Category Archives: money

The Shower Scene – A Gallery Story

I want to say upfront that this is just one story from my life, and not a commentary on the gallery system as a whole. My personal experience with “traditional” galleries has ranged from lackluster to unethical (and possibly illegal, but I’ll get to that in a second.) I do not believe they’re all like that. I’m very open-minded about galleries. I’ve simply had great success and enjoyment representing myself, and doing so is not a reaction to anything negative as much as it is a belief in doing something positive.

But anyway.

When I was starting out professionally, I heard from a number of people within the local art scene that I was ready for my own show. So I went out and got one. The gallery I’d found was up and coming, an offshoot of a more successful gallery nearby. The owner (we’ll call him Shawn) was an artist himself, and sold a great deal of work, all at higher end prices, with a pretty significant and growing following in the area. He liked my work, and immediately offered me a show. After securing a date, I heard from fellow artists that although his art “was a bit formulaic,” he seemed to be a fantastic businessman. The openings I attended in the months leading up to my show were lively events.

When I arrived at the gallery the morning of my own show to set up, I could sense a weird and unexpected attitude from Shawn. He was cold and unhelpful. He abruptly announced that I couldn’t use blacklights, a fairly integral part of my art, despite seeming enthusiastic about them a few weeks prior. He further informed me that I wouldn’t have access to half the space I was promised, because another artist was using it. When I firmly explained the necessity of the blacklights, he finally told me I could use a small room through a hall and in the back for this purpose.

I was determined to keep a good attitude about things. Continue reading

Artist Tip #23 – On being self employed

Three things to think about:

  1. When the money stops coming in you do NOT stop working
  2. When the money does come in you DO save as much of it as you can for when the money stops coming in
  3. When the savings are gone you can either sulk, get a real job or GET creative

Shipping art at a flat rate from Canada

Over the last few years I’ve realized one thing and that is that Canadian shipping costs are amongst some of the highest in the world. Canada Post is a crown corporation and not subsidized by our government.

There is nothing that I can do about our shipping charges except that of learning everything there is to know about them.

And as such, after a good talk last week with the clerk at the Post Office I realized that I’m able to charge a little less than what I have been charging. It wasn’t that I was charging too much… by any measure my shipping charges were reasonable by Canadian standards. But seeing as the majority of art that I sell travels south of the border into a country with some of the cheapest shipping rates in the world, I really needed to rethink and figure out a better shipping system that is more inline with what Americans are charging.
Continue reading

Welcome to the Kitchen and Bathroom

In the kitchen we cut both the upper and lower cupboards to fit the new fridge in place. Doing this decreased my counter space considerably as the opposite side of the kitchen houses a vintage Youngstown Kitchen by Mullino double sink.

My kitchen

Underneath the sink and inside the bottom cupboards there was a piece of vinyl flooring laid down in an attempt to hide the problem and the plumbing was completely disconnected from the right side drain while the left side drain was rotting out. Dad and I replaced them both. And I ripped up the gross vinyl only to be met with the most ghastly smell of putrid slime. I did, honestly almost puke. I poured bleach and began scrubbing. The entire unit, including the cupboards, doors and drawers, is metal. Now that it is clean and disinfected, it just needs a small spraying of Tremclad paint inside.

I’m still searching for proper drapes or maybe wooden blinds to hang in the two kitchen windows as I put most of my effort into covering the bedrooms, bathroom and living room windows. For now, the lime green $2 tab top drapes will do.

To compensate for the lack of counter space I bought an island for $100 used. From the same lady, I also purchased a love seat sofa bed for $100. She was fantastic. While in her home, I asked if she had other items she was selling for she was moving. She gave me for free; three floor lamps, a solid wood desk, ikea shelving, a stainless steel kitchen garbage can and a little colour TV with stand.

Side view of kitchen

Every time I went to someone’s house to look at furniture I always asked if they had other items for sale. And they would always ask what I was looking for and I’d pull out my shopping list. More times than once, they did have other items that I needed.

The kitchen table with four chairs had belonged to my Grandmother and the antique dry sink underneath the window had belonged to my Great Uncle George. Most, if not all my dishes I purchased at garage sales over the years; an assortment of oranges, turquoises, navy’s and brown’s in pirex and stonewear. I did buy new Henkel knives and already had all the cuttlery, pots and pans I needed from previously being married.

My bathroomThe bathroom wasn’t as involved in updating. It had been gyproced and a new bathtub, toilet and pedestal sink were installed in recent years. However, they wallpapered the gyproc and sealed the bathroom with gooey clear silicone which had yellowed. I peeled the wallpaper off, Dad crack filled then primed it and I painted a light semi-gloss taupe colour on the walls. Dad re-caulked after I painted. And while out *garage-saling a couple of weeks ago I purchased a five piece set (still in the box) of stainless steel bathroom bars and hangers for $8. I did buy a new light fixture for $40 as the previous one was brass in colour and just too Victorian frilly looking.

And Zellers sells these fantastic curved shower curtain rods for $20. They give you elbow room! No more hitting the shower curtain while washing your hair.

*garage saling – sometimes referred to as yard saling, this phenomena occurs every weekend, people load into cars and travel around buying other people’s trash and discarded furniture

You can see the before and after shots of both the kitchen and bathroom on my Flickr. And I’ve secretly started a Buy 2 Get 1 Free Sale… more details coming soon…

In search of supplies, systems and the middle class dream

Beginning your own business from scratch without going into debt is a fun challenge. Add to that a student loan that is 10 years old that must continue to be paid down. So far so good.

The next immediate need is bookkeeping software to track my incoming and outgoing costs, supply, packaging and advertising costs as yes, I do budget a small amount for advertising. I attempted to install Open Office but Panther and Open Office hate each other due to X11. After more research I found Neo Office. Wonderful! How do I use spreadsheets… I haven’t a clue.

Last month I earned as much as I would have earned working part-time at that nameless place… haha. I remain earning well below the Canadian poverty line. I live with my family who feed and house me. Without their support I could be on the street.

I’ve not borrowed a cent to run my shop. That feels so good to say.

In August I’ll be introducing matting into the shop. Tomorrow I meet with a local custom picture framer and gallery to work out a price for mats to go on my 5×5 and 8×8 inch prints. He’s also interested in selling my originals! Woot! I currently order rectangular mats from an online supplier. They do not, however supply square mats which most of my artwork is. And their quality is very good; acid free with no over cuts. I know a good mat when I see one.

I’m stocked with pens of every shape, colour and size, paper, paint, printing ink, and packaging supplies.

As time goes on I purchase larger amounts of everything to take advantage of bulk discounts and cheaper shipping. All the art and prints are placed into acid free resealable clear bags and then sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard and placed into a sturdy craft mailer for shipping when sold. My shipping days are standard; being Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s.

My studio/bedroom and now part of a spare room have become packaging, business, creation, storage and computer work stations.

I began paying myself bi-weekly in May from my Art Sales and have continued on since. There may be those who believe I’m not able, thinking this a hobby and that I should go get a real job. Well, this is my real job and I love it.

My goal is simple: to become a respectable middle class citizen earning a livable wage.

xo

The Happy Custom Framer Rant

I wrote Earning about a dollar more than minimum wage per hour when the Canadian dollar is worth a quizillion dollars on world markets today in my last post. And yes in is hard because it is the only negative aspect to the job I do four to five days per week.

I work as a custom picture framer at an art and craft supply store. I love my job. I frame original art, photographs, memorabilia, prints and certificates. I cut glass, matting and get to use air tools! Custom framing is an old trade of mine that I learned shortly after graduating from high school in 1991. I apprenticed as a picture framer for a local photographer for a few months to help with the Christmas rush. Later after graduating college in 1996 I began working as a custom picture framer for a local artist framing his prints and the odd job that came through the door. I work their for 14 months full-time.

Both of those times I earned about a dollar more than minimum wage. The thing is this, minimum wage has NOT risen a dollar in the last ten years. Ten years ago in 1997 minimum wage was at or around $6.30. Today minimum wage is $7.30 in New Brunswick. Go figure? Ten years… 10¢ a year it increased. Sad but very very true.

As for where I presently work, it is an OK job as far as jobs go. I work with 90% women which is awesome. I get to avoid the general public as the frame shop is it’s own entity. I work with the public but only those who want custom framing or those who believe we are the customer service department even though the whole back wall is covered with a thousand frame molding examples.

I get a good discount on art supplies. Yay! Enough said.

The biggest reason I chose to make a switch from graphic design to picture framing is simple; I burnt out BIG TIME from stress, relentless deadlines and working 50-70 hour weeks, week in – week out. This all lead to addiction. That lead to recovery and this Blog.

About two years ago I decided to continue freelancing, accepting the odd contract job here and there. That has been good and not so good as I completely flipped out earlier this year doing a small job for Scott. Maybe it was all the other insanities going on around me and needless to say Scott and I came to an agreement and all is good between us.

Thinking back to when I began college I chose Applied Arts over Fine Arts. I didn’t think I could make any money as an fine artist. As an applied artist I thought I could, because p.e.o.p.l.e, ADVERTISING will never disappear! Today I wish ADVERTISING would die. I wish I could stomp on it until all it’s edged frayed and every coat of varnish and 4 color press ink faded into smithereens. Your head can get damaged by all this when you are working against your heart year after year after year. I don’t care how good I was at it and at one time I was very good. I was best when sipping GHB hourly, sadly, gladly…

I don’t remember a time when graphic design didn’t make me want to puke. God. These words I’m writing feel cleansing yet they read harsh and unforgiving. I don’t want to forgive the Advertising industry. Thanks to you, I can analyze an ad, know why it works or doesn’t work, who the target market is and how to fix it if it needs fixing.

My ex listened to me every time the TV was on and a commercial aired. This design lingo would spit out of my mouth about what font they were using, colour scheme jargon, spit blargh… I couldn’t read the newspaper anymore. I could spot misaligned paragraphs, kerning and leading errors, copy mistakes and spelling errors. How could I be so good at something and have it make me sick to my stomach and worse be so scared to apply for a big professional job in that industry.

I’ve uploaded a measly amount of design work to this blog as I still retain some anger not at anyone in particular. Think Adbusters and what they stand for. I like them.

Money should never be a driving force in anything you do. It will freaking kill you. And when you are an artist trying to be a designer placed in the wrong communication firm can lead to your death or timely demise in that industry.

There are many Design jobs that come up here in New Brunswick and I’m qualified to do most of them and most of them would pay two to three maybe four times more than what I earn as a custom picture framer. I’m just not there anymore. For one thing I can’t sit still for EIGHT hours a day. I need to move. Out West I applied for one particular job. I got an interview. During the interview she said she received 400 applications. I ask her how many people she has interviewed. She says she’s interviewed 10. I happened to be one of those ten. I get called back for the second interview and then the third only to be told she hired the woman who had a kid. Not having kids as a young woman is another rant for another time.

I have to laugh right now. Hahahahahahahahaha Such is life eh?

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Friendly considerations

bedbug.jpgTwo of my friends Nadine and Dan from New Brunswick arrived in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. They packed up their car in Freddy and had begun driving across the continent (Canada) arriving in Vancouver 15 days later. Wow! I’m so happy to have them both here staying with Eric and I until they settle in. Yes, this isn’t just a trip it’s full-on-move-to-the-big-city from small-town New Brunswick.

The issues they are facing are similar to my own when I arrived here three and a half years ago; namely, finding a place to live and applying for jobs. This is NO small feat to accomplish in Vancouver. When one goes about searching for an affordable, livable and decent rental property or apartment one is met with having to give your life story, credit and banking information and on top of that competition for the precious few places where one can actually afford to live in. Being from out of town does not make this search easier. The questions are endless. If you work at a minimum wage job here in Vancouver you make $8 an hour or $16,640 yearly. Not bad. However, a one bedroom apartment will cost you between $700 to $1100 to rent. If you can’t afford that rental price you are stuck renting a room for between $300 to $500. There is also a bed bug epidemic.
Continue reading

Late night ideas to be answered tomorrow

The answers for the following questions can be found here.

  1. soul.pngDo I need [tag]Google Adsence[/tag]?
  2. Do I need Amazon?
  3. Do I need this theme or that one?
  4. Do I need to make [tag]money[/tag]?
  5. How much money do I need to make?
  6. Can I make money solely through this website?
  7. Do I need [tag]widgets[/tag]?
  8. Who do I need to please?
  9. Does it matter?
  10. Do I leave a footprint?
  11. Is RSS all there is?
  12. Will I figure out how to use Ultimate Tag warrior?
  13. Do I need to slow down on my Valium taper?
  14. Do I need to belong?
  15. What do I belong to?
  16. Where is the beginning if there is no end?
  17. Is the number 1.618 divine?
  18. Do I publish my writings?
  19. Do I publish my drawings?
  20. Do I need to work 9 to 5?
  21. Do I understand?
  22. Do you?
  23. Could I have a raffle draw for my [tag]artwork[/tag]?
  24. Is the CBT class I’m in worth it?
  25. Do I need a gallery?
  26. Do I love?
  27. Do I hate?
  28. Do I need your approval?
  29. Drugs, [tag]drugs[/tag], drugs, which are good… which are bad?
  30. Am I?

I’ll answer the last question first. Yes I am. I am is the shortest sentence in the english language. I suppose Am I? would be the shortest question in the english language. Just did a google search and seems Go is in competition with I am for the shortest sentence in the english language. Go figure?