I’m always interested in the economics of the working creative person, what works and what doesn’t. This is a “year in review” of my experience as a working artist/ photographer/ educator.
This was the bread and butter for me. I added mixed media workshops at a local art store to the schedule, and did a lot of private lessons that were very fruitful. If you learn a skill while making art pieces, it’s easier to make money teaching that skill to others than selling the actual art. And let’s say you sell that art- that may be a one time transaction. Teaching the skill is a limitless transaction. I’m excited to teach in 2 new venues next year, the Chandler Senior Center and the Shemer Art Center in central Phoenix.
I made 75% of what I made last year on the site, yet the views were way higher and the number of orders were roughly the same. I can only attribute this to the way Etsy changed their policies and now allow mass produced items like watches on their site.
Of the keywords people search for to find me/ buy work on Etsy, “Futurama”, “fetish photography” “polaroid” “instax” and “viewmaster” are consistently at the top.
My Instagram and Tumblr are around the 2500 level, which is only notable because people often judge you by the surface number of your audience as opposed to actual engagement. IG works as a super simple launching platform for posts to other media, which means you spend less time elsewhere. As an indie creator I have to care about building an audience as much as I care about making stuff for the audience of one (myself).
With Tumblr, I’ve become disengaged. The demographics for Tumblr is largely teenagers. Posts only go viral if they feature a particular model (mostly Mosh or Sierra McKenzie) or another curated blog picks it up. Since I can’t make a career out of repeatedly shooting the same model over and over, I’ve made a big effort to have my non-model work get seen on those curated blogs.
Facebook has flatlined for me since they changed the way their posts are seen, i.e. you have to pay for it to be seen. Twitter, I suppose I use it like an afterthought- tweeting everything when the button shows up.
My music social media Soundcloud is a very tough one to get numbers growing on, same with Youtube, Vimeo and Behance. Wordpress (this blog) is also painfully slow, though I seem to be improving all the time.
WordPress does have great statistics: people like when I write about new gear or particular models – Anastasia Arteyeva, Glass Olive and Sierra McKenzie are searched a lot. The “inspriation” posts are good attention getters because instead of talking about little old me, I’m talking about Queen or Dave McKean or Futurama.
It’s worth having all the social media going because they all cater to different audiences, but they can feed into each other (instagram posts to fb, twitter and tumblr, youtube and vimeo host the music videos and tutorials that go on behance and play the soundcloud tracks etc.). It feels like an out-of-control octopus at times but that’s the way it is in 2014.
I decided early on to not seek out craigslist-type shoots and focus on making the art photography that interested me. To put it business-like, I did not want to dilute my “brand.” As a result I only did a handful of family shoots in November, otherwise it was all art and travel photography.
I did around 20 model shoots and I got something out of each one, though I found myself working with a lot less experienced models and don’t want to repeat that again. When you have limited time and resources there’s no point in making dull stuff.
An unusual set of events this year involved the “fallout” of the shoots.
1 model complained I posted an “aggressive” photo of her
1 model did a nude bodypaint shoot and was still cleaning up when her mother arrived and walked into the bathroom. I wasn’t around when that happened but I did have a good laugh when I heard.
1 model had me retract her working name from all work and foreswore future art modeling due to threats from her family. Another model had a similar thing, where her model name was something she branded her music with and she had to deal with a stalker.
1 model altered a photo I gave her for posting on social media.
In 2015 I’m going to experiment with shooting agency models and continue working with the freelancers I already know and love working with, but it’s pretty unlikely I’ll do any more model mayhem-type stuff.
There was a group show in LA at the start of the year and exhibits locally at the Tempe Library and AZ Opera. The Tempe Library led to some good press naming me one of Phoenix’s top creatives.
I joined the Mesa Arts Center Co-op and have been finding my feet as to what work actually belongs in this particular gallery store and how best to present it. One of the issues that has come up a lot is that much of my photography is over the line for public display- not enough G rated material. To this end I’ve had to create a lot of images printed and framed that are either brand new/ specific for the gallery or older but never got placed on canvas. This is a more recent development so I don’t have much in the way of statistics, only when I sit at the gallery I see the kind of people who come in and hear their comments. Definitely the kind of people who are interested in pretty things and not irony/ quirky/ “edgy” things.