The business you don't see
As so much of our business revolves around shipping, I have to keep ample stocks of the materials that you wouldn't necessarily connect to an artist. I go through an enormous amount of cardboard, bubble wrap, and packing tape. Essential to my shipping process are things like a sharp box cutter - they go dull far too soon, tape dispenser and large rulers. I have also become a very good customer of our Canada Post kiosk at the drug store that is one block from the studio. It has become a health practice to walk back and forth with as many packages that I can carry, as opposed to driving to the actual post office three blocks away. The walking is good for me, and I'm now on a first name basis with the ladies at our local branch.
We also have become very friendly with our Fedex and Purolator drivers. It is really important for our business to bring product in as product is going out. While I haven't fully figured it out yet, I've had to send a number of larger pieces out with our Fedex friend. The pricing structure continues to elude me. I had two large boxes of a similar size go out earlier this week. While there was a slight weight and dimension difference, the cost differential was shocking: one was $30, the other $185. A call to Fedex did not illuminate the reasons why.
Our printers are among our most important vendors. We are sending them orders three to four times a week. Having developed such a good long distance relationship, it is easy to call them up when there are issues. We appreciate their consistency and professionalism.
All of this to say that there are many non-creative elements to a successful art business. There are work flow and supply issues that are essential to being able to meet deadlines and get product out to our customers on a timely basis. I actually enjoy this aspect of what I do as it charges me up for the creative stuff.