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October 2010

Resume - Ready, Set, Go!

Being a professional artist or maker involves a lot more that just spending time in your studio sanctuary. Just making the work doesn't create the opportunity to show or sell it.  I wish that wasn't true, but the reality is that I have lots or work stacked in a closet, up in the attic, or under the bed. What about you?

IMG_6103 Taking a shift at your desk and creating opportunities is all part of the job of an artist. One of those important tasks is keeping your resume up to date.  It is much easier if you update details immediately as an event occurs.  Then, when an opportunity arises, you are ready with your resume without delay.

It's amazing but all too often opportunities present themselves with no advance notice.   Let me go all French on you for a moment.  Louis Pasteur said, "Dans les champs de l'observation le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés." Loosely translated, "... chance favors the prepared mind."  For every artist, opportunity is always going to favor the prepared artist. It happened yet again this morning for me -- which prompted this post.
UpdateRESUME
Here is my system for a resume.

Write all professional accomplishments in your master CV (Curriculum Vitae). Every show, every article, every published editorial goes in your CV. Right away, that night!

You also need a one page resume. This is what will be used most of the time. This is just the most important or most recent professional accomplishments. Your one page resume may or may not change when you add items to your CV. It depends on the importance of the recent professional activity.

ScaryGHOST If you can keep your CV and one page resume up to date, then you are resume ready, set go.

As you gain more professional experiences that expand your CV to multiple pages, I would recommend maintaining several versions with a two page resume and a five page resume. Each one of these is a digested version of your master CV. 

Think of adding each accomplishment to your CV and resume as a reward for hard work and professional success. This is definitely one of those activities that is a self fulfilling prophecy. 

Harriete

P.S. Are you wondering what information to put on your resume. Here is a previous blog post titled, Resumes - How much is too much info? with some answers.

The Resumes for Artists and Craftspeople category has a number of posts on this topic.


Need That Photo YESTERDAY! Be prepared.

Ater 30 years of exhibition trials and tribulations as an artist and maker , I contnue to be reminded of a few recurring actions to be ready for special opportunities!

Three bead bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman Take photos as soon as you finish the work. I mean IMMEDIATELY! The two main reasons are that your work will never look more "fresh" than immediately after you finish it, and you can start promoting your new work with the images.

Your images should be shot in RAW format to create the largest file possible, then clean up the image or modify as necessary  in Photoshop. Save the final image as your  "master"  TIF.

CraftsReportcover72As soon as I get my  TIF images from the photographer, I create images for my web site and social networking links like Facebook, Flickr and Crafthaus.

You will also be prepared for an opportunity at a moment's notice.   You never know, but it happens often enough.  Magazines, shows, exhibition sponsors, writers and fellow artists often want images YESTERDAY.  When such an opportunity occurs, the artist who delivers an image always wins out over those who are not ready.

It happened to me twice last week. One person needed images for their lecture in two days. The other person wanted images for publicity yesterday. The magazine cover image for The Crafts Report (from a couple of years ago) was just another example of being prepared when a last minute opportunity presents itself. They needed an image, and I was ready.

Was it worth being ready? Are you kidding?  In minutes I can email images with a complete description and Photo Credit.

Black and gold Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman
       Black and Gold Identity Necklace
       Recycled tin cans, Plexiglas, electrical
       cord, brass, 10k gold.
   
   © 2006 Harriete Estel Berman
       Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

While it would be ideal if every opportunity presented itself with six months advance planning, but this is not always the case.  Be prepared by taking your photos immediately without procrastination.  You need to do the photos anyway, so consider it the final step in finishing your work.

Next Tuesday, Ask Harriete will include recommendations for the size of your photographic images.  Be ready for your images to travel at the speed of light.

Harriete

Click on my name to view the entire collection of Bead Bracelets and Bead Necklaces

If you need extra guidance with your images use the Professional Guidelines topics:

GUIDE TO Professional Quality Images

Working with Digital Images Effectively

 BlackAOL_neck.1000
Single AOL Bead functions as a magnetic catch by Harriete Estel Berman.
Retail Price $990.


Web Manners: Harriete Dressed Up Like Emily Post

Harriete Estel Berman dressed up like Emily Post
Each sphere in our lives has manners or customs that have developed over time.  But with the Internet, a whole new social forum, this busy, bright new world hasn't had time to develop clear etiquette.

In this post I am going to mention a couple of issues that cross the line to bad manners, and maybe even, outright RUDE.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Never tag your photos with another person's name so that they will go look at your art or craft. As an example, I woke up this morning to find over 20 Facebook notices that a person tagged photos of their work with my name.  Not only did I have to remove my name from all her photos, but her photos were showing up on my Facebook photo page.

How rude! I didn't even know this person. Never met her! She didn't even send a polite introduction or any personal correspondence of any kind. This is not how you make friends and influence people. If you want someone to look at your work, write them a polite note and send them one or two links.

"Social Media shouldn't be seen as advertising. It should be seen as public relations." Brian of Alpine Media.com  is so right!  Nothing bothers me more than getting multiple email blasts a week from an unrequested source. I don't care if it is their idea of an opportunity, give away, free advice or participation in their inspiration of the day. Any blog, organization, or web site that bombard me with excessive emails gets relegated to my spam list.

EtiquettebookAll public comments on blog posts, other people's photos,  or social media pages should be constructive. No name calling allowed.  Just like Thumper in Bambi, if you can't think of a way to make a constructive comment or question, leave no comment at all. 

 

In your blog posts or newsletter:
Always attribute information to the original source with the name.

Always link to all sources mentioned.

Always attribute images of work to the artist and include photo credit if appropriate. (If the artist is the photographer, photo credit is not necessary.)

You are responsible for control, deleting or maintaining the comments on your posts, social networking pages or groups. In other words, if you find spam on your blog or inappropriate comments on your Facebook page, it is your responsibility to delete it. Don't leave this polution/spam up for your readers, it affects your credibility.

Disclose your affiliate links. (it is the law.)

Disclose your relationships with your sources or guest authors.

Emails
Do not send images  or files as attachments to your emails without a personal message.
This is not effective communication, it just looks like you can't be bothered to be polite. No one will open your attachment anyway because they will be afraid of catching some kind of internet "bug".

Good manners are always based on respect and consideration.

 Do you have some advice for online manners?  Or any comments about this post? What do you think about Internet etiquette? Let's hear it! Please consider leaving a comment. Maybe, my Emily Post high heels have made me trip.

Ettiquete does change over time and with evolving social norms.  For fun, I have included the 1915 Rules for Teachers I saw this summer at the Long Beach Island Historical Museum. It reminds us clearly that Etiquette is constantly in flux, but primarily based on courtesy for others and social custom.

  Etiquette1915 rules for teachers
(Sorry about the condition of the image. It was taken under less than ideal circumstances and the paper was very old.)


Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Avoid Problems and Penalties - A Final Word.

After surviving two I.R.S. audits -- and as this series concludes, I'd like to highlight several hints to help you prevent and survive (if necessary) an I.R.S. audit in your future.

RedflagKeep careful records and be prepared to justify every expense.  Especially in this tough economy, there may be more artists and makers losing money.  Losing money is not a problem in and of itself, but in my opinion, this seems to be an I.R.S. red flag for an audit.

Start RIGHT NOW improving your records. No time like the present. Keep every receipt and record it.

If you are called in for an audit, spend a lot of time preparing by reviewing your records and understanding your accounting practices. 

You need to demonstrate confidence to the I.R.S. that you have every peice of paper they want and that you know exactly where it is in your files. (My husband actually made us "role play" for over an hour.)

Everything in your "office" or "studio" needs to be for business. The I.R.S. has very clear rules about deducting the expenses associated with a home "office" or "studio." Watch Lesson 4 recommend in the previous post. To summarize these rules, if you use the same space for your family or private life, don't take deductions for that space. It is another I.R.S. red flag.

There are actually online videos provided by the I.R.S. called 'Your Guide to an I.R.S. Audit."
IRSaudit
Save the address to this site as your insurance. There is no such thing as being too prepared if you want to avoid problems and penalties with the I.R.S. There are 10 lessons, I hope you never need them.
IrsAUDIT2The information and advice on ASK Harriete is provided for your assistance and should not be considered legal advice. Use your best judgement and consider using professional tax advice as necessary.

Harriete


Video Workshops from the I.R.S. - Am I a Business or a Hobby? - OR - Make Your Business More Business-like!

For artists and makers, running your business in a manner compliant with I.R.S. rules can make a BIG DIFFERENCE between being declared a "business" or a "hobby" and potentialy major financial consequences.  The IRS defines "hobby" as "an activity not engaged in for profit" and deductions for expenses are limited.   On the other hand, a "business" is allowed to deduct the operating expenses from their business revenue to determine net taxable income.  Read more about this issue: "Business or Hobby? Answer Has Implications for Deductions."

In the course of preparing for my recent audit and writing these articles about "Surviving the I.R.S." I found a great set of videos on the I.R.S. web site that I  recommend if you want to learn more in convenient, digestible segments.

Grab your tea or coffee cup!!  The video series is called Small Business/Self-Employed Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop.

IRSvirtualWorkshop

IRSvirtual10lessons There are 10 Lessons.  I suggest that you listen to all that apply to you. 
If you hover your mouse pointer over the Lesson it gives you the full name of the lesson and the subjects covered.

The Introduction and Lessons 1 - 4 are fundamental information.  I especially recommend that you listen to at least these four.  You can pause, replay, or skip around.  Start with the Introduction (it is really short.)

Everyone should listen to: Lesson 4. What you need to know when you run your business out of your home.

Harriete

BELOW are summaries of the first four lessons: 

Lesson 1.  What you need to know about Federal Taxes and your new business
  EIN (Employee Identification Number)
  Record Keeping
  Bookkeeping and Accounting
  Forms of a Business Organization
  Paid Tax Preparer

Lesson 2. How to set up and run your Business so paying taxes isn't a hassle.
  Net Profit and Loss
  Deductions
  Depreciation
  Disability Access Credit
  Self-Employment Tax and Estimated Tax

Lesson.3 How to file and pay your taxes uing a computer.
  Describe IRS e-file
  Benefits of e-file
  Electronic Payment Options

Lesson 4.What you need to know when you run your business out of your home.
  
Determine Deduction Eligibility
  
Types of Expenses
  
Deduction Limits  

Sit back, listen up, and
                         take your legal deductions.

LifeGood72

Good to the Last Drop Flower Brooch  by Harriete Estel Berman
Retail Price $450


Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Withdrawing Inventory Items for Personal Use? Very scary!

I.R.S.sign368

I have been audited twice by the I.R.S. during the past 5 years. During both of these audits the I.R.S. agent asked how many "inventory items did I withhdraw for personal use?"  This is a potential trap, so avoid this practice if you can!

TrapA letter from the I.R.S. Information Document required:
"Documentation and computation of the cost of inventory items withdrawn for personal use. Include gifts to family members and friends, items for personal consumption, etc. A logbook, written record, or any documentation you have that shows what you used for business and what was given as gifts to family, friends or personal consumption. We need to see how you separated what was used for business and what was used for personal consumption."

FireThis could lead to an eternal trial by fire!!!  The best answer is that you do NOT give away or trade your work from business inventory.

Just to clarify here, I am not talking about taking an item from your inventory to display in your studio or wearing a pair of earrings to an opening for promotion.  These are two examples of a legitimate way to promote your work. You still own the item and you are actively offering them for sale. What should be a concern is the common practice of "trading work with other artists."

Recently I read an online art/craft busines newsletter discussing how much fun it is to trade work!  Trading work is NOT a business like behavior. Sorry if I sound like a fuss budget, but there are many facets of behaving "like a business." If you want to deduct your legitimate art or craft business expenses (whether you make money or not), you need to be able to prove that you are "acting like a business."

The whole point is that the I.R.S. wants to determine if you fit their definition of a "hobby" or a "business."  If you want the I.R.S. to perceive your entrepreneurial efforts as a business, then you must show them that you act like a business.  A business needs to account for every item in their inventory.

The I.R.S. has rules regarding giving your work away or trading from business inventory. It is called "barter." If you want more information on barter, see the information below my signature (copied directly from the I.R.S. web site).

On the other hand, if you are happy being deemed a "hobby" by the IRS, then no inventory management is required. You may give away or trade your work as an informal exchange anytime on a noncommercial basis.

What disturbs me is to see public discussion about bartering work on an art business web site, at craft shows, or other requests to trade work with so little awareness of the consequences.  If you feel you must give gifts or barter, you could make such work on your own personal time not using your business inventory or materials or employees. That is what gifts are for.

Harriete

BUBBLEbarter Topic 420 - Bartering Income (from the I.R.S. web site)
Bartering occurs when you exchange goods or services without exchanging money. An example of bartering is a plumber doing repair GhostSCARY.GR
work for a dentist in exchange for dental services. The fair market value of goods and services received in exchange for goods or services you provide must be included in income in the year received.

Generally, you report this income on Form 1040, Schedule C (PDF), Profit or Loss from Business. If you failed to report this income, correct your return by filing a Form 1040X. Refer to Topic 308 for Amended Return information.

  The Internet has provided a medium for new growth in the bartering exchange industry. This growth prompts the following reminder: Barter exchanges are required to file Form 1099-B for all transactions unless certain exceptions are met. Refer to Barter Exchanges for additional information on this subject. If you are in a business or trade, you may be able to deduct certain costs you incurred to perform the work that was bartered. If you exchanged property or services through a barter exchange, you should receive a Form 1099-B (PDF), Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions. The IRS also will receive the same information.

Please refer to the I.R.S. Bartering page for more information on bartering income and bartering exchanges.

Direct Barter Transactions (from the I.R.S. web site.)
If you engage in the direct barter of products or services with an individual or a business you will generally not receive a Form 1099-B, but the transaction must be accounted for in your books and records just the same. Think of a barter transaction as just another sales transaction of your business goods or services you must include in your income at the time received. Accurate accounting and record keeping can help you manage barter transactions.

For example, if a doctor agrees to give an accountant a personal medical exam in exchange for personal tax return preparation, the fair market value of the medical exam is taxable to the accountant, and the fair market value of the tax return preparation is taxable to the doctor.

For simplicity sake, let’s assume the fair market value of both services is equal to say, $200. Note that all pieces of the transaction should be clearly marked as a bartering transaction in the books and records of both the doctor and the accountant. With the fair market value of both services being equal, both the doctor and the accountant must include $200 in their income as a result of the bartering transaction.

 

 


Surviving an I.R.S. audit - Is Your Travel for Business or Leisure?

Hands hiding face keeps secrets. My personal insight after two audits is that the I.R.S. does not reveal their hand . . .ever! You are asked to bring tons of documentation, but really you don't know why.  They then ask lots of questions, all presuming you are guilty until you prove otherwise.

After surviving my I.R.S. audit (with "no changes") I think they wanted documentation about my travel expenses to see if I mixed my business travel with leisure travel. They did not debate the amount but seemed to want to be sure that my deductions for Travel, Meals and Entertainment expenses were for BUSINESS ONLY.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), I never seem to have time to add any leisure to my business trips.

Harriete Estel Berman with tons of receipts. I had receipts for all my Travel, Meals and Entertainment business expenses and adequate documentation. My trips were all 100% business. Thank goodness. It immediately curtailed this line of interrogation.

What concerns me is that so many artists or makers do mix business travel with leisure. They go to conferences or exhibition openings and then add on a few days of traveling around the area for leisure/vacation/entertainment.

There a two ways you can look at this.
- Think like an artist/maker, or
- Think like the I.R.S.

Sex in the City Brooch is jewelry from recycled materials by Harriete Estel Berman. Thinking like an artist, maybe you don't care about deducting the travel as a business expense or think .... "Wow, the Conference is in a city you have always wanted to visit!" Your spending money to get to the city, why not stay for extra days. You already have to spend the money on the travel and hotel. Maybe you want to take advantage of the fact that you are already there. Have fun!

WARNING: Be very careful about deducting your business travel expenses. The I.R.S. looks very carefully at combined business and leisure travel, especially when you aren't making very much money from your business.

I.R.S. THINK LIKE THE I.R.S. To be deductible for tax purposes, expenses incurred for travel, meals, and entertainment must be ordinary and necessary expenses incurred while carrying on your trade or business. Generally, you also must show that entertainment expenses (including meals) are directly related to, or associated with, the conduct of your trade or business. For more information on travel, meals, and entertainment, including deductibility, see Publication 463.

Count weekends, holidays, and other necessary standby days as business days if they fall between business days. But if they follow your business meetings or activity and you remain at your business destination for non-business or personal reasons, do not count them as business days.

Make Sure that Your Trip is Primarily for Business
You can deduct all of your travel expenses if your trip was entirely business related. If your trip was primarily for business and, while at your business destination, you extended your stay for a vacation, made a personal side trip, or had other personal activities, you can deduct your business-related travel expenses. These expenses include the travel costs of getting to and from your business destination and any business-related expenses at your business destination.

Example.
You work in Atlanta and take a business trip to New Orleans. On your way home, you stop in Mobile to visit your parents. You spend $2,012 for the 9 days you are away from home for travel, meals, lodging, and other travel expenses. If you had not stopped in Mobile, you would have been gone only 6 days, and your total cost would have been $1,712. You can deduct $1,712 for your trip, including the cost of round-trip transportation to and from New Orleans.

BentClocks06 What Does the IRS Consider a Business Day?
Any of these qualify as a business day:
   - a day on which you travel getting to and from your business destination
   - a day when you spend at least 4 hours on business related activities
   - a day when you have a pre-scheduled appointment

The first two are relatively simple to understand. Just be sure you have documentation to back up your travel, such as ticket stubs. On days when you are spending at least 4 hours on business activities, your activity log serves as documentation. (This is where your travel log or diary will help document your trip.)

On days when you have a pre-scheduled appointment, you have to be able to prove that you actually attended the appointment. How do you prove it? If you met someone for a meal and picked up the tab, the receipt from the meal serves as proof. Otherwise, you'll need to print out emails from before and after the trip to the person or people you met. The email from before your trips proves that the meeting was pre-scheduled. The email sent after the meeting (for instance, thanking them for meeting you) proves that you were at the meeting.

Use your travel diary to help you with this record keeping.

Business Meals You can deduct the cost of meals if it is necessary for you to stop for substantial sleep or rest to properly perform your duties while traveling away from home on business. Half the cost of all your meals during actual business days can be deducted. This is true whether you met another person for a meal and picked up the tab, or you ate alone.  The I.R.S. has lots of rules about business meals including a standard meal allowance. Read more about this on their web site.

Harriete Estel Berman on a personal family trip in Mexico City with family.Was Your Trip Primarily for Personal Reasons
If your trip was primarily for personal reasons, such as a vacation, the entire cost of the trip is a nondeductible personal expense. However, you can deduct any expenses you have while at your destination that are directly related to your business.

P.S. The rules for traveling outside the United States are different. If you want to know how to account for your business travel outside of the U.S. read the I.R.S. web site.

It really irks me that big companies routinely take their executives on fancy trips for days of golfing with a couple of meetings thrown in and then deduct the entire amount as a business expense while artists can never do this. But for most of us, complaining about another industries indulgent business expenses isn't going to sway your own personal auditor at the I.R.S.

So keep your business expenses legitimate and above board. Avoid combining business with leisure travel, unless you don't plan on taking the business deduction.

Harriete

Much of the information in this post (with the exception of my opinion) came directly from the I.R.S. web site. Read the I.R.S. web site for more information.

Sex in the City Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman is constructed from post consumer recycled tin cans.

SEX in the City Flower Brooch by Harriete Estel Berman
Post consumer, recycled tin cans,
© 2010. Retail Price $625


Surviving an I.R.S. audit - What Is an Acceptable Receipt for a Business Expense?

To prepare for my I.R.S. audit, I was required to bring A LOT of INFORMATION and DOCUMENTS. It filled an 11" x 12" accordion folder, all of the 12 slots were full. We were running out of room!  AccordianFOLDER

Frankly, it was hard to tell if the DEMANDING, "business like language" on the I.R.S. letters was a standard request or if I was in BIG TROUBLE!

Nightmare_victim_lg

I was petrified and had recurring nightmares about how I wasn't allowed to be an artist because I didn't follow the rules of the I.R.S.  The irony in the daylight never escaped me. I didn't become an artist because I was good at paperwork.

One of the many pages from the I.R.S. said:

 

Travel, Meals and Entertainment
Verification of the number of nights away from home overnight for business purposes. Include receipt or credit card statements for meals and actual lodging. 

A log or diary for travel costs incurred while away from home on business.  This information should include transportation tickets, receipts, and canceled check. Note: Canceled checks written to MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover, etc. are not sufficient to establish a business expense, even if they are business cards. You must keep the actual receipts or the monthly credit card statements showing each expense in detail.  (There was more, but I think you catch the drift.)

So, do you have a receipt for every expense on your business trips?

Do you keep a log or diary of your trips?

credit-card-receipts While I had a receipt for all my expenses, I didn't keep a log or diary for every trip in 2008, and there were quite a few business trips that year. Thank goodness, I have a great memory for small details which we wrote into the accounting records.

During the I.R.S. appointment, the topic of my business travel expenses was part of the "interview". Dressed to the nines in my business battle fatigues with intimidation proof vest (my best black suit with Harriete Estel Berman jewelry. of course), I was in hyper mode.  There was not doubt that we were prepared with itemized receipts for every expense. In addition, the expenses were color coded and highlighted on the credit cards statements. This level of preparation and organization for the audit was deemed "adequate" by the auditor, but it took hours and hours to get ready.

From now on I am keeping a travel diary.Notebook I'm thinking a small notebook, with a pocket for my receipts will be more effective and a lot easier when I get home to write all the expenses into my CASH OUT Excell spread sheet.

This low tech solution is just the point. I believe that every artist should be able to deduct their legitimate business expenses without getting into trouble with the I.R.S. but you need to BE PREPARED with the required level of documentation.   

The next post will cover the key question from the I.R.S.about business travel? This is what I think they wanted to know all along....."Did I combine my business travel with leisure travel?"

Harriete

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Hobby or Business? Criteria for the I.R.S.

Nightmare_lg

Close-up view of The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli
Oil on canvas, 1210 x 1473 x 89 mm; Exhibited 1782
Lent by the Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr and Mrs Bert L. Smokler and Mrs Lawrence A. Fleischman