Welcome to my Blog!

If you haven't already visited my site you just might want to check it out too. You can find it at: www.jonathonmelhus.com

There you will be able to view my portfolio of work. Also we should have our "Shop" up and running where you will be able to purchase my work online.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why we price the way we do! Pricing Art


I want to talk to you today about a touchy subject for a lot of customers and artists which is what should the price be for a particular art piece. I think it will benefit many to learn why an item is priced the way it is. To better explain the concept of pricing I am going to tell you about a time when my eyes were first opened to this subject. It was when I was working as a carpenter remodeling a home for an old resort. During one of our breaks from work the man who hired us showed us this woodworking jig that he bought that allows you to drill pilot holes at an angle so that you can join two pieces of wood together with screws keeping them hidden. Not long ago I bought a jig similar in construction that was for making dovetails. It was such a simple thing yet it cost me about a hundred dollars. The same could be said for the jig that he had. It was made of plastic and some metal which was mainly bolts and nuts, still it cost him a lot of money. To me it seemed highly overpriced, how could something that seemed so easy to make cost so much. He related to me that when you buy a product you aren't just paying for the material that it takes to make it plus some extra for profit. Besides costs of materials you have to worry about royalties for the inventor (creator), hourly wage for laborers (manufacturing) and costs for people or material involved in selling the product (marketing); all these need to be considered in the price so that they are paid for their services. I'm probably missing many more, but you get the gist of it, there is much more involved in the making of this product being sold to you than just what you see that raise its price. Then you also have to take into account how much of the product is being made and whether they sell. Jigs are popular among carpenters, but not everyone buys them since you can get by without them and that makes them more expensive. The more of a product you make and sell the lower you can set the prices to cover all of the expenses involved in making the product while still allowing you to make a profit. That day I learned a lot that opened my eyes, still why did I relate that to you and what does it have to do with art?

As artists we are specialists yet we do the jobs of many: we are the inventor, manufacturer, marketer and sales man. Some artist may hire others to handle these jobs when they get well known, but generally most artist do them all themselves. We also provide products that are usually one of a kind or very few which makes it hard for us to sell our work for a low price. Not to mention, unlike other products where demand can allow them to lower prices because they make and sell so many; artists have to raise prices when demand is high because there is only one worker and very few products. It is important for artist to not undersell their work or for customers to ask for lower prices. Sure you can look at art and say, it is just a drawing or painting and the materials only cost $20 to $50 dollars so it really shouldn't cost much more than that. Let me remind you of the story of the jig. Would you sell or pay someone for just the cost of materials and a little extra for profit? No or at least I hope you wouldn't because there are still many more people needing to get paid, all of which is the artist being the sole employee doing multiple jobs. The artist would be out of business, doing art for free, maybe even going in debt. Often times I find that many artists, especially young artists undersell their craft which hurts the rest of us as well as themselves. Thus giving customers the impression that art should be cheap and that we do it as a side job or a hobby (does the term starving artist ring a bell). Artists are professionals in a specialized field who run all aspects of a business and should be paid accordingly. All of these factors make the price quite reasonable when you think about it. Being an artist is far more than just seeing the art in the end. It may seem effortless to an outside observer but there is far more involved in the creation of art. I hope artist and customers understand that if an artist wants to make a living off of what they love to do then the prices that they set have to reflect the work put into it. Many may already understand this and that is wonderful, but for those who do art for free or expect to receive it for nothing I hope you now have a better understanding of why art is priced the way it is. Thank you for reading, take care and God Bless!!!~ Jon

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Open for Business

I've been doing a lot of research lately on the net and in books learning how to make art a business and I tell you now it is not an easy process. Don't let that discourage you though, what I mean is you have to learn to love it. I remember earlier in my art evolution when I thought, "Uhh, landscapes, backgrounds, I can't stand doing them! It is so much easier to just draw or paint figures or objects." I hated to do landscapes, I could imagine figures, objects, animals, etc; but for some reason I just drew a blank for backgrounds, literally. It was then that I decided I have to learn more, make my weakness my strong point. Today I'm happy to say that I love to do backgrounds or landscapes. They are pretty much the main point in my compositions now, but I still love to include figures, creatures or animals to create the connection of living things inside my worlds. I'm not perfect yet at creating my landscapes or backgrounds but I will always strive to improve my skill and style. Why did I bring that all up? Well, because learning the business side of art is just as important as developing your skills or style in art. It is something that you may even grow to love or excel at. I certainly hope that I do.

Creating the business side of my art has me spending a lot of time on my website updating my shop or should I say creating it. Many hours have gone by in the process of web designing. Like all things on the computer, time flies by and the day is over before it started. I don't know if many artists create their own websites, but it sure takes away from your time to create artwork. I spent hours searching other artist websites to see how they went about creating their shops. One thing for sure is that no two artist sites are the same, they are all unique. It is in our nature as artist to be very creative in what we do and that shows in our websites. In researching on how best to create a site, what to do and not to do, I found that many did the wrong thing for the sake of creativity.  They lacked being user friendly to visitors and were too flashy for search engines. That is why I made sure to do the right thing to the best of my ability and still keep a sense of creativity in my design, I hope it shows.

First thing I want you to know about is that I am now accepting commissions. If you are looking for a wonderful piece of art to hang on your wall or are a business in need of artwork for a project and like my unique style then now is your chance to commission me. I have provided a lot of information on the process: such as rates, commission agreement, estimate and confirmation form, etc and will probably be adding much more. My goal is to keep you in the light, not in the dark. I think many people feel more comfortable when they have an idea of what they are getting into. I found many artist sites to be rather vague in that area, leaving the client with all kinds of questions and the only way of knowing is by emailing the artist. I know how I feel when I see that. What should I ask? What is the proper thing to say? What are they willing to do? How much will it cost? It is like a company sending out a brochure with just pictures saying email me if you are interested. That would be bad business, you need to provide info, not make the customer work for it. A lot of these things can be put out in the open before hand to save time in the process and that is what I try to do with my commission page.

Secondly I created pages for original artwork and prints. These pages are still in the working stages and will be updated soon. I'm in the process of finding a solution for how to have my prints made whether by me or by some company. So as of now there are no prints for sale, but God willing there will be soon. You can purchase my original work now and I will continue to be updating that page as soon as I compile my information for each painting. I also updated the way you view my work which I hope you will like. Almost all of the smaller images have the ability to be blown up to whatever size your window is at. No need to scroll which is a plus, unfortunately if you have a small screen you won't be able to blow it up very much. I had to make compromises, maybe I will figure a way around that. Please take the time to check out all of my work and I hope you enjoy the additions. I will be making a few more improvements in the coming days, so bear with me.

One passion I found through this whole process is that I want to inform the artist and non-artist as much as I can so that they aren't left in the dark. I plan on writing about many topics on what it means to be an artist. Most people think of us as starving artist or that it's not a real job, well some of us may be starving, but in reality this is a real job and it requires more work than many professions. We are professionals/specialists in our field and we can make a living doing it.

Thank you for reading, Take care and GOD BLESS!!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Bright New Future

Life is a beautiful thing where anything can happen. It is often through change that our lives become more fulfilling. For when things stay the same they become stagnant and dull. Now I'm not saying our lives were dull and that we needed change, it's just that for us it was time to take the next step. Of course we could have done it sooner or maybe even at a later date but the timing was right for us to get engaged now. Yes, you heard me right, we are engaged. I proposed to my one and only, my muse, my inspiration. We have always talked about getting married and knew in our hearts that we would always be together. So it was only natural for us to make our commitment known to others as well. We both just finished a year at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada in the field of art and it just seemed right to continue with our journey through life together by binding our love for each other.

We are so over joyed at being able to call each other fiance and fiancee. Did you know there are different meanings for fiance and fiancee, not just different ways to spell it, I didn't. I found out that it is fiance for the man and fiancee for the woman. So if my fiancee were to refer to me in writing she would use fiance, like I just did for her in the beginning of this sentence. By the way, I have no clue how to add that little thingy above the letter "e". 

We had the most beautiful day for the proposal. I guess God was blessing us that day. We went to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Ontario, Canada. If you ever get the chance to go there, please do, it is just beautiful. At the time we went it was nearing the end of summer so I'm sure at the peak of season it is even more beautiful. Also, make sure to bring your camera for there will be plenty of moments that you will want to capture for your albums. In fact we didn't get to see all that there is to see so make sure to leave plenty early so that you don't miss out.

It took a while for us to find the right place, but with a little help from God we found the perfect site for our proposal. There is more than one garden to see and I believe we only had enough time to see two of them. The one we proposed at was called the Laking Garden and we had it all to ourselves. You are probably wondering how can that be when there must be numerous people that go there every day. Well as luck would have it we like to walk and it was a rather long walk to get to this particular garden. At that time of the day the shuttle buses stopped running to other parks and only the adventurous or young are willing to walk that far. I guess we were the only ones with enough stamina that day. I like to think it was destiny, God had plans for us this day. See we wanted to propose and take photos of our special day. It would have been kind of awkward to have people looking at us and walking into our shots. So it was perfect that we were all alone with as much time as we needed to get all of our shots done. I thank the Lord for that wonderful day because now we have the most beautiful photos we could ever hope for to remember our special day.

Now on to the next step, marriage. We haven't set a date for the big day, just one step at a time. We don't know the exact day, but it won't be too far off. May the Lord bless you like he did for us, making all your dreams come true. Take care and God Bless.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Wonderful Surprise

It was about half a year ago or more that my girlfriend Rebecca first told me that I should submit my art to ImagineFX. Which is a fantasy and Sci-Fi digital art magazine based in the United Kingdom. It has been a long time favorite of hers and she believed that my art would surely make it into their pages. I wasn't as enthused and was a little apprehensive because the magazine was mainly for digital art. Also I didn't really know where my art belonged. I knew it was fantasy, but not hard core fantasy. In a way it resembled realism, but no where in life would you see the colors or scenery that I created.

So for a long time I procrastinated, which seems to be the norm among many artists. I would always make the excuse that my images aren't good enough, I need to take better pictures or that my art isn't quite what they are looking for. Well, after a few months I finally stopped procrastinating and got around to learning how to best take pictures of traditional art.

After many tedious hours spent editing on photoshop and searching the internet for tips on photography. I finally came up with some files that I felt satisfied with. So I sat down to read the rules of submission for the Reader's FXPose in ImagineFX and sent my images as well as Bio information. It only took until the next day for me to receive a reply from them asking for better quality images. As you can imagine I was quite excited. I thought to myself that if they were going to reject my art then they wouldn't ask for better images. Then again, it also occurred to me that I probably just didn't send a large enough resolution picture. So I followed their instructions and made my images as large as I could and sent them through YouSendIt.com which is an online file sharing website which allows you to send files that are too large for e-mails. After that I never heard a word from them. I assumed they chose another artist and that my gut feeling towards their request for larger images was just wishful thinking on my part. Still I kept hope alive and continually kept a look out for future issues of ImagineFX in hopes of seeing my art inside.

A couple months passed by and I almost gave up hope when my e-mail notifier popped up while I was searching the internet. My notifier allows me to view the first few sentences of an email and what I saw right away was,"I discovered your work in a UK magazine..." That first line made my skin crawl. I thought what magazine? Was my work pirated and printed off as their own, because I've heard several horror stories of that happening to other artist. Then I remembered...UK...that sounded familiar. Could it be the magazine ImagineFX. Truly it had to be, stupid of me to think otherwise. How else could this person contact me if someone else was claiming my work as their own. So I replied to this kind gentleman who was so fond of my work and thanked him profusely as well as asked to which magazine was he referring to. To my amazement he replied that it was the June issue No.57 of ImagineFX. He even quoted some of my statements as well as offered to scan the page for me. You can understand the joy I felt having heard this news as well as finding a new fan of my work.

Now came the question, is it here in Canada as well.? By the way if you didn't know, for the past several months I have been attending school at Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Ontario, Canada. They have wonderful programs for those interested in learning more in the fields of art like animation and illustration. Anyway, back to my question, was it in stores in Canada? My search ended up in vain for later I found out that since the magazine was based in the UK it took an extra month for the US and Canada to receive theirs. So now began my agonizing wait and wait I did for it took longer than a month.

My torment ended this last week for I finally got my hands on a copy of issue 57. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the colors printed well, better than my own attempts. I did notice that the images seemed off so I compared them to the originals and found that they were slightly cropped. Which is understandable because they have design and layout issues to deal with in making a magazine. With that minor change I am quite happy with how it turned out. I have my images in an international magazine which will be viewed by thousands of people who will then hopefully go to my website where they can view my work in its entirety. So if you have the time please check out this magazine or my site. Hopefully this is the first sign of many blessings to come and one day I will be called an equal among the favorite artists that I admire.

Thank you for your time and GOD BLESS!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back to School

How is everyone doing this beautiful day? Great I hope!

Not sure if many of you know, but while my girlfriend and I were working on my website we were also working on getting into Sheridan College. Don't know if many of you have heard about it; but it's a well respected art college located in Ontario, Canada not that far away from Toronto. It is mostly known for producing Animators, but is also great in it's other fields such as Illustration. Sheridan overall is just a great school for people that are looking for careers in the Arts. Which is why we decided to go there so we could learn and grow as artists. Also to hopefully get some more exposure in the art community for which we are lacking.

Well, as you can probably guess by the title we have made it in and have now just completed our first week of school. It's interesting being back in a school environment again because it has been awhile since I have gone. One thing for sure is that we are both eager to learn so that makes it far more enjoyable to be back in school again. I've always been a self taught artist, searching and feeling my way through the best I can so that I may express my ideas. It will be nice to learn the things I didn't know, which should help me to improve on my own abilities so that I can further expand on my style of painting.

It's a beautiful school, large and well built. You can basically find anything you need so that you don't need to leave campus. Art supply store, food courts and studios to do your art in. The teachers are all great with diverse backgrounds in the field of art. They are very talented and most do their teaching part time as they still continue to work in their fields of study like animation, illustration or fine art.

We look forward to the following weeks ahead to see how much we can grow as artists. See where this road takes us. It's going to be a fun spring and summer of which we hope to produce wonderful pieces of art. Sometime when I get used to this blogging I will try to add pictures to my post so that you can see what we've been doing.

Thanks for reading. We hope your days ahead are wonderful and full of blessings.

Take care and God Bless! ~ Jonathon

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brrrr...It's cold outside

Hello everyone! This is my first post on my new blog for my new website. Wow, a lot of new things going on. Feels great though to do new things and break out of the ordinary, makes you feel alive. I tell you what also makes you feel alive...it's changes in temperature. I can remember not long ago that it was so hot and humid that I could barely stand it, but now it is fall weather, cold and dry. Oh well, may be a little cold, but it's not that bad, just need to acclimate to the new season.

Been working on the computer a lot lately fixing up my website that the love of my life made for me. She made it a while ago but never completely finished it. We only recently just published it to the web. Right now we are working on the blog page which brings me to where I am now. Writing my first blog to you all. I hope you like the look of it, we spent a long time working to get it to have the same look and feel as my website. I think we are pretty much done, maybe a few changes here and there, but not much.

Not much time to paint lately, plus my art supplies are not near me to use. Doesn't matter much anyway since it's important that we get my website done. Which for us is just as fun since it is just another form of creating art. Soon though I hope to get back to my painting. I have the scene roughed out on canvas, just need to get a feel for it. Make sure the image in my mind is clear so that I can paint the story so that it's memorable. I sure hope you will all enjoy it as much as I do painting it.

I will try to post weekly, maybe more or less. New to this blog thing so I don't know how much time I have available. I guess we should get back to work on my site, thanks for stopping on by and I hope you come back often. Also be sure to check out my gallery at www.jonathonmelhus.com and enjoy my portfolio.

Take care and God Bless! ~Jonathon