Thursday, January 8, 2015

Designing a Business Card

The start of the new year is a good time to design a new business card. I always have cards handy; in my purse, in my jacket pockets and in the glove box of the car. It is an inexpensive and very effective marketing devise and you never know when you will have the opportunity to hand out your card. I have been known to hand them to someone sitting next to me on a plane. Over the years I have had many different business cards. They have always been very colourful, printed on both sides and on a nice thick card stock.

The first group are some cards from my Toronto graphic design days. I liked having my photo on the card, which I felt gave it a personal touch. In those days I went to many 'business after hours' events for networking. There were usually door-prizes and 8 times out of 10 times, my card would be pulled out of the fish bowl. The luck of the draw, possibly, but more then likely because my card was made of a heavier card stock.

Once I moved to Saskatchewan I started putting my own artwork on my business cards, as you can see by this next bunch. I liked to take advantage of using colour.

This is my latest card. As I am wearing two different hats, the front of the card represents Island Arts Magazine and the back of the card represents Young at Art and my artwork. I like this format very much. For my new card I think I will design something very similar, just using new images.

My advise when designing your business card is:
  • Keep the design clean.
  • Don't put too much text on the card.
  • Don't use too many different font types. Even though a script font may look lovely, it's often hard to read.
  • When using text on a dark background, the text should be bold, otherwise the background ink will bleed into the text, making it hard to read.
  • Keep it simple.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Helpful Framing Tip

After a Suzanne Northcott workshop in November called 'Working BIG', I finished this painting. It is called "Alpine Tapestry", acrylic 36 x 36".

I signed and photographed it. The next thing was to wire the back. That's when I asked my husband Jeff for help.

Having spent a couple of days apprenticing and framing with Don Cameron of the Englishman River Gallery, Jeff knew exactly what to do.

As Jeff explains, on a large piece like this it is best to put three hooks in the back forming a triangle. The hook and wire at the bottom is important as it takes the weight off the bottom stretcher, evenly distributing the weight and prevents the bottom stretcher from sagging.

Hmmm. ... good to know.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Visual Arts Voice

I was honoured to have MY story published in the Visual Arts Voice, Fall 2014 - a CARFAC BC publication. Enjoy the read.

Susan Schaefer – From the the West Coast...and Beyond!

As my 55th birthday draws near (yikes), I look at my life as an artist.

I sit here from the living room of my Qualicum Bay home / studio typing on my lap-top. My husband Jeff or L & L (lover and lugger - as he likes to be called) is typing on his iPad. We have a beautiful garden which we both enjoy and a spectacular ocean view. The summer breeze is gently blowing and I feel truly blessed to be here, on Vancouver Island at this time in my life.
As far back as I can remember I was drawing, colouring and playing with colour. Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the only thing we had to colour with were pencil crayons and wax crayons. I was a nerdy kid, who absolutely loved to get geography homework. Sounds weird right? That meant that I could colour in the maps, shading the edges of the ocean from light to dark as it went further from the shoreline. With wax crayon I could take a pencil sharpener, shave off the wax and use mom's iron to melt it down into some cool and interesting shapes. Not so good for the iron I was told. Sorry mom.

It was in the year 2000 when my art career went from being a hobby to a profession lifestyle. I was living in Saskatchewan in a lovely “little house on the prairies”. I joined the local artists guild and organized art workshops. I started working in watercolours, but as my confidence grew I branched out into acrylics and oils.

One day a girlfriend said “you should have an art show right here in your house.” That was a scary thought. I gave in and invited 5 ladies over for a glass of wine and some nibblies. That evening I sold 3 paintings. Wow – that was great. From then on I had a yearly art show in November (as that is my birthday month), at my home studio. I invited more and more patrons each year and made sales, but more importantly, many friendships were formed.

In 2007, I moved to Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island. For the first few months I explored the island, painted and joined a few art groups. That winter a friend of mine invited me to go to Mexico with her. I love going south, as it gives me a fresh outlook on things. While there, I decided to 'go for it' and create an ARTS Magazine to showcase west coast artists. With a graphic-design background and very proficient on a Mac computer, in March of 2008, the Island Arts Magazine was launched. Another scary endeavour, but I thought “If not now, when?” We have just published our 27th issue and the magazine is going strong with subscriptions across Canada and into the USA. And it is still FUN to create.
Through the Island Arts Magazine, I was able to meet many wonderful artists up and down the island. We also get invited to and sponsor amazing events. For the past 5 years we hosted the Island Arts Expo, a weekend of workshops, artists talks and exhibition of artwork. After 5 years, we decided to move onto other endeavours. In the last few years I have been organizing workshops in Qualicum Bay, bringing in artists from across Canada from whom I wish to learn.

I keep further involved in the 'goings on' by volunteering at local galleries. I spend a lot of time marketing my work, which pays off as I have collectors across Canada. Recently I received a commission from a patron in Mexico which we will be delivering in December. What a burden!

I feel very fortunate that I can do what I love, and have so much fun doing it. It is a great feeling when you have created something from your heart and then someone loves it enough to include it in their life. I am truly grateful and I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next 55 years.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Friday, November 7, 2014

Working Big and Luvin' It

After almost two years in the planning, this past weekend, Island ARTS Magazine hosted a Suzanne Northcott workshop. The title was "Working Big and Loose".

I was excited about this workshop, as Suzanne has a reputation as being a great facilitator. Second I felt a nature push to start painting bigger. Everything was in place for an exploratory experience.

First we were to scrub and brush some paint down to cover our canvas with an under-painting. It didn't much matter what you did, as some or most of the under-painting would eventually get covered over. I tend to reach for the warmer colours - quin gold, red and yellow. From there I roughed in a few shapes, standing back from the canvas, using a large brush and making marks on the canvas (as Suzanne would say).

After a day of standing and working BIG this is how my painting progressed.

Day two I experimented with copper foil and texture. I felt like a mason as I trowelled on the coarse pumice to get the effect of cement.

A week has passed since the workshop and this morning I finished the painting.
"South of the Border", 30 x 24"

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Friday, September 5, 2014

Celebration of Colour - Saskatchewan Style

I'm ready for my Saskatchewan Exhibition - Celebration of Colour.

We are packing up the car on Sunday and heading out to the prairies for our bi-annual art show in Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan. I lived there for 7 years and I have a strong following of patrons. It also gives us an excuse to go on a beautiful drive through the mountains visiting friends and family along the way.

Getting ready for my show:
Last fall, after deciding on a date for the show, I went on a quest to find a venue. Fort Qu'Appelle is not a big place, approximately 2500 folks call it home. There are a few vacant buildings in town, which I could rent, as well as an arts centre. I first approached the arts centre to book the show, however, unfortunately I was unable to negotiate a contract with them. I decided on renting the Old Train Station which now is the information booth. It is centrally located, right on highway 10 and a funky place to have an art show. It closes after labour day weekend, so I can have the whole building to myself. Cool!

A month ago I mailed out my invitations. Yes I still like to use Canada Post for this. I believe receiving an actual invitation in the mail is powerful and makes an impact. A paper invitation can be put on the fridge or stuck on the wall in your office as a constant reminder.

I sent out email blast invitations as well and did my due-diligence with Facebook postings.

I set up a gallery page on my website with a preview of some of the paintings that we are taking.

Next I sent a press release and advertisement to the local newspaper, to be printed a week before the event. I also sent press releases along with images to arts councils and newspapers within 100 mile radius of the event.

Yesterday I talked to my mom about making me a nice sweet treat to serve at the show. I thought she would like to contribute to my success. Thanks mom.

That's it for now. All we have to do is pack up the paintings on Sunday, along with signs, lights, a few snacks and drive the 1991 kilometres to Fort Qu'Appelle Sask. (thanks L & L)

Once we are there, I have posters to put up around town, a liquor licence to buy, pick up the key to the old train station and set up for a 'really big show'.

Easy breezy!

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Working BIG

In preparation for an upcoming workshop "Large and Loose" with Suzanne Northcott, I decided to work BIG. I just happened to have a 22 x 28" canvas around that was screaming for some attention. Not overly big, but big enough that I could loosen up my brush strokes.

The canvas was already primed with a layer of quin gold. With chalk in hand and an image from Mexico in mind, I sketched in the shapes. What is nice about using chalk, if you can draw and erase easily until you have what you like.
Once I had the chalk design where I wanted it, I started to fill in the lines with paint. Next came many many layers of glaze, keeping in mind some of the techniques learned from David Langevin's workshop, earlier this year.

The process started to get really exciting as I watched the painting come to life. I got so wrapped up with what I was doing that I forgot to take more photos. Sorry, but believe me there were many more stages, many layers of glazes plus a whole lot of FUN.

Here you have the finished piece ....

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Getting Ready for my Show

I have been busy getting ready for an upcoming art show. My intention was to book a show in Campbell River to get some 'up-island' exposure. When the opportunity to be "feature artist" for the month of July at Impressions Framing and Gallery came up, I thought it was a stellar idea. It also coincides with their annual River City Arts Festival on July 26th. That will be a blast!

I sent out a press release to the media, four weeks in advance. I was thrilled when the Parksville Qualicum News printed an excerpt in their paper, along with the full version online. It will also be picked up by EyesOnBC in the July issue. 

I have sorted through my paintings, and picked the ones for the show. This was not an easy task as it involved spreading them all over the living room and not being able to use the couch for a nap until I had made my final selection.

For marketing I made a calendar and art cards. The calendar I started in May, so it only needed a few final adjustments before zooming it into space for my printers. I have been able to stream-line the card making process making it quite painless. The response to the cards has been wonderful. I am just waiting for the calendars to arrive (on time please).

Last but not least on June 30th we will pack the car (by we I mean Jeff) and deliver the paintings, calendars and cards to the gallery. Timing is everything, my friends, as a late afternoon delivery, means a dinner out in Courtenay.

The show runs the entire month of July with a  
'meet and greet' on Saturday July 5 from 10:00 - 1:00
Impressions Framing and Gallery
990B Shoppers Row, Campbell River
(250) 286-1612

Here is a sneak preview. 

See you at the show. Take home some ART that you LOVE.