And you can see MY listing there, too! I’m #63 on the tour. #61 is Cynthia Jackson-Hein, painter of quietly-aging landscapes, in the building across the parking lot (Studio Santa Rosa, bldg. 32), and #62 is Serena Hazard, abstract artist extraordinaire, on the 2nd floor of my building, 33Arts, bldg. 33 at 3840 Finley Avenue. (NOT the community center, we’re in the buildings formerly known as “the Barracks”, the housing units left over from a former Naval air base.)
Yep, I’ve been out of the picture for awhile. Several severe health issues took me down and made my life miserable. (Not fatal! Just painful and exhausting as all heck.) Now I’m on the other side, grateful for everything and everybody who helped me get through.
So my studio is even messier than usual, but don’t worry, I kinda like it that way! Some artists like to make their creative space look like an art gallery, or museum. Me? Not so much.
I work in a mess, I create in a mess, and I’m never sure exactly where I’m going with each new work of art. Sometimes all the options are overwhelming, but eventually, I get to where I want to be.
It’s my process, and that’s never gonna change. What I love about it? You get to see EVERYTHING involved with making my artwork: The equipment, the materials, even my process. (I have a couple works-in-progress.)
There’s no single way to be an artist, a creative in the world, and I’m living proof!
So come on by, say hello, explore, open drawers, pick things up, try things on,ask your questions, and have a good time!
Hope to see you there!
And now for the ifs….
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Luann Udell, artist/writer
“Ancient stories retold in modern artifacts:
Jewelry, sculpture, fiber works inspired by ancient art.”
Visit: Studio: 33Arts 3840 Finley AVE (Bdg 33) Santa Rosa
Just before our latest county open studio event (LINK), an artist reached out with a terrific question: What if someone were to steal their work?
In this case, it was a portfolio of very small “studies”, their way of experimenting before taking on a large project. These studies could easily be pilfered. Should they be worried?
Yes. No. Maybe?
Unless we make huge stone sculptures that have to be hauled away in a wheelbarrow (or similar), yes, we are all potential victims of theft. And you know who is the MOST vulnerable creative/maker for theft? Jewelers, especially those working in precious metals/gemstones. When they do major shows, they often take down their ENTIRE INVENTORY every night. And set it up all over again the next day. OMG!)
But making that the biggest issue with opening our open studio is a sure-fire way to unconsciously let every single visitor know you do not trust them. And that will destroy the very reason open studios are so powerful:
Our visitors want to know more about our work–and US.
Treating each person as a possible thief, destroys any potential connection. Which defeats the entire purpose of inviting them into our creative space.
How do I know? This happened to me, as a studio visitor.
In this case, the person was open to my previous suggestion, ideas for having samples, tools, etc. that are okay for visitors to touch or hold. People are extremely experienced about being told NOT to touch in so many environments. Providing a display, something they CAN touch, is powerful!
Hence this person’s idea of presenting a portfolio of small studies, which they would hate to lose.
Here were my thoughts. (Be sure to add yours in the comments!)
Fears of having our work stolen cements everybody to the ground, as in, a bad way. We all worry about such things. In my lifetime, I don’t recall a single thing being taken, but I have so much stuff, I probably wouldn’t notice if it were missing
If the worry about losing your portfolio is giving you nightmares, consider a way to display it so that it’s not a small thing somebody could pocket easily.
I’m not a painter, so I don’t know if you’re talking about individual sketches, first drafts, or illustrations in a notebook, etc. You can send me more details and we can figure out a way to keep your work safe.
Maybe only exhibit a few of the pictures you were experimenting with, or have all of them on display in a case, or hang on the wall.
But what’s more important than that is being comfortable with people in our sacred creative space.
I have not had any (okay, not MANY) issues with people being rude, aggressive, sneaky, etc. and I’ve learned over the years that being afraid of these things create anxiety. And that anxiety can destroy our ability to connect with other people. Yes I have a story about that!
I visited someone’s studio who was obviously afraid of me stealing something. I loved their work, but their suspicious demeanor and them trailing me around their studio made me very uncomfortable. I finally left as soon as I could.
People meeting us in our studio, seeing our work in person, engaging with us, learning more about our process, our inspiration, our techniques, our story, is the single most powerful way for us to gain an audience.
I don’t want to dismiss your fears as being totally unnecessary, but the chances of someone stealing something major from you are pretty slim.
And your fear of having something stolen will create a barrier between you and the very people you want to connect with.
So for your sake, try to set your fears aside.
Consider some of the suggestions about securing your portfolio so no one can just simply walk off with it.
If you can, it’s always nice to have an assistant available, someone who can take care of processing sales, wrapping and packaging, someone who can keep an eye out and help allay your fears.
Yes, they wrote back to let me know they found this helpful. Yay! In fact, it’s not something that’s been an issue in their own art career. Just something that popped up and got stuck in their head. And they already had a helper lined up, and came up with a display plan that worked for them.
And of course, after talking to them, I began to worry about MY work being stolen! (Fears are an easily-transmissible disease with no vaccine….) (Okay, there IS a vaccine: Embrace it, tell it we know it’s doing its job–keeping us safe–and say “Thank you!” Then tell it to scram until it’s time for dinner….)
Next article: How to prevent visitors from throwing cake at our artwork. (JUST KIDDING!!! I have no idea how to stop people from doing that. Apparently, neither does the Louvre….)
How have YOU secured your valuables, and still provided a comfortable place for visitors to engage with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
A reader left a comment on a recent blog post, and raised a good point about whether our art is affordable, (including mine), and offered their conjecture on why it might not be realistically priced.
I started to reply, but four paragraphs in, I realized it was another post!
Re: Your question about whether the price of our art reflects the artist’s personal desire to be of worth at the expense of getting their work out into the world, and into the hands of a admiring owner.
Welp, yes, both of your points are valid.
ANYTHING we buy reflects the time, the materials, and the quality of the object, whether it’s a BMW, or a pair of pearl earrings from Tiffany’s, or a head of organic lettuce.
ANYTHING we make will appeal to many who can’t afford it.
And yes, sometimes a maker’s price may seem based on nothing but their own thoughts, though my experience is that’s more true of “brand” name products. (See luxury items above.) (Okay, organic lettuce isn’t really a luxury brand. But some folks are willing to pay more for it, and some aren’t.)
As for your thoughts about artists over- valuing their own self-worth, some creatives get to the point where they have to raise their prices. Which is a good thing!
Say we price a painting at $2,000, which is pretty reasonable. If it’s framed, that’s included in the price.
If we sell it through a gallery, the gallery will take up to 50% of that income. (In NYC, just before 9/11, some elite galleries took 60% commissions, with less than half going to the person who made the item.) And we pay income tax on that sale, too.
If I sell online, it takes time to take good-enough images, time to edit and upload them, time to create a listing, and time to prepare the item for shipping. An unbelieveable amount of time. I can’t tell you how much time it took to calculate shipping for various-sized packages to potential customers half a dozen countries around the world. (Thank heavens for Etsy’s new automated shipping calculator!!)
We may rent studio space (I have to, in California, and studio rent is not cheap). If we participate in art tours, I have to cover the fees for that, and I need a business license, and often liability insurance.
If we do shows, we pay those fees, and expenses for traveling to shows. I did that for years. Some of those major shows cost upwards of $2,000 or more to enter. And that doesn’t include the time to get there and back, our hotel stay, our on-the-road meals, in my case, the cost of shipping my inventory and booth since I never had the right vehicle to transport them.) In 2008, I spent over $15,000 on three major shows across the country, and sold about $2000 worth of work. That’s when I stopped doing those shows.
We do our own marketing (photography, ads, design work for postcards, business cards, ads, etc,) or pay someone to do it. We often pay for workshops to get better at our work, and/or better at our marketing.
Now let’s say we have good sales, and eventually the demand exceeds the supply. We can only produce a finite amount of work in a year (unless we hire help, which is a whole nother can of worms.) That means we can increase our income gradually over time, doing the same amount of work and time, only by gradually raising our prices.
It’s not our own sense of self worth. It’s our audience’s sense of our worth.
I’ve been told my prices are too high since I started my art biz almost 30 years ago. I charged $18 for a one-of-a-kind handmade horse artifact pin. And some people complained it was too expensive. As I raised my prices over the years, the comments continued. And yet my sales stayed relatively the same. Which tells me I have an audience, a small one, who will see its worth, and there will always be people who won’t pay my prices. I have to be okay with that.
Here’s the thing: I believe we simply can’t afford everything we like, and when we find something we like, we either recognize how unique it is–if we don’t buy that one piece, there will never be another exactly like it–and jump. (Which is why I offer layaway.)
Or we unconsciously look for reasons why we shouldn’t get it, such as price. This helps assuage our conscious about saying no. (I’ve done it myself.) There have been things I’ve jumped on, though I didn’t need another one, and the price was high. There have been lower-priced things that weren’t quite enough….and walked away.
I’ve had people with little income who find ways to collect my work, through trades, layaway, or buying a smaller piece.
I’ve had people who live in grand homes and drive pricey cars who say they can’t afford my work. (A lot of my work is still well below $100.) Of course, maybe that’s why they’re so rich! 😀
Frankly, my work isn’t that expensive relative to the “real art world”. Very few of my major pieces barely even compete with the lowest prices of local painters.
The day a good friend sold a $10,000 piece the first day of an open studio tour but complained sales were flat the rest of the weekend, I had to clutch my coffee mug. I was so envious! And yet, it only took a few seconds to get my heart in the right place to congratulate them. They have skills, they have a terrific reputation for great work, and I love their work. They have found their audience, an audience that truly values their work, and I’m still building mine here in California. That’s all.
Knowing our worth is not a bad thing. And though some artists will over-charge for their work, it’s still up to each of us to determine if it’s worth it for ourselves.
Now, as for getting our work out into the world:
I do that every day.
My art is hosted at my website, my Etsy shop, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked in, and sometimes Tumblr. Also in galleries in New Hampshire and here in California. I have open studios, and guests are always welcome in my studio. My work is often purchased and given as gifts, which I love, because someone sees something in my work they know someone they care about will truly appreciate.
And every single time I’ve felt desperate for sales, every single time I’ve broken my own rules and offered “a deal”, it’s felt awful. Like I’m selling myself short. And almost every time, the purchaser admits they could actually afford it, they just thought they’d try to dicker to see what happened. And I fell for it.
And every single time I’ve stuck to my guns, politely and with integrity, I’ve been rewarded with a sale, maybe down the road a ways, maybe with another buyer, but still worth it.
And yes, I’ve already had my work found at estate sales and yard sales for a very low price. At first that was a little daunting. But again, every time that happens, the person has loved it so much, they’ve tracked me down to find out more about me, written to tell me how much they love it, and sometimes even purchased another piece.
Some people do literally give away their work, to support causes they believe in, or to simply bring joy to others. I’ve given away work, though never to people who dicker or complain about the price, but to those who I know have been through hell and back, who need the gift of my work to help heal.
I give back in the ways I’ve mentioned, and also through my writing. Through this blog, and I’m a columnist for Fine Art Views. I share what I’ve learned as an artist with others for free. Here’s an interesting fact: When I first started writing a column for a fine craft magazine and other platforms, I made $350-$500 an article. Today I get $45 an article, if anything, and a free website (valued at $35/month. You do the math.
But I still write, because I have to. I have to get my art-and-life lessons out, to get clarity in my head and love in my heart. Also because every single time I publish, I get at least one person who said it was just what they needed to hear that day. So my writing is my (free or almost-free) labor of love.
The last way I get my art out into the world is also powerful.
When I have visitors, especially younger people and millennials (whose buying habits inspired this series of articles), I don’t twist arms to make sales. I let them explore my space, examine my work, hold my work, and read my signs about my inspiration, my insights, my hopes and dreams.
Most can’t afford my work. But for them, the conversation turns into something else.
I ask them about their own creative work. They share what makes them happy, and I encourage them to make room in their life for it, whether they can earn a living with it or not.
It can be painting, cooking, gardening, teaching, construction, singing, any activity that, when shared with the world, makes other people happy, and makes the world a better place. (I tell them my advice is worth every penny they paid for it.)
So it’s okay with me if someone can’t afford my work (in a nice way, I mean.) I get it. It’s okay if they believe my work is overpriced, too. It just may not be worth it to them. It’s okay if they believe I’ve inflated my prices because I have no idea of its real (less-expensive) value. (Well….kind of okay….!)
In the end, I do what I can, I do what I have to, and I do what I love. That’s the best we can do, and that has to be okay.
Today I only had a little time to spend at my studio in the SOFA Santa Rosa Arts District. (I’m at 300 S. A Street, #3, just down Atlas Coffee Alley.) This, after an entire morning of last-minute tasks, re-do’s, oh-I-forgot-I-have-to’s…. Every time I thought I was ready to leave, I’d remember one more thing…. Argh!!
When I finally got there, I unlocked my door and entered.
Then I realized I didn’t have what I needed to work on my next project. Drat.
Here’s where the magic happens:
A woman appeared. “I’m admiring your window!” she said. “Are dogs allowed?”
What dog?? Oh. There, hidden by the bottom half of my Dutch door, was a sweet, very friendly dog.
I let them in.
“We’re visiting that photography show at Christie Marks’ gallery,” she explained. “I have the dog while my husband takes a look. Then he’ll take the dog so I can see it!”
We talked a little about the show (which is AMAZING!) Then I left her alone to browse my studio. (I got to pet the pup.)
Reminding you that this weekend is still Art Trails, and my studio is open!
I have been reminded by various people/organizers/mentors that I need to remind you again about this weekend’s open studio. Sonoma County Art Trails 2015 runs two weekends, and this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 & 18, 10-5) is the last.
I’m bad at arm-twisting, except for bugging my husband. So I don’t WANT to bug you. But I know I really should.
So if you came my studio last weekend, THANK YOU!!!!! (If you bought something, you are my new best friend.)
If, while you were here, you thought to yourself, “You know, so-and-so would LOVE this”, well, now’s you’re chance to bring them by. (If you hated it, please keep that to yourself. I’m easily hurt.)
If you wished you could visit again, by all means, come on by!
If you forgot, or didn’t have time, this is your last chance for awhile. So git on down here!
Studio #30. In the SOFA Arts District in Santa Rosa, California. In the buildings just south of Julliard Park, on South A Street.
I’m down what is affectionately but unofficially known as “Atlas Coffee Alley.” Because it’s an alley, which leads to Atlas Coffee Company. And there’s a sandwich sign at the head of the alley noting same.
I’ve rearranged a few things, and I may have a new piece or two already. But I did not dust or sweep. (Artistic license.)
And I’d love to see you here. I mean, there. At my studio.