Nobody's business plan

This week I have been trying to work on a business plan. I sat down on Monday morning and wrote the heading LOOBYLU HEAVY INDUSTRIES BUSINESS PLAN 2003-2004 as a kind of joke (or an exercise in positive affirmation) start to the project. How impressive that looked! For a few moments images of a huge studio with loft ceilings and a bubbling coffee machine, full of brilliant sunlight and inspired artisans working on fabulous products danced around merrily in my mind. I pictured myself rolling into the staff car park in a Mercedes A-class full of baby seats, plonking down baby-y or baby-z in the staff creche where the babies were rolling about giggling, painting on easels and blitzing montessori puzzles. I saw myself walking through this bustling hive, holding a bursting filofax full of samples and sketches, and waving magnanimously to all my staff who were screen-printing, carrying stacks of paper, working on big screened computers, preparing vegetarian lunches and laughing and gossiping. Everyone seemed to be wearing big grey work aprons and had super short, super cute hair cuts, beautiful shoes and perfect complexions. Pastries for morning tea, gallery visits for inspiration. So I started writing a mission statement but sat there for the longest time with my brain stuck on “I am…” and at that point I realised that a business plan is a little tricky as I’m not sure what it is that I am actually in the business of doing. So I started sifting through a small business how-to book and discovered chapters on profit projections and sensitivity analysis. At that point I hit my dead end, and at this point it was the end of Tuesday – marking the end of my baby sitting days for the week.

ugh argh

For the last few weeks, since discovering that my holiday cards would sell, I have been attempting to work on my next project (code named “wall calendar 2004”) and at the end of each photoshop session I come away feeling completely frustrated. The problem has been that I sit there scribbling away on my wacom tablet thinking “oh boy, will this sell? Is this what people like? Maybe this is too subtle / boring / cutesie / weird!” etc. I am getting no closer to finishing the first illustration out of the 12 that the project calls for. So as of Friday morning after a rant to my good buddy Anne (who was on the other end of the phone trying to eat her breakfast after being up until 4am with a chicken pox irritated babe – she’s a good friend to listen to my self-indulgent ramblings at such times) I have decided to stop seeing myself as a business enterprise for a while, put the business plan on a back burner and get back to the core of it all which, at the moment, is drawing pictures which I think look ok and being an attentive mother to little Amelia. That will keep me busy enough for the time being.

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36 Responses

  1. says:

    hi , i happen to stumble upon your site and i love your art..the ones of the girl…did you draw them yourself? and what tools did you use if you don’t mind?

    keep up the great work

  2. says:

    Do what you’ve done before – just draw. Don’t worry about whether anyone will like it. If you draw from your heart, people WILL like it 🙂 You rock, grrrl – don’t stop now!

  3. I guess I’ll be checking in regularly for the calendar – I know of a store in the states who would love to stock them!

  4. Sounds like the right approach. Draw what interests you and you’ll find Heavy Industries follows of its own accord. I’d be more interested in buying the results of a project code-named “wall calendar 2004” if it was just the product of your interests than if it was calculated to sell. The way to hit the target is not to aim. Very zen, yes?

  5. Claire,
    One of my underlings pointed me to your site and suggested that we hire you to do a logo for longhorn.

    I’ll bankroll your venture if you design a logo we use.

    Best of luck

    Chairman Bill

  6. unless you’re doing a specific project for a specific person, draw the thing that interests you. of course not everyone will love it, but a lot of people will and those are the people you’re selling to. you’re a very talented woman and your work never fails to delight me. try to ease up on yourself a bit.

  7. says:

    Listen you…. your art is precious and fresh and at its best when you are just expressing what you see….don’t worry about what will sell – you are awesome! Just do it! LOL.

  8. If only uour artwork was available in my country..I’d buy everything.I love your drawings!!!!!!I even once printed out one of your pictures and sticked it on one of my notebooks in order to put myself in a good mood every time I see it ^_^ HEAD UP! You’re the best ever <3

  9. LoobyLu HappyLand Headquarters will eventuate eventually.
    Can I work there? Please?

    I’m good at a number of things including baking, photography, smiling, looking after little kids, writing reports, embroidery, making tea and coffee and programming computers.

    Anyway… here’s something to put into the mission statement:

    Loobylu Heavy Industries intends to produce items which will bring happiness to those who see them.

    I continued, but it started to sound like a really cheery Communist Manifesto.

  10. Hi there! i’ve been visiting your site for a looong time, and i love it! i think your illustrations are so fresh and lovely, and your work’s so inspiring! now about this frustration thing “will people love this?” etc, my advice is don’t push yourself, relax and it will come out. Draw what you like and forget about the rest :)big hugs from spain!

  11. Argh! Pippa beat me to it! I, too, want to work for LHI! I can be the girl who gets the pastries for morning tea! I’m a *very* good pastry getter! (Also, I can carry a mean stack of paper!!)
    Don’t get too bogged in the details. I believe you could simply smear cake icing on a paper plate and the world would love it! So talented!

  12. Claire,
    I appreciate your angst about finding a workable business model, but your artwork is really outstanding and well-suited to everything from the web to children’s books to greeting cards to prints. You might consider selling some prints here or opening a CafePress store where people can buy shirts with your images on them. I’m sure some folks would be glad to dole out some cash to help a talented artist.



  13. I know it’s cliche to say “Be Yourself!” – the point is, you would only be happy when you are true to yourself. Not just in your work but everything else. You got your head on right 🙂 You draw and it’s obvious you do it well.

  14. Claire, I have always loved your drawings and was so excited to snatch up some holiday cards. they are beautiful, but honestly I would have bought them no matter what they looked like because they were Loobylu cards! You have quite a nice following with all the random little drawings you do. You’re an artist, not a mass marketing corporation. Do what you do and we will continue to snatch it up!

  15. I’d love a Loobylu calendar! Don’t think, just draw. All the illos you post seem interesting, so I’d be suprised if you’re calendar wasn’t more of the same. Plus, you could always start now on one of those 2004-2005 ones (you know, a 16-month one). Don’t give up! Do it! A Loobylu calendar sounds like a great idea! 🙂

  16. Maybe you could follow Steve Parish’s business model — you know, a publishing business that carried the output of one artist. Also, if you’re really having a crisis of confidence, why not let us, your loyal fans, vote on the final twelve? Could be funny, if nothing else.

  17. says:

    Have you thought about a partnership with you handling the illustrations and someone else dealing with all the business stuff?

  18. hello claire,the comments already here pretty much say what i was going to, but was going to add – how about designing for kid’s clothing too? your style would be really totally gorgeous as a series of prints and logo-tees / logo-babygro’s, with an additional “adult size” option for us ‘big kids’. ace!

    draw what is in your heart. “If You Create It, They Will Come”.

  19. I would so love a calendar!Maybe you can use some of your existing illustrations?
    -the gardener for Spring (November)
    – the christmas card picture for December
    -the baby for january (new start)

    Or maybe make some birthday cards – something smaller and less stressful than a calendar.

    I know you will find something good to do – just don’t stop drawing, and soemthing lovely will come of it in the end.

  20. says:

    I too would also love a calendar! I loved the cards, and want to buy more more more. Just draw what you feel! 🙂 Good Luck!

  21. Wow! I think all these comments speak for themselves. You have quite the fan club. Looks to me by writing what you have written you have already started your business. You have visualized and verbalized…. now watch it actualize! Keeping fine tuning your vision while you create what makes you happy. It will happen.

  22. Ahhh, the woes of working in a commercial field as a creative artist. It’s very very difficuly to define the line between pleasing yourself and pleasing others, isn’t it? It’s a situation I’m finding to be increasingly painful and stifling, and I really appreciate your take on it. Your approach is probably the best, if you can afford it. 🙂

  23. I would buy your calendar because it would be a loobylu creation. And I would buy birthday cards and thank you cards and etc… All because I love your artwork and I think you are extremely talented.

  24. says:

    I want to work for you too! It is exactly the office space I am trying to find. Keep planning and I will eagerly await for your career opps. link. But I do understand – some friends and I are working on a business/marketing plan for our hip baby products business – quilts, onesies, baby annoucments – but it is so scary!

  25. says:

    OOH – I want a calendar!! Everything you draw is delightful (what’s wrong with cutesie?!).
    Where can I send my resume? I want to work there!

  26. A calendar! What a great idea! I’d love to have a Loobylu calendar! That’s sure to brighten up my oh-so-gloomy cubicle!
    Don’t worry too much about pleasing everyone and just enjoy yourself when you create your lovely illustrations. I know I’ll love the results! 🙂

    Any chance that you’ll be selling some prints/posters too?

  27. The calendar is an excellent idea. I’m sure somebody will buy whatever merch you come up with 🙂

  28. says:

    You seem to have people already banging down your door to work at Looby Enterprises. Your work is an inspiration for budding illustrators and moms – keep it up and let me know when you start accepting resumes! Will draw for food -:)

  29. quark3001@hotmail.ocm says:

    just wanted to second the motion that you need to create what inspires you. as soon as you start to draw for “the public” the inner critic pops up and stifles you –as you found out.
    do what you love, make what you love. it will sell b/c people can see the love.

    and if you do decide to “do” the business for business sake, it is still doesn’t change how you CREATE.

    search on-line for small business business plans and watch your head spin with the results.

  30. says:

    A List Apart has just put up a new article on starting a business and writing business plans. Go check it out:here

  31. When Loobylu industries becomes a reality, can i please have a job there? I like to work in beautiful shoes. I don’t know if I can manage a cute haircut but my complexion is pretty good. I was recently temping at a place with an on-site masseuse (never managed to snap one up for myself though). That could also be a worthwhile addition.
    On the calendar front, have you thought of recycling some of your existing illustrations? You always seem to have such delightful, and seasonally appropriate, ones on your site.

  32. Go seasonal with function.A calender that highlights childrens events (world etc) Fun and family will meet both your objectives and Seasonal calenders do come in handy.
    Since we have different hemispheres you could corridinate the two mirror image sort or do two calenders.
    You know…
    Happy New Year
    Freedom and Liberty
    School vacations
    Starting School
    Thanksgiving (?)
    Christmas or Holidays.
    I don’t know much about Australias magical holidays and celebrations but I bet you could combine them with other world celebrations and just never stop Illustrating.
    Especially if you are doing it for unity and children =)

  33. says:

    Hi. I got to your sight by way of dreamhost and a winner of best site they host, Penelope illustration,Well, she had you as one of her favs. It has now become one of mine too.
    You (work/writing) are terrific. I hope Bill Gates bankrolls that dream of yours.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

  34. Both dreams and people crash down.