Brave Enough To Try

Conversation with Artist Ciara Barsotti | We talk leveraging your local community, getting your work out there, plus tips + tricks for a successful market pop-up.

July 06, 2023 Cindy Moore
Brave Enough To Try
Conversation with Artist Ciara Barsotti | We talk leveraging your local community, getting your work out there, plus tips + tricks for a successful market pop-up.
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Ciara shares the ways in which you can leverage your local community to get your artwork (or goods) out into the community! We go over things like:

  • Starting small- Who to reach out to and how.
  • Making sure your legit - Like having a sellers permit, the ways people can get in touch with you, even the ways you can take payment.
  • Thinking outside the box - unusual places you can reach out to that maybe you didn't think about before.
  • Reading the fine print - understanding if local businesses will take percentages, how to market yourself, tax guidelines, building an email list etc.

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On this week's episode, we talk about leveraging your local community, getting your work out there, and tips and tricks on how to have a successful pop up at a market. Hey, it's Cindy and you're listening to the brave enough to try podcast, a show created to provide you with helpful life and small business tips, as well as encouragement and inspiring conversations with friends that I've made along the way so that you can be inspired to be brave enough to chase after your wildest dreams. Okay, it's Cindy, your host of the brave enough to try podcast and today we have a very special guests with us. Please let me introduce Kira, an incredible mixed media abstract and pet portrait artist whose art infuses your space with hope, joy and a lot of bit of color. Here. Well, first of all, I am a huge, huge fan of your work. And I'm so excited to have you on the show today.

Thank you. I'm super excited to be here.

So whenever I have a guest, I usually start with the same question. And that's really, how did you end up on this journey? If you could give us sort of a quick timeline on how you decided that you wanted to embark on your artistic journey?

Sure, yeah. So I mean, I've been an artist ever since I was a kid and could hold a pencil and didn't decide really to pursue it professionally until about a decade ago, I would say. And it's been a lot of fits and starts you know, I especially with with the internet and seeing a lot of people who appear to be overnight successes, I would get discouraged regularly, and then throw in the towel and say, This isn't for me. So but I would I just kept coming back to it and kept coming back to it as like not not just as an art practice, but as a business that I wanted to do this full time as my career. So so at this point, I've pretty much embraced that, you know that that I'm going to make this my career my job, I've always always been entrepreneurial as well. Since I was a kid I I saved up money pet setting when I was nine years old for my first puppy that was all mine. And so it's just it's in me, I can't I can't escape it. So I'm I'm embracing it. Now I'm really working on my resilience and mindset and things that keep me going when things are, you know, becoming an overnight success, which is not realistic.

Oh, I love that. No, I'm the same way I think for so long. I struggled to like leave the classroom, you know, because I'm that was my profession for so many years. I would try like I would start here in there. And then I just was like, Oh, I can't do it. You know, it's just I can't do it. And I didn't know if it was because I couldn't balance both. But I'm with you. I kept thinking, man, look at all these people. They're like overnight success like it, that never happens to me every time I try, like, I just hear nothing, you know. So it's really incredible to know that there's other people who maybe have had this calling for so long, and then have been afraid to do it. And then one day to decide now I'm going to go in all in because I keep coming back to this. So obviously it's really important to me. And that's what I'm assuming, you know is happened to you. You had that Coleen and you decided no, I'm gonna decide that I want to do this. And I'm going to, you know, push through and you're so right about the whole resilience. I think a lot of people forget that you really need resiliency, especially when you're trying to branch out on your own. I know a lot of my listeners, they're always asking me like, can you give us some motivation or some encouragement, and I get it because I need daily encouragement, as well.

Oh, for sure. And I do want to say to, you know, I am still currently in a day job, I think that's important to note, just because part of of, of my mindset work and my building my resilience is letting go the black and white thinking feeling like, I have to be doing my art full time in order to consider myself an artist and consider myself successful people. And, and life is just much more complicated than that. Like, at this stage of my life, we just bought a house, we just had a kid, like having a stable income from a day job is what I need right now. And I'm really, again, embracing that and letting it you know, resting in it and letting that take the pressure off of my art needing to be my only financial being by financial security and my income. So which has just allowed me to figure out all this mindset stuff and take the time to, you know, experiment and try things, which is a really important aspect of business too. 

Yes. And I think too, I think it's really important to know because I know sometimes my listeners feel like like they're not enough because they're working full time and they're like, I just, I feel like I'm failing or I feel like I'm falling behind and like that's not the case at all because there's A lot of people who are balancing boats, you know, my husband came to me a couple of months ago because I stepped out of the classroom. And that was really hard. But I also worked many years saving like I had, like a goal. In my mind, I was like, I need to have X amount of money before I can even decide to leave the classroom. It's so my husband a couple of months ago was like, I think I'm ready to step away, because we're moving. And so he was like, I think I'm ready to step away. Because there's so many things that need to get in place for the move. And I just don't feel like I can do both. And so we sat down, and we really talked about it. And we both came to the conclusion that like we we need the safety net of his of his career, like we need it right now, for, you know, health reasons, health insurance reasons. And there's nothing wrong with having the stability of a paycheck. And in our current life right now. It's what's really helping, I mean, like, I'm going to be the first to say, like, I don't have it all together, I may be a small business entrepreneur, and I may be doing the things that I love. But my version of success, or like my version of like how much I make a month might be enough for me, but it might not be enough for someone else, you know. So I think that's really important to note too, because I think a lot of people are constantly throwing out these, like, why I'm self employed, and I'm making $5,000 or $10,000 a month. And I'm like, That's great if that's your goal, but like for all of us, for me, it's just be able to homeschool my daughter have enough to pay my bills, but also have flexibility in my day so that I can still make art for me, but also help people who are wanting to embark on their journey. So like success is going to look different for everybody and not going to meet people who are doing both. And there's nothing wrong with that. That doesn't mean that like you're you're falling behind. Yeah, it
doesn't mean that you're like not living to your fullest potential. It doesn't mean that you're not following your dreams. 

Like, yeah, yeah,
you can, you can do both. And I think a lot of the times people think it's like, it's either one or the other. And that I think that that's a false narrative. I totally Yeah, you can do both, and be successful and be happy and be content. And that's all that matters. Because as long as you're happy at the end of the day, yeah, that's all that matters. That's just constantly what I what I tell people, If you're happy, that's all that matters. One of the things that I wanted to talk to you about and to get, you know, your advice is throughout your artistic journey, I'm sure that you've likely encountered you know, challenges and triumphs and things like that. One of my biggest, I guess, questions is we have the online space, right? So like everyone showing up online, how would you encourage or give advice to people who are wanting to leverage their local community?

Yeah, so first of all, I love getting local, and like talking to real people, because it, it feels so much more real, because it is real, you know, it's real life, we were talking about the internet and real life. Lately, I think it's really important to, like, have your work in front of actual humans, like up in a space versus just in an online gallery, or just on Instagram, where it's just tucked in your studio, I think metaphysically it's much better for the work to be up on a wall and out somewhere being seen, you know? 

Yeah, yeah. Yeah,
I love local art pop ups, I spend more money when I go to like a craft fair, or like a pop up than I do online. Because you know, it's not the same experience. Like here, you could start to the artist, and you get to know their story, and you get to physically touch the product. And for me, I'm one of those like, visual, I have to touch it, I'm a tactile person, right. Like, I have to be able to, to feel it. But I'm the same way I love in real life scenarios, like where I get to hang out with people and network with people, Zoom is probably the closest I get, because I get to see their faces. But I think a lot of like our small business, you know, entrepreneurs and a lot of the artists that are currently in our community, they're kind of scared to go on to the local community. And I think one of the things that they always talk about is like, oh, people are gonna judge me and like, oh, I don't want my neighbors to see what I'm doing. And I think that that's just like a block, you know, like a mindset block. I think we just got to kind of like push through that. So the next question I want to ask you is, what are some effective strategies that you would recommend for engaging with the local community in order to gain you know, support and sales for your
art? 

Yeah, absolutely. I think, I mean, starting where you're comfortable is totally legit. Like, I hate making phone calls. I think most most people under you know, 45 hate making phone calls. And equally, it's nerve racking to like go into a business and say and like talk to someone about getting your work putting your work up. So start with email, start with Instagram. That's how I've landed all of my shows in local coffee shops. And that's how I've gotten all my work up in also local galleries and local art center and even local markets. So you know, it starts with that it's It's much safer to be rejected in that format as well. Because it generally you just don't hear back. And that's like the literally the worst that can happen. So, so you know, find, find that email, you know, find their Instagram. And I will say, with local businesses and like coffee shops and boutiques and things like that, that might have your art, Instagram might not be the best way to get a hold of someone. And actually, that's the same with email. So so I would always start though with Instagram and email. And I would follow up once or twice. And then if you don't hear anything, that's when you go in, and you talk to the person behind the counter and ask, Hey, you know, is there a good email? Is there a good contact, and more often than not, they'll put you in touch with the manager. So that is like, if you're willing to go in and just, you know, go for the throat. Like, that's the fastest way to get things done, is to go talk to someone in person, right. But when you're just easing in, you can always Instagram and email. And like I said, that's been effective for me.

Yeah, no, I, you know, I'm so glad that you mentioned that, because I've seen incredible art at our local coffee shops. And I've always been wondering, like, Oh, this is so cool. I wonder how they, you know, came up with this partnership, because I think that that's a great place, you know, preferably, you would already have a collection that you want to share. And then you can just share it. And it's something that you've already done, that you're already really proud of happy with. And you never know who might be interested in purchasing it or saying, hey, I want to want to learn more about this person, because maybe we can collaborate. And I think that that's a really great thing.

Yeah, absolutely. I've, I've sold most of my originals at coffee shops. And then markets are another avenue, but but they tend to you said tend to sell a lot of small goods at markets. But yeah, the originals, I do sell at coffee shops, which and it's because people go there, they go there frequently, they get to spend time with the work.
So they're getting to see it, to imagine what it might be like to have it because you're constantly around it. Yes. I love that. I want to ask you, since you already have the experience, obviously sharing and your local market. And can you give us some examples of successful collaborations or partnerships that you've done, I'd like to know if you if you're willing, if you want to share an example of just something that was really successful, that you're really proud of a collaboration that you got to do with your local community, you know, that helped you gain traction?

Sure, yeah. I mean, I, like I said, are like we said, I've done coffee shop shows, I'm in a couple of I've been in a couple of local galleries. And my town, there's about 100,000 people. So we do have a lot of venues and and I do want to mention to this works, no matter how big or small your area is, you know, almost everywhere, he's got a coffee shop, almost everyone's got a library. And then and even in bigger cities, you've got your local neighborhood that you can start and you've got people that you rub elbows with every day that you can start with so that's just an aside, this is applicable to any size community you're in, right. But as far as successful collaborations so I've seen a lot of success with local markets and the market scene has just exploded in the Chico area. There's like multiple markets going on every weekend and things like that. So so in that takes some experimentation to kind of find your niche and find because they all get different shoppers and everything and markets there. It's a big like time commitment for a full weekend. But it's really rewarding. You get a lot of good feedback, you get a lot of practice. Like if you're if you're I think most artists starting out are not comfortable making the sales and you know, putting themselves out there in that very face to face way. But markets are an awesome way to practice. 

Yeah, Practice makes progress, right? 

Totally. Yeah. And, yeah, absolutely. It's something that I, every time I go into it, I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna try something different this time, because, you know, but one, one partnership that I've been really excited about lately is there's a new store in town, which is a it's a curated makerspace. So a lot of North State and Chico California makers are all in this curated collection of like home goods and art and things and and my work is up in the front window now. Oh, just fighting. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, so one of my big paintings is up there and it's so great to have the big paintings out of the house and like up being enjoyed by people. It clears up some space but to enjoy it I love

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. 

And I honestly think like, that has been, you know, I've been I've been promoting them on socials I go in and I you know, met the owner and I feel like we have a good rapport and, and I think my work being in the window is just because I you know, I touch base with them pretty frequently. And so I think I'm tight open mind and networking used to feel like a bad word to me like I, it sounds it sounds so like corporate and businessy and salesy, but all it is, is finding people that you vibe with and hanging out with them frequently. Absolutely. Yeah. not that complicated.

You're so right. I think I think it's just the way that it's used like in industry that it's like, oh, you have to do this. And I sometimes well, I used to, I used to say that it was a dirty word. And my husband would laugh at me. And I say, No, it feels dirty to me. Because it feels like we're using people to get ahead. And I don't want that, like, That is not who I am at all. I yeah, I know, I've mentioned this a million times on all my episodes, but like, I love community, like once I click with somebody, I want them to succeed, like I want them to make it to the very top and I will cheer them on every step of the way. And if there's something that I can do for them, and help them I will, because I'm all about helping each other. You know, I don't like the idea of like competing against one another. There's enough for everybody. I've always, I've always believed in that, but you kind of like inspired a thought right now real quick. So one of the questions that I want to ask is, if somebody's listening to this, and they're saying, oh, yeah, I really want to go, like, I'm gonna go to a coffee shop, or I'm gonna go to like a local market where they sell Mexico, what is maybe something that they can exchange with the seller or contact them for the sell with? Are they giving up like a portion of their sells? You know, I'm not really sure how that would work. How has that experience been for you?

Yeah, yeah. So so the coffee shop scene, and the market scene are two totally different animals that I can kind of touch on both. So So with coffee shops, generally, I found they don't take a commission, which is awesome. Because, you know, galleries will often take a commission. Usually it's 50 to 60%. And the store that I'm partnering with now is only 35%, which is awesome. Yeah, that's better than 50 years.
Way better. Yeah. Yeah, that's all they take. So but so coffee shops generally don't take commission, they, they usually don't promote you. So so it's up to you to you know, use leverage your email, marketing your email list, leverage your social media to tell people about it, invite all your friends and family, they will all come support, nothing else, it will just be a fun coffee shop party. It's one of those. Yeah, yeah. And you can, you can totally set up a reception unofficially or officially with the coffee shop, during their open hours. Yeah, it's a fun way to like drum up some business for them. And then obviously, you want to like go in and check out the space before you hang your work and see if you can, can see how the work is being hung. And then be prepared to bring your own tools to hang the work. But they may, they may have stuff for you like some some coffee shops are set up for work to rotate out regularly. And they've got hanging systems that are more like galleries, and even those shops that have not taken a commission, which is amazing. But and then other than that, you want to make sure your work is just ready to hang, you want to make sure your work is ready to be labeled in some way. And then I would highly recommend putting posters up around town of the show, directing people because that's another great way to like, you know, meet people and interact with people and, and it feels scary, the first few but if you've got 20 businesses to go to by the end, you'll feel like a pro

Absolutely. Reminded me of my art teaching days, you know, because we used to set up the shows for my students. And you're so right. I mean, I would have like a little Fanny packed, I was like full of tape and pins, extra labels in case like, my peers didn't have their supplies. I'm like here and I had little like scissors, you know, I was ready to go. So I think as an artist, too, it's really important to be prepared, because you're right, and each scenario might be different. And then you mentioned the libraries. And believe it or not, I used to work at the at our local public library many, many years ago. And they are huge art advocates. So they would rotate their east and their West glass displays for local artists. And that this like easy signup online where you sign up and say, I'm going to take this week of this month, and then you could go hang up your artwork. And then if people wanted to contact you, they would have like some type of barcode or phone number or website listed. And I remember thinking how cool is that? And it just popped into my head when you mentioned the local library a few a few moments ago because you're so right, I mean, coffee shops, library, local markets. And then another thing that just popped into my head, our city hall not too long ago, had a call for artists, you know, like to hang inside their office. So I do think that the opportunities are there. I just think maybe sometimes people don't know where to look, you know, like the next question is like I want to do this But I don't know how. So yeah, you've given so many, like so many good tips.

Yes. Awesome. And I totally forgot the the most exciting collaboration I have coming up, I'm partnering with a local boutique pet store. I'm creating a series just for them, kind of in the style of my pet portraits, but of just dog and cat breeds love put on the wall. So they've got they got art on the walls. I also walked in and confidently said, I do an 8020 Split commission. So I'm getting 80% of any sale. And they were like, Sure. And I was like, okay. 

You handled that you were like, at for me, 20 for you.

And they were like, sounds good. Yeah. So that's, that's a really exciting partnership coming up that I, I can't believe it slipped my mind. I'm currently working on the series. But yeah, I mean, you could like pet stores, if your work has anything to do with animals or pets. They're like, we've got several sporting goods. And like outdoor stores, if your work is like landscape, you know, places often have wall space, you know, so just look around, oh, that I also had my work up at a bar in town. for like, five or six months, they just had tons of blank wall space. We knew one of the waitresses put me in touch with the manager. And I hung the work and I had it up for like half a year. It was not in my house. And it was awesome. So yeah,

another thing and this is just from my teaching experience, banks, banks used to ask us for artwork, because they had a lot of blank walls. And then another thing because you're talking about the pet portraits, and I can't believe I forgot this, I need to plug this in. I don't know if you know this, but I run a nonprofit. We started this back in 2018. And that's awesome. Thank you. One of the big projects that we did back in 2018, and 19 was we partnered up with a local animal shelter was we painted a small four by six pet portrait when people came to adopt the animals. People loved it, we had such a great turnout. But it gave me an idea. If you are a pet portrait artist, the animal shelters would be a really great place to go. You could say, hey, I'll leave, can I leave my card here, maybe when people are adopting, I can offer a discount, you know, if they want to get a pet portrait because one, obviously they're saving an animal. But to it would just be a great way to produce more work maybe for your portfolio, or just for the joy of them and know that it's going to, like a great, cause, you know, I'm not saying like, give all the funds away. But I am saying, always offer something like that. And I totally got it. Because you were talking about the bar, you know, like, there's all these unexpected places, and you're inspiring me like I'm starting to talk. Really excited. So I'm like, Oh, we got it. We gotta make sure everybody knows that they have the local community.

Yeah, it's limitless like, I mean, we use at your fingertips. 

And I think we've been so trained to sell online and to show online like Instagram, etsy, and I love those platforms. I am not saying that there's anything wrong with that there's time to leverage those platforms. But if you're not reaching out to your local community, I do feel like you're missing out on sales and you are missing out on marketing opportunities, you're missing out on growing your brand, because you never know who's going to come across your information and say, Hey, I got a great opportunity for ya. But one of the things that I also want to touch base on as far as like leveraging your art local communities, what sort of checklists would you recommend that creatives and artists have with them when they are wanting to sell in the local community? So let's say like, it's good practice, it's good marketing. We're doing all of these things. We're leveraging all of these things, but now it comes down to actually the day of or the set up. I think I guess I'm speaking more specifically about like a market or like a pop.

Yeah, yeah, I'm glad you brought this up. Because we didn't we talked a lot about like setup for coffee shop stuff but but yeah, market, like I said, is a whole separate beast. And there's like, there's a there's a few key things that you need. So usually they come with a booth fee. And that often covers advertising, so but the organizer is going to advertise the market itself and not necessarily specific vendors at the market. So you're obviously still going to want to be promoting that you'll be at this market and you know, tell all your friends and family in person, send them texts. They will be excited and want to go at least your first few I've done so many now. I have to actually rely on people now. But you'll end the booth fee. Sometimes we'll include a tent and a table sometimes it won't. So you want to make sure that that your actual booth like what you need to bring in what is provided. You want to make sure you have Have some snacks and water, that's very important. Make sure your products are already packaged and already priced, I highly recommend having a range. Stickers are always amazing sellers. And those sell for like, you know, three to $5 all the way up, you can bring a few originals would recommend bringing if you especially if you work large, bringing in a couple of big pieces that draws people in, you're probably not going to sell the big ones. But it's great for bringing people over to your booth. And then prints are awesome. If you have any kind of merchandise, that's awesome. And then as far as a couple of well, one big tip, I have to collect emails because and with the coffee shop show too. If you have like a guest book or something to collect emails for your mailing list that that is an opportunity you want to take advantage of too, because you want to I've found that the best thing about markets is meeting people again, you get people who like they love their your work, they they gush about it, but then they just leave with a sticker or a print. And so if you if you find a connection with someone, ask them if they want to be on your email list, because they will often say yes, because they want to keep in touch and see what you're up to. And then that is usually where the bigger sales, you know, end up down the line. One way to encourage people to sign up, I will have a little like gift bag that's with a raffle on it that says raffle. And then people ask, Oh, how do I sign up for the raffle. And I tell them, all you got to do is give me your email, let me email you once a week. And then I pull a name from the people who signed up that day. And I always send a personal email to everyone who signs up at my events as well. And sometimes I get a dialogue going and that's that's just, you know, helps foster connection. And it's good opportunity to ask people what, what they like about your work, what they'd like to see more of what they're looking for, for their home, things like that. And then I've also heard of people offering like for pop ups and things, especially like having first and second sale giveaways. So like the first person who comes in buy something they get a little, you know, bonus gift.

I've never heard that. Yeah, so fun. Yes, yeah. And of course, one of the things I want to ask you too, would you recommend artists to have some type of like, DBA? You know, like doing business as like a Seller's Permit things? Right, like a Seller's Permit. And then also, do you have like a Stripe account or PayPal account? Like what is it that you use it you would recommend? Because obviously they need to have way to take right
to collect payment? Yeah, yeah, I'm glad you brought this up. So some, some markets will require a seller's permit, which is really easy to get it Yeah, it's usually you can sign up through your, your city's website, excuse me. And I think had I think it's like $4, for the city of Chico to get a Seller's Permit. Yeah, so it's cheap. And then your official, you know, and then as far as doing business as you don't need, you can just do business as yourself, in which case, you don't need to, like, publish anything in the paper, or there's a whole system for an official business name. So I just do businesses as my name and then I do, most people are comfortable with Venmo, you can also take credit cards with like Stripe, or square. And I have both those options as well. And then cash is still a thing. So it is good to keep change on hand. Yeah, but as far as Venmo, I would print out the little code to scan for people so they don't have to type in your name. That just makes it
easier. 

And two things I want to plug in just from like having a friend that's a lawyer who's kind of helped me in on this journey. One, make sure that you guys are checking like the requirements for whatever kind of income you're taking in because your state might might have specific requirements like $600, and then you have to start paying taxes or like, and those are paying taxes. So always double check what you guys are taking in the income that you're making. And then to if you are an artist, it's always great if you are establishing yourself as a business like if you're getting your Seller's Permit or doing business hours or an LLC or any sort of business title or certification. If you are an artist it usually it's best to get it in your name only because you yourself are the brand you yourself are the artists and it's easier for galleries or anybody who maybe you're licensing with to cut you a check because it's obviously going to come directly to you. So those were just the two things that I wanted to plug in there just because I know I just had this conversation with her recently. I do think that sometimes people get overwhelmed like what about to pay taxes or like how much stuff to make. Check on it. Your requirements are going to be different wherever you live 

Ciara you've given us like Gold here, I'm I want to I love art obviously art, it's always gonna have a special place in my heart, you know, I, it's what I went to school for it's, it's what I literally carve out an hour every morning to do for myself not anything that I like, share with people or sell. It's just myself because you know, when you find that thing that like really motivates you to wake up every day, you gotta, you gotta find time for it. It's the light in my life. As we're getting ready to close our interview, I want to ask you. So final question, I usually ask this to everybody. And that's if you could pass a piece of advice to other fellow Creatives or artists who are maybe afraid, you know, to embark on this journey, or even just connect with their local community, maybe it's just easier to stay hidden behind the screen, or anybody really who's just who's one who's afraid to take a leap of faith? What would that be, and if this could be like a piece of advice that somebody's passed on to you, or this just could be from your experience?

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