Monday, January 09, 2012

1,000 True Fans

Spux is an artist.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before. I'm sure you'll hear me say it again because truly he is one of the most versatile artists I know - dabbling in projects ranging from the annual paper fashion show to unusual cake designs to pencil drawings in a sketchbook. And almost always his projects end up doused liberally with awesome sauce (Sincerely, go check out his website where you can get an excellent sampling of his varied talents).

At the beginning of this month, January, he decided to designate the entire month "Art Every Day Month" and subsequently found himself in a groove of painting miniatures of fanciful animals. Once I saw the first few, I commissioned one of my very own fanciful animal:

That's Spux's cat, Lebowski, providing the body. And yes, I've become THAT crazy cat lady who commissions paintings of her pet. Thanks.
$60 isn't a lot of money to spend on a one-of-a-kind painting - especially when it's a painting I love of a subject I love created by an artist I love. I think I may have ordered a miniature painting of a sloth too. But we'll see if that comes to fruition. At this point, Spux has more special orders than he'll likely be able to handle for some time.

Here's why that's a big deal. When Spux was laid off from his conventional 9-5 job last year, he vowed that somehow he would find a way to make a living making art. He didn't ever want to go back to an office or put all his creative energies into projects he didn't care about for other people he didn't particularly like. Even for friends (ahem), he's hard pressed to take a gig that doesn't interest him on some level.

And he's starting to make that art dream a reality.

How?

By building his base of 1,000 true fans.

From Illuminated Mind, a true fan is defined as:
People that buy everything you create. When you announce the launch of a product, creation, or offer, they are actively waiting for you to release it. They refresh the “coming soon” page. They comment on every post. They tell everyone they can about what you do.
And, as defined by The Technium:
A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
The theory is that if you have 1,000 true fans who are willing and able to annually spend $100 apiece on your art - whatever form your art takes - that's enough to support a comfortable, sustainable life style. You won't be rich but you won't be in the streets because the curb wouldn't have you.

Of course, this assumes one can reasonably offer enough product to meet that price point for 1,000 people a year.

Regardless, it's an interesting theory.

It's a theory I've been giving a lot of thought to because this theory would suggest it isn't necessary to gain the attention and following of a million people who are so full of adoration for whatever it is we create that they are throwing fists full of cash in our direction. It only takes a 1,000 or, in my case, realistically, around 5,000 or so.

It gave me a big blast of hope actually.

My standard of living isn't particularly high. I figure if I could net - after payroll taxes and health insurance and modest business expenses - $30,000 annually, I'm living pretty high on my particular hog. I don't need or necessarily want anymore than that. I'm pretty content to live financially the way I do now.

And that's also gotten me to think about all the other extraordinary artists I have the pleasure of knowing...

Like Jive-Turkey who is currently making a nice little second income off his mosaic art:



Paulie Lipman, slam poet and friend:



I've written about Paulie before when he touched me so profoundly by his It Gets Better: Fight Song.

My brother, Frank:



And, of course (dare I repeat myself? Why, yes, yes I do!), Jessie and her band Alameda:



And so many other incredibly talented folks I know...Dayna and her art boxes, Bomb Betsy and her fiber arts, Sage Bray and her polymer arts magazine, modchen and her costuming designs (Girl, will you PLEASE send me the links to your stores?!), Acr0nym and his photography, Blind Betsy and her Sonoma Trio (The Momma who first instilled in me the love and appreciation and support of artists of all kinds).

Sonoma Trio (photo credit) - that beautiful woman in the middle is the one I call Mom. Isn't she truly stunning?
Not to mention Lex who writes articles for Steve Jackson Games' Pyramid Magazine but has been working on the next greatest American novel for the last year.

Good lord, do I know a boat load of talented people?! And that's not even the half of it.

None of us are starving artists (except, perhaps, Paulie and Spux so go buy their stuff as they are attempting to truly live the dream and follow their individual passions). But each of us would love to have 1,000 true fans. 1,000 true fans who love us beyond all reason. 1,000 true fans who appreciate us for who we are. 1,000 true fans who want us to succeed...because if we succeed, anything is possible.

And I can't help thinking...could I find 1,000 true fans willing to invest $50 a year in me? Could I find 50,000 fans willing to invest 99¢ in me (the price point of an electronic version of a book)? Even Lex said he'd probably buy the book. Would you?

That's what I need. Just a few. Out of 7 billion people worldwide, that doesn't seem like very many. Does it?

What do you think you need to be successful?

9 comments:

cdnkaro said...

My problem is deciding what it is at which I want to be successful. You are surrounded by so many VERY talented people- that must be lovely! Although let's not forget that Jane herself is an incredibly talented woman. Why else would we all come back, day after day, to hear what you have to say?

FYI I would totally be a 'true fan' to you!

Masked Mom said...

You are completely surrounded by talented people. There isn't much an artsy type scene in our little rural area, which is why I love living vicariously through others who share their artistic worlds online.

I have had some small publication success and have made perhaps a total of $5000 on my writing. I am haunted by the fact of not doing more with it--not merely as a financial proposition but in terms of immersing myself in it and making it a real priority. I have done more in the past few months than I have in the last several years, though, so it's a start.

And yes, you have a true fan here.

Nini Kahler said...

I love your posts, Jane, they are so unique, and so beautiful! It is always such pure pleasure for me to come and read and look...and ultimately sigh with a smile. Thank you, my friend!

I know I have talent in my cooking creations, though my cooking is more down-home. I just wouldn't know how to make a go of it. So I cook for my familia and find much satisfaction in that. :)

Hugs Amiga,
~Virginia

Gaelyn said...

I figure 500-1000 "true fans" would probably do it. I'd like to be paid to write about my chosen travels. And I make jewelry. Problem, I don't really want to work too hard at either.
I am a fan.

Laine Griffin said...

See, I really love this! I am putting into action a personal and business plan for 2012, and I find this so inspiring!
Spux's work is amazing!

Lucy said...

Wow, so many talented friends but then again 'birds of a feather.....'

I think I need the desire and right now life is a little too comfortable, probably a bad thing.

Frances D said...

Oh my dear you are an artist's best friend aren't you? Pretty lucky folks your friends are.

Melanie said...

I love the way you dream, but dream in practical ways (at least sometimes)! Numbers, dollars, cents, living comfortably on our art! You inspire me. Here's to dreams coming true. Count me in as a true fan, darlin'.

Just Jane said...

Thank you to each and every one of you. I consider myself so fortunate to be surrounded by talent - physically and virtually - that inspires me each and every day.