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Friday, March 28, 2014

Tax time

All of you who read this probably know all about taxes therefore this writing is more for the beginning artist that has transitioned from hobbyist to business owner, dabbler to artist.

Hopefully you have licensed your business and display it proudly in your studio or office.  This not only tells people you are serious about your work but speaks volumes about your expectations for the future.

For those of you not familiar with a Sales tax license, if you sell anything you have to collect sales tax whether it be city or state.  Even if you are showing in an event out of state the management will come by after the event and collect the taxes or you will report your sales and mail it to them later.

Most events will even give you the paperwork in your packet prior to beginning of show in order for you to know how to calculate your sales (whether they charge 6% or 7.5% you need to calculate it in ahead of time to achieve the amount that will cover both your expenses, seed money and taxes).

I have always paid Colorado Sales tax quarterly but you don't have to if your disciplined enough to set your funds aside each time earmarked for taxes.

You should have an old fashioned receipt book (even if you use your square for credit cards) all sales should be recorded thereby collecting all patron information for your mailing list. Name, telephone number, address and even email come in handy when keeping records of sale listing, edition number and any special notes you may need in referring later to this sale.  (This is a good place to write your reminder of the 10% discount for this patron when he returns for future purchase.)

As an artist that likes to contact my patrons at later dates to remind them to check their pieces for scratches or damage this list is crucial.

Along with my receipt book data I keep a file labeled whatever year I am saving for with all receipts throughout that year.  Also I log them into a financial record book breaking down into columns (for instance office, toward edition and number, supplies, travel, and marketing.

My accountant keeps all pieces inventoried from year to  year so I am accountable and when I donate work for Cancer Society or Audubon society  allows me only to write off what it cost to create that piece (not what your selling it for.)

If these single records are kept as they occur (rather than a mad rush to write down all your receipts approaching April 15th) then come tax time you have all the information you need to transfer easily to a spreadsheet to give to your tax preparer.  All you have to do is add up your columns and supply your income.

Here is a great place to put something I have learned over the years, you must be careful claiming part of your home as your business, check with the legalities of this.  If you quit or sell the house you must pay extra for the sale of a shed (or whatever you have been using as a business write off.) Just be very informed...also there is the old dilemma of hobby versus business as far as proven income...all I can say is ask, ask, ask a qualified tax man.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Beyond words

There are mistakes that artist make that I would hope that I can pass along so that others will not make them also...I have mentioned the shelf life of molds but I failed to mention probably that along with the shelf life other issues need to be addressed.

A mold is only good for so long and you have quite an investment involved in that mold as it is your only connection with the edition you are continuing to create until it is gone.

Often artist think (or maybe it was just me) that ok, I need x amount of dollars out of this piece so I have to have at least 50 editions so I can bring the price down so my patrons can afford it.  Well, back to the shelf life of molds. If you are like most sculptors you do not have the money to cast all of an edition at once, therefore you cast as you can afford which may take over a period of time.

I have learned through the years that molds are not forever so I have shortened my edition number considerably mainly because I do not want to have my molds deteriorate before I get the entire edition poured. I have also learned as the time passes I need to be receptive to the fact that I at least need to pour waxes in order to preserve the image towards the end of the shelf life if I see deterioration or liquefying of the mold. If you are checking your molds feel the inside areas and you will detect a distinct softness or even at later stages a liquid substance. This by the way is very difficult to clean from your waxes but it is doable.

In the beginning I had no idea what was happening and would find a mold ruining and would rush to pour as many of the waxes as possible to play salvage. Now I have learned just to shorten my editions so that I am not having to pay the piper later. I store my own molds and have never found that a hot or severely cold storage area is good for molds, nothing seems to deter the aging process (slightly cool has been my best temp).

Try to remember to check your molds ever so often (twice a year) as the seasons change so that you are on top of the conditions and as everything you need to date your molds so that you are aware of just how close you are pushing the shelf life of that mold. It also varies so don't just expect a mold to last five years or eight years or two years check, check and re-check.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Visual Records

One of the most important things an artist must keep are visual records of what a patina looks like or where work is welded and I do both.  Below are a few of the pictures I took of weld points or areas of concern that occur during the process of producing another edition.

The piece is Distant Thunder and it is on its 4th edition and I usually do not cast the next edition until the previous one has sold some artist cast the entire edition at the same time but I just can not afford to do that.

What I have tried to capture are the most important images for the welder to notice that will make the most difference in spacing or solidness of the piece.

This not only shows how far off the base the front foot projects but also the other two feet welded secure.

This shows the spacing between the animals so that the welder will not weld them together.

Front of animal, so now you have idea of positioning.

Sorry this is again one that I can not seem to turn around shows the welding of back animal and spacing on base.

This shows the back animal to aid in spacing.

When you have these references you are good to go to welding.  Notice though this is not a great way to depict the coloring of the patina, you need better views lighting and be able to check and compare patina to pictures before it leaves your possession. Notice difference in these and studio picture.


Refuge in the Wetlands is lifesize so it contains a lot of weight to be supported by the creation of the cattails.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fiesty Visitor (wren)

This was a fun piece to do (as are all my pieces). My sister lives in Georgia and has a lot of birds visit her backyard so this is a piece I did with her in mind.

I have started doing something to lesson the expense of my work in the molding process.  My foundry said that I could use anything to support my work as long as it burned out and was covered with a layer of wax (16th Inch) so I have been experimenting with all types of weeds and leaves.  Often the fall brings on a beautiful death for all types of plants as they die and wither.

This was a fast piece to do because I kept simple and designed it to be a miniature and tall in consideration of filling a space that is limited to weight or an area that cries out for a little height.

Sorry about the condition of these pictures I have failed to be able to straighten them in the right direction even though when I pull up the disc it shows them correct...must be a glich in blogspot.

Fiesty Visitor is a wren and I thought the patina lends itself to it very well.

This was just a simple design to not distract from the delicate atmosphere of the stems and bird.

The only part I regret is that I have to prefab the feet and ends of legs in wax each time I do an edition.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reality Check

Recently I had cause to remember the old saying  "don't get too big for your britches".  I had a thought, not a wise one, this year to start off with expanding my vision by experimenting with other foundries so that if one closed or retired or whatever I would have another to fall back on....well so much for my trying to be wise and wonderful.

During the process of my sculpting I have lost mold makers, patina people and other entities that I rely on heavily in the route of creating my sculpture.  Therefore I had the idea that I would have a plan B which would allow me to use many entities not just a few where I would not have to worry.

To make a long story short I have found not all people have the quality I have in mind when they are doing their job.  I give 100% when I am creating my work, I try to do the best I can in catching a glimpse and also the correct anatomy of an animal and capturing them for my patrons in bronze.

I have sadly found that not all employees pride themselves in the quality of their work on your piece, they play "lets see if you catch it and if not I know that you don't care so I won't care". 

I have gone to check wax at foundries (since I used to do all my own waxes this is a sore spot with me) and had to point out bubbles or holes etc. to the wax workers to correct, I have gone to check metal and found numerous areas that were either not worked or over worked with the grinder. Sure it is easy to repair welding parts together, or repairing flashing but to a small sculptor (I do desk top pieces so most of my work is 8 to 10 inches tall) little bumps and flaws in eyes and noses matter, as do the bubbles you may find in the texture of an animals hair.

Most recently I had to walk away from a foundry after finding that in failing to ask for a bid up front it was almost three times the cost of having that same edition done at my old foundry. I got lazy in my attitude of "well it has been costing  me $$$, so it should be really around that somewhere else".

Most patrons think that sculptors are egotistical in the pricing of pieces, they fail to realize that most artist are just getting by with paying for a piece to go through all the different entities and have anything left over for actual seed money.

I remember someone on FaceBook or whatever saying "if you have to think about the money then maybe you shouldn't be in the business"....that has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard.  If you are not aware of the bottom line constantly then you will fail to thrive. (Also you will be shocked when the blade falls across your neck.)

I am not saying what I was trying to do in expanding my productivity was wrong but I am saying that expanding it and not doing it correctly was what I say not what I do. Thanks for dropping in on my thoughts...Happy Trails.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Happy New Year to all and may it be a creative, valuable time for us all.  Be grateful for what you do, are and have....

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Flipside by Flip Flippen

Do you ever wonder "have I really been living to the fullest of my ability"?

This book refers to personal constraints holding people back.  The book takes you on a journey to help you identify your personal constraints, "which behaviors do I need to change and how can I change them?"

I can not say any of his descriptions explained my constraints very well but I definitely am aware of mine.

Starting in chapter 15 though he had some good advice.

"If we don't act-then we don't become".  As a woman, often things get so busy that being an artist gets set at the end of the list. One of the best things Flippen says is "live by design rather than by default and provide a systematic and steady path for growth".

I don't mind sharing some of my constraints and you can do yours alongside me as we walk through this.

Goal...more dedicated time for my art.

List of strengths...passion for sculpting.

Top constraint...lack of self discipline.

Steps...begin by organizing my days not around life but my art taking priority.  If scheduling a calendar that is visible constantly and has set goals that help keep you on track all week, great.

Do you want to be like a racket ball bouncing off of life's little outcomes or do you want to have a definite direction and intention.

Know in your heart that you are doing something you love and want to accomplish.  Acknowledge the fact you want to learn and continue learning all you can about your passion.  Push yourself and learn to say no when something else tries to interfere with your schedule.  Lastly be proud of yourself and accomplishments.

In order to strengthen my integrity as an artist I must grow and act like an artist in all facets of life, creating, marketing, and continue to educate myself in the process.

When you arrive at the end of the week and realize you are living the life you dreamed you can be proud to call yourself an artist.