If you’ve been a reader for a while, you probably know that I found my own breast cancer in 2007 at age 39. At that time I picked up some art tools as a form of therapy. Art helped me in so many ways. Most of all, it helped me rediscover the joy of becoming totally immersed in something I love and losing all track of time and the joy of reaching people who also find peace and comfort in my art. I made a short video about my experience.
I chose the name Green Bird Creative because I thought I wanted to build something that sounded professional and kept me open for many opportunities. The color green has great connotations — life, growth, abundance. Likewise, birds symbolize so many positive things. Green Bird Creative was memorable, and I started branding my designs with a little green bird.
However, there are things I hadn’t considered and want to pass along to anyone starting an art business or really any kind of business:
The name was too long – You want to be consistent with branding, and that becomes a problem with a long business name. For example, “greenbirdcreative” was too long for Twitter, so I had to create a shorter version. I ran into this problem on various web sites, resulting in many short forms of my business name. Not a good thing.If you are thinking about starting a business, I highly recommend you try to come up with a name that is 2-3 syllables at most. Yes, we can all think of businesses with longer names that have done great, but they’re the exceptions, and people usually end up creating their own abbreviations if the company becomes popular enough (KFC, IHOP, etc.). It’s so much simpler to just start with something short and memorable even if you have to create a word.
The name limited me in other ways – In thinking about where I want to take my art, I have realized that many kinds of art appeal to me. I like to draw, paint, take photographs, write, make videos, do graphic design, paint and draw digitally and more.
In reading the book Breaking into Freelance Illustration: The Guide for Artists, Designers, and Illustrators by Holly DeWolf (which I highly recommend for ANY artist regardless of medium), I found that others manage the challenge of what to call themselves by getting creative — “an engineer of creative identity” or “an illustrative designer.” I’ve been simply referring to myself interchangeably since as a “Creative” or simply an artist.
So my realization is that I am the common denominator in all of the outlets for my creativity. I wanted people to be able to find me as an individual instead of having a name that sounds like yet another creative firm full of lots of people and maybe impersonal service. Sometimes being an individual rather than a member of a large team is a plus. I learned that I am my brand, and I need to closely link my creations with my name.
I suppose the most valuable tip I can offer to any other artist getting started is to spend more time in contemplation and planning before doing. When you’re excited about something, it’s tempting to just want to dive in. It’s better to make a long-term plan and roll it out, noting the results as you’re going. It’s much more time consuming (and financially costly) to have to make adjustments later.
I learned many things from this first venture into putting my art up for sale. Here are a few others:
- Strike a balance. There are many aspects to selling your arts or crafts — areas like visualizing, creating, posting creations for sale and marketing. When any one of these gets too much attention, the other areas suffer.
- Look at others’ work, but don’t compare yourself to them. There’s a place for every artist.
- Be prolific. Produce, produce, produce.
- Resist the perfectionist in you. You may find you have a tendency to want to destroy some of your earlier works as you become more skilled. Try to resist that unless there’s a very good reason for it (such as a technical issue that prevents it from printing correctly). It’s always a surprise when the things I’m least proud of sell, and it’s a reminder to me that I need to let people decide what THEY want.
- Remake rather than destroy. A couple of my earliest pieces of art frustrate me because they were not scanned at a high enough resolution for me to offer them for sale at large sizes. However, they still sell regularly on small items, like business cards. I’ve gone back and made new versions of some of these things, and it’s a win because the old items still sell, plus the new ones are available on a wider range of products.
- Work smarter. Invest as much time as possible in learning how to best use the tools of your trade. It’ll save you time, frustration and money and even help you to be more productive.
I hope this is helpful if you’re considering putting your art up for sale. Have you learned anything that I didn’t mention here? Please share in the comments!