Money Matters – Surviving Hard Times

In this blog I have written a short survival guide for artists, illustrators, makers and designers. In fact it is useful for anyone who is strapped for cash.

The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2021 is out now! I’ve been a contributing author now for four years. My section is on How to Make a Living: Money Matters on page 502. This is the 114th edition of this book. Its where many famous authors and illustrators started their journeys into publishing. It’s where I started with the 2007 (100th edition). I wrote a blog about this year or so a go. Its still up in the blog archive if you would like to take a look.

The reference to artist in the title really meant something different to today’s meaning at the start of the twentieth century…more like a commercial artist or artisan. Its still a unique and great source of information, literally saving weeks of time trying to find industry resources or support by yourself. The book is also available as a website subscription service online.

In this blog post I want to share with you some tips on surviving hard times. Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is worth a read, if you want to experience life without unions or the welfare state, especially where Easton tries to budget and he exclaims, ‘We’d be alright if it wasn’t for the debts’, then take a look.

 

Here are my main tips with some useful links at the end.

  1. Get help, if you have debts try to sort them out, this could be through an IVA which can help you clear debts. Other ways could be converting your credit card debts in to a Credit Union Loan, but you need to compare the interest rates.The Business Debt Helpline or the National Debt Helpline can also be useful.
  2. Avoid as best you can from getting into debt as the recession deepens. For money management, saving and benefit tips follow Martin Lewis on social media
  3. Start cancelling unnecessary direct debits or switching suppliers. Look at your out goings, subscriptions, memberships, what don’t you need? I switched my broadband supplier two months ago. I now have an improved service and it costs nearly half the price of the original provider. Try looking on Money Saving Expert or Money Supermarket and compare utilities.
  4. If you are renting talk to your landlord or landlady, write a personal polite letter to see if you could re-negotiate the rent. Equally try skill swapping with other creatives or businesses to gain products or services in return.
  5. Learn to cook, no really learn to cook, your will be amazed how you can reduce your shopping bills.  I’m a great fan of Jack Monroe know as the Bootstrap Cook I have all her cookbooks. You can borrow books from your local library or take a look at Jack’s blog for many free recipes.Jack Monroe
  6. Get help, you may be aware of the various support schemes during the Covid 19 pandemic. See here for more information. If for some reason you haven’t bee able to claim and savings are running low under £16,000 or for full support under £6,000 then you might have to claim Universal Credit if you are in a Universal Credit postcode. Do not move on to Universal Credit if you are on legacy benefits like Working Tax Credits, as you may lose out. Seek advice from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau before doing anything. What I can say until March 2021 Universal Credit has relaxed many of its onerous restrictions on the self-employed, and the system now understands ad hoc employed PAYE income, and also takes account of invoices paid and expenses incurred. Universal Credit is also a non taxable source of income. Its not perfect, nor ideal, but don’t let your pride get in the way of claiming.

What I will say is no one knows how long this state of uncertainty will last. One idea you might wish to consider is approaching businesses which have got going again and see if they need any feel good imagery for social media, new attractive signage, online messaging or traditional flyers or posters.

Useful Links Not Included Above

More about alternative sources of funding can be found in my book The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers, 2019, Bloomsbury Visual Arts.

Turn to Us  Useful grant and benefit checker

UK Government business-support

Arts Council Support for Individuals

The Association of Illustrators Covid 19 Support

Design Nation Resources

Craft Council Resources

A-N Resources


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AOI Business Vision and Growth Webiner

Hi there everyone, a couple of days ago I gave a webinar for The AOI about business planning, vision and growth. We covered a lot of ground in forty-five minutes or so, and I hope the content will help illustrators seeking to scale up their enterprise some ideas.

There is an awful lot to know about new and growing markets in illustration, beyond the traditional markets of editorial, publishing and advertising. In print media and publishing is declining and its very difficult to grow in shrinking markets. We covered eight new expanding areas of trade and talked about some brilliant trailblazers in these genres. I also mentioned the importance of trends, and its possible to find some information on trends for free if you know where to look, but much has to paid for. Getting this type of insight can be vital to help you think more commercially and make more informed decisions.

Its also important to understand such matters as money management, viability, profitability. The size of your game can change quite suddenly when you are an illustrator or other creator, e.g. winning a large cash prize, big advertising licensing deal, commissions from luxury brands, etc. These unexpected opportunities can have tax implications, so to understanding how companies work can be advantageous for higher earners.

If you are a member of the AOI one-to-one consultancy is available with me for £35  per one hour session via Skype.

Equally I am available for one-to-ones directly, but its much better value to to talk to me once you have joined as you gain over 70% discount. My full rates to non-AOI members are here one-on-one or via Skye.

Header image kindly supplied by Mike Lee-Graham Mike Lee-Graham on Twitter Mike Lee-Graham on Instagram

In article image also kindly supplied by Josephine Dellow Josephine Dellow on Twitter  Josephine Dellow on Instagram

You may be interested in my book The Essential Guide to Business for Creatives

Business Start-up for Creatives Weekend Course at Central Saint Martins

Entrepreneurship for Creatives Term Time Evening Course at Central Saint Martins


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Book News: Latvian Translation & English Version Reprint December 2019

With the help of the Latvian Patent Office and the Latvian Designers The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers has been translated and published in Latvian.

Jumava have published the work and you can buy copies from their website. I spent a couple of days in Riga after the launch event, I posted some of my photos on my Instagram feed of some of my adventures. Walking around the old town this wonderful place reminded me of the UK in the 1980s. Interestingly English and American rock music is really popular in Latvia and its played everywhere, on the radio, in bars, cafes and restaurants.

It’s interesting to see the pages translated into the Latvian language. This is an image from the Fold organisation’s website.

On 18th October 2019 I made a speech and gave a talk at the Latvian Design Fair, Design Isle In Riga. I also talked about entrepreneurial skills and Intellectual Property. I also had the honour to meet Andrejs Broks President of the Latvian Designers. I posted a link to my speech below and other useful links. I also met designer Inese Lapiņa, you can see some of her fabulous innovative lounger sofas/day beds via Facebook #Dusis

                          

The Latvian Patent Office Plan to give copies of the translation of the book to all the art schools and elementary schools in Latvia. To help prepare talented teenagers and art students for setting up an arts practice, design studio or creative business. The book is also available to purchase from Igramata.

New December 2019 reprint of the English second edition

There is a new slightly updated reprint of the second edition of The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers now available. Published by Bloomsbury Visual Arts and reprinted in December 2019, please not this version has a new ISBN number 9781350153899. If you go to the Bloomsbury website you will find they are offering a 30% discount that’s £8.40 off the marked price. An excellent guide for yourself or a creative friend or relative.


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Whatever happened to my lost project…

In 2005 I developed, with the help of an illustrator, an exciting addition to the Little Miss and Mr Men characters, originally created by Roger Hargreaves in 1960s.

Little Miss Entrepreneur was not only a character but also a complete story, which we made up as a mock up book in 2006.

We approached the original rights holders Chorion in 2006 with our idea and we received back a ‘we’ll keep you letter on file’ letter. Chorion later went bankrupt so we tried again making approaches to the Mr Men Company (a Sanrio Company).

We made a number of approaches with our concept between 2012 and 2016 to the new rights owners. We have an acknowledgement of a spread of images we sent and tentative interest expressed by them via email in 2012. However, there has been no response to our later phone calls, emails or letters.

In 2018 Thoip (a Sanrio Company) launched a new character and story called Little Miss Inventor. Close friends of ours who were aware of our original character idea alerted us straight away to this character being unveiled.

It is a real shame Little Miss Entrepreneur’s story was not taken on by these companies, and for copyright reasons we cannot publish our own story. Though we have repeatedly asked for permission or a license to do so Sanrio have not engaged.

I did write a number of letters in 2013 explaining the growth in enterprise education at early school level. Several years ago Lord Young ran his very successful ‘Fiver Challenge’ and that the character was right for this audience in this modern age. More recently there has been a huge interest in entrepreneurial teaching in schools, especially in Wales (Professor Andy Penaluna).

So, I regard Little Miss Entrepreneur as my lost project…she maybe lost but definitely not forgotten,

Perhaps she was ahead of her time, as innovators so often are. It is real shame Sanrio are not interested in our story, as we believe Little Miss Inventor and Little Miss Entrepreneur could be great friends, if they ever met and possibly they could even have a very prosperous future together!

Of interest – a recent report The Future Founders written by the Octopus Group, The Entrepreneurs Network and ComRes

‘57% of young people could not name an entrepreneur who inspires them. Of those who could, Lord Sugar was the most popular choice (7.9%), closely followed by Richard Branson (6.5%). Elon Musk came third with 2.6%. Bill Gates (2.2%) and Steve Jobs (1.7%) were also named repeatedly. Of those who gave an answer, Kylie Jenner was the most commonly named female entrepreneur (1.1%)’


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The British Museum’s Missing Exhibit

Here are a couple of photographs of the infamous Tan Hill Inn Mobile Phone Pickle Jar I took a couple of years ago. Folklore has it in the 1990s the landlady became so fed up with the number of her patrons staring silently at texts and emails she introduced a severe but obvious deterrent…shall we say.

Yes I know we all love social media, watching our favourite vloggers, whirring around our device from texts to emails, ridiculous google searches, games with no conclusions, app tapping, etc. People are becoming more aware about how damaging this activity can become, as it moves towards unfettered dopamine release, are inability to concentrate, focus on anything, continually distracted, never fully present, stress, forgetfulness….and….ah I can’t remember….sorry, did I say something?

The exciting chaos of Christmas will soon be upon us, yet a month from today and it will be all over. So I urge anyone who should stumble across this short blog post, to turn their phones off and fully tune in to the present.

Pop into Paperchase, Cards Galore, or Clintons Cards and purchase some beautiful cards or if you have time make some of your own. Put some time a side to consider friends, family, work colleagues, clients, patrons or customers who have supported you in recent months or for many years.

Avoid sending multiple Happy Christmas texts, to people you have never met, worked with or even know. Phone people, take some time to slow down, go down a gear and catch up.

On January 1st 2019 I have a New Years Resolution, though my mobile isn’t quite ready for the pickle jar just yet, but its important to spot addiction and the invisible isolation it brings with it when it comes.

As for the British Museum, you are missing one of Yorkshire’s most remote and hidden treasures from your collection.


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Death of a Mentor

Earlier this year my mentor John Naylor sadly died.

I first met John nearly twenty years ago, though he only started to mentor me in my late thirties. Everyone has a different view of mentors, often they are there to listen…and sometimes there to be listened to. They can be there at the start of your professional, business or creative journey and much appreciated along the way.

John was a very special person. In a chance conversation over a decade ago I mentioned I was writing a book and considering seeking a publisher He immediately offered to take a look at the 30,000 words I had been labouring over at the time. I posted the manuscript to him and a couple of days later he phoned and said how absolutely marvellous everything was, but would I mind…if here and there…he inserted the odd capital letter, comma, made the occasional tiny grammatical tweak. ‘Sure’ I said, already imagining vast quantities of royalties pouring in, the vision was all there, splashing out on a yacht, purchasing a glass fronted luxury apartment, exotic holidays, etc.

A week later, the two inch thick manuscript thudded on to my doormat, accompanied by a seven page letter from John. On the manuscript itself, which was about version 15, over every page, and I mean every page, up the margins, on the headers, footers, sometimes on the backs of pages was John’s distinctive red spidery longhand.

A section of an early 250 page manuscript showing John’s annotations

In his own unique beautiful, warm, sensitive, and graceful manner he had conveyed, without the need for any harsh criticism or even directly having to tell me anything at all that – this was a load of rubbish and I would never get it published.

My experience of the various meetings with John over the years, was an invisible form of not only mentoring but guidance. He would say of writing, ‘Read it, read it out loud, read it again, think about it, rest it, put it in a draw, then revise it, rewrite it, and keep going…’ He possessed the art of getting people to realise something for themselves, and lightly blew them in the right direction. His support over a number of years meant, I was eventually able to write, and went on to secure several commissions from major publishers.

Life can be full of unexpected experiences, some good and others which are frankly awful.  Our lives can change quite suddenly, a mentor can often help you cope with the ups and downs of an enterprise, career or life. One thing John did convey to me, when interacting with everyone, is the importance of thoughtfulness, conveying respect and above all kindness. Without John I would not have learned such valuable lessons.

So John, a fond farewell. I miss you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How to make a living: Money Matters

If you happen across the forthcoming  Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 you may per chance discover my commissioned piece about money matters under Art and Illustration starting on page 484.

20171204_183627_resized

Musing about how on earth I managed to establish myself as an author we have to take a trip back to more than  a decade ago when I started looking for a publisher. Its difficult for non-fiction writers to gain  representation such as a literary agent but 20171210_124603_resizedits not impossible. However, I’m still unrepresented so open to offers!

This valuable guide for authors, wordsmiths, as well as professonal illustrators for 2018 is in its 111th edition. As you can see from my highlighting below on the 100th Anniversary Edition in 2007, I like many artists and writers before me started out on my search.20171210_124813_resized

If you are currently in my shoes, last worn over ten years ago, presently there are many more avenues open to publishing your literary or graphic novels today. Though it’s still tricky to gain the attention of an established publisher.

My key pieces of advice are don’t write the whole manuscript before you start approaching reputable publishers as they may wish only to see some sample chapters, and for you to fill in a rather lengthy document called an ‘Author’s Questionnaire’ often available from the publisher’s website on download. Equally you might need to open to feedback and be willing to adapt your ideas slightly, which can be enormously frustrating.

Its also worth knowing that many publishers desire for at least half the sales to be either in America or overseas…also be prepared to wait, it can be very slow process even getting your proposals looked at. If this isn’t very appealing then there are other options, but be wary about self-publishing deals, always read the terms and conditions very carefully before investing your own money or embarking on a crowdfunding campaign.

More useful blogs and advice can be found via the Writers’ & Artists’  Yearbook website. The Society of Authors is also a very useful organisation to join if you find you have been commissioned to write your first book. If you are an author and struggling to finished a research project or a commissioned manuscript for either financial reasons or ill heath, then if you are currently or become a member you might be able eligible for a grant.

I’ve also been commissioned to write a couple of blogs for the Writers & Artists’ Yearbook website this year, here are the links: Protecting Your Work Online Effective Self-Promotion for Artists & Designers and Making A Living

book student tabsOccasional Newsletterette:

The Essential Guide to Business for Artists & Designers will be translated into Latvian next year in 2018, I’ll post an update and link when I receive some complementary copies. Interestingly the book will be printed in black and white, I should think the front cover will change also.

I very much look forward to seeing it. Equally the first print run of the UK second edition has nearly sold out this year. It’s not too late to purchase a copy for yourself or a friend for Christmas. It may be some time until there is a third edition as this version took eighteen months to write.

Have a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

 


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Reflections on the Future….

About 17 years ago, on the evening of the opening night of the Tate Modern, I was one of the protesters standing outside. For those of you who don’t know there were many artists demonstrating about all sorts of issues, from the the dramatic change in the direction of British Art, the unwelcome influence of Saatchi, the vast expense of the project, to the poverty of many artists living and working in London.

Then one day soon after, I popped in and still found myself in there at 10pm at night, and I witnessed a long queue of visitors, in the beautiful well stocked Tate Modern bookshop, clutching armfuls of books about art.

It was a stand still moment, as I stood there, awestruck in my jumble sale clothes, and worn-out shoes. What an earth was going on? After being used to wondering around the old Charing Cross Road Foyles’ bookshop, with its dormant slient floors devoid of life and dusty chaotic negleted shelves.

As I was passing through London last month I decided to pop in to the Tate Modern bookshop once again, one of many frequent visits over the years, and I discovered a couple of copies of my latest book on the shelf. Again I had one of those moments.

Over recent weeks I’ve spotted art students with copies of my book borrowed from libraries and also received a written note from a student after a recent lecture, letting me know they had ordered the book from Amazon during the break…

So thank you, and hope you both find a bright and fantastic future…

Note from an art studentA recent snap of a copy of my book borrowed from a UCA library

Alison Branagan’s Entrepreneurship for Creatives’ Summer School is running this July, for more info and to book please touch through to Central Saint Martins


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Hello to The New! Out Soon in 2017!

This is to let everyone know the exciting news that the second edition of The Essential Guide to Business for Artists and Designers ISBN 978-1474250559 will be out soon and is available on pre-order. At over 95,000 words this is what the manuscript looked like a couple of months ago…

026This new publication, published by Bloomsbury Academic has been fully revsied, with three additional chapters on websites, blogs and social media, innovation and trends and ideas for growth. With new illustrated mindmaps, resources, exercises, photographs, diagrams, and profiles of artists and designers. As you can see from the beautiful renders by BVN Ceative the book has a new from cover by Tumanyan.

068-stacked-6x9-books-with-back-cover-covervault

 

This publication has started to become core reading on many degree  and post graduatecourses, and this super fan movie was made by Rebecca Skeels who is subject leader for the Postgraduate and  Masters Programmes at UCA Farnham demonstrating how students have made good use of their inhouse copy.

This book is ideal for a wide range of artists, designers, makers, photographers and illustrators. The second edition embraces our new world of globalisation, digitalisation, and connectivity. It has been written to embrace readers from different starting points, whether you have studied at Art College or not, are just thinking about it, have got started or have been going for some time.

Stop Press: Artquest has just published my revised business start-up guide for artists, makers and photographers The 7 Steps to Business Start-up

 


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2066 and all that….

In about 50 years time I’ll be nearly 100, many readers of this blog may be nearing receiving their telegram from the queen by 2086. It’s going to be a long life for most of us and its time to imagine what sort of future you would like for yourself.

In this new post Brexit era…well after 2019 at the earliest, trading conditions for the visual arts and creative industries could be uncertain. Leading up the vote on the 23rd June 2016, many graphic designers and photographers were finding work was drying up. I’ve have news for everyone, the next 24 months may still be tough.

If you are in a down period, get on with that admin, filing, bookkeeping, Tax Return, infographic that CV, telephone that old client and revamp your website. Yes… even have a go with that free LinkedIn Premium trial, see what can come of expanding your professional networks.

Invest money in your business, but do so wisely, avoid unnecessary expense as the next year could be hard for some of us. If you are on a low income check to see if you are eligible for Tax Credits or other support.

Perhaps its time to try a different approach, such as a fresh marketing plan, a new business strategy, or give that thing… ago…(you know that ‘ big thing’ at the bottom of your to do list). Large projects often aren’t economical at the time, but they can raise your profile, attract media attention and more interesting opportunities in the long term.

If you need a bit of help, there are a couple of courses running at Central Saint Martins: Entrepreneurship for Creatives and Business Start-up for Creatives at Granary Square and two online courses Business Start-up for Creatives and Self-Promotion for Creatives

I’m also available for one-to-ones, please email me at alison@alisonbranagan.com

Thanks to Tim Bradford for his illustrations

Have a great rest of the summer and I hope exciting things happen soon…I’ve been working on a huge project for the last 18 months which could revolutionise business start-up education within the visual arts….all will be revealed shortly.


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