making art my business

hi everyone. now that mardi gras has come and gone, it’s time to get back to the business of making art, and working on the actual business of my art.

to that end, i just finished a free online class from jessica serran who is an artist and coach who does various online courses throughout the year. i took another of her free offerings last summer called “5 days to jaw dropping art” and i felt it was pretty helpful and i made a piece of art that i still love. so when this one popped up in my feeds, i decided to sign up. i can use all the help i can get! and, well, i love free!

this one was called “artists on the rise: a 5-day deep dive to discover what it takes to create your epic art career.” (yes, her class titles are a bit wordy.) the class actually goes for about 3 weeks if you include the pre-class exercises and the post-class sales pitches for the paid course. like most of these online art courses, it centers around a facebook group where everyone who signs up can interact with jessica (the coach), the artist support team (artists who have taken the class already and help manage the facebook group), and each other. each day of the challenge you post your responses there as a sort of accountability, but also cuz there’s a prize giveaway at the end as motivation if you complete everything. sadly, i did not win any of the prizes. lol

but a lot of what jessica teaches is really great, especially if you are someone who has struggled to figure out how to turn your love of art and art making into a business that can support you. not everyone has this goal, and i only half the time think i do, which is probably why i haven’t ever really achieved it. i’ve never fully committed. i came the closest when i was a crafter and in the new orleans craft mafia, in those years post katrina when all that insurance money was flowing and folks were really wanting to support each other and rep new orleans as it rebuilt. i had become burnt out on my music journalism and DJ career even before katrina, so focusing on making things was both fun and therapeutic in that high-stress time. though i made a good deal of money during that time selling my wares, most of it was eaten up by “commuting” back and forth between louisville, ky and new orleans for three years, and a few years after i moved back home to new orleans, my personal life fell apart and i had to kind of abandon my creative stuff in favor of trying to build my pet business into something that could sustain me. (my ex-partner had been supporting me; i had no “real” job at the time.) the pet biz obviously worked out, for which i’m grateful; but now all these years later as time keeps on a ticking and i grow older, i feel like i’m running out of time to find out if i really could be an artist full time. (i’m also feeling very burnt out on the pet biz and my body is less able to keep up with the physical rigors of the job, which i fear will only get worse as i age.)

sometimes i feel so certain that it’s the dream i’ve had all my life, since college, when i first fell in love with painting and printmaking and photography. and sometimes i honestly feel like i would be happier if i didn’t have this urge, this compulsion, to create things and try to express myself AND SELL THESE THINGS. that maybe i should just keep my art to myself, for my personal self growth, and not complicate things by trying to sell stuff. i mean that’s kind of what i did for the past decade or so anyways; when i started the pet biz, i went several years without creating a damned thing, just working all the time and building my pet biz up and enjoying having a steady income. and then slowly over time, the urge to create kept nagging at me, so i started to make stuff again. and then cuz i can’t stop myself, i started posting online about what i was making. and people were encouraging and said they liked it and offered money, and boom, suddenly i’m back in the game of making stuff and selling it. but it’s been sporadic, and as a business, my art biz hasn’t made a profit in a really long time.

so for the past few years as i’ve ramped up my art practice again to be something more consistent, i’ve felt like i wanted to try to make the art biz turn a profit. and then i get caught up again in the dream of it being my life, my sole job, which is appealing since i’m so so burnt out on the pet biz now at the 14 year mark. but trying to make a living doing nothing but art is not easy. many people fail at it. and many successful artists still have their day jobs to pay the bills. cuz being “successful” as an artist doesn’t always translate to consistent sales.

all of this led me to be interested in jessica’s free class. on the first of the five days, she challenges you to come up with what your throughline is with your art – regardless of medium or discipline or subject. why do you do this and what is it that comes through in everything you make? figuring out what that is can then help you when writing an artist bio/statement and so the challenge is basically to do that, write a future-you artist statement. this exercise was really hard for me and i still feel like i need to go back and really figure that one out.

the second day was all about money, examining our relationship with money in our past and what we want it to be in our future. the exercise was to set some future-you money goals and then reverse-engineer how to do it, i.e. i wanna make x amount of money a year selling my art, so how many pieces of art do i need to sell at x amount to achieve that? and she pushes us to realize selling fewer larger pieces is easier than selling a ton of smaller pieces or prints, and that we are most likely undercharging for what we make. that we need to let go of the starving artist mentality and replace it with the well-resourced artist, making good money for our creations. that one just felt like fantasizing, frankly – i still see no real way for that to happen anytime soon. like maybe after 10 years of being super successful, but not now. because my friends and supporters are used to my prices being accessible/low, and i feel that bumping them up a lot would alienate a lot of the folks who’ve been with me for a long time on this journey. but i do also see that i can’t make a business plan out of selling $50 original paintings. so i’m going to try to be better about charging rates for my original work that are more fair to me, while not being outrageous either.

the third day was a challenge to reach out to previous buyers of our work and ask them why they bought it, what do they like about it, what does it do for them? i reached out to a few people; one replied. another friend volunteered when they saw my post on IG. we were supposed to have three but i never got any more responses so i just had the two. but they were both great. and honestly, i already know the answer to those questions for most people who buy my work, because they tell me all the time. my work brings them joy, makes them smile/happy, and the works that have words/messages on them serve as reminders to themselves or affirmations. no one said this but i’d venture to say some things i’ve created also help give buyers a sense of community or self-expression. these are all wonderful things to know that my work does for people – it’s really all i’ve ever hoped to do with what i make. make a connection, spread some joy and happiness or offer a message or an affirmation, channeling the light of the universe. it’s simple and kinda hokey but it’s true. (these things are basically my throughline in all the work i’ve done since my 20s.) but the point of this exercise is that these things that my art does for others, it’s worth something, has a value, that i should be charging for accordingly.

the fourth day we took an inventory of all the unsold artwork in our studios, gave them new prices (the higher, you-are-worth-it numbers), and totaled it up. mine came to about $8K which was low compared to most in the class but i didn’t get through all the paper pieces i made in the FYJ class and in the past year or two. (and i probably didn’t adjust the prices high enough.) and then the second part of the challenge is to list 33 ways you can start selling all that work TODAY. things that would take less than 10 minutes to do. i thought it would be hard to come up with 33 but once i got going it was pretty easy, as most of it was listing things in various places online. but the first was listing it all on etsy and then the others would be listing the etsy shop in a million places. there were other things, like starting a mailing list and posting online to get signups, which you may have seen me do last week. (there’s also a signup form on this page to the right.) now nothing guarantees if i list everything for sale that it will sell, but the concept is that action/movement invites the universe to support you, and you certainly aren’t going to sell any of it as it just sits in your studio gathering dust. so i am going to spend the listing fees to list as much as i can in the coming weeks as i have time. listing fees are for 4 months on etsy and i figure that should be enough time to see if it’s worth giving etsy another shot. (i do eventually want to have an ecommerce store on my own website but that will take much longer to figure out; etsy was the easy and fast option.)

on the last day of the 5 day class, the “inspired action” we were to take was to do 3 things from the list we came up with the day before, and then to note how it felt and what, if any, response there was. for me, i did make a signup form/link to my future art newsletter and posted it out to facebook, instagram and twitter… and the response was that a few people signed up. (now a week later, about 20 of my actual friends signed up but a bunch of random strangers and possibly bots did too so now i have more than 100 on my email list, which was my goal to have before i write an actual newsletter. i want to get a few things listed on etsy before i write the newsletter though, so that’s the homework for this weekend.) so that action felt good to do and great to get a response to.

the second action i wanted to take was to list 3 things on etsy, which i have started to do but since i have neglected my etsy shop for so long i realized it is outdated, so requires me going in and overhauling my profile and settings. also etsy is a lot more glitchy than it used to be so it’s certainly taken me more time than 10 minutes to get even one thing listed. but i will keep at it this weekend.

and the third thing was to check in with a few folks who’d expressed interest in some paintings i’d posted on instagram a while back, which i haven’t yet done but i will do so this weekend.

all of these are/were good exercises to do, and i will keep going over them as i move on. i took notes throughout the class on my ipad so i printed them out and pasted them into my studio journal so i’d have an easy reference to look back at.

i actually thought long and hard about whether to try to find a way to pay for jessica’s coaching program. the total amount ($11k for 12 months) is overwhelming and even the monthly payments of $1k/month felt ridiculous for me, as that’s more than i pay in rent each month. and as i am right now, i barely make ends meet paying my bills. i could charge one or two months on credit cards in hopes that working her program and buckling down could net me the money to cover it, but once i got a look at what her workbooks look like, the pace of work contained in the course month by month, i just realized i’m not ready to commit to something like that, especially considering my day job and all that i already have planned for the next several months. and i’m just not there yet with my current art work, like i am still just in the playing-with-paint phase of all this abstract stuff and i like being here, i don’t want to be rushed because i have to figure out how to sell it.

i’m sure what she does is great for people who are ready for it, who want a coach and a step-by-step program to advance their careers. it’s like a bootcamp for artists. or i guess in entrepreneurial terms, it’s an accelerator program. but i’m just not there yet and i have to trust my instincts. i’m not sure i’ll ever get to a place of wanting a program like that, but i’ll stay on her mailing list and keep it on the back burner and see where i am in a year. i’m grateful for the kick in the ass that the free 5 day challenge gave me and feel like that will keep me busy for a while as i continue to paint.

pre-order RESIST rubber stamps now!










ok y’all, i’m doing another pre-order situation for RESIST rubber stamps. i’ve had a lot of folks ask over the past many months if i had any left (which i don’t) and have been reluctant to go through the hassle again, but i do so love the idea of all that resistance currency floating around out there. plus i like to make people happy.

i don’t have the money/credit to pay for them upfront, hence the pre-order. last time i didn’t mark up the costs at all and made basically nothing on over 100 rubber stamps.

this time i AM going to add a few bucks to each so i make something off my labor/design. just mentioning it so y’all know why the prices are different.

small self-inking stamps will be $12.
large self-inking stamps will be $20.
pocket clamshell stamps will be $14.

shipping is $4 first class mail for up to 4 stamps. more than that and i might have to go priority which would be $7.

i take paypal: (friend payment please)
venmo: mags504
squarecash:$mags (only debit cards)

(make sure to include your correct mailing address or shoot me an email at: with that info. if you are local to new orleans and want to pick up from me in midcity, no shipping charge is required.)

i’ll keep this pre-order open for about a week or so and then place the order. it’ll probably take another week or two after that to get them and then however long it takes for me to repackage them and mail them to you. so please be patient.

please share with anyone you think might want one of these, because i won’t be doing this again anytime soon.

here i go!


so if you’ve been keeping up with me (read previous posts on this blog or this one) then you know i’ve been reawakened to my creative aspirations in 2016 and have been craving more time to focus on the making of things. after several months of trepidation, i launched a patreon campaign to get support to scale back my work schedule to give me a few more hours in the day to do this. the campaign has been a success so far but i haven’t reached the amount of $ i would need to cover cutting back a few walks a day to free up some time. but the urgency of it all hasn’t dissipated either, so i’ve been talking to my clients and, well, the universe somewhat intervened this past week by sending one of my set of clients on vacation, and…

i’m doing it. starting monday, my work schedule will end around 1:30 or 2pm most days, giving me the rest of the afternoon and into the evening (now that daylight saving time kicks in tonight) to create! i’m so excited but also super nervous about willingly letting go of $600-$700/month of pay. but i’m hoping i will get more productive in the creative arena and perhaps come up with some things that folks will want to buy. or that maybe more folks will want to sign on to my patreon campaign to get free rewards and support me at the same time.

either way, it’s time to hustle. so i will be doing all manner of peddling in the coming months. and hopefully i can make this work.

so yay to taking big risks, stepping out of your comfort zone, waking up and staying awake (or as the kids say, be woke/stay woke), being in the present, and following your dreams. here’s to working towards the life i want, doing what i think i’m meant to do. and here’s to the universe being with me every step of the way, saying yes, loudly, repeatedly, until i finally hear it.


hello 2016.

i wrote this – spoke this, into my phone – while walking dogs this morning, across the timespan of 3 walks:
sometimes, when my mind is clear and wandering, i catch these glimpses. glimpses of another life. maybe it’s a parallel universe? maybe it’s the future?  it’s not a dream because i’m awake when it happens, though parts of it have been in dreams i’ve had over my lifetime. it’s like some window or door opens to another reality and i can see it so clearly. it’s this other life that i’m living where i’m firing on all cylinders, where my creativity is flowing, where i am vibrating on a higher level, where i’m making things and pursuing if not every, at least more, of the myriad ideas that bounce around in my head.
i am painting things. printing things. assembling things. i am making new stencils. i am doing murals. i am leaving my creations all around town for people to discover and take home if they want to. i am having pop up sales in random locations. i am having “shows” in nontraditional places, not in galleries. in bars, in coffee shops, at restaurants, at friends’ houses. i am hosting once a month parties/shows/salons at my own house, in the backyard.
i am writing all the time. writing blog posts, writing in journals, writing on paintings and furniture and walls. putting words together in ways that make sense and don’t make sense but regardless are out there and making other people think and feel and react.
i am playing music, other people’s music, djing… in my living room, for friends at my house and other places, bars, art openings, poetry readings. i am discovering new music that sets my spirit soaring and sharing mixes of this music with others. i am making podcasts about music and art and life and sharing those with the world.
i am taking pictures. with my phone, or with a nice camera. i am sharing photos on my instagram and my blog and in all the places i am sharing art. i am incorporating photos into my other art. i am publishing books of my photos to put on coffee tables and in libraries and to give to friends.
i am building an art empire. i am collaborating with other artists and writers and thinkers and djs and people who make music and art in all of its various forms. i am bringing them into my world and i am hanging out in and contributing to theirs.
i am outdoors breathing fresh air and soaking up sunshine, enjoying the beautiful place that i live in. i am exercising my body and feeling good. i am eating better but still enjoying the bounty of the city that i live in with all it’s amazing culinary delights. i don’t deny myself but i also am taking care of myself.
i am traveling to other places, some i’ve been to before but many i have not. i am endlessly inspired by my travels and do it as often as i can, to see art, to see people, to hear music, to be inspired. to learn. to grow.
i am vibrant and alive and enjoying the hell out of life and tapping into the energy of the universe and reflecting it back and spreading love and positivity and feeling good about it. feeling fulfilled and like i’m contributing to the betterment of the world. the world is a beautiful place full of love and light and i am so happy and grateful every day to be in it.
and through all of this, i am supported and loved and rewarded financially and taken care of. and sharing it all. because there is enough. there’s more than enough to go around for all of us. and i don’t worry about money because money is energy and i’ve learned how to tap into the energy of the universe.
yeah. for reals.
sometimes i catch glimpses of this life, this vision, and really feel it, taste it, hear it, see it.. like I am actually living it, like I could be living it. like i should be living it. like i can be living it. i’ve had some version of this vision my whole life. and many elements of this vision, this life, i have made happen.. on their own, one at a time. i’ve been a writer. i’ve been a dj. i’ve been an artist. i’ve been a crafter. i’ve produced events. but i’ve not managed to merge them all, or sustain them for long periods of time where i can really build upon what i’ve accomplished. these accomplishments have existed on their own and in their own space and time and then i’ve dropped them to pursue other things. i’ve been a serial unitasker.
maybe i have just been assembling all the pieces, all the skills, and waiting for the time to be right to pull them all together. maybe that time is now. these last few months, the vision, the glimpses, of this integrated creative life have been strong and recurring and have been pulling me in a direction of action and change. i’m tired of living a small little life where i don’t feel like i’m living up to my potential. i’m tired of feeling like everyone around me is a badass and somehow is clued into something i’m not, somehow has some kinda magic that i don’t in terms of making shit happen, realizing their dreams, helping other people, affecting change, making the world a better place and feeling fulfilled while doing it.
and the time is running out in my life to build all of this that i know i am capable of… while i am still young enough and physically and mentally sharp enough to do so. i’m not yet “old” but i’m no longer “young.”
is this my midlife crisis? maybe. i do feel at a crossroads. i’ve been feeling it for a while and have been wallowing in despair about what to do and how to do it. but i think the universe has been communicating with me in very clear ways over the past year, and the clouds have been lifting, the glimpses of this other life have been coming more into focus, little by little.
i don’t want to reach the end of my life, i don’t want to be on my deathbed, thinking about this other life, this parallel universe, this vision of the life i wanted to live, could have lived, should have lived, dreamed about in some way since i was a little girl and that was so close and within my grasp because i actually had all the skills i needed to make it happen… i don’t want to have that regret that i didn’t go for it, that i just didn’t take the chance, the risk, make the move, defy the inertia, and make it happen.
so the time is now. to take action. to start doing instead of just talking. to take risks. maybe even to fail. but at least to try. i have to at least try. and perhaps in trying, if not this particular vision of another life, but some other version that is not what i am living now, will make itself clear.
so here we go.
stay tuned.

army of lovers shirts available again…

ok, the shirts are available again for the next 10 days – just in time for christmas!! order here:

also, kids’ sizes are available finally!!

and lastly, let me remind you that i still have plenty of army of lovers stickers left – see last post for the details on ordering.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 5.00.57 PM

army of lovers, part 2

first of all, i just want to offer my humblest of thanks to everyone who supported me with orders earlier this summer as i was fundraising to get myself on vacation and off to michfest. between the brass band saved my life and army of lovers tshirt campaigns on teespring and my online yard sale of old art/craft stock hanging around the house, i made enough $$ to cover my rent and bills for august so that i was able to absorb the loss of income while i was gone for 3 weeks to the woods. i had such a lovely time at what was probably my mellowest michfest ever – and i really needed that. so thank you, every one of you.

i have returned from fest refreshed and rejuvenated, though still broke. thankfully i have 2 work weeks left in the month to hustle up $$ for rent and bills for september, and the dog walking and pet sitting bookings are coming in, so i should be ok. but i am going to try to continue to do the side-hustle with the creative endeavors just in case, and also because it feels really good to be doing creative things again.

so the first thing i want to offer is that after i designed the “army of lovers” tshirt, i had the brilliant idea to get high-quality stickers made with the same slogan, with the intention of selling them at fest for $1 each. unfortunately, they didn’t get printed on time and though they did manage to find their way to me while i was in the woods, it was a little late in my time there and i just didn’t have much of an opportunity to sell them. i printed 250 of them and have probably only sold about 30 at the most so far – not even enough to break even on the cost of the printing.

army of lovers stickers

therefore, i am going to offer them here. the stickers are 4 inches by 2 inches, slightly wider than a standard business card, silkscreen printed with UV coating and therefore suitable for car bumpers, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, skateboards, helmets or any other outdoor use. (i personally put one on my nalgene water bottle i take with me everywhere.)

since i have to mail them to you, which will cost me the envelope and a stamp (and paypal fees for electronic payment), i’m going to do 1 sticker for $2, 3 stickers for $5, and 6 for $10. (if you want more than that, just email me.) when you hit the “buy now” paypal button below, just input the dollar amount that corresponds to how many stickers you want. it should be that simple. make sure your paypal address that comes to me with your payment is your correct shipping address.


and that’s it! (alternately, if you have a paypal account, you can just sign in and “send money” to me at mags at artbymags dot com in whatever denomination corresponds to however many stickers you want.)

stay tuned as i will be running the tshirt campaign again soon with perhaps a few changes in style/color offerings for those who missed it the first time around.