Come explore Duluth with me, every day!
I’m am an artist who is being mentored through the Create program of theÂ Northeast Entrepreneur Fund. This program helped me focus on the business side of things. I always tell people, â€œIâ€™m not taking art classes, Iâ€™m taking business classes to learn how to market my art.â€ As the daughter of a public health nurse and an agricultural researcher, and whose extended family was mostly in the professional service sector, i.e. teachers, preachers, military service, and park naturalists, business skills aren’t something that comes second nature to me.
Some of you know me as the editor of The Hillsider. I started this blog in the summer of 2008, the original Duluth Daily Photo, which are all my own photos taken in Duluth on that actual day. (As of lately I’ve stared calling it Sundog’s Duluth Daily Photo because there is a contest Duluth photo blog started be someone else in the spring of 2009.)
Mary Matthews, the executive director of Northeast Entrepreneur Fund noticed some of our gift shops had artwork from others states and overseas. She wondered why gifts shops didn’t carry more artwork fromÂ Northland artists (excuse me if some Perfect Duluth Dayers don’t like the term Northland) Our assignment as mentees of the CR.E.A.T.E. program (which is now just the Create Program) was to come up with a replicable piece of artwork that we could sell in a retail store. Well, my art is my writing and photography and I wondered what would sell well in a store. It seemed that photos are kinda slow sellers in our gift shops, and I don’t have a big name for myself in photography and didn’t want to even try to compete with the big boys (and girls). So, I decided to package many of my Duluth photos into a calendar.
There has also been movement in Duluth to create an atmosphere conducive for artists to produce and sell art. A couple years ago the Art Works! conference discussed how many artists living close together in one town or neighborhood is actually conducive to their artist work and their success as business people because they work and play together and bounce ideas and give referrals to each other.
Producing a calendar is a challenge too. First of all, lots of people give away calendars; second lots of other people are already making a calendar. So, mine would have to be unique, something no one else is doing. There are already lots of “beautiful touristy calendars out there.” Not only that, I would have to charge a price that people are willing to pay and still make some sort of profit.
My calendar is unique because I capture Duluth through a Duluthian’s eyes. There are over 115 photos in Everyday Duluth; each month has a collage of photos on the top back and little photos inserted in the grid page.
This calendar is also printed in Duluth, many calendars and books are printed overseas, where you don’t know what type of environmental controls regulate the production process and it uses oil to ship them back to Duluth. When I crunched the numbers, it was a challenge to for me to stay within my own environment values. I maybe could have sold the calendar for less money or made more of a profit if I would have printed it overseas.
- It is printed in Duluth (nowadays many people print books and calendars overseas)
- Uses Forest Stewardship Council approved paper.
- Plant-based plastic sleeves
a.Â Â Â Â I wanted to have it in the store with no shrink-wrap, but many store owners/managers said that they would get shopworn without the some type of protection. So how environmental is it if you cannot sell something because it got ruined and end up throwing the project away? Â I gave in and purchased plastic sleeves.
b.Â Â Â Â About 50 percent my calendars have sleeves are plant-based because of the cost of the sleeves.
Some store owners decided to take the calendars without any sleeves at all, which is great. (Green Mercantile and Pamâ€™s Hallmark in the Miller Hill Mall)