Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Business Tips Round 2

What are some things an artist can do during times when the sales well is dry, or crickets are chirping?

Some of the things I do that I have found to be useful are probably not new to all, but I find them to be of benefit and always seem to pay great dividends when I keep at them:

1. Don't complain..I know, it is hard not to. And when things aren't going to well it is easy to get on the gripe wagon
and think of whose fault it is that one is not selling hand over fist...okay, maybe not even a pinkie over fist. The economy gets blamed, the seasons , the lack of supplies, the lack of money to promote, the website one sells on, the internet SEO, even Great Aunt Ethel on your mother's cousin side can get the blame- but the truth is it could be any or none of those. The bottom line is complaining does little to help and using the slow time more positively is a way better choice!

2. Try upping the promoting during slow times, and try some new venues you haven't done before- Yes, I know, everyone uses Twitter, Facebook, and their blog to promote if they have one. That's good, but there are plenty of unusual ways to get people to know about your shop if you look around. A good start might be to google things like, "art wanted" or magazines that cater to your type of art work. (Magazines often hold contests and you could possibly enter what you do in them. You never know what could happen!) Blogs that center around jewelry, or parenting if you sell child related items can be a good place to try. Never miss a chance to hand out your business card. Keep a supply stashed with you so when the subject comes up of what you do, you can whisk out a card. It will happen, trust me! Always be on the alert for that opportunity that will let people know what you do. (Just don't make a pest of yourself, use good manners and judgement!)

3. Write down new ideas - During slow times one's creativity can get sluggish due to lack of inspiration. After all, what is more inspiring than to have people clammering to buy your art work? But when that slow time comes, it is a good time to go idea hunting for some fresh thoughts and ideas and begin working on them. You will be glad you did when things pick up and you have less time to go scouting around for something to create next. I keep a thick spiral notebook and keep it busy with scribbles. It keeps me busy and full of ideas to interject freshness in my art work!

4. Finally, try cleaning your work space...That is a biggie for me. You should see my floor during a work binge. Scraps of fabric and thread everywhere and piles of fabric stacked everywhere that I used but haven't yet placed back...scissors hidden beneath thread spools, trim and doodads needing to be placed back in drawers. I find when things are slowed down, it really aids my productivity to make everything back to neat organization. Clears drawers that stack are my best friend and the more I have the better. I am not a neat nick so to speak, but I detest my room being in a mess for long- and slow times give me that chance to regroup and make things better for the big pick up that is sure to come sooner or later!

Those are my tips for round 2 - I hope that they help you and increase your productivity in your creating business!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ways to Increase Your Business

Now let me start off by saying I am not an expert in the field of business...but that being said, I have been selling my art work online for going on three years, and each year there is a substantial increase in my sales. I have learned some things and thought I might share a few with you- just in case someone out there may benefit!

I have been fortunate enough to have been "discovered" and featured by some pretty notable places, such as the Today Show, Telegraph UK, Art Doll Quarterly Magazine, some museums, Showtime, and some others I won't bother to mention.
With all that, I know that there are many out there starting out and wanting to know how to do well when they start a business. Even if one has a long time established business, there is always room to learn more and improve!

While these tips I share won't be earthshaking or maybe not even new to you, they are for sure must haves in order to have some success in selling what you have! Are you ready? Here goes...

1. Have something people want to buy-

Want to sell crocheted kleenexes , peanut scented breath spray, battery operated socks with massage action, or anything else? Try to get a feel for what is already out there and how large a market you may have. And if you do want to sell something that is in a highly competitive market, make sure you have some ideas on how to really be distinctive in what you do. If you can't be different, you will have a tough time being found or getting people to want what you have!

2. Do your research and see what you will have to do before selling-

Making a bunch of items, popping them on a website and then sitting back and waiting for the sales to roll in just won't happen.
You have to know what you are getting into and do a lot of leg work before counting on making a bunch of easy cash. Easy cash is a term I cringe on since I just don't think there is such a thing. Know the laws of your state for selling online, or what have you. Ask lots of questions of those who have gone before you, read helpful articles, write out ideas for what you will sell, ideas for getting your business built step by step.

3. Be patient-

If you have done the above and now you are set up and wondering why the sales aren't pouring in, I have news for you...
they generally won't! Success in selling or in business is 99.9 percent of the time a waiting game. I know, you did not want to hear that, but it is true.

Success is built slowly in most cases, and one step at a time. It involves a wealth of patience, learning, rebounding from setbacks, and running into the occasional "break" that you just might get when the right person comes along and finds you. It involves a little bit of gambling too, since no one can really say for sure what form of advertising may trigger a boost in your business- It involves careful thinking about who your buyers are and where they may be. In other words, don't run an ad for your diamond encrusted tiaras in an agricultural magazine , or buy a commercial spot for your knitted dish towels during a football game...

And may I add, even the best of all business have dry spells and have to ride them out most of the time.

4. Customer service-

To me, this is a no brainer...but you would be surprised how many times I have heard other businesses and sellers say things like.."I don't have the time to say 'thank you', I'm too busy for that. I send their item to them and that is enough"...I hate to say so, but one should never be too busy or too important to say thank you to their customers!

If there is one huge tip I have for those in business it is this...Be as personable as you can. I don't mean you strike up a friendship with all of your customers, but letting them know you appreciate their patronage and are friendly and approachable is a good thing.

If they buy something, or have questions then be prompt as possible in your response. Show your appreciation by saying "thank you" and be polite for heaven's sake! You should never be too big or busy to say so, period. If a customer is being "difficult", you can still be polite while being firm... Yes, there are demanding people out there, and no, you don't have to give them everything they want- but you sure can be polite while telling them so. The bottom line? Treat your customers how you would like to be treated...simple and effective most of the time!

Those are my tips for the day, and stay tuned for future tidbits. I wish all success in their business endeavors!

Debbie Ritter- Artist and Designer @

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frida Kahlo, Another Interesting Personality

Until I started doing my art work, I had never even heard of Frida Kahlo.

Born in 1907 – died 1954, Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo was a Mexican painter, and perhaps best known for her self-portraits. At the age of six, Frida developed polio, which caused her right leg to appear much thinner than the other. It was to remain that way permanently.

Later, Kahlo had a marriage with the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera. She suffered lifelong health problems, most of which resulted from a traffic accident during her younger years. These issues are perhaps shown inspired in her works, many of which are self-portraits of one sort or another. Kahlo suggested, "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best."

One of the interesting benefits of what I do in my art work is when I look at who I want to do next, I many times run across new personalities that I know nothing about and learn a slew of facts that really add a needed flair to my art. Somehow it helps me to capture an overall feel for the look I want to convey when I read some background on the character. In other words, I really not only create, but I really learn something too, and that makes what I do all the more enjoyable!

You are quite the interesting character Frida!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Little Bit of Percy for the Poetry Lovers

I don't read poetry as often as I do novels, but once in awhile I do because I am in the mood to do so....
Today, I am in that kind of mood... and thus, I share a bit of prose from this little guy and share the characters I made in honor of the Shelleys and their marriage....

Love's Philosophy

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another's being mingle--
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;--
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I had insomnia this morning at 3:44 so I decided to get up and watch the beginnings of the Royal Wedding via computer.
I was so glad I did because I found it very intriguing from start to finish. So many elegant things to watch and see, I loved the pageantry and even the solemn proceedings!

While I know some could care less about such matters, I enjoyed it partly for the reason that the news has been so sad of late that
it was quite refreshing to see something of a positive nature, and with a hopeful tone. I sat there while watching the proceedings and thought of how whether we are very poor, or very rich, a prince with every material need met, or just an ordinary person who labors to make it day by day, everyone has the desire to love and be loved.

I wish the now Duke and Duchess of Cambridge every happiness and long wedded life together for many years to come!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Laura Ingalls and Her Legacy

I love the Little House on the Prairie books, all of them! I read them years ago, have read them several times since then, and confess that even now that I am much older, I still like to take them out and read them. Being an avid history fan of almost any kind, anything related to the way of life and adventures of various pioneers always captures my attention. Laura Ingalls Wilder has left us a treasured legacy in the telling of pioneer life as it was when she was growing up!

She was a most interesting author and I do believe I have read just about every biography book about her and her family- which is what inspired me to create some of the family members themselves.
Charles and Caroline, her parents, were recently finished this past week,

I added Laura and Almanzo based on photos taken at their time of marriage,

and I had to do a little miniature of Laura as I pictured her being a young girl.

Stay tuned, because I may just add some more characters to this theme, that's the fun of doing the art work that I do- I never know who I will get a fancy to make next!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When the Lights Go Out....

We had quite the storm pass through last night, the power actually went out and there all six of us the dark in various parts of the house- except for the glow of my four near adult children's hand held games they used as flashlights to find the family room where I was...somehow it wasn't real cozy feeling that way!

I tried to remember where I stashed my candles but since I couldn't remember right away, I broke down and lit the decorative candles that have been sitting on our mantle. So much for keeping them in perfect decorative shape for years to come. I had to light them so I could make sure we didn't stumble and fall on each other. Husband sat next to me on the couch as we all sat watching the candles flicker, and I told him how romantic it was sitting there in the glow of the candles...but somehow he didn't buy it since our four children were crowded on the couch too, playing their electronic gadgets. (Sigh, oh well..)

After an hour and the power was still off, husband gave up and went to bed, even though it was only 8:30 (according to our trusty cell phones). So there I sat with everyone silently playing games and I couldn't do anything else to do for lack of sufficient light.

I finally decided to pull up a chair at the dining room table and began to read part of Dickens's ' A Tale of Two Cities' by the glow of a small candle- no easy task mind you. I had to keep turning the book towards the candle light just at the right angle to be able to see what I was reading. And if it did anything, it made me appreciate all the more the modern conveniences we take for granted. I kind of liked reading by candle light, but I sure do like a good lamp much better!

Thank goodness for the privilege of living in the 21st century!

Charles Dickens himself!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Buck the Patient Hound Dog

We got our dog Buck way back about 10 years ago when he was a little pup sitting in the corner of a pen at the Humane Society. Little did I know how big he would get, but now I don't care. ..I am actually glad he was a good sized dog, he has done more than his share of scaring off strangers who walked behind our house on occasion!

He is an outdoor dog, and with good reason- his fur is that of an Alaskan Husky in the winter and sheds tremendously in the summer. (And may I add, he is a spoiled mutt at that. He has a super deluxe well built solid wood dog house with tiled roof, built-in heater, patio chair cushions, the best dog house I have ever seen - all designed by my engineer husband, (who tries to pretend he doesn't like the dog, but I think he does!)

At any rate, the thing I enjoy most is his very patient disposition. As you can see by posted pictures, he allows us to dress him in the most ridiculous hats and other costumes, and even holds for pictures. (One year we even made a full calendar of him in different themes for each month...not easy, but a lot of fun (for us anyway!)

If only we could all be so laid back!

Monday, January 31, 2011

What's the Weather Report?

Here in Illinois, we are getting a supposed really 'bad weather coming our way' report. What is the first thing people do when they hear that?

Well, they make a run to the grocery store of course! And not to be out done, I got up with my husband at the crack of dawn, (here that would be around 5:30 a.m.) and made a beeline for town. With it being 25 minutes away, I don't often make random, impulsive trips- so I make sure I get what I need to survive... I now have enough chocolate to get me through a big blizzard...

I noticed that there were actually a substantial amount of cars there, and 99 percent of the customers in the store were I joined in and told my son, ( who was with me), that one more old lady at the grocers won't hurt! And wouldn't you know it, he agreed!

Now I am back home, watching intently for the ice storm and then the piles of snow we are supposedly getting- and knowing Illinois weather , that prediction could change to a sprinkling of flakes or springlike temperatures by nightfall. But just in case we DO get the bad weather that is gloomily being forecasted, I am very well stocked in food and art supplies- enough to make a whole massive army of characters should the need arise.

Actually, I don't think I hardly enjoy anything more than to sit by my picture window in the work room and watch wild weather happening outside. (Either that or watching the shenanigans of the neighbors perhaps...) It feel cozy to be working on some fun art project all nice and warm with a glass of tea while large white flakes of snow fall heavily outside...or a good thunderstorm.

And now, I am ready, so bring it on!

My latest project, the cast of characters from Gone With the Wind

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vanity Fair on the Upcoming Royal Wedding

Well, it is one of the hot topics of the media, the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate...I imagine it will be THE wedding of the year by far!

This article on Vanity shows some of just a few of the items that can be bought commemorating the big event, including (much to my surprise) my own pair of the famous couple in miniature clothespin form.

Will I be watching the events of that day? Maybe, if I can remember to turn on the television when I get up. I am not much of a television watcher at all, so it would be a big event in itself if I remember to even turn it on!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

January- The Start of New Opportunities!

The beginning of the year almost always makes one think of a new year of possibilities. I found myself in December wondering what kind of doors would open, and what doors may close.

At any rate, I take the month of January and do several things to get a fresh start- one of them is to beef up my supplies with things I know I will need- and toss the things haven't used since I had it in my stash for over a year and it's covered in dust bunnies.The other thing I like to do is make a long list of new ideas to work on and set a schedule for myself to complete them. (It can't hurt to plan, can it? Even if we don't always stick to the program!)

Already my year has started off with unexpected and fun opportunities- one of them is I have the honor of being featured in the At Home in Illinois magazine as a local artist. (There' something strange about opening up a magazine and seeing your face staring back!) I also will be a featured artist in the online art magazine at starting January 7th. So take a peek at them if you can get a chance!

Mu husband commented that he didn't really understand the big deal of people getting excited about New Year's Day, to him it is just another day and no different. I suppose in one sense he is right on that...but I still like to picture things as a gate has been shut on 2010 and now I am going into a new year of 2011. I like to think there is a possibility of new chances, happenings, and opportunities that will be different and exciting than even 2010. Attitude is everything I think, and I for one hope to have a good one for this upcoming year!