SURTEX licensing and design show

Misc. Business Tips

Copyright Registration Fees to change May 1, 2014

The Copyright Office, part of the Library of Congress, has announced that fees to register for copyrights will be changing as of May 1, 2014.  Since 2009 there has been a set fee of $35 whether you are registering one piece of art or a collection of 100 images.  This all changes on May 1.

The standard registration fee will change to $55 – that will include any registration of more than one image.

Single registration – meaning one piece of work by one person not made for hire – will remain at $35.

Most likely, all of our registration fees will change to $55 because I don’t know of anyone who registers art one image at a time. (You’d have to have quite a budget for copyright registrations if you do!) So I highly recommend you register what you have by April 30th to take advantage of the current $35 fee and then know it will cost a little more going forward.

Here is the official notice from the Copyright Office:

Copyright Office Announces New Fee Schedule; First Since 2009

The U.S. Copyright Office is announcing a new fee schedule covering registration, recordation, and related services; special services; Licensing Division services; and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) services. These fees will take effect on May 1, 2014. The final rule establishing the new fee schedule was published in the Federal Register today and is available at

This new fee schedule is the product of a multiyear process of studying current Copyright Office fees, evaluating the Office’s budget requirements, and considering public comments. While a number of fees, including the fee for standard registrations, have increased to permit the Office to more fully recoup its expenses, some fees have decreased and others remain the same. The Office has also instituted a separate, lower fee for single-author, single-work registration claims. For more information, go to

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


Working out my “NO” muscle & red flags to watch out for in contracts

I’ve been practicing saying “NO” recently so I can say “YES” to what I am focused on and so I don’t over-extend myself and stress myself out.

Writing a recent email with the “no” was uncomfortable, but better than all the work, etc if I had said “yes”.

Much of the NO was based on a bad contract… words like “irrevocable” and “unconditional” are huge red flags.  You never know what direction you or another company might go moving forward and if you suddenly become very unaligned for one reason or another, there is no way to re-negotiate or change things when the contract has that sort of language.

Another piece of the contract issue was the “what happens in case of breach”… I had no rights or recourse, they would be “entitled to whatever injunctive or equitable relief they deemed appropriate” – what does THAT mean?  It could mean anything really!

So what do you do in this sort of situation?  Do you walk away, discuss, negotiate, stomp your feet at the inequality of it all?

Any of the above really – you can be presented with any kind of contract someone wants to create – it is up to YOU to decide if it is in your best interests to sign it.

In this case, I chose to walk away.  The potential up-side for me for going through with the deal wasn’t big and my schedule is tight in the next few months.  I have a vacation coming up (YEAH!) and SURTEX is less than 100 days away.  My YES’s need to be aligned with me keeping sane and getting ready for my biggest trade show of the year.  Reduce distractions.

If the deal had been for something that could have had good long-term benefits in the way of income, exposure and more – a conversation about the contract would have been merited.  I thought about it, made a decision, waited 24 hours to make sure I still liked my decision, then sent the email.  Done.  No more energy distracting me from my focus…

I know I’ve talked about saying NO to things so you can say YES to others before but thought this was a very real and concrete example of it in action!

Think before you say YES.  Be deliberate in how you spend your time and energy and you will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish and how much happier and lighter you will feel!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

P.S.  Here are two books that I recommend related to this conversation:

The Power of a Positive No

The Power of a Positive No by William Ury [affiliate link]

How to Understand Art Licensing ContractsHow to Understand Art Licensing Contracts
By Maria Brophy & Tara Reed

Usage considerations when having professional photos taken

Since I’m pretty sure everyone is picking out outfits and researching photographers in their area to get new photos done, I thought I’d bring up on point to consider when making your choice.

Ask the photographer about usage rights.

photographerJust like we own the copyrights to our art, photographers own the copyrights to photos – even if your smiling face is in it and you paid them to take it.  I have met different photographers who all have different theories about usage and fees so you want to know them up front.

In my opinion, if you are getting photos taken for business, you need to have some serious flexibility.  I need to be able to use them on my website, on social media, marketing materials, for magazine articles that need headshots and more.  I also wanted to be allowed to print one and give it to my dad without paying extra. :)

Ask around.  Some photographers will include the right to do all those things in their price.  Others might want a higher fee than if you are getting photos done and buying prints from them.  Some might want a copyright notice on every usage, others might just appreciate being tagged if you show off your new pics on Facebook… Remember that they get to make the rules for their business and you get to decide who you want to do business with!

It is in your best interest (and good karma) to respect the copyright usage boundaries you agree to.  We make a living in art licensing by expecting others to respect our copyrights and pay us for usage so we should do the same.

Here’s to your creative success – can’t wait to see your new headshots!

– Tara Reed

Why you should get professional photographs taken…

The short answer:  because you are a professional and need to present yourself as such.

But if you are at all like me, it isn’t quite that simple.  :)

I have been using the same headshot since February of 2011.  I’m sure you know the one – black top, leaning on my elbow and holding my paintbrushes under my chin.  It was a great representation of what I do at a glance (no one was going to think I was an accountant) and I liked the picture.  I was lucky that that one turned out as well as it did considering it was taken by my then 17 year old son.

A few months ago I was asked to give some opinions for the SURTEX On the Surface eNewsletter with a gentle nudge to “please give us a new photo”.  It could be in my studio, whatever… they were just tired of my favorite headshot.

I didn’t have a lot of time and I REALLY didn’t want to invest in professional photos (more on that in a minute) so I had a friend who has a pretty good eye come over one day and we did some new pics.  My studio doesn’t have the best light and is a weird shape so getting good “at work” photos didn’t really happen.  Did a few shots and then we decided to do something fun outside.  To pull the “northwest” feel I played around behind a cedar tree in my backyard – with my paintbrushes – and we captured an expression I was happy with.  That was used in the eNewsletter and a magazine.

Lots of people said how great the photos were on Facebook and I was just happy they were done.  Let’s just say I haven’t been feeling like the best version of myself lately… the stress of juggling work, life, my dad’s illness, etc. caused me to gain a bit of weight.  Well… to be honest, THAT didn’t, it was the fact that I dealt with all of that by eating that did it.

Lee Harris, the charming photographer husband of artist Karen Harris, sent me a kind email saying that he agreed that I looked good but that the photos themselves were not where he thought they should be for me or my business.  I admitted that I didn’t want to invest money having photographs taken of me in my current shape and here is his response…

“As a friend and photographer (amateur SHRINK) I’m telling you that YOU ARE worth the investment. I shoot models and model portfolios and none of them think they ever look as good, are as slim, etc as the could be. Women from 9 to 99 are taught that they are too short or tall or could lose a few pounds – if I had to wait on every women to get to where she feels 100% about herself I would be out of business. You would be surprised at the number of women who I have photographed who have cried when they say the finished images. A professional is worth the investment if you simply are not felling as good about yourself as you should (because you are AWESOME) and can brighten you day with quality images. BUT for you as a creative and a BRAND you MUST have quality professional images done. A good photographer can control a little extra weight with poses and lighting and post editing.

You design beautiful things – your brand is about style and your personal style should come through in any photos that are represented of you anywhere. You don’t post designs that did not quite make the cut? It’s not going to cost a ton of money for some professional photos. But it is well worth the investment and YOU MY FRIEND are well worth the investment.

Did you forget how big I am?? don’t make me come out there ;o)”

I will admit tears were shed during this whole exchange.  And he is big… he used to play basketball so at the time I was really glad he lives in Ohio!

This reminder that we need to embrace who we are in the moment and put our best image forward – especially when it is for our business, was the catalyst for me getting professional headshots taken.

Value of Professional Photos

I will also admit that there was a lot of internal stress and worry and self-judgement that almost caused me to cancel my appointment on more than one occasion.  But I went and the photos turned out great!  Lee is right – a good photographer can find a great angle to bring out your personality and make you feel good about yourself.  (And, added bonus, no red-eye!)  They also do a little photoshop to make it even better.

I am so glad I fought my fear and did it anyway.  I really debated sharing this whole story but decided that I would because maybe it would help others change their perspective about investing in who they are and having the best version of themselves online.

Thank you Lee Harris!  (If you live in Akron, Ohio and need headshots – check him out.  You can find him on Facebook

Thank you as well to Colleen Cahill Studios in Troutdale, Oregon (close to Portland and Vancouver, WA) – if you are in my area, I highly recommend her – great to work with! You can find her on Facebook at

So I encourage you to rethink your feelings about pictures and make sure your image represents the professional that you are!

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


New US Mileage Reimbursement Rates for 2014

Want to know how much you can write off for using your car for business?  Here’s the latest rate from the IRS…

carBeginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations


Remember to keep a log of where you went, for what purpose and the mileage in case (*gasp*) you are ever audited!

Here’s to your creative success and business write-offs!

– Tara Reed

Pantone color of the year: Radiant Orchid

What will you do, if anything, with Radiant Orchid?

Do you try to incorporate every trending color into your art or do you decide if it makes sense for your style, art and brand?

Did you use and have success in art licensing with past Pantone colors of the year?

Past Pantone Colors of the Year

While trend information can be helpful, I believe it is also important to make sure it makes sense for you instead of jumping on every trend prediction that comes along.  However when it comes to color, Pantone is the resource to watch.

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

Get ready for 2014 with some new goal setting tools – designed with you, the artist, in mind!

It’s that time again… one year coming to an end and a new year about to begin.  The time when thoughts like “Next year is going to be different!” pop into the heads of adults across the globe… I know I’m having those thoughts, are you?

I’ve been busy organizing and streamlining my systems, trying to simply certain parts of my business and life and getting more proactive than ever with my time and calendar.  In fact, I’ve even opened up and started using my Goal Wheel for Artists system again.  (Novel idea, I know!)

Like so many things, we often have the best of intentions and somewhere along the way our follow through falls by the wayside.  That is what has happened with me and my goal wheel… I got busy and overwhelmed and somehow traded strategy and structure for a fire fighter hat.  I’ve been responding and reacting more than I’ve been thoughtfully creating the business, art and schedule that I really want.

Last week I got this email from an artist who recently discovered The Goal Wheel for Artists System:

I just wanted to tell you and your staff that I’m grateful I found your website.  The goal wheel is a very, very helpful tool as I try to pin down all the ideas and aspirations that flow through my distracted head. The on-going emails are not overwhelming, but come at just the right intervals to keep this thinking and planning on the front burner.

Thank you so much.  – Nancy

This email not only brightened my day but made me realize it was time to get back to basics and start implementing these strategies myself as well.

So… if you have been resistant to setting goals because you think it will be too structured for you to be creative, think again.  The Goal Wheel for Artists is a feel-good yet effective way to keep you on track.

You can learn more about the ebook and teleseminar replay at

Why not give yourself the tools to make 2014 your best year yet?

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed

only 3 weeks left of 2013… I have my eye on 2014

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is so close to an end!  Hanukkah is over and Christmas is quickly approaching, followed of course by New Year’s Eve.  I am spending the next few weeks reviewing and improving my systems (how I do everything in my business and some things in my non-business life) and am COMMITTED to outsourcing … something, anything, hopefully lots of things.

One of the things that is both a blessing and a curse for me is my love of learning new things.   I LOVE to know how everything works and love to get in there and use my new-found knowledge.  I get a thrill from working on my websites and tinkering with tools… bathrooms, not so much, but until about 4 weeks ago, I was cleaning them too.

I think I have FINALLY come to the point of being willing to stop doing everything just because I can. (Kim Beasley, stop clapping and rolling your eyes right now!)  Even my Wonder Woman potato head has no cape, why can’t I realize I don’t either?

Wonder Woman ArtistI have been very resistant to getting help in my business.  I think I worry that I won’t be able to afford the help, or that I can do it better, or that I like it so why not do it… you hear horror stories about people hiring a book keeper and having no idea that a lot of their money is walking out the door.

My dad being in a memory care facility hasn’t done much to help my money fears either.  The cost of care at that level is astronomical (and I don’t just say that because he used to teach astronomy!)  - it makes me worry about how we would pay for it if heaven forbid that happened to me or my husband…  as an entrepreneur I don’t have a pension and pay for my own healthcare… it’s all enough to make you justify killing yourself doing every task just to hang onto as many dollars as you can.

But you know what – that’s fear talking.  That’s RESISTANCE.  (Yes, I’m reading The War of Art)  That’s me making excuses to stay busy and maybe play a little smaller than I should.

The truth of the matter is this:  I’m spending so much time on tasks a lot of other people are well, if not more qualified, to do that my art is suffering.

Only I can create my art.  Yet I fiddle with websites and eNewsletter setups and cleaning toilets… NO MORE!

I will trust those who have been telling me for years that until I get help, I will keep my business small.  You can’t grow as a one woman (or man) show.  (Does it seem like I’m convincing myself in this post?  I think I am… but you can benefit too!)

Let go of the tasks that can be done by others so I have more creative time and space to make the art that only I can make.  That is where my true genius lies and that is what brings in the money.  I’m told (and hope to see!) that when I make that shift, I will bring in more than I’m spending and be a lot less scattered and frazzled with regards to my time.

For now, outsourcing feels like a leap of faith and it’s a little scary… but I’m going to do it anyway.

I am being strategic and responsible about how I do this though – don’t get me wrong.  I’m not dipping into my retirement to pay the house cleaner.  (Yeah!  No more toilets!)  I’m going to be watching to make sure I’m re-allocating my time to my money making activities that will bring in the money to cover the help and then some.

In case you are struggling with this concept as well and want to know what I’m doing – here is what I have going so far:

1.  I have someone else clean my house.  Yeah!

2.  Customer service and eNewsletters and more.  From now on if you email with a problem with a download or your computer has crashed and you need a new link sent, the email won’t come directly to me.  Kim Beasley, who has been managing my websites for a few years, will be taking over a lot of the email and processes related to Art Licensing Info so I’m free to create the information, but don’t have to do all the customer support and technical stuff.

3.  I hired someone to come in and look at how I have QuickBooks set up to make sure I’m optimizing my workflow and spending as little time as possible on book keeping jobs.  I plan to have someone take this job over shortly as well.  I think we are even going to connect my bank account to my QuickBooks so I don’t have to manually reconcile and enter everything – what a novel idea!

4.  I’m planning ahead – I have all the Ask Calls for 2014 scheduled and will hand the info to Kim and her team to get all the web pages and systems set up so it won’t take me as much time for each call.  While it will now cost me more to do the calls, the time savings will be worth it! (go to to see who is on the schedule!)

I have some more ideas but for now, I’m going to get these going and not make myself crazy trying to do too much at once.  I’ve tried some of these things in the past but they haven’t quite STUCK… I think I’m now ready to make sure it happens and works.  Wish me luck!

So I ask you… what are you doing that someone else might be able to do better so you can focus on your art?

Here’s to your creative success!

– Tara Reed


In case you haven’t heard… Adobe was hacked last week – change your passwords!

computer hackerOh I LOVE hackers!  They make life so exciting!

In case you didn’t hear, Adobe was hacked last week – first step, change your password.

Next step, pray your account and especially your credit cards weren’t breached.

You can read more about what happened here >> Adobe hacked, 3 million accounts compromised

Now – secure yourself and get back to your creative life. :)

– Tara Reed

How do you spend your time?

Last week I was making some tweaks to websites.  I decided to move Time Management for Artists to the Goal Wheel website since they are very complimentary products and I simply have too many sites to manage.  As I moved the pages and the images and hopefully updated all the links – I had a great time watching the videos about time that I had posted when I started this project.  I thought I’d share a few thoughts and a few songs and get you thinking about time as well…

We all get 24 hours in a day.  We all have a variety of things we do which could include any combination of things – sleep, eat, exercise, chores, family time, friend time, work… How you make use of your time will affect different areas of your life.

If you never exercise your health might not be what it could be.  Don’t do the laundry you will run out of socks. Spend all day reading about how to build an art business at the expense of making and marketing your art….well, you get the idea.

I recently added yet another piece to my art business so tracking how I’m spending my time so I can judge the results is even more important.  

  • How much time do I spend on art licensing: creating art, marketing the art, connecting with licensees…
  • How much time do I spend on information stuff: blogging, writing, teaching, coaching, setting up Ask Calls and more…
  • How much time do I spend setting up the new online store business: website, product creation, marketing, planning…

Gathering this data can be very helpful – especially if you compare it to income over time.  Are your efforts equally reflected in your revenue?  If I spend 25% of my time on art licensing info things is 25% of my income coming from there – or is it more or less?  Knowing how you spend your time and how it affects your income can help you fine tune what is working and what isn’t when building your business.

I highly recommend you check out my Time Management for Artists System – it’s a group of excel spreadsheets that  are all programmed and ready for you to use.  If you want to adjust them you can – but you need to have some Excel skills – no guarantees if you mess with the calcualations! :)

Time Management for Artists by Tara ReedNow it’s time to turn on the sound (or am I the only one who likes a silent computer unless I choose to listen to music or watch a video?) and listen to some songs about time.

And ask yourself – Do I really know how I spend my time?  Really?

Here’s to your creative success -

– Tara Reed

Can you think of any others to add?  Email me a link!