For the longest time, I’ve been interested in working with my hands to create unique works of art, often things based off the natural world. I’ve always been interested in things that require in-depth mechanisms, starting with sock puppets in 1st grade, then moving on to more elaborate wearable works of art and creature design/costuming. When I was in about 5th grade, through trying to find tutorials on making different costumes on Instructables.com, I discovered some online communities where people will make custom costumes based off of designs that they had made to represent themselves. Since then, I’ve been working towards creating stylized creature costumes, both to represent my own characters, and only recently, I have started making costumes for other people.
My project would include learning about aspects about running a small business as a freelance artist, and improving my artistic skills. I’ve got to learn about marketing yourself in a niche situation, and honestly actually managing my time. I would learn about money management, and how to charge fair prices for your work/cover supply expenses. I would like to finish off my project with vending at a local convention, IndyFurCon, which would involve making backstock, purchasing a convention pass, renting a hotel room, and getting an Indiana state tax ID.
The majority of the money needed for this project will be covered by my sales, but I will need a fair bit of money for the convention. Some of this will be covered by my parents if needed, but I am going to be working with Green Valley Electrical Services, a company owned by my dad, as well to cover costs.
I have established myself a small amount in this community, but so far I have only gotten commissions from close friends at highly reduced prices. In the future, I would like to have a substantial portion of my income come from making these, as it’s both something I enjoy and something that might be able to help carry me into my adult life and career.
I have gotten in contact with Sara Howard, known online as Matrices, and she has agreed to help me by sharing her experiences in costuming, tutorial writing, and taking on commissions. These days, she’s been moving away from actually making custom things for people, but more towards helping people with their own projects, and creating resources for people of all skill ranges from complete beginner to sewing, and tips to professional makers.
My essential question is: How can I refine my skills in a niche community, while both making a name for myself and also learning good business practices? I hope to find out the answer through this project