Monday, May 9, 2016

All That Glitters is Not Gold...Sometime's it's Silver!

by Kate Dardine

We’ve always referred to each other as “family” -  maybe that is why we just celebrated two 25 year anniversaries:  both Mike Roberts (production manager) and Patricia James (color technician) marked their silver anniversaries with Fine Print this past April.  Aside from owners Mark Lukes and Linda Helm, I am officially the “oldest” Fine Print employee – I passed my 25 year mile marker in 2014.  Other contenders for extreme longevity are Mary Hills (24), Tonya Aspegren (15) and Jerry Hummel (18).

In an age where staying at a job longer than five years is virtually unheard of, what is it about Fine Print that creates an atmosphere where employees want to stay?  In a nutshell (and sometimes he IS a nut), founder, owner and president of Fine Print, Mark Lukes and his partner in love and business, Linda Helm.  Together, they have nurtured a business culture of independence, cooperation, dedication, fun, honesty, caring, environmental stewardship and compassion.  Mark and Linda lead by example, are always there for their employees, demand excellence and forgive mistakes.  All the ingredients needed to make their staff feel proud and appreciated for the work we do. 

Although they have different roles at Fine Print, Patricia and Mike have some things in common.  Both got married within a month of working at Fine Print.  (Both are still married – to the same people!). Both had children who were born and grew up in that 25 years – Patricia’s son David graduated from college 2 years ago, and Mike’s 3 are all in college now, with one graduating this Spring.  Both are still doing the job they hired on for, although how they do their job has changed dramatically. Both are willing to pitch in and do whatever needs to be done to help the business and our customers.

Yes, 25 years is a long time… In 1991, digital imaging wasn’t even a blip on our computer screens; in fact, we had only just gotten our first computers in 1989. At that time, all of our printing was done in the darkroom,  using negative film and enlargers to create prints on photographic paper.  We had three full-time “spotters” (they used photographic dyes to fill in the tiny white spots on prints that were caused by dust on the negatives).  We didn’t do “single” prints; customers had to buy in quantities of the same image/size:  20-5x7s, 10-8x10s, 5-16x20s… Instead of entering packages into a computer system for tracking, everything was handwritten into logbooks. Nobody had a cell phone. Our newest piece of office equipment was the cutting edge fax machine!

Through all the changes in technology, the changing economy and  the changing “face” of our customer base, one thing has remained constant – Mike and Patricia’s dedication to getting the best prints possible to the best customer in the world – YOU!

 Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 25 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints. Need one on one advice?  Call 970-484-9650 or email to learn about our marketing consultation service

Monday, May 2, 2016

Can We Talk... About Your Art?

by Kate Dardine
So you’ve got a website, and you are using social media to drive people to your site. You have your url listed on your business card, and you have a link to it as part of your email signature.  Fantastic! Now, how do you turn lookers into buyers?

According to Clint Watson, creator of the Fine Art Studio Online websites, the only way you sell art is through “connecting with real people and having conversations with them.” (Clint worked in a high-end gallery for many years before starting his own company – so he knows a bit about selling art.) “Well,” you may wonder, “how am I going to have conversations with people when I can’t see them – and am not even sure they are out there?”

You know the old saying – when there is a will, there is a way? Assuming you have the will, here are a few ways to engage in “conversation” with the viewers on your website (and, gasp! – in person).

Tell stories about your work.
I know, some of you are saying, “my art speaks for itself.” Trust me. It doesn’t. Now before you think I’m dissing your artwork (heck, I haven’t even SEEN it!) let me explain. Yes, the image has to speak for itself to attract the viewer. The subject matter, color, composition, values and style have got to first grab the viewer’s attention, enticing them to take a closer look. But on a website, unlike a gallery, there is no gallerist to walk over and start a conversation with the viewer. You’ll have to do that with your written word. You don’t have to write a dissertation – in fact, you’ll want to keep it short. But you’ll want the words to tell a story that leaves the reader intrigued and wanting to know more.
For example, I have a painting called “Released: This Lucky Night is All There Is”. This is one of my current series that originate from a time in my life where I was forced to re-examine the things I took for granted. I had to let go of my preconceived notions, let go of my need to control, let go of the fear, the anger, the hurt and become like a leaf released from the safety of its mother tree to ride the wind. Fight it or go with the flow - no matter, there is change.”

Send out an email newsletter to your list on a regular basis.
I generally try to send an email newsletter out once a month. I keep the letter short, but provide insights into my creative life. I include a images of the latest paintings I’ve completed, and usually try to tie my “story” in to the work I am showing.

I also put “newsy” items in the newsletter – paintings that have sold, shows I’ve been accepted in to, awards I’ve won, etc. And every once in a while I offer a special discount to my newsletter readers – and let them know they are the only ones getting the discount. I also, with the client’s permission, put in testimonials from people who have purchased a painting. I might give a short review of a book I’ve read or a movie I’ve seen. And I provide a short intro and link to my latest blog…

Start a blog!
My website through FASO has one built in, but there are plenty of free blog hosting sites out there. This blog is hosted by Blogger, and Wordpress is a popular blog site. . There are a number of good sites out there that can help you get started writing a blog, and so I won’t go into detail here. Here's two to get you started. “The 12 Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Blog”,  and “How to Create an Art Blog that Makes Collector’s Swoon”.  Really, you want to think of your blog as another touch point, another place to start a conversation.

And the Scariest…
Learn to Talk About Your Art. Face to Face. In Person. 
Believe me, I know how scary this is. I am the Queen of the Tongue-tied when it comes to talking about my work.  But, I am getting better.  How?  By facing my fear and putting myself in situations where I actually have to talk to people. About. My. Work. I have come up with an “elevator speech” so I can describe what I do in a few words.  “I create intuitive pieces that explore spirituality, the connection between humans and animals,  and the wisdom of the subconscious mind.”  If someone wants to know more about how I physically create the paintings, I add that I mostly work in acrylic on canvas, for the immediacy of the medium, and the ability to create layers of color and pattern – which aids me in keeping fresh and spontaneous.  If they want to know more about what inspires me, I have stories about how I came to paint the way I do (you can listen to a short interview with me here.)  And then I listen – and ask questions of them – “Do you paint?”  “Do you have any original art in your home?”  “What is it about this painting that drew you in?”  Yes, that’s right… have a conversation!!

 Kate Dardine has been helping photographers and artists market their prints for over 25 years. She is currently Marketing Director at Fine Print Imaging, as well as a professional artist selling original paintings and prints. Need one on one advice?  Call 970-484-9650 or email to learn about our marketing consultation service.