Are You Too Frugal?

I am tired of watching artists and arts organizations live on leftover scraps.

Mind you, the organizations and agencies aren’t cheap with the patrons and board members with the big bank accounts. They are cheap with the artists, without whom their passionate interest would not exist.

Artists, in turn, grow to feel they are not worthy of more.

Client Happiness Officer, Karin Olah, is almost ready to open the doors for our Breakthrough guests.

Don’t get me wrong. Frugality isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it can be good.

I don’t believe in spending for spending’s sake or in extravagance.

But frugality becomes detrimental when it feeds the notion that we are not worthy of more.

Many of my clients develop this sense of unworthiness that is perpetuated by the very organizations that were created to serve them.

I confess that I behaved similarly in the past.

For years I have been writing about how artists can show that their work has value. But I continued to allow the organizers who hired me for workshops to do things “on the cheap,” and I was doing the same with the workshops and events I organized myself.

How can I save money? was my modus operandi.

My first workshop, in 2003, was held at an office building that a friend managed. I recall my parents (!) picking up and delivering boxed lunches to the group.

At a much later workshop, I ran my team ragged making coffee all day long – trekking repeatedly to the kitchen on the other end of the building. Coffee! Because I didn’t pay for a venue that had food service.

No more.

Waiting for our guests to arrive at Art Biz Breakthrough 2016. Hope you’ll take your seat at this year’s Breakthrough.

Waiting for our guests to arrive at Art Biz Breakthrough 2016.
We have a seat waiting for you at this year’s Breakthrough.

I began attending “nice” conferences for marketing, mindset, and software. These conferences were set up with white tablecloths, fresh flowers, music, sophisticated audio-visual systems, and bright spaces.

I realized that the people and companies that were producing these conferences would have never treated their guests as cheaply as artists are treated.

So I modeled what they are doing, and this is what my guests experience when they come to Art Biz Breakthrough.

If I ask you to embrace an abundance mindset, as I do, you need to be treated like you already have one – and that you deserve it.

My new modus operandi is How can I give my guests the best experience?

I promise I won’t go cheap on you. And I hope you don’t go cheap on yourself.

Your Penny-Pinching Could Be Hurting Sales and Opportunities

Consider how your frugality might be perceived by buyers.

One quick pic before the doors open and our guests flood the room on day 1 of Art Biz Breakthrough.

People who look for quality tend to look for it in every aspect of their lives.

You can’t advocate cheap materials, products, and services from one side of your mouth and ask for high-dollar sales from the other side. These are conflicting messages to the Universe and to your potential collectors.

If you come from a less-than-abundant place, it’s time to do some work on your money mindset.

Consider these questions:

  • How do others treat you at your art organization meetings, in your booth, or online?
  • How do you treat yourself? Do you look for quality or do you buy what’s least expensive? Do you settle for what is worn down and broken even though you could do better work with new tools?
  • How do you treat others? Do you share generously or do you keep the good stuff to yourself – afraid that there isn’t enough to go around?

Let’s start treating each other (and ourselves) like we are as worthy of abundance as our patrons.

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126 comments to Are You Too Frugal?

  • Alisa Lahti

    Great article! A twist on this is for workshops I run out of my studio. I provide a selection of beverages and snacks for my attendees. Nothing extravagant in expense, but I try to present it as nicely as possible in a “working studio”. People are always pleasantly surprised (people always appreciate a snack when getting stuck in a process 😉 and I often get repeat attendees and sales. I tell people I’m glad they came and they are worth it!

  • Fantastic article!

    I’ve been working on a money mindset change since end of 2015 when I realized I super NEED mindset changes.

    Last week, I bought a super fountain pen…and two small bottles of ink…for a whopping $190 at a lovely pen specialty store. A year ago or more, there was NO WAY I would’ve considered it, much less go into the store. Now? I’m enjoying my “Corvette” pen and dollar cost averaging my usage (because it makes me feel better) while I ZING! through drawings with lovely sepia ink!!!! So far, I’ve used my pen enough to require a refill. YAY~!

    I’ve slowly replaced my cheaper supplies with better supplies, too. Using better paints has a notable affect on how I feel applying color, textures, and just the paint itself. I am using up the cheaper paints as much as I can and celebrate every time a tube drops (almost) empty into the trash.

    I am slowly, perhaps too slowly, changing my mindset to what you describe.

    Hugs. Keep up the wonderful articles!

  • Framing! The simple upgrade from inexpensive — aka cheap framing to high quality framing changes EVERYTHING. Work that looks so-so, suddenly looks professional and alluring. Lower pricing in cheap framing does not enhance sales, it lessens the opportunity for sales. Bite the bullet up front and frame your work professionally and you will get professional treatment from your collectors!

  • Dear Alyson,
    I send the following email on September 3 but have not had any response. I really would like your input and help.
    Looking forward to your response.
    Thank you,
    Marcelle Zanetti

    Was wondering if you could suggest how to respond to an email I just received regarding resale of purchased paintings. Please see below.

    Hi. It’s been a while.
    I have loved and enjoyed your paintings for 25 years or more. It is time now for me to start my new life. My husband passed and I have to move. In my new place there is no room for the attached paintings. I’m hoping you can find a way to get them to new and grateful owners for a monetary value you think is just. I can bring the paintings to you.
    You can’t imagine how much I’ve enjoyed your work these many years.
    Please advise what you think can be done to honor your work.
    Thank you

    I really don’t know how to respond to this. Any suggestions would be most appreciated!
    Thank you,
    I was one of your Art Biz Students
    Sent from my iPhone

  • It’s been a while since I took your class when it all felt so new. I should really go back to my notes and check through everything again! When I do that I’m always amazed at how much what felt almost impossible previously, has now become part of my normal practice.

    This post really struck me… I remember getting to this stage where I felt like I was always worrying about costs. And I decided that I just had to go for it – book a bigger space, buy larger panels, invest in upgrades to my work space which would make a difference, outsource the framing to someone who could do a great job.

    I’m not sure if it’s all those things, or just the mindset behind them, but since then things are really changing for me. Apart from anything else, working to create the best I can rather than the most affordable I can is just sooooo much more fun 🙂 I’m on track for my income goals this year and some really exciting things have happened as a result of switching away from a frugal mindset. I’ve sold larger work (can’t sell it unless you’ve made it first!), had work used in the launch of a top-end wallpaper range and appear in glossy interior magazines and am just starting a large commission which is significant both in cost and scale – exciting!

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