Introducing Tom & Andrea Arts

This last month has been a busy one. At work I'm right near the finish line of the busy season since my big conference is coming up next week. This time our event is local and I'll be driving to Anaheim tomorrow. I'll be sure to share pictures of all the cool things I see during the conference in a follow-up post.

Artwork Drop off at Ontario Museums

Last Saturday was art drop off in Ontario for WEPO and the Day of the Dead exhibits. We ended up having an unexpectedly fun day, seeing and talking to a lot of friends at both museums and then visiting my parents, brother and sister-in-law. My brother is building out our art display panels for the festival. They will be made out of peg board with reinforced frames turned into easels, (similar to the ones restaurants have outside promoting daily specials).

I don't know why I never thought to submit this drawing for the Day of the Dead exhibit. It's so obvious! This is my first year participating in that exhibit.

Here's a sneak peek of some of the awesome work. This show always surprises me with the high caliber artwork and delivers a variety of unexpected media.

Tom putting labels on his three entries for WEPO. This is the first time CCMA has an open call, juried photography-only exhibit. We spent a long time talking to Steve Thomas, the exhibit organizer and retired curator of the Ontario Museum. I met Steve in 2013 when I was working on the 2014 Ontario Invitational. He's the one that encouraged me to keep making the tiny colored pencil drawings since at the time I saw them as studies and sketches, not actual finished "artworks."

In the evenings we've been preparing for the Ontario Festival of the Arts happening next month. We are almost done with all our booth prep. I saved all my to-do and checklists from last year and adjusted them for this year's event. We have everything ready and all that's left is mostly event marketing. I feel so in control and relieved having everything done early.

We learned from last year's festival that 8x10" prints are best sellers. This year I decided to make some prints of my work to give customers more price range options. I get it, not everyone can drop a few hundred dollars on an original piece of artwork. I will also have some matted 5x7" prints that fit into 8x10 frames. They look amazing with mats!

Introducing Tom & Andrea Arts 

Since I got married and changed my name, (and to simplify things at tax time), I made the decision to close my old art business, Andrea Benitez Art. Tom and I have been talking for years about starting a creative business together that combines everything we do into one entity - services and products such as fine art, photography, commercial photography, photo editing and retouching, graphic design and marketing services for small businesses, consultants and individuals. We decided to go with Tom & Andrea Arts, our first names since Tom said that Cypert is hard to pronounce and spell (its pronounced Sigh-pert.) I've spent the last few weeks building out our new website and I love it! I'm so proud of the projects we have in our portfolio. I sent out a farewell email to my subscribers letting them know I was closing up shop and starting a new business.

Why Wait? Stop Day Dreaming and Just do it!

I don't know what took so long to start this new joint business. I guess part of it was the fact that I always envisioned it as a physical location with actual office/studio space. Which again I say duh! since I dba as Andrea Benitez Art for many years out of my home and different workspaces, which have changed over the years. It used to be a tiny shared bedroom corner, it was the dining room table, it was a white portable card table in my parents living room, and for the last 5 years it finally has a permanent designated area in the living room of our apartment with a desktop computer. In today's world with the current technology and resources you can work from anywhere!

When I used to work out of my parents dining room table in the kitchen. I spent many late hours painting, drawing and doing homework all through my college years.

Mr. Gold's mom, Halloween, used to watch me from the window when I painted and did homework. My parents' house didn't have AC so I'd often have the windows and blinds open. 

The Shared bedroom studio. The bed was a trundle bed and I slept on the bottom pullout mattress. I would come home from my marketing job, eat lunch, set up my portable desk and get straight to work. Whenever I got tired and needed a break I'd take a coffee nap. I produced some of my best color pencil drawings out of this set up. The Ontario Town Square mural was also designed in this workspace.

At the end of 2014, when I was working on the Conservation Park murals - I was in the middle of moving. I got a voicemail over the weekend saying my design had been selected and they wanted a colored version ASAP. I panicked for a few minutes then called to see if I could get 2 days since I was in the midst of moving, they were understanding and gave me the extra time.

I didn't even have wifi set up (to email the final design files) or a scanner. I had left behind the scanner/copier for my sister to keep so I ended up inking the drawing and taking a high res photo which I imported into Photoshop and finished up in Illustrator. I ended up saving the final design file as PDF and transferring it into the micro SD card on my phone and emailing it through my cell phone's data. My plan worked!

I ended up working on the mural design all night. Luckily since I had planned for this move in advance, I already had two vacation days approved, so I was able to focus on the project and pull an all nighter while Tommy slept on the air mattress in the living room. We barely had any furniture in the new apartment. Everything we bought was scheduled to be delivered later that week.

In December 2014, I purchased a craft desk from Michaels (on sale) since I was going to be working on the Faces of the Community portrait series. I loved the fact that it could be adjusted to work at an angle. I was super excited to finally have a permanent workstation. No more folding table or having to clean up the dining room table after every work session.

At the end of 2015, I bought an iMac and it has remained on the desk. I produced most of the work for the 2018 Invitational in this location. For the sculptures and paintings I worked in the little space between my "office" and dining room.

This is the little space where I sat on the floor on a chair cushion and painted away. I liked working here because I didn't feel isolated and with Tommy nearby watching TV or playing video games I could still talk to him and feel like we're spending time together.

Our current workspace - Tommy and I share this space. He works on the iMac for all his photo projects. If I need to work on the computer at the same time I use the laptop with my lap desk, and we rarely have any issues. In 2017 when I started helping out Reviation again with some design projects I finally bought a comfortable office chair since I knew I was going to be spending a lot of hours working from home in front of the computer. I ended up working on a lot of design projects that year so that was a very good investment I made on that chair.

For anyone out there day dreaming and not taking action on your dreams of starting your own business, stop making excuses and just do it! Don't wait until you have an office or designated studio workspace. Don't overthink it, don't wait for the time to be "right," just get to it. Chances are it's not as complicated as it may seem, or as you imagine it to be. And even if you fail and don't run a successful business, the experience alone is worth it. (Do keep you day job though - you'll need it, or at the very least, another source of income when you first start. Also, I recommend you work somewhere where you can learn valuable and relevant skills on someone else's dollar.) Be prepared to work hard. And have lots of fun, remember, you're doing this because its your passion. A book I highly recommend is Drawn to Business, I've read it multiple times and followed this creative agency for many years. Read lots of business books, articles about freelancing and starting a business. Listen to podcasts. Learn about marketing and networking. I can't underemphasize the opportunities networking brings. Talk to other artists, freelancers and business owners. Learn from every opportunity you can.


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