GO See Art in Brooklyn This Weekend!

As some of you know, for the past few months I’ve been working on GO, a borough-wide, community-curated open studio event organized by the Brooklyn Museum. After months of planning, preparation and outreach the open studio weekend is upon us! This Saturday and Sunday, September 8th and 9th, over 1,700 artists with studios all over Brooklyn will open their doors to you from 11 am to 7 pm.  I am so excited about GO because it showcases the diversity of artistic talent that Brooklyn has to offer. It also gives viewers the chance to see art in places they never knew artists were working, whether that’s under their nose in their own neighborhood or farther afield.

I’ve been working as the neighborhood coordinator for my beloved neighborhood, Sunset Park, where 160 artists will open their studios! I knew artists worked in the neighborhood, but I’ve been so pleased about just how many artists there are and how many want to participate in GO. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to think about how we can continue to promote art in Sunset Park as a group and our first small step is a Tumblr page, Sunset Park Artists, for participating artists to share images of new work and work in progress. There’s also two fantastic nonprofits, Chashama and the New York Art Residency and Studio Foundation that offer artists affordable studio space, and many artists with studios in these buildings are participating. I’ve also put together a Sunset Park guide of places to eat and hang out before, after or during seeing studios. Why not make a weekend out of coming to Sunset Park? All of these sites give you a little taste of what you will find here in the neighborhood!

To learn more about participating in GO as a viewer and voter, search neighborhoods and explore the profiles participating artists visit gobrooklynart.org. If you want more information about Sunset Park artists stop by the Green Fig Cafe on Saturday or Sunday between 11 and 3 and I’ll give you all the information you need to get out and see art. See you in the studios!

Creative Money Maker: Value Yourself? Then Pay Yourself!

 Like any creative project, the Creative Money Maker pivoted. I have been incredibly lucky to develop and launch this column with the DIY Business Association. While the DIY BA takes a pause on developing new content, I decided to continue the Creative Money Maker here because got such a great response to it and have so much fun writing it. Join me every other Tuesday right here for more financial advice that feels good! 

You know the old adage “time is money.”  Guess what? It applies to creative people whose work is driven by passion and as well as profit.

When you create a project budget it is important to include a line item for paying yourself, even though you may not anticipate making any money from your project at first. Your budget is a plan for a time when your project is profitable and compensating yourself is a key element. Remember, your budget tells the story of your project in numbers, and you are important part of that story!

Compensation is about the value you put on your time, experience and expertise. “Value” is an intangible concept, but here are factors to consider before determining your fee or hourly rate:

  • Have the confidence to know that your time is worth money
  • Clarify what skills and tasks the project requires
  • Consider your experience and expertise. Do you have a perspective or level of experience that is not common for your field?
  • If creating a budget for a client, consider the value your project brings to your client’s life

Once you have a clear idea about the criteria above consider whether to calculate your fee on a time basis, a project basis, or a package basis.

Time-based is how much you charge per hour for your services. This helpful when you offer services such as consulting, administrative or technical support.

Project-based is a price based for an entire project that has a concrete end point.  When pricing based on a project you want to calculate about how many hours it will take, what the project requires of you, how much the client values the project, and your overhead such as the tools and space you use to create the project.

Package-based is similar to project-based pricing, but it puts more conditions around a project. You offer a certain amount of time or number of consultations for a flat-fee and, if your client demands more changes or wants additional services, you can charge by the hour or an agreed-upon additional fee.

There are no hard and fast formulas for determining how much to charge hourly or for project-based prices. Musician Greta Gertler, who also runs the PR agency Goldfish Prize, shared her simple strategy for pricing her time, which she uses as a baseline to determine her hourly and project-based fees.

Simple pricing strategy:

  • Determine your overhead costs such as tools, software, studio rent, insurance, taxes, as well as living expenses for the year, month and week
  • Determine how many hours a week you want to work
  • Divide to get with your starting number for your hourly rate

Greta Gertler in her band The Universal Thump. Photo by Carol Lipnik.

For example, if my expenses are $2,000 a month and I want to work 30 hours a week I will divide $2000 by 4 (for 4 weeks in the month) and get $500 per week. Then I divide this by 30 to get about $17 an hour. I will have to work at least 30 billable hours each week and charge at least $17 to cover my expenses.

If you are making a budget for a client remember they are only paying you for the time you spend on their project. Thus your “billable” time should cover your expenses incurred during “non-billable” hours. Therefore, I may determine that I will work about 15 hours a week on my clients’ specific projects, so I could raise my rate to $30 an hour to cover those expenses.

Before deciding on your fee find out the going rates for your field. Project fees and hourly rates will be in a range, and you want to know where you stand. Reach out to the professional associations that provide guidelines for pricing your work within your discipline. Talk to other professionals and those who hire creatives about how they determine their fees. For those of you who are selling goods, next time we’ll talk about pricing the creative products you produce.

You have skills, creativity and expertise to offer to your potential clients, your project, and yourself.  You must value yourself first before expecting anyone else to do so and planning to pay yourself fairly sends a message to the world that you are valuable. As a creative person educate yourself and your community members about your worth.

How do you determine your fees?

What challenges do you encounter when it comes to paying yourself?

What does value mean to you?

For the first three installments of the Creative Money Maker please visit the DIY Business Association’s website here.

Hey, Brooklyn! Let’s GO see art!

I’m really excited to tell you about a great, new project that I’m involved in. The Brooklyn Museum, my favorite museum in the world, has launched GO, a community-curated, open studio event.  During GO, Brooklyn-based artists are asked to open their studios to the community on September 8–9, 2012. Community members registered as voters will visit studios and nominate artists for inclusion in a group exhibition to open at the Museum on Target First Saturday, December 1, 2012.

GO brings together so many of my favorite things: contemporary art, the Brooklyn art scene, social media, and the cultural life of the borough. Knowing that Brooklyn is a huge borough with 71 square miles and 67 different neighborhoods, the Brooklyn Museum is working with 22 neighborhood coordinators to help get the word out. I’m serving as a neighborhood coordinator for my favorite Brooklyn neighborhood, Sunset Park. If you see a redhead taking up posters or distributing GO postcards along 5th avenue or down in the industrial waterfront, that just might be me! You can meet the different coordinators, learn about art highlights in different neighborhoods, and learn more about the GO project on the very lively GO tumblr.

If you are artist with a studio in Brooklyn you have until June 29 to register to participate in the open studio weekend. You can find out more  and register on the GO website. If you don’t have a studio, but want to go see art in Brooklyn on September 8th and 9th, mark your calendar! Registration for voters opens August 1st.

My review of Gary Indiana’s “Last Seen Entering the Biltmore” on NYFA Current!

Gary Indiana

There was a New York City that I dreamed of when I was growing up. It was a mixture of Greenwich Village during the Beatnik era and the Lower East Side of the 1980’s. It was full of punks, dreamers,  activists and artists. The dangers that might have been lurking there were more aesthetic than real. Poverty and hunger were stylish accouterments. All who were there possessed the ability to transform the urban environment. While obviously this political, arty urban paradise existed only in my imagination some lived it in all its gritty, dangerous, complicated, hungry reality. Patty Smith lucidly captures it in her recent book Just Kids.  Gary Indiana’s new compilation out from MIT Press, Last Seen Entering the Biltmore, collects his poems, prose, short plays and works of art from the late 70’s to the present, chronicling through his artistic production his time in this environment after he made the decision to “not to do anything he didn’t want to do” and to become a writer. Last Seen Entering the Biltmore captures Indiana’s sense of absurd and also his strong artistic integrity. I wrote a full review for NYFA’s online magazine for artists, NYFA Current, and would be honored if you checked it out here.