Welcome to QuinnCreative’s Blog!

I’m Quinn McDonald, and I spend my time as an artist, helping other artists as a certified creativity coach. In case you need a trainer or speaker, I do that, too. And I’m a writer, as well. Quinn McDonald

The latest additions to the blog are listed on the right under Recent Posts. You can also search under Categories, on the left. And the most-often read posts are there, under Most Often Read. There’s a calendar on the right, and you can click on dates to go to the post for that day. The tag cloud on the right shows the categories of the posts. The bigger the category word, the more posts in that category.

If you’d like to comment, feel free. I welcome comments of all sorts, whether you agree with me or not. The only comments that get removed are hate messages or spam.

You can check out my website for the schedules of my art classes, journal-writing classes, topics of my seminars, and free tutorials. If you want to contact me, you can reach me at QuinnCreative [at] yahoo [dot] com.

This is the only post under the Home category, so go on and browse the rest of the site, and enjoy!

3 Reasons to Get a Copyright

True, copyright law is neither simple nor easy to navigate. But even with the rising cost (to $45 per application, unless Congress makes some very unlikely move before July 1) there are some good reasons to register your work.

Protect it before you publish or sell it. . .
1. Filling out an application is forward-looking protection. If you register your work before you publish it–actually, before any infringement takes place–you can file for punitive damages.  Otherwise, all you get is actual damages–what you would have been paid for the work or, if it is used in an ad, the actual cost of the ad space.

. . . Or Up to 90 Days Later & Still Get Protection
2. If your unprotected work has already been published, you still have time. The application rules give you 90 days after first publication to register your work and receive full protection, even if someone has already violated the copyright.

Unpublished Works Can Be Grouped for One Application Fee
3. The government gives artists–including writers and photographers– an even better incentive to register work. If your work is unpublished you can group a large number of pieces for the same $45 price. According to the government copyright office, “a group of unpublished works may be registered as a collection the all the following conditions are met.
• The elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form.
• The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole.
• The copyright claimant or claimants for each element in the collection are the same.
•     All the elements are by the same author, or if they are by different authors, at least one author has contributed copyrightable authorship to each element.”

That means that you can gather groups of your work, photograph it all at the same time, and submit it under one form. I did not find a limit to number of works, other than space on a CD. It’s always wise to check out the rules carefully, but a CD can hold a lot of images, and the government will take jpgs, so you don’t waste time with huge files.

Be Safe, File All Your Work Every 90 Days
If you produce a regular stream of work for publication at a later date, you can file every 90 days and stay within all the rules of application. If you are a visual artist who frames your work, take the photo or scan before framing. It’s easier. Otherwise, simply scan or photograph visual files and keep them in a “To Be Copyrighted” file. The same idea works for writers. Once every 90 days, take all the new work, download and fill out the application, and send it in with a check.

The government is heading toward online applications, too. So far, you can use CDs to group your work. No more double copies, printed photos and manuscripts copies.

I’d also suggest using the smallest post office-provided box available to send in your CD and application. The anthrax scare still results in random government mail being subjected to such high doses of radiation that CDs have been known to melt and paper burn. Boxes are said to be opened by machine and inspected by hand. It may save the CD. Just to be on the safe side, I’d attach a signed return receipt. That way you won’t have to wonder if your package made it. And a paper trail is important to protect your work.

Spend some time on the government’s site. It’s much easier to navigate than it used to be, and while the forms are still not a great way to spend an afternoon, it’s a great insurance in a world that considers  anything on the Web free to the person who can successfully steal it.

The government’s website on copyright, including links for writers, visual artists, and performing artists, is also the place to find links to FAQs, applications and updates on the law.

Visit Quinn McDonald’s website

Leaving the Corporate Schedule

So you are leaving the corporation and starting your own business. Great! You’ve got the business license, purchased all the office supplies, and have a client list you are eager to grow. Even better. So tomorrow morning, at 9 a.m., you’ll start to answer your phone with your business name. Uh-oh, sounds like trouble.

The corporate schedule, often pegged at 9 a.m. to5 p.m., although most people work much longer than that, doesn’t work for most home offices. Why not? Because the corporate schedule is set for commuting, times other businesses are open, and to make the most of daylight hours. Not one of those is really what you need to consider if you are running a business out of your home.

Before you start to stumble over scheduling, here are some tips I learned along the way:

1. Use your biological clock to set your hours. I’m a night owl. I hate mornings. I don’t think well before 9 a.m. So I let voicemail pick up the calls before 9 a.m. That allows me to get up, walk, meditate and eat breakfast before I talk to clients. When I return calls, I’m focused and alert. I also make the most of the evening hours, from 7 pm to 11 pm, to get work done without interruption.

2. Keep extra office supplies. In your office, there was a supply closet. You raided it when you needed sticky notes, pens, tape. That closet isn’t there anymore, and you’ll need to make trips to the office supply store for printer inks, paper, and office supplies. Keep a list, buy two of everything and put the item on the list when you pick up the first one. That way you won’t run out of paper right before the client presentation.

3. Group errands. When you do go to the office supply store, use the trip to do your banking and get stamps. And while you are at it, stop by the grocery store and pick up the laundry, too. You’ll be happier doing these errands on weekdays between 9 and 11 a.m. and between 2 and 4 p.m. That’s the time you will find the least traffic and the smallest crowds. Stay away from errands on weekends. That’s the time all the business people use who don’t have another choice. You do. Use it. Save time and sanity.

4. Eat lunch when you are hungry. If you ate lunch at 11:30 every workday, you will be hungry then. But as your schedule shifts, you may find that eating at 1 p.m. lets you get more work done early in the day. If you sit at a compute all day, make sure you take a break for lunch. It clears your head and makes you more efficient. Don’t eat at your computer unless you have a spare. Food and drink spills now happen on your computer. Probably your only computer.

5. You are your own Help Desk. If you aren’t a computer genius, get some reliable help before you need it. Get a computer that doesn’t need a lot of fixing and updating. I always thought I was a computer moron. Then I purchased by Mac PowerBack and overnight I was smarter. I’ve never needed a thing done to it in the three years I’ve owned it. For the PC, I have a list of computer fixers who will show up on short notice. I also have a back up laptop–a used one that didn’t cost much and will fill in in emergencies.

Owning your own business means you’ll work longer hours, but they will be for your own business. Make the most of them by choosing your own best time to work.

–For more information about life- and creativity coaching, visit Quinn McDonald’s website, www.quinncreative.com

–To see Quinn McDonald’s artwork, visit www.quinncreativeshop.com

The Power of “Not About You”

After several weeks on the road exhibiting my collages, notecards and journals, I’ve learned more about what an audience wants. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing shows for 20 years, what matters is that the audience changes, the location changes, and I’d do well to change along with them.

The most powerful lesson I learned was one I often use with my creativity coaching clients: there is power in “It’s Not About You.” Clients are startled when I tell them this. As a life- and creativity coach, I often stress that coaching is all about them. So why is life suddenly not about them? Coaching is about you when you are making decisions, listening and making a choice how to react.

Life is not about you when you interact with others. Then, life is about them. When a client says something criticial, I often listen to see if the comment is about me or about them. Often a comment that sounds like it’s about me, is about the speaker. “You shouldn’t wear sneakers to a show, it’s not professional,” sounds like I’m being criticized. A normal reply would be to explain why you are wearing sneakers–in my case, I have arthritic knees and can’t stand for hours without wearing sneakers. And furthermore, standing gets more sales than sitting in the booth. Ah, see? You don’t care about my sales.  Neither does the client. The client disliked the informality of sneakers. Or she wished she got to wear sneakers to work.

In either case, I am not going to make the client change her mind about my wearing sneakers by giving her my “top ten list” of reasons I’m wearing sneaker. It’s not about me.

Another artist stopped by my booth to tell me she didn’t like my journals. Sounds like it’s about me. If I ask him, “Why don’t you like my journals? I spend hours designing them!” he won’t like them more. He won’t even see my side. Because it’s not about me. When I asked him “What would you do differently?” I found out that he, too, makes journals, but doesn’t want to sell them because they take more time to make than he can charge clients. He didn’t like my journals because I solved problems he had and am selling something he wants to be successful at.

Once I start thinking “It’s not about me,” I can be open to see other people’s viewpoints, encourage new ideas, and see what I learn. It’s not bad learning for 10 hours a day on a cement floor.

–Quinn McDonald is a life coach and creativity coach with a practice that takes place on the phone. To find out more, or to see her collages, notecards and journals, visit QuinnCreative.com

I’m not a Vendor, I’m an Artist

“You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky.
Here’s the picture she missed: It was still dry when I left for the show this morning. Rain was predicted. I overslept, so I left the house without breakfast, and without a raincoat and without putting the bowls and journals in a plastic bag. Rain was predicted by noon, and I would be at the show long before that. Oversleeping always jolts me from REM sleep to panic mode, and I moved through the house multi-tasking–brushing my teeth while making sure the credit card scanner and plug were in the show bag, drinking orange juice to wash down the multi-vitamin while pulling out the car keys.

Traffic was heavy on the freeway, but I moved steadily forward. Suddenly it slowed, then stopped. I changed lanes a few times to no avail. The radio announced an accident 8 miles up ahead, on the stretch of parkway that didn’t have any sensible exits for me to go around the accident. I sat in crawling traffic and watched the rain start.

The show had been underway for 15 minutes when I arrived. The artist parking was full. I drove down the line of late-arriving helpers and early show attendees, looking for a space. I found one far from the entrance. The rain was sluicing down the street, pounding so hard I could not see more than 50 feet.

I parked the car, keeping two wheels on gravel, and pulled the show bag, my purse, and the paper bag full of inventory close to me. The trip should that should have taken 45 minutes, had lasted over two hours. I backed out, popped the umbrella open with one hand, and began to shuffle through the standing water as fast as I could.

It was not fast enough. The bags where difficult to manage with the umbrella, and the rain was driving directly at me. The paper bag broke, spilling $400 worth of inventory into the street. One of the paper bowls began to float away. I bent down to pick it up, and the journals spilled into the street. Nothing left to do but put down the umbrella, open by purse, stuff as many pieces of flat inventory as I could into the bag, pick up what I could in both arms and. . . the umbrella had rolled upside down and was filled with water. I picked it up. drained it as best I could, and held it in front of me to break the rain.

I had to walk almost half a mile to the show. All the shortcuts has been blocked off to keep people from sneaking into the show. When I arrived at my booth I was soaked to the skin, my leather purse was dripping, and water dripped steadily from my chin. Before I did anything else, I turned on the lights, put the bowls under the lights to get them dry, pulled the inventory from my purse, poured the water that had pooled in my purse into the trash can, and dried the outside of all wet packing bags with the booth dust cloth. Once the inventory was taken care of, I unpacked the booth bag and placed the dripping bag in a corner where it could drain. I took out the sales books, credit card machine and calculator and set them to dry.

Only then did I allow myself to race to the bathroom, use paper towels to soak up moisture from  my hair, pull off my sweater, wring it out and put it back on. It would still be wet when I arrived home ten hours later.

I dashed back to my booth, where I found two women looking at my work and complaining that there were no prices out. (True, I had planned on doing that when I got to the booth early that morning.) I apologized and quoted prices. And then one of them said the sentence, “”You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky. And I am. I work for myself. I might get wet, I might be cold, but every dime I earned was from items I made myself and the money would stay in my pocket. You can’t beat that.

–Quinn McDonald has since dried out and continues to make notecards, journals and bowls out of handmade paper. See her work at QuinnCreative

“You Artists are so Lucky”

“You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky.
Here’s the picture she missed: It was still dry when I left for the show this morning. Rain was predicted. I overslept, so I left the house without breakfast, and without a raincoat and without putting the bowls and journals in a plastic bag. Rain was predicted by noon, and I would be at the show long before that. Oversleeping always jolts me from REM sleep to panic mode, and I moved through the house multi-tasking–brushing my teeth while making sure the credit card scanner and plug were in the show bag, drinking orange juice to wash down the multi-vitamin while pulling out the car keys.

Traffic was heavy on the freeway, but I moved steadily forward. Suddenly it slowed, then stopped. I changed lanes a few times to no avail. The radio announced an accident 8 miles up ahead, on the stretch of parkway that didn’t have any sensible exits for me to go around the accident. I sat in crawling traffic and watched the rain start.

The show had been underway for 15 minutes when I arrived. The artist parking was full. I drove down the line of late-arriving helpers and early show attendees, looking for a space. I found one far from the entrance. The rain was sluicing down the street, pounding so hard I could not see more than 50 feet.

I parked the car, keeping two wheels on gravel, and pulled the show bag, my purse, and the paper bag full of inventory close to me. The trip should that should have taken 45 minutes, had lasted over two hours. I backed out, popped the umbrella open with one hand, and began to shuffle through the standing water as fast as I could.

It was not fast enough. The bags where difficult to manage with the umbrella, and the rain was driving directly at me. The paper bag broke, spilling $400 worth of inventory into the street. One of the paper bowls began to float away. I bent down to pick it up, and the journals spilled into the street. Nothing left to do but put down the umbrella, open by purse, stuff as many pieces of flat inventory as I could into the bag, pick up what I could in both arms and. . . the umbrella had rolled upside down and was filled with water. I picked it up. drained it as best I could, and held it in front of me to break the rain.

I had to walk almost half a mile to the show. All the shortcuts has been blocked off to keep people from sneaking into the show. When I arrived at my booth I was soaked to the skin, my leather purse was dripping, and water dripped steadily from my chin. Before I did anything else, I turned on the lights, put the bowls under the lights to get them dry, pulled the inventory from my purse, poured the water that had pooled in my purse into the trash can, and dried the outside of all wet packing bags with the booth dust cloth. Once the inventory was taken care of, I unpacked the booth bag and placed the dripping bag in a corner where it could drain. I took out the sales books, credit card machine and calculator and set them to dry.

Only then did I allow myself to race to the bathroom, use paper towels to soak up moisture from  my hair, pull off my sweater, wring it out and put it back on. It would still be wet when I arrived home ten hours later.

I dashed back to my booth, where I found two women looking at my work and complaining that there were no prices out. (True, I had planned on doing that when I got to the booth early that morning.) I apologized and quoted prices. And then one of them said the sentence, “”You artists are so lucky,” the woman said in my booth. “You just get to play all day long and get paid for it.” I smiled and agreed that I was lucky. And I am. I work for myself. I might get wet, I might be cold, but every dime I earned was from items I made myself and the money would stay in my pocket. You can’t beat that.

–Quinn McDonald has since dried out and continues to make notecards, journals and bowls out of handmade paper. See her work at QuinnCreative

The Simple Thank-You

For several years, I’ve been helping artists figure out some marketing tools that can help them increase their business without making their work cheaper or cutting corners. A week ago, I thought of a new one. It’s so new I have no idea how it will work. In fact, I don’t even care. It seemed like a good thing to do.

Like most artists, I have a guest book at shows. I use it to let people sign up for my newsletter, Imagination Works. People can also leave comments, tell me what they wish I made, and leave their addresses to receive notices of shows I do.

This last show was a four-day show, and by Sunday afternoon I was exhausted. There had to be something I could do that was useful, not let me get too distracted from clients, and keep me active.

I picked up a pack of cards, opened them, and began to write thank-you cards to the people who had made a purchase and signed the guest book. The first one was hard, the second one was easier, and in a bit, I was writing thank you cards like a new bride in the 60s.

Then the show was over, and I packed the rest of the cards into a bag. A few minutes ago, I finished writing them, and tomorrow they go in the mail. I have no idea what will happen, or if it will bring me more clients. But I do think that at least one person who gets a card will be surprised. Who thanks a client for a purchase?  I may not be able to do it every time, but this is really not a marketing scheme. I’m really grateful for the people who liked my new work enough to buy it. For the clients who knew me when I was a jewelry designer, and who find the same kind of connection in my paper work.

Maybe writing thank-you cards is not the next brilliant marketing tool. But it made me feel good, and I’ll bet the people who get the cards will smile. Not a bad goal for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

–Quinn McDonald makes handmade cards, journals and handmade paper bowls. See her work at QuinnCreative

Expanding the Art/Career Edge

Choosing the artist’s life means you get to color outside the lines. If your art is the love of your life, but you need more money, use your powerful imagination and your creativity to think of how you can expand what you love into more of what you can do.

Get a feeling for the business cycle
In the business world, almost all products and services run in cycles. Ten years ago the idea of daycare for pets was a funny idea; today it’s an accepted service paid for by people who want a dog but don’t want a chewed-up house. To make money, you have to provide something that people want now.  Consider doing two or three different things that are connected to your art, and that can create cash flow for you. At least one will be at the top of the popularity cycle.

Do what interests you
Start with something you like that’s linked to your art. Working in a bookstore and discovering resources for materials may be more worthwhile than stocking grocery shelves. Making friends at work who share your interests is another plus.

The wide world of teaching
Teach what you know. Use a local school, community center or college and teach through the adult or continuing education department. Don’t stop at one course. Teach a beginner and an advanced course. Or teach the same course at different locations.

Writing as a second income
Write articles about what you do or what you’ve learned. Those articles in magazines are not all written by in-house writers. Most magazines have their submissions rules spelled out on their website. Follow them and you will make editors your allies.

Expanding your reach
Think around what you do. Almost all people know others who share artistic interests. Belong to a group of stampers?  Think about carving your own rubber stamps and selling them.

Same skill, other job
Come up with wild ideas and tame them down to something that works. Use your stamp-making abilities to stamp up wild wrapping paper and approach boutiques, galleries, or art stores. Or offer your services as a gift wrapper during a holiday season. Or approach a craft store that has classes and offer to teach people how to gift wrap, make gift cards, create fabulous bows.

Kids are a market, too
Don’t forget the children’s market. During summers, parents are at wits end to come up with something to keep children occupied. Go to your local summer camp, library, community center and offer to teach an art class to children. Create an art-centered birthday party theme and become the person everyone calls to let their children have a creative-activity birthday party. A parent-child class that involves making and wrapping a gift is a wonderful way for parents to reconnect with their children and their own creativity.

Don’t limit yourself and you will find opportunities that help you meet your needs and satisfy your soul. And that’s a pretty great combination.

–Quinn McDonald is a life-hack who creates a circle of work in which one leads to connections in another. See her website at QuinnCreative.com

Can Consignment Selling Work for You?

Can Consignment Selling Work for You?
Consignment selling can be appealing to the start-up  artist as well as the artist who wants to sell but doesn’t want to participate in retail or wholesale shows or open a shop.
In a consignment arrangement, the artist takes product to a store and the store displays it, sells it and shares the profits with the artist.

The Two Sides of Consignment
Consignment is great when pieces are well placed, when the store is busy and known for high-quality work, and when artists’ work sells well enough to have the buyer reordering on a regular basis. But when your cards are mixed in with every other card, when your product is on a low shelf (or the floor), competing for attention in a cluttered back room, or not getting enough attention, consignment seems like one of the circles of hell.

How a Contract Can Protect You

In consignment, a contract is vital. If you are asked to sign a contract you didn’t write, read it carefully. Before you sign is the time to get your needs heard. Be prepared to negotiate portions you don’t like. Writing your own contract is a good idea. Here is a checklist of items that should be discussed and have a clear process before you deliver your art.

Contract Checklist
 Inventory. Whether you use the store’s inventory system or yours, keep track of your work. At a very minimum, know how many pieces you delivered and on what date. Have someone sign your inventory sheet when you deliver.

 Damage. Who is responsible for damage? If a piece is delivered to a store in one condition and it comes back ruined, do you expect the store to cover the price (which price—wholesale or retail?) or do you think of it as a cost of doing business? What happens if an item is stolen? Should the store’s insurance cover it? If so, how long will it take for you to be reimbursed, and at what percentage of the retail price?

 Returns. If a client brings a piece of yours back, claiming it was damaged, or simply having a change of mind, will you replace it with another? Know the store’s policies — you may be expected to follow them.

  Length of display time. How long should you leave your work be in the store? A season (who determines how long that is?) During a sale?  Do you want the option of bringing in more new items before the others have sold? Do you want the right to withdraw items that haven’t sold in 30 days? Store owners may appreciate you rotating stock that isn’t selling, but it can create inventory problems if tags need to be changed.

  Display. How will the store display your item? Will your work be displayed with similar works by other artists? Does your work need to be in a locked case? Do you want your work placed close to the cash register? Do you want your items on a ‘sale’ or ‘markdown’ table?  Does it matter if your work is in a room that’s not the main room? How much lighting does your work need?

 Payment. How much will you get for your work? Splits vary widely from 70 percent to the artist /30 percent to the store to the other way around. Do you want different percentages for different products? You may sell more art cards than wedding albums, it may make more sense to get a different percentage for products that are more expensive, sell in large amounts, are seasonal.

 Frequency of payment. Every time an item of yours sells, you make money, but if one month the store sells only five of your cards, the manager may be reluctant to cut a check for a small amount. How often do you want to receive a check? On a regular basis or only if you sell more than $100 worth of work?

A contract doesn’t have to be long or complicated. As long as both people agree to the arrangement and sign the agreement, a contract is created.  One that satisfies both parties can bring peace of mind to both the artist and the store owner.

Quinn McDonald is an artist who has sold on consignment. She is also a speaker and writer.
See her artwork at QuinnCreative.com

Writing an Artist’s Statement

If you went to art school or have special training in your field, mention that, too. If your life experience was very different from the art you make, explain how you made the leap. Finish by saying something about how your work moves you or reaches others.

2. File the document or mark it in your journal. Then go to your studio and work for at least an hour. A day is fine, too. After you have concentrated on your work, go back and take a look at what you wrote.

3. Organize it into three paragraphs: first comes what you do, and something interesting about it— a technique you are exploring, how you get your inspiration and who inspires you, anything unusual that is interesting about your work. (Use about 100 words.)

4. The second paragraph should be about your background. When you knew you were an artist, how you handled it. (This should be about 50 words.)

5. The last paragraph can focus on how your work affects people, or how you hope people see your work. If you don’t have an extensive selling history, say something about how your work changes how you see and work with the world. (About 100 words)

–Quinn McDonald is an artist who has written her share of artist’s statements, some better than others. When she looked at the better ones, they seemed to have some things in common. Quinn is also a certified creativity coach. See her website at QuinnCreative.com