. Every material used – and photos of raw materials of all everything involved with making the item
  8. Where materials are purchased plus proof of purchase of materials: photos or scans of receipts
  9. Photos of all tools and equiptment
  10. Photos of all work spaces
  11. Photos/graphics of all patterns used for items
  12. Photos of a step-by-step process of how everything was made

All the photos sent to them had to be shot next to a piece of paper showing your username and the date for authentication.  My shop was to remain closed until I provided answers that they felt sufficient to all of these questions.

To all my arty little sweethearts out there – THIS IS BULLSHIT.  Allow me to go, step-by-step through all the reasons WHY this is bullshit…

  1. Only ever disclose what shop info that you are comfortable disclosing to an unknown source.  You have no idea what’s on the other side of that email you’re sending out- so be careful with what you give out to protect yourself.  They have all the information that they should need when you set up an account.
  2. You are the owner of the store, and that is all they should need to know.  You shouldn’t be required to expose the identities of anyone who might have anything to do with your art.
  3. Photos of everyone involved in your art?  Come on… really?  So if I have friends who drop off my packages for me, I have to photograph them and send it to Etsy?  No way.  Too intrusive.
  4. Detailed description of how items are made… don’t provide this.  These are your trade secrets.  If you’re making something that is really unique, do not send this information to a faceless business that creates daily blogs on how to make things.  Again- you don’t know who gets these emails and you will have no idea how this information will be used.  Protect your art and it’s process.
  5. Length of time to make your items… I had clothing, jewelry, sunglasses and paintings on my store.  To be able to answer this is fully unrealistic.
  6. Photos of the raw materials- again, do not give out this information.  Unless you are selling materials, don’t give up aspects of how you make your unique items.
  7. Reciepts or proof of purchased goods?  That is information for whoever does your taxes- NOT for a faceless corporate website entity. No one but the IRS has the right to see that.
  8. Photos of tools and workspace:  The majority of the people on Etsy create out of their home,and Etsy knows this.  There is no way in hell I’m going to send photos of my house to anyone I don’t know.  That is an invasion of privacy, and just creepy for them to demand.
  9. *Photos of graphics and patterns*- this is a biggie.  Never ever ever ever ever disclose your graphics/ CAD illustrations / patterns to ANYONE except those who will be assisting you in production.  Period.  Ever.  Etsy states in their “DO’s and “DON’Ts” that: “A third-party vendor may be used for intermediary tasks in some crafts. Acceptable examples include but are not limited to: printing the seller’s original artwork, metal casting from the seller’s original mold or kiln firing the seller’s handcrafted ceramic work.”  I am in the unique position with my day job (where I design sunglasses and eyewear) that I am able to design unique sunglasses with my own CAD illustrations and have them manufactured in small quantities, and then I do the embellishments and packaging by hand.  The same goes for my clothing (which are from my own patterns), and my laser-etched necklaces. These items fall within Etsy’s guidelines.  But I will NEVER give out the original patterns, illustrations or CAD’s to a corporation.  And industry standards/ common knowledge dictates that I keep this information private for my own protection.  To hold my potential income and entire store hostage until I give up this private information breaks so many ethical rules that it’s insane.
  10. Never give anyone you’re step by step unless you want to be knocked off.  Period.

I emailed them and told them that I wasn’t about to give out such detailed and personal information, and that I wanted my store closed permanently but to remain on buyer status so that I could still shop from the artists that I loved.  They proceeded to kick me off Etsy completely.  I emailed them letting them know that it was sad that I could no longer support the artists that I shop from through Etsy since I was totally booted- but that I would just buy directly from the artists instead.  They didn’t want to loose a single penny, so they reinstated my account as just a buyer.

Here’s what creeped me out the most about this… there are people who have built up their etsy store so much that it is a major source of income for them.  And all it takes is 1 person flagging their shop, and the whole thing is shut down.  Your store and source of income can get hijacked and put on hold indefinitely until you meet Etsy’s the over-the-top demands that violate industry standards and your privacy.  So if you have 1 crazy person out there who doesn’t like you, they have the power to shut you down.  And if you are able to convince Etsy to open your store again- you can just be flagged again, and again, and again.  You have no power over your own store.

After this happened to me, I got tons of emails and links from my darling bunnies to tons of other artists that this happened to.  Here are a couple:

“Etsy shop suspended!- What you need to know”

“Etsy Closes Azreal’s Accomplice”

Apparently it’s impossible to get them on the phone.  And even after you comply with everything they ask, they can still keep you shut down- just because they want to.

So here is my official retraction for any public promotion that I have ever given Etsy.  This is not a safe business step.  The control over your shop is apparently in the hands of people who want to falsely flag you and the whimsy of Etsy- and not in your hands where it should be.  This is just wrong.

To the spiteful little creeper gem who flagged my etsy store- THANK YOU SO MUCH!!  And I mean that with the most sincerity ever.  I got shut down on etsy before I moved everything off my official webstore, so this was such a blessing.  I learned so much about etsy that I needed to know, and was able to (with great ease) just move everything back onto my official webstore and not lose a penny of my DESPERATELY needed income. This was an awesome learning experience, and in the end I am super thankful for it.

So here is where I open this up to my readers…. can I get some feedback for the crafty cuties out there who want an inexpensive and reliable webstore?  Where should they go?  I’m on homestead.com- and I do love them very much, but there is a monthly fee for it (and some new artists aren’t at a place where they can afford a monthly fee).  Ideas and feedback, anyone?  Let’s all help each other out with big brainstorming!!!

Thank you for tuning in to my lengthy rambling.  In my head, I’m giving you all a gigantic hug!!

(ps… since everything is back on my webstore, you can get these new editions there right now.  Click the pic and check it out!!  xooxoxoxxo)

"Eve" apple sunglasses

How to degrade your scene and be a scumbag at the same time!…

7 Jun

There are many things about my fellow humans that make no sense to me.  This is one of them:

Jenny Hart’s Embroidery Artwork Stolen from Exhibit

Riddle me this…. you’re a fan of an artist.  You see that artist has taken the time and effort to make new pieces, and a local gallery has taken the time and effort to put together an exhibit to display these pieces for fans like you.  Huge efforts and expenses are taken on with displaying the work and promotion and preparation so that this event can take place- just for fans like you.  So opening night when you go to the show do you:

  • A.  Enjoy the artwork, have some free snacks, make a pleasant evening of it, and leave feeling you go to experience something fun, creative, and beautiful?
  • B.  Enjoy the artwork, have some free snacks, make a pleasant evening of it, and grab a couple of the pieces of artwork off the walls on your way out- stealing from the artist that you admire and the gallery that brought them to you?

If you chose option A, then you are a good, normal person and are liked and appreciated by the art community.  If you chose option B… then you are a complete shit-stain, and I hope your friends beat you down when they find out what you did.  Seriously… you fully suck.

Art theft happens all the time, and it makes me furious.  I’ve had it happen to me at 2 different galleries because some of my pieces are small enough to easily slip into a purse or pocket.  It’s happened to too many friends of mine who are artists or who own galleries.  What I can’t wrap my brain around is why someone would take the time to go to a gallery opening of an artist they like, and then steal from them?  Yes, art can be expensive… but I guarantee you the artist and the gallery don’t profit that much from art unless they’re dealing with the arty giants out there.  Let me break down the grown up financials to you so that you understand where the term “starving artist” comes from…

Let’s say I have a little painting in a gallery and it’s priced at $1,000.  Holy shit!  That’s a lot of money!  Who the hell am I to charge that much for 1 tiny painting?!  Let’s do the math, and then you can see just who the hell I am.  If that painting sells, the gallery get’s 50%.  Yes… 50%.  That is normal.  They promote and get the people in the door to make the sale- so that’s their cut.  I try to make it out to all my gallery shows, so let’s say my plane ticket and expenses comes to a low-ball price of $300 (this doesn’t include money lost on time off  I’d have to take from the day job to go to the show).  I’m now down to only making $200 on that $1,000 painting.  My small paintings that run around $1,000 usually take me a couple weeks each to do… so if I worked 3-4 hours a night on the piece, that’s around 50 hours of work.  If I only make $200 for that painting, I worked for $4 an hour on it.  Did you get that?  $4.00 an hour. (And that $4 an hour doesn’t even include the cost of the materials to make the piece and get it ready to present).

The gallery doesn’t do a whole lot better.  They have their overhead (rent/utilities/maintenance/insurance/etc).  They have staff to pay.  They have to pay for promotion (ads in magazines, postcards, flyers, etc).  They have the set up, all that free wine and cheese that people wolf down at the opening, they usually will provide a place for the visiting artists to stay, etc.  After all their troubles and expenses, their profit isn’t much better.

So why do we all do it?  Because we love it.  Because it makes us happy.  Because something in us makes us do it.  And even though we’re almost always taking a loss, we still make our art and bring it to you because it makes you happy.  The drive of visual communication is a powerful one, and I’ll do it without even questioning that measly $4 an hour.  So when an artist does all this work for very little financial pay off, and then the work gets stolen… that breaks hearts.  It’s like punching a toddler in the face as it runs towards you for a hug.  To say it’s discouraging is an understatement.

This doesn’t just happen in the art world, though.  It’s common in the music scene.  My husband’s band has been robbed more times than I can remember.  Once, on the 2nd night of a 3 week tour while he was on stage some stupid punk kids smashed out their tour van’s window and only had time to grab his bag… which contained all his spare cords, his laptop, all his clothing, phone/computer charger…. everything.  He was left with his guitar, his wallet and the clothes on his back.  Kids steal from the merch table.  Kids steal gear.  They steal anything that isn’t bolted down… and these are the kids that come to the shows because they are fans of the band!!!  Band’s don’t make any money anymore.  There are no longer record sales because downloading has taken over.  There is no such thing as “label tour support” anymore because the labels are broke.  They only money bands make is on tour- and after gas and vehicle rental and food and hotels and getting merch made  and time off work and then splitting any profits between all the band members and paying the techs or merch slingers… it usually averages out to the same as my painting sales.  A few bucks an hour.  Only to get robbed by the “fans”.   It’s disgusting.  And for any of you little punk kids out there who have stolen anything from any band… you’re not “punk”.  You’re a fucking tourist to the scene, and I hope your Discharge/Neurosis/Nausea shirt sets itself on fire in protest of you the next time you put it on.

In summary… artists in every field do not make art to get rich.  That is a ridiculous concept because only a handful of artists every decade ever do get rich.  They do it because they love it.  They do it because you love it.  And if you are a fan… act like one.  If you want your favorite artist to keep showing their artwork or playing their music in your town- then make sure that they aren’t fucked under when they do!  If you see someone being sketchy at a show and stealing or causing trouble- stop them!  Or rat them out.  There is no shame in ratting out shitbag behavior.  Because whether you’re an artist or an admirer of art… we’re all in “the arts” together.  And if it gets too difficult to bring the art to the people, then the only way the people will be able to see art is online or in magazines.  And that’s lame.  So let’s all participate.  Be sure and share the link above on whatever forms of social media you play around on and try to get Miss Jenny Hart her artwork back.

Thank you for enduring my long winded soap-boxing.

In appreciation of art, the most beautiful FoxyGoat Lisa made an amazing portrait of me and sent me one of her beautiful necklaces.  She is a wonderful (and amazingly witty) artist and lady… and I super love her.

Click this image of me with her necklace and portrait of me to go to her website, and be sure to check out her etsy store!!

Big love to all you bunnies, and have a great night!!  xoxox

Scammers, frauders, and all around creeps….

19 Oct

I had a business-owner’s eye-opening moment today.  For the first time since I’ve started my little webstore (or at least the first time to any real magnitude), someone attempted credit card fraud through my site.  Now I’m sure there are those folks who’ll try one or 2 cards that may belong to someone else, and had the transactions declined.  But those kinds of transactions just look like regular declined credit card transactions on my end.  But what I saw today kindof blew my mind… and it was a little scary.

My webstore records all customer behavior so that I can tell which way to go with marketing, sales, product interest, etc.  It’s pretty fantastic and super helpful (and for anyone who is looking for a good solid webstore, try them out… they’re called Homestead, and they should probably put me on the payroll for the amount of people that I send their way).  But because I’m having a sale on the webstore, I went in to check and make sure transactions were going through smoothly (don’t worry- it only keeps the last 4 digits of any credit cards put in there for reference purposes), and something was very very not right.  It showed that over $346,000 worth of credit card transactions were declined this week.  Just so you all know- I barely make enough money on my little business to get by every month (which I’m totally ok with because I love what I do… anyone who goes into art expecting to become rich is full-blown retarded, because the phrase “starving artist” is the truest one ever coined).  So the fact that such an INSANE amount of money had been attempted in my webstore set off my sirens… BIG TIME.

So I checked in with my credit card authorizer, and it was one person who tried over 150 different credit card numbers to make a purchase of over $2,000.  Fortunately, I have a steel-wall credit card authorizer, and I know it’s TOTALLY irritating sometimes to people who are trying to order from my store and get declined because they accidentally misspelled their street name… but this is why I am so very very very strict when it comes to the safety of people using their credit cards on my site.  This person just went through a list of credit card numbers, trying every one they had to see if one of them would go through. Not a single one did (and honestly, if someone who wasn’t a store ordered over $2000 worth of clothing on my webstore, I would have the charge held until I could contact the card holder to see if this was a legit sale, considering my average sale amount is around $40 or $50 bucks).  At first I was amazed at this… and then I was pissed. Really pissed.

Lets say one of those transactions went through.  And I shipped the order.  And the scammer received it, and then disappeared.  What would happen is that within a couple weeks, I’d get notified that someone had gotten a massive charge on their card to me that was fraudulent.  So then I’d have to fight with the credit card people, and then I’d have to return the money (even though that $2,000 worth of clothing was already gone), and then I’d have massive fines to pay.  So some asshole was not only was trying to steal from some stranger’s credit card (which is shitty enough, though almost all credit cards have fraud insurance so the card holder won’t get totally fucked if this happens), BUT they found my teeny tiny little always-near-the-brink-of-bankruptcy DIY company and tried to steal over $2,000 from me.  AND with that tried to tarnish my company’s reputation because it doesn’t look good if my credit card authorizer’s are easily scammed.  If you’ve got to be a scumbag and steal- go to Wal-mart.  DON’T steal from the little guys who have it hard enough, you fucking asshole!!

I’m going to call my credit card people tomorrow and thank them for being great enough to catch this.

BUT now it’s lesson-learning time.  Ya wanna know HOW this person got a list of over 150 different credit card numbers?  I’ll tell ya right now, it’s really really easy.  Have you ever taken money out of an ATM at a gas station or convenience store, or paid for gas right with your card right at the pump?  Those are the simplest machines to tamper with, and it stores basic banking info right in the machines so that someone can easily retrieve it later.  Have you ever paid for drive through meals, or even meals at a restaurant with a credit card?  All someone has to do is quickly document your credit card info (maybe by just taking a picture of it with the camera on their cell phone), and they’ve got it.  And if you’ve ever bought ANYTHING on a website that didn’t have a verification seal on it (authorize.net, paypal, google, etc), you’re totally open to fraud. Scammers are so good that they can now take the basic info that is stated on your card and make duplicate cards with your info.  But the easiest thing for them to do is just order stuff online and hope that the billing info they submit doesn’t have to match the real billing info.  (With my site, every single bit of billing info has to match EXACTLY, or else it will be declined).

How do you protect yourself?  Use your credit cards wisely.  DO NOT use bank cards or credit cards at any ATM machines unless it is at your bank.  DO NOT use your debit/credit cards anywhere that you can’t keep your eyes on the card at all times (like drive-thru restaurants, or restaurants that may be on the sketchy side).  And only use debit/credit cards online if it’s with a VERY trusted site, or one protected with a SSL security seal- or set up a paypal account and make online transactions through there.  All that is not going to totally protect you, but it will greatly lessen the chances of someone getting your info and trying to fuck you over.

That is my lesson for today.  And for any of you out there who think that credit card scams are a good time- they suck.  ESPECIALLY when you try it with little companies.

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.” – Yoda

More advice than you probably wanted to know….

16 Jul

… “Unprotected sex with multiple partners” by Against Me

I was talking the other day with a close friend of mine who is a painter and is wanting to get her work out in the public eye and to a point where she can rely on it a bit to support her because her “day job” is killing her soul (day jobs can do that, ya know). I was giving her all the tips that I knew, and she told me that I really should share what I knew with “the world”. Art school (or most college programs) teach you what you need to know for your “trade”, but don’t prepare you at all for how to make it happen once you graduate. You give your university shit-tons of money and time, and then upon graduation you’re tossed out into the “real world” with no knowledge of what to do with all that expensive information- and end up working that shitty coffee-shop or retail job for the next 10 years. It’s really frustrating.

So here’s my knowledge. All of it (or all that I can think of right now). It may pertain to you… it may not. But this is what I’ve learned from years of trial-and-error trying to survive as an artist. I’m still learning, and still have a long way to go- but it’s what I’ve picked up so far. Some of it might be a little harsh…. but if any of it hurts anyone’s feelings, then choose another business to go after.

1. If you have aspirations of becoming rich and famous from your art- get over that NOW. If you want to be rich and/or famous- this is not the business to do it in. Realistically, you will probably live your life barely able to make ends meet, and fame usually comes after you die. The competition out there is extreme to the highest extent. So if fame and fortune is what you’re wanting- find another profession. But if all you can imagine doing for your life is making art- no matter what the cost- then continue to read on. Life in the arts (ANY type of arts) is difficult- so be prepared to fight, and be really realistic about it. This is a fickle business, and mean, and expensive, and 100% unnecessary (people NEED food, shelter, clothing, and water- they don’t NEED art). Always be aware of that, and ALWAYS be thankful if you’re able to sell your work at all (especially in our declining economy).

2. See what you do as a product. Yes, you are an artist… and what you make is deep and meaningful and profound and earth-shattering and bla bla bla…. BUT you are trying to do the same thing that Toyota and Wal-mart and Starbucks and Microsoft and The Gap are trying to do- sell products that aren’t entirely necessary to the public in order to make a profit, and be able to continue to make and sell products. YES- your art is a product!! Let go of the idea that it isn’t. The moment you put a price tag on a piece of work, or an album, or whatever- it becomes a product. It may be a really expensive earth-shattering emotional product- but it is no different than anything you’d find in a store. If you don’t like the idea of your art being a product, then give it away for free and keep your day-job that you hate.

3. Since your art is a product, that means that you are a business- so act like it. This is the really really important stuff. And this is where all the shit that your parents preached to you that made you roll your eyes comes into play.

First: Get good credit. Seriously. If you have bad credit, clean it up now. Make paying off debts be a top priority, and getting bad credit marks taken off your credit report (if anyone is interested in how to do this- just respond in a comment and I’ll explain how… it’s really easy). If you’ve refused to get a credit card because you’re boycotting the system or whatever- get over it and get a card. Having no credit is just as bad as having terrible credit. Get a card with a really low balance, and use it every once in a while for small things- then IMMEDIATELY pay it off in full, every time. If you do this enough, they will raise your limit more and more, and your credit score goes up. Why is this important? Let’s say that you someday want to start a small art-related business (like I have with my clothing company), or you need a small loan for art related stuff, or you need the money for travel to gallery openings or whatever…. banks rely solely on your personal credit history in order to issue loans. Trust me on this one, because I learned it all the hard way!!!

Second: Since you’re a business- you can set yourself up as such. This is the fun part. Being a business, you can get an EIN (Employee Identification Number)/ Tax ID Number from the federal government, and purchase items wholesale (art supplies, wholesale clothing for screenprinting/alteration with your art, etc etc etc). This ID number is free, and can be obtained online at http://www.irs.gov (just do a search on the website for “EIN Number” and it will bring up the form to fill out and submit online). This Tax ID number also states that you are a business, and are able to deduct business expenses- travel, art supplies, internet bills if you have a website or sell your art online, your cell phone bill if that is the phone you use to conduct business, etc. Anything you use for business, you can deduct- but ONLY the stuff for business (not personal purchases). BUT this means that you have to do business taxes… and they have to be done correctly or the IRS will get angry. So make sure during tax season that you keep ALL receipts from what you want to deduct and get a good tax person to do your taxes every year (it may cost a bit, but it is worth it in the long run in case you’re ever audited or whatever).

**Third** (and most important): If you don’t already have one, GET A GODDAMN WEBSITE!!!!! I cannot stress this enough. Really. The days of mailing in portfolios are dead. Galleries don’t want them, they’re bulky and expensive to put together, expensive to ship, and a pain in the ass all around. If your university is still teaching you that you need to know how to put together a portfolio, tell them to wake the fuck up and get out of 1982. Your website doesn’t have to be astounding and filled with all kinds of flash graphics and whatever… it’s just needs to be a clear and easy reference to your work. If you’re still in college, take a course in some sort of web design or graphics or something so you can do this yourself (I like to do everything myself because web people are sometimes hard to find, and can be expensive). If you don’t have the time/money/web knowledge to get a site up and running- use the free resources available on line. Set up a myspace/facebook/etc account for your art, or set up a portfolio on flickr or a blog or whatever. You just NEED to have a place to direct potential galleries, buyers, etc to your work so they can see it. If noone knows you’re out there, noone will buy your art. Period. There are also TONS of places where you can sell your work online without having to pay for an online storefront… http://www.etsy.com, http://www.ebay.com (though that has turned into a giant online garage sale and kindof devalues your stuff- but if you find that it works, then go for it!!), etc. If you do know a little about html or site building, you can build your own site from scratch from all different kinds of resources, and just insert paypal “Buy Now” buttons on items you put on the site. I built my website myself using a company called “Homestead” (www.homestead.com). It’s about $15 a month, they host it (so it won’t ever crash), and you don’t even have to know any html or anything to build it. It’s really easy… but that’s just the one I used- there are tons out there to choose from. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT HAVING A WEBSITE IS!!! It is your link to the rest of the world. Seriously.

And once you get a website- “network”. I hate that word, but it’s the only one that really applies. Send your link to the contact person at galleries, magazines, and anyone else that you want to see your stuff. Trade links with other artists. Use it as much as you can. It’s the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to get your work seen and out there. If you’re a business, then advertise. This is how you do it.

Fourth: Take what you do seriously. Not in a “wow, I’m important!” kindof way… but in a professional way. If you opened a store, and only went into work 6 hours a week, and didn’t let anyone know you were open, and didn’t advertise, and didn’t keep financial records- then how the fuck would you be able to survive? Even if you work a “day job”- you have to treat your art like a 2nd job. I don’t care how tired you are when you get home from work. Or how much you just want to sit in front of the TV and turn your mind off. If you don’t care enough about your art to really go after it- then noone else will. Period. I’m not trying to sound preachy or “holier-than-thou” here- but when I started doing gallery shows, I was a single mom, in college, and working 2 (sometimes 3) part time jobs… and I still made time to get shows together and create work. And because I fought so hard for it, I can now spend my days in my pajamas painting and designing my silly clothing. That kind of work REALLY REALLY does pay off. So if can make my lazy ass do that, you can too. I promise.

4. Get really thick skin. Not everyone is going to like your work. You will get criticism. Sometimes it will be really mean. You will get shot down for gallery shows. This is natural. Expect it. DO NOT take it personally. It isn’t a personal attack on you. It’s hard, because you’re emotionally tied to your work- so rejection hits a little deeper than if you were selling blenders or life insurance. BUT like I said above, it is a long hard road to get somewhere with your art, and it’s a very fickle and petty business. So you have to REALLY believe in what you do, and be able to brush off negative reactions. It’s also important to try to learn from those reactions… when you get negative feedback, really listen and try to look at your work from an outsider’s point-of-view and see if it’s valid. If it is, great! Use it!! If not, fuck ’em and keep going.

5. (and this has nothing to do with business- it’s a personal pet peeve).. Remember where you come from. I can’t tell you how many artists I’ve worked with have gotten too “big for their britches”, acquire this inflated nasty ego because of a little bit of press attention, and turn into a gigantic pile of grossness. There is nothing more disgusting than the “pretentious artist attitude”. Remember what you do for a living- you make art. You’re not saving babies in Africa from AIDS. You’re not running into burning buildings saving families from death. You’re not curing cancer or helping with world peace. You’re making art. Art is important- but not important enough for you to get some “I’m SOOOO important” attitude and treat others like shit. Getting attention for your art doesn’t make you better than others… it makes you really fucking lucky for being able to get some attention when there are hundreds of thousands of other artists out there fighting just like you- so be humble. And thankful. Because there is ALWAYS someone out there better than you, and we are all fully replaceable. (I REALLY REALLY can’t fucking stand the bullshit “artist ego”… if you can’t tell).

And with this, try to participate in the “artists community”. A friend of mine who I adore and respect greatly, David Hochbaum, does things like put together free workshops to teach people how to make frames for their paintings, or has screenprinting parties and such. Help each other out. Don’t see other artists as “competition”- see them as your peers. The more you grow as an artist, the more you can share with others… and there is always something to be learned from other artists out there. Yes, you’re all fighting for the same thing- but there’s safety in numbers.

That is my lesson for today. I’m not AT ALL saying that this is the way to go for everyone- but this is just what I’ve learned from working in this business for years. It’s the stuff they don’t teach you in school (and I’ve lectured at my old college a couple times BECAUSE it’s the kind of stuff that they don’t have classes in, but it’s what you need to know). And I’m sharing it all because I wish that someone would have told me all this stuff when I started out, because it would have made things much easier. And I want to make things easier on other artists out there. No one should have to struggle if they don’t need to struggle… it’s just not fair. So take it or leave it. But hopefully this helps someone.

Back to work I go.