What’s your background?
I can’t remember a time when I was not an artist. I come from a family of writers and storytellers and instead of telling stories with only words, I tell stories with images, texture, and color. I have 3 siblings and we grew up with very unstable parents. Expressing myself through art was often the only safe way to get my emotions out. My mother was a talented artist and started me painting around age 3, and I never really stopped.
I knew in highschool that traditional college was not for me, so I took the GED at 15 and went to art school. I initially wanted to be a fashion designer and quickly learned I hate to sew! I switched my area of study to visual arts and was happy to get my hands dirty. To pay my way through college at 16, I started selling my art and hand painted t-shirts at local swap meets and art fairs.
Does your artwork come from that background?
I think my art comes from all aspects of my life. Bits and pieces of all my life experiences are weaved into each image.
What are you trying to say with your work?
I am not trying to say anything. I want the viewer to decide for themselves what it is in my artwork they connect with. That is the great thing about art: it means something different to everyone. Even the simplest things can be very complex for a person if they connect with it on some level.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
I love working with mixed media because it is like having a dictionary of words to use, except instead of words there are textures, colors, patterns. It’s a visual vocabulary.
Do you work in a studio?
For smaller pieces, I work in a closet in my home. I have a large walk in closet that I lovingly refer to as The Art Closet. I use an ironing board as an adjustable height work surface (I prefer to stand when I create). I have used an ironing board as a table for decades (to the surprise of many). Every hotel room has one and it’s great when I am traveling and need to create on location. For larger works, my husband built me a rolling wall easel, and I use that outside. And, I have a guest room that doubles as an office, photo studio, and larger space to work in.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
Paper towels and my iphone. And chocolate.
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are successful women who do not take no for an answer, and who have no problem saying no. Growing up, I was obsessed with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn…unusual choices for a Jewish girl from California’s Bay Area, I know! I loved how they used their lives to tell stories (with music) and persevered despite all the barriers they faced. They had dreams and goals and went for it! More recently, Michelle Obama has been a big inspiration.
If I were not an artist, my dream job would be recipe tester.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
I work in so many different styles that it is hard to pick just one! One of my favorites is “Light Of Day” and it is one of the few originals I regret selling.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
This is a hard one to answer because there are so many variables. I am often working on more than one piece at a time (I hate wasting paint on my palette!). Some pieces take 15 minutes and some take days.
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
I usually have an idea in my head of what I want a piece to look like so when the feeling of needing to add one more thing is gone, it is finished.
What project are you working on now?
Art, art, and more art! I work with a lot of interior designers and am currently working on some art for a children’s hospital.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Judy Finer, a Bay Area collage artist who I participated in an exhibit with once gave me advice I always have in the back of my mind: You do not have to use all your tricks in one same piece. Spread out your tricks.
She passed away unexpectedly not long after we formed a friendship, and that bit of advice was such a gift.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
It was a hand-painted “I Am Art” shirt.
My house is haunted.
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
I do not find it hard or confusing at all. On the contrary, I like the challenge.
I started selling my art online in 2000 and have seen the internet and online selling change, change again, and change more. If you are going to sell online or market yourself online, you have to be flexible and you have to be open to change and experimentation. Being an artist is one thing. Being a businesswoman is another thing. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. If you are going to be both, you need to know where to put your emotion (the art) and where and when to think about business.
In the last 18 years, I have seen many artists suffer because they took statistics personally. Numbers are a tool, not a criticism or judgment. If you can’t look realistically at what generates your website traffic, sales, or new clients without taking it as a personal attack, it will be hard.
I love marketing and I love experimenting. Many of my experiments result in failure and I learn from that. Not everything will go the way you expect or want, but all the skills you learn from those failures teach you how to navigate. It’s like putting a puzzle together. Some pieces fit, some don’t.
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I started my art career at 16 (I am 49 now) and have set goals along the way. I have a very strong work ethic and have reached most of my goals. I wrote two best-selling art journaling books with my sister, I created designs for fashion collections, I have done exhibits, licensed my art for retail and product manufacturers, my art has been published in books and magazines…it has been a very rewarding career so far. It has been my experience that when one project ends, another one magically appears! I tend to not really follow art trends but I do follow interior design,color, and fashion trends.
I do have one career goal that has not yet been met, but I am working on it- I want to design a greeting card that is sold at my favorite store, Trader Joe’s! Sometimes the simplest goals take the most work.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
When it comes to pricing art, I think a lot about pricing has to do with ego and with goals. My approach is goal based and I am going to share what works for me.
My business is divided into three categories: art for product manufacturers, art for interior designers and corporate clients, and art sales that are direct to consumer. My prices are different for each category but my goal is the same: art and beautiful products EVERYONE can afford. Typically my interior design and corporate clients can afford to spend more, and often those projects require custom or exclusive art that I do not make available to the general public. Those pieces tend to be large and cost more.
When it comes to direct to consumer art sales online, experience has taught me that most of my buyers have a budget. I do not think your income should determine whether or not you can decorate your home.
I always make sure that I have art (prints or cards usually) that cost less than one hour of minimum wage. In some states, minimum wage is still $8.00 an hour. I price my cards at $5.95. I know some people reading that just recoiled. I know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck and still want a treat once in a while and to decorate. A cool art card or print combined with a frame coupon for Michaels can be a game changer when you are on a budget.
Will I get rich selling a few cards a week at $5.95 each? No. Will I feel good about doing that? Yes.
The same image I sell as a greeting card for $5.95 I will also make available as a large framed print for $300.00 for my clients with larger budgets. And for clients with even larger budgets, I make the same image available on other surfaces for $600.00. Most sales are in the mid-range but my main goal is to offer pricing for everyone.
I attract cats and barking dogs.
When it comes to original art for sale online, my base price structure is $10 per inch based on the longest side. So a 5″x5″ would be $50.00 and a 10″x20″ would be $200.00. If it took me a really long time to complete I will add $25-$50 to that base price. When I came up with this structure, I really just asked myself what price sounds reasonable. If your price is ego driven, $50 might be really upsetting. I have friends who ego price everything they make. Sure they sell one or two $8000 paintings a year to the small section of people who can afford that. I would rather sell something daily at a reasonable price and have my business constantly moving.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?
There is always something that annoys me, haha! I am really bothered by artists on social media thinking that likes equal sales, so they just duplicate what every other artist is doing. People buy followers, they buy likes, and I think it is silly to compare yourself to an illusion.
What advice would you give new artists?
Do your own thing!!! Be open to opportunities and possibilities and do not worry about what every other artist is doing. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Have you got hobbies?
I do! I love to bake. I love to travel. I love reading, going to concerts, and people watching. Most of all, I like to take naps.
Where are you based?
I am in Santa Clarita, California.
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
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