Monday, August 31, 2009

the new studio

Today I've been moving things around and putting papers and materials in the right drawers. My new studio has two big windows and the lights is fantastic. This studio is going to be better than any studio I've had before!

But there are some things left to solve with the storing...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Art as Business: Commissions III

So – I need a boat and different bait for small fish and big fish. A lot of small fish will give the same amount of food as one big fish – but it is the big fish you can boast about. But remember not to underestimate the small fish: it can be just the bait to catch that big fish….

Right now I am waiting to start painting a minor mural (photo montage above) and waiting for a board to take a decision on another commission. I am starting to sketch on ideas for two follow up commissions (minor) and in the first talks for another one (nothing sure). I’ve been calculating – and these incomes together with incomes from teaching/giving workshops will give me enough money for the rest of the year – and probably January as well. This is a dangerous moment for me – I am now very tempted to do what I really want to do: my own art only and nothing else. But it takes 6-12 months from first contact till finished commission so if I do not continue these strategies I’ll be without incomes from commissions within half a year.
SO: to make sure all this “about fishing for commissions” is not going to be just words (I’ve told myself some of these things 3 years ago) I’ve set some deadlines.
  • website for commissioned art only – September 29
  • sand blasted glass samples (mounted) – September 29
  • 3 new contacts within tenant owners’ associations by mid October
  • 3 Architect firms contacted (contacts? think think! and ask ask!) by mid October
  • On the 4th of October I will report my progress (commissions) here on my blog
I’m right now participating in an exhibition about commissioned Art in Schools. And I’ve made special business cards for that exhibition which will also continue in spring in another place. We (a group of artists) are planning a meeting with potential clients the 29 of September to present what we do. I will join VSBK as soon as possible.
I keep saying that Public Commissions are jobs that I take to finance my “real art”. Yes - what about my main goal? Ah the BEEEEEST galleries. Fame and Glory.
It’s a bit complicated ...It’s like chess ... It's like a mine field ... It's a Sisyphean challenge...
... I am avoiding it ...

The Artists's guide to Public art could be worth reading, but it's probably focusing on North America.

Friday, August 28, 2009

weekword | AROMA

a good glass of red wine

Caroline chose the weekword. To see more WEEKWORD entries please visit Linda Sue, Yoon See, Nicky, Remistuff, Anairam, Veja cecilia, Sandra Dieckmann, Theresa, Aimee, Fruenswerk, L'Atelier, Asphalt and Air

Thursday, August 27, 2009

one of those days

Do you also get those days?

To feel better: mari andrews and shannon rankin both found through marchi made it. Marchi makes truly different jewellery and always posts great links.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The great Wave

I started to sketch on an idea for a mural in April but the presentation was delayed because the rebuilding of the hotell was postponed...

Anyway - during summer ("vacation") I came up with a second idea. I wanted to make something that was the opposite of the first sketch. Insted of thinking "continue the motion upwards" I wanted to stop the spectator. I wanted round instead of spiky. Though I was still after drama. This sketch is above all inspired by Hokusai's print "the Great Wave off Kanagawa". The wave is to look as much as possible like a watercolour on the wall too. The greyish boat is to have a different expression; like an oil panting.

I had my presentation the other week and I got the commission. Which suggestion they preferred? I'll let you know on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

next week: new studio!

It has taken some time, but next week I'll finally get access to my new studio. YES! Honestly I've been going nuts the last weeks with so much paperwork and planning and meetings and marketing... And being organised.

I'm so looking forward to getting started in my new studio (Total Mess - Yes!)- and so must my mother be doing. She has generously let me keep working in a room in her house over summer (photo).

Sophie Jodoin found through nathalie et cetera

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Art as Business: Commissions II

Sometimes I feel like I am in a boxing fight. I start out a bit lucky – “ PANG POUF” – two lucky blows. Then I’m so happy about it that that I do nothing – and I get some beating (wasn’t I starting to win this fight?). Ok – I change strategy: I think, I analyse my opponent, figure out a better approach – and yes I get in a hit “POUF”. This makes me so pleased that I start punching without any afterthoughts. Which of course gives no results and just makes me tired. I take two steps back and try to remember what it was that worked just before – and back into the fight again...

Luckily I don’t give up easy and I can take a lot of beating!

In 2007 when I realized I was not getting any more requests for monumental paintings I had a suspicion that marketing might be what I needed, but also that learning new techniques suitable for art in public places could be helpful. I had already taken a course in enamel, but it is a very expensive material and a course wasn’t enough to make you feel like you mastered the technique. I applied for money from a foundation to finance buying some starting material, workshop costs to experiment and to make samples - and to finance printed materials for marketing. I was granted the money.

Back to “Start where you are”
This doesn’t just mean start from the beginning, but start looking in your close vicinity. I realized that maybe I should go for the small fishes (and work my way up) instead of only the big ones. I should try to catch those who didn’t even know they wanted to commission art and I should start just where I was (this was in 2007). I had noticed that my own tenant owner’s association had started some work to improve the entrances – so I contacted the board. I explained I was an artist and that art might be just what we needed in order to add that little extra. I offered to make a suggestion (sketch loosely on an idea) FOR FREE. No strings attached.

I got the commission to make a series of enamels for the 11 entrances!

I went to London and came back. I had my marketing material printed (folder) – and send it to many tenant owner’s associations. Nothing Nada. Dead end. I had forgotten the “start where you are”-principle.

Ok – I tried a different approach. I talked to everyone around me and tried to find contacts closer, where I had a chance to get heard. Because this is it: You need someone to talk for you to be given the chance to make an impression. Personal introduction (or recommendations) is everything. It doesn’t matter how good you are if no one gives you the chance to prove it.

With this strategy I have started to get in some (minor) hits – and this is where I am right now. Not to get too pleased with myself (loosing concentration!) - I have to develop my fighting skills further.

Join me next Sunday Night for round 4 - and learn my new strategies TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!
Sorry – should of course be: STRATEGIES TO GET MORE COMMISSIONS.

read next post >>

Friday, August 21, 2009

weekword | CAMPING

The weekword was given by nicky. Other campers: aimee, anairam, frayedattheedge, l'atelier, linda sue, thereza, remistuff, valentina, veja cecilia and yoon see. and Sandra.

Visit Tiny Red for some well written thoughts (and useful links) about plagiarism, inspiration. and copyright.

the beginning and the end

Last night I was invited to Studio Violet for dinner. I had such a nice time that I just took photos when we had the welcoming toast up on the roof - and when it was time to go home...

We were nine invited creative women (Sandra, Cecilia and Bibbi were there) who enjoyed Camilla and Elisabeth's hospitality.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

artists meeting children

On Saturday opens an exhibition about Art for Children (pedagogic art projects/public art for schools) at KC-Väst. I am participating with my mural for a the School of Lekstorp (but just a photo of it ... I couldn’t get the school into the gallery). Invitations and posters by me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

a (sand) blast!

Today me and the cutting plotter had our third date ... and I believe we made it to second base.

I cut an image (a line sketch) and then sand blasted it on glass. It's amazing how you can get these sharp, but still so soft, lines.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Art as Business: Commissions I

I know many artists. I know that they are artists. But I don’t know how they make their living. Slowly, when getting to know someone better – and asking (If you dare to ask those personal questions) – you might find out how some artists make ends meet. But many won’t even answer you – they will avoid the question … you’re not supposed to ask that question (at least not in Sweden).

Many teach art (this they will admit). Others have jobs on the side like waitress, caretaker of children/old people/handicapped, handyman, selling fish or working in a store. Some have a partner who provides that regular income to the family – others have some kind of unemployment benefits or are sick-listed. Very few make their living just through art sales at exhibitions, but some make their living as artists in other ways.

Let’s say some really bad swearwords in the world of artists (at least the world I know)
Commercial art
Marketing art

Oh, my ears. Those words mean that you are a sell-out! (if you anyway do those unspeakable things - have at least the judgment to pretend not to.) Art is a calling. (Some people believe artists just suck at marketing. That is not the whole truth. Artists say it with pride “I’m so bad at marketing myself, I prefer to spend all my time in the studio.” Or they believe that “Good art will always find its way.”)

Let’s swear a lot, shall we? Where do I MAKE MONEY right now – as an artist?

In my bookkeeping I’ve divided my income posts into
1. Commissions
2. Exhibitions (gallery)
3. Art sales outside exhibitions (provision sales/through my own studio)
4. Teaching/workshops

Commissions give the most money (especially) when you take into consideration the time spent working. Besides a commission is normally a bigger job. Today I’ll concentrate on this part of Art as Business. This has also been the part I’ve chosen to concentrate on first in my fresh start.

(yes, I would also like to know that)

I got my first public commission in 2004 thanks to KKV – artist run collective workshops here in Gothenburg – where I am a member. KKV had a project mediating public commissions for KKV:s members. The municipal of Lerum was looking for a figurative painter who could paint monumental – and who could come up with two suggestions within a month. I was asked not just because my art is figurative (had never painted monumental!), but because being on the board of KKV for two years I had shown I kept to my deadlines. The Municiple of Lerum was very pleased with my first big job (38 x 8 m) and I was contacted again two years later for another mural.

my first public commission

After my first public commission (and again after my second) I made sure to have good photos at KKV for future commissions, I put photos and an article about my commission from the local paper in my folder at KC-väst (an artist organization that mediates commissions etc) and made sure to be in their printed material etc. I had it on my website. But nothing happened. No one asked for me. (Except the municipal of Lerum because they were pleased with my first job.)


Why didn't anyone show any interest in me and my fantastic murals?
What was I to do to get some more commissions?
And what am I planning to do about it now?

Read next post about commissions >>

Friday, August 14, 2009

weekword | DETOUR


Aimee chose the weekword "detour - check her blog to see who else participates

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

life of loose ends

I call it "lole" - life of loose ends. To me it means projects I haven't finished because I've had to prioritize other things. But I really try to finish them - I hate to not complete my work and let all that invested time and energy become nothing.

I had reserved this week for my children's book project ( I haven't touched it since January!) but with the first two days of the week came some urgent paperwork. Today I finally managed to sit down and have a look at my draft with fresh eyes. I simplified the story and found some obvious problems. Sometimes it can be really good to leave things untouched for a while.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

it is a tree

Today I thought I would work on something fun, but ended up with paperwork the second day in a row. Patience, patience ...

Monday, August 10, 2009

a closer look some of you requested a closer look of course you'll get it! (size 50 x 40 cm)

I will exhibit these enamels together with my paintings. They will work as a break from my intense paintings ... a pause to clean your senses, so to say... But I will have to be patient ... my next separate exhibition isn't until next year (but then I'll have two!).

shannon freshwater
through design for mankind
AND read this about plagiarism at Book By Its Cover (came to my attention thanks to Eddy & Edwina). That some people have the nerve!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Art as Business: Starting Point

Lately I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my situation as an artist and where I’m heading. I’ve decided that now is the time to make things happen. To put some extra pressure on myself and to share my experiences (past ones and what I will learn from now) I’ve decided to make it all public here on my blog. Every Sunday - starting today - I will deliver posts about Art as Business. These posts will either be about me and my strategies, progress and drawbacks – or more general about Art as Business (those things I wish I had known 7 years ago)

I remind myself constantly “start where you are” (I’ve even glued the text on my window). If you want to run a marathon and have never been training it’s not very smart to decide to go for the New York Marathon straight away, right? To be able to succeed you would better have to start out slow and train until you’re fit. Same with most things – just because you can’t do it right away doesn’t mean you can’t do it. “All” you have to do is to figure out your current situation and come up with a strategy (and stick to it - and be very persistent).

So – where do I stand right now?

I’ve been self-employed as an artist since the summer of 2004 – with a break in 2005 when I was on maternity leave. I exhibit regularly (1-2 separate exhibitions/year) at galleries (but not the best), I make public commissions at least every second year and sometimes small odd art jobs, I sell my fine art prints in galleries (not a lot), I teach art sometimes and occasionally give workshops. (for details see my CV) Except for a 25% job in a gallery 5 months this year – and giving 2-3 aerobic classes/week until last year – I have not had any other job these years. I have been making at least half of the money me and my family (partner and son) has been living on. My partner is also in the creative business (film) so I have not had someone else’s regular income to lean on. Added should be that we have cut our living costs as much as possible.

Ok – it is not totally bad. I am slowly making progress, but I feel that I’m not really aware of where I’m going and that I’m probably not following up things. Besides NON of my incomes are guaranteed (workshops for example depend on demand and an exhibition can get very few visitors just because of the weather).

Two big questions:
1. What is my goal and how do I get there?
2. How will I make a descent living meanwhile?

I do not just want to make a descent living as an artist. I want make really good art and exhibit in the best galleries. This is not about money in any way. So how do I get there? (Anyone?) One thing I know for sure: it will take some time and I have to have some incomes to get there – which leads me to no 2: How will I make a descent living as an artist meanwhile?

Where do I make money now? What do I know doesn’t work? (And what will not take me away from my main goal?) Do I have additional ideas? be continued next Sunday.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

weekword | WANDERLUST

Here it is - a day late - my interpretation of the weekword "Wanderlust" given to us by l'atelier. Other participants are aimee, fruenswerk, frayedattheedge, sandra, linda sue, valentina, anairam, e, cindy.

Tomorrow night I will start my Serious Sundays: Art as Business.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

finally enamel

More than half a year ago I was working on this series of drawings - "en vogue". Today four of them finally found their final form as enamels. (see enamel process). I wanted them to look so effortless, like por supuesto (of course), but they sure weren't effortless to make. To screenprint on slightly convex and shiny enamels made me curse. And start over - and start over. I finally figured out that I needed three different squeegees and to print in three complicated movements after each other (like martial art). But when they came out of the kiln I sure was happy!

Maybe I had problems concentrating today because I wished I were somewhere else?
- Thereza is opening her show in London
- Camilla and Karin are showing their latest collaboration at manos outside Stockholm

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

picking letters

Today I had my second tête-a-tête with the cutting plotter at KKV and everything went well. (see first). No French kissing, but we are getting acquainted. Maybe I'll try something a little bit more intimate tomorrow: an image?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

getting serious

First of all I would like to thank everyone for the supporting and encouraging comments to my last post! Thanks!

As you might understand by now (if you read my last posts) I've been doing some serious thinking the last 4 weeks. And taken some decisions. I've been self-employed as an artist for 5 years and now it is time to make things happen (or die trying). I've also been thinking about why I spend so much time blogging: why and for whom?

You might find a lot of books, and on internet, about how to become a designer/illustrator but there is not much about how to make it as a visual artist. SO: to put some extra pressure on myself and to share some of my experiences I've taken the decision to turn my Sundays Serious here on my blog: and dedicate them to art as business. I will share my strategies to make things happen and my progress - and I will also share my mistakes and what I've learned so far these years. On Sunday I will start out by letting you know where I stand right now (not that normal "blog" vague I'm an artist).

Thinkbakery's blog has got some good tips for business and blogging. (one of the people behind it is Erin from Design for Mankind). If you are in to blogging I especially recommend you to watch how to build a better blog

Monday, August 03, 2009

rainy grey nest

Exactly three years ago I painted a mural at a school in a place called Gråbo. Gråbo means "grey nest/dwelling" and it has always been raining - or at least a grey sky - when I've been there. Today I returned to take better photos (higher resolution!) for an exhibition ... and of course it rained.

When I painted this mural in 2006 I thought, pleased with myself, that I would get a lot of similar commissions afterwards, but I didn't. Why didn't I? I still think the painting is good. I probably didn't market myself properly. People normally don't come looking for you ... you have to show them that you exist. And now I will.

Anyone willing to help me spread the word is more then welcome to join me in the project marketing Alexandra Hedberg!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

a positive attitude

4 weeks of "vacation" meant rethinking things and planning for autumn 2009. Sometimes you just seems to be going from deadline to deadline, just barely keeping your head over the surface. Ok - you're not drowning, but your not really seeing where you are heading. Now I decided to jump on board a boat instead and be the captain, which means regularly setting time aside for planning.

Design*Sponge's series "biz ladies" is really good reading in this context!