Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Marketing Visual Art: Is Selling Your Art a Business or Hobby?

NOTE: This blog post is an excerpt from my book: “From Creating Art to Creating Income Too (2) -Marketing Tips for the Visual Artist”. You are welcome to read the entire book’s contents online at my website, or it may be purchased for a small fee through retail outlets.

Chapter: Is Selling Your Art a Business or Hobby?

Once you start selling your work, you have officially entered the realm of earned income. It would be wise give some advance thought to this subject. Do you want to start a business with your sales, or do you wish to keep your art sales as a hobby endeavor?

Both hobby sales and business sales are considered earned income by the Internal Revenue Service. Earned income will need to be reported on your tax returns. This is when the business or hobby distinction becomes important. Generally speaking, if you sell art as a hobby, you may only deduct related expenses up to the amount of income you receive on hobby sales. If you opt for a business structure, you will have more latitude on how tax issues are handled (deductions, depreciation schedules, etc.)

You can start with a hobby and later upgrade to a business structure of course. However, if your ultimate desire is to be in the business of selling art, your focus and intentions (and thereby your likely results) will be more clear if you choose that path up front.

If you decide to that starting an actual business is for you, it would be a good idea to start off right. That means a nice chat with a quality CPA. He or she will likely suggest that you keep separate records for all business-related transactions. This includes a separate checking account for the business. Your CPA will be the best source of business/tax advice, though I will mention a few main topics to consider here:

Business Structure

There are a number of ways to set up your business structure. Probably the most common business structure for artists is the Sole Proprietorship. This is the simplest means of moving forward for the business. As a Sole Proprietor, you are the business. Another common and fairly simple business structure is the LLC or Limited Liability Company. These are not terribly complicated to set up. In most states you can do it yourself. An LLC gives you the liability protection of a corporation with the simplified tax return requirements of a Sole Proprietorship. Corporations are much more complicated and expensive to setup and manage. Most emerging artists do not choose to incorporate due to the time and financial considerations involved.

Business Location

Do you want outside studio space, or do you want to work out of your home? Renting studio space can be very exciting, as it creates a dedicated creative atmosphere and can be very helpful in separating one’s personal life from one’s work. Landlords and rental agreements vary greatly, so make sure to read all of the fine print before signing. Also, advise your future landlord of any unusual aspects about your creation process–sounds, smells, etc. Any disturbance of other tenants can be grounds for eviction, and honest communication with the landlord is priority one.
If you plan to work out of your home, as many artists do, think about setting up a separate space that will be entirely devoted to your work. Not only is this helpful at tax time (you can’t take a home office deduction unless the space is used only for business), it also gives you a sacred creating space. Most creative people find that their work flows more freely when they have personal and other considerations locked out for a while. You might want to consider a separate phone line for your business. This is not a large expense, and it can help you project a professional image to your clientele.

Business Licenses

Vendor’s License
In most locations, you will be required to have a vendor’s license in order to make sales. This involves collecting sales tax on in-state sales, and then filing a sales tax return monthly or biannually. Contact your county auditor’s office for an application. If you are planning to do art festivals and travel to other cities or states, check with the show officials about the vendor license requirements. A short term permit or license for the duration of the show will likely be required. Many shows now require proof of a vendor’s license before you will be permitted to exhibit.
While the process may sound a bit intimidating at first, sales tax returns and vendor’s license applications are generally easy tasks. Just make sure you have some system set up to track your sales. This will also make your life easier at tax time. Your system can be as simple as keeping paper copies of all sales receipts. Though an accounting program like Quickbooks, or at least an electronic spreadsheet, will make your life easier going forward.

Business Permit
Some local municipalities require that businesses, including in-home businesses, obtain a permit. If you reside in a condominium or belong to a home-owners association and plan to work out of your home, check the bylaws and/or CC&Rs for business restrictions. While a few art sales will fly under most radar screens, you will draw attention if you start receiving large supply orders or have customers coming to your place of residence.

- See more chapters at: http://www.pencilplace.com/artist-marketing-book-from-creating-art-to-creating-income.html

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Custom & Stock Vector Logos - Specializing in Horses, Dogs, Cats & OTher Animals

Custom and Stock Vector art of horses dogs cats and other animals
I have a number of my horse and dog vector logo designs, all available with exclusive rights, remaining in my collection. While most of my graphic design work is geared to the custom market, I occasionally use my “down” time to come up with creations of my own. These designs are made available on my horse and dog available vector art page.

Unlike most stock image sites that sell the same images over and over again to many people, my images are available on a first come, first serve basis to a single buyer only. I sell exclusive rights, which means all reproduction rights for logo use go to the buyer and will not be re-sold to others.

Feel free to contact me any time to discuss you custom logo needs! Contact information may be found at my website: www.cygnetgraphics.com.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Janet Kullman - Northeast Ohio Graphic Designer for Print

Introducing fellow Graphic Designer and good friend Janet Kullman! She does AWESOME design for print!

An admitted typoholic, “I love words, but am not a verbose persons,” Janet says, “it’s actually the interplay between the letters and other elements that attracts me.”

This love of type mixed with her love of color and overpowering need to create, lead her to study graphic design. “Oh yes, I still love words, they can say a lot, but poet or essayist, I'm not. I like things said in their most succinct form and that, to me, is visual”.

Janet worked for several ad agencies and of course a typehouse, before opening her own design studio, Kullman Design, in 1991. She refers to herself not as a graphic designer, but a communications designer. “It’s not only what you say, but how you say it that communicates your message,” she states. Her tagline, Building Images that Build Business, emphasizes her mission of creating unique visual messaging — putting form and content together— to make her client’s message visually appealing and memorable.

She has built a successful list of long-term clients by focusing on relationships. “Building relationships are a key component in helping a cleint successfully build their brand. It's that level of trust and collaboration that enables me to effectively create their unique design,” Janet explains.

Logo, brand identity, a new brochure, business cards and stationery, post cards for direct mail, catalogs, billboards, etc – Whatever your print design needs — from concept design through to printing, contact Janet at: www.janetkullmandesign.com.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Personalized Graphic Design Assistance: Print and Web Marketing Solutions for Small Businesses


Print Design • Websites • Logo Design • Vector Art • Illustrations

I am greatly enjoying my new Office and Studio space in the Nordonia area - Cuyahoga Valley National Park Trails are all around the place!! This late summer's cooler temps have allowed me to find many new trails ... and revisit ones from days past. This area is even more beautiful than I remembered it!

NE Ohio and Nordonia Hills Graphic Design and Marketing - Cygnet Graphics | Kelli Swan
The goal of my business is top notch Customer Service. When you work with me you enjoy the experience of a professional designer who endeavors to understand and promote your business ... with service and turnaround times that will make you wish you’d found me sooner. (Check out my Testimonials page to see what happy clients have to say!)

I offer a variety of virtual graphic design services. My specialties include graphic design for print: brochure design, logo design, page layout, form typesetting, newsletters and interactive documents. My graphic design for the web services include: responsive website design, site maintenance, web graphics & banners, e-newsletters/e-mail marketing, and social media support. In addition, I am well-known for my custom horse, dog and animal logo designs, with clients worldwide.

In addition to graphic design services I specialize in Illustrations and Portraits in either pencil or pen & ink. See my other website, Pencil Drawings by Kelli Swan, for samples of my illustrations featuring buildings, homes, pets, landscapes and vintage aviation.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My online chat with Adobe: The Never Answered Question about Creative Cloud


I am creating this blog post in the interest of providing humor and entertainment. No disrespect to Adobe is intended, as I love their products. However my recent experience with their Online Help system was hysterical.

Today I engaged in what can only be described as "Online-Chat-Hell."  As an Adobe product user with the CS6 software, I had just subscribed to Adobe's Creative Cloud. I understood from Adobe's FAQ page that these are two separate installations, and that should I ever cancel my CC subscription, I would still be able to use my original CS6 apps, but the CC apps would become inactive.

My question arose when I actually installed Creative Cloud and noticed that all of my CS6 apps where listed with "Update" links next to them. The (hopefully logical) question was "If I update the CS6 apps *through* my CC subscription, will they also become inactive if I ever unsubscribe from CC?

Of course I don't plan to unsubscribe, as I see that this is the future for Adobe Applications. And I like this whole cloud concept. But in the interest of thoroughness, and understanding what the ramifications of my "link clicking" might be, I thought it would be nice to have an answer to my question.  Following is the transcript of my online chat with Adobe - it will either put you to sleep, leave you laughing, or simply leave you as befuddled & confused as I was.

Adobe Rep [name deleted]: Hello! Welcome to Adobe Customer Service.
Kelli: hello
Adobe Rep: Hi Kelli
Adobe Rep: Could you please elaborate the issue clearly?
Kelli: I just upgraded to CC. I noticed that all of my CS6 apps are listed on the pulldown menu with "UPDATE" links next to them. In the event that I ever unsubscribe from CC, will I still be able to use my CS6 apps after these updates?
Adobe Rep: Thank you for the information.
Adobe Rep: I will be glad to check and help you with this issue.
Adobe Rep: Please stay online for 2 to 3 minutes while I check this information for you.
Adobe Rep: Thank you for staying online
Adobe Rep: Kelli, I checked and see that you cannot use the CS6 applications once you installed the CC updates.
Kelli: Huh? You mean if I install the updates, *and* cancel the CC subscription, *then* I can't use the CS6 apps either??
Adobe Rep: Yes Kelli, you are correct.
Kelli: Would I be able to re-install CS6 from my dvd's and use it then? I did pay for the package.
Adobe Rep: Just to confirm, do you own CS6 product?
Kelli: YES!
Adobe Rep: In this case, you can just install CS6 product and use it.
Kelli: So to recap - the CS6 apps will be come inactive if update them through the CC and I later unsubscribe from the CC. I would have to go back to my original installation software and do a re-install. (?)
Adobe Rep: Kelli, please be informed that you cannot update CS6 apps from CC. You need to purchase CS6 full version.
Kelli: What is the problem here? I purchased a full CS6 version last year, and have the dvd set. Can't you see that from my Adobe ID? At the top of my new CC panel on my desktop ALL of my CS6 apps are listed with "Update" next to them.
Adobe Rep: Yes Kelli, once you click on update you will get new features of CC.
Kelli: How do I reach someone else, as I don't think you are understanding the questions that I am trying to ask. (?)
Adobe Rep: I truly understand your concern.
Adobe Rep: Kelli, you can go ahead and install the CS6 product using your installation disk and the serial number and if you update the CC applications, you cannot access CS6 applications and get the new features.
Kelli: That still doesn't make sense. Why would updating the CC applications affect my CS6 applications? My understanding is that they are separate installations. My original question is "If I update my CS6 apps with the CC service, will the CS6 apps become inactive if I unsubscribe from the CC service?" If that is the case, there is no point in my updating the CS6 apps until I am sure I want to keep the cloud subscription, as why would I want to go through a complete re-install of CS6?
Adobe Rep: You can go ahead and update CC applications and it will not affect the CS6 applications that you have installed.
Kelli: I'm not talking about updating the CC apps ... I'm talking about updating the CS6 apps through the Creative Cloud!!!
Kelli: You know - I'm thinking seriously about turning this chat session into a blog post ... I keep asking one question, and you keep answering a different one...
Adobe Rep: Kelli, I will provide you with the link where you can find the information.
Adobe Rep: Are you able to open the link?
Kelli: I have already been to this page, and my question was not answered there, which is why I came to Chat in the first place. The page answers the question about installing both CS and CC packages ["Yes, your existing Creative Suite installation will not be affected by installing the new CC applications. For example, you can install and use both Photoshop CS6 and Photoshop CC on the same computer."] The question it DOES NOT ANSWER is whether updating CS apps from CC will affect them down the road should a user unsubscribe from the cloud. This is a logical question to ask...
Adobe Rep: I checked and see that you can install the CS6 application and CC applications on same computer.
Kelli: Yeah ... I knew *that* going into this. Are you even reading my question(s)?
Adobe Rep: Yes, updating CS6 apps from CC will not affect the installation process you can go ahead and use it without any issues.
Kelli: CS6 apps can still be used, after updating, even if CC subscription is cancelled?
Adobe Rep: You can use CS6  full version perpetual license.

At this point I gave up ... initial question was never answered as far as I can tell...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

T. Meldrum's Restaurant Makeover: A New Look!

The Glass Garden at T. Meldrum's

T. Meldrum's Restaurant Makeover: A New Look, New Menus, New Website and Free Wi-Fi!

Massillon, OH - Local dining favorite T. Meldrum's Restaurant has been given a whole new look. Now sporting fresh interior paint colors in a trendy color scheme with Norman Rockwell prints adorning the walls, Meldrum's has also refreshed its menu with many new entrees. Coinciding with this new look is the new website: www.meldrumsrestaurant.com, featuring the full Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menus along with Seasonal Specials and lots more. To top it all off, customers now enjoy Free Wi-Fi when dining at T. Meldrum's!

T Meldrum’s Family Restaurant is owned by Tom and Carol Meldrum of Massillon, Ohio.
Located on Wales Road in Massillon, Ohio, the restaurant has been serving great food for great prices, in a friendly atmosphere, for over four decades. With Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Carryout, Meldrum's offers a wide variety of dining options. The delicious and affordable breakfast is hugely popular, and delicious lunch offerings draw many return customers. Many families and couples enjoy sitting in the Glass Garden with the sunshine streaming in.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Responsive websites abound!

My goodness it has been one very busy spring here at Cygnet Graphics! In the past month I have had four new website launches - all with responsive design so that they work well on tablets and smart phones. One site, ShowChic, has a brand new shopping cart system that is also responsive!

I must say that I am blessed to have some of the nicest clients in the world. All of these projects have been a creative joy! Please check out these great business when you have time: