Wet Stuff : The Art of Painting a Business

Guest Starring Joe Cardillo of ABQ Creates (4)

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Wet Stuff: The Art of Painting a Business
Episode 7
Guest-Starring Joe Cardillo of ABQ Creates, the Downtown Arts and Cultural District

visit ABQcreates.org 


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Joe Cardillo, “So have you like this is a curious question and response have you engaged, and you must have had conversations with some of the artists that you show here in your space You know you must have had a conversation where you guys talked about the valuation and the pricing and all that.”

KD, “Yeah oh yeah.”

Joe Cardillo, “What’s that like?”

KD, “That’s always hard. The way I’m pricing my work right now is by the square inch I do a dollar per square inch, and when I do small paintings, it looks like my prices are too low when they’re large paintings it looks like my prices are too high.”

Joe Cardillo, “interesting.”

KD, “And they’re neither They’re neither it’s just a standard that works for me.”

Joe Cardillo, “Right you found your way of approaching that question.”

KD, “Right right for me it’s a very logical way to price my work, and if I raise it I can raise it to 1.25 soon I’m gonna raise it to $2 per square inch I’m gonna double my prices soon. And other artists I don’t know how many people adhere to a formula like that when they’re pricing their work but what a lot of artists will do is they will meticulously calculate the time they spent on the piece the cost of the framing the cost of the materials and that is that can be challenging depending on how you work it’s doable but even when you do that when all you do is calculate the cost of your materials that still isn’t adding anything regarding the value of the artwork itself the creative process the years you’ve spent honing your skills and developing your ability to create something unique it’s only the cost of the materials.”

Joe Cardillo, “Wow that’s a real challenge.”

KD, “Yeah it is what’s fascinating about the value of art is it’s very arbitrary Ultimately your collectors decide what your artwork is worth and at a certain point you have to have enough self-worth to refuse to let something go for too little.”

Joe Cardillo, “yeah and how you make that decision is different for different people.”

KD, “Right and there’s nothing I spoke with Steve Saddington on another podcast interview that we did talking about sales and he made the point that if you’re starving you know if you need ten dollars because you need to eat and you give it up there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Joe Cardillo, “Oh man yeah I’m not gonna judge someone for putting a roof over their head or food on their table with their art I mean I think that’s absurd when that happens.”

KD, “It’s a complicated problem to have depending on your situation. Some artists have access to more opportunities and are more blessed just to begin with.”

Joe Cardillo, “And have advantages too.”

KD, “Yeah Some people have fewer advantages they have less in their network they may have grown up in an abusive home and have lived life and been homeless and have had to join the military to get off the street or something there’s just a vast number of scenarios out there and they’re vastly different as far as what your opportunities are what your background is if you’ve been raised in a corporate family where your parents were into business or your parents were entrepreneurs or your parents were good at business they probably taught you some of those things so that would give you a head start but if you grew up in an abusive alcoholic family where you were beaten and told that you were worthless you do not have the same set up.”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah your structure is completely different.”

KD, “Yeah you don’t you may not understand the first thing about business or value, and you might have a skewed idea of what your work is worth or what you’re worth or what value even is much less your boundaries.”

Joe Cardillo, Yeah and you might not even be asking that question even to begin with because you’re just kind of like sustaining yourself in some fashion.”

KD, “Right and I’ve run into that too so I’ll run into people who are clearly have never had to worry about how to pay their rent and/or are like artists whose spouse has always supported them they don’t have the same idea of they don’t have a sense of what’s nice is that they don’t have a sense of desperation but on the other hand they also struggle with a sense of value because they don’t need the money so there’s there’s a point between the two where if you’re so desperate you scare people away but if you don’t need the money you tend to devalue your work.”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah the urgency isn’t always present.”

KD, “So it’s finding that place where you’re keeping your head above water you’ve got some you work in a cafe or you’re a cashier somewhere or whatever you have some means to sustain yourself to sustain your well-being and at the same time you still have your creative passion you still pursue your artwork and you gotta start somewhere you’ve got to have something to go on.”

Joe Cardillo, “And I think it to go back to that question because part of it is how do you make jumps as a creative person sort of like ok how do I get to this how do I get I mean I’ve watched people struggle with like pricing for example and you know I’m a musician other than art is there any additional field that has dealt with this global market destruction of value more than music, definitely not you know I mean like you can’t there are major recording artists that make pennies on the dollar from Spotify streaming music or Pandora or title or whatever I guess titles maybe a little better but you know it’s all the same kind of concept and you know it’s like one of the things I tell people is review your review your value and your pricing at least once a year maybe a couple times a year if you can because if you don’t sit down and sort of figure out okay what did I really spent the last six months on should my pricing increase and the answer to that usually has a lot to do with well do people is it working is the format I’m delivering working is the audience I’m trying to reach interested whats’ the demand like am I selling things really quickly am I not selling anything and if you sit down and have that kind of thing where you figure that out or even if you are starting to become successful it’s like okay how I dunno do I raise my prices like people really like what I do (I sell these small versions of this thing for 80 dollars or whatever it is and I’m selling a few of those a month maybe if there’s a popular bigger version of that or maybe I expand into a different medium or maybe I do design and I add T-shirts to my stack or whatever it might be as a creative person being able to review that consistently and then I just think messaging it clearly and being like well it’s January I’m doing good things are going great pricing is a little different folks like you know people like that or they don’t like it that’s one of the tips or tricks that I’ve always employed.”

KD, “And that goes back to the willingness to experiment that you mentioned before.”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah because you can find you can definitely find it’s totally possible if you’re a painter that you you kind of do something a little different you start painting walls or houses or you start painting electric boxes or whatever your thing might be that you’re trying out sometimes it’s amazing and it doesn’t pay you any money but you do it because you love it sometimes it’s terrible, and you hate it and you don’t like that format and you decide not to do it anymore you know there’s lots of ways to get to I think that knowing which is the experiment and which is the main thing is really critical for any artist or creative like you know this thing works pretty good this other thing I really don’t know, but I’m willing to spend this amount of time and money to find out if I like it if it works.”

KD, “Oh right to get to a place where you’re not just living in a fog of assumptions, but you’ve got some hard facts that you’ve distinctly discovered.”

Joe Cardillo, “you know the difference yeah because otherwise you can put a lot of time and money into something and that’s tricky.”

KD, “And you may have no awareness as to whether or not something is working.”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah that’s true if you aren’t answer that question how do I know if it’s working or not and I’m pretty non-judgmental about the answer to that because sometimes you can do a thing and you’re like hey this makes money it really people love it but you personally as a creative are like uh I don’t like doing that it’s not for me it doesn’t fit my ethics or my style or my approach, or I can do it but it costs me in this other area those are all appropriate measurements but you have to be asking that question know that it’s an experiment and you have to be able to measure it in some way, not every measurement is dollars and cents there are lots of other kinds of things to measure I think that’s it’s fair for people to decide which set works for them.”

KD, “What are some things that other industries do that artists can emulate?”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah that’s a great question I mean there’s I like there’s this phrase that I always use and you were kind of touching on it earlier It’s like anything else like anything you learn in one place I mean you were talking about how being a creative artist gives you access to like how to develop a new product or idea in any business and it’s true it is like anything else you can take anything you apply somewhere and you can take some part of that and use it somewhere else I really strongly believe that I’ve practiced that my whole life and I think the opportunities in particular for artists include trying different mediums collaborating with other people who are already experts in those mediums whether that’s software or interactive design or sound design or whatever it might be you know there’s usually opportunities in there and particularly in terms of audience development you know just being able to experiment like one thing that people in startup in tech world do really well is they figure out how to get user adoption that’s just a fancy way of saying how to get a bunch of people to try your thing log in and sign-up and see what it’s like that you know that user adoption could be how you get people in your front door of your space that has art in it or music or whatever it could also be how you get customers because those two things are a little bit different an audience of some sort versus paying customers so those are kinds of concepts that I really like and I also think that you think about being you think about advertising and ad tech and start-ups and software there's’ some lessons in there for sure for all of us to think about like what are people paying us with some people pay with time and attention some people pay with money and developing an audience is such a huge important concept I just can’t speak highly enough of that that’s a thing that you can learn from the business world and take back to being an artist it’s not like you have to love every audience member you have but like developing an audience is a valuable skill that’s huge to me you could do it in your own way.”

KD, “One of my favorite methodologies that I’ve learned about is called I’m trying to remember the gentleman's name who did some work for Google he’s on you can find him on YouTube if you search for the pretotyping manifesto pretotyping yeah.”

Joe Cardillo, “Preto—okay.”

KD, “Pretotyping yeah he talks about pretotyping which is a pretend prototype.”

Joe Cardillo, “Oh okay I’ve never heard that before that’s cool.”

KD, “it’s brilliant it’s fascinating, and one of the points he makes is that ideas are worthless not worthless as in they have no value but as in until somebody actually if somebody tells you yeah I would buy that that is not the same as somebody actually buying that because people will tell you all day yeah I love your idea for your painting I would love to have that painting or you know if you if you make whatever this invention is oh that’s great that sounds like a great idea there’s gotta be people who will love that until you make a pretotype, and you can actually make the exchange you don’t know if your idea is actually going to sell and one of the challenges you have as a fine artist is there’s no pretotyping an original painting.”

Joe Cardillo, “That’s true yeah that’s very true.”

KD, “I mean you can make the sketch you can work on some mock up have examples of your other work that you can show and try a Kickstarter project to see if people will fund your idea to make the next painting that’s totally possible so I guess that would be one way to do it.”

Joe Cardillo, “Yeah and I think that the and I really believe that I think ideas are nice and every now and then someone has an amazing idea and it’s just so brilliant but it’s 98 97 percent execution really I mean all things that are worth doing take time to iterate and to refine and so I’m not an artist so I can’t comment on that specific example of how do you prototype a painting I can’t answer that I’m once in a while somebody has all things that are worth doing take time to iterate and to refine and you know I’m not an artist so I can’t comment on that specific example I literally can’t answer that but maybe you put together a mock or a comp or a smaller version or you if you’d dabble in like digital design you could project a smaller version onto the wall without putting all the time to prep a canvas and like that and all that I think there are ways to kind of experiment with that there’s always a leap there’s always a leap as a creative person and we should welcome that leap.”

KD, “I was just thinking of that now like maybe you can pretotype a painting by creating the compositional sketch something to show people giving people enough of an idea what the painting will look like and be offering prints as rewards when the painting is done, so it’s like if you give me ten dollars I’ll give you this size of print if you give me twenty dollars I’ll give you this size of print

Joe Cardillo, “I think that’s a great example I mean that’s kind of how crowd funding works in a sense when it goes well you know and I think it raises this other question which you sort of touched on which is how do you show your work artists really struggle with this question which is when is it appropriate to let people peek in on what’s happening and I think the answers different for every person of course, so I’m not going to be presumptuous and be alright you should do this or that but you can think about it and figure out, and you can experiment with that.”

KD, “Yeah.”

Joe Cardillo, “How much of my work do I want to let people peek at.”

KD, “I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I have this funny idea that whoever doesn’t like your work it doesn’t matter it only matters who likes your work so you might as well always show it because the only people it’s going to matter to are the people who like it.”

Joe Cardillo, “That’s part of building your tribe of people who are excited about things you’re excited about.”

KD, “So I think if you just I could be wrong about this but I think if you just put it out there in whatever state you’re in if somebody is gonna criticize it and think you’re a weak artist or whatever that person is not your audience your audience is going to be the people that love it, and there are enough people out there who are probably going to love it.”

Joe Cardillo, “yeah you know And this falls into the category of I’m not qualified necessarily to comment on it but because I’m not an art critic and I'm not an art historian I don’t have that background at all one thing I did learn when I was in SF working for this market place called Visually it’s as startup that you know you have somebody that needs something designed you have designers and so it’s this classical what they call a two-sided marketplace client and if you’re the startup in the middle or the company in the middle you have to make both people happy it’s a pretty hard problem to solve actually there’s this challenge inherent in that which is that our job is if there’s value at the middle there’s always value in the middle and if you're not sure what that value is or how to get to it experimentation is that’s always how you get there you don’t operationalize and spend a lot of time and money on something if you don’t know if it works or not so you know I think for artists specifically having a sense of what you want to show to people or expose them to is great and I think that at the end of the day you’re always going to make things that some and it’s fine it’s good I make things that aren’t for anyone else you know part of my like I’m not going to reveal the kinds of things I do as a creative person but I have little projects that I do that I don’t tell anybody about that are just about brightening up space or changing someone’s perception of how something works and that’s writing and art and music and sounds and stuff like that and some of it’s just for me I just do it because i like to do it I don’t need any approval from anybody you know and I’m not trying to sell it I think artists can and should always have things that are across that range where you know look some things are for a wide audience that I’m trying to reach and connect and develop a relationships with customers some things are just for fun and some things are for fun with other creative people where we trade our work because there’s a lot of different kinds of value in that stack I don’t know if that made sense that got really broad really quickly.”

KD, “Thank you so much for your time today it’s been an interesting conversation.”

Joe Cardillo, “yeah I think you raised a lot of really great fascinating questions so thank you it’s a pleasure.”

KD, “Is there anything else you can think of that you wanted to say.”

Joe Cardillo, “no I mean it’s a really wonderful question if anybody is in your audience is an artist creative entrepreneurs of any sort certainly welcome to join the coffee creatives group we do an email newsletter we meet in person every other Thursday you can find pretty much all the information on abqcreates.org easy resource for people Thank you so much for having me”

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