2009 Goals (results)

January 2, 2010 at 10:28 am (goals, selling art)

I had a lot of goals at the beginning of my first year of PF blogging. Let’s see how I did.

Bring Personal Line below $7K
I transferred the entire balance to two 0% interest cards during 2009 (Discover and US Bank) and had it at $0 for quite some time. If I include the amount on my US bank card (originally on the personal line), plus what got transferred back from the Discover card once their offer expired, it’s just over $7K. The actual balance is less than $1,500, so I’m happy. SUCCESS.

Schedule 4 art shows in 2009.
I scheduled 3. I didn’t sell anything. I don’t know if I just didn’t put out the energy, or if I should have pushed to do new work, or if I just had prices that were too high for this economy (I think the latter). I’m scaling this back right now. I just moved, and I’ve got to figure out if I should be making new, cheaper, reproducable work that isn’t a limited edition (with higher prices). I know my work is good, I just haven’t gotten to the right venues. All my artist friends and co-workers have also said that it’s a crappy time to sell art. No one is buying. I should be pushing more with galleries and competitions (which often have shipping costs, though).  Right now I feel like my art is taking a sabbatical while I figure out my finances, moving, my relationship, and getting myself back to center. FAIL.

Submit work to Seattle Art Museum’s rental sales gallery
I’ve already had art as part of their inventory. I have gotten regular checks from my work being rented, but they returned a few pieces and didn’t have many left from me at the start of 2009. I submitted work once during the year, and when asking about doing it, was told repeatedly that they were not accepting any submissions. In fact, they were scaling back their inventory for everyone. The economy hit them hard I believe. Through no fault of my own, this was an unachievable goal. FAIL.

Review art submissions regularly
I’ll say up front: FAIL. I really stepped back from thinking about art, submitting to competitions, or anything! I had other things on my mind this year, my health (still recovering from a car accident, not exercising, and living in an art studio that did not foster activity very well), my job (a lot of stress there, but it’s improved as my people and management skills have increased), my finances, and then moving. I think, looking forward to this coming new year, that I’m ready to be more active, get healthier, and focus on ME, rather than my art.

Save a $1,000 Emergency Fund
SUCCESS! I had this in place early in 2009. Initionally I focused on saving this more than paying off debt. It was at $1,000 for most of the year, until November hit. I had a large unexpected car issue (a wasp shorted out my engine) that I elected to use my EF to pay for some of it (since my car fund was emptied at that time) so that I could continue to pay debt down – I had been behind and felt like I needed to catch up. I know it was the right decision, and I will continue to pay back my EF and it should be back at $1,000 by end of March.

Snowflake $100/month
Complete and total FAIL. I think this was too ambitious. I was not ready to get a second job; I did not have internet, so could not do surveys; I did not live in a good area for doing a yard sale; I could not sell stuff on ebay/craigslist since I didn’t have internet; and it was a horrible year to sell art. I think I chose this goal since so many other people were doing something similar. I’m doing this journey solo while being in a relationship, and I think it’s much harder to do unless you have a 100% support from your family. Not an excuse but I don’t think I was ready for this quite yet.

Yet for all of the fails above, overall I feel quite positive about the year. I paid off over $8K in debt (or 18%), I have some savings, I’m in a better living situation than when I started, and I have a plan in place to complete the journey! I may do it a little slower than some, but it’s something I know I can maintain easily. I even feel like my debt payoff date is too conservative and that I can do it faster! Unofficially, I hope to be out of debt by the end of 2013.

Next posting will be on my plans and goals for 2010.

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Latest news after a long absence

April 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm (emergency fund, paying bills, selling art)

Haven’t had much time to blog inthe past month. I hope to change that, but it may not be possible for a few more weeks. A few things to note:

Regardless of my previous post, I am *not* considering bankruptcy. I agree, paying off $42K is doable, and I don’t want the irreparable damage to my credit. Plus, I owe it.

I landed yet another art show for June – at a very large, very public, and very busy location. I’m a bit overwhelmed – it will take every single framed work I have, and then some. It’s a VERY big space. I think I’ll be showing easily 30-40 works. Hopefully something will sell. It will also take me hours to hang – they  have an art rail at 10′ high, so I’m in for some major stress getting up in time! But way to go me!

My previous art show in March did not sell anything. Oh well. A lot of people saw it, but I wonder if my prices are too high for this economy. I’ll be trying some non-editioned work (ie, cheaper) in the next few shows.

I have about $150 in fees to get ready for my next show in May at my company’s other location. I have to get a bunch of mats cut for my photos. Luckily I have a bunch of mating free frames I can use, and I can assemble them myself, so expensive framing costs will be avoided. I think I have to increase my photo budget to $100 a month and I think I’ll be taking it off of my goal mini-funds. I don’t think I’ll be able to save up for it for many months, so it’s a waste of time to save extra. In fact, I’m expecting to go over my budget for a while in it.

This month will see me meeting my emergency fund goal of $1,000!!!! Psych! After this month, an extra hundred will be available for debt payment.

I will be getting $550 back from the IRS. Not much. But when it does, I think I’m going to break down and buy some needed software for my computer (Photoshop). I can use my bf’s educational discount to get a good rate. The rest will go towards debt, I hope. I may use part of it as a birthday sushi present next month ($50 max).

I found out bad news about my debt payment plans. My SBA loan will mature in mid-2011. That means I will have to come up with a plan to move about $20-25K into other funds. My personal line of credit will be at $0 at that time, so I can move $15K into that, as long as Wells Fargo doesn’t lower my credit limit. I’ll have to find another place for the remaining $5-10K. UGH.  This has made me reevaluate my payments – I need to really rein in my food/restaurant spending habits. They  have been atrocious.

That’s all the news for now. My debt/savings tally is correct on the sidebar. I also think I may be able to move up my goal payoff by a year if I apply myself.

Until later!

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Second art show scheduled!

March 13, 2009 at 4:43 pm (goals, selling art) (, )

Craigslist is always a crapshoot, but occasionally it does work out finding venues to show art. I just connected with a local boutique book store that loves my work and wants to show it this fall. Yeah! That’s two venues for the year so far. I’m halfway to my goal of 4 shows for 2009. I’m not counting my group show at a satellite location of the company I work for, since I don’t really expect it to be successful or have a large influx of people walking through (though they are proven art lovers). We’ll see.

My current show is up, and looks quite good. There are 9 pieces up, and I’ve gotten quite a few responses from friends that have stopped by to see it (it is in a prominent business with fabulous gourmet coffee in downtown seattle, and it’s NOT a Starbucks!). I don’t know if anything will sell; my work isn’t cheap, and everything up is in a limited edition, so it may be too steep for this economy. Again, we’ll see.

This is exciting! Now that the sun is finally peeking out here in Seattle I’m feeling more inclined to go out and shoot; I haven’t taken a photo in like 5 months. Unfortunately, it is supposed to rain both days this weekend. Boo! Maybe I’ll finally get over the time change that has been sucking my soul away getting up in the dark every morning.

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Upcoming art show expenses

February 19, 2009 at 8:37 pm (budget, selling art) (, )

My big upcoming coffee house March art show is coming up soon. There are three pieces that I don’t yet have framed in one of the photo series I’ll be showing, so I have to do some reframing. Do you have any idea how expensive professional picture framing is???? Very. It can cost up to $150 per piece. I have shopped around and can purchase works from discount places and wholesalers, and artist supply houses, or I can get them from our company’s frame shop. There is an employee discount, but it is still quite expensive.

I’ve decided to get the materials through work anyway, even if it is as much or just slightly more than some other locations. I’m doing this for a few reasons. First, I won’t have to drive all over town to pick things up. I can get them in 1 location. Then, I still have to assemble them myself (luckily I know how), but they have all the materials I need – a large working space, clean area, hardware for hanging, etc. Plus, I have one framed duplicate work that I can then open, and swap the art in, and refit it without any additional expense; it’ll at least save me framing 1 piece.  I’ll have to hinge the mat and the backing together, hinge-mount the photo to the mat, fit, assemble, and seal the piece, then put in the D-rings and wire on the back.

The total damage will be $199. The best part of it all is that I can pay over time since it’s through work (we’re a small company so I can get away with this). I have a $50 photo budget per month, so this way I can use Jan and Feb’s saved mini-payments and then pay the rest in the next few months and not have interest or have to use credit.

I think I can get away with using some prints I have in my portfolio – I have one of every print in the same size (14×14 inch), so I shouldn’t have to pay to reprint them.

There is one more fee – I’m splitting the printing costs for the 500 postcards with the business showing my work. My half will be $55. I should be able to pick them up this weekend. Last chance! While I keep an anonymous profile on this site, anyone that emails me at debtmaven at live dot com with your address, I will mail you a postcard. (It’ll be quite pretty, colorful, tasteful, and not offensive in any way. I promise).

It should be a good show. I haven’t shown this work in this part of Seattle and it’s in the midst of Seattle’s big first thursday art walk (the professional gallery walk location for downtown). They are always packed, a lot of professionals downtown go through there. There is a 30% commission, but oh well, sometimes that can’t be avoided.

I’ll probably have to buy some black foam core and some heavy paper for printing my artist statement; miscellaneous expenses: $10. Total cost: $199 + $55 + $10 = $264. Luckily the other 12 are already framed!

Now I just have to start work on a new series I have in mind. I will be part of 2-person employee show at our frame shop in May, which is coming up fast!

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Scheduled my first art show of the year

January 31, 2009 at 8:19 pm (goals, selling art) (, )

I’m that much closer to meeting one of my goals for the year: I’ve just set my first art show for 2009, and possibly a second. I’ll have a show at a fairly upscale coffeehouse in March. It’ll be part of the downtown Seattle’s first thursday art walk. They’ll be making up postcards for the show, and it will run for 1 month. It gets a lot of foot traffic, my best friend works immediatley next door, and they have an opening for the show. Have I mentioned that they get a LOT of business?

I’m going to have to get 2 works professionally framed, which will be expensive, about $225-$250 plus some money for the prints (luckily I do them myself and can defray a lot of that expense with my work trade at the lab where I do my printing). I have all the other works they were interested in already framed, but there are 2 that weren’t, so I have to buck up and do that. I don’t mind – I had wanted more work framed for the particular series of work that I’ll be showing. I guess I shouldn’t feel that bad – one of the works that I have to frame I had sold the previous framed version of.

The upfront costs are always high (the bad part of photography – it always needs to be framed), but in the end, it’s easy to do shows with finished works. I currently have 27 framed works to show, that’s a few thousand in professional framing, not to mention the money I’ve spent on making the prints. Once done, it’s easily recycled from show to show.

The second bad thing is that they charge a 30% commission; not unexpected, but sometimes there isn’t any (which is always preferable). At least they make up postcards for the show, which I’ll be splitting the costs on; I believe they cost about $50/500 cards. Great to have and then I can use it for promo material later on with the leftovers.

If anyone is interested in bright, bold, well-composed fine art photography, send me your address to debtmaven at live dot come and I’ll mail you a postcard!

I may also have a second show the same month at a frameshop in downtown Seattle – it’s a division of the company I work for, and they started doing employee art shows last year. I think my boyfriend and I will be doing a group show (don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but we work together and we both do photography). I may try and push this to April. Doing 2 shows back to back the same month is a little much. I am trying to do new work for this show, so I better get my butt in gear and start scanning photos and printing!

It’s going to be an expensive photo month, so, wish me financial good luck all!

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No Heat! Goal progress!

December 17, 2008 at 4:31 pm (selling art) (, )

Our heat stopped working on Sunday. It’s below freezing. I had to stay home from work today so that the gas tech could come, somewhere “between 8 AM and midnight.” Ugh, a 16-hour window?!?! So I used this as an opportunity to get rolling on one of my 2009 goals: selling art by having shows.

The past few days I’ve been making a list of the places around town that I’d like to show work. I wrote my submission letter and spent today figuring out who to send it to, and calling to find out the submission process if it wasn’t listed on the website.

I’ve sent several out so far, and I’ll keep track on a spreadsheet for their responses or lack thereof. That way, I’ll have an idea if it went into a black hole, or if they nibbled, or they never want to hear from me again. I know artists can frequently not have their s$!t together, so just reminding people that I’m available to show can often be all the opportunity I need (what? Can you do it this weekend? Our scheduled artist bailed!).

I spent the day keeping warm at a local coffee shop that has free internet, while I was waiting. And I cleaned the house (visitors always make me clean!). And the heat now works and I’ve been luxuriating in my nose being warm and being able to take off my hat indoors!

Stay warm!

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Selling art

December 13, 2008 at 3:08 pm (selling art) (, , )

A lot of people that follow Dave Ramsey or that are aware of the snowflake revolution talk about selling their excess stuff to make money to put towards savings. I’m not much of a hoarder. Most of the stuff that I have I want to keep. I have moved a few times in the last few years and everytime I get rid of extra stuff by donating it to Good Will. So I do have some stuff, and I could sell it, but I realized that I haven’t been pushing my art lately.

I do fine art photography, have been in some galleries (I have an art degree, for what it’s worth), but I haven’t been pushing the, what I call, the coffee-house circuit. I have a ton of framed work, ready to go, and it’s taking up valuable real estate in my studio (we built an entire art storage area for it and it’s overflowing).

So today I gave out a few cards at shops I went to, and I need to send emails with my web portfolios. I don’t have anything set up for 2009! I usually sell 1 work on average at these, and that’s $350-$450. Need to get back on the ball on this!!!

I’m going to email a bunch of local shops and see if I can get some shows scheduled. For next year I’m going to have to make sure I have lots of prints available, matted and in polybags. Our building is having open studios for the holidays, and I just do not have my act together. Most of my stuff is larger, framed, limited edition, and higher priced. I need to start doing more uneditioned cheaper stuff. Especially  in this economy!

I’m going to add this to my 2009 budget goals – getting on the art show circuit again and scheduling at least 3-4 shows for the year, more if I can get them.

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