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She Turned Her Artistic Talent Into A Business
Being a good artist requires talent. Being successful and making money at it requires marketing. Bonnie Young of Newark, Ohio, has been making a living as a rural artist for 11 years. She sometimes spends three weeks marketing for each week of painting, she says. But it pays off. Her client list includes Crate and Barrel, The Longaberger Co., Bath and Body Works, and Starbuck's Coffee.
  And it includes the neighbor down the road who wants a simple "Fresh Eggs" sign.
  "I love doing it all," says Young, "from big murals to small items. I love the interaction with people, too."
  Though she has a bachelor's degree in fine arts and has done fine art paintings, Young says she's developed a casual style of her own. "People say that it's whimsical and yet it reflects life and realism. Living in the country on a hobby farm also influences her work, though Young has lived in all areas of the country because she moved often while growing up.
  She had an interest in art as a child, and college education helped as far as marketing, she says. She offers tips to other artists:
  • Check out submission guidelines on web sites of businesses. Some want 12 designs. Some want 400.
  • Protect your rights by including your printed name, signature and date on each art piece, and keep copies. Don't send them by email, send a package for initial contacts and include return postage.
  • Follow up with a call a week later to make sure the package arrived. Call again within three weeks if they haven't responded.
  • Be creative in how you send things, so your art stands out. Young once made a box look like a record player and made all her art look like records. She notes that when art is accepted, some companies pay a flat fee, while others pay royalties.
   • "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Young says. "Be involved in lots of different things. She painted a 25 by 35-ft. mural on a barn and paints on barn wood and other media, though watercolor is her favorite medium.
  Young says her best advice is to be prolific and keep trying. She adds her father always encouraged her and told her that "overnight success" is usually 15 years in the making.
  It's also important to paint for yourself, Young says. Her own habit of painting snowmen to relieve stress resulted in selling designs for pottery and plates for Crate and Barrel. Through a sales clerk, Young learned that one customer said she had a very difficult year and the only things that made her smile were the snowmen plates, which she displayed year round.
  "My goal is to create art that makes people pause, smile and laugh with life," Young says.
  Besides selling designs to companies, she does a lot of commission work including painting portraits for people throughout the U.S., based from photos mailed to her. She recently started a new line of greeting cards and kid's dishes under her own name.
  Young has a website, showing art she has for sale as well as how to commission items. It's also a place to direct potential clients to view her work.
  She enjoys teaching art to children in her daughter's 4-H club and meeting with other area artists. "You need to find a community and talk to others about it," Young says.
  She stresses that artists can't give up. "It doesn't come easy all the time, even when you're established," she says. "But, I can't imagine doing anything else. It's a lifestyle."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bonnie Young, 3252 Rockhaven Rd., Newark, Ohio 43055 (ph 740 763-7027; bonnie@byoung designs.com; www.byoungdesigns.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2