Category Archives: The Business of Being an Artist

BREAKING: President Trump Threatens to Bring Back Prohibition if Congress Doesn’t Approve Mexican Wall

WASHINGTON — Congress has rejected Trump’s demand for $25 billion for construction of the Mexico border wall that he promised during his campaign. The budget that Trump reluctantly signed a week ago includes $1.6 billion for border security, enough for just about 33 miles of new barrier plus about twice that much of replacement fencing.  However, that was not enough for the President.  On April 1st, President Trump tweeted, “Enough is enough. If Congress doesn’t fund the Mexican wall, I’m going to bring back Prohibition. That will teach them!”

Only 69 of 292 Republicans on Capitol Hill supported the wall project, but after Sunday’s tweet, 100% percent of Congress agreed to fund it, rather than risk losing easy access to alcohol.  Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had concerns about paying for the project, but is now in full support, saying, “I don’t care how much it costs, we just can’t have Prohibition again!”  That was a common sentiment among members of Congress on Sunday, as many consider the threat of Prohibition real, and are afraid that it would significantly harm America’s economy, not to mention increase crime rates, and inflict significant damage on citizens’ morale.  Members of the House were especially concerned about a huge public outcry, and large demonstrations if President Trump followed through with his ultimatum.  Congress scheduled an emergency session on Easter Sunday, which also happens to be April Fool’s Day to pass a bill that would appease the President, and eliminate the possibility of Prohibition.  Many Democrats were seen shaking their heads in disbelief that one tweet could have so much impact on the country’s leaders.

This story is developing.  Check back soon for more updates.

Maria Benner is the Business & Marketing Manager for Real Art Is Better, and has no journalistic credentials, but she did want to prank blog followers on April Fool’s Day.

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Fur Rondy and Iditarod Open Studio Events

In less than a week, our favorite events begin just in time to help us get through the toughest part of winter — Fur Rondezvous winter festival and Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  Fur Rondezvous has been an annual tradition in Anchorage since the mid 1930s when the town started organizing fun activities to coincide with the miners and trappers coming to town with their yield.  Iditarod is the most famous sled dog race in the world, attracting mushers and spectators from around the globe.  Downtown Anchorage will be transformed into a playground with a carnival, contests, snow sculptures, and a sled dog trail running down 4th Avenue.  Our studio happens to be on 4th Avenue, and we will be open during the busiest times of the festivities.  There will also be a craft fair inside our building — the 4th Avenue Market Place.  Stop by and check out the view of the carnival (hopefully Denali will be visible as well), to see the newest oil paintings and prints, and to have some home-baked cookies while you warm up between events.  We are located in Suite 4 of the 4th Avenue Market Place, which is in the NW corner inside the building.

When: February 24-25, Saturday and Sunday, 11-6pm AND March 3, Saturday, 10-5pm.

Where: 4th Avenue Market Place, 333 W 4th Avenue, Suite 4.  Inside the building in the NW corner.

Iditarod sled dogs racing downtown anchorage alaska

artist studio Scott Clendaniel Alyeska Resort girdwood painting

 

Custom Beer Label Design

One of my goals is to do more beer label designs, because seeing my art on cans, or bottles that are filled with delicious beer, and distributed to thousands of people around the country, and possibly the world, is the most amazing thing for a beer artist.  The hurdle is being selected as the label artist by a brewery out of many other artists who happen to also want the honor.  So far I’ve designed several home-brew labels, and one commercial label for Midnight Sun BrewingCheck out my blog post about that awesome project!

At my Etsy shop I have a listing for a Custom Beer Label Design, and a few months ago, a couple who are in the process of starting a new brewery in New Mexico bought the label design package, which includes a design for your label, and an oil painting of that design.  So we got to work.  They sent me pictures of things they wanted to be included in the label design, and I put together sketches for their consideration.  Here are a couple examples of the sketches.

Once a sketch was approved, I started painting the main image.  Here is how the painting turned out.  I also made a smaller bonus painting that I used for the image on the collar around the bottle neck.

custom beer label design beer painting by artist Scott Clendaniel

Then I put together the beer label in Photoshop.  Here’s the final result.

custom beer label design by artist scott clendaniel in anchorage alaska

The Piedra Blanca Brewing Company is not open yet, but I am very excited about getting the chance to design its logo and beer label!  Best of luck to them, and I look forward to visiting one day!  If you own a brewery, or are thinking about starting one, contact me about designing your logo, or labels.

Business Goals for 2018

~ by Maria Benner

As the Business & Marketing Manager, I’m the one responsible for keeping our art business alive, and an important part of that is setting goals.  I recently reviewed our goals for 2017, and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that we accomplished all of them.  I also made a mental note to check in on our goals more often.  So, for the new year we have new goals.

  1. Create a new website to sell art directly to customers.  Currently all of our online sales are through our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter.  Etsy has great SEO, and brings customers to us from all over the world, however, we have to pay a percentage fee for each sale, and potential customers can easily be distracted by other Etsy sellers while shopping for similar items.  Selling from our own website will hopefully generate more brand awareness, and we’ll pay a lower monthly flat fee.  We’ll also keep selling art through Etsy, just to keep reaching a broader audience.
  2. Design an autonomous order fulfillment system.  Right now we are fulfilling all orders.  We make prints on demand, and package all prints and originals ourselves, print the shipping labels, and drop everything off at the post office.  The drawback is that while we’re traveling, or spending time at our cabin in McCarthy, our business is on hold, because we’re not around to mail orders.  The goal is to find a company online that will print and mail our prints for us.  We will still have to mail originals ourselves, but prints make up the majority of our sales.
  3. Publish our first book How to Draw Alaska Baby Animals.  We have been working on this project for a couple years, but it always seems to take a back seat to more pressing tasks.  Scott designed how-to-draw pages for 49 different Alaska baby animals, and is in the finishing stages of designing the book cover.  He also painted several colorful oil paintings to include in the book.  I drew every single one to make sure there were no errors.  Now we just need a table of contents, a foreward, and to finish the final layout.  Then we’ll have to figure out how to publish a book, and to find buyers for it.  This task seems a bit challenging, but people publish books all the time, so I know it’s doable.

Those are our main three goals, and they will be enough for this year.  Most of the work gets accomplished in the winter time, which is already half way over!  In the summer we’re fishing, traveling, and just generally flying by the seat of our pants.  So wish us luck!

Aspen Trees in Fall custom oil painting. 36"x18", oil on panel.

Commissioned Paintings for Holiday Gifts 2017

Every holiday season I get many requests for commissions, and this year was no exception.  By now I know what to expect, and how to get ready for the holiday rush.  As always, each painting had a special story behind it, and I loved being in on the surprises.  My favorite painting this year was the view of looking up at aspen trees in the Fall (Maria wanted to keep it).  The best response was from a customer in Texas about the Shiner Bock painting, “OMG THIS PAINTING IS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!! You’ve officially made me cry! Today has been an absolutely horrible day and you’ve made it so much better. Thank you doesn’t even begin to cover it!”  Messages like this make me happy about being an artist.

We take a picture of every painting that leaves the studio, so here is a slideshow of the paintings I made this holiday season (click on the pictures to view a slideshow).  They are all oil paint on wood panel, framed in a natural ash wood frame. I prime my paint supports red and gold before applying the oil paint, so you can see the gold paint shining through gaps in the oil paint.  This is my signature technique, and one way you can always recognize a Clendaniel original.

If you’d like to commission one, just let me know, or you can read Maria’s blog post about how to commission a painting.

 

10 Reasons to Collect Art

~ by Maria Benner

Athena's Owl. 8ft 4ft. Oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel.

Athena’s Owl. 8ft 4ft. Oil on panel. By Scott Clendaniel. https://www.etsy.com/listing/230045463

The name of our business is Real Art Is Better, because often when people buy a Clendaniel piece of art, they exclaim, “This is my first piece of Real Art!”  Although there is no accepted definition of Real Art, people know it when they see it.  We have several patrons who are avid collectors of Clendaniel art, many of them living in other States.  So, if you don’t have an art collection, here are ten reasons to start one.

  1. To express your personality and your vibe.
  2. To make your place cozy, vibrant, YOURS.
  3. To remember special occasion, or epic trips.
  4. To have interesting conversation pieces for your guests.
  5. To invest in the arts and in your future.
  6. To preserve history.
  7. To make connections with artists.
  8. To pass on a legacy.
  9. To support the arts.
  10. To have a meaningful and fulfilling hobby.

If you feel like you need some education about art before you begin your collection, here are 10 art history classes you can take online for free.

After that you can start your collection.  Our Etsy shop RealArtIsBetter is a good place to start looking for your first piece 🙂

Shipping to and from Alaska is cheaper and faster than you may expect!

~ by Maria Benner

One of the biggest misconceptions we Alaskans deal with on a regular basis is that mailing things to and from Alaska is unreasonably expensive, and takes a long time.  Some businesses assume that only FedEx and UPS ship to Alaska.  We often get almost to the end of a checkout process on a website only to find out that shipping to Alaska (and Hawaii) is not available, or costs more than the item(s) in the shopping cart.  The struggle is very real, and completely unnecessary, because we know for a fact that USPS can deliver to and from Alaska at affordable rates.

Our business, Real Art Is Better, relies heavily on USPS Priority and First Class Mail to send online orders all over the world.  The cost to mail one print domestically is only $7.95, and an original oil painting that is 11″x14″ can be delivered as far as Vermont for under $15.  The shipping time is only 3-5 days.  Often on Monday mornings, we receive reviews from Etsy customers about art that we mailed on Friday afternoon!  So don’t hesitate ordering from our Etsy shop, even though we are in Anchorage, because the USPS somehow manages to deliver orders surprisingly quickly, and affordably.  The last day for orders to be shipped in time for Christmas is December 20 for USPS First Class and Priority Mail, and December 21 for Priority Mail Express.