Anne Nye Column -- Focusing On Success.
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Welcome Back! Below is another installment in the series of "Art Into Business" columns that D&L Art Glass Supply is offering to the glass art community. Previous columns covered such topics as Working Smarter and a two-part series on Marketing. This column is about focusing on opportunities and avoiding distractions on the path to becoming a successful glass artist. If you missed previous columns, you can read them <here> (and linked below). The purpose of these columns is to Stir Your Juices: To inspire your art and to help you transition to making money with your art if that is your goal.

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Anne Nye on Art Glass

Focusing On Success

by Anne Nye

It's a Big, Wild World

The world of glass is filled with opportunities and distractions. Knowing the difference between the two is what focus is all about. Most of us start out making simple plates and tiles, which can be really rewarding as a hobby, but if you want that hobby to turn into a profitable business, what then?

There are so many directions you can take just within fused glass these days. Do you want to cast, kiln shape, or rake? There are decals, glass paints, enamels, metal inclusions, millefiori, frit painting and pattern bars to choose from. Or you can do pot melts, twist and lampwork your own stringers or go in depth with coldworking. There are large architectural applications, garden art, fine art or good old production work. But how do you refine and focus your skills without getting distracted?

Setting Sail

You can't truly focus without choosing a direction. I once heard someone say "If you don't have a goal, make one up because it's easier to steer a moving vessel than one sitting still." So, to choose a beginning route, think about what you love and it will lead you where you want to go.

I think, for the most part, we love what we're good at. What part of the process do you love and what parts do you dread? Don't try to force yourself.

Different techniques require different personalities

Also, what style of art attracts you? What do you love about it? Is it shape, color, texture, or a combination? If you can identify what you love and what you are good at, you are well on your way to finding out who you want to be when you grow up and where you need to focus.

Anne Nye Focus

Left To Right: "Sunset Mist", "Lakeside Evening", "Honey Moon" ©Anne Nye 2012

I started out in art as a painter and no matter how much I loved the glass I missed painting! I missed pushing it around, blending it and layering it. I was also a graphic designer for many years, so my glass skills developed using a hard-edge style you see in my early pieces. But it was only when I began to use frit and powders that I began to get some kind of "painterly satisfaction." The other thing I love is color but I'm not crazy about coldworking or making functional pieces. My style came out of these interests and quirks.

Anne Nye Focus

Left To Right: "Majestic View", "Lakeside Morning", "Safe Harbor" ©Anne Nye 2012

Finding Your Path

Once you know what part of glass you love and what style of art attracts you, let's go a bit deeper and answer a few questions:

Be a big fish in a small pond: What can you do, that's different from what others are doing? You might not be able to answer that right now, but keep it in mind as you go forward.
Is there another passion or hobby in your life that you can translate into glass? I grew up in the Pacific Northwest with lots of camping and fishing, and that along with my love of gardening gave me my general focus.
Money, Honey: Do you need to make a living right away from your art or can you afford to pull back and develop a body of work? If you can't, you will need smaller production pieces to be your "bread and butter." I still do bread and butter pieces but hired someone to help with them, giving her a job and me more creative time.
Fresh Eyes: Ask a respected artist to critique your work and evaluate your strengths. Sometimes you can't see it yourself but an experienced teacher or gallery owner, who's used to looking at lots of styles of art, can easily point out what you do well.
Evaluating Skills: What do you need to learn to go further? There are all kinds of classes available. Maybe a traditional art class like watercolor will further your skills. One-on-one classes are sometimes available with an artist whose work you love. Business coaches are another option. Or, can you outsource part of the process such as coldworking or production work?

Please Fence Me In!

Time: Once you've decided on a direction, it's time to build your fences. If you're serious about your work, hopefully you've already set up a work structure and let people know you're not available during this precious time. Even if it's only a few hours a week, regular time to work is a must have!

Grass Is Always Greener! Sometimes I'm tempted to jump my own fences. An occasional stray into a new method can be refreshing as long as it doesn't get you off your path entirely. I have to leave my world of botanicals and landscapes to design new Christmas ornaments for my "bread and butter" line or take a little "graze' into abstraction to polish my color sense.

The fences cannot be so tight that there's no room for growth! I now keep my Friday and Saturdays (sometimes, Sunday) for experimentation within my chosen discipline or Focus.

Look Before You Leap

Anne Nye Focus Anne Nye Focus

"Sno Poke" Tree Ornaments ©Anne Nye 2012

"Abstracted" ©Anne Nye 2012

What will it cost and can the technique or product be used in other ways? If I can afford the time and money, a play day can be just what the Doctor ordered. When I get home, I appreciate what I'm doing all the more.
If it's a major commitment, is this the right timing? Have I fully explored the track I'm on or am I on the verge of a breakthrough if I keep going?
Could this departure create another revenue stream? A while back I turned some of my early paintings into greeting cards. Initially it took a lot of time, but now it's extra income and takes no time and brings in extra money.
I started teaching and writing a couple of years ago and wasn't sure how it would affect my work but I'm finding that it makes me analyze my techniques, gets me out of my ruts, and exposes me to new ideas that can make my look better.

Staying focused on what I'm trying to accomplish with my art has definitely helped me. Give some of these ideas a try and see if you notice improved sales and more professional satisfaction.


Working Smart  -  August 2012
Selling Smart, Pt. 1  -  October 2012
Selling Smart, Pt. 2  -  December 2012
Selling Wholesale  -  February 2013
Fusing Tips  -  May 2013

Anne Nye studied fine art at the University of Idaho and California College of Arts & Crafts. She is a mostly-self-taught glass artist with a strong background in painting and graphic design. Anne runs a successful studio in Omaha, has been a part-owner of an art gallery, and teaches her frit-painting methods at D&L Art Glass Supply and other venues.

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Previous Columns:

Working Smart
August 2012

Selling Smart, Pt. 1
October 2012

Selling Smart, Pt.2
December 2012

Selling Wholesale
February 2013

Fusing Tips & Tricks
May 2013