Archives

All posts for the month September, 2017

ARE YOU READY TO SELL YOUR WORK OVER THE HOLIDAYS?

Published September 29, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

The holidays are fast approaching, and with them comes craft fairs, booth events, and other ways to show and sell your work I call events where you bring your work out and set up a mini art gallery “Booth Events” because usually you will be selling your own work. As a rule, there are 3 types of these events Outdoor, Indoor and Tabletop. Some of these Events will be geared to sell art only; some will allow different types of vendors and you may find yourself set up next door to a food vendor. Outdoor events are usually larger than the Indoor ones and attract a larger crowd.  A Tabletop can be either indoors or outdoors; the main difference between a Tabletop and the others is the space size. Most booth events allow you a 10’ x 10’ space. With a tabletop you have a space about the length and width of a table (usually 8’ long by 3’ wide) to display your work.

Your booth set up should be light and portable, easy for one person to set up in about 20 minutes, and fit into your vehicle along with the products you are planning to sell. To take part in booth events you should have the following items:

OUTDOOR EVENT

Pop-Up booth: Pop-Ups come in several price ranges and styles. Ideally, you will have help setting it up, but I would recommend the E-Z Up brand with the white top because it can be set up by one person. If you have never set up a booth, I advise a couple of practice trials setting it up in your yard before you go out to the event. The best Pop-Ups for displaying art have white tops and straight sides. The white top provides more light to see the art and the straight sides give you somewhere to fasten display racks. You can also purchase sidewalls to hang from the sides of the booth. You will need these if you are taking part in an event that lasts several days; you can use the sidewalls to enclose the booth when you go home for the night. FYI, unless the event has very good security, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your work out, but you can leave your display stands set up inside.

Display stands or racks: You can buy display set-ups from the art supply catalogs; but these can be pricey. However, it is possible to make your own. I bought 8’ wire closet shelving from the local hardware store. Turned on end, they can be fastened together with plastic tie straps or Velcro. The wire bars make ideal places to hang different sizes of art. (This portable shelving can also be made into stand-alone shapes: boxes, triangles and rectangles). For all events, I suggest that sandbags or weighted milk cartons be fastened to the corners to prevent tipping and as additional security for stand-alone shapes.

Portable easels can also be used as a part of your display. The art supply catalogs have some excellent display easels that hold multiple pieces of art and they look very professional. You can also make display easels yourself out of copper, PVC pipe or wood; just make sure they look professional. Remember you are going to be carrying them so they should be very light-weight!

Small fold up tables with a nice tablecloth to hold your cash box and give you a hard surface when making out receipts. They can also be used to display very small or 3-deminsional art, cards, etc. Just don’t make your space so crowded buyers won’t enter it. In addition, if your work is light, cardboard boxes covered by tablecloths or white sheets that reach the ground look very professional and provide a good backdrop to show off your work.

Sandbags or weights to hold down the booth in case of high winds: Weights of some kind are a must. A Pop-Up booth makes a big kite when the wind blows and it doesn’t have to be hurricane strength either. You need about 20 to 30 lbs. on each corner. Many booth events are on blacktop so you can’t use the handy stakes that come with the Pop-Ups to secure your booth against winds. Sandbags are available either from the Art Supply warehouse where you got your Pop-Up, or from the hardware store where you can also obtain clean, dry sand. You can also fill empty gallon milk cartons and use the handle to fasten to the legs of the booth.

Cash box: a locking cash box to keep change for cash sales and checks can be bought at the local office supply store.

Chair to sit in; while you will be spending a lot of time on your feet, it’s nice to have a place to sit down and relax so potential buyers don’t think you are just waiting to pounce.

Your work and any other items you plan to sell: Plastic boxes with good, snap-lock lids work really well to transport small items. They are waterproof and if you are doing a lot of events they hold up much better than cardboard. If you are going to be carrying your product in a pickup bed, make sure the lids of the boxes are fastened down and won’t blow open (bungee cords work well here). You will need either bubble wrap or some type of padding to wrap around or separate delicate items. For larger pieces of art such as framed paintings or photographs, I recommend that you carry them inside your vehicle (in which case they can be separated by large pieces of foam board or cardboard to prevent scratching the frames), or wrapped in bubble wrap. The thing you are most looking to prevent is damage caused by the items moving around when you stop, start and turn the vehicle. I also carry either a large, wide-tip marker in either brown or black to touch up frames.

A hand truck or dolly: You may have park some distance from your booth set up. While most places allow you to drive into the event area to set up your display, it might not be feasible for you to do so. A hand truck or dolly will enable you to haul your art, display stands and Pop-Up into the area without having to transport everything a piece at a time. This is a big plus because you may have a limited time in which to set up your booth.

A way to take debit or credit cards: If you want to make sales over $20, you will need either an I-Pad, I-Phone or some other brand of smart phone and the APP enabling either Square technology or PayPal. Both companies provide  a small square you can order off the internet free, attach it your smart phone  or tablet It’s small, portable and easy to learn to use. The company takes a small percentage of each sale as a fee (2.75% per swipe) and the money is in your account the next day. The site is https://squareup.com/  or https://paypal.com check it out. Although other companies are beginning to develop this tech these both have a proven track record.

Sales Receipts, a calculator and bags: A receipt book is a handy way for you to keep track of cash sales. Don’t spend a lot on the bags; you can get small paper bags and larger plastic ones with handles at the local Dollar Store. A small printing calculator because some customers who buy large ticket items are going to want a printed receipt, even if you are also e-mailing them one.

INDOOR EVENT

Requirements for an Indoor event will be slightly different. Some indoor events will allow you a 10 x 10 area, but you may find the spaces allotted aren’t exactly that size or aren’t square, so there will be difficulty fitting the Pop-Up frame into the space. In addition, the top cover will keep the overhead lighting from coming through, and the ceiling in the room may not be high enough to accommodate your booth. Even if the cover is white, poor lighting will make your booth dark and unattractive. if the canvas or vinyl cover is removable and the ceiling is tall enough, you might still be able to use only the Pop-Ups frame.

Stand-alone display racks are best for an indoor event. I use the same 8’ wire closet shelving from the local hardware store I used for the outdoor event, except that I fasten them together in a shape instead of to the booth. An indoor event is more likely to be crowded than an outdoor one, so to prevent accidents if your display is bumped, I suggest that sandbags or weighted milk cartons be fastened inside the shape to prevent tipping if someone does bump into the display. However, you can purchase this type of display from Art Supply catalogs and warehouses.

If you use portable easels to display your work, they can serve the same function indoors as they did outdoors.

You will also be able to use the small tables with a nice tablecloth used in your outdoor display

TABLETOPS

If you do a lot of Church or School sponsored Boutiques, a Tabletop Event is the most common type. At a Tabletop, you are probably going to be given just enough space to set up one 8’x2.5’ table with room for a chair behind it, so be prepared to cut your display down and bring only what you consider the most “sellable” items.

When I go to an event, especially an Indoor event, I always ask for access to electricity. Since space is usually at a premium it is difficult to display a lot of large art so I seldom take many large pieces of art to these events anymore, instead I take a plug-in digital picture frame (you can do the same with either a laptop or a tablet) loaded with photos of my work. I have a power point presentation showing my work set to music. The moving slide show and music attract a lot of attention and I can display more art.

Remember to have fun and talk about your work.

Good Luck

Gail

COMFORT = PRODUCTIVITY

Published September 11, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Why is it important for a writer to have a comfortable space to write? As a writer, I have to say that if I’m uncomfortable physically, it makes it much harder to concentrate on being creative. If I am in the creative zone, I may spend 10 or 12 hours at my terminal with only short breaks for food or to use the restroom. Fatigue or even repetitive motion injuries from typing on a regular keyboard or sitting in a poorly designed chair decreases my abilities and concentration. However, these things can be avoided with a few inexpensive fixes.

Several years ago, I was introduced to ‘ergonomic furniture and computer accessories”. What is that you say? Ergonomic furniture and accessories are designed to reduce physical stress on the person using them, and help prevent repetitive strain (Carpal tunnel) or musculoskeletal disorders in those of us who spend a lot of time at a computer screen. Which is something I badly needed because I do spend a lot of time on a computer terminal: I write fiction, I’m a blogger, I run two online/print newsletters, and I am webmaster for several web sites. In between that, I am also my husband’s office manager in his business.

This brings up a comparison point: which system provides more comfort; a PC or an Apple product. I ask this because some time ago we made the decision to switch from PC products, which is supported by Microsoft to Apple products because of the increased security from online malware they offer.  The relative freedom from Malware attacks does have a drawback. Unfortunately, while Apple is way out in front in designing products for mobile use, they are far behind the PC industry when it comes to ergonomic accessories for its users. In fact, they do not actually offer any ergonomic keyboards or mice in the Apple Store (or is it mouses when talking tech?). While there are companies who do manufacture ergonomic accessories that are compatible with Apple products, they don’t integrate as smoothly with Apple as does Apples own products. Apples products are usually rechargeable; sadly, the substitute stuff sold by other manufactures is not.  Keyboards and mice are either plug in or if they are wireless, they require batteries.

Is it worth it? Well, that depends on how much your hands and wrists begin to hurt using a non-ergonomic keyboard for lengthy periods. The difference in appearance between a standard keyboard and an ergonomic one is obvious once you have seen or used one. The standard keyboard is flat and rectangular, whereas an ergonomic keyboard actually looks quite different. While it is still longer than it is wide, an ergonomic keyboard is slightly curved, allowing the user’s hands to rest at a more natural angle when typing. The keys are also slightly larger with a tiny bit more space between them. As you can see, Ergonomic keyboards also come with a wrist support.

I did a run on the internet and three Ergonomic keyboards that came most highly recommended on the reviews on Amazon are shown here. However, all the reviews did mention that not all of the keys were functional straight out of the box, but with the additional purchase of USB Overdrive (free program app) the keys worked fine. This was an overall view expressed on all of the keyboards I found.

This item Perixx PERIBOARD-512II W, Ergonomic Split Keyboard – White – Natural Ergonomic Design – Wired USB Interface – Recommended with Repetitive Stress Injuries RSI User. This one retails at about $50.00. 4 ½ stars on Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0076KUTKS/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1455230248&sr=8-1&pi=SX200_QL40&keywords=ergonomic+keyboard+for+mac

Logitech Mk550 Wave Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Combo (It got 4 ½ stars on Amazon). This one retails out at about $50.00 on Amazon.com. Logitech is one of the most trusted computer accessory brands worldwide.

 

Adesso Tru-Form Media Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard (PCK-208B) got 4 stars on Amazon. This was the least expensive one of the three ($30). It was specifically mentioned however that this keyboard was not good for gaming.

 

TO DONATE ART, OR NOT TO DONATE…THAT IS THE QUESTION…

Published September 4, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

By the Practical Artist

http://www.thepracticalartist.com/the-practical-artists-blog.php

This is the time of year when creatives like us get tapped to donate our work to worthy causes. The phone rings, and some well-meaning fundraiser on the other end wants you to donate a work of art to their charity auction. Usually this goodhearted fundraiser will promise you a tax deduction, great exposure, enhanced publicity, and public exposure if you agree; sadly, most volunteer fundraisers don’t know what they are talking about as far as the actual benefits to you as an artist. Should you do it? This really depends on several things; how much do you support the cause itself? Are the benefits going to out-weigh the costs?

Well lets deal with the tax deduction benefit first. It’s not great. Generally speaking, you as the artist are allowed to deduct only the cost of creation (materials, etc.) unless you have had an appraisal done by a qualified art expert. This is no problem if you are a big name artist whose art is going to bring in thousands of dollars to the charity because the charity will usually have the art appraised by their expert, which you can then attach to your taxes. However, if you are donating to your child’s school, your church, local hospital, etc. chances are the charity is not going to pay for this appraisal because they can’t afford it. Sometimes the charity is worthwhile (in fact most of the time), but unless they follow my rules for donation, what they are really doing is training whoever comes to their event to devalue my art and disrespect me as an artist. This may sound really harsh but it has been proven to be true.

The next two items typically promoted by fundraisers are “enhanced publicity and public exposure” which sounds really good, but what exactly are they actually talking about? A line in the auction catalog and announcing your name when they bring up your art? Please. Remember that most of the fundraisers who do telephone contacts are volunteers with no actual experience in the field. In other words they really have no idea what they are talking about. Enhanced publicity should mean your name in the newspaper, on the radio or on the charity’s Facebook page with a link to your website. Public exposure should mean that instead of just pointing to your art and asking for bids, the auctioneer talks about you, what awards you’ve won, how good the art is, etc. to encourage the audience to bid higher. He or she should also mention your web site, and the brochures advertising you as an artist, which should have been available when the bidders were doing the walk-through.

Predictably, at most of these charity events, they practically give away the art because the bidders are not art collectors, they are there to support the charity and are looking for two things—something they can afford to bid on to satisfy their tax deduction and to support the charity. A lot of them might be even comparing your fine art to canvas prints they can get at a department store! Auctioning your art for much less than you normally sell for undermines the art market in general, and makes it seem as if the artist (you!) didn’t deserve the real selling price. Another negative side effect is to encourage your regular collectors and potential buyers to wait for events like this to buy your art cheaper than they could if they purchased it directly from you.

The “public exposure” thing is problematical; unless the auctioneer makes a really big deal about your art business and how valuable your work is, everyone present is likely to still think you have a nice hobby. I was once asked by my church to design a poster/logo for a women’s retreat. When the event coordinators husband saw it he remarked to her that it looked like a “real” artist had done it. I find that no matter how good the art I donate to their event is, my circle of acquaintances in my church, my children’s school and my family almost all still believe that my art is a hobby, so I don’t donate unless the charity agrees to the following ground rules:

 

  • I set a minimum price for original art. If it doesn’t sell, I get it back. This is absolutely essential because unless you have an appraisal from a respectable appraiser attached to the art; all that you can take off on your taxes is the cost of material used to create the art.
  • I qualify the event by making sure there will be folks there who can actually afford to purchase the art (this means getting actual names of who will be attending or at least who has been invited), and that the event will be well publicized: this means actual ads on TV, Internet, and Radio, hopefully with a mention of the art you are donating.

Once charities learned I stuck to these rules, I found that the requests dropped off dramatically. This doesn’t mean that I am wholly against art donations; I do donate my art to worthwhile charities, but I find that it usually pays better tax deduction-wise to donate a good quality print than the original. If you donate a print, you can deduct the entire printing cost, framing and matting which is a much better deal for tax purposes. To sweeten the pot for prospective buyers, I do always sign prints that I donate, and make sure I tape information about myself, my website and the art to the back of the print.
Good Luck

Gail

World Building For All Genres – Guest Post by Diana Peach

Published September 3, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

As a fantasy/science-fiction writer, I’ve stacked up a bit of experience with world-building that I’ve wanted to share, and The Story-Reading Ape’s blog is the perfect venue. Now don’t run away if you don’t write speculative fiction. Clearly, world-building is a key part of bringing fantasy and science-fiction stories to life, but it plays a […]

via World-building: Settings for all Genres – Guest Post by, Diana Peach… — Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

%d bloggers like this: