In today’s Q & Cake (our own fancy version of Q & A) Elisabeth and Cami discuss several questions from listeners about finding your unique art style so you can create a cohesive portfolio, streamlining your biz systems and preparing quotes, and creating and uploading custom artwork. These are questions from fellow artists, calligraphers, designers, stationers, etc. that will hopefully help you in your own biz journey as a creativepreneur!
I plan on focusing on doing day-of wedding signage and stationery. How do you incentivize wedding planners and local venues to recommend brides to you? – Abidemi @gl.scripts
Do: Network Don’t: Offer Kickbacks
I think this is a great question, in terms of networking and getting people to work with you. The reason that I like don’t love using the word incentivize here is because to me, like, from a contextual standpoint, I kind of like assume that incentivize means there’s some sort of payment or some sort of kickback, or some sort of like deal that’s happening, when really, it’s more about like, how do you get referrals from wedding planners and local venues, that would probably be more of like the approach that I would want to take, instead of like giving my cut of the work per se to the wedding planners in the local venues. And so basically what this comes down to is like, really just like a lot of networking.
Reach out to Wedding Planners and Local Venues
So it’s always nice to approach wedding planners and local venue owners and say something like, “Hey, I offer these things you can always reach out to me, I’m here, you know, kind of thing like that.” So just like putting yourself out there and following up and letting them know when you’re running a special or something like that. Just let them know what you do and get on their radar.
Focus on how you can benefit them
And then you also just want to make it all about like what you can do for them not necessarily like what they can do for you Don’t be like, please refer brides to me just always make it come from like that service centered aspects and service minded and be like, here’s what I can do for you versus that.
Strive for a Stellar Reputation
And then secondly, I would say, when you have such a great reputation, and people just love working with you, and you have great word of mouth, and you just have stellar product, seller quality, stellar everything, then these people are going to be extremely happy to refer you and extremely happy to send brides your way because they know you’re going to deliver. So if you are starting out, and there might be hesitancy because they’re not sure if you’re like the you know, can deliver on this promise. And like, This all comes with time, too. So having actual images that backup your quality of work, testimonials and all these things that can be like, Okay, if I send a client to them based on my referral, they’re not going to mess it up. Basically, think about if someone is looking for someone for a job, like you know, a friend who’s gonna do it, you’re not going to refer to your friend who would actually be horrible at it but needs a job, because it reflects poorly on you. So you want to make sure you’re actually referring to the best person for the job. So just like keep becoming the best version of yourself and keep putting out very, very high quality things.
I’m a stationer who is just starting out and my question is how do you package your finished invites that you send off to the clients? Do you pack them all in cellophane or some kinds of protective envelope in the box? Do you include any branding materials like cards, tags or gifts? Thanks! – Emma @emcreative.co
Focus first on Functionality
Well, I actually mail all my clients stuff for them. So I’m not packaging up any finished invites, but if I was packaging up finished invites, I would definitely put them in some sort of cellophane to protect them in case the box scout but God forbid, like, hopefully those happen. Definitely some kind of protective like cushioning around it, because you don’t want him to get jostled to get the corners bent. So I mean, I would pack it up, like my mom is the greatest Packer of all time, every box she packs would last for a nuclear war. So that’s how I would pack this box. I would make it like we’re basically nothing moves, you’re shaking it around. Like that’s how much like stuffing you want in it.
Then, add Beautiful Branded Elements
And then in terms of adding in some branding stuff,, I put stickers on everything and all this cute stuff and like a little insert. And I would do the same thing with this too. I would have stickers on things I would have, you know, a card, maybe even a thank you note with a wedding client, I probably actually write a very long known that like it’s such a pleasure working with you. It’s truly an honor to be a part of you. And so and so’s big day, I’m so thrilled for this blah, blah, blah, like a very nice Thank you know, and then I would probably create like a separate little box with their keepsake invitations. And I would have that with like a ribbon and some extras of their stuff. So I would make it like that like the most beautifully branded part. But the rest is going to be more functional instead of beautiful because I wanted to get in there and in perfect condition. So I think in terms of this, you need to go for functionality over prettiness. But also you can put those pretty finishing touches like stickers on the outside and a nice handwritten note.
I’m curious how you create and upload your custom art (i.e watercolor florals, custom crest) for custom invitations? I’ve created several images in Procreate but it seems that the quality of the image is never up to par. Do you create all your images in an Adobe software? Do you create them on paper and scan it in? Thanks so much! – Allie @allie_strick
I do a little bit of both. I actually don’t even use like a scanner sometimes for my art I just use my iPhone I should get a scanner but you can use an iPhone to take a picture of something that you’ve done on paper to then transfer to your computer and fix it up in Photoshop that way and I mean I have done a ton of stuff in procreate lately as well. So I’m not sure what is going on in terms of like you’re saying that the quality of the image never seems up to par I would go back into your documents settings for when you’re first making a document because you need to make sure that that’s like 300 DPI or even higher it might be defaulting you to like 75 or something like that and you definitely do not want that for your document that’s basically what is DPI even stand for key I like that’s per inch dots per inch thank you I throw out these terms all the time and don’t really know what they mean. So that’s the first thing I would do for procreate is check your settings because I have not had a problem with that.
I do all my artwork on paper like the old school way and then I scan it in. And my scanner is not expensive at all. It’s on my Amazon list you want to check that out camera comm slash supplies. It’s like literally I think it’s like under 100 bucks and it’s like really small and cute.
If you want to see all of our favorite supplies — including Cami’s scanner, you can check out our Amazon shops below!
Hi! I am a fully custom stationer. I offer many print methods, paper options, etc. etc. I am having trouble with my onboarding/designing/invoicing process. In order to give my clients an accurate quote, I have to first do a lot of designing. I need your advice: How on EARTH do I not get sucked into basically designing an entire suite before I get even a deposit? I understand that a client needs to know what a cost is going to be before they commit to something, but how do you suggest communicating that you can give a “ballpark” quote without sounding like a hustler or unprofessional? Is this something you send typed out in an email or do you make it more official on an invoice? I’m pulling my hair out over here! Thank you!!!! – Elizabeth @chaucerroadpaper
Don’t Design Before Securing a Deposit
First things first, let me go ahead and say that you should not be designing anything before you give a client a quote, or get a deposit from them or anything like that, you should have two elements to your quotes. One part of the quote should be your design fee, basically, what you’re charging for your time. And the other part of the quote should be materials. And so this basically means that you need to, first of all charge appropriately. Value yourself well, for your time, make sure you have a good nice, like high design fee, regardless of the design on the invitation suite. So like Cammy, you have done some like very simple, cute watercolor designs that were very minimalistic. And you have also done like an explosion of watercolor, which is what most of your like custom maps are. But the design price for either of those things is still exactly the same, right?
Consider Choosing a Flat-Rate for Your Design Fee
Yeah, the price, the design price for either of those things is still exactly the same. Yes. Because I had this issue for sure. Like, I could not figure out like, Oh my gosh, how do I know what they want? What do they want a church painting versus a flower like takes me more time. I understand where you’re coming from because I struggled with this so much in the beginning. Now what works me is, I do a flat rate pricing like it is like all inclusive pricing. Because honestly, even though Yes, it might take me more time to paint one thing, the amount sometimes it takes it is harder for me to do a suite that has minimal artwork that it is for me to do something with a lot of artwork. So it obviously takes more brainpower for me to do minimal, which is very weird. So all in all, it balances out and I have the exact same fee, no matter what they say, I don’t care if they say we’re going to do like 10 dogs, we’re gonna do one dog on this, it’s the same fee like it’s the same, which made it very easy to quote, I don’t even need to know what they want. They don’t even have to have any semblance of idea of what they want for me to put together a quote, the only thing that would change it is like the amount of cards that they want or the amount of quantity they would need or the different types of cards they would want within the suite or if they wanted a printing upgrade. And I have all those numbers, ready to go and a spreadsheet and also memorized because I don’t like my own spreadsheet at this point.
For me, it was just way easier to just streamline the whole process. So I don’t know exactly what you’re offering with your wedding invitations. So I don’t know if all inclusive pricing would work for you. If not, maybe consider trying a tiered package approach.
You can Create an Itemized Invoice With Placeholders for Future Edits
I mean, there’s a way to itemize an invoice to give them enough information, while also assuring them that things could potentially change down the road like you can do both at the same time. Yeah, you could do like here is your general idea what it costs to work with me what it costs for the materials, all the things like that. But also know that depending on if you change your mind on this printing method down the road cost could change. But you need to have a spreadsheet or something that is at least allowing you to quote for different printing methods. I know, like the average per card price for me for what it costs to do digital verse foil verse letterpress, so that I can quote that stuff up front like that is built into my process. And part of my invoicing for sure. So there is a way to be able to like, quote that stuff, if that makes sense. And you can always leave an open line, like an itemized line for something like vintage postage, like Kimmy and I both do this, where it’s like a placeholder for vintage postage, because that might be added later down the road. And you obviously can’t quote that ahead of time. Or you could add a placeholder line for handmade paper, because maybe you’re making it to size and it’s going to be custom. And you need to add that into the quote later. Like, there are certain things that you might not know, 100% up front, and that’s like, Okay, I think to be honest with the client, ya know, what are your thoughts?
Ditch the Word Ballpark
I think using the word ballpark is what’s throwing you off, I think you need to just say like, this is an estimated budget for how much vintage postage, postage will be like, based on this amount, I can estimate you’re probably going to be spending in like $100 range for vintage postage, I’ll fill this in later with the exact amount, but just so you have a heads up, and then also letting them know, like the way my process works is like they pay the 50% retainer, and that gets them booked.
I’m trying to start my business selling digital downloads of my art. I’m worried I won’t seem professional because I don’t have one set-in-stone style, subject matter, or media that I work in. How much variety is too much? How do I decide what to focus on? – Chelsea D.
Know that it’s Okay to be in this Stage of ‘Figuring it Out’
When there are so many styles in an artist’s portfolio, it’s usually the mark of a newer artist because they’re still developing their style and finding their voice! I don’t think subject matter or media “matters” but having a common thread stylistically is better for long-term success because otherwise there is confusion around your brand. And it is totally OKAY to be in this sta ge for a while; that’s the fun part of being an artist! The best way I can explain this is pretend there’s this restaurant in town you love and it serves amazing pizza, and you keep going back for pizza, and then one week it decides it’s going to be an indian restaurant, and then three days later, it’s a sushi place. Would you keep going back there? Not necessarily because you’d have no idea what to expect, and if the chef is a pizza maker who excels in pizza, then he’s not going to be a sushi master in one week.
How to Start Cultivating a More Consistent Style
Here’s how can you start to tailor down your style so that it’s more consistent: Edit out the outliers (anything that just seems super out of place, style-wise), fake it a little bit by having a super cohesive presentation (like all in the same frame mockup) and then just simply making a choice and sticking it with for a few months to see what happens! How do you choose which style? The one you enjoy the most/are the most passionate about
With Digital Downloads you can use Collections to Organize different Medium Types and Subjects
Well, I’m gonna come in and counter with my devil advocates opinion. Okay for for this question specifically, because I think everything you said Cami is really important. When we’re developing a style over time, and you become known for one thing, like you have become really known for your watercolor imitations, it wouldn’t make sense if all of a sudden it was like oil or pastel next week. If you did that everyone would be like what is happening? I came here for the watercolor because this is what Cami is known for.
The reason that I am counteracting and being like Devil’s advocates a little bit for Chelsea’s question is because she’s considering selling digital downloads of her art. And so I think that this can be done in a way that if you want to have fun, doing different, like media types, or different subject matters, you can do that. But I think that it would have to be like within your shop is a very specific collection. So like maybe one shop is going to be like desert cacti or desert scenes like that would have to be its own collection. And then maybe, and maybe that was done in pastel like in that’s a download. And then maybe you have a watercolor download that’s like fall leaves or fall foliage or something that would have to be its own collection. And you would have to figure out how to do this underneath your brand and how to brand yourself. And so I would say for the digital downloads, I think like my opinion of this is just a little different because you’re not selling like $2,000 paintings, if that makes sense. You can choose to do like a little bit of this, a little bit of that while you kind of explore what works for you. But I would not throw up just like I would do. Like I said I would do collections that are very centric to one medium and like one feeling I wouldn’t do like a day where you’re like today I am doing like an oil painting of a hanging plant, you know, like a post office or something like that. And then the next day you’re like, and today I’m putting up like a photo of a bear in the woods and like a completely different style because there’s like no cohesiveness between those two trains of thoughts.
Focus on Presentation and Marketing
I think it’s the way that you deliver them in the situation that’s going to be really important, especially for when people are searching online to find digital downloads in general. So whether you’re doing this through creative market, or Etsy or your Shopify or Squarespace, whatever it Maybe like your the way you deliver it and your organization, I think is what’s going to be key for for these digital downloads is like, how are you going to market yourself? How are you going to attract your audience? You have to think about those things too. Because if you do like any and all media types for everything, like you’re not attracting as much of a niche audience, depending on what someone might be looking for.