Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The price of good design...

I've had several emails lately from designers/artists asking if they should cut their prices to pick up business. The one thing that being around a few years has is that I've seen it all. Mind you every time it is different. Our economy has so many influences, most of which each of us as individuals has no control. What we do have control over our personal situation. Tip: I never way for the economy to turnaround on its own, I've always taken the bull by the horns. Hence still being around a lot of years later.

Lesson 1: Don't cut your prices add to your offerings by pulling skills out and putting them on the table to produce revenue. Every good designer should have been schooled in multiple skills. Darn, I can screen print with materials handy in the house if I needed to. It's what you learned in school to survive the starving artist syndrome.

Lesson 2: The Dolly Parton school of economics. " I do pop music to pay the bills, so it will allow me to sing and write the mountain music I love".

Always have your cash generating skills, there are somethings that don't provide us much but brings you much satisfaction. You need both.

Lesson 3: Are you worth it. I don't cut my hourly fees, I've worked long and hard to earn my pay and then I own the company (as small as it is). I will cut down on extras to cut down my bottom line. Figure ways to streamline that can help the client as well. Simple things, just like emails and client blogs. They save 75% of the time I used to use on the phone. Helps me work with more clients, keeps their hourly consultation costs down.

Lesson 4: Enjoy the slack time, believe me if you are good, it will change over night. So take this time to refresh, catch up on technology and industry news. Improve your skillset, make new contacts and enlarge your circle of influence.

By design, that is the life cycle of business.


Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Part II: An artist never dies, because their work lives forever...

Wow, what a day, I thought we could all use a little love, tough on emotions.

This morning saw the passing of Farrah Fawcett. What dignity she had in handling her illness. She will be missed and my condolences to her family. Life presents us all challenges, but Farrah was blessed. She knew the love of her family and friends. they had a chance to enjoy the time they had knowing what could happen.

Yet, we then find out that Michael Jackson was lost to us as well. Oh so suddenly it seems. Really, how much of a surprise was it. To me I see the tragic figures like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. People who were extremely talented, powerful; yet lacked the power to have real friends. Farrah had real friends. Michael had hangers on, enablers, people who wanted to use him and his celebrity. Britney, you better be thanking your lucky stars having your parents intervene. In a smaller world, we each see people who are on the road to selfdestruction. Look at the Governor of South Carolina, what was he thinking. How sad.

There is grieving to be done, so many people grew up with MJ's music. He was a playchanger in the music business and I will choose to remember him in his Thriller days, or better yet when singing as a 10 yo with his brothers....ABC...easy as 123. Yes, to me that is Michael Jackson. That is what we need to celebrate and to honor his name, his career.

Like I said in the post about Robert Simmons. An artist never dies, because their work lives forever. Robert if your are listening, introduce Michael to the choir.

Cheers to you Michael, God rest your soul.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An artist never dies, because their work lives forever...

I had just posted my blog update for today, when word came that a master, artist, craftsman and Charleston icon passed away. Philip Simmons. I just spoke of capturing the spirit. That was Philip Simmons gift.

Philip made the metal that passed his hands sing. He and his craft were one. I only met him once and it was briefly, I wish I was given more time, but there were others who deserved their chance. Children.

I mean it, the kids eyes would light up as he shared his skill and wisdom via a southern gentleman's charm. What amazed me more was how much his eyes would gleam.

Philip Simmons was what we call here in the south a blessing, a southern treasure. I betcha God is commissioning him as we speak for a new set of gates.

For the gatekeeper has arrived.

Cheers in your honor Philip

Labels: , , ,

Music to lift the spirit....

I just had a conference with someone, we were discussing expectations. Spoke and unspoken.
Quite a subject to ponder, I thought I had very broad expectations then I realized I do have some lofty ones, some I won't "give" on.

There are some terms that are so subjective it is hard to put a finger on. Personally, I believe in God. He is the Creator, the end all Artist, the supreme Designer. I remember when I came to my personal understanding. How can we all come out of nothing. I am a designer and chaos doesn't resolve itself without and intelligent guide. Someone with a vision to see beauty in ugly, to see order in chaos, to see the spirit behind all that is good. In architecture and landscape specifically the term Genus Loci, it means to design to capture the spirit of the place.

To me the definition of good, is if the piece captures that spirit of the place, the spirit of the event, the spirit of the moment. It is when you walk in a gallery and pass by hundreds of photos and you keep coming back to that one. Sometimes it is not one you would normally think you would like. You are just drawn in. It's the house down the street, the one drive just a bit slower by to take it in, the painting that makes you think you know just what the person in the picture was thinking. Or like me the movie that was filmed on the Atlantic coast. In the panning approaching the shore, I could smell the ocean. Now that is how your recognize good design. That is Genus Loci.

I get sent many things, today I was passed along a video from Jon Schmidt. The most played music video on you tube. Why, because he captured the spirit of the music, the spirit of the emotion, the spirit of his 7 yo daughter by interpeting songs from Coldplay and Taylor Swift. Listen and tell me you don't feel better after hearing it.

To me that's the mark of excellence. Anyone can scare you, depress you, affect you by the darkness of life. It takes much more talent, skill and vision to lift the spirit. They always say good comedy is harder to write than good drama.

* before clicking on link turn off the player on my blog below.


Labels: , , ,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

There's good design, then there's well different...

Running through odds and ends that load up on the desk and mail. This was hilarious, but a real product. Just don't know what the appropriate application would be. Maybe a movie themed media room. Otherwise not a clue.

It is normal that I stash away unique products for "someday I'll need that" thought. It's really not ugly or ill made, well it is just different. Please thank OOOMs


Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Genus Loci


Labels: , ,

Stucco the new duct tape..

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who notices the illogical, impractical and outright silly things builders do in construction of homes.

Please listen, always build with respect to the value of the home. Meaning if you are in the high end bracket don't do this. The problem was they added a second floor to a space that hat cathedral ceilings. A year in the planning (house burned) and this is the only solution the builder and the architect found to resolve a window that crossed both floors. Side note, there is no other stucco on the brick and stone house.

I guess they thought since it was in the far back corner no one would notice, except it overlooks the main entertainment space outside and the pool.

I think I'm going to start a new show, "How not to build".

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Starfish and future star...update

Jennifer was called late last week by a gallery to submit work for the governor's office. She rushed to mat and frame some pics and dropped six off Monday. Just received a call that three of the six were chosen outright, the other three waiting for review of other entries. One of which is the starfish photo that you see above in by blog header.

Jennifer is just 17 and is a concurrent student, attending highschool and college. She looks to attend SCAD with a major in photography in 2010 so this is a major portfolio boost in that direction. She already does PA work and assists pros on their shoots. From the excitement- I guess you can tell she is my daughter and has been working by my side since she was 10.

I get some credit, do to the last minute request I matted the work by hand. Jennifer if you are reading this quit rolling your eyes at that last comment.


Reposted from May 19, 2009:
Finally updated the blog title photo. Thanks to Jennifer Hancock (in montage above) for lending me the shots. My dear daughter-check out her blog to the left- Images. Now award winning photographer, future student at SCAD. She tried to charge me then I had to remind her I paid for the holiday at the beach allowing her to take the pics. Like the initiative though. I told her I am now her agent and get 15%, she held out for 10. Good girl. Good investment for me, her pics are selling well, will start bookings for sessions this summer at student rates. Have to build that portfolio you know.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wrant Wednesday......

Okay, so there is no day that starts with an "R". So, go with me here.

Some of my work is in large format and as usual I need it scanned it and printed.

Because these printers are always finicky, I call first. I just went through three companies and each one after my assistant showed up had issues. One charged me $50.00 for a scan that had stripes running through it. I took and back and they looked at me like, "So, what's the problem?". So, I went to option 2.

Number 2 - whom I have used before said sure, they could do it, machine working. My assistant went there and yes they could do it, yes there machine was working, but even though their machine can do color, they no longer do it on site but send it to a sister shop a few miles away.

Number 3 said they could do it sure. Pricing was only 30.00, but oh we forgot to tell you it would be 4 days. Even as we stared, the machine sat still and there was nothing much happening. I truly believe they wanted to have time to read the directions and practice a couple of times.

So please if are reading this and are one of those shops I stopped: If you say you can do something, don't have me drive all over town to find out there are specifics you forgot to mention. And for pete's sake don't have a huge sign that says same day service, or while you wait. I mean really. I called first.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Okay, just came back from the printers again. Why? Because when they called back the $30 dollar print went to $80. Say what? I said really why the $50 increase. Seems the print was 5' x 10'. Ahem, are you crazy. The original fit my desk. So the largest dimension couldn't be bigger than 52". I'm coming now... I say. So in the 15 minutes it took me to drive over there, they all of a sudden realized when they did the jpeg version it was magnified, pdf was the correct size, it would be an hour and half before it would be ready. (insert huge grimace here) When I came back an hour and half later when they called. Yes, their phone does work. The print was pretty good except the browns had a red tint, I asked them if they could fix that. With a blank stare, they said sure they could have photoshopped the color, but they didn't think about it. So, now all the trees have auburn bark, or maybe it is just my blood pressure.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Beach Calligraphy...

"Have to update, Andrew's work on Beach Photography was featured in Letter Arts Review and John Neal Booksellers Catalogue."

Somewhere back in time on the blog I mentioned Andrew Van Der Merwe as an inspiration. &rew is a very talented artist and calligrapher from South Africa. Mind you I do calligraphy, but had to cut back because of a shoulder injury. I letter more than 30 minutes and my arm looks like I'm going through the DT's. Happy thought- that's up from 5 minutes. So, I live vicariously through my artist friends. When my son announced he was getting married last year, I knew I couldn't do the calligraphy for the invites so I asked &rew if I could commission him for the job. He had just started pulling together a new venture of beach calligraphy, so it fit as my son Justin and his sweet wife Anya were married on a schooner at Hilton Head. ( see photo above taken by award winning photographer Jennifer Hancock)

This is no sloppy scribble, but crisp detailed images-no photoshopping of the lettering people. Believe me, pure magic. See.

I feel like I am bragging on a family member,
but there is no relation.
Just love showing off talent.
Congrats Andrew, please check out his new website via artfire:
and also his general website for design and calligraphy

Cheers, and if you visit &drew tell him I said Hi.

All photos copyright us 2009-RED

Labels: , ,

Design time....

Oh yes this is a design blog. I always get a laugh when Architectural Digest comes out with its " architecture issue", huh. No, it's not this month but it just came to mind. I mean really isn't every month in that magazine, architecture month.

I just came up with almost the last version of a site plan, almost because when you deal with residential clients, it is never finished. The difference between commercial and residential design. It is acceptable, it is the way it is supposed to be. 

In residential design, great care must be made to apply skill with respect to the client's wish list. As is normal in a construction issue costs escalates with changes. In this case I was brought in late to do some consultation on the house as well as design the site plan for the landscaping. 

A fire had destroyed the original residence. Clients gave a budgeted amount and wanted a flat out plan to go with. Knowing their limitations, I said it would be best to do a site plan first with wish list and then as their home construction was nearing the last phase of construction we would tidy it up. Why because house construction renovations always cost more. For several reasons. There are always areas that are overlooked: Oh, forgot I needed that extra outlet in the bath, didn't know the plumbing would have to be upgraded to pass inspection etc. Not to mention  just plain changes of mind. Though we have a plan for the landscape so that we can incorporate any basic needs like gas or electrical rigged for the exterior, we have left room for changes. Also saving cost design wise.

The final needs to be addressed closer to the end of construction. When the client really knows what is left to work with. Also a tip for a DIY'er. Not that you can't do everything, but the way you do it might have to be scaled down or some things might have to be put on hold.

This is why this is the almost final. It gives a plan for use, indicates major hardscapes, pool and planting areas. Materials could still be changed, size of plantings or type within specifications. For example I might specify an evergreen hedge of cryptomeria, a pricier plant than a basic holly. It is more elegant, but if pricing is a factor then they either need to get smaller cryptomeria or change to hollies to save cost. 

So that just being one of the options, this is usually totally the opposite for commercial construction.  Credit for the plant photos go to Monrovia. 

Side note: people often ask why their plantings don't look as nice as mine. One reason is certified growers. Of those Monrovia is the standard bearer. Quality product, excellent specimen and variety. They always give you proper growing guidelines suitable for the home gardener. I have visited all the major growers  and you can immediately tell if you are getting a
quality plant after seeing healthy growing conditions at the nurseries. Certain labels you just don't have to question on their quality, Monrovia is one. You'll pay more, but get better results -if you follow the care guidelines.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Took a side trip to the hospital..

It has been decades in online time since I have posted. Good news, bad news, busy things, chaos. Anyway, life just got in the way. Still playing catch up from the hospital stay in March. Good news though recent blood tests for my husband came in great. But really, trying to reinvent your business on a dime is tricky.  I was told yesterday, by a dear confidant. You go through things like this so you can show others the way. Ooookay.

Many people don't like talking about cancer, it is scary. Al and I see it just as another part of life. His diagnosis was stage IV gastric cancer, on a 10 scale that wouldn't be bad, but on a 4 scale--ooooh. Yet, we aren't about numbers, nor do we hang with the mindset there is only one way to attack a situation. Drew let us blame it on him, well sort of...
That's why I like Drew. Drew just recently found out he has Hodgkins lymphoma. Once a deadly cancer, now very much survivable. So he's come up with a way to talk about cancer and get some healthy venting done at the same time, raise money for cancer research and those affected. He's offering up his cancer as sacrifice. You can go to his website or twitter #blamedrewscancer or follow@drewscancer of any thing that comes to mind. He blamed losing his keys on his cancer. 

Cudos to Drew, and like he says cancer has to be attacked. I'll let you blame things on Al's cancer too. In fact blame Al's cancer on Drew's cancer.