Mar 25, 2011

Number Crunching

There's been a lot of talk about my pricing.

Especially during the reception last Friday. Although it was great that my work was affordable, I found it astonishing to find out many believed my prices were too low.

Now, opening up about this truth to the general public might not be "wise", but I believe it's an important issue. It's important to all of us...sellers and buyers alike.

I truly believe it's important to keep my customers in the truth about my business. Maybe that makes how I sell different, I'm not sure.

But what I do know is I never sat down and crunched my numbers to find prices that were fair to my customers and to me.

I have always placed my prices based on the competition.

Last night I broke down my costs. Even the ink used in my printer, which is a difficult one to break down. I used a formula I found on the Etsy Blog.

Here's what I used:
Cost (Labor + Materials) x 2 = Wholesale Price
Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

For some of the items I offer this became difficult because the price was way above and beyond what I would even pay for something I just had to have.

I want my items to be affordable and obtainable. That has always been my mission...not just as a human being and seller, but also as a Christian. My work is a gift to me, which in turn is a gift to my customers. 

It opened my eyes too. It showed me exactly how much I spend on materials and how often I probably need to restock. But it also required me to raise my prices. This is difficult for me...pricing is just not fun.

So I truly hope my customers can understand the raising of the prices. I kept it as low as I could, and I still don't believe that my labor cost should be very high. The average cost for an item in my shop is $10.00.

I would love to hear feedback on this issue. Whether you're a seller or a buyer. It's a touchie subject, but one we all must face on a daily basis.

Mar 23, 2011

Reception Overview

Friday night was a blast! It was way beyond my expectations.

Setting up with mom we discovered that Lotus Moments Event Center had tons to offer. We knew the space was fantastic, but had no idea Renatta had an basement full of items to help decorate. She was so willing to help and let us use whatever we needed.

Many people showed up to share in the night. I enjoyed every single conversation I had, and saw some old friends from long ago come in support. I was above cloud nine! But leading up to it I was nervous.

My mom was a huge help that day, cutting cheese, helping arrange everything, and setting up the food table. We got the sound working, put on my play list, and gathered some items to make it all feel complete.

As I was walking around helping, I realized why I was so nervous. The music finally told me. I felt very exposed. Not only was my work on the originals...but the music playing was the same music I listen to as I work. In the privacy of my studio.

In the past when I have shared the music I have gotten some negative or "not so sure" responses. With all of this combined I was a wreck inside. How was I to speak? How do I explain where everything comes from? What if they find this weird? Or what if they get turned off? What if...what if...what if.

After a brief pep talk with my mom, and people starting to come in the door...thankfully I just couldn't think about it anymore. I was too happy to see friends and family. To have them there first really put me at ease.

Then the first sale happened. O.M.G! And they were ladies I did not know. How exciting and nerve wrecking all at once. But God was in control. Oh how happy I was to know He was in control! After that..before I could turn around the business aspect just took off. I was floored!

As my brother in law put it best "The people want more". I had no IDEA that there was such an interest in purchasing my originals. I sell stickers, postcards, prints, and the like. What seems forever I have felt this is where my work belonged. I didn't know that people would be so willing to invest in my original work.

(Note: believe it or not, there are 34 pieces hanging in this space. The center section of the center is the only place nothing is hung because of dancing)

Honestly, to see my work all framed, up on a wall, and people coming just to see it was surreal. I can't wait to do it again!

The above picture is of my dad and I. Unfortunately I did not get any photos of my mom, sister, or husband with me. Yet my dad, through God, is where I get my abilities. He too is an artist and art teacher. Because of his support and nurturing of my gift, along with my family, I have become the artist I am today. A proud moment for both of us, to see this realized.

And one for my mom, who gets to sit back and watch it all bloom. :)

Mar 13, 2011

Look What's Coming!

I also ordered a new palette tray! The Stephen Quiller Color Wheel Palette!

I have a lot of palettes, but none that could hold everything I need. Plus, they're all rectangle. I'm quite the visual person, and to see my colors in a "color wheel" appeals to me greatly and I think it will help me visualize my color choices better.

So excited to get this in the mail along with the new paints. I can't wait to get it all set up!

Professional Grade

It's a large investment.

I just spent $80 on 9 tubes of watercolor paint. Nine. Seems like a small number for that price, but I believe it's worth the investment.

I have been using student grade Winsor & Newton watercolors for years, and have a few professional/artist grade tubes. The idea of spending $10 on one 5ml tube of paint just didn't compute. Until I got the Daniel Smith Try It Dot pages. These are AWESOME!

Over 200 colors, all there to try out and use. The real deal in trial size. Genius. It is because of these sheets did I finally come to realize, as a professional, how much I needed professional grade watercolors.

They're smooth like silk, mix without a hitch, and the colors are so gorgeous! I then decided to purchase. But the price tag was still making my stomach turn. So expensive!

This led me to an entire week of studying and figuring out which colors to purchase. The DS dot sheets were key to this. They're the only professional grade paints I have right now. To help I found a great website that makes watercolor paints into science called HandPrint.

I don't understand much in science, but he had a large section on palette color choices. All of the research was done for me, and they listed which colors were the best to have in every palette....colors that make all of the "convenience" colors (sap green, turquoise, violets, etc.).

That's what I needed, the foundation colors. From there I could at least start, then purchase as needed the extra colors.

I also came upon an exercise to help decide which colors to have in your palette. A color chart. As one of my students yesterday best said "A multiplication chart but with color." Exactly!

Here's the blog link: Ask Susie -

Tho the woman who suggested the chart used only 7 colors, I ended up having 13. I wanted to see and be exactly sure what I was going to spend my money on.

This was grueling but totally surprising and fun seeing what two colors made what. I was pretty amazed at the little knowledge I had about color mixing.

Here are the colors I ended up purchasing:

Phthalo Blue GS - DS
Phthalo Green BS - WN
Cobalt Blue - WN
Quinacridone Rose - DS
Perylene Maroon - DS
Burnt Sienna - WN
Cadmium Scarlet - WN
Yellow Ochre - WN
Benzimida Yellow (Winsor Yellow) - WN

* DS = Daniel Smith; WN = Winsor & Newton

Mar 8, 2011

Feeling Relieved

Today I felt a great sense of relief and peace...
in knowing how much God has worked in my life this past month.

If you didn't know, you will now. I am on week 3 of quitting smoking. After falling off the wagon many times in the last several years, this time I feel great about it! No credit to me except to follow what has been asked of me.

I went for what I call a jogging walk (jog a block, walk a block, repeat). I have always wanted to be a jogger, but knew very early on, even before smoking, that it was going to be very hard. If not unobtainable...for private reasons (don't want to give the impression I'm setting out blame).

I don't want my poor choice to hinder me from jogging. When trying in the past it has hurt in my side, sharp pains, hard to breathe, and what feels like no oxygen getting to my entire body. I know you have to work up the endurance, but it never felt "right".

YET, this time, no sharp pains, and very little effort to catch my breath! This made me think. No IBS symptoms, I can eat dairy again...and green peppers, and I'm just more at peace. I feel great (although I have taken up munching A LOT - more than usual. :/ ). But I rather gain a few pounds than continue smoking.

I feel refreshed. I feel ready to focus. On me. As an artist, for me this can sometimes be difficult. I, like many other human beings, have deep down wounds, emotions, habits, and those "mysterious" stereotype, noir thoughts "artists" have. I have a bubble around me that I feel sometimes gets in the way of my life, especially relationally. To feel at peace and refreshed opens up trust and confidence.

These "deep" things have been the foundation of the work I create. I try to portray emotion through my paint. Though the mission of my work is to bring peace, hope, love, and joy, it is my hope this renewed focus and freshness will brighten the work I create even more.

It has also made me more confident to make changes and letting things go. 

In my business I put a lot of time into the products I create, and they are usually always getting better, heh, at least I like to think so. One of my ideas was the sticker tins. I loved the idea of recycling altoid tins and having this solid carrying case for little girls to collect stickers in.

Problem: I have ran out of time to spray paint and assemble them.

Solution: Offering the stickers in plastic packages and making little tins that I don't need to spray paint and offer...not just for stickers...but separately.

I hope to have them up by the end of the week. Case in point - the sticker tins were a great idea in my opinion, but I had to let them go and find a different route. It's not as interesting to me, or efficient for the customer, but better for my business. Now I can give each product an equal amount of my time.

Mar 5, 2011

Blog Facelift

Thank you to my awesome husband for taking the time to help with the CSS to make this blog look great.  Even after a long day!

Yes, I know babe, the birds need to be sketchy like the girl. :) I plan on drawing a few birds in my sketchbook today. I'm happy we're on the same page about that.

He's amazing at code, and has the graphic design eye to go along with it. I love the freshness of my blog now!

Have a great Saturday everyone!

Mar 4, 2011

Where Have I Been!?

I must be honest, I have purposefully ignored my blog.
(current work in progress at end of post)

And because I'm a very upfront and honest person, with my heart on my sleeve, I'll tell you why.

I have been using it as a means for advertising, and find that...well...let's just say not satisfying. I want my blog to be personal, personable, and an insight to what I do.

It just hasn't been that.

There are "rules" to go by with how to lay out your wording, how to catch peoples' eye, and so forth. And going on tangents and adding a whole bunch of words not needed in a sentence to get a point across is not okay. Unfortunately, that's just not who I am.

I have the resources (my husband, Brian, is a web designer and knows these things) and I have tried. Feels like I'm going against my grain.

So where have I been? Working, producing new images, and trying to run my etsy shop efficiently.

Case in point, I always come back to what this blog should be, for me. And thankfully I'm coming back. If you want updates or see the new products on Etsy, then follow me on Facebook:

Or sign up to be on my mailing list (link in left column). That update happens once or twice a month...usually.

Current Work in Progress - 
I don't know about you, but I was, and still am, a HUGE fan of Disney princesses. Yes, it is true. I want to do a few of them in my style. This is how I began to trying to draw Ariel. So here she is.

"The Little Mermaid"
Wish I had one of my drawings from 3rd grade to compare her to. I'll try to find one. :)