Our first interview for Artists in Business is with web designer and glass artist Patti Ursel from the USA.
My college education was in computer programming but it wasn't until the Internet came to my sleepy little town in Western New York did I find my calling. I returned to college to learn computer art and design, complimenting my programming skills to be able to enter the online world. I ended up teaching classes at the same college - Introduction to the Internet, HTML and gave seminars to local businesses on why and how to get their business online within the first year. I started my own web design company during the summer months that first year in college and by the time I finished I was doing freelance work for an advertising agency.
It wasn't long before I took the job at an advertising agency full time moving up to Senior Interactive Producer and to New York City. I worked in the world of advertising for a good number of years. I helped develop websites, marketing and advertising plans for clients including Estée Lauder, Caché, Playtex Products, TD Waterhouse, US Coast Guard Academy, MasterCard, Phoenix Wealth Management, Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Internal Revenue Service, and many independently owned companies. I have since retired from the agency and now freelance building and maintaining websites
I also like to think of myself as a glass student and artist. When I retired from the agency I dove head first into my crafts. I have always had my hand in some sort of craft from painting to knitting. I happened across a stained glass store one day and as they say the rest is history (and the store owner needed a website too).
I have been fortune to find a group of fellow glass artist in a group called the Creative Glass Guild of Etsy (CGGE). I built and maintain the website for the group that has a private forum for members only where we share ideas, friendship, and complaints.
My husband, computer junkie, programmer and all around good guy, helped me develop my own e-commerce website to sell my product and have been able to provide cost effective e-commerce websites to other fellow artists.
Being self employed has its benefits and negatives and surprisingly it can be the same thing. Setting your own working hours can be a big benefit but because you can set your own hours everyone else finds ways to pull you away from your schedule. Its so easy to say yes to a coffee or shopping date when you don't have to ask a boss for permission to leave.
Being able to work until 3 am instead of a 9 to 5 seems like a treat until you MUST work until 3 am because you have a deadline.
One of the hardest aspects of working out of your home is the lack of immediate feedback and interaction.
The absolute best aspect of running your own art business is being able to create your art for a living.
The one most important tip I can give is to build a business plan.
What is the ultimate goal selling your work? Do you want to just make enough money to supply your craft or do you need to bring an income into the household. Take the time to research where and how you want to market your product. Should you be online, in galleries, or gift shops? What is your target audience and where do they shop? Do you want to be bigger than just yourself? Do the research to develop a strong business plan, in the long run it will help you have more time to devote to your art and keep you on track to grow your buisness.
Have a strong support system in place. Fellow artists you can turn to for understanding or help with something your learning. Family and friends that will help give you the encouragement to keep at it and help spread the word about what you create.
Hire help. Marketing and distributing can be a full time job in itself, consider hiring someone to do it for you. If you can 't afford a professional art dealers or marketing consultants consider hiring someone to do some of the tedious tasks like mailing and billing to free up your time to do the marketing yourself.