Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Time To Pull Together Is Now

I want to preface today’s post with a statement that I credit God for my talent and my success.  I’ve come a long way in my understanding of the path I’m following and this post gives you insight into another weapon in my arsenal.

      I’m lucky and I know it.  The largest piece of the “I want to be a full-time artist” puzzle is support from your partner.  My wife, Pam, has pushed all her chips to the center of this game and is “all in”.  Except for the 2-4% that she doesn’t see my way, we generally pull together with a common goal and an agreed-upon plan of attack on our art business.  Pam is as organized as I am chaotic, so for the most part, we end up pretty close to center and level.
     Pam’s part of our business consists of so many things:  bookkeeping, computing, creating marketing avenues, managing the website, being my spell-checker/punctuation perfecter, and as much as I hate to admit it, she has a good eye for a painting that is headed for the ditch.  She can edit a video, design a business card, create a brochure, email my images and still stay 2 steps ahead of me, most of the time.
We were both full-time and working a show.
     I think most artists starting out don’t realize the amount of support required to keep the wheels turning on the art machine.  Pam had a full-time job when I started down the uncertain road of becoming a full-time, professional artist.  Thank God she did or this might have been a short run.  However, as my business started to soar, she very handily moved more toward our ultimate goal, and took care of my business needs in her spare time.  The scariest day was when I knew I needed her full-time.  About 10 years ago, I realized that I could no longer grow the Studio without her pulling with me on a full-time basis. 
     Women, in general, feel more secure with steady incomes and things nailed down.  I had neither.  But to Pam’s credit, she never looked back.  We dove headfirst into setting goals and fine-tuning our efforts.  Like I’ve said before, “The competition may out-talent us, but they sure as hell won’t out-work us.”   Nearly two years ago, Pam, my father, a good contractor friend (that we consider family), and myself built our new home and studio in Yorktown, TX.
Our home and studio in progress.
     We took on everything after slab and framing, and did it ourselves while maintaining our inventory and work schedule.  It was madness and the hardest work we’ve ever done.  But we learned that we could get through most anything.
     Being a Fine Artist is a tough road, full of rejection and hill climbs.  But it can be the most satisfying and rewarding adventure, if you follow through with your passion.  If your spouse or significant other doesn’t support your efforts, it can be difficult to maintain that creative pace needed to go pro, and to produce your best work.
     Going it alone requires a work ethic and dedication, but it can be done.  Here are a few things that keep me on track, as far as managing my time and staying organized:
     1.  Start Early.     I get a lot done in the first few hours of the day.  If you stroll in at 10 a.m., the artist with the work ethic will pound you production-wise.  I know both types and it shows.
     2.  Stay Late.     It’s easy to quit at 4 p.m. when your eyes start to go.  Take a break and see if you can get going again.  If not, get organized for tomorrow and be ready to hit it again early.  We all know our limits.
     3.  Organize your supplies.     When I’m working, things may look chaotic.  But I have a place for everything and I try to maintain it.  Think of your workspace as workshop, and keep your tools organized.
     4.  Think Systems.     This may sound a bit commercial for some art types, but I like to use systems for parts of my business.  Framing and marketing work well with systems.  Get something working as a system, then tweak it and fine-tune it until it fits your program.  Don’t re-invent the wheel every time you market to your customer.
     5.  Pam.     Pam’s strength is keeping me on center.  She works ahead, keeping me informed on schedules for framing, show dates, rent cars and specific time demands for paintings, calls I need to make, thank you cards to write, and paintings to ship.  She can also drive a Skag mower and she’s a crack shot.  Bonus!  

All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio.        

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this because we know Pam AND Pam was the first person we met in the Kohler Duo. Hers was the first voice we heard and the first face we saw and the first smile we saw when we walked up to your booth at the Houston Rodeo so many years ago. And what a great time it's been since then. We love you both - but yeah, I agree with everything you say about Pam. I've said a lot of those things myself!