Category Archives: Business

Donating Art

Ubuntu Penguin

Ubuntu Penguin – commissioned piece

Gouache on Bristol

I recently had some opportunity to donate art prints to various causes. In celebration of the almighty upcoming Tax Day, I wanted to remind you that any art you donate can help lower your tax bill. I’m still unclear whether you can claim the market value for said donations, or the cost of making them… but either way, donating art to a worthy cause is a great idea. The tax benefits, sure, but also promotion! It’s a great way to get your name out there.

I donated a few prints to the charity auction at OmegaCon, and two matted cat-themed prints to the recent anniversary celebration at Furkids, where I volunteer. Charity auctions are great exposure – people go prepared to spend money for a good cause, and small, lower-priced items like prints are a great option for people who want to donate on a budget.


Good news, everyone! I have begun a foray into merchandising. T-shirts with Meg art on them are now available for sale. They feature cephalopods with attitudes!

Visit my LiveJournal for photos. Prices range from $10 to $22 plus shipping. I accept Paypal and credit cards. Send me an e-mail if you’re interested!

Also, feedback on them is appreciated. Critiques will only help me with next round. :D I’ve already sold three, and I’ll let y’all know how well this foray goes in a follow-up post.

1Q2008 Review of Goals, and a Nautilus

Nautilus macromphalus

Nautilus macromphalus by Meg Lyman

11×14″ gouache on Pastelbord


I am beginning to think I set unrealistic goals at the beginning of the year. I underestimated the amount of time required for things like, say, putting my house on the market. It has been hugely time-consuming. However, having that list of goals has helped keep me motivated during the long, full days, even if I’m not perfectly on track to finish everything.

Nautilus macromphalus WIP 1

N. macromphalis WIP 1: Background. See this post for my laments about Pastelbord, the Magical Brush Eater. The cheap synthetic brush I used to complete the painting held up surprisingly well.

Here are the goals and my 1st Quarter commentary.

  • Register my business by March – Done. I want to frame the certificate.
  • Redo this blog to greatly expand its content and interactivity – Not done. I had hoped to finish this by now, but… yeah. Still in the works, and I’ve actually done some coding.
  • Trim my website into a portfolio – See above, re: coding.
  • Time all my projects with the new stopwatch Santa got for me – Doing. Doesn’t work nearly as well when I have 5 projects going at once…
  • Complete the 100 Cephalopods projectNo way is this going to happen. I have a grand total of 2 done. Commissions got in the way. Working for dollars is way better than working on spec, though, so I’m not bummed about missing this one.
  • Promote my art on MySpace, etc. – Slowly working on that. Check out my MySpace page if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Do 10 shows and/or conventions – Going to happen! I have done four already and the rest are planned out.

N macromphalus WIP 2

N. macromphalus WIP 2: Whites. I didn’t do much planning for this piece. For example, I hadn’t planned to push the boundaries of color. These are all supposed to be shades of white, but at this stage I kept thinking, “Looks like metal. Maybe I should change the name to Robo-nautlius.”

I have done something list-worthy that was never an explicit goal of mine: I’m getting faster. I knew this would come eventually with practice, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it’s already happening. It took a friend saying, “you’re getting faster” for me to notice. Duh.

N macromphalus WIP 3

N. macromphalus WIP 3: Almost done. The oranges really balanced the blues and made the whole thing look properly organic. Nautilus, check. But the background was distracting. I took a sponge to it, which did the trick. Pastelbord is also the Magical Sponge Eater, and I spent 15 minutes picking bits of sponge off the painting.

Another list-worthy mention: I’m making a conscious effort to work on my style. Maggie and Rita encouraged me, and I worked out a list of things that make my paintings “mine.” One of those things, which had never occurred to be before (and never would have without this exercise) is that I love to use warm browns and oranges and cool blues and greys in combination. This may or may not be related to my love of da Bears.

So, that’s where I am after the first quarter of 2008. How are y’all doing in terms of goals this year?

Illustration Opportunity – Update!

Gilded Pelican

Gilded Pelican by Meg Lyman

6×8″ gouache on matboard

$50 – e-mail to buy

Remember last month when I talked about meeting with some fabulous people to discuss illustrations for a children’s book? Well, good news! We rearranged my standard contract several times, got it to everyone’s liking, and signed it. I’m currently on the hook for some character development, and if it goes well, full illustrations. Exciting! Busy! Challenging!

I have already started the back-and-forth with sketches, and it’s such an interesting process. I’m learning so much. I won’t get into specifics since nothing is finished yet, but if you have questions, ask away.

OmegaCon Report

Lady and the Tramp Squid

Lady and the Tramp Squids by Meg Lyman

8×10″ graphite OmegaCon doodle; SOLD

OmegaCon was a first year fantasy/sci-fi convention in Birmingham. I had art in the art show and a table in the dealer’s room next to the Wandering Men. The dealer’s room was huge and fabulous and the turnout was phenomenal. The art show organization was abysmal, but it all worked out in the end.

I sold enough to cover my food and my half of a hotel room, which is more than I was expecting! Most of my sales were prints and originals. I took some older illustrations (~5 years old), because they were on-topic for a fantasy convention, and actually sold some of those old ones! It doesn’t hurt to try, especially if your prices are reasonable for older work (unless your old work is really horrible). I didn’t put any old art in the show – it was all in a binder at my table. I was pleased to see it sell but a bit hesitant putting old work out there, even if it was hiding in a binder.

What are your thoughts on selling older work?

Art and Taxes, Part 2

Happy Roo

Happy Roo by Meg Lyman

Happy March! This kangaroo is smiling because it is sunny and 70 degrees here, and I’m about to go play soccer. I love the south!

I want to answer some questions asked in my last post about taxes – but I need a disclaimer. I am no expert. I don’t know a Form 1120 from an abacus. Please do not take these tips as law. My best advice: talk to an accountant.

That said, here’s what I learned about hobbies this week:

  • As far as I can tell, there’s no maximum you can earn as a hobbyist before the IRS takes notice. You can offset your hobby gains with hobby losses. The catch: the losses (expenses) have to be at least 2% of your adjusted gross income before you can deduct them. So you have to spend a lot and make a lot on your hobby for that to work in your favor.
  • I’m not sure about years of consecutive loss, but a legitimate business (in the all-seeing eyes of the IRS) will show a profit in at least 3 of the last 5 years. There are exceptions to this (me, for example, since I’ve only been doing it officially for one year) – you have to pass a type of “legitimate business test,” witch factors in things like reasonable attempts to make profit, how much time you spend on it, and if you rely on it for your livelihood. Go here for some great advice.
  • Confused yet? I am. See above advice about an accountant.
  • How is it that smart, educated people have trouble figuring this stuff out? I think they make it hard on purpose. Makes me want Fair Tax even more.

You have now completely exhausted my knowledge of art and taxes. If you have any further advice, let us all know!

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel by Meg Lyman

Mixed media on Canson


Sometimes life is so crazy that the only way things could possibly work out in our favor is to have a guardian octopus looking over us. With holy wings of protection, a halo, and an arm delicately raised in benediction, how can you go wrong?

I am still collecting answers for your previous tax questions. My excuse: I am having a bazillion* people over tonight for a party.

* well, like… 5.

Art and Taxes

Friendly Octopus

Friendly Octopus by Meg Lyman

One of the biggest business questions I’ve pondered recently is: “Hobby or business?” The IRS lets you count art income (and loss) as part of your overall income, provided that you can prove it’s a legitimate business venture. But why do it? And when? Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

  • If you don’t make a lot from art, it’s counted as a hobby. You don’t necessarily have to claim your income, but you can’t deduct your expenses.
  • If your art income gets large enough, you’ll have to start paying taxes on it eventually. They’ll find you.
  • If it is your intent to grow your art business into a profitable endeavor, and perhaps make it your only source of income, it’s good to get the tax part started a year or two beforehand.
  • This is why: switching from an undocumented hobby to an official business when your business is still starting, struggling, and in the red means you can deduct your expenses from your day-job income, using a Schedule C.
  • Eventually you’ll make a net profit each year, at which point you’ll have to pay more taxes than you did with just the day job, and it’ll be beneficial to ditch the Schedule C and incorporate.
  • In order to accomplish all this, you’ll need several things. First, excellent records for at least the past year. Second, proof (if the IRS demands it) of intent to increase profit. Finally, a good accountant.

I have done those last three things and decided to make the switch for 2007. I started keeping detailed records in mid-2006, so I have all of 2007 documented. The records include sales, expenses, training, travel, and mileage. My “proof” of intent includes art show attendances and a shiny new business license. I got it earlier this month. It doesn’t do much of anything except make the business legitimate in the eyes of the IRS, but it only cost me $85.

I’m still really new at all this, but if anyone has questions, fire away!

FWA Report


Dinner by Meg Lyman

8×10 colored pencil and ink


Furry Weekend Atlanta was very much fun. I had a blast sitting all weekend in the stuffy little room they set aside for “Artist’s Alley.” For those unfamiliar with this type of convention, they’re set up with a Dealer’s Room where merchandise and art are sold. Tables need to be reserved and paid for in advance. Often there will also be an Artist’s Alley, where table space is free, but first-come, first-serve, and only art can be sold.

I met a bunch of awesome people and sold prints, hats, commissions, and originals. I sold two pieces in the art show, volunteered to help with checkout, and ended up getting an offer to perhaps run the FWA Art Show next year because I’m “organized and focused.” These are apparently rare traits in the fandom.

One of the best things about a local convention is the local people you meet, giving you many opportunities to socialize with kickass people (artists and otherwise) throughout the year. Every time I meet artists in the Atlanta area, I feel more at home.

Happy Love Day


Cupid by Meg Lyman

8×10 ink, colored pencil, and gouache on Canson


I know it’s all generated by Big Corporations Who Want to Sell You Cards, but happy Valentine’s Day! May your lives be full of love all year ’round.

I was recently introduced to the work of an interesting musical artist. Not only is the video art 100 kinds of awesome, the tune and beat are catchy, and you (or your kids) will probably want to play it again, and then the song will be stuck in your head forever. You have been warned.

This line in the song really caught my ear: “Live your life until love is found, or love’s gonna get you down.” I think you can apply it to most everything in life. Art, for instance. Being an artist is a roller-coaster relationship. Complete a wonderful painting, but get passed over for a gallery. Sell a big original, but run out of inspiration on the next one. Up and down and around. And there’s rarely an art cupid to magically work things out. But you can’t let those things stop you from trying, from improving yourself, from finding joy while living your life… or art’s gonna get you down.