Monday 15 March 2010

Flying Trilobite Business Model

I'm looking for advice.

Since beginning The Flying Trilobite 3 years ago, it has been many things to me. A way to reach other people, primarily bloggers, with similar interests. A continuous art studio critique of my work (thanks for over 1700 comments everyone!). A place for my opinions to find safe haven. Until I launched last December, it was also my primary place to promote my artwork, in conjunction with my deviantArt gallery and my reproduction shop by RedBubble.

Current business model
If I have had a business model so far as an artist, it has been comprised of two streams:
1) make art --> blog art --> comments --> take new commissions.
2) make art
--> blog art --> put in reproduction shop --> sell.

As a business model, it's not unlike what bands like Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead have done: put some stuff out there for free, and hope payment comes in through other means.

I've had the immense pleasure of taking commissions, collaborations which have resulted in some of my best work. A number of my images have been published in dead-tree format, 7 times last year, and I only sought out one of those, the rest found me. Ditto with the reproduction of Darwin in the museum.

Now the end of school approaches, I've been discussing with my wife Michelle and some friends about how to do even more freelance work. Since beginning Flying Trilobite, I've enjoyed the art process more than I ever have in my life. Art needs an audience - no, correction, scratch that, the artist needs an audience. And you guys rock.

New business model

I still intend to continue these two streams:
1) make art --> blog art --> comments --> take new commissions.
2) make art
--> blog art --> put in reproduction shop --> sell.
And add these:
make art --> blog art --> open eBay or Etsy shop --> sell originals.
4) send portfolio --> magazine & comic publishers --> make art.
5) send portfolio --> museums & institutions --> make art.
send portfolio --> book publishers --> {edit: skip cycle of rejection & doubt} --> make art.

(Add to this that I have discussed the intersection of Art & Science at 4 different venues - could I be one of those speakers with a microphone protruding from my tie?)

This is where I ask the blogosphere, family and friends and strangers for advice. I allow for anonymous comments, so feel free to be frank and honest if you have an opinion and want to be like Batman. Or be your bold self like Iron Man.

Could I make my weird paintings (I'm not weird, you are) into a bigger success financially?
Are there other streams full-time artists employ to make a living?

- - - - - - - -
Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***
For those of you who don't want to be Batman or Iron Man, I'm afraid you're
stuck being Zan & Jayna, the Wonder Twins. "Form of...a puddle!"


Sarah Snell-Pym said...

Have sets of images as card packs, mugs etc... which can be done via things like cafe press and Photoshop (not sure if photoshop are just Uk or not).

But go to festivals - art and science ones and if your work appears as illustrations - Lit festivals too (Do you have these over there? - if not find a communitee and make them happen).

Get business cards that show your own artwork ( is good for this) that way they are a mini show case for you.

Then find local shops and art gallerys to at least sell post cards of your work :) Again - illustration wise - look into indie book and comic book shops, they often have artwork on the walls. Same with pubs and clubs, funky resturants but you tend to need to go and actually talk to them in person so can be time consuming.

Then of course there are hospitals, hotels and old folks homes - these can also be good places to give talks - like university events too.

With multiple shops and online gallerys you may want to make one home page that links it all together and then have that url on you business cards etc...

Hope that's helpful


Sarah Snell-Pym said...

I meant PhotoBox not Photoshop sorry!


Glendon Mellow said...

Hi Saffy! Thanks for the excellent advice.

I am planning on having a table in the Artists Alley at this year's FanExpo. And I need to update my business cards this weekend.

I'm also thinking about entering more online contests & galleries at places like Art Evolved, ImagineFX, deviantArt, the ArtOrder blog, and others. A lot of my artwork over the next few months will likely be for venues like that instead of my self-directed work.

Glendon Mellow said...

Oh, and I've added a poll to the sidebar. I did one over a year ago, but my bloggy audience has grown.

Sean Craven said...

Why not do what I've failed to do for the past couple of years -- put together a portfolio of submissions to the Spectrum anthology?

Glendon Mellow said...

Great idea, Sean. I've submitted to it about 4 times in the past, though not for the last 2 years. My portfolio is improving all the itme, so that would be worthwhile.

Weapon of Mass Imagination said...

Power to you man!

I've already voted on the poll.

Let us know how your networking attempts go. Like usual I'm going to be copying you in delay :P

Peter Bond said...

I like Sarah's single url idea (something I want to organize) - simple and easy to sell yourself.

I am a fan of the Newer FlyTri Business Model. Especially the self-motivated sending-portfolios-out plan! You have such a talent, we just need to find the outlet(s)!

Glendon Mellow said...

Thanks Craig, thanks Peter.

I considered making this an Art Evolved Going Pro post since I think many of our members may be thinking along similar lines with their artwork. Ultimately it felt pretty personal though and needed to be here.

We'll see what happens. Th next few months are going to see a lot of changes in the way I approach my art.

Sarah Snell-Pym said...

You could do a post about it there too?

But maybe tailored more to that market?


Glendon Mellow said...

Not a bad idea, Saffy! I think discussions about professionalism for artists are important to have to share what's been learned so far.

I'll try to whip something up.

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