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How do you find the balance, especially as we finish December?

We are disciplined time managers, planning production studio time carefully, and determining how much stock of our work to have on hand at any given time.  And we ramp up on stock starting in early fall, knowing the volume of business will spike near Christmas.  In spite of proactive planning i am sad to say the day before a show, or the week leading up to it we find ourselves sleep deprived, working day and night to just get ready, have enough on hand, and be able to well represent our work.  And there goes the balanced life.... simple things like the laundry or tidying the house are put on hold for the urgent.... And all the hard work to keep the stock of our work high pays off with brisk sales, increased demand from the galleries we are in, and overall favorable outcome.

But it feels like we are not working smarter, just harder.  I would value the thoughts of veteran artists on how you find balance on the your life, while maintaining a solid production schedule to fulfill demand.  I am growing concerned that the pace leading to Christmas is challenging, and the toll of sleep deprivation will come if i don't start getting some better sleep hours.

Views: 800

Comment by jeanne cherry on December 14, 2015 at 10:01am

following ..curious to see is anyone actually masters this !

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on December 14, 2015 at 10:09am

Funny thing that there have been 67 views of this thread and nary one post. Maybe others are too busy to post? I certainly am, but I feel like this thread needs to come back to the top since it's certainly relevant to me in some ways. Usually this time of year I'm not doing much of anything since historically when we're done with show season in mid-November, we come home and relax 'til the new year. This year? NOT! I'm busier than ever completing orders for originals that aren't framed. I've got deposits for them in the bank with deliveries scheduled until May.

This has never really been my problem in the past. My problems before now were draining the bank by the time I got back on tour in early March. So I'm doing great, except my neck is aching like crazy from doing too much frame carving!

We're not ever going to tour like we have been doing since 1999. We've scaled back a bit as it is since 2011, but since my wife got so sick and nearly died during spring tour in a Macon, GA hospital, we're not ever traveling to the South and Southeast again. And we're planning only a few outdoor shows closer to home. We'll see.

But I think we've been working smarter as well as getting luckier. All that has us working harder now and we're doing better than ever.

Anyone else?

Comment by Greg Little on December 14, 2015 at 11:10am

My balance is easy since we only did about 20 shows this year. The rest of the time I enjoy spending as much time as possible in my workshop having entirely too much fun creating more pieces for upcoming shows. For me it is as much of a passion as it is a business..

We also balance what we do with some non-show trips.

As far as sleep goes...I have never slept more than 6-7 hours during my laziest moments.

Comment by ROZ WEINBERGER on December 14, 2015 at 10:07pm

I have for the last 6 or 7 years been in that position and usually end up sick. I have worked out a plan for 2016 so I don't end up the same way at the end of next year. I'll let you know.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on December 16, 2015 at 9:39am

You pose an interesting question, Barbara...I don't do shows on a regular basis, in fact, I just had my very first one last month but I do have several shops and marketplace venues that carry my work and this is my busiest season as I make wool felt hats and handbags.  So, for me, it's kind of a supply and demand situation right now, in fact, I just received an email from a retailer who needs more hats of a certain color so I'll have to see what I have available or else get busy knitting!  So far, though, I've been able to keep my head above water and enjoy the season and try to maintain a balance as this is clearly important to one's sanity and overall good health.  Best to you and Happy Holidays!

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on December 16, 2015 at 10:55am
I've co e to the conclusion that it is a real hassle to try and build saddles during the summer show season; June-September. Although we are only doing 4 shows, rebuilding inventory and getting special orders done leaves no extra time. This year I had three saddles I didn't get done by May and they were not finished until October. The remaining year is spent building 6 saddles, antique saddle restorations and building show inventory. On a daily basis, mornings are spent on communications, outside work, etc. I can usually get to work in the studio an hour or so before lunch, and the work until 7-8 at night. After that it might be more communications or updating files while watching TV with Jean. Tuesday morning is yoga class, Thursday morning weight training and Sunday morning church, all with Jean. Major stuff around the place gets done eventually.
Comment by Margaret Aden on December 16, 2015 at 12:07pm

Hi Art Show Family-- what a great thread. I actually contemplate this a ton as I criss cross the the US driving between shows. I think Pace (capital letter, since it's important) is tied in with Pricing and on the flip side connected to Commitment.

As a contemporary art jeweler, I have a several lines to keep up in different price points plus one of a kind work. Mix in needed creative time to keep edging up in skill and style for jury shots and it's a full plate. I find that if particular styles of work are flying off the shelves, they are most likely not priced correctly (meaning raise the price). Compensate yourself better and that certainly adds to the work/life/satisfaction mix. I'm not sure I would voluntarily loose sleep for last minute orders at this point in my life; but if I did, I would choose to add a rush fee to make up for it. Doing more work for the same price in a compacted amount of time seems like a poor business choice to me in the long run. Again, FedEx, UPS, and even Vista Print upcharge if you absolutely need it NOW.

Things can go off the rails, but when they do, check your Commitment level to the activity. In order to make money, in the past I found myself over committing to orders and underestimating exactly how much time it takes to wrap, ship, package, print, invoice, etc... leading to the situation you're talking about. Eventually, it gets old and you learn to say no or charge more.   

Comment by Carol Larsen on December 30, 2015 at 10:59am

I started reading the post hoping for some suggestions myself. This is the 1st year of a long line of many that I can honestly say my website took off like hotcakes 2 weeks before Christmas. All the planning, all the social media, all the everything finally came back....at a furious unplanned pace. I had "planned" and was able to fulfill every single order except two that were not holiday driven, and explained to the two long time customers. They were fine with it, and I was relieved. And even with the best laid plans, things will still happen anyway. Like my mother seriously injuring herself dead center in the mist of this. (she is 86 yo) So, I told myself, every single day I am going to get up and be kind and do something to help what is going on with my parents, they are going through enough changes at the moment that is tearing my whole family apart. And, I explained the situation to my customers in an email that went out about a month ago what was going on in the background and because it was so unique, I was "not" ignoring them, to please allow me 72 hours to respond rather than my normal 1-2 hours. I was amazed at their kindness. I am saying this because things happen. When we least expect them to, and honesty works wonders in this business. I had so many touching things occur because of me just being honest with those who have been loyal to me for years. I hope this gives you a somewhat different perspective or idea or how to deal with things.

Comment by Barbara Pitorak Bloom on December 30, 2015 at 2:52pm
I am reassured that this is not my problem alone. Thank you all for your responses. Wow there are challenges that throw our best laid plans to the wind. But i will be eager to hear how those plans for 2016 work out. We have sat down and planned a bit more for the coming year - and it is hopefully built for the growing demand. Thank you all... And please keep commenting.
Comment by Kim Amati on January 4, 2016 at 5:10pm

A friend of mine once told me that if I am selling art quicker than I can make it, it might mean it is time to raise my prices slightly. I may lose a few sales but make up for it when I do sell something at a slightly higher price. It does seem to help slow things down a little bit and gives me more time to create.

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