Sunflower Splash – 5″ x 7″ watercolor by Angela Fehr, $100 framed

Sometimes as fine artists, we get into a rut. Surrounded by sheets of Arches watercolor paper, frames and matboard, I start to forget how versatile art can be.

Push your chair back from your desk for a minute and look around you. That mug that holds your mocha…the fabric of your window treatment…the packaging on your colored pencils…logo on your t-shirt…calendar…cover of your novel/magazine/textbook…all of these were created by artists. You are your product, and your art can fill a void larger than an empty space on a future client’s wall.

It was yesterday’s article in Empty Easel that got me thinking about this. Denise Ivey Telep wrote about How to Turn One-Time Buyers into Happy Return Customers for Life. Her first point had to do with maintaining communication with past clietnts – I have written before about how I do this. Her second point I’ve also touched on before – maintaining professional behaviour and learning how to communicate with potential clients.

But her last point was one which I believe is important but am still trying to figure out how to implement – that of expanding your versatility to meet more of your clients’ needs. If you looked around you, like I suggested at the beginning of this post, you will see that art is useful! The utilitarian becomes beautiful, the catchall becomes eyecatching, the insignificant becomes valuable when art is added.

I’ve used my artistic skills in my home to paint a number of household items, murals and signs. My artistic eye influences my papercrafting (visit my personal blog for papercrafting ideas), sewing, baking, fashion sense, even my handwriting. Is it possible that I could take some of these ideas that I have used on a personal level and turn them into a product that my clients would appreciate?

I admire a few artists who have filled a niche using their art – in fact, I am so impressed by Daniel Sroka’s Modern Ketubah that I have dreamed about them at night!
Of course, textile artists have this concept of serviceable art in the bag. Betz White’s stuff is just the greatest – I love the Etch-A-Sketch iBook case she made recently. And if you spend any time at all on etsy you know that art you can wear or use has made a home there. And there’s always Cafepress – upload your artwork, and find a product to enhance! I love how my artwork looks on the wooden tile boxes, the tote bags and the ceramic ornaments & magnets.

So think about it – what do you do, what have you done, what can you do with your art that you are not already doing?