Chad Nelson’s roots in art and craft are well grounded. His father is an accomplished woodworker and studied art in college. His mother works needle point, quilting, and sewing. Nelson, himself, is an art teacher at Brandon Valley High School, and is also a skilled printmaker. However, printmaking was secondary, Nelson wanted to be a teacher. It is a passion he attributes to the strong role models he has had in his life – from his mom and dad, to his high school art teacher, to college professors.
“Not only did they teach me how to be an artist, they taught me how to be a person, too,” said Nelson. “They were all very caring, and usually went beyond their roles of just a teacher, [et cetera]. It very much affected me, and I wanted to do that for other people, too.”
Last week we talked about rejection. But let’s step back into the light and assume you’ve nailed it. That potential client is ready to be a client. Can I say, “booyah?” No. Stop celebrating for a moment. This is the most dangerous point of working with a client, in my opinion. Before you can move forward, you must a establish a contract with the client. Here’s a secret: all four of us have made the mistake of not using a contract before. “Contract” can be a spooky word. It’s binding. But it’s protection for both you and the client. So take some time to put together a comprehensive contract that conveys all the agreements that were made in negotiating the project.
Once you’ve both signed and agreed to the contract you can get to work. Sometimes re-negotiations happen. But that’s an article for another time. Just remember, moving from potential client to official client can happen in mere minutes and you need to stay on your game, and conduct yourself professionally.
If you’re thinking you’re ready to start selling your work then you are a professional. Something Travis and I concluded was, “you may not have mastered your field yet, but if you’re selling, you are a professional. Never be afraid to acknowledge that about yourself.” Conducting yourself professionally will ensure better work and happier clients. There are bad clients, rejections, and dry spells, but you should always strive to be a good service/product provider. In doing so, you’ll see fewer things fall apart, with more things coming together.
Pro Tip: I can’t stress the importance of contracts enough. It’s a professional relationship you’re building and you want to protect that as much as possible. If you want to see an example of negotiating a contract, watch this Strip Search Episode. (May not be suitable for all audiences)
Get yourself comfortable with communicating with your audience.
I’ll get more into what needs to be in your contracts next week, in our final article, “Contracts and Closing Words”.
So, you’ve been honing your craft for at least a week. That’s great! But, before we get into successfully landing a client, let’s go down the dark road of rejection. Sometimes potential client expectations don’t match up with their budget and what you can offer. Don’t undercut yourself. If you have an hourly rate, stick to it. They’re good to have as a base to build from. If you know your rate can’t go lower, if you can’t rework the scope of the project, respectfully walk away. As Travis puts it, “if a client approaches you for something you can’t do, or are not comfortable doing, refer someone else. It builds community and a relationship with the potential client. Never turn away a chance to make a connection.” Be honest and forward with a potential client at all times. It’s better to turn them away than upset or disappoint them.
Pro Tip: Jeffrey mentioned, “they don’t see the years of struggles, tears, breakdowns and rejections.” It can be hard, but remember that you have a different perspective on your work and educating clearly is very important. And keep this in mind, too: “The phrases ‘Never make compromises’ and ‘the client is never wrong’ are both wrong. Find a balance. Clients are not money cows,” reminds Galacia Barton.
So the hunt is over, you have a client on the hook and it’s time to start working. Like us, you’re probably so hungry for work it feels like you’re starving. And that can lead you to making any number of mistakes.
If you’re ready to sell any of your work, you should have at least a strong idea of what you’re worth. Never undercut yourself. Before even considering numbers, get a grasp on the scope and expectation of the project. It won’t be uncommon for clients to be working on fixed budgets, so understanding their intentions will allow you to negotiate the cost effectively.
It’s not crucial to have the client lay down the first number, but it doesn’t hurt. And it can be easier to “tailor your skills to fit their range,” as Galacia says. Don’t be afraid to offer an augmented, or simplified service to accommodate what the budget is.
Tailoring isn’t always the resolve though. Unfortunately, powerful tools like the internet can hinder professional work with services that allow people to sell their skills for unimaginably low rates. This is where your knowledge of your work will put you in the role of an educator. Especially in the realm of digital artwork, clients can sometimes be blind to “the decisions and research that goes into great design,” says Travis Bentley. No matter what you’re doing digitally, teach your potential clients about your processes to show them exactly what they’re paying for.
All of this will help you build positive relationships with your client, and help you refine your audience. Your audience won’t always be idly viewing your work, think of them all as potential clients. In understanding your audience you’ll be ready for next week’s topic of client interaction.
Pro Tip: My animation client somehow got my contact information. I failed to inquire from whom. Always find out how someone found you. Know your audience.
Next in this article series is “Client Dealings and Contracts”. Stay tuned!
This past First Friday held an abundant offering of exhibits, and judging by the packed streets of downtown, you could tell that everyone was trying to enjoy the last fleeting days of summer. Art receptions for the evening included:
I’ve always envied quiet people. The type of people that absorb rather than spew, the seemingly solemn ingestion of everything around them. There is a thoughtfulness that surrounds the eyes, a focused energy that scoops in every detail provided. Don’t get me wrong, quiet people are not emotionless zombies–quite the contrary. They display a marriage of curiosity and wisdom, the silence attached to thought.
Kevin Caraway is this special kind of quiet. He embodies the stillness that comes with observation and continuous thought. He has a soft articulation with his words, and speaks in such a way that you find yourself leaning closer, wanting to catch every word. We sat down with Kevin and discussed where he draws his technique from, the artists that inspire him, and how Sioux Falls could continue to grow. Take this time to reflect on how you approach your own learning, and the impression you leave behind. ~Amy
It’s not often that people get to do their dream job. Often, there are compromises, subtle stains in the perfect picture you’ve painted of your future self. This is not necessarily a bad thing; often times the things we have to do, make us love the things we get to do even more. I admire the people who make the leap, and put forth the gumption to play their hand at fate. For Lance Jeschke, he’s done it twice. He began touring with his band after high school, and kept up with the non-stop lifestyle for nearly twenty years. This background in the music business gave Jeschke a proficient business sense, which combined with his passion and talent, has launched his career as a visual artist.
Jeschke creates vibrant, colorful works that spawn from a deep, imaginative love within. Coming from a line of artists in the family, Jeschke continues a tradition of expression and fortitude, no longer creating pieces for himself, but to support his own family. Jeschke is a Royal Talens ambassador, and has shown his work in Europe. His career has progressed at such a rate due to his dedication to both his family and his craft, and can serve as inspiration to anyone out there on the verge of making their own leap into the daunting unknown. ~Amy
On a beautiful May Friday, my friend Melissa and I ventured out into the perfect spring air, a warm breeze teasing us that summer is near. Downtown was thriving with people, not an unusual occurrence considering today is one of the best days of the year – Downtown’s First Fridays AND the Art and Wine Walk! The Art and Wine Walk, sponsored by Downtown Sioux Falls, is an enticing way to bring people into the local shops, casually sipping wine and enjoying the artwork that is hosted there.
Unlike the Louvre, photography was forbidden, which got me thinking about ideas, photos and originals.
In front of the Mona Lisa are hundreds of people, all taking a picture, sometimes with their cameras held overhead to get a better view. Why? What’s the point of taking a picture of the most famous, most photographed painting in the world? You’re certainly not going to take a better picture than you can find online with a few clicks.Continue reading Thoughts on Gallery Experiences→
With temperatures hovering around thirty and the sun staying out just a smidge longer these days, it was a perfect night to venture out and admire some art. Once again, First Fridays were in full swing for the year. I bounced to three places – Eastbank Art Gallery, Prairie Berry Eastbank and Exposure Gallery.
My first stop was at Eastbank. The place was quickly filling with eager-going art lovers. I love running into people I know as I attend these events more and more often. It’s fun to walk into a familiar place and see some friendly faces.
Eastbank was hosting artist receptions for Amy Kasten and Ryan Howard. Amy’s quirky collages and gorgeous jewelry were immediately eye-catching as you walked in the door. Her jewelry ranged from delicate necklaces to leather bracelets and her collages were small and colorful, filling the walls. Ryan Howard’s pieces were vividly soothing, showcasing impressionistic-like qualities in his locally-themed, landscape paintings. Carl Grupp‘s colorful watercolor landscapes caught my eye as well as Gerry Punt‘s pottery in the front room. Other artists were featured in the gallery space as well. Eastbank is always one of my go-to places for seeing art on First Fridays.