Resources for Artists

Resources for Artists

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I get a lot of questions from other artists, both new and experienced like “What paint do you use?” “Where do you get your stretcher bars?” “What accounting software do you use?” “What inspires you?” I thought I’d make a comprehensive list to hopefully preempt some of your questions and help inspire your work. This is a list of some of the resources I use both products and educational resources. I use everything on this list so know that if you choose to use any of these resources, they come with my recommendation. Of course, I also buy specialty products from time to time, like in the header image, I was shopping for paper, pastels, and brushes at Sennelier in Paris last summer.

Painting Supplies:

Paint
I buy Golden Brand Paint and with the exception of metallic paints I paint from primary colors and like to mix my own colors.
Gesso
Big fan of this gesso.
Stretcher Bars
I buy heavy duty stretcher bars. I’d like to eventually make my own stretcher bars for a wider bar, but until I get a workshop for this I stick with the heavy duty bars.
Primed Canvas
I buy large canvas rolls, either primed or unprimed and stretch my pieces myself most of the time.
Staple Gun
Gotta have something to staple the canvas to the frame right? yes. I use this staple gun.
Tape Measure
You know the adage, “measure twice, cut once.” Sometimes I need a longer tape measure than this, but this usually will do the trick.
Brushes
I have hundreds of brushes, I’d actually consider myself a hoarder, as I find them all over the house. You need all kinds of brushes for different techniques, (hence the thousands of brushes) but here are some that I like if you’re just getting started, I usually like coarse brushes.
Drop Cloth
Even though I have a million drop cloths, there are still little splatters of paint all over the floor of my studio… better than nothing though I guess.
Easel
I end up painting all over the place, on the wall, on the easel, on the floor, but I do love a heavy duty easel.

I didn’t include varnish in this list because for me varnish is hard to settle on. I haven’t found one I 100% love and bounce around between brands. I cannot reccomend one that I’m a huge huge fan of.

Packaging Materials:

Brown Paper Wrap
I use this to wrap up pieces for shipment makes them clean and its another layer of protection.
Bubble Wrap
Go for the big bubbles if you can, they are always better at protecting for shipment.
Packing Tape
Dude, I buy the 12 packs of packaging tape I go through so much tape it’s not even funny.
Fragile stickers
Who knows if any shippers actually pay attention to stickers, but it makes you feel a little better.
Shipping Boxes
Often times I’ll have to end up making my own boxes when my pieces are too big, but for smaller pieces these do nicely.

Business Tools:

Business management software: Xero
I use this to help with accounting and to makes taxes a lot easier to sift through.
Mileage Tracker: Mile IQ
I use Mile IQ to track my miles when driving around for work related trips and I can write of my miles during taxes.
File storage: Google Drive
I use Google Drive, that way I can access at all times from any device and I don’t have to store hard drives or have to try and remember what files is on what HD. I currently use 108 GB of storage and pay for 1TB.
Business email: Google Mail
I also use Google for my business email, I’ve never had a problem with it, and it’s really really simple to set up and maintain. That way I can get my email at my own domain name e.g. info@christineolmstead.com
Scheduling Pinterest Posts: Tailwind
I use Pinterest A LOT I use Tailwind to schedule all of my posts, and keep the content flowing smoothly.
Adobe Suite
I use Photoshop, Ilustrator, and InDesign every single day. I use this to prepare files, touch up prints, create contracts, so so many things. I use the Adobe Suite every single day and couldn’t live without it.
Website/Web Hosting:
Distillery Creative My mother owns a graphic and web design firm called Distillery Creative. I freelance for her and her team and couldn’t imagine a better group to help me with my web stuff, thanks mom! Love you!

 

Motivation and Educational:

This list is in no particular order, nor is it exhaustive, it was what I could think of on the fly, and I’ll probably be adding to it as I remember more pieces I’ve enjoyed.

Books:

Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa
In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gillbert
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Podcasts

The Lonely Palette
A Piece of Work 
Bad at Sports
The Jealous Curator
Death Sex and Money (This last one has nothing to do with art… but I’m endlessly fascinated and inspired by it)

When the Creative Wellspring Runs Dry

When the Creative Wellspring Runs Dry

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Ok ok, maybe I’m being a little over dramatic. It’s not dry, I’ve had a lot of new ideas and dreams of future projects, it’s just the last few weeks I’ve been tired of work. I just finished an emotionally exhausting series (which I can’t wait to share with you all) But this recent collection really took it out of me.

Most of my pieces are a reflection or a story of something going on in my life or in the lives of those around me. This particular series has been working out over the past two years and culminated into an emotionally exhausting expression of my thoughts and feelings surrounding repetitive circumstances over the past two years.

Once done with this series I decided to indulge some of the other ideas that had been swirling around my head as series ideas, some of them were purely cathartic releases that I tossed in the trash, others I may keep and refine. But I think that’s the point when you are emotionally drained from painting and need to move on with your life and your work.

Try. New. Things. Don’t be afraid to have a completely creative day in the studio, just making and expressing all the other thoughts that had been pushed to the back burner while you were digging out the deep, dark, other thoughts that needed to be dealt with and painted out.

I painted a lot of crazy things in the last week, paintings that will never see the light of day, but at least they are gone and out, and I don’t have to wonder about them anymore, some of them I like, and may refine but they no longer add to my burdens or clutter my thoughts.

Another extremely comforting thing when I feel my emotional tank is on empty, is to fall back onto commissions. Letting auto-pilot take over and create something that someone else prescribed is really peaceful. Yesterday, I allowed myself all the creative time and space to work on pieces that I knew I would throw away, and also rest on the commissions of others knowing I wouldn’t have to tax my own emotions to create something, since someone else came up with the vision for the painting. I finished an audio book in 2 days and just let myself be in my studio painting. (I was listening to The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen I really enjoyed it an can highly recommend….. also on a side note, would anyone want to be in be in a book club with me? Thinking of starting one, send me an email if you want in.)

I don’t know if my creativity has ever run out in terms of ideas. I always have ideas for paintings bursting at the seams, but I do get tired and I do get emotionally worn out if I put a lot of myself into a work or a series. That’s what I’ve been coming through these past few weeks and that’s how I deal with it. How do you deal with creative creative exhaustion? I want to know! Tell me below or send me an email!

Follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead Facebook @ceolmstead

Like and share this post with your friends!

How to Artist Part 3: Business Expenses

How to Artist Part 3: Business Expenses

This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

This is the final post in the how to artist series. This mini blog series was based on a question I received from someone on Instagram, “How do you run a business as an artist?” Previously in this series I address Artist Representation, and How I Spend my Time as an Artist. You can click to read those previous posts. This final post addresses how/where I spend money for my business, aka business expenses 101.

As a self-represented artist I’m making enough to run my business and support myself financially independent from loans, or outside support. I do this by myself, with no staff, working 7 days a week about 60-75 hours a week. Take it for what you will. I feel pretty good about the success I have had so far and only have goals to grow. I have never ending goals, business tactics, strategies, programs and plans that I want to work on. I’d also like to eventually hire staff to help me some of the more mundane parts of running a business and free up more of my time to paint.

Here is a percentage breakdown of where money goes.

Supplies:
I spend about 15-20% of my income annually on supplies. Here is a supplies list and the places I get my supplies from.

  • Canvas
    I usually get my unstretched canvas from Amazon. I stretch most of my pieces but occasionally I will buy pre-stretched canvases from Blick.
  • Stretcher Bars
    I always get heavy duty stretcher bars that are 1-1/2″ profile and are 2″ wide.
  • Paint
    I usually buy Liquitex or Golden brand paint from either Blick or Amazon, I usually just do a search to see if one of them is a better price or if one of them has a sale going on.
  • Frames
    Depending on what kind of frame a client wants, if client wants a paper piece matted I usually take it to a professional framer, but if it’s putting on a frame around a canvas, that’s within my skillset so I usually order mine from pictureframes.com
  • Wire, hanging materials
    These I usually get off of Amazon, make sure you’re putting the right brackets and wire on your canvas be sure they are weight tested by checking how many pounds they can hold and how heavy your piece is.
  • Power Tools
    These are usually from Amazon. The tools I need and maintain are drills, saws, staplers, clamps, levels. I also have about 10 billion measuring tapes, I can’t live without them.
  • Stationary/Business Cards
    I get all my materials printed at Moo. They’re fast, easy, I can design what I want, and the quality is always great, nice and thick cards.
  • Packaging materials
    Shipping is a big part of art, I buy my bubble wrap, boxes, tape from Amazon.

Subscriptions:
Subscriptions are about 5% of my income

  • Adobe Creative Cloud Subscription
    I use the adobe suite mostly for photoshop when editing prints, or making Pinterest pins. I also use indesign for layouts and contracts. I use illustrator for things like my business card. This product is invaluable and I couldn’t do what I do without it.
  • Xero 
    This is accounting software for small businesses. It’s super easy to use and at any moment I know exactly how much money I’ve made YTD and how much I’ve spent on business expenses. Very helpful software.
  • Tailwind
    Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling platform which is a lifesaver. I try to pin upwards of 200 pins a month (I’d like to do more, but don’t have the time right now). This app is a paid program which helps me schedule pins and engage in tailwind groups to boost content.
  • G-Suite
    I use the Google Suite for email and storage. I pay monthly for my info@christineolmstead.com email account. I also use 104 GB of storage for all of my files, which I pay for. There is no way I’m keeping all of that on my computer. Google makes it really easy to keep all of my files in one place, and having a professional email address is essential.
  • Accountant Bob
    I pay an accountant to do my taxes. My husband and I both own and operate our own businesses. His is an S Corp, mine is an LLC. Wrap up both of those business taxes, plus personal finances and tax season is no walk in the park.

Taxes:
Speaking of how horrible taxes are. I spend about 35-40% of my income on business taxes and sales tax. So fun right? There’s really not much more to say except, dang ouch.

Advertising: 
I spend about 5-10% a year on advertising, usually pertaining to holiday sales, or specific promotion for a certain product or event. Most of this advertising is on Pinterest.

Donations:
I donate about 5-10% of my income a year to charitable organizations either in the form of cash, or art. Usually it is a mix.

And before you know it almost feels like I made no money at all. Which is why I paint out of my in-home studio, because studio rent in Washington D.C. on top of all of that is basically impossible.

If you are a collector instead of an artist reading this, just know that every time you support an artist instead of a big box store, you are actually putting money in the artist’s pocket to pay for a mortgage, a doctor’s appointment (oh right because I’m self-insured too…), or a much needed date night in the middle of a 70 hour work week. Shop small whenever you can.

Are there better ways to do all of this? Yes, probably there are. But I’m still learning (I will be forever). At least I can thrive, doing something I love. So concludes my three-part series on ‘How to artist’ in response to one users question, “How do you run a business as an artist?”

Basically, my friend, running a business as an artist is exactly the same as running any other kind of business, only the thing you are selling is art and little flecks of your heart and soul. I hope this series was helpful for you. If that wasn’t good enough for you, I do offer individual coaching sessions to help your art business grow. View the other two posts on Artist Representation, and How I Spend my Time as an Artist, and share it with your friends if you learned something.

Follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead and Facebook @ceolmstead

How to Artist Part 2: How to Spend Time

How to Artist Part 2: How to Spend Time

There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally use for my own business

I can’t tell any artist what is best for them, their unique life situations or their business. As an artist running a small business I can tell you where I spend my time. Last week I discussed representation and teased out the differences and pros and cons to be a self-represented artist, read that here in order to catch up: How to be a self represented artist.

Here’s how I spend my time during the week: I work on my computer Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are half computer days/creative days. Saturdays and Sundays I always try and do something fun and relaxing just so I don’t get through the weekend and feel still burned out on Monday, but yes I do work through the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays are usually 5 hour days instead of 10-14-hour work days. I usually end up working around 75 hours a week.

Good heavens what am I doing that whole time? Well it’s not always necessarily behind the computer, sometimes it is also client meetings and coaching sessions. But when I’m on my computer running my business you can probably find me do any one of the following things: writing or responding to emails, drafting contracts for commissions or licensing deals, blogging, updating my website, photographing  products, editing product photos, writing product descriptions, uploading and SEO optimizing all of my products and blog posts, editing and uploading files for licensing partners, restocking (canvas, stretcher bars, wire, screws, paint sealer, packaging material, boxes and a billion other things) paying taxes, paying sales taxes, making thousands of Pinterest pins (I use Tailwind, it’s a lifesaver), planning and scheduling social media posts across 6 different platforms, making marketing materials (I usually use Indesign for the design, and Moo for printing them), marketing, targeted advertising, reaching out for collaboration, researching potential collaborators or licensing opportunities, shipping art, writing email newsletters, coaching other artists on how to run their businesses, doing interviews, planning/scheduling/running sales, troubleshooting shipping problems, meeting with collectors, interior designers and architects to discuss their specific vision, writing gallery show submissions, uploading new prints and products to the print shop.There are probably a bunch of other things I’m doing on my computer too, but those are the main things that came to mind as I wrote that of a stream of consciousness.

Yes, that whole paragraph was one sentence and I’m not going to apologize for it. Deal with it. I have too much to do, to make a perfect paragraph.

On my creative half days, I’m painting, I’m usually working on several commissions at a time, I also like to work on collections even while I’m working on commissions, so those days are full on messy painting days washed in music, audio books, and paint. When I’m in the studio, you can find me painting, stretching canvases, framing art, wiring pieces, and lots of cleaning.  I’m working on anywhere from 2-30 pieces at once, it just depends on what’s going on in the studio and what my project deadlines look like that week. I also do shipping on my creative days, cause usually that’s when I have time to do it and sometimes I need to take a break from painting if I’ve been at it too many hours in a row.

None of that probably made any sense, but all of that actually takes up quite a bit of time so, there you have it, and now you know how I run my business and my life for about 75 hours a week. Do I need to outsource? Yes, I do. Have I found the right people to help me with these tasks? No, I have not.

That is a little bit about how I spend my time as a self-represented artist running my own small business. What does your small business time look like? I want to know comment below or send me an email telling me about your experience.

Last week was all about representation as an artist see that post HERE  Next week I’m discussing where I spend my money as a small business owner. Like or share this article with your friend who is an artist, submit any questions to me below, or at my email info@christineolmstead.com 

Shop the wall clock in the picture, HERE!