Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Goodbye and yet.. will it be?

© Gabriella Buckingham


Goodbye for a short while... I am off to France! I have packed several sketch books, various pens and paints and will try my best to have some creative time each day between navigating and socialising!

Friday Finds will have to wait until mid August or until the next interview is ready... whichever is the sooner.

In the meantime, I may blog... I may not. I have no idea if there will be Wi-Fi in the french hamlet we are off to ;) 

Normal service in my Moobaacluck shop on notonthehighstreet.com will be resumed on Monday August 11th and in my Folksy shop also.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Friday Finds - Niki Cotton - Artist




Good morning everyone, today's Friday Finds is artist Nicola Cotton aka wonderful mother and virtual friend Niki Cotton and all round beautiful person who I think I first met on Twitter a few years ago. She lives on the stunning North coast of Wales which is the major influence on her work.


© Niki Cotton


When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how Niki Cotton Art came to be!

Hmmmmm my business …. not sure I would call it that at the moment but I have very fabulous long term ideas! I studied Fine Art at degree and then came out of college working any job to earn money to help the other half set up our other business, a Design Agency - viewcreative.co.uk. Then the kids arrived and it was about me having to make work that could fit around them. I suppose that was when I got more into doing the craft side of my work rather than my art. I dabbled with that whilst working at View. But the burn of making Art stayed with me. Making pieces for myself, family and friends kept my eye in, and the mark making and thought process, exercised.


 © Niki Cotton


Then I came across a course locally for freemachine embroidery. This was something that I had really wanted to try out and had been struggling with. It was a real gem of a workshop that I ended up doing for 3 years! The tutor was a mine of information and had the most amazing zest for the subject. I think the thing that appealed to me most was that she was so up for finding ways to make the big processes manageable at home. The work on the sewing machine enabled me to add areas to my work that I love messing about with and when we immersed ourselves into printmaking, well, I was in seventh heaven. A medium that I have always adored working in, finding ways that I could transport the printing studio with its massive equipment to my tiny studio at home opened up so many new doors in my creativity I have been buzzing ever since! Then when I found the Gelli Plate, instantly ready and you can make the best images going on it, all with acrylic paint and water based screen printing inks, delicious. 


© Niki Cotton


In trying to find some order in my life and much soul searching at the beginning of this year after some pretty traumatic events in my life in preceding years - (my incredible Mum had had breast cancer for the second time, my parents business was sliding down the tubes and my darling Dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and then died) - I pared everything I did down to printmaking, painting and stitch work. 

I cleared my studio and I have launched Niki Cotton Art this year. Whoop! 


Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I think it has helped having a presence on social media weirdly. Its a funny old place. There are people I have ‘known’ for 6 years from Twitter but have never met…how is this possible?! We have laughed (and I know you have too Gabs) at our Virtual Studio that has spread to Facebook and Instagram, places where you can take your studio about with you, when working from home might otherwise send you down a blind alley. But all that conversation is bearing fruit. I have had an exhibition opportunity that opened last week in Castle Donington at the fabulous Buzz Gallery. Being curated and run by the gorgeous Mel Anderson from @melandersondesigns, one of the first people I ‘met’ on Twitter. Crazy. I have had orders and commissions too and people are sharing and helping me keep proactive. I’ve had people push competitions in Galleries my way that I would not necessarily have seen that are also bearing fruit. I was a finalist in the Royal Cambrian Academy’s Digital Open that opened at the end of June for the month too, its the Welsh arm of the Royal Academy which is a pretty groovy thing to have had the opportunity to be a part of. There have also been some little shops that sell artwork that have approached me to put work in their spaces so on the whole considering its only been gaining momentum for the last 6 months I feel its going along the path I am wanting to be on. It is also enabling me to learn as I go and juggle the kids and home life without being thrown utterly in the deep end and finding myself sinking without a trace! I have also, which is quite exciting, been offered a space in which to put a pop up exhibition for the autumn so instead of waffling here I should be in my studio throwing the paint about…that homework feeling still exists, even when you are a grown up doesn’t it….

(Oh yes Niki - heartfelt YES)

© Niki Cotton


Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I am wanting to make it a full time thing. The miniest monster goes to school part time in September so I am wanting to build things from there really.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

I would eventually like to have a massive space with lots of studio space in it that people can work in and throw ideas about in and have creative support with a gallery exhibition space and also a little cafe that does open mike sessions and poetry reading evenings and things. A real community space that offers all sorts of creative knowledge to people. I would also love a space to do workshops in for the different artists working in the building but also visiting artists. It would be such a buzzy exciting space….plans plans plans!


© Niki Cotton


Where do you sell your work? 

At the moment I am selling my work through my blog and online shop - www.nikicottonart.com and The Buzz Gallery Castle Donnington and several pieces in  other galleries for short exhibitions.

Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

I can’t really answer this with such little experience but I think gallery spaces are probably the best. I think people can see the work much better than in a photograph and I feel that there is a certain understanding of what it costs to get a piece of work that far. Although from the artists point of view having to loose the cut from the gallery can sometimes sting rather a lot but it is a way of being seen and getting out there to an audience that might not see you online otherwise. It is a pretty noisy place the web really!


© Niki Cotton


Who do you think your typical customer is?

I have no idea who my typical customer would be - I suppose people who are wanting something on their walls ;) my work is all based on the sea and the surrounding area to me. If someone is looking for something that is beachy in feeling with abstract overtones then I’m the person to stop at!

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy the making. Don’t we all though?! That space of nothingness to begin with that then grows with each mark and layer. Its so exciting and extremely frustrating to take a total blank and create. To flow with energy and get it all down on that space in front of you. To purge the emotion, ideas and knowledge that is whirling around inside. To make it ‘be’.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I am definitely more instinctive in the way I make my work. I write lists for the rest of my life that I often add "MAKE WORK" onto, otherwise I can potter off in all directions if I don’t give myself set days in the studio. It helps to focus me and even if things move from list to list I can at least start somewhere and see where it goes but I think like all creatives I’m a bit of a butterfly, I like to flit from one thing to another to keep my interest piqued. I look in wonder at people who are driven and organised and not scatty at all and I am in awe at their utter control.


© Niki Cotton


Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

I’m not at that stage yet but I would love an agent, someone who would do that door knocking selling thing for me. I hate that bit and would rather stay in the back ground. I would also like someone to boss me about a bit, keep me focused, tell me that today I have to upload those pictures and not faff, take those pictures and make them amazing, a snap shot won’t wash if your trying to sell something… and mostly try to keep me tidy and when I am packing things to slow down and not rush as rushing means marks that mean you have to start from scratch and it all takes twice as long… 


© Niki Cotton


Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I work from home surrounded by all the detritus of family life with animals thrown in for good measure. I have a little studio that I pinched that I can make a mess in and is reasonably safe from mischief makers! It has suited me to be here as I have wanted the opportunity to be at home as the kids were small. I think it has been a great opportunity to have a space to be myself in and to grow from. I think in time I will find a space that isn’t at home. A space where I can really throw the paint about without worrying that I am going to trample it straight through the house. But it will come in time. It is good to have goals and something to work towards however hairy and fuzzy they might be. Its something to keep you going isn’t it.


© Niki Cotton


Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

My husband is someone I turn to for advice, when I can pin him down to a conversation, he is someone who has worked in the arts for years and who is a great person to discuss decision making with, ideas and general ways forward. I also have the Virtual Studio on those there social media sites who are the most amazing group of women (mostly) - all out there doing it for themselves, they really are amazing. 

© Niki Cotton

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

My typical day is running the household and squeezing my work in in the time in between. My dream would be to have the time for both fully but that is a pipe dream and I am only one person. I know that I will have to take things a step at a time and learn as I go along. This surely is the best way. I read a quote on Pinterest - allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent. I think this is so true and we should all remember it. We are too quick to berate ourselves at not being marvellously brilliant at everything. We choose not to see the people flapping about in the shallows like us trying to find our sea legs. We choose instead to look at those people out there doing it and being amazing at it.

Find Niki here too:

On Facebook

On Twitter

Thank you so much Niki - you speak from the heart and I wish you huge success in forging your art career. I'll be cheering you on :)


Friday, 18 July 2014

Friday Finds - Andrew Ruffhead -BA (Hons) Dip CSAD, MA, FSCD


Good morning! Today's featured artist is someone I've been meaning to make a journey to meet because he is based in North Norfolk, albeit about an hour and a half away from me. He is Andrew Ruffhead of Fish and Ships Coastal Art whose creative life has and continues to be varied and disciplined. He's a true artist and has some great advice for those aspiring to maintain a small business selling their art.


© Andrew Ruffhead

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? 

I was Head of Printed Textiles at UEL for fifteen years, as well as working as a textile designer producing fashion, furnishing fabrics and wallpapers for companies such as Osborne and Little, Designers Guild and Calvin Klein.
I retired to Burnham Market in North Norfolk nearly nine years ago, and carried on working freelance. I started producing lino-cuts, cards and prints with a coastal theme, inspired by my new environment , and selling to other galleries, as well as opening on `Open Studio` days. I then decided to set up Fish and Ships Coastal Art as a small working studio, in what had been our garage. I soon became quite well-known and I was getting lots of commissions, so it was tricky just being open `by appointment`. We applied for planning permission to open as a gallery full time, four years ago, and the rest is history-so not retired at all!


© Andrew Ruffhead


Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I think my work became known quite quickly due to it quirky element, and the fact that we are hidden away in the village, so a little different from the norm. I did a lot of designs for places like Holkham Hall and Wells Beach Cafe, which they sell as prints, cards and tea towels, and also I think customers like the fact that they can see me working in the gallery as well. Everything I sell is original art by me, be it, wooden fish, artworks made from up-cycled fishing boat, painted lobsters and crabs mounted in clapboard frames, coastal abstracts and maps, or fun drawings of seafood...

Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I work every day, and we are open virtually every day; the advantage and disadvantage of having a gallery at home! But if we are here, then I am of course every happy to see customers. I have been known to open up at 9.30.pm when people are having an `after dinner` walk around the village!

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

The business has naturally grown and developed. Being in a coastal area which attracts lots of visitors, it is inevitably seasonal in parts, but I tend to have commissions running all year. I have no intention of moving the gallery from our home, as it would incur a whole new set of challenges and costs. I can be flexible about opening here, and also as I only sell my own work, there is a limit to how much I can produce. I also know that I am the best person to sell my work ,as customers like to chat to me about my art and experiences, and that is how I have come to have had so many commissions of personal artworks, which I love doing.



©Andrew Ruffhead


Where do you sell your work? 

I sell direct to customers from the Fish and Ships Coastal Art Gallery here in Burnham Market, I also sell from my own website, from two other websites, Not on the High Street and Buy the Sea, and also from The White Horse, Brancaster Staithe, The Anchor Gift Shop, Blakeney, 10, Church Street in Woodbridge, The Art Cafe, West Mersea, and Indigo in Javea, Spain.


Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

Different things sell well in different places, for example I sell a lot of prints online,  but at the end of the day I think people like to meet me, chat to me about my work and where we live, as they then have a bit of a story to tell when they take their artwork home. When I designed fabrics etc I never had any interaction with, or feedback from the customer, and it`s great to meet the wonderful variety of interesting people that we do here. 



© Andrew Ruffhead


Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

Yes I have had my work featured in many magazines both local and national, such as EDP Norfolk magazine and newspaper, Country Living, Country Homes and Interiors, Daily Mail, Town and Country House, Red and BBC Homes and Interiors. I have features coming up this summer in Aga Living and Period Living. My wife Sarah (and we work very much as a team) does all my PR, including social networking (Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Instagram) which is vital to my business. 

Who do you think your typical customer is?

I have customers who live here, and customers who visit on holiday or have second homes, which makes it very exciting; as I meet people from all over the country and indeed the world. As a result my artworks have been sold all over, including Australia, Spain and the Caribbean. I also do many commissions for businesses and have sold work and designs to places such as Holkham Hall, Woburn Abbey, Cobblers Cove Hotel in Barbados, and Fish Public in San Diego, California.



© Andrew Ruffhead


Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

I enjoy the variety of my work, so I love painting and drawing, as much as making artworks from old fishing boats. Therefore I work in different media-ink, gouache, paint, and of course the `found` wood. I love selling the small fun pieces to holiday makers and I love making larger pieces for commission - each one is unique and tells a story... I keep a sketch book with me at all times, even on holiday, and I never stop drawing, which is at the root of all my work.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

I am very organised, which I don`t think many artists are! But having always worked in design I am quite disciplined, and have a list each day of work to be done. But having said that, ideas grow from well, just doing things, so that is how new pieces, drawings or print ideas develop. I do have to keep thinking of new images, you can never remain static, and as I get a lot of repeat visitors who come back to see me each time they are in North Norfolk, they like to see (and buy) new things.


Coastal Landscape  - acrylic and gouache © Andrew Ruffhead


Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

My studio/Gallery is a small white space ( suitably coastal in style), at the back of our house in Burnham Market. We have large signs at the end of the drive, so you can`t really miss us, so if I hear the crunch on the gravel, when I am in my workshop (where the making of fish and larger pieces takes place-scroll saws and all that kit is in there-I know to hot-foot it across the decking into the gallery! It`s a great space, and I am very happy sitting drawing in there when I don`t have customers. It can get very busy though as people always tend to come at once-on sunny days I have work outside as well.



© Andrew Ruffhead


Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

Sarah and I talk about my work all the time, we discuss ideas, and developments, and it is she who approaches the press and would-be customers, as well as sorting our orders and framing. She is a great sounding board as she has great taste and style (she also went to art college), and she is also my worst (and best) critic. She is invariably right which can be very annoying! But joking apart, she has her finger on the pulse regarding trends and what`s new, so can steer me into new territory. 


What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

Each day is different which I like. I usually open at about 10am, but at the weekends it is guaranteed that if I sit down to eat my boiled eggs at breakfast, a customer will arrive. I alternate between making, drawing, planning for exhibitions (I have an exhibition at Wiveton Farm Cafe ,from 27th July-31st August), and fulfilling orders and commissions. I am very inspired living here; a stones throw from the stunning beaches, and have met some fascinating `arty` people. The other advantage of having the gallery here, is that I can if I so, wish shut up shop so to speak, which is what we did yesterday afternoon - we closed at 5pm-packed crab sandwiches and headed to Wells Beach. Perfect.



© Andrew Ruffhead


Anything else  you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions ...

I would say that running your own business however small - and maybe that is the way to start, is just the best way to do it! You have to work jolly hard, learn by your errors, and listen to and watch what others do, without getting too het up about `competition`, which is always good. Have the courage of your convictions and be the best. You also learn quickly about what to sell, and why you have to sell a variety of products - some more `commercial` than others. But if you can balance doing what you love doing and making money out of it as well, then that has to be a good thing.
I am very lucky to be living and working in such a beautiful part of the country, but we have and continued, to work hard to make it happen.

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! 

We look forward to seeing you here at the Gallery...

Fish and Ships Coastal Art, Seashell, 19, Ulph Place, Burnham Market, Norfolk . PE318HQ, Tel: 01328 738621,
or shop online at www.fish-and-ships.com

I am also very happy to work to commission and you can always ring me and I can email ideas or pictures of artworks and you can pay over the telephone.

Thank you so much Andrew and Sarah, I look forward to meeting you one day! 

Follow Fish and Ships on Twitter at https://twitter.com/FishandShipsBM
and on Facebook too www.facebook.com/pages/Fish-and-Ships-Coastal-Art-Studio-and-Gallery

Friday, 11 July 2014

Friday Finds - Illustrator Allison Hullyer


Good morning! Today's Friday finds is Illustrator Alison Hullyer with whom I did an Arts Foundation course at the end of the 1980's in Cambridge before we all went our separate ways to different art colleges. 



© Alison Hullyer


When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? Tell us your story of how “Alison Hullyer Illustration" came to be!

After graduating in 1990 from Newcastle University with a degree in graphic design, I worked in a gallery in Cambridge for 18 months and then went travelling around India and Nepal for four months culminating in an exhibition of my work a few months after I returned.  I then developed my business properly in 1992, calling it ‘Deckled Edge Designs’.  It was mostly hand-made cards printed onto paper with a deckle-edge, hence the name. I supplied shops all over the country including the V&A.


© Alison Hullyer

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I had help from the Prince’s Trust.  I wrote a business plan and presented it to a panel of experts, a bit like an early version Dragon’s Den.  They agreed to lend me £1000 to buy a reconditioned etching press.  I paid back the money, interest free over three years.  I was also given a business mentor and the chance to have a stand at two Trade Fairs at the NEC.  The Trade Fair was the turning point in my career, as apart from being awarded a silver medal and meeting Prince Charles, I also met my first publishing company, Stone Marketing. I went on to design around 400 cards and products for them.


© Alison Hullyer


Do you do your business part time or full time? 

Full time.

© Alison Hullyer


Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

Now my children are teenagers I have more time for work, so I would like to grow it further.  Ideally I would like to license more of my designs onto other products, such as fabric, tins, mugs and homeware.  I have a few of my own products such as tea towels and coasters but would prefer for someone else to handle the production, marketing and distribution side.

If this is your full time job do you mind saying what your approximate turnover is annually (before costs and expenses)? 

I fluctuate around the tax threshold and try to keep it just below.

Where do you sell your work? 

Most of my card and stationery designs are licensed to Phoenix Trading.  I have worked freelance for them for the last 12 years.  I have also licensed some of my fine art printmaking designs to Green Pebble.  I have taken part in Cambridge Open Studios every July, since 1995.  It’s a great way for the general public to see what I do and for me to get instant feedback about what people like.  I am also involved in organising the Cambridge Christmas Show and I am taking part for the first time at the Ely Cathedral Christmas Fair in November.  Cambridge Original Printmakers is also a new event taking place in September and I have been busy designing their publicity material.  I also sell my prints and tea towels through Cambridge Contemporary Crafts and Haddenham Galleries.  In Hebden Bridge, the Heart Gallery has just received their first order of my new Bike tea towels to coincide with the start of the Tour de France.  I also have a website of my own and sell through Facebook.


© Alison Hullyer


Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

Licensing my designs is the most consistent and well paid part of the business, but I like the immediacy of selling direct to customers too. 

© Alison Hullyer - three of the wraps Alison did for Phoenix Trading

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

Not so far.  But I did feature recently in a schools program for the BBC about artists who use nature in their work.

Who do you think your typical customer is?

I have a big range of customers that I try to cater for on the publishing side and fine-art side.  My new Bike tea towels have gone down particularly well with men.
But I think it is predominantly women that buy my work.


© Alison Hullyer


Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

Probably the printmaking but I have to be realistic and also making a living.  I never get tired of seeing one of my new cards or a wrapping paper design in print.

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?

I probably would turn down the order for 6000 hand-made cards I had several years ago from WH Smith.  I never thought I’d get them done in time! I am much better at saying “no thanks” to things these days.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive?

Instinctive but with a few goals on the horizon.

© Alison Hullyer

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do how did you find people who were the right fit for you?

I have an accountant who does my tax return, but I do the general book keeping.  I may need a tea towel folder if things really take off with them!

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I have a small study in the house where I do all my design work and my etching press is out in the garage for when I need to print.  I could really do with more space and I am looking into having a garden studio, when funds allow.  We have dog, so I am forced to leave the house at least twice a day.  On my dog walks I often come up with new ideas, so it’s a valuable part of the day.

 © Alison Hullyer


Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

I was always very resistant to join ‘social media’ and still don’t tweet, but I have found facebook a great way to connect with other like-minded people and fellow artists.  My children are also very good at telling me when something I am working on isn’t working.

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

I start work about 9:15am, after the first dog walk of the day.  Answer emails, quick look on facebook and then down to work.  It could be coming up with some new card ideas, working on something commissioned by Phoenix Trading or developing a new tea towel design.  I have lunch any time between 12 and 2, another walk and then back to work until everyone gets home from school and work and declares they are hungry.  I sometimes work late if there is a deadline.  Of course I also have to fit in all the boring stuff like food shopping, washing and house work. My dream day would be a day out sketching in the country-side or by the sea, a pub lunch and some good wine. I would also love to go back to India one day and visit the south this time.

Anything else  you want to add… tips or ambitions . . .

Tips: don’t give up if one publisher doesn’t accept your work, it’s always worth trying several and think about where your style fits best.

Ambition: I would love to see my designs on a huge range of products.

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! Links please 



My blog is: "http://www.hullyer.co.uk

Galleries:


Shows:


http://www.camopenstudios.co.uk"  THIS WEEKEND AND NEXT!!


Brilliant Alison, you've done some amazing work and I look forward to seeing your work on more things - I share your ambition! Hope this weekend is full of sales  :)

Friday, 4 July 2014

Friday Finds - Artist Jane Moore Houghton


Good morning! Today's interview is with the multi-talented artist Jane Moore Houghton who I met virtually a year or so ago when we both took part in an on line course - Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells.


© Jane Moore Houghton

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started meticulously or was it almost accidental? 

I began formally selling my art in 2006. I was also running a successful private art school for children in my basement at the time. I taught preschoolers through young teens for eleven years, five days a week. Watching, particularly the preschoolers, make art reminded me of why I had always loved making art. These young artists made art for the sake of it, with little consideration of what their audience might think. Their process was joyful and immediate. In their own way, they encouraged me to start making art.


© Jane Moore Houghton

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn?

I enjoyed success right away. My next solo show, at a public library in an affluent community sold out and provided about three years of commission work that all stemmed from that show. When the economy forced people to conserve their spending my business slowed way down. For the past three years I have tried many avenues to keep my sales coming in. While I continue to get occasional commission work, I have had to learn new skills such as Photoshop and Illustrator in order to get a foot in the door of commercial art I also began making smaller, lower price point pieces.
Where my typical size had been 24” squares, I began making pieces that ranged from 5”squares to 16” squares. Several years ago I did a series of 100 5” squares that sold very well.

Do you do your business part time or full time? 

I am a full time artist. Some weeks it takes second seat to my children’s schedules but I often work late into the night to make up for emergencies that happen when you are raising three children and running a home. 

© Jane Moore Houghton

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why? 

I hope to grow my business to the point where I can match my husband’s income. We have a  daughter in college and two more coming up quickly behind her. More than financial goals, however, I have a vision of brining my work to more venues and look forward to seeing where it takes me. Now, more than any other time in my life, I feel ready to take on things that had previously intimidated me. For example, children’s book illustration or designing for the gift market. 

If this is your full time job do you mind talking a little about your earnings?

For the past few years I have to admit that my income has seemed to be more on the “hobby” level. However, I do see this time as a necessary period of growth. I know the income will return. It’s really hard to be patient and to cheer myself on but I do believe in my voice. That said, I have had to pick up odd jobs when I can as well. I help a friend who is a pet sitter for example. The hours work with my flexible schedule. I also teach watercolor to a small group of adults and am using it to develop ideas for an adult art curriculum to help them find their voices creatively. Flexibility and an open attitude is helpful as I keep my focus on my ultimate goals.

Where do you sell your work? 
 
I sell my work privately through word of mouth. I have an Etsy shop as well as sticking my toe in online venues such as Saatchi. I have relationships with several curators and galleries. I would like to get my work into gift galleries as well as work with a Commercial Art agent.
Which of the selling methods that you use works best for you? Why do you think this is?

Historically, I have sold more work through word of mouth or to people who have seen my work first-hand. I think this is for two reasons: my work does not photograph well because of all the layers and subtlety. I have tried every trick in the book but continue to witness people’s reactions at seeing my work first-hand versus online or in a photograph. 

They often say something like, “Oh! I had no idea there was so much texture and layers…there’s so much to see here!” I strive to bring the viewer in to my compositions and layers slowly, this experience just doesn't happen as strongly through a flattened image. Secondly, if someone can meet the artist and talk to her face to face about her work, it always sells more art. The story sells. This is something I try to remember when listing something online; I always tell a little bit of the story with the piece. And lastly, if I am honest with myself, when I have made art that speaks purely from what I love and I have become lost in, people respond to that and it touches them in a way that moves them to want to live with it. “People buy your joy”, a truth put forth by Lilla Rogers.

© Jane Moore Houghton

Have you had publicity in national magazines? If so how did you approach them?

I was published in the Cloth, Paper, Scissors Magazine in November/December issue last year (2013). I answered a call for artists who were using mixed media in new and interesting ways. I am developing a method of embroidering on layers of tissue paper to use in mixed media works. I wrote a proposal and they contacted me to write an article about my process. I have also been a featured artist on online magazine/ interview venues such as Artsy Shark and just this past spring, The Design Recharge Show with Diane Gibbs. These two examples saw my work online and in the Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. 

Who do you think your typical customer is?

My typical customer tends to be 20 - 50 year old, middle to upper income, educated woman. Many of my commissions have been mothers commissioning original art for their children’s rooms. My commercial art portfolio is focused on the children’s market. 

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most? 

The aspect of my work that I enjoy the most is working with a commission patron to create an original work that speaks to their family and or child/ren in a timeless way that will be cherished for generations. I love the process of discussing what is important to them about their family in order to figure out a way to express that in the piece. The feeling of delivering a commissioned piece that makes a patron over-joyed is so satisfying! 

© Jane Moore Houghton

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today?
I’m not sure if I would do anything differently if I had to do it over again. I try to remain true to myself and my vision and know that if I work hard and just keep putting one foot in front of the other income will come.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive? 

I usually set weekly goals that I plan out on a calendar on Sunday nights. When I see my time all laid out with non-business related things, I can plan out more realistically what I can get done that week. I also make notes about longer term goals in a journal. 

Tell us a little about where you work...

I work in a home based studio in my basement. I am alone for much of the day. I have been trying to reach out to local artists to form a community I can gain support and insight from. I have gone back and forth about getting a studio within a studio building where I could be with other artists more often but wonder if I would find this distracting. I would like a studio with natural light and more ambiance. 

Do you have a mentor or people who you are able to discuss your business with? If not how do you find you best make decisions about your business?

As far as mentors go; recently, a woman in my community read on my blog that I was trying to learn Photoshop and Illustrator. She contacted me and offered to teach me Photoshop for free. She said, “Your work needs to be in the world and I want to help you get commercial work”. She is my angel and we have become good friends. I was able to create a painting for her as payment for all her time and patience in teaching me and encouraging me. I also enjoy the support and insight of the other artists in online classes I have taken and am currently taking. In addition, artists from my local arts council have started a support group of sorts. We meet about once a month to talk about the business of being an artist and to give helpful feedback about our work. The artists in this group are varied and very interesting.

© Jane Moore Houghton

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

My typical day involves reviewing my to-do lists from the calendar I plan out on Sunday nights. Depending on the day I will either take care of online marketing, sketch and brainstorm, research for current and future pieces. If I have a day that’s wide open time -wise I will paint all day. IT’s harder to get into a grove if I know I only have an hour before needing to dash off to an appointment. It’s always a balance between being strict with my time in the studio and leaving a little room for unplanned events, like a flat tire for example which happened last week. 

Anything else  you want to add… 

I live by the mantra “Truth Floats” . To me, this means that the truth of my work and it’s voice, the way I run my business and the professional relationships I am building will always prevail if I stay true to myself and my vision. This helps on those days when no money is coming in or I hear cricked after posting a blog post. One has to be incredibly patient and stedfast to be an artist!

Where can we find your work?
My web site is: www.janemhoughton.com where you can find examples of  my work as well as my blog. 
I sell some work on Etsy:https://www.etsy.com/shop/JaneMHoughton
Instagram: as janemhoughton
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/janemh/
tumblr: phygmentstudio.tumblr.com
flickr: Jane Houghton
email: janemhoughton@gmail.com

Thank you so much Jane - a fascinating read! And it was lovely of you to send me these, really kind.



I particularly love the calendar sheets and I know that clipboard will be very useful.