Business

Alberni entrepreneurs help artists get the gist of marketing

Port Alberni entrepreneurs Carrie Furness and Brian Doran want to help artists get their sh*t together when it comes to marketing their artwork.

Furness and Doran—who own and operate L7 Framing on Bishop Avenue—have created a kit called Get Your Sh*t Together designed to help artists develop marketing plans to sell their work. They have an online crowdfunding site through Kickstarter and say they must raise $18,000 by April 2 to make the project viable. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing crowdfunding site.

Furness was working as a picture framer in Prince Edward Island in 1989 when she noticed how many artists she met had trouble selling their art.

When she returned to British Columbia a number of years later she debated whether to open her own picture framing store, and whether to help artists by giving them advice on business.

She and husband Brian decided to take the plunge and in 2008 opened L7 Picture Framing in their home on Bishop Avenue at Johnston Road.

And just like in PEI, Alberni Valley artists have been coming to Furness asking for marketing advice.

“It bothered me to see so much talent go to waste,” she said. “The talent here is remarkable: that’s why I started GYST Business, and dedicated the first volume to artists.”

Furness spent two years writing and creating the GYST Business Kit after holding a successful seminar on art marketing at Char’s Landing.

“We’ve done their target market, their customer base. We know where to promote the artwork and give (artists) ideas where to market their artwork.”

Having relevant and necessary information all in one place prevents the tedious task of hours on the computer researching, says Furness. “It can also keep artists motivated and help them to perform better for various projects.”

The kit, enclosed in a leather-bound ringed binder, is divided with tabs into categories such as events, contacts, inventory and a calendar.

It includes a fill-in-the-blank commission agreement and perforated receipts, and each section is refillable.

“It’s like having a portable desk,” says Doran.

If the artist kit is successful, Furness and Doran have three others for different livelihoods lined up, including one for musicians.

For more information, go online to kickstarter.com and search GYST business kits. Those interested in the kits have until April 2 to back the project. There is also a website at gystbusiness.ca.

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