Mind Your Business: Spotlight on Cammy Davis Art
Cars and busses are whizzing by as I’m sitting down outside Case Coffee in Ashland with Cammy Davis. We are right across from Southern Oregon University, and she is telling about her experience as a painter, and more recently, the art of being in business as an artist.
Rogue Valley Messenger: You’re in the Sustainable Valley Group, a local business incubator)? What was your intention in doing that?
Cammy Davis: One of the things about me is that I’ve realized the business side is just as important as the artist side. Last year I’ve decided to focus on the business full-time, so I’m ramping that up.
RVM: What does that look like?
CD: First thing I did was cut out everything that wasn’t bringing in revenue. I’ve been volunteering in several things that I loved, but I needed to focus all my time on bringing in revenue. There are two sides to my business. I’m an artist, and I have the paintings that I do. I consider the business side my jewelry, making jewelry from images of my paintings.
RVM: That sounds interesting.
What it looked like for me was focusing on the jewelry side, trying to figure out how to have enough business to sustain me that way. One of the things I’ve done is I’ve done is done three events with Zulilly. They are an online retailer that has events for three days. At the end of the three days they send me a purchase order for what has sold. They disperse to their customers. It required me to have an inventory of four thousand items, and since I hand make them myself, it was a big deal.
RVM: Did Zulilly move them?
CD: The first sale was really good, and the other ones were smaller. I also have local channels, overstock, and Amazon. It’s a growth period for my business, so I’m working with local brick and mortar stores as well as online sales.
RVM: How do you move from the process of producing art to producing a commodity?
CD: The first thing I do is paint a painting. That’s the part I love so much. Every time I finish I take photographs. They go up on my website. Then I take it into Photoshop. Sometimes I use the whole image, sometimes I use a part of it, or multiple parts of it. I manipulate it in Photoshop, then create jewelry out of it. I had started as an artist selling at farmers markets and art fairs. I realized that it’s really hard to sell a painting for thousands of dollars in those settings. I really like the idea of people being able to take home a part of my art thought, so I looked for ways to do that.
RVM: It must have been fun to scale up from twenty at a time to four thousand.
CD: I contacted everyone I worked with and asked them to let me buy bulk. They all worked with me and were able to do it. I did the whole batch myself, it was a big project!
RVM: Tell me more about the Sustainable Valley workshop.
CD: One of the fun things was an exercise we did to pitch our product. It was a real learning curve the first time. (She laughs). They let us pitch two more times, including the final. It allows us to change and incorporate what we’re learning.
RVM: You laughed, was there things that surprised you?
CD: All the feedback was very positive. But the one thing I learned was to practice ahead of time. Good feedback that came from it was to explain my product better. Have them realize that my product is connected to my art. One of the other things that came out of it was to allow people to take art with them wherever they go. I love that, and it was feedback from one of the people in the class. I’m gonna use it in my elevator pitch. I like the idea that art can be with you wherever you go.