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There is ALWAYS a sodding cat hair!

I hate framing my work. I know it’s an essential part of being an artists and a skill I need to hone but boy does it suck. I would rather do anything, ANYTHING other than frame. Everything looks alluring, cleaning the loo, scraping those grim bits of food out of the crack in the table, going to a parents evening, anything. I have become just a little pathalogical about avoiding it. And because I hate it so much I always leave it till the last minute before an exhibition thus putting even more pressure on myself.

24 hours to go. There is finally no escape

It comes to the final day before the hand in deadline. Grumpy and stressed I have no alternative but to just get down to it and do it.

So I get all my equipment out and start to enforce “The Framing Zone”. This is an area in the tradition of a NASA “Clean Room”- allegedly free from all traces of jam, cat sick, dust bunnies, half eaten sweets, kid detritus, unidentified gooey things and the general mess of which my house seems to be primarily constructed. My long suffering husband and kids know that they enter “The Framing Zone” at their peril.

The crucial importance of wine in the framing process

The final part of preparation is to ensure I have a LARGE glass of wine for moral support.

And then it begins. I measure, mark, cut, tape, clean, screw and swear a lot. {This is why the kids need to be kept out of the area}.

Then finally, my framing completed I take the finished masterpiece out into the kitchen under the strong light. And you know what?

THERE IS ALWAYS A
SODDING CAT HAIR!

It drives me wild! No matter how careful and sterile I am and no matter how hard I check before finally screwing the back on the picture, a errant cat hair will always have sneaked under the glass and be compressed on a really obvious bit of the picture. This necessitates a return back to square one, taking the whole thing apart and trying to find the culprit {which often disappears as soon as the glass is moved due to some evil static power, only to reappear again when everything is put back together}

At this point I have twice managed to smash the glass on a frame as I fumble angrily to reassemble everything. Do you see why the wine is so important now?

Which brings me neatly to my “gigantic cat hair of life” theory

Seriously… The “gigantic cat hair of life” theory is really IMPORTANT for artists.

This theory states that whenever you are trying to achieve something, be it opening an exhibition, changing your career, selling your art, starting your creative business, however meticulously you plan, however careful you are there will always be one or two massive great “cat hairs” that turn up and complicate things, mess things up for a while and make things even harder than they need to be.

This will make you want to give up, shout and swear and chuck your work out of the window.

The key thing is not necessarily to avoid the cat hairs, as that is, as we know, impossible, there will always be one or two. The key is to deal with them well when they arrive. Don’t let them derail you or stop you from achieving your goal and getting where you want to be. Just remove them calmly by whatever means necessary, take a big swig of wine and carry on.

Creative survivors have “cat hair” removal down to a fine art

The people who do well with their creative careers and survive still get the cat hairs to deal with but they just pluck em off and carry on, dealing calmly with whatever adversity throws at them. The ones who sink let the first cat hair they find turn them into a nervous wreck and stop what they are doing, often justifying it with excuses about “not having the right hoover” or cat hair removal tool.

Just remember there will always be a sodding cat hair. That’s life. It’s how you deal with it that counts.

Have you had “cat hairs” to deal with in your creative career? How did you sort them out? Tell us in the comments.

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Simple tips to increase your mailing list signup at gallery exhibitions & craft fairs

Whenever you exhibit your work at a gallery or have a stall at a craft fair it is a great opportunity to get people to sign up for your mailing list.

By keeping a list of people who like your work you have a ready opportunity to let them know whenever you are exhibiting or have a new piece of work ready. Collecting emails is ideal for this as it is a quick, direct and low cost way of reaching out to your audience. You can keep them abreast of what you are up to and direct them to work that you are promoting on your website.

Many artists keep a notebook on their stall or in the exhibition area for people to add comments and contact details to. However, getting people to part with their email address is not the easiest thing and you may find that you end up with more comments than contacts.

The good news is that there are quite a few simple things that you can do which will increase the number of people willing to give you their email details:

Display a clear NO SPAM! notice

Make it very clear on a little notice next to your book that email addresses will not be shared, sold or abused in any way. Maybe also make it known that you don’t send out zazillions of emails and won’t be stuffing their inbox full of rubbish. This will increase peoples confidence in you and make them more willing to share their details.

Chocolate attraction

A slightly sneaky tactic is to place a bowl of  gorgeous chocolates next to the signup book. This will draw people towards the book and a piece of chocolate will increase their feelings of goodwill towards you. This really works, and you can always eat any that are left over at the end of a long day. 😉

Make it obvious

Looking round art fairs I always notice that a lot of comments/signup books just offer a blank page for you to add what you want. This often results in just comments and no emails.

You need to make it obvious to the visitor what you want them to do. Draw columns in the book and title them NAME, COMMENT, EMAIL. This way you guide the person through the process which makes them feel comfortable and more likely to fill in each column. I guarantee if you do this it will double your email signups. Make sure that you make it clear [on a notice perhaps] that by giving their email they are agreeing to join your mailing list.

Ethical bribe

Offer people who signup to your mailing list something in return. Depending on your work perhaps you could offer a small piece of work or entry into a draw to win a larger piece.

And the most important thing you need to do…

Make sure you copy the emails into a database when you get home. Don’t just collect them and then ignore them, leaving them at the bottom of your bag or forgotten in a corner of your studio [talking from personal experience again here.]

Your mailing list is a really valuable tool for selling your art. Keep adding to it whenever you can to keep contact with the people who love your work.

Do you have problems building your email list of people interested in your work? Any good tips that work for you? Please share them with us below.

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