Welcome Aboard to all of you!
Theresa and I are excited to put together a team of artists to help keep ArtsyBug Studio operating each and every day of the week.
I wanted to reach out to each of you and felt this blog would be a perfect format to do so. This is where we can share ideas, concerns, and reach out to better improve the studio and make the experience for the Friends of ArtsyBug the very best it can be!
I know we shared with you a good amount of information about ArtsyBug Studio with you. But I wanted to make sure I hit some of the major points to each of you as each interview and meeting is unique between each of you and us.
The most important thing to consider is our mission.
Our mission is simple--The customer will lead us to where we need to be. We initially started off our business with kids summer art camps. We quickly learned the customer was taking us to another direction--adults. This is where the Paint with Friends concept came from--Our Customers.
It didn't take long for us to realize the word "customer" wasn't appropriate. These people who support us are friends. The use of the word friends to describe those who enter a financial relationship with us--a relationship that is our sole source of financial support and income, comes with responsibilities and obligations. Our number one mission is to build positive relationships with Friends of ArtsyBug. Everything we do goes back to that one simple foundation. We learn our friends name, family background, where they work, what their interests outside of the studio are...etc. This is what friendships do. This is how we built our business and how we will continue to operate. We will look for these qualities in our employees--who by the way we also consider to be friends with the same responsibilities and obligations we share with those friends others may call customers. Anyone, whether employee, customer, or vendor, is a friend that we look to develop a positive friendship relationship with.
Our events are a gathering of friends having a good time. Often these friends do not know each other but we try to create the atmosphere where those strangers who join us for the first time see us and others painting with them as friends. Our intention is never to create little pockets of small, intimate group settings where we simply demonstrate the art techniques we know in the hopes they might acquire some of that knowledge in a cold, sterile, college classroom-like setting. No--our events are just that "event themed gatherings".
We realize there are times we don't have a lot of friends painting in the studio with us. That is not our goal. Our goal is to have 24 or more people in the studio each night. During November and December, this should easily be the case. When that happens, the crowds tend to be very loud and engaging. This is to be expected. Often times, you will notice Theresa and I have the radio volume rather low because it is disturbing to people painting with the competing sound of the music and the verbal instruction being given. Yet, the individual friends communicating collectively in the group can get very loud--and that is to be expected. We have to project our voice over the crowd and for each of you that might be an issue. Both Theresa and I were instructing in the classroom for over 30 years combined where this was just a matter of fact. This will be something each of you will have to work on--talking over and above the crowd.
This doesn't mean screaming--it means projecting with a voice loud and confident enough to show you are commanding the situation and can effectively communicate with several dozen people in a group. You would think with art, that people would be visual learners and could follow along on the television monitors each step you are doing. They don't do that very well--in fact, some aren't watching what you are doing. They learn verbally and need repeated verbal instruction. Others don't learn well verbally and need more visual. If there are two points to remember--1. you must speak confidently and loudly enough for everyone to hear you when you lead the instruction and 2. your head, arms, or any other body part should not come between the camera and the canvas to block what you are doing on the canvas. If you control these two things, you likely will control the crowd.
We realize each of you are brand new to this position and likely will face issues with pacing your instruction. Here is a VERY GENERAL guideline as to where you should be at each step of the painting/recreation process:
We want to start the painting at the time we state the event starts. If it starts at 6 p.m., start at 6 p.m. If there are still a good percentage of people not here it is okay to wait a little bit but never wait for just one or two people when the room is waiting to start.
Sketching--The sketching process should take no more than 10 minutes--and that is if there are a lot of people using a limited number of stencils used to sketch on. I realize there might be some or all of you who think stencils aren't true to the discipline of fine art. Realize we are here to teach people how to paint/create but also that our paintings are designed for people with no art experience. The stencil gives them a template to work with while letting them primarily do what they paid to do--paint! This also takes the edge off the process and creates less stress for people.
Background-- The background usually is the least important part of the painting. The background should take no more than 20 minutes to complete
Main image--The main image should take the primary bulk of time in the creation process. The main image should take no longer than one-hour to do. I realize there might be several images, The process time should still be around the same 45 minutes to one-hour for the main image.
Additional Image to background or main image--The additional images we add to the main image or the background should take an additional 30 to 45 minutes at the most. Sometimes this process would take less than 10 minutes.
Total time--2 hours to 2 hours 15 minutes with more advance paintings (things with greater detail) taking 2.5 to close to 3 hours to complete.
One of the hardest parts of pacing is moving along picky people or people who consistently try to fix things on their painting. You have to find a way to positively reinforce what they have completed and suggest very simple fixes that take no more than a couple minutes for the people who are dragging behind the rest of the group. Don't spend too much time doing this or too much time with people who seem to be struggling as they will never let go of you for the rest of the night and can turn a 2 hour painting into a 3 and a half hour painting. That one person can quickly anger the rest of the dozens of people in attendance.
Although we want to build relationships with others, it's important not to overdo it! Building relationships takes time--one little piece of information at a time. Eventually, they become very familiar and comfortable with us and the studio. Building relationships doesn't mean spending so much time with one or two people who hang around at the end of the class that it prevents you from cleaning up and closing up for the night in a timely manner. Saying something like....."Perhaps next time you are in we can work on this technique again...remember the more practice you have the more comfortable you get with it.".....while walking away towards the bathroom to clean brushes might just do the trick. It isn't rude, but it's getting the point across in an honest manner.
Paintings for October and availability of schedule.
This is where it gets tricky. We want you all to be leading paintings you feel comfortable doing. However, we don't feel comfortable turning over the creative process of the paintings and will continue to create the paintings used for events each month. We have a good history of knowing what types of paintings people prefer and generally do well with numbers. Remember, our goal is to share the studio with as many friends as possible--which results in full seats. Small, and intimate crowds sounds nice and cozy--but it doesn't pay the bills. So we need the seats as full as possible.
I sent a request for a list of paintings from your top preference to your least favorite and each of you sent that list back to me completed. I am working from that to figure our schedule out. Unfortunately, at least through October, we are looking at scheduling conflicts for certain days of the week on the calendar for each of you. That generally is to be expected, but the overwhelming majority of the available time spots are conflicting with the different days off needed. This relaxes quite a bit in November which is a good thing.
I will share with each of you here where each cannot or prefer to work so you can share with us what you might be able to do to fill these spots.
Bailey has night school on Thursday which means she is unable to work Thursdays. That is fine because Cari has no issues with Thursday nights.
Cari is working at Skellington Manor on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of October. In November, Cari is available any day of the week.
Shelby prefers Saturdays and Sundays.
Because of the restrictions each of you have, we will be challenged to give the hours we would have been able to give. For an example, We only need one artist for one Saturday in October (a day of the week both Shelby and Bailey can work). So I should have the first two-weeks of October's schedule out to you sometime hopefully tomorrow. If you have any input you would like to share here, please do so in the comments below.
Any general concerns, comments, suggestions
Please use the comments below to add any concerns, comments, or suggestions you might have below. We look at each of you as part of our team and by contributing with comments, you start to gain an understanding of everyone else on the team and start to become a "friend" of each others.