Artist Maggie Hurley finds a way to capture the “whimsy and whatnot” of everyday life in a way that resonates with people. She sells her paintings, portraits, and illustrations at art shows, on her website, and through her Etsy store.
Hurley recently spoke with the Intuit Small Business Blog about how using Weave helps her manage the business side of her artistic endeavors.
ISBB: Your paintings run the gamut from portraits to wildlife. What inspires your wide range of subjects?
Hurley: Life! Every day something new presents itself and with it comes inspiration. My old life in the corporate world inspired my series of robots. An unfortunate argument with a past boyfriend brought Herbert the Owl to life. A fluffy little chickadee that seemed to deliberately torment my indoor cat started my bird series. The birds have morphed a bit. I am more interested in capturing a personality and conveying an expression than I am in replicating Audubon’s work.
How you do balance running a business and meeting consumer demand with finding your own creative fulfillment?
That’s been one of the most difficult aspects of turning art into a business. What sells the most are prints, and arts-and-crafts festivals are a good market for selling them. I’m often at three or four such events per month, but as a result, I spend a lot of time handling the production aspects of art, such as printing, mounting, and installing hardware. Although it certainly isn’t as satisfying as pushing paint around a canvas, it does keep me fed! I try to honor the times when the creativity bug bites; you can’t force those moments. In the end, I’m happy that I have the amount of time to create that I do.
Tell us about your life before and after you started to use Weave as a business tool.
Before Weave, I had stacks of Post-it notes with reminders — and no real idea of how much each task I devoted time to was actually costing. The best use of my time is something I’m still trying to figure out, but Weave’s ability to track tasks, time, income, and expenses could be a great way to get a handle on this. With Weave, I have a much better sense of which [marketing activities and festivals] are worth my time and which aren’t — and I have traded in the notes for a neatly organized, pleasant-to-look-at list.
You do commissioned portraits. What advice do you give clients about taking a photograph for an artist to paint from?
The wonderful thing about working from photos is that the photo doesn’t have to be perfect! But, as a general approach, I really prefer to work from snapshots [that show some] sweetness, glee, or similar emotion and that naturally depict how kids behave, as opposed to something posed. So, head outside and let kids (and adults) let loose; take pictures of them being themselves.
If you’re commissioning a group image, take several versions of the photo for the artist to use. The beauty of painted composition is that your artist can work from several different shots to create one composition that depicts the “best look” of every person in it. Try to stay away from busy patterns on clothing, too. The simpler your [photo] is, the better it will translate.