Shipping Simplified with a System

A System

Ask an artist how they feel about packaging and shipping their artwork for exhibits and sales. Chances are the response won’t be a positive one.

This is one part of being an artist that most of us are not very fond of. It’s time consuming and it’s expensive.

This past year I’ve implemented systems across my art business to make it runner smoother. The packaging and shipping event, while still not my favorite part of being an artist, is now much simpler.

I have a written packaging and shipping process with step by step directions to follow, from purchasing supplies, to pricing shipping for customers, to packing steps, to shipping details. This means if a few months go by without shipping, I don’t have to remember the details.

Although the true purpose of the written system is that at any time I can hire someone to do the job for me.

The time when this will happen is when I will be busy, and I won’t have time to teach someone how to do the shipping. As a result, I might hold off hiring someone because I don’t have time to teach them. By building the system up front, I have it ready when it will be needed. Handing it over to someone new will be simple.

As a bonus, if you believe in the law of attraction, having this system in place and planning on hiring someone to use it, will bring about the need to do just that. I know I’m going to have so many sales and exhibits, I’m going to need help with shipping very soon.

Supplies

I need more space than a single blog post to go into the entire system but I believe the 1 thing in the system that has made my process less stressful is that I always have all the supplies I need on hand at all times.

Prior to this year, when I needed to ship artwork to a collector I had to scrounge around to find a box to recycle. Often I couldn’t find one so I’d have to buy one, which is an expensive when buying just 1 at a time. This lack of materials caused stress and I have no doubt some of the packages appeared quite unprofessional.

I needed to have supplies on hand so sales were a joyous event, with no stress. So I wrote down all of my requirements for containers such as:

1) Purpose: I ship to exhibits and to collectors – each has unique requirements – 1 needs reusable containers; the other needs professional, beautiful packaging.

2) Shape: The majority of my artwork is shipped rolled, in tubes of varying lengths. Smaller textile paintings are mounted on stretch canvas and are shipped flat.

3) Size: My artwork varies greatly in size from 3″ square to nearly 8 feet square.

Based on the above information, I was able to identify a handful of box sizes that I could use for shipping all my artwork as needed. Spending time to write it down and sort through the information helped to clarify that it wasn’t nearly as complicated as it felt.

I now keep every box size I use in stock in my basement. When I sell artwork, it takes just a few minutes to package it up. While maybe not as fun as making art, it’s easy.

Suppliers

These are the suppliers I use for my packaging needs:

  • Yazoomills: reusuable shipping tubes. I purchased tubes from them 15+ years ago and am still using them to ship my textile paintings to exhibits. The heavy duty ones are nearly indestructible and well worth the cost. It costs a bit more to ship with the heavier tubes but my artwork is worth the protection.
  • Uline: boxes for shipping artwork to collectors. These folks have pretty much any size box you might need at good prices. They’ve got tape and other packing supplies like bubble wrap also./li>
  • Clearbags: protective clear bags for artwork. Zillions of sizes for just about any size of artwork. They have other clever containers that can be used to create a professional presentation of your art for your collectors.
  • Home Depot: I use water pipe insulation tubes from the hardware store to roll my textile paintings onto before placing them into tubes for shipping. They are lighter than cardboard and cheaper than the foam swim noodles that many people use.
  • Office Depot: with their ubiquitous coupons, I find their packaging tape and sharpie markers to be very competitively priced.
  • United States Postal Service: Free boxes (I mostly use the flat rate boxes) for priority shipping. I use this most when shipping fabric to buyers and when the buyer requests priority shipping. I keep a supply of all sizes on hand, which I pick up when I’m at the post office.

Online Shipping

Another tip is to set up online accounts with your preferred shipper so you don’t have to stand inline at the shipping office. There is usually a discount for doing this also.

If you ship internationally through the US post office, you will often not be able to avoid that event but I keep the duty forms on hand so I can fill them out at home.

Instead of going to the main post office where lines are long and slow, I got to a near by hardware store with a postal substation instead. I try to go at off hours and rarely are there more than 2 or 3 people in line.

Wrap Up

If you need to ship your artwork out to the world, think big by being prepared for the event by having supplies on hand and a system in place to help the process go smoother. Then you can get back to the studio and make more art sooner.

Please share you shipping tips or packaging suppliers in the comments below.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

More on the Incomplete Project List

Completion

This article is the 4th in a series related to completion:

1. The Magic of Completion
2. A Quest for Completion – introducing a plan on how to get there
3. Creating an Incomplete Project List – it was harder than expected
4. More on the Incomplete Project List – categorizing, prioritizing and more – this post

More to come as I work through my plan for tackling my incomplete projects

1. Create a list of incomplete projects (spending about a week to do this)
2. Categorize them – complete vs. let go (I might have a “I’ll revisit this in a year” pile also but maybe not – I like to be clear and make decisions as it gives me momentum.)
3. Create and hold some type of ritual to let go of the projects that don’t make the cut.
4. Prioritize the projects I do want to complete
5. Work through the incomplete projects one at a time as the year goes by
6. Celebrate each completion

7. Repeat as needed when I feel my energy being drained – complete completion isn’t something I believe I will ever achieve, instead I think it is a process to be enjoyed (hence the celebration step).

The Backlog

In my day job, I work as a project manager for a large software team. To keep track of all of the work the team needs to complete, we create a long list of things that need done. This long list of things is called the backlog. It’s a todo list.

When the team finishes up their current work, they go to the backlog and get the next thing to do off of the list. Which indicates this list of items is kept in priority order, the most important thing at the top of the list.

The incomplete project list that I created the last few weeks for my art business is essentially part of my backlog – all the stuff I need to do for my art business. (The other part of my backlog for my art business are all the future projects I want to complete.)

I’ve made a decision to prioritize the unfinished projects at the top of my to do list for my art business and life. The goal being achieving some completion as too many projects have gone unfinished the last few years).

Categorize

This week I went through my unfinished project list and categorized the incomplete projects. The choices were

1) complete this year
2) complete next year
3) toss it and forget about it
4) put it on my future project list and worry about it later

You can see my categorized list here: Incomplete Project List.

It was a fairly simple task to categorize this list. I had a pretty good idea of what I did and did not want to complete.

There was 1 item that required a bit more work, and that was dealing with my draft blog posts. I had to look through them all and decide which ones were worth keeping and which I could toss.

Most didn’t have much meat to them so I tossed them and added the topic to my ongoing blog post ideas list (which I maintain on tadalists.com as it is accessible anytime I’m online).

Prioritize

After deciding which projects I wanted to complete, I put them in priority order. So when it comes time to work on a some new art or a home project, I can just go to the list and take the first item from the top.

When prioritizing these items I considered several things:

1) Duration – How long will it take to complete. Putting a few of the quicker items at the top of the list makes for some fast completion and sets up good momentum.

2) The business value. Doing the most valuable things first is usually a good idea, leaving the less important stuff for later.

3) Resources required. Some times the resources required to complete a project aren’t yet ready. For example my come as you will be party requires that I have some landscaping in my yard and more importantly, a sidewalk up to my front door, before I throw the party. So this is put fairly low down my list as it will take a while for the landscaping to be completed.

Using my Incomplete Project List

In many time management disciplines, it is recommended that a single list to kept for all outstanding projects. I don’t do this. I like to organize my list into multiple lists as creating art isn’t the same thing as working on my house.

If I put those items on a single list and tried to prioritize them, I’d personally find it near impossible, as it is like comparing apples to oranges.

I make time each week for art, art business, personal and my home. I keep a separate todo list for each of these areas so when I complete a project in one area I can move on to the next item on that list. When I complete a piece of art, I don’t want to move on to organizing my basement, I want to make more art.

By having 1 project (and at most 2 projects) current in each of these areas, I can maintain some balance in the different areas of my life.

Not that each project will get equal attention at all times, but having something to work on in each area allows me to move each forward at a speed that is appropriate at that time.

For example, my current project list at the moment is:

Art: create new artwork to enter into a big international juried show
Art Business: planning for the fall and entering fall juried shows
Home: Landscaping my yard
Personal: Helping my son prepare to leave for college

At the moment the last item on the list is getting most of my attention, as my son leaves in just a few more days. Much shopping, packing, talking and soaking in as much time with him as possible is my priority. Once he his gone I’ll turn my attention to the other areas and a new project (the one at the top of my unfinished project list for personal).

Wrap Up

How do you manage your backlog of items you want to complete? Do you even have a list?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Creating an Incomplete Project List

Completion Quest

In my last post, I wrote about my desire to wrap up some loose ends from the last few years. Things that drain my energy every time I think about them not being finished. It’s my quest for completion.

This is my plan for tackling my incomplete projects

1. Create a list of incomplete projects (spending about a week to do this)
2. Categorize them – complete vs. let go (I might have a “I’ll revisit this in a year” pile also but maybe not – I like to be clear and make decisions as it gives me momentum.)
3. Create and hold some type of ritual to let go of the projects that don’t make the cut.
4. Prioritize the projects I do want to complete
5. Work through the incomplete projects one at a time as the year goes by
6. Celebrate each completion

7. Repeat as needed when I feel my energy being drained – complete completion isn’t something I believe I will ever achieve, instead I think it is a process to be enjoyed (hence the celebration step).

What is an Incomplete Project?

I figured step 1 would be easy given all of the todo lists I have made in my life.

Turns out it wasn’t that simple. I started to ponder “what exactly was an incomplete project?”

  • Is fixing the headlight on my car an incomplete project or is it just an errand I’ve put off for a while?
  • What about all those projects I want to do, have thought about, but haven’t really started yet – do they count?
  • What about things I’m actively working on now but haven’t yet finished? Should I list them?

Clearly I was procrastinating and seriously over thinking this list. It’s just a list, whatever I put there and get finished will be excellent and move me forward.

Yet those questions still nagged at me, so I decided to answer them for myself.

  • I grouped all the little things (like making copies of my car key) into Overdue Errands and list them as a single item. I didn’t want to clutter the list with small items.
  • I only listed projects that I made a substantial start on. I started a different list for future projects I want to do. My goal is to finish some older projects so I have the space and energy to start new things. If I put new projects on the list I figured I’d just end up with a longer list of unfinished things to do.
  • I didn’t list projects I’m actively working on – such as the long todo list to get my son ready for college, or landscaping my yard. I already include these things in my daily and weekly activities and I know they will get done. If not I’ll add them to the list later.

Order

After sorting through these thoughts and defining what I meant by incomplete project, it was a lot easier to make my list. Took just a few days.

I suspect not everyone would need such clarification to make a todo list, but for me it really helped. Artists are stereotypically free spirited and this sort of exercise definitely doesn’t fit into that personality. Such folks probably would never think to make an incomplete project list.

I used to think I wasn’t an artist because of my organization skills. I’m good at, I like order. I like clean, spare rooms. Disorganization and clutter don’t work for me. Even when it comes down to an unfinished project list.

I’ve gotten over thinking I should be more like the stereotype. I’m an artist – and I like order. And over the last 5 1/2 years of blogging, I’ve met a lot of artists with similar mindsets.

Next Step

My list of incomplete projects is here: Projects to Complete.

Next up, I will categorize and prioritize the list.

In the meantime I’ve been tackling that long list of errands and the piles of paper in my office is slowly diminishing. As the paper is filed, processed, tossed – the office feels lighter and full of great energy. I love it!

Wrap Up

What projects do you want to finish up this year?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

A Quest for Completion

Completion

Back in December, I wrote a blog post about the magic of completion.

I didn’t completed the setup of my studio after the remodel last year, the result being I wasn’t really using my studio. The unfinished project was draining my energy.

Taking the time to complete that project resulted in a huge burst of energy that culminated with dozens of new pieces of art within a few months for my solo show in February.

Completion is truly magical.

Unfinished Projects

Now, as my energy has returned and I’m back at work in my studio and on my life, I can feel many unfinished projects from the last few years pulling at me. Calling to me, wanting my time, my energy. They are determined to distract me.

They are fabulous projects:

I never processed my photos from my trip to South African last year. My last post on my art blog on the topic was day 6. That’s not quite completion given that the trip was almost a month long.

I’ve also never taken the “after” photos for my home/studio remodel. The construction workers walked out on the last day and I stopped posting to my construction photo site. No “after” shots. Hm. I know everyone wants to see the cool green bathroom – how hard could it be to get the kids dirty clothes off the floor and do this project?

I’ve got unfinished artwork, home projects, business projects, remodeling, etc, etc. The list is long when I think about it. So when I do think about it, it drains my energy.

It’s time to do something about it. I’m on a quest to clear up these incomplete projects over the next 5 months so I can start 2011 with a clean slate.

It May Not Need to be Finished

My first thought is to line up all my projects and dive in to get to work on them. But that thought also drains me. I want to do NEW stuff, not just finish up old stuff.

So I remind myself, just because I started a project, it doesn’t mean I need to finish it.

But I need to come to closure on them in some way. So I’m pondering a good way to do that. A ritual, perhaps, to say goodbye to a plan that won’t reach completion. A big bonfire in the backyard comes to mind, but I think that isn’t legal in my city.

Small Steps

I don’t want this quest for completion to stop me in my progress in the studio or on my art business. So I’m going to take is in slowly, doing a bit each week.

Here’s my plan for tackling my incomplete projects

1. Create a list of incomplete projects (spending about a week to do this)
2. Categorize them – complete vs. let go (I might have a “I’ll revisit this in a year” pile also but maybe not – I like to be clear and make decisions as it gives me momentum.)
3. Create and hold some type of ritual to let go of the projects that don’t make the cut.
4. Prioritize the projects I do want to complete
5. Work through the incomplete projects one at a time as the year goes by
6. Celebrate each completion

7. Repeat as needed when I feel my energy being drained – complete completion isn’t something I believe I will ever achieve, instead I think it is a process to be enjoyed (hence the celebration step).

Wrap Up

I’ll be posting my progress on my completion quest as the year goes by both here on the blog and over on the facebook page for makebigart.

Want to join me? Post your progress here or facebook (sharing only the details you are comfortable sharing). We’ll keep each other motivated by sharing our progress.

Let’s think big and refocus our energy where we want it – on our art – by wrapping up some unfinished projects.

PS – if you have ideas for a ritual to say goodbye to projects we are not longer committed to, please share.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Creating Artistic Masterpieces

Creating a Masterpiece

Mark McGuinness wrote a guest article on copyblogger recently titled The 7 Essential Steps to Creating Your Content Masterpiece.

It is a fabulous article.

So much of what he said was directly relevant to visual artists in addition to writers/bloggers.

His 7 steps:

1. Aim high
2. Get into productive habits
3. Create content strategically
4. Write material that’s strong enough to endure
5. Rework your themes
6. Riff on other people’s themes
7. Repurpose your blog content

I strongly recommend reading the entire article as it is chocked full of excellent material.

Make a Lot of Art

The point that struck a cord with me, and is something I’ve been saying for years, is related to productivity.

From his article:

In Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius, Robert Weisberg discusses statistical research into the proportion of masterpieces to minor works among great and not-so-great composers.

The researchers concluded that the rate of hits to misses was pretty constant between major and minor composers. The truly great composers produce more masterpieces than the others, mainly because they produced more work overall.

What distinguished them was not effortless genius or leisurely perfectionism, but relentless productivity.

 
This is the same idea behind the quality vs. quantity story in a ceramics class from the book Art and Fear.

A teacher divides a class into 2 groups and tells one group to make a large quantity of pots and the other to focus on quality and to make only their very best pots.

Turns out that over time, the best quality came from the first group, those making a large quantity of work.

Wrap Up

Want to make masterpieces? How much artwork are you producing?

Think big and get to your studio and make something. And do it often.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Growth

With a nod Christine Mauersberger for the pointer, I love the Incomplete Manifesto for Growth by Bruce Mau.

Some of my favorite statements

3. Process is more important than outcome.

9. Begin anywhere. [great advice if you are stuck]

30. Organization = Liberty.

41. Laugh.

And I would add one more:

Think Big!

Read the entire manifesto here: Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.

Wrap Up

Which statements speak to you?
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Time Management: The Artist and the Internet

Create Denver Workshop

Yesterday I gave a workshop/talk at the Create Denver Expo on Time Management and the Internet. A black sink hole of time for many of us.

Much of the talk centered around goals and systems as a way to structure our time on the internet. The rest of the talk was tips and tools to help.

I’ve uploaded the power point from my talk as a pdf and you can down load it here: Time Management: The Artist and the Internet

Wrap Up

As these are just the slides and not the rest of the content, which I delivered verbally, those that weren’t in attendance will miss some of the information.

I’m working out plans on how to deliver the entire content to those on the internet, in a fun way, so stay tuned for more details.

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Make a Big Bold Statement about your Art

Big Intentions

I wrote the following on my blog and facebook fanpage today:

Having created a significant body of work over the last decade (nearly 200* completed quilts), I plan to continue pushing myself to excellence by building on past successes and learning from the mistakes. Working as a professional artist, with any eye to creating a lasting legacy for my artwork, is my intention.

A lasting legacy for my artwork. That is big. Hello museums and important collections!

Feels great to think big and set big intentions. Just making the statement generates a zillion ideas for how to move to forward to meet the goals.

Wrap Up

What big bold statement can you make about your art? Your art career? Leave a comment below or post it on your blog, facebook/twitter and leave a link here.

Be Big!

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on social media where I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments.
MakeBigArt fanpage
MakeBigArt on Twitter

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

Balance

Not Doing It All

A few weeks back I looked at the calendar and realized I had only 7 weeks to prepare for a solo exhibit. I came up with a schedule that is aggressive, yet doable to create all new work for the show over those 7 weeks.

It’s doable in the sense that if I quit doing most everything else in my life, like paying bills, marketing my artwork, cooking dinner, writing long blog posts, hanging out with friends all weekend, etc… I can get all of the artwork completed by the delivery date.

I’ve had a vision for this show for a long time and I decided to go for it even it it generates some imbalance in my immediate future.

What is Balance?

Which brings up the question – exactly what is balance?

Looking in the dictionary for balance these defintions jump out at me:

5 a : stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis b : equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements
6 a : an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements
9 : mental and emotional steadiness

That sounds about right. Stability, integration, steadiness. Bring it all together and making it all work, magically.

Embracing the Imbalance

There are few days, or even weeks, in my life where I feel I’ve balanced all of my desires, intentions and responsibilities. Something always seems to have to give.

My life is chronically out of balance on a day to day basis, yet if I step back and look at the big picture (such as my list of 100 accomplishments for 2009) everything seems to work out.

I need to just relax and accept that on the micro-level things feel imbalanced.

When I was a stay at home mom, we called this sequencing and much as been written on the topic.

The idea is we can have it all, just not all at once. Keeping this in mind is supremely helpful in remaining relaxed as paperwork, laundry, email and blog comments pile up while I’m creating in my studio.

Wrap Up

If you are feeling unbalanced, take a look back over the long term, are things really unbalanced or are you sequencing?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on facebook:
MakeBigArt.com fanpage – I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments on facebook throughout the week and writing longer articles on the blog.

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

The Magic of Completion

The Studio

In April of 2009 I completed a major house remodeling project that include the addition of a beautiful new studio. Within weeks I had the studio 95% completed and then moved in and started making art.

I had a huge deadline looming for an exhibit in Germany and needed every spare moment to create. The remaining work on the studio could wait.

Then a week after making my deadline I left town for a month in South Africa, with the studio still not finished.

Upon my return there was a family event that required a large chunk of my energy.

And I had artwork presold that had to be completed, so what free time I did have went to creating.

Completion of the studio was still undone.

Every time I went in my studio I saw the mess and it drained me. I thought “I never have time to finish it” and that thought drained me more.

I have an exhibit coming up and instead of working on the art for the show, I stressed about the studio not being finished. I thought “I’ll start the art for the show once the studio is done”. And I never seemed to find time for finishing things up.

And on and on it went for 4 months after my return from South Africa.

Until yesterday. Yesterday I decided I’d have enough and I completed my studio. Done.

And it is FABULOUS.

The new energy in the room is amazing. Today I jumped right in and started the artwork for my upcoming exhibit. My outlook on my art career was given a huge boost.

And of course I think – “why didn’t I just do this earlier – it was only 6 hours of work”.

Completion


Completion is huge
. It’s massive and energy altering.

Completing a project can give you a boost. From big tasks like my studio. Or small tasks like mailing a collector a thank you note.

The act of getting something done, crossing it off a list, is magical. All the energy that was being used to worry about, stress over, keep track of, think about, complain about, etc – all that energy is freed up and suddenly available for new projects, thoughts and inspiration.

Completing a task or project builds your self confidence. You realize “hey, I can do this”. So the next task becomes just a tiny bit easier and your productivity increases and things are cross off the list and energy is freed up. Its the snowball effect. Next thing you know you are invincible.

Projects that were blocked suddenly become viable. New ideas are generated opening up new possibilities.

The power of completion is huge.

Wrap Up

What project or task can you complete right now, today, this week to give yourself a little boost forward and free up some energy for other projects?

What are you waiting for?

 
I invite you to become a fan of MakeBigArt on facebook:
MakeBigArt.com fanpage – I’ll be sharing additional tips and comments on facebook throughout the week and writing longer articles on the blog. I update this facebook page about once a day and welcome your comments.

In addition you can also find me here:

My Blog
On Twitter
Facebook Profile
Lisa Call – Textile Paintings Fan Page

 
—lisa

Thinking Big about Art

PS – Ironically I was going to bail out on writing this post and take a bath. But I realized I’d just wake up tomorrow and feel drained as I have set my intention to get back on track with weekly posts on