Ask Craz Vol. 4

Say HERRO to my advice blog post series called “Ask Craz!”

The art business world can be vast and pretty daunting! That’s why I like to share my advice in my blog posts on larger topics like follower numbers, shipping commissions, selling in artist alleys, and more! From time to time, there are some questions I get that are a little smaller and — although they may not fill an entire blog post on their own — groups of them will!

Every Ask Craz! post will consist of a handful or so questions along with my answers. If you have a question about art or art business that you’d like me to answer for a future post, feel free to submit your question to me on the contact page or via social media! The more questions I get, the more I’ll be posting more “Ask Craz!” posts to the series!

Today’s edition of Ask Craz: Designing for print, Blues (of the) Traveler, and To tax deduct or not to tax deduct?

Question: When designing lanyards and wristbands, the image quality looks pixelated on the design template. This doesn’t seem right to me and I want to be sure before I throw a lot of money at producing these just for them to come out awful! What am I missing?

Answer: Your resolution should be 300ppi for printing projects (anything you plan to print as merchandise, prints, etc.) and 72ppi for web/computer projects (like icons, pixel artwork, and other non-printing or digital-only items.) You can always make things smaller if you are expecting to make both, let’s say, a desktop wallpaper and a poster. Start with 300ppi for a working file, save a print file at that resolution for printing the poster, and resize to 72ppi to save a file for use as the desktop wallpaper.

Additionally, you’ll want to remember that most lanyards and wrist bands are about 1” to 1.5″ wide so zooming in to view anything as narrow as that on your screen (even at 300ppi) will look a little pixelated since it’s a very narrow canvas to work on.

Question: Hey Craz! I want to eventually sell my art at cons, but I basically only feel comfortable driving which puts a lot of stress on the car. Do you normally drive everywhere? And are the cons something you can put on like a tax deduction since its travel? Thank you in advance, I’m sorry these are probably weird questions!

Answer: When I got this message, I was actually on the road home from a convention and taking a lunch break haha! I live in Western NY which puts me in a 2-3hr drive distance from Furnal Equinox; although it is in Canada, it is 3x closer to me than any US con. Even my favored Northeast conventions are 5-8 hours drive from me!

I drive as far as MFF which is 12hrs away from me and ASE which is about 14hrs away. I found that 16hrs is beyond my limit for driving and typically get a hotel on the way to/from anything 12hrs or more. So far I have flown/will fly to Reno, Seattle, and San Jose for cons. After I figure out the math on the break-even point (comparing flights to driving costs) I’ll better be able to narrow in on the farthest I’ll drive before it is more cost efficient for me to fly. (Hopefully that is an idea for a full analysis blog later down the road when I have a little more con travel experience under my belt!)

Tax deductions are super important for our business health! It’s how we show the government “I’m putting in a lot of equity into my business so please give me a break!” This relies on good record keeping. Keep a record of your inventory and mileage. Collect receipts throughout the year for car care, gas, food (this includes snacks for the trip and anything you eat while on the way to, on the way from, and during the con), hotel stay, parking fees, and any other “oops I gotta make a purchase to get through this weekend” purchases. Here’s a nice comprehensive list of the items that are eligible for deduction! Basically, buy items as usual, keep a record of your expenses throughout the year. I keep receipts in an empty shoebox and add the info to a spreadsheet (store I purchased from, date, reason for purchase, type of expense, convention/event, and $ paid) then when tax season rolls around, claim your expenses for each category.

As you get into merchandise, you should keep track of how much inventory (based on cost of the items, not the retail value) so you can account for your business investments at the end of every year. This is important for times when you may have purchased a lot of merchandise and couldn’t sell everything you had hoped for whatever reason. It helps to show you didn’t just blow a bunch of money on nothing; you just need the opportunity to turn that stock into profits. In terms of your record keeping, know the cost and quantity of all of your items. If you bought 100 widgets for $1.00 per widget (your business cost) and sell them for $10 (your retail price), you only have 33 widgets left by January 1st of the following year, that means you have $33.00 in inventory (33 widgets that cost you $1.00 each to purchase.)

Everyone may handle taxes differently (it varies based on what kind of business you operate) I am a “sole proprieter” which means my business taxes are filed as part of my personal taxes. And I must say, TurboTax is very helpful when it comes to making sense of all this tax jargon!

If you found this post informative, feel free to share on social media!
If you have experience or suggestions to share, I would appreciate your comments below!

Much LORF!

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