#130 Mary Beth Shaw: Artist, Instructor, and Stencil Girl

Artist Mary Beth Shaw creates abstract and collage art from the St. Louis, Missouri area. She also teaches all over the United States her art techniques, often using the stencils that she designs. You may know her from her very successful stencil business called Stencil Girl Products. Not only does she manufacture thousands of stencils designed by her and many other artists, but she also offers online classes and has created a community of stencil enthusiasts.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Mary Beth Shaw

Mary Beth Shaw with Danny Gregory from Sketchbook Skool

Mary Beth’s website is mbshaw.com.

You can go to her Stencil Girl Products site from her website or you can use stencilgirlproducts.com.

Her online classes can be found at stencilgirlstudio.com.

You can also find her online classes on the stencilgirlproducts website through the Tutorials tab. You can also find lots of free instructional videos there.

You can sign up any time for her class through Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool.

Mary Beth is also teaching through Wanderlust 2020 with Kasia Avery.

As of December, 2019, there are still a few spots left in her 2020 Italy Art Retreat.

Mary Beth can be found on Facebook at Stencil Girl Products.

Stencil Girl Products is on Instagram.

And Pinterest.

And Twitter.

And Youtube.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. If you’re looking for a way to put creativity into your life, see if there are any classes in your area that you can take. Mary Beth took one that she thought was a crafting class, but it turned out to be a study about a creativity book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. That helped her to get started making collages. She later took classes from a local artist named Ann Baldwin.
  2. Try to make your art different than what else is out there. When it became popular to use words on collages, Mary Beth went edgier with the words and phrases that she used.
  3. When Mary Beth started applying to outdoor shows, she didn’t start with the smaller local shows. She applied to the bigger name shows, and because her artwork was so different, she got in. Don’t limit yourself to only what you think you should do; go beyond that and try something bold.
  4. The outdoor art show circuit can become like a family situation. You travel from show to show with the same artists, and you get ideas from one another. It’s hard work but you can make many lasting friends.
  5. Large art retreats sometimes have vendor nights where you can buy a table space to sell your art or supplies. This can be a very lucrative option, whether you are teaching there or not.
  6. When Mary Beth did her first vendor night where she sold her first stencils, she gave some of the instructors who were teaching at the art retreat stencils to use in their classes. By the time vendor night came around, everyone was looking to buy her stencils because they had already used them in the classes. She sold out that first year. Remember that people often want to try supplies first before they buy and give people the option to try the technique first.
  7. The artists who design the stencils for Stencil Girl Products are adequately compensated and they maintain rights to their designs. This was important to Mary Beth when building her company.
  8. Mary Beth offers online classes through her Stencil Girl Products website. If you’re selling a tool or supply, it’s a great idea to create classes that show how to use them.
  9. Many artists, including Mary Beth, had blogs years ago and posted regularly. Some artists have kept these blogs linked to their websites, and they’re a great archive of some fabulous stories. If you see an artist that has an old blog, take a look at their past content. 10-15 years ago, artists wrote great long blog posts that are a wealth of some really cool information.

#129 Hope Barron: CPA and Artist Gives Accounting Tips for Artists

Hope Barron is a CPA in Wellington, Florida. Not only that, she’s an artist in her own right, so she understands when artists need to buy more equipment before they’ve even made sales, and when they need to hire an assistant to help them with their administrative tasks so they can concentrate on making art. Hope makes beautiful fused glass, and she uses that as her creative release to balance her time with her thriving tax accounting and consulting practice. We’ll talk about her glass for a little bit, then we’ll dig into the world of business and accounting. We talk about:

  • how to set up your business
  • how to keep track of your sales and expenses,
  • how you will report your taxable income to the IRS
  • the tax benefits of having a home office or studio
  • what you need to do when you’re ready to hire employees
  • and how you can set aside some money for retirement.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Hope Barron

This is her glass piece before it is fused in the kiln.
The top one is the piece after it was fused.

Hope Barron is located in Wellington, Florida. Her firm is Barron and Kogan CPAs.

If you are not in the Palm Beach County, Florida area, Hope suggests that you talk to your artist friends and small business owners to get recommendations for local CPAs in your area.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Hope has taken fused glass classes with a local glass studio called Northwood Glass Art and Gifts in West Palm Beach, Florida. She has established a relationship with the owner of the studio who has become a mentor to her. Local shops are a great way to find experts in your art medium so that you have a source for answers and an opportunity to learn more advanced skills.
  2. Local stores are also a great way to use larger equipment that you may not be able to afford or fit in your own studio. Hope has a small kiln for fusing glass in her home studio, but she uses the larger kilns at her local glass store to fire bigger pieces.
  3. Fused glass is fun for Hope because it’s a very forgiving medium. It’s also a nice surprise when you see the finished piece. If you’re looking for an art medium or technique to try, search for classes in your area so that you can try it and see if it gives you as much joy as fused glass gives Hope.

Now for the accounting and business tips. First of all, we’ll about how you set up your business.

  1. When you start making art, and then you start selling your art, you need to first decide if your artmaking is a hobby or a business. Even with a hobby, you could be selling your art, but it may just be that you’re wanting to sell enough just to keep you in supplies so you can keep making more art for fun. It becomes a business when you have a profit motive, and you want to make a profit from the art that you are selling. And keep in mind, that when I say selling your art, that could also mean selling your classes if art instruction is a part of your business.
  2. Even if you are making art purely as a hobby, you should report on your taxes the income you are receiving, but your expenses will probably match your income. You can’t record a hobby for tax purposes as a loss. You can only do that if it’s a business.
  3. To make yourself a business you need to first do these two things: set up a separate bank account for your business, and set up a separate entity for your business.
  4. You’ll also need to set up an accounting system for your business. That can be as simple as recording your sales and expenses on an Excel spreadsheet.
  5. When naming your business, it doesn’t have to be the same name as what you’ve been using for your social media names. You can use your own name for your business, but it helps if it sounds more like a business. So instead of naming it Suzanne Redmond, you may want to name it Suzanne Redmond Studio or Suzanne Redmond Art.
  6. You can google your name to see if someone else is already using it. You can also search how to set up a corporation in your state, and when you do the set up, they will tell you if the name is available or not. For the State of Florida, the site where you set up your company is called sunbiz.org.
  7. There are two ways you can set up your business entity. Either as an LLC or as a Corporation. An LLC is a Limited Liability Company, and is a good choice when you are a solo business owner with no employees. You can start as an LLC and later if you get larger and have a few employees, you can convert it to a corporation.
  8. You’ll also want to check with your City or County to see if they have any requirements for setting up a business. They may require you to get a business license or permit. That’s usually pretty inexpensive. It’s just a way of registering with your local jurisdiction so that they know you exist as a small business.
  9. You also need to find out what the sales tax rate is for your State because you need to charge sales tax for products you sell. When you collect the sales tax, then you need to pay that sales tax to your State at the end of the year. Again, just google that to find out what’s included in sales tax for your state, what the rate is, and how and when you have to submit the sales tax.

Now here is how your business income will be taxed:

  1. When you have an LLC, at the end of the year when you do your personal taxes, you’ll just add a Schedule C to your 1040 tax return. The Schedule C is the Profit or Loss from Business, and that’s where you’ll include everything related to your business for the year.
  2. Your Schedule C income is what’s called Self-Employment Income. You will be taxed at the Federal level on this income and in most states you will also pay State Income Tax on this income. Florida is a state that doesn’t have State Income Tax, so we don’t need to worry about that. There will also be self-employment tax taken from this, which is the social security and medicare tax. Essentially what’s happening there is that’s how you are contributing to the social security and medicare systems for the income that you’ve made.
  3. Because you are paying this self-employment tax, as your income gets higher, say $5-$10,000, then you’ll want to talk to a tax preparer so that they can help you estimate what your end of the year taxes will be. You don’t want to be surprised by that and you want to be prepared and able to pay this tax when it becomes due.
  4. For your first year, you’ll want to put aside some money during the year so that you’ll have cash available to pay your taxes at the end of the year. Hope suggests putting aside a third of your income. For the next years, you’ll want to do quarterly payments to the IRS on your estimated taxes due. Because you are self-employed, and you don’t have an employer taking taxes out of your monthly paychecks, you’ll need to make those payments to the IRS yourself. A tax preparer can tell you the rules related to that. But basically, if you owe a large tax bill at the end of the year and you haven’t made partial payments to the IRS during the year, you could be charged penalties for not doing so.
  5. An accountant can look at the income and expenses that you have and advise you on whether it would be a good idea to buy a bunch of art supplies at the end of the year and expense them then, or wait until after the first of the year to buy them. This is because your expenses will offset your income on your Schedule C of your tax return. Your accountant will look at your income and determine when it makes sense to make a big purchase and therefore incur a lot of expenses.

Here are some tips on how to keep track of your income and expenses.

  1. Throughout the year you want to keep track of all of your art income. That would be any money you’ve received for selling an original piece of art, a print, a mural or art demo, a lecture, a class you’ve taught, or an online class you’ve sold. Those are just some examples, and I know there are lots of other ways artists can make income.
  2. The easiest way to keep track of your expenses is to count them as an expense in the year it was paid. That’s what’s called being a cash basis taxpayer. So for example, if you buy 20 canvases in October because it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk like that, you will count all of them as an expense in that year. Even if you haven’t painted on them yet, you’ll still count them as an expense the day you’ve purchased them. Of course, you won’t count the painted canvas as income until that canvas is sold.
  3. Income will count on the day you had constructive receipt of the income. That means that if someone bough art from you on December 28 and paid with a check, but you didn’t deposit that check until the new year, you still have to count it as income in the old year because that was the year that you had access to the money.
  4. Depreciation is a type of expense for expensive items that are expected to last for longer than a year. So for example, if you buy an expensive kiln for $2,000 and it’s expected to last for at least five years, then you can expense a portion of that price over the expected lifetime of the kiln. This is a benefit for business owners because instead of putting all of that expense in the year it is purchased, you can spread it out. You’ll get the benefit of that expense being offset against your income for many years. Think of it this way. The more income you make, the more taxes you will owe on that. But if you can offset the income with expenses, then your net income will be lower, so you’ll owe less taxes. So if you bought something for $5,000 you could expense all of that in the first year against your income. But what if you only made $2,000 in income that year? It would be better to depreciate that $5,000 piece of equipment over 5 years, and expense $1,000 per year for 5 years. Now, I’m just using this as an example. This would be something you’d talk to your accountant about and they’ll look at your income and tell you the best way to handle your expenses, and of course, the proper way under IRS tax guidelines.
  5. For anything that you think might be a business expense, you need to ask yourself if that expense is ordinary and necessary. You can’t deduct something unusual for a business expense. For example, if your business is making and selling oil paintings, but you want to try acrylic pour paintings, you’d have to decide if the expenses you have for buying the supplies for acrylic pouring are ordinary and necessary. They would be necessary if you’re trying to add acrylic pouring as another aspect of your business, but they would not be necessary if you just want to try it for fun.
  6. QuickBooks is an accounting software that is a fairly easy way to keep track of your income and expenses. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use it. You can find online classes or local adult ed classes that will teach you how to use it. You can also find assistants who can input all your income and expenses for you at an inexpensive rate. You’ll have to evaluate if your can afford an assistant. Realize that data entry clerks or accounting assistants have many clients. So if you’re just hiring one for a few hours a month to keep yourself up to date, that’s OK. You may find that what they can do for 2 hours might take you double that, so it would be a good use of your money to hire someone who can do it much quicker than you.
  7. If you’re using a Square or something like that to record sales at an art show, for example, it’s not necessary to handwrite a receipt for the purchase. But for your expenses, you should keep all your receipts. Just throw them in an envelope and summarize them using QuickBooks or whatever method you choose.
  8. And remember, it doesn’t need to be done on an accounting software like QuickBooks, especially when you’re first starting out. Keeping a list of income and expenses on an Excel spreadsheet would be sufficient.

We also talked about the rules of a home office. Essentially, the expenses you incur for a home office or studio can offset the income you make in a year, and therefore you’ll owe less income taxes for the year.

  1. You can call a portion of your home a home office if that area is solely used for business purposes. You can’t call your dining room a home office if you make art there during the day but your family eats dinner there at night.
  2. The biggest benefit for having a home office is that any time you are doing work for your business away from that office, you can deduct the cost of the mileage to that outside place. So for example, if you have a meeting with a client somewhere other than your home office, you can deduct the round trip mileage for going there. If you are showing your artwork at a gallery, you can deduct the mileage for going there.
  3. The other benefit for a home office is you can write off a portion of your home’s expenses for the cost of having a home office. So if your home office takes up 10% of your home’s square footage, then you can write off 10% of your home’s expenses, like utilities, homeowner’s association fees, etc. Please consult with your tax advisor for exactly what things and how much you can deduct for a home office.

Here’s what you need to do when you’re ready to hire employees for your business:

  1. First decide if you will hire an employee or an independent contractor. An independent contractor is someone you would send a 1099 to at the end of the year, and they would only be doing work for you on an occasional basis. If it’s someone who works for you on a regular basis, then they are an employee and you will pay payroll taxes for them. You will also issue a W-2 for them at the end of the year.
  2. The biggest thing about having employees is making your payroll tax deposits timely. There are payroll companies who can help you do that work for you. You can also check with your bank and see if they provide payroll services for their customers.

And lastly, we talked about the retirement options that are available to small business owners.

  1. You are able to take advantage of a SEPP, or Self-Employed Pension Plan. This is a pre-tax option for saving for retirement. Another option is a solo 401K. You can find out more about these options when you speak with your tax advisor.
  2. You can also take advantage of a Roth too.

#128 Amy Maricle: Helping You Find Creativity in Your Life

Amy lives in Massachusetts and formerly worked as an art therapist. She’s taken those skills and she now helps artists find the time and the space to create art. Whether it’s getting past a creative block or tackling your self-doubt, Amy can help creatives to get back on track. She offers a variety of tools on her website that she calls Mindful Art Studio, like live retreats, self-lead retreats, and mentoring.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Amy Maricle

Amy’s website is mindfulartstudio.com.

Amy has a lot of video-based classes. You can find them all on her website under Shop Classes: Classes.

This is Amy’s free Facebook group called Creative Self Care

You can also find her on Facebook at Mindful Art Studio.

On Instagram, she is @amymaricle.

And on Pinterest.

Amy also has a Youtube Channel.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Back in Episode 124, I interviewed artist Caylee Grey. Caylee does a week-long business retreat near the end of every year so that she can plan her next year. This year, Amy Maricle joined her on it. And when I say Amy joined her, she did it virtually. I highly recommend doing a new year’s planning, to the level of detail that makes you feel comfortable. Caylee planned out her programming for all 12 months. Amy went deep for the first quarter of next year, a little less detailed for the next quarter, and so on. But by taking a week to do this planning, she has a great idea of what she will be doing for her business next year.
  2. Amy works with two types of artists: The artists who are dealing with a lot of self-doubt, and the established artist who have hit a block or want to get into the mindfulness aspect of making art.
  3. When Amy helps artists, she is process-oriented rather than product-oriented. What she means is that the art that you produce is not the important thing. It’s the process that you are doing that is going to help you.
  4. For Amy’s classes, she sets up a Facebook group for almost every one. That way the students can post their work and encourage each other.
  5. Amy offers live retreats that she and her students do through Zoom. That’s a great way to really be present with a class because you have the accountability of doing it with other people.
  6. She also offers self-lead retreats. For those, you are given the PDF of the class and you can do it at your own pace. Offering both styles is great because then she has something for everyone’s desires and situation.
  7. One of the things Amy does is she helps you to get back to your creative goals by helping you identify those goals. She also helps you to move forward when something is getting in the way. She doesn’t focus completely on what is getting in the way, but more on getting it out of the way.
  8. Amy will develop a plan for the people she is mentoring that will help them get out of their own way. What she’s discovered is that often people just need an outside person to look at what they’re doing and they can see what needs to be done better than you can see it when you’re in the thick of it.
  9. When Amy does journaling, she doesn’t always write all the negative things that she feels are happening right then. She’s found that if she writes about the happy things that she hopes will happen, that makes her feel better about her situation.
This is my painting that was hanging behind me when Amy and I were having our conversation. We talked about it at the end of our interview.

#127 Dina Wakley: Artist, Teacher, and Traveler

Dina Wakley is an artist based in Arizona. She has developed her own artistic style of mixed media art, using bright colors and many different mediums, like inks, sprays, stencils, stamps, and scribble sticks. She’s also a Ranger Signature Designer, and she’s developed her own lines of acrylic paints, brushes, rubber stamps, and more. Each year she teaches her techniques in cities all over the world. In 2020, she is even teaching at an art retreat in Mexico and combining that trip with her new love, scuba diving.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Dina Wakley

Dina’s website is dinawakley.com.

Her Facebook page is Art of Dina Wakley.

You can find her on Instagram @dinawakley.

We talked about Dina’s art and diving retreat. You can find out about it on her website here.

Dina recommended the book Art and Fear by Ted Orland and David Bayles.

Dina mentioned that she also offers  online classes on  Jeanne Oliver’s website.

Dina and Ranger Ink are doing A Year of Gratitude Challenge. You can find the details on her blog here.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make art in your own way. At the beginning, Dina got a lot of grief from people because of how she altered photos and just slapped things on to a page. But that was the way she always worked, and it worked for her. She was making art for art’s sake and wasn’t using photos with the purpose of preserving memories, and that was O.K.
  2. As Dina says, “the great thing about art journaling is, it might be ugly, but it’s not wrong.” So make art, and love your art, and don’t worry about what other people think.
  3. Another thing she says is, “if you release yourself from the outcome, you can embrace the process.” Because the process in art making is what’s fun and can be very satisfying.
  4. And the next thing that happens is: Through the process, and making things over and over, you will become good at it. And surprise: You’ve become an artist!
  5. Dina teaches a lot of classes and independently owned craft stores. She urges you to support those stores and take advantage of the information and tips you can get from the store owner when you walk in and ask them about art supplies.
  6. If you have a few classes that you teach live, you may want to offer a list to potential locations so they can choose which class they think their customers would like you to teach. The venue owners will have a good idea of their customers’ experience levels and needs.
  7. Dina now offers an acrylic pouring medium with her line of Ranger products. When she does acrylic pouring, she likes to do it on a rigid surface so that the pour doesn’t flow down the valleys in a flexible canvas. She pours on wood panels or media board. Media board is another product she has with Ranger. It is canvas glued to chipboard. You can cut it to size. You can even peel the painted canvas off the chipboard and adhere it to other surfaces.
  8. Dina has found that her students can get quite intimidated when she hands out stretched canvases and tells them to paint on that. So she actually doesn’t do that anymore and sticks to giving them paper to paint on. Her students feel much more free to paint and experiment on paper than they do on canvas.
  9. In 2020, Dina is offering a combination art and diving trip in Mexico. If you’ve ever considered learning to dive, this trip would be for you.
  10. If you’re having trouble with color or composition with your art, you should take a look at Dina’s book Art Journal Freedom. Her other book, Art Journal Courage, is about techniques and layers.

#126 Sandi Keene: Artist and Collaborator

Artist Sandi Keene was new to Port Orange, Florida and wanting to further explore mixed media art, so she reached out to a local artist and asked that artist to show her what she does. From there, Sandi has developed her own artistic style, which includes watercolors, creating handmade books, using stitching on paper, and adding lots of other materials to her art pieces. Now she teaches online classes in book making and watercolors, and will be adding more classes later. She prefers to collaborate with other artists, so she teaches her classes with a partner, Rae Missigman, and she also hosts a podcast with artist Roben-Marie Smith, called Creatives Get Real.

Listen here or use a podcast app, such as Apple Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Sandi Keene

Sandi Keene and Rae Missigman co-teach their online classes. In this watercolor class, they give examples of how they use the same techniques but their results are very different because they maintain their own creative art styles.
Their most popular class is their Pocket Journal class.

Sandi Keene’s website is sandikeene.com. You can get to her online classes through the Popup Art Classes tab, or you can go directly to popupartclasses.com. These are the classes that she co-teaches with Rae Missigman.

Sandi did The Documented Life Project with Rae Missigman, Roben-Marie Smith, Barbara Moore, and Lorraine Bell. It is run by others now and it has continued on Facebook as Life Documented.

Sandi’s podcast with Roben-Marie Smith is called Creatives Get Real. You can find that on any podcast app, and it is also linked on Sandi’s website.

Here are some great takeaways from our conversation:

  1. When you admire artists through websites or Instagram, look them up and see where they live. You may just discover that someone lives in your hometown. Sandi discovered that artist Roben-Marie Smith lived near her, so she invited her for a cup of coffee. It’s great to venture out of the online world and meet a fellow artist in person. You may end up collaborating like Sandi and Roben-Marie have with their podcast, Creatives Get Real.
  2. When teaching a class, a nice thing to do for your students is to make kits of supplies that you can hand out to them at the start of class. Students love this, and it’s exciting to open a little bag and see what kinds of scraps and supplies you’ve gotten.
  3. Seeking out other artists to learn from is a great way to expand what art means to you and to develop your art style.
  4. When learning new techniques, it’s a great idea to just try them out on paper first rather than expensive canvas. You’ll feel less pressured to make things perfect, and you can just throw it away and try it again if you’re not satisfied.
  5. When you start making art regularly, I suggest you also start an Instagram feed. Start posting your art daily, and don’t worry if you don’t think you’ve fully developed your style. It’ll come, and you’ll soon find that you’ll get encouragement from others that are seeing your art.
  6. Taking classes will help to make you a better teacher of classes. You will learn what you like and don’t like in a classroom.
  7. Sandi and four other friends started the Documented Life Project. It started just because they all felt the need to be creative. Once they put it on Facebook, many more people wanted to join them. Artists want to create with other artists, so if you’re doing an organized art project and you’d like others to join you, put it on Facebook or Instagram and see what happens.
  8. Sandi prefers to teach collaboratively with other teachers. She believes that the power of two instructors is so much greater exponentially, and can be so much better for her students.
  9. Sandi also feels that teaching online classes rather than in person can be very powerful because you can teach many more students and from all over the world.
  10. Sandi and Rae Missigman have named the collaborative online classes that they teach popupartclasses. They’ve found that because they are different in their styles of making art, it works well to teach together and show how they both make very different things using the same techniques. It’s almost like when they teach classes you are getting two classes for the price of one because you are seeing both teachers’ perspectives on the art.
  11. We talked a lot about different art styles, and agreed that it doesn’t matter what type of style you have. You can still stay true to your style while taking bits that you learn from other artists. By taking classes, you are not rejecting your style, you are learning more so that you can add to it.
  12. Sandi also collaborates with Roben-Marie Smith in a podcast they’ve made called Creatives Get Real. Again, the collaboration is successful because the listeners are getting two different opinions about one subject.
  13. Sandi and Roben-Marie use Trello to record their ideas for their podcast. It’s a great organization tool for planning projects.
  14. When planning a collaboration with someone else, clearly define the different roles and tasks that each person will be doing.
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