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2021: The Year of Prints

In February 2021 I officially started Melissa Hood Art LLC. This was actually the second time I started the business. The first time was in 2018 and I sold less than $1000 in artwork that year. So I decided I needed to focus on being a mom and teacher for a while until the timing was right.

In May of 2020 my beautiful horse, who I had my entire adult life became ill. She developed a disease that would slowly destroy her eyes. Despite the vet telling me to put her down, I just wasn’t ready. So I decided to do everything I could to keep her comfortable and that was going to cost a lot. That’s when I decided to start working hard on my art again.

I spent six months trying to use social media to sell my art. I would paint anything for any one and at some very low prices! After quickly selling a few paintings my confidence grew and remembered what it felt like to be an artist again. (I would like to mention that before having children I had a thriving painting side career in which I was selling in galleries).

When my husband and I started to see that my horse saving plan was working, we sat down at the kitchen table and talked about making Melissa Hood Art a real business. Fortunately for me, he is a successful small business owner and knew exactly what I needed to do: hire an accountant and get a bank account! HA. He is definitely the yin to my yang, so logical and grounded. He also knew that volume matters and that we needed to make a lot of art to make some money. Prints were our answer.

I am a full-time teacher with 90 minutes a day of commuting, mom of two pre-school boys, wife, and dog and horse mom. Not to mention I like to exercise and be outside whenever I can. It wasn’t realistic to think I could do originals only. I was already burnt out from doing tons of dog portraits and commissions. I wanted to make art that was in my soul. We began by outsourcing our prints and quickly got frustrated. Prints would allow me to sell art to a wider audience and I could keep on making them! Woohoo.

The company I was working with was a small business but they had a few local celebrity artists and I could see that those artists were getting first priority. Their prints looked better than mine and they got them faster! We decided we needed to make our own prints.

Luckily, I had recently listened to a podcast all about whether or not artists should sell prints and the guest artist sells a class on making prints. I knew exactly where to the find the help we needed. The universe was on our side! Laurie Anne sells an amazing art to print online course and the investment was well worth it. You can check out the link to her classes below. We took the course, bought the equipment, and we were getting ready to start selling!

While my horse’s condition worsened I was racing to make as much art as I could. I started a project called 100 Shore Things. My hope was to get the community involved in my project and I’d be able to grow my business as well. This also meant that we would have almost 100 paintings to make prints from! My husband quickly became an expert in making high quality prints, matting, and packaging artwork all while managing his own business! He’s amazing.

Within a couple of months, we had a huge collection of artworks available in prints of all sizes. While originals are the most valuable, prints are the most profitable. Fast forward to today and I can see that most of my sales are prints. They look amazing, people are always asking me if they are originals! What I love most about prints is that they allow everyone to collect art. I think if people love art, they should be able to have it and enjoy it. Maybe the original sold, or wasn’t the right size, or was too expensive. Making beautiful high-quality prints allows my collectors to have the artwork they want in the size they need and at an affordable price. Win! Win! Win!

In July 2021 I lost my horse. She had become completely blind and her quality of life was not what she deserved. She was a wild crazy girl, bred to run. When she could no longer safely run and play anymore, I knew it was time to let her go. Losing her was so difficult for me, but she left me with one last lesson: To never stop working hard for what you love. I started a business for her, I painted 100 paintings in 100 days for her. I learned how to make art prints for her. I learned how to use social media and market my art for her. She left a hole in my heart, but a mountain is slowly being built in its place.

Fast Forward to today, one full year since I started my business. We are making professional quality prints and learning more about it all daily. Every day I study business and entrepreneurship. I love a challenge and sure have created a big one for myself! What’s next? I have about 4 or 5 really good ideas for painting collections. I plan to think hard about them before settling on the next big project to allow plenty of time for research and planning. In the meantime, I will paint whatever is on my mind.

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