Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Creative Business Books ~ aka: growing your dream biz the fun way

Having a creative business that I run online, and through bricks and mortar galleries has been a dream come true for me.  I started off as a hobby artist, painting pictures for friends and literally giving them away; but then began to understand that I could make money from my hobby.  It was a slow process at first because there was lots I didn't understand about running a business, but over the last  year or so I've immersed myself in the world of Creative Business and seen things really take off.  The other surprising thing is that it's been a lot of fun.  Learning about business need not be a boring affair, it can be exciting and enriching and with the right kind of tools, your business can soar.

I've made a list of creative business books that have really helped me on my journey and I thought I'd share them with you here, to help you with yours.

The $100 Startup

This book is the kahunas of my stash of biz books.  Absolutely one of the best I've laid my hands on.  Chris Guillebeau writes in an open and honest way, and he tells it like it is.  He tells you what your customers need, he strips away the mystery of running a business and shares his wisdom and experience wholeheartedly.  When I read this, I had several big "a-haaaa" moments!  I've implemented several of his strategies to my own business already and seen a huge difference.  Well worth a read, will have you bursting with creative enthusiasm and inspiration after the first few pages.

The Firestarter Sessions

Danielle LaPorte is a woman who knows business.  She is dynamic, funny (I laughed out loud during this book), she's straight talking, she will help to reconnect you to with your passion, she will show you how to create success.  Packed with quotes from inspiring and well known individuals, there are also work sheets tailored to guide and clarify.  It's life changing.

The Right Brain Business Plan

This is a wonderfully inspiring business book; it's pretty hands on in some aspects as you're encouraged to make things to help you see your business goals more clearly.  There are also colourful worksheets guaranteed to inspire and help you and your biz stand out from the crowd.  Using a right brain approach to business, Jennifer Lee breaks down the barriers of traditional biz coaching into a fun, joyful journey for you.

The Handmade Marketplace

Find out how to sell your stuff locally, globally and online.  Discover how to price your work, how to set up shop on the internet, understand marketing and competition.  Learn about selling, at local fairs and online emporiums - Kari Chapin gives you the nitty gritty on what it takes to run a creative business, even down to tips and tricks on photographing your stuff and telling the world about what you do.

Turn Your Talent into a Business

Written by business guru Emma Jones, this book explains how to turn  your talent into a fully functional business.  It's packed with case studies from people who have successfully done this which is both inspiring and informative.  Emma also tells you how to make money from what you do (beyond selling to your circle of family and friends), how to promote your stuff, get a professional image and manage your finances.

Anyone Can Do It

I've put this book in the list, not because it's a How To biz guide, but because Duncan Bannatyne's story is so inspiring.  It tells how he started from the bottom, with literally nothing and worked his way up to owning a multi million pound business empire; I couldn't put it down!  When we read how others have done it - people from ordinary backgrounds with no qualifications and so on, we start to see that anything is possible.  We can do whatever we put our minds to.

These books are all personal recommendations that have helped me enormously - and I continue to read different biz books because it's a subject that I really, truly enjoy - I never thought I would - but I do!   I love that there is so much to learn, and how one simple step has the ability to change the whole direction of your business and see it expand beyond expectation.

Before you go, I wonder if you spare me a moment of your time, and answer a few questions in this short survey please? - it won't take longer than a minute, promise!  I'm wanting to get a deeper understanding of what my customers would like from me, and by taking the survey, I'll be able to make this website a shiner, happier place for all of you who visit.  Just click the weblink below, and thanks very much in advance for taking the time to do this for me.
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Monday, 13 August 2012

How to Create Art Prints of Your Work

I often get emails from people asking how I create my art prints and cards, so I thought I'd share a little insider knowledge with you on how I do this, and how easy it can be to get started.

There are a few options available to getting your work printed and ready to sell, here's how:

A Mini Guide to Home Printing

There are three ways I digitalise my images for printing; the first one is to a upload them using a scanner.

I use an Epson Perfection V33 and it's perfect for my smaller stuff.  It's easy to use and it can also scan 3D objects which is useful for small box canvas art that I create.

Another way to digitalise your art is to photograph it.  I use an SLR for this kind of thing as it produces way better images than my small pocket camera.  When photographing your work, make sure you use natural light without a flash, and never take photographs in direct sunlight.  If possible, try and photograph your work from above, using an overhead tripod to keep things steady.  With both of these methods you will need to tinker with the images in Photoshop (or similar program) to crop the edges and edit the colours.  Run off a test sheet before printing to check that you've got a good colour match with your original work.

There are also ways to callibrate your printer and computer so that the colours you see on the screen are the colours your printer will print for you.  You can google tutorials and purchase kits for doing this online.

I have my larger work scanned professionally at a printers in the city.  This is a more expensive option as you pay to have it scanned and copied to disc, but once you've payed for this service, the disc is yours and you can get them to print your work for you or run off your own smaller prints from home.

A few years ago I invested in a really good printer.  It's an Epson one; they don't make my model any more but I think the nearest thing to it is this one.  It can print up to A3 size and take a variety of paper types and thicknesses, which is useful when printing onto thicker art papers.  The benefits of printing from home is that you can print on demand, and you don't have to accomodate a big pile of stock if space is an issue.

The paper I currently use for my art prints is Epson Archival Matte paper.  I have also used Hahnemuhle fine art paper.  Both of these reproduce my work beautifully.  You can buy various textures of art paper for printing, shop around to see what might work for you.

What I create at home:

Fine art prints

Fine art greetings cards

I currently produce my range of greetings cards from home, printing off the images, cutting and mounting them onto blank white cards.  I hand sign them and package them into cellophane envelopes.  Whilst I really like the style of a hand created card, I have recently decided to have them printed professionally as financially and time wise it's going to cost me less to produce.  Rather than stop making my own cards completely though, I've decided to issue limited edition ranges throughout the year.

If you don't have a scanner or a printer, but want to digitalise your art...

You're in luck as there are plenty of people and services out there who can help you:

I'm a huge fan of Moo.  I've used them for business cards now for several years and their products and quality are awesome.  I recently chose them to print my first run of glossy art postcards and I was delighted with them - so were  my customers, I sold out of my first batch within a week of putting them on sale and the feedback I've had about them has been brilliant.

They also create greetings cards too and the beauty of Moo is that you can upload one or lots of different images and order quantities to suit your pocket.

Another company that I've heard good things about is Red Bubble.  This is another online print company who will produce your work and even mail it out to your customers for you.  They create all kinds of products with your images too, not just prints and cards but even hoodies and t-shirts.  You just have to create your online store, and upload your jpeg images.  This is a good option if you're looking at selling your work online and haven't yet got a website of your own.

There are also other printing companies similar to this that you might want to check out:  Zazzle and Cafepress

Pros and Cons of Printing at Home:


  • Good profit a possibility

  • Print on demand so no huge piles of stock to house

  • Can be cheaper than having it done at a professional printing outfit

  • Send your prints out wrapped in your own delicious branding

  • Hand sign and personalise your work


  • Can be expensive to set up - buying the printer and keeping it fed with inks

  • Takes time to edit work so it's print worthy

  • The time factor - it can be time consuming to create your own prints at home, as you need to consider mounting your work, packaging it and getting it up to the post office to ship out.

Pros and Cons of using External Print Companies/Print Shops:


  • No printer to buy, no ink to buy, no paper to buy = no equipment outlay

  • Decide how much you want to sell your prints for and let someone else do the work for you

  • No postage costs

  • Professional print shops do a fantastic job, the equipment they use ensures that you're going to get a print of exceptionally high quality.

  • If you're time strapped, outsourcing this kind of work is a great option.


  • Profits can be low - online stores will take a percentage

  • Sales of your work not guaranteed

  • Having to wait for payment from online stores

  • Having your work scanned and printed by a professional printing shop can be expensive, and some places may insist on a minimum order print run - you then have to store the stock and hopefully sell all the prints.

  • Turnaround time on print orders can be lengthy - ask before you order.

I hope this mini guide to creating prints of your work has helped some of you out there, and if you've got any questions about printing from your art, then do holler - I'm always glad to hear from you.

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