Reader’s Showcase | Tony Dexter | Creative Re-emergence

Who am I?

I’ve only recently taken up painting (other than the kitchen!) after a break of more than forty years. I’m a business and marketing consultant and paint in my spare time. In my younger days I trained as a sculptor but I chose to enter the world of commerce. So now I’m beginning to take every opportunity to put acrylic on canvas. I’m really fond of painting portraits and keen to create more images. I’m constantly questioning and challenging ‘technique’ over substance as I want to improve my skills but not by applying some formula.

Kitty

Kitty

For me it’s not easy to paint. I love portraiture BUT I don’t want the images I create to be photographic. I try, as with the picture of our granddaughter Kitty, to capture something of the character of the person. I think every grandparent loves their grand children and with three I’ve been busy painting them at various stages of their growing lives. Children can be a challenge to capture. Not because they don’t sit still but because their features – like the bridge of their nose – is not fully formed. If you were to see me, well, I’ve a fully grown ‘snout’ (Romanesque I’d like to think!) so my nose can cast a few shadows and give my face clear definition. But Kitty’s face and that of her sister and cousin are still developing so capturing the subtlety of the light and shade is an enjoyable challenge.

 

The banana skin dancing in the river

The banana skin dancing in the river

I once put a banana skin in a river and was surprised to see how animated the current made it appear. It was as if it had come to life and was ‘dancing’ downstream. I wanted to try and paint this scene from memory. I suppose this picture is something of an exercise in seeking to portray it but also, after painting many portraits, an opportunity to try a freer more abstract style.

The fishman always comes on Friday

The fishman always comes on Friday

This image is a combination of several influences. The man’s face was inspired by a church sculpture. The fish body by a gutted dead fish I found on a beach. The blending of the two has, for me, echoes of our over fishing of our seas and how fish and man are intertwined.

 

The girl

The girl

A friend sent me a photograph of her daughter and I was moved by the wonderful starkness of her pale face and the mass of her hair. I wanted to embellish and amplify these elements as, it seemed to me, that by simplifying her features I could dramatise her appeal.

If you would like to contact Tony you can email him via tony{at}stonesthrow. org .uk or call him on 0795 666 7792

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The Truth About Tax & Artists | Plus 10 Top Art Tax Saving Tips that will save you MONEY

The tax situation for artists can be confusing, especially if you are only making a small amount of money on the side from your art sales. It’s also difficult to know what to do when you are starting to sell work as well as working in a full time job. I have had a few emails from readers asking questions about this confusing area. As I’m not an accountant {and find it all confusing myself} I have roped in the help of someone who does know, my accountant, who keeps my finances on the straight and narrow.

In this post, Chartered Accountant, David Cramp, answers a reader’s question with regards to the tax situation in the UK and how it relates to artists.

Questions Questions…

I’ve never sold anything yet as an artist and I work full time. I want to start selling my work and eventually give up the day job!

Now, I know that HM Revenue & Customs don’t like claims from sole traders that consistently don’t make a profit, and it could take years to build sales up. If I claim for the high costs of art materials, as far as I’m aware, if I haven’t made much money, the tax rebate comes off tax already paid from my full-time employment. Now whilst this is a good way to supplement the costs of being an artist, I’m presuming it won’t wash with them forever.

So I have 3 questions…

1. Do I need to declare the sales when I start selling my work?

2. At what point will HM Revenue & Customs not accept my loss claims?

3. Do you have any tips or advice about tax/declarations or claims for artists?

And Answers…

If I were dealing with your affairs, I would firstly want to examine your ‘business’ and ensure that it meets HM Revenue & Customs’ definition. But as you have not specifically asked this question and it sounds as if you accept a trade will exist, my guidance assumes you have passed this ‘test’, (I would advise that you seek guidance on this if the business goes ahead though).

1 – Do I need to declare the sales when I start selling my work?

The answer to your first question is yes. Whether or not you are also employed, if you have a sole trader business you will need to declare the results of the business to HM Revenue & Customs. You will, however, continue to pay PAYE through your employment and, depending on the results of your business, pay any remaining tax and NI through the self assessment system i.e. after submitting a Self Assessment Tax Return.

You can register as self employed with HM Revenue and Customs either online at www.hmrc.gov.uk or by completing and submitting a form CWF1.

Normally, you would also begin paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions, but as your earnings are likely to be under the Small Earnings Exception level (currently £5,315 pa), you do not need to pay them and you can apply for this exception using form CF10.

2 – At what point will HM Revenue & Customs not accept my loss claims?

But, as you suspected, HMRC do have an issue with loss-making businesses, and in fact, the trade must be commercial and aim to generate a profit. If it isn’t, you cannot offset the loss against your employment income. Instead, it can only be offset against any future profits your business makes.

As for your costs, you should only recognise the cost of materials you actually use in the year. For instance, if you buy 20 canvases for a total cost of £400 and spend £250 on paints, but at the end of your year you’ve only used half of them, then you should only recognise costs of £325; not £650.

Another point to be aware of with regards to ‘stock’ is if anyone ever commissioned you to paint a piece and agreed a price, then you should recognise some of the sales income according to the painting’s completion. So if they agree a price of £900 and it was a third complete at your year end, then you should recognise £300 in your sales figure. Stage payments can further complicate this calculation, as I am sure you can appreciate.

3 – Here are 10 tips to help you save or defer tax:

  1. Use of home for business – assuming you work from home, you will be able to put through a portion of the running costs of your home
  2. Averaging – a particular concession for your industry which may help to ‘smooth’ fluctuations in your tax bill
  3. Motor expenses – if you use your car to make business trips, you could claim mileage expenses at a rate of up to 45p per mile
  4. PAYE coding – make sure your Notice of Coding is right when HMRC send it to you and your code could even help ease the burden of your tax bill by collecting any additional tax via your employment income; rather than paying the tax in one lump sum
  5. Transfer assets to the trade – assets you bought personally for private use before the business began, but were then subsequently transferred into the business, (such as a computer), could attract tax relief via Capital Allowances
  6. Submit paperwork on time – registering for self-employment late, submitting returns late or making payments late are just a few of the events that can lead to penalties and interest. So ensure you are well prepared and are aware of the deadlines you need to meet
  7. Spouses – if your partner is genuinely assisting in the business, you could pay them a wage
  8. Pre-trading expenses – keep receipts of any business expenses you incur prior to the business starting to trade, as you may be able to get tax relief for these
  9. Record keeping – keep accurate, clear records. Not only will this hopefully ensure you claim everything you are entitled to but is also a HMRC requirement and severe cases can lead to fines
  10. Paperwork – retain all of your receipts. Again this will hopefully ensure you claim everything you are entitled to and is also a HMRC requirement

Please be aware that there are various requirements to meet before making use of some of these tips; therefore please seek professional advice before implementing them. Besides, it is important to seek professional advice during the early stages of a business. A professional will review and ensure for example, that you are claiming all of the available expenses, your tax position is efficient and you are meeting your statutory requirements.

This response is based on the details you have provided and is intended to inform rather than advise and is based on UK legislation and practice at the time. Taxpayer’s circumstances do vary and if you feel that the information provided is beneficial it is important that you contact TaxAssist Accountants before implementation. If you take, or do not take action as a result of reading this article, before receiving TaxAssist Accountants’ written endorsement, TaxAssist Accountants will accept no responsibility for any financial loss incurred.

If you would like to discuss this article or any other matter further, please feel free to contact your local TaxAssist Accountant on 0800 0523 555 or email taxquestions@taxassist.co.uk. TaxAssist Accountants have more than 190 offices across the UK, providing tax and accountancy advice and services purely to small businesses.

—–

David Cramp is a Chartered Accountant with over 16 years post-qualification experience serving a broad range of clients in the UK.

TaxAssist Accountants is a local business, based in Mirfield providing tax and accountancy advice and services purely to small businesses.

Image released under creative commons by Kevin Dooley

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Kissing Lots of Frogs | Coping With & Reducing Knockbacks From Art Venues

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”

This is one of my favourite sayings. It’s one I got from my Mum who would console me with it whenever I had my heart broken by some pasty faced spotty no-hoper boy as a teenager. It always makes me smile…

I love the sentiment behind the saying… Basically, don’t expect to score the bullseye with your first shot. Be prepared for the knock backs that come as a part of life and just keep going… You will find the right person/thing/place in the end…

This is extremely relevant to your life as an artist. You have to consistently keep putting your work out there in different venues so that people can get to see how fab it is. This means that as an artist you need to keep approaching others with a view to getting them to show your work, whether it be a gallery, a cafe where your work would look good, a shop, an exhibition curator or an art fair manager.

The likelyhood is that many of the approaches you make to galleries, sales outlets or agents will result in rejection.

This can be really hard to cope with mentally. It’s really important that you don’t let this knock your confidence in your work or drag you down, preventing you trying again in the future.

How can you deal mentally with these knockbacks and also improve your strike rate so they happen less frequently?

Remember, you need to kiss a lot of frogs!

 

You have to keep in mind that this is just the way stuff is.

Rejection by an art venue is not necessarily a personal indictment of your work.

  • Your work may not be the right kind of work for the venue .
  • They may not be taking any new artists on at the moment.
  • They may be oversubscribed.
  • They may be overwhelmed.
  • They may have finished exhibiting art for the season.
  • They may just be too busy to take a look…

It can even be something totally random that you have no control over.

  • They may be hacked off with artists because their wife ran off with one.
  • They may have a personal and irrational hatred of the medium which you work in.
  • They may be in financial trouble and unable to take on anything.

All these problems/reasons/issues are theirs, not yours.

Finding representation and venues takes time and patience and probably a lot of false starts.

You may need to kiss 50 frogs to find 1 prince

 

So it’s really vitally important that you don’t take the knockbacks to heart. Realise that there can be a million reasons that someone doesn’t get back to you or says no. 99% of those reasons will have nothing to do with the quality of your work.

You just need to shrug it off, be proud that you tried and move on to the next opportunity.

You need to kiss the RIGHT frogs!

 

There are however, some simple things to help you in your quest to find the prince and they are as follows.

The number one thing that you can do to help yourself is KISS THE RIGHT FROGS!

It’s no good going around kissing common or garden frogs. You need to kiss the ones that have a CHANCE of turning into a prince…

When looking for a gallery or venue for your work, the crucial thing is to do your research and find the ones who are a good fit for your work. There is no point in trying to get a gallery that specialises in modern urban abstract art to look at your work if you produce delicate landscape watercolours. That is a waste of everyones time and will result in a confidence sapping knockback. Instead, focus on the galleries and venues that are right for your work.

How to FIND the right frogs.

 

Visit as many galleries or art venues where you would like to see your work as possible.

  • Get yourself on their mailing list and visit the exhibitions they put on.
  • Familiarise yourself with the kind of artists and genres they exhibit or work with.
  • Chat to the owners {without trying to sell anything or mentioning your work} and get a feel for the ideals of the venue.
  • Do you get on with the owner/manager/curator too? This is really important if you are going to have a commercial relationship with them.

Once you have got a feel for a group of galleries you will begin to understand the kind of artists each one works with.

You will then be able to narrow down your focus to a few venues that are a good fit for your work. There is no point wasting your time {or the venue owners} if your work isn’t a good fit. You want to find places that you can have a good relationship with.

Get to KNOW the frogs better before you kiss ’em…

 

Once you have a possible shortlist of a few “good fit” venues, it is time to approach the owners.
Rather than going in “all-guns-blazing” trying to sell your stuff to them, you really need to concentrate on building a relationship first.

This strategy takes time but will result in good relationships which can help you move your art career forward {and you will probably get to meet some nice people too – bonus}.

You can do this by visiting exhibitions they are currently showing, chatting to the owners and generally getting involved without being pushy.
Only when you have established a relationship is it a good time to broach the subject of your work and that you would like to show it with them.

…And pucker up

 

At this point a good professional approach can work wonders.

  • Choose a good time to approach the owner/curator {not when they are busy/hassled/hungover etc}and suggest that your work may be a good match for them and you would like to show with them.
  • Choose your time wisely or you may undo all the goodwill you have built up so far.
  • Send a polite follow up email chatting about your previous conversations or their exhibitions you have enjoyed to remind them that you are interested in what they do and not just being pushy. Attach a couple of images of your work and a link to your website.

Unfortunately there is no shortcut to the basic fact that you need to build up a good relationship with the venue first. Cold calling with all your artwork in tow seldom works.


But if you follow this approach, the chances of hurtful knockbacks are diminished.

5 quick tips on approaching art venues

 

  • Make sure you always know the name of the person you need to speak to. No sending things to “whom it may concern” You should have already built up a relationship with them.
  • Make sure that your approach is professional. If sending items through the post ensure everything is nicely packaged and presented in a crisp manner.
  • The same applies if sending emails, make sure you address it to the right person. Send from a professional email address {no flowerfairies@hotmail.com – this matters more than you think}. Attach only 2 or 3 jpeg images and make sure they aren’t too large that they will clog up someone’s email.
  • Make sure your website is finished {I get sent so many links to “Under Construction” websites} and professional looking.
  • Make sure you actually LIKE the person you are approaching. Remember you are looking to work commercially with them. If you don’t fit personally this is never a good idea.

So keep your faith and confidence when approaching art venues. With a little prior research and work, much of the uncertainty and damaging rejection can be reduced.

Just make sure you choose your frogs carefully… that way you will find the perfect frog for you and your art. A fabulous frog with POTENTIAL…

Let me know how you get on in the comments…

Image courtesy of Jacki-Dee under Creative Commons Licence

 

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Reader’s Showcase | Jimi D’s Intriguing Kinetic Sculptures

Jim Dixon {AKA Jimi D} creates mechanical art works. Over to Jim…

I am a graphic designer by training, but have professionally been engaged in a multitude of design projects including residential and commercial interiors, environmental graphics, product development, packaging, games, furniture, houses, gardens, and many other things too unusual to mention. Along with creative talents, I also have developed execution skills as an illustrator, fabricator, carpenter, plumber, electrician, mason, and mechanic.

Jim Dixon Kinetic Artist

Twisted Frankenstein

In the past year I’ve brought all the talents, skills and experience together to launch American Automata, an art studio dedicated to the creation and construction of mechanical art, or what I aptly describe as “kinetic storytelling.”

Jim Dixon Kinetic Artist

Twisted Frankenstein

I have completed my first piece, and fortunately was contacted to show it in an art exhibition in NYC at the Onichi Gallery in Chelsea. This work is the first in a series of 8-10 pieces that will be constructed over the next 18 months.

You can view this fabulous contraption in action on YouTube

 

You can find out more about Jim’s work on his website www.americanautomata.net and you can also find him on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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Best of Art Marketing On The Web | May 2011 | Don’t Miss These

Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg Animated Gif

Jamie Beck and her partner Kevin Burg create little pieces of cinematic art by combining video with photography to create beautiful animated gifs. Jamie is a street photographer and Kevin has a background in motion graphics. This re-appropriation of a much abused medium often reserved for flashing effects on Myspace is startling and the effect is magical. It is used to great effect on Jamies photography blog From Me To You and you can view more gorgeous animated gifs here

Facebook – The crucial CAN’S and CANNOT’S

If you run a Facebook page promoting your art {or if you want to} it’s incredibly easy to fall foul of Facebook’s promotion rules. At worst this could mean getting banned from Facebook and your page and profile being deleted. Therefore it is incredibly important to know the rules. Build a little Biz blog has created a handy list expaining the LATEST rule changes.

What should artists blog about?

A tricky part about starting your own art blog is knowing what to say!. The Abundant Artist gives some great advice.

What if there were no more art galleries?

“What if there were no art dealers, no “art reps”, and no commercial galleries to sell our work?”

“What if we summoned the courage to take full responsibility for our careers instead of placing our future in someone else’s hands?”

Kesha Bruce asks some crucial and inspirational questions…

What do you think art collectors want from an artist website?

Brian Sherwin discusses this crucial question in relation to artists websites. How does your website measure up?

 

Some wonderful resources and discussions this month. Enjoy

 

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