Saturday, 14 July 2018

Big business principles for the little guy (such as the artist, or toymaker).

I thought I'd take a few minutes out and further alienate the hipster collecorship by showing what a mddle aged nerd I am and talking about the principles I leanred working in sales, IT and tech, and translating them to the hand-to-mouth artisan existence I'm currently enjoying.

1: When being your own boss, be the toughest boss you've ever had.

It's Saturday night. I've turned down two different social things because I'm behind on my target. The best boss I ever had was an absolute savage. He made people cry. However, he was completely transparent about how businesses really work and what it takes. I made more stuff happen working under him and relised that I had double the energy I thought I had. I had days where I'd be falling asleep with a headache and have to try and grab a nap at a park before chugging more coffee and asprin and getting back in the office.

I realised that if I could do all that for him (as many of us do in our jobs) why couldn't I do that for me? You know you're legit when you've pulled 60 hours like a trooper and even if you didn't get all you wanted to done, you know what your best looked like.

2: Give your product every chance of success. SOMEONE will want it.

I've talked about "Emperor's new Clothes" syndrome lots of times. New guy makes bullshit and puts it on Instagram. You wouldn't even take a photo of it, it's that bad. But he believes in it and loves it  He presents it with pride and tells you exactly why it's good. You see where he's coming from. You think it's good too now!

Look at some of comics that make it! Half the chicks on comic covers in the 90s looked boss eyed with different sized boobies. People got paid for that!!

Day of the Slug has sold next to nothing in the States. I was disappointed on its launch and started on something else. A few shares on Facebook to a few new people later and I was selling a few sets a week. good enough for me. Took a bag of them to conventions and handed a few out. Someone did a vid revew, someone posted them on their IG, and a year after release I was having to re-make the molds I was churning out that many.

I know artists that are good enough to sculpt for legit toy companies here in my home town that never even photograph their work, let alone think of selling it. Don't get embarassed. Flop it out!

3: Sweat your assets.

Selling IT solutions, there were a few principles that especially one-man-band artists could use. One is the principle of using a new tech combined with old junk (ancient laptops running software from a powerful new server) to make money-in to money-out ratio (return on investement) good.

My 2 casting set-ups, laptop, knock-off Wacom, and 3D printers cost a total of 700 pounds (about $1k US). and most of this has been with me for at least 4 years. My sculpting workflow includes 3D printing, PLASTER waste molds (why do that with silicone!?) and recyclable wax and clay. Much like the ugly but effective old trucks that are used in communist countries to enable commerce of the lastest tech, the cheap ugly plaster and rusty old tools and buckets I use to make the plaster shells for my silicone matrix molds are cheap, will last forever, and end up contributing to the same product.

4  Big strokes! Let the executive in you support the starving artist you.

In craft and life. I use large tools to speed up work before I get started with little bits. An ancient giant file, a belt sander, big craft knives, a soldering iron for sculpting wax (before moving to a hot pen for the details). Your time and energy and precious. You have to prioritise what's worth it and remember, the fact you spent 60 hours making something the hard way unfortunately means as much as someone casting something in clear pink that they sculpted in an afternoon. It's shelf porn, and it won't move people like fine art. By all means make the fine art as without it, art toys is a phrase that really means nothing, but no one remembers martyrs (well, maybe Christ), so give the artist you a chance by using some hustle.

5: Take the opportunity to Pilfer a Goat. (From the Chinese war-guide "The 36 Strategems".)

While you're focussed on your big moves, little opportunities may pop up. So take them. About 50% of my work isn't even related to releases. Blank pulls of stuff I released in the past, commissions (guaranteed money now vs. money later). It's not greasy - it's survival. The biggest, coolest franchises and companies are squeezing the pips with everything they can on the side because they know hard-core collectorship isn't something they can always count on. You can make TRUE art and stipend yourself with a on office job, or make TRUE art and side-hustle to make sure your art is given every chance it gets and more studio time.

No one's as classy as they appear and most of your favorite atheletes probably take steroids. It's survival!

6: Recycle everything.

Materials and work. I recycle silcone, I add bulking agents to materials, I make matrix molds, I take ruined molds and use them as templates for wax roughs. If people want something I made years ago, I want to help them have it if I can. A lot of my characters (and molds) have endured for years longer than I thought they would. So it never hurts to remind people that they're there to help them keep going.