Friday, January 24, 2014

Pet Portrait Business Models

Pet Portrait Business Models/ One Size Fits All? 

  Today I had lunch with one of my Photoshop students. She offered to buy me lunch if she could pick my brain a wee bit about getting started in the world of pet portraiture and the ins and outs of commission work. We had a great conversation and hopefully I was able to give her some good advice and direction. She already seems to have a very good handle on things and I know she will do great.

Whenever I help someone or teach something I always walk away learning a lot myself. Today in asking a lot of questions I realized that there is no one size fits all formula when designing a business model for anything and it is especially true with art. My student and friend really wants to approach her adventure, initially anyway, as more of a part time job and she is not really concerned with earning a  full time income from her portrait work. Her business model will end up looking a bit different from mine. I try hard to put in 40 hours a week, it does not always happen, but that is usually the goal. In my earlier years it was much more like 60 hours per week. That brings me to another point ... a business model is never set in stone. What worked for me at the age of 36 may not be the same as what is working for me today and what  will work for me way down the road when I am 60 or 70 or 80. I do not plan to ever retire and yet I do not want to be working 40 hours a week for the rest of my days.

So How to Design the Perfect Art Business Model?

I think the first place to start is to identify your goals.  Again, these goals can change. If you want to create a business that will serve as a full time income you need to do the math before you do anything.  How many pet portraits do you need to create each month at what price point and can you even work fast enough to do that? Say you have production down and you can paint relatively fast, well can you market yourself and get the orders you need in order to buy groceries? Often you will never know the answers to these questions until you try, but these are all questions that you need to consider. I was two or three years into my own adventure with Art Paw before I started asking myself these questions, and yet I figured it out. 

Nitty Gritty Details?

What about accounting, copyrights, web design, credit card processing and so on. Well the good news is most of the information you need to run a business, any business is on-line and free info. You just have to start googling.

Shop Other Artists ... Then do your own thing.
This is a very important point. It is only natural to want to see what other pet portrait artists do about proofing, about delivery turn around times, and yes about pricing. Do your research, take your notes, and then create a business model that makes sense for you and for your unique lifestyle.  An oil painter that creates canvas portraits that are 4 feet wide by 6 feet tall is going to have a very different looking business model than a watercolor painter that is creating small 5 x 7 paintings. As a digital artist my way of working and taking care of my clients is going to be different from both and yet there are common things we all share, and business practices that are just good common sense.

My next Photoshop Class is April 12th & 13th here in Dallas. E-mail me if you are interested in pushing pixels with us ( my e-mail: .

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