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!!!