For the last 3 months I have been very busy working on a personal project, in which I could experience almost a piece of everything I had have written in my past articles/posts.
I opened my art studio; and I did not find any God Fairy Mother in the process.
Sometimes I think to myself: "What have I done?"
Anyways, it is already done, now it is a matter of surviving, and going ahead.
What I am writing today in this post, I would like to say that it is more…. sharing some thoughts, but I think it will be good to "hear" some friends comments.
( We gotta install microwave ovens
Custom kitchens deliveries... )
In the process of opening the art studio, spending a lot of money buying renovation materials, furniture, and so on, we need to deal with advertising the studio and the services.
It is very important to advertise, but also very expensive. We have people selling advertise on newspaper, websites, radio, "Internet" campaigns, t-shirts, everywhere you can be "posted" or exposure.
I do believe all and every advertising is important and valuable, but the point is I do not have all that money, and to be honest I do not know if I will have the proper return from all of them. On the other hand, if you do not advertise you don't reach that many people as if you do advertise.
The question is how to ind the break-even point, because you can have you business Facebook page with zillions of likes, or your website with trillions of page views, but in the real life if you do not sell any of your art or did not work in any project, you will not have "real" money to pay the bills.
You can not pay your gas, telephone, credit card, electric bill, whatever with likes or page views.
Another thing that you will face is that it is as much difficult dealing with customers in live as online.
We gotta move these refrigerators
We gotta move these colour TV's)
I will give you an example: a customer came to the art studio asking me for a job; nothing that much technical; I need to work on a image form a magazine and make it bigger for a poster.
The whole job, in summary, was to scan the image, make it bigger by retouching it digitally and, to guarantee an output such as 4 times the original image probably I would spend around 10 up to 15 hours on it, which with my current schedule I would need 4 days at least.
I made some calculations and I charged $150.00 which could be paid in 2 instalments. Even though, my customer thought it was expensive for his budget.
Ok, I understand that $150.00 for a person, to get an image, poster size, is expensive (comparing to posters you can buy at Walmart for $8.00; but that is another situation which a customer won't understand even if I prove that my job is worthy of it).
How can spend 15 hours on a job, in which I am charging $150.00; $10.00/hour (which is less than the minimum wage) and even get enough to pay the taxes, my rent, my other costs, once I have now my "office" ?
Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
I also produced some pieces of art to be on an local art exhibition.
Each piece took me around 20 hours of work, plus the material, plus the frame, plus the subscriptions fee and other things.
Let's make some calculation; if you charge $20.00/hour, you have $400.00 only on working hours.
I pay around $80.00 for 1 hour at the optician which, actually, it is around 40/45 min.
One 14"X 18" cheap frame is around $30.00. Material to produce 14"X18" piece of art, in this case charcoal, lending stomps, gum eraser, etc, is around $18.00; paper is around $3.50
So, if I produce a 14"X18" art piece, that will cost me around $450.00.
Considering that I have costs with rent and other utilities and materials for my studio, let's make a number of 15% as some extras to cover the costs. That goes to $518.00 (15% on $450.00)
When It is sold, I have to pay 13% on taxes; that goes to $586.00. If I want to have some profit I should sell my piece of art for at least $700.00 (considering that I am not going to sell it immediately after producing it).
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free
Art is completely different than food, or clothes or any other product which we can not live without it. Art does not sell as much as I would like.
What people do not realize is that when we are doing an original piece of art, a mistake can cost the entire piece.
For the local art exhibition, I had the chance of registering another piece of art, I had 4 days to produce something, so I thought about a coloured piece, using soft pastel.
To make it faster, I decided to change my painting technique on that media. And I was not happy with the result; I decided not to finish it for the "competition".
I lost 1 working day (around 12 hours) + material and I got a lot of frustration. At the end I decide to produce a Black and White piece on charcoal.
I shoulda learned to play the guitar
I shoulda learned to play them drums
Look at that mama, she got it stickin' in the camera
How much cost to produce art?
That question is really tricky. I should say that, basically, you calculate the value on how many hours you work, the material used, and the taxes you have to pay when you sell.
Some other points to consider are: how much is your working hour? what if you do not get the result you expect? how do you deal with your waste? How long it takes to feel the piece you produced? is there any other costs involved, such as renting, etc?
It is very different whether you are working at home or at a studio; the costs are much higher, especially because you have to advertise your services and products.
Again, how much cost to produce your art?
I hope, now you have a better idea for the next time someone asks that for you.
Man we could have some fun
And he's up there, what's that? Hawaiian noises?
Bangin' on the bongoes like a chimpanzee
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Get your money for nothin' get your chicks for free
Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
FINDING "NEMO" ; IT LOOKS LIKE MUCH MORE….. ME
There is always a time when you look at the mirror and you face yourself.... mixed feelings of uncertainty and fear, heart beating in a very tight chest, like you can not breath properly… there is not enough air… and finally you ask yourself :
Where do I go? What do I do? How do I do? Am I good enough? Can I do it? What if I fail?
Trying not to paraphrase Morpheus (Matrix):
"There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path"
The problem is that many times we do not have anyone, nor a tutor neither a master to hep us out, to point us out the path or "show us the door which we must walk in".
We need to do it by ourselves, we need to try by ourselves because..... we "need to break something to know how to fix it" right?
Yes and no.
Geez, that is confusing, it really is; and it does not help very much. You need to decide if you take the blue pill or the red pill.
On the other hand, you have so many things to lose (or to gain) if you fail…
So, again… do you need to break something to know how to fix it?
So, again… the answer is yes and no. And here lays the analogy where you need to "find Nemo".
If you do not plan head what to do, you probably need to break something to know how to fix it; or you can follow the popular saying: we learn with our mistakes.
In a certain point of view, that is a waste of time and resource and money.... and whatever is related to that.
If you plan ahead, you can start by creating procedures, making an "action plan", a timeline, a SWOT - Strength/Weakness/Opportunities/Threats analysis, so you can avoid wasting your time and resources and money, etc.
"Life is a mystery
Everyone must stand alone
I hear you call my name
and it feels like home"
Of course, we can not predict 100% the future; nobody can. But we can prepare ourselves to get the best result of our plans, no matter what our goals are.
Let's start talking about finding our path, "finding Nemo".
I hope I can show you the way and you get the connection.
Long time ago when I decided to invest "myself" to be an illustrator/pinup artist (and all my efforts) in a career which I did not know if there would be a future; where I could make a living; I knew that I had some talent, I had the feeling, I had the passion and I had the guts.... so, I should do it.
I had no money, no support (only few persons in my family would understood my decision), I knew there were many other good artists already established in the market, I knew there would be lots of difficulties and I would receive much more "No" than Yes, but I had to try.... I used to close my eyes and pray, "Heaven help me".
One of the first things I faced, and that really scared me, was looking at the mirror and saying to myself: What now?
To be a different artist, to be myself, to find my style in a way to be competitive and to stand out of the crowd I had to "know the path and walk the path".
"I hear your voice
It's like an angel sighing
I have no choice
I hear your voice
Feels like flying"
Yes, I decided to follow some artists as references, to study the way they succeeded, their techniques and so on; after all, if we need references we should take references from the good examples and good artists.
I have my idols and my references.
It is no secret; I studied and followed them.
I followed, in terms of Traditional Painting Techniques, the great american illustrators/painters: J. C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell
In terms of Painting/Anatomy/Pinups, I followed: Gil Elvgren and Alberto Vargas
In terms of Comics/Cartoon, I followed: Dave Stevens, Adam Hughes, James Gurney, Frank Cho, LoopyDave.
In terms of Fantasy (Contemporary), I followed: Alan Lee, John Howe.
As much as I studied and reproduced their techniques and their art style at the beginning, it really helped to build my own style.
I did not want to copy them, because I have my own style of drawing and painting, but I needed some directions.
I did not have a teacher nor a tutor, I learned everything by myself and inside of me I had that voice telling me to persist, to continue looking for my own style, to believe in my faith and not to give up.
I always thought that one day, people would say something like:
"Cris Delara has a very interesting style of drawing and painting, an unique style which I like, and I want to buy that piece of art because she did it".
I did not want to hear that Cris Delara copies Elvgren's style, or Loopydave's style, or James Gurney's painting style;
I would be OK hearing, maybe that, my style somehow reminds one of those artists I mentioned above; and that would be a great compliment, after all, they are my references.
It took me years of studying them. I bought many books about them, not only about their art but also about their lives. The ones still alive, I follow them on the social media, for sure. I am a fan and I am not ashamed of saying that.
"Just like a muse to me
You are a mystery
Just like a dream
you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer
no choice your voice
can take me there"
It took many years "finding Nemo" to get the basics for my own style.
I am sure, when someone sees one of my pinup images s/he will recognize if that image was really done by Cris Delara or someone else.
Not only because of my drawing and paining technique, but also because of my style and my "art language" applied on that image.
I have a name, an style and a reputation and I planned to achieve that many years ago.
I studied, I practiced, I made some mistakes, of course... I made lots of them…. and it would be worse if I had not planned my actions.
Do you know what I did to remember me, my art style? in front of me, I hanged at the wall 6 pieces of my best jobs; some of them prints, some of them original sketches.
They remind me who I am, my style and, when I am in doubt or when I am felling insecure, I look at them and I say:
- That is me! that is the style I pursued for many years and that is my path.
By the time I change the pieces of course, after all, the new jobs are better than the old ones, but they are always there to show me how to walk the path.
I still use my idol's references sometimes, but now I can include my own references to guide me.
"In the midnight hour
I can feel your power
Just like a prayer you know
I'll take you there"
If you are still confused about yourself, if you are scared about if you have the talent, if you can do it… if you are still scared of looking at the mirror and being honest with yourself... it does not matter what are your goals; do not be hard on you.
I understand what is happening, believe me I do really understand.
I still have the same problems, even after years of experience, because every day is a new different day; and every personal/professional goal is challenging.
Just…. do not be hard on yourself. Plan ahead and do not give up, it does not matter how long it can take. If you feel inside of you that you can do; believe in your guts and go ahead "finding Nemo" and at the end you will say, when you start discovering your style, and start walking the path you will say: " - it looks like much more.... me!"
"....It's Like a dream
No end and no beginning
You're here with me
It's like dream
Let the choir sing..."