Artist Paula Best presents a delightful portfolio of mixed media collage, and talks about the variety of products she sells.
ABI: How has your business evolved over the years?
PB: I think of my business as being very fluid. It all started when I was only two…. I “painted” furniture with fingernail polish (which wasn’t really appreciated at the time as a valid “art form.”)
This progressed to selling small paintings to the neighbor, and then doing art shows in my early career, showing and selling my original pen and ink drawings.
This was followed by several years of designing for my art rubber stamp company, which kept me on the road for 19 years. I have always worked in many mediums and designed many different things. Jewelry designing has always been in the background of my art business. My jewelry line includes an extensive collection of charms, now cast in white bronze. I also have developed a line of fabric beads that are unusual and “unexpected” as wearable art pieces.
At the moment, I am concentrating on staying near home and doing art shows three days a week that are based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Aside from the fact that Santa Fe is a place that celebrates the arts, it is a beautiful destination for tourists and art collectors.
I have a greeting card line that I launched at the National Stationery Show in New York City in May, 2013.
My business is always moving, flowing and open to new ideas and opportunities. The beauty to me about a career in art is there are always new directions and possibilities to change and evolve. This appeals to me personally because it seems I have a vast amount of ideas to keep things fresh and exciting.
ABI: How are you creating the mugs you are selling?
PB: My new line of mugs is created from my original mixed media canvases. Beginning with a photo of the original art, I then put it in Photoshop to finish the design and size it for the mug. I print the design and then it goes to my sublimation process to permanently place the image into the surface of the mug. I do this all in my studio. I always have “my hand” in everything I sell. Along with the mugs, I also print my giclee prints in my studio.
ABI: What new designs are you working on currently?
PB: This question can change on a daily basis. Currently I am working on an animal series. With the inspiration from my beautiful southwest environment, my animal “totems” have a flavor of Native American inspiration. They are available as small prints and also on the mugs. Next will follow a new batch of my greeting card designs. There are 48 greeting card designs, and I continue to add more to the line.
And as usual I have some “wearable art” projects I am working on as well. I plan to launch a “repurposed” clothing line in the spring.
The clothing line will be made in my studio from various fabrics combined in unusual ways, again adding to my “functional” art line.
ABI: What advice would you give to an artist who wants to wholesale their work?
PB: Test the market yourself for interest and viability. I find art shows are perfect to see what images and ideas customers are drawn to. Then take that info and develop an item that keeps the customer and also yourself interested. I always do work that makes me happy, and keeps me excited. All artwork needs to be fresh and inspired, whether you are designing for wholesale or selling original pieces.
Since I hand make everything for wholesale, I need to be conscious of something I “want” to make over and over to fill orders. If an item becomes popular, be sure you will WANT to make it multiple times. Art is a continual process. One idea leads to another, and that is how it grows and flourishes. It sounds simple and has been said many times but the first “key” to a successful art career is to “begin.” Begin and follow your intuition, keeping your art fresh and continually new.