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September 2013



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Marketing your Art...keeping the door open!

Keep your eyes open for opportunity–it knocks all right, but sometimes you really have to listen up!  It may not be the opportunity you imaged, but it's a start. 

Remember that getting your foot in the door is always the first step you take–from there you can go on to prove yourself, as well as gain wider experience that will make you even more valuable.

Multifaceted or multi-skilled people just DO have a better chance, if you’re hoping to make it on your own. Sure, I wish I were selling enough fine art to support myself...but I’m not. (It’s one facet, though, and it’s always very welcome!)

If you don’t know how to do something you will need in your work, learn it!   Photography, Photoshop, .html, blogging?  You can always find resources to teach you how to do what you need to.

One great place to do that is in an online class, like those offered at Eclectic Academy, at http://www.eclecticacademy.com/. They’re amazingly inexpensive, at $30 for 6 weeks, but I found the classes to be concise and complete, the ones I took at any rate. The next semester doesn’t start till March, so that gives you plenty of time to check out the offerings–I took two of the Photoshop Elements classes, and plan to take more when my schedule allows.

I got my foot in the book publishing door with my FIRST book, by keeping a weather eye out for possibilities. Keeping on open mind about what I could or couldn’t do, and about what I wanted to. I try to let the Universe speak to me, through the doors that open!

That first book was called Quiltwear, done for Van Nostrand Reinhold–and came as a big surprise to ME, I’ll have to admit.

I’d been writing articles and illustrating for magazines for maybe 6-7 years, by then, and after my teenage vision of myself writing the next Great American Novel faded–firmly squashed when I realized I just didn’t have what it took–I really hadn’t thought of writing a book, except as a distant dream. How could I get in that big, scary, daunting company, anyway??

But...remember the fuel crisis in the late 70s? (I know, most of you probably don’t!) I turned down the thermostat and sewed quilted clothing for my first husband and me, to keep us warm. Since I’d been freelancing for a while, EVERYTHING had become grist for the mill, so it occurred to me to shoot photos as I went. Thought I’d do an article for one of the artisan clothing magazines, but then was suddenly surprised to realize there was enough for a whole book.

I sent proposals to twelve different publishers, and collected rejection slips of every possible type, from chilly form letters to qualified encouragement...until the 12th envelope came back from VNR.

But instead of a rejection slip, it was an offer of a book contract! I was stunned and delighted, signed the contract and got right to work.

I had to change my original concept somewhat. They wanted a broader collection, so the book ended up including not only men’s and women’s clothing, but mittens, bedroom slippers, clothes for kids and even a doggie coat.  (When you're working with someone else, their needs and ideas always have to be accomodated, whether you're doing an article or a book or an illustration.) 

I did the photography as well as the drawings for that book–amazing what a single-lens reflex camera could do!  Of course it's almost all digital. Keeping up with the times in an important part of being valuable to your clients. I discovered you CAN teach an old dog new tricks–just look at me!  I just delivered my latest book to North Light on DVD, with all digital images.

That first book, so far from my original–or subsequent!–dreams, got my foot in the door, and more importantly, convinced  later publishers of my art and natural history books that I could indeed do the work AND meet a deadline. It wasn’t nearly as difficult to get the second book contract, or the third. (I’m up to 22 done for other publishers now, plus the one I just finished that will come out late in 2009 or early 2010.)

That first book also resulted in a few more artisan-clothing articles for the magazines, plus some speaking engagements...but best of all, it convinced me I COULD. And as soon as I finished it, I moved on to doing the books I’d dreamed of for years (after my flirtation with a novel as a teenager, that is)–natural history, painting, and combining the two. Now, many of those are available on Amazon, and in my new store there, at http://astore.amazon.com/httpcathyjohi-20 –who would have thought?!

It comes back to believing in yourself, and perseverance. As I said, I had quite a sheaf of rejection slips before I got the OK on that first book.

And as I've said here before, nope, I'm far from rich...but I haven't punched a time clock in 30+ years, and I like it just fine that way!

(The illustration up top is from that first book--the coat is STILL one of my favorite garments.  Talk about win-win...)


Obviously the next book you write should be a motivational book. :)
mmmmmmm--quilting! i am impressed that the coat looks like you--it approximates what i perceive to be your body shape and type through the shoulders and top... i'm just sayin', it how i've pictured you.

and yes, i have a copy. go figure. quilted garments?? yeah. i live in the tundra, remember??? i even make quilts for my poor quilts. they get cold, too...
Drat, I'm not getting my comments from LJ! Just found this! Yeh, that looks like me, only taller and thinner. *G*

Small world, huh?

mmmm...toasty warm things!!!

As usual, Kate, you're an inspiration! Thank you for being so selfless in sharing your experience with others! Jules

Re: mmmm...toasty warm things!!!

You're welcome, Jules, I'm delighted to help, but honest, I'm not selfless. Just passing along the help others have given me.


first book

I remember this book. I even made a couple of the projects. I read everything you write in the group. Thanks for the inspiration,

Re: first book

I'm delighted to help, Cindy, thank you!