Sunday, November 22, 2009

details, details, details

Now I know why the stereotype of artist not having good business practices probably has some truth to it. I've been spending the last few weeks weeding through the minutia of the why's and how to's of setting up an LLC. That's even less exciting than watching paint dry. Then there are the tax reporting issues. I've always filed jointly (with my wife), but now with an LLC and being self employed who knows what the tax attorney will tell us. That's another meeting.

Last week was mostly dealing with liability and property insurance for my many adventures. Seems that insurance companies still don't know what to do with you unless you fit neatly into one of their 'classes' for coverage. Thankfully, with a few phone calls to several groups that specialize in helping 'ceative' groups and individuals, I was able to find agencies that can be creative in setting up coverage for us round pegs trying to fit into square holes.

Fractured Atlas is one of those organizations as well as Springboard For The Arts. Thanks to these organizations I didn't have to spend twice the amount for coverage, and was able to trust that I might actually have a policy that isn't full of loopholes.

Without these organizations to help I can easily see why creatives sometimes avoid doing basic business practices. It isn't that creatives are lazy or ignorant of such... it's just that the business world in many cases just doesn't know how to work with creatives, and translates that into what appears to the creatives as (and in some cases actually is) over charging.

More details...

Last week I had my first test of the "Have Kiln Will Travel" concept. The test class at local high school was a success. This was gratifying since a few months of prep as well as thousands of dollars went into getting ready for the test. The amount of gear and glass going to a site turned into a bit of logistical problem. I ended up with a truckload of 80 gallon tupperware roughneck containers to hold all the stuff (including 6 kilns).

OK... now what. Do I have to load, then unload the truck full of gear after every event? No way! I just want to keep it locked up in my truck when I'm at the studio. Which means that I have to buy a set of equipment that is dedicated just for Have Kiln Will Travel and not for studio use. OK, no problem. But the gear must be covered and secured. So that means a $1500 topper for my truck!

Yikes! How many thousands am I going to pour into this?

Well, thankfully I think I'm done with all the major expenses. Now I'm off to create the web site for Have Kiln Will Travel, and I'll do most of that myself. I might call in a Flash expert to do a little work, and hopefully it won't cost too much.

It is ofen said that it takes money to make money... I guess that is even true when you are doing fund raising.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Have Kiln Will Travel Update

Nothing is ever simple with me. I'll bend twist and turn an ideal inside out until either it is dead or something unexpected comes to mind. The Have Kiln Will Travel concept hasn't even been implemented yet, and I can already see it working in multiple forms.

The original idea was to teach at Community Ed centers. Shortly there after came the idea of doing it at art centers throughout my region, and now the third form of the idea has me really reeling with possibilities.

Why not give fused glass parties just like Tupperware parties? The Designs For Good flavor of this is that the 'host' gets most of the 'take'. It goes like this... A nonprofit or charitable group needs to raise a bit of change. Not a lot mind you, maybe just around a thousand dollars or so. The nonprofit group (aka host) calls 12 or so 'donors', and invites them to a glass fusing party where they can make all kinds of gifts (belt buckles, earrings, pendants, money clips, etc). The host knows just about how much to ask a donor to attend the party. Depending on who the host calls they stand to make a considerable amount of money just for an afternoon of fun.

  • The host gets to have fun holding the event and (of course) sorely needed funds.
  • I walk away with some portion of the proceeds to support my costs.
  • The guests have a grand time making stuff and also go home with a pocket full of jewelry and other 'wearable' glass items which could be valued far beyond the amount that they donated.

I might get arrested for this idea it is soooo goood!

Of course there are a LOT of details to make this happen, but leave it to my IT background to be designing and testing out every technical and logistic nuance of the idea before bringing it to the public.

Well... actually I'm so sure that it is going to work that I have contacted dozens of centers of various sorts and I'm already scheduled....

This is going to be such a great Designs For Good initiative!

Getting Feedback & Food For Thought

To carry on from some thoughts from the prior post.... Getting feedback is critical for growth and can help confirm that you're on the right track. Finding that feedback may be difficult when it comes to your career. In my case I'm changing careers so I have to relearn where and how to get suggestions and advice.

Entering competitions I'm finding is very gratifying when you win or place well, but unless you can corner a judge and ask specific questions all that you come away with is that you did good. At the Twin Cities Professional Photographers Association (TCPPA) yearly print competition I did fairly well for a first time entrant. I made some novice mistakes in presentation that probably turned excellence into just above average entries. I'm not happy with that of course, but more to the point there were so many entries that it was impossible to get real feedback. I got scores, but don't really know in detail what needs improvement.

Winning the yearly competition held by Sculptural Pursuit magazine was the topic of a prior post. A few months after that I entered into another magazine's competition, namely Aesthetica. Aesthetica engages with contemporary art, contextualising it within the larger cultural framework. It was founded in 2002, and Aesthetica Magazine is one of Britain's leading art publications.

I was recently notified of being a finalist in their competition and recieved the following from them to be used as a blub...

"The second Aesthetica Creative Works Annual explores the imagination. This book showcases artwork and creative writing from over 30 countries. The anthology contextualises the larger cultural framework by asking probing questions about the current state of affairs: the economy, globalisation, technology and the environment. Moreover it offers a platform from which to analyse the art we producing today. Its cutting-edge nature offers you autonomy. As the reader, this book provides an insight into our deepest thoughts, anxieties and aspirations. Art becomes the tonic for the modern world."

I'm honored of course, and probably will feel more so when I become familiar with the magazine. However, I'm not sure of the judging criteria and consequently do not know what I should feel good about specifically. The photographs sent in were judged deserving of publication. I should be happy with that alone.

After all, my images where chosen from 12,000 sent into the competition from many countries!

Time to grow up Jim... is what I'm telling myself. You're doing good. Stop being so insecure.