Archive for the ‘The DIY Artist’ Category

New Koi Journals Are Here

Super stoked to add a new design to my line of journals/notebooks!

But here’s the thing. I have to be honest with you. This Koi Journal has been available at Viva Paso since July. Guess what? This is how long it’s taken me just to take photos of it and make it available online. Can you say procrastinate? I can. I live it!

I’m not happy about my procrastination, but I do have other things going on so it can be difficult to decide what’s a real priority. Anyway, here a couple more photos of it.

And here are the details:
– paperback
– 6″ x 9″
– 120 lined pages

That pretty much sums it up. It’s a great size for on the go writing, to-do list making, journaling, etc. If you’d like to order one that would be super awesome. You can always come into Viva Paso (1211 Pine St. in downtown Paso Robles) to pick one up or you can now order online at: Jeff’s Koi Fish Journal

Thanks for looking!
And happy journaling.

– Jeff

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Need more of me in your life? Probably not, but in case you do…
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Perfection Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

“Don’t let perfection get in the way of good enough.”

I have no idea who to credit for that quote, but it’s a good one and it’s something, I think, we all need to remind ourselves from time to time. Naturally, my mind leans towards other creative types, like painters, musicians, writers, you know who I’m talking about. I also want to help those types if I can because I’m in the same boat with them, so I can relate. This idea of perfection getting in the way of completing that painting, or finishing that novel, or releasing that song, or uploading that video, or whatever is something I know a lot of creative people struggle with. Last night I came across this video with Jack Conte and he breaks this concept down better than I’ve even seen it done before. Like I said, I think of creative types having this problem, but perfectionism getting in the way of completing a task goes far beyond creative types. Maybe you’re a realtor and are putting off promoting a listing because you really wanted a drone shot of the property and you haven’t had time to get a drone shot. Whatever it is you need to find a way to get over it. If this is something you struggle with I highly recommend you watch this video. Even if this is something you don’t struggle with I still suggest watching it because it’s inspiring.


Huge thanks to Jack Conte for being so awesome. If you don’t know who Jack is, he’s the creator and CEO of Patreon. If you don’t know what Patreon is then…I don’t know. Click on the link and find out.

Thanks for reading!
– Jeff

PS. I would totally have launched my own Patreon page by now, but I want it to be PERFECT before I do. I’m totally serious. I made an account on Patreon probably five years ago.

PPS. Here are a couple of more quotes I like that fit the theme of this post.
“You miss all the shots you don’t take.”
“Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.”
“If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do something you’ll be waiting forever.”

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Still not bored to tears? This might get you there…
but it goes hand in hand with the topic.
Check out this video I made about how I accomplish my goals.
And of course, follow on Instagram: @jeffclaassen

The Secret To Selling Art, Part One

Selling art is weird. Actually, selling art is awesome. Trying to sell it or coming up with ways to sell it is when it gets weird. Let me try that again. I think to put it more accurately, after it sells and you ask yourself how and why it sold is the weird part. The answers could be infinite and if any of the answers made any sense or were consistent we’d all be selling a lot more artwork than we are.

Take this painting for example.

I made it during the Summer of 2016. I happen to be in the very fortunate position to own a shop in the town I live, which means I have a unique opportunity most artists don’t have. I have a venue to display my work in hopes of selling it. This is a pretty amazing thing. It doesn’t take an economist to figure out that the more eyes that see your work the better chances you have of selling it. With that said, every artist should be doing whatever they can to get their work in front of as many people as possible. So, here’s the story of selling this painting and why I think it’s weird.

As soon as I finished making the painting I hung it up in my shop. It was on display from mid summer until October 10th. In that time A LOT of people saw it and yet it remained unsold. I only know I took it off the wall on the 10th of October because I was invited to hang some paintings at a restaurant in a nearby town and I made a dumb video about it. Anyway, it hung on the wall of that restaurant for two months.

Do you have any idea how many people eat at a popular restaurant on a weekend? Hundreds. That’s a lot of eyes. Obviously, people are not there for the art. They are there to eat, but you know some people have to notice the artwork on the walls. After two months and probably a couple thousand people seeing this painting it still had not found a home. After the restaurant gig I hung it back up in my shop. This would have been December, which is the biggest sales month for probably every store in America. Still, it sat. Or rather, hung. Unsold. It hung all the way until April when I removed it from the wall again. This time I was invited to display some paintings at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Cafe, which is an awesome cafe/coffeeshop in a different nearby town. While hanging at Sally Loo’s somebody, a saint, bought the painting

Obviously, I was thrilled. Like I said, selling artwork is awesome. And then it gets weird. So, consider the logistics of this. If you think about it too much your head could explode. Literally, thousands of people saw this painting in three different venues, each in a different town, spread out over the course of 9 months. That’s A LOT of effort to sell a piece of artwork. I easily drove that painting over 100 miles back and forth from venue to venue. Then consider the time of having to coordinate with the venues and hanging the artwork, promoting the art shows online, etc. It’s kind of mind boggling. And just plain weird. It only takes one person to buy the painting, but in this case it took having to be seen by 1000’s before the right person finally saw it. What if that one person would have walked into my shop in August the day after I hung it on my wall? Would they have bought it then? What if that one person went to a different coffee shop that day? Would somebody else have purchased it while it hung at Sally Loo’s? Maybe the painting would be hanging on the wall in my shop right now?


That’s the weird. If you came here looking for The Secret To Selling Art there is no surefire guarantee to sell a painting. The best thing I can tell you is that the secret is you have to keep showing it to people. Just keep showing. That’s it. Sometimes a painting sells within the first two minutes of posting it on Instagram and sometimes it takes showing it in three different venues over the course of 9 months. You just never know. Some people buy after seeing the image on their phone and others need to see it in person while they’re eating a bowl of granola and drinking a latte at a coffee shop.

Like Dory says, just keep showing.

See ya!

– Jeff

It’s Not Just An All Night Party

Night time print making session at Viva Paso.

I love making artwork and I feel extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to make a living at it, but something crossed my mind while I was cutting these prints. I was thinking about my family at home and how I wasn’t there to tuck Elliott in bed and I won’t be there cuddling on the couch with Coral watching a movie after all the kids are asleep. Instead, I’m being an artist, which might sound glamorous to some, but it’s still work. As rewarding as it can be it’s not just an all night party. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and I am truly grateful that so many of you have supported me through the years. It’s really amazing. Seriously, every day I’m amazed. Here’s what hit me while I was cutting prints and thinking about all of this stuff.

If you want to make it in this game you have to make a lot of sacrifices.

You can’t just paint on the weekends or when you feel “inspired”. You can’t wait around expecting to be discovered. If you’re waiting for the perfect time to launch your website or open a store or whatever, you’ll be waiting FOREVER because there is no such thing as “the perfect time.”

And back to my original thought about having to make sacrifices. If you’re young and single, take advantage of the time and the freedom you have because you won’t have it forever. If you have a family you’re going to have to make sacrifices and they don’t just affect you. You need a partner that’s willing to accept that you might not be at home every night. That can be really hard for some people and it’s hard to find the right balance. If you want to make it in this game you need to find that balance or you’ll fail. Somehow I got really lucky finding Coral because she’s willing to put up with my late nights (among other things. Thanks, honey!)

I could go on and on, but guess what, I need to get back to work!

– Jeff

Fascinated With Free Burgers And The Power Behind Word Of Mouth Marketing

April Fool’s Day was earlier this week and when I picked up James (my 15 year old son) from school he told me he got a free hamburger. Before lecturing him about why he shouldn’t mooch off his friends, which was my first instinct, I asked him how he got a free hamburger. I was curious and also jealous. If there are free burgers going around you can bet your sweet ass that I want one too. James told me…before I start, please remember that this is a kid that once melted ice cubes in the microwave because he wanted a glass of water, among other odd behaviors.

* Illustration by the super talented Neal Breton

James told me that Sylvester’s (try the “Hana” burger!) put an ad in the paper for FREE BURGERS, but that they did it as an April Fool’s joke. It might have only been in the school paper. According to James the public was upset and Sylvester’s had to deliver on their promise instead of yelling “April fool’s, dummy!” at every teen that came in waving a free burger coupon in their face. I heard James explain how he got a free burger twice. Once in the car ride home and again when we got him and he told Coral. Both times he mentioned that Sylvester’s “lost A LOT of money.” And this is what fascinated me.

I can see how somebody would jump to the “lost money” reaction, but think about it. Free burger’s for one day is an awesome marketing campaign. Sylvester’s is less than a five minute walk from Atascadero High School. If they ran their ad in the school paper a lot of kids will be talking about a free Sylvester’s burger. Then those kids come home and tell everybody about it. The average cost of a burger there is $6. Their cost on that, I’m guessing is $2-3. I don’t know the food industry, for all I know burgers might have a huge markup and my guesstimation is way off. Maybe it’s a $1.50. Either way, the way I see it is this. Sylvester’s basically paid A BUNCH of teenagers $2 to talk about them for the next day or two. I think that is way more effective than a print ad in a local paper. And it’s not really just a day or two because all of those kids now have a story to tell about Sylvester’s. And kid’s love telling stories. James might tell his free burger story every time he sits down to have a burger (from any burger place) with anybody. We’ve all done that. You sit down at a restaurant with a friend and when the food comes you compare it to similar things you’ve had at other restaurants. And if one of those restaurants did something awesome like give you a free beer or appetizer that’s the place that will stand out and you’ll talk about it. So, did they lose A LOT of money? I doubt it. They got people to say their name and if people are thinking about their business they might be thinking about it until they can’t fight the temptation to sink their teeth into one of their tasty burgers. I mean, check it out..I just mentioned their name in this post seven times. The $2-3 they “lost” by giving my son a free burger has already paid for itself. Once I link this post on Facebook it will probably get at least 100 views, but it will also remain on the internet as long as my blog is around. I’m no famous 20k hits a day blogger, but I do get some readers and I’m tempted to say all this name dropping is the kind of advertising you can’t pay for.

So many businesses dismiss marketing and think of spending money on marketing as a waste, but it’s not if it’s done right. You just have to get creative and giving something away for free that won’t break your bank account is a good start. And I just realized, the Sylvester’s ad only offered a free burger, which means some of those people might have added fries and a drink or both to their order. Based on that, the “free” burger might have paid for itself as soon as the coupon was redeemed.

Let’s eat!

Art Vlog #1: Hidden Opportunities…In The Bathroom

Go easy on me…I hate being in front of a camera. For some reason I am determined to overcome my awkwardness. I’m not sure why, but I feel it’s something I should learn to do. And learning is good. At least that’s what I’ve been told. Anyway…

I’ve been in this art game for awhile and although I’m not on the cover of Art Forum, High Fructose or Juxtapoz and I’m not represented by Jeffrey Deitch, Mary Boone, Tony Shafrazi or Larry Gagosian I am still making a living at this and have learned a thing or two. Because of that I get asked a lot of questions by young artists that are getting started.

When I got the idea to start vlogging on youtube I asked myself, “What are the go-to stories I find myself repeating to young artists?” and this story about being the “Bathroom Artist” is one of them.

If you watched the whole video the story actually goes further because I’ve gotten my work into another gallery because of being in the Morro Bay gallery. Anyway, it’s cliche, but opportunities are everywhere and you never know until you try.

If you liked this video and want to see more please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel. And if you have any questions to ask please leave a comment. It might be one of my future vlog topics.

– Jeff

Sometimes You’re Going To Suck. Get Over It.

When you’re a kid you aren’t scared to suck at something. When you’re an adult you are embarrassed to suck so there is a lot of stuff you don’t try. You expect to be good right away and forget that the only way to get good is to practice and work through the sucking phase.

ira glass

If there is something you really want to learn and be good at, whether it be drawing, cooking, cartwheeling, kissing, selling cars, playing guitar, sewing, public speaking, skateboarding, whatever…you need to accept that you will not be good at it in the beginning. If you REALLY want to get good at something it is worth devoting time to it because the time you invest will not be wasted and is way better than living with regret.

Now get out there and suck at something! Before you know it, you’ll be good at it.

Claassen Art Tour On Google Maps And How To Make Your Own Custom Map

I made a map on google where you can see all the locations of my artwork. There are a couple of galleries on there, some businesses and even a couple of public outdoor pieces.

View Claassen Art Tour in a larger map

As a bonus, I decided to write a brief tutorial on how to make your own. Although, before I get into that, you might be asking yourself, “Why do I need a custom map?” Well, here are a few ideas of things you might want a map of. Also, you can share your map, which can come in pretty handy.
Your personal favorite:
– restaurants, cafe’s, etc.
– art galleries
– clothing boutique’s
– bars/clubs
– public parks/pools
– atm’s
– book stores
– local landmarks
– public art
– transit stops
– tattoo shops
– skate spots
– and of course, your favorite brothel’s

As for business’s, say you own a clothing company. You could make a map of all the retail stores where your merchandise can be purchased. The possibilities are quite endless.

Google makes is so simple to make your own custom map that you will slap yourself with a wet noodle for not making one sooner. In fact, it is so simple I feel slightly stupid for taking the time to make these screen captures. Oh well!

1. make sure you are logged into Google.
2. Go to
3. Click the “My Places” link.
make a custom google map

4. Click “Create Map”.
make a custom google map

5. Make up a title for your map and write a description. I predict that my idea of mapping your favorite drunk spots will be all the rage in the near future.
make a custom google map 3

6. Now it’s time to actually map your locations. I should have labeled these A, B, and C, but I wasn’t thinking. So, part 1 of this step is to type in the address or business name in the search bar. 2 and 3 are pretty much the same thing. If you click that little drop down arrow on 2. some options show up and you want to choose “save to map”. Or do it the easy way and click “save to map” where 3 is.
make a custom google map 4

7. When you are done adding all the locations you want on you map click the “My Places” link and you will see your map listed, like so.
make a custom google map 5

8. When you click on that you will see your actual map in all of it’s drunken glory. You know, if your map is one to show all your favorite spots to get intoxicated. To share your map with friends, family, co-workers, and random people you’ve hooked up with at these designated locations, click the little chain icon and you will be given two options. You can copy the link and paste it wherever you’d like. For example, you can text the link to your homies, post in on your FB wall, tweet it, tumblr it, whatever. The second option is to copy the embed code, so you can post the actual map on your blog/website like I did above.
make a custom google map 6

9. Pat yourself on the back.

Update For Facebook Pages

facebook update

If you’ve been missing Claassen Gallery status updates (or any other pages you follow) you need to visit those pages, hover over the like button and choose “show in news feed” option.

That should do the trick. Please spread the word!

Go to the Claassen FB Page now to update so you don’t miss out on any news.

Thanks much!
– Jeff

The Dayler Story, Upcoming Makeover And A Sale To Boot

Years ago I created a line of wallets called DAYLER.

Dayler Banner

It started as a side project to do something creative other than painting. In fact, it was also intended to be an escape from my artwork. The original designs were all photos I had taken and manipulated in photoshop or were graphic designs I came up with using images I found.

Dayler Wallet - Fire Hydrant

Dayler Wallet - A Plethora Of Liberty Statues

I purposely left my “art” out of it. I sold them online and in my retail shop. It didn’t take too long before I started getting some wholesale accounts, which was very exciting for me. I’ve sent my wallets to Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Florida, Ogden and Moab Utah, Amesbury Massachusetts, Australia and quite proudly the Honolulu Museum Of Art. One of the buyers from one of these shops that picked up my wallets was also a fan of my art and requested some wallets with my artwork. I guess it was inevitable that my art would end up being used on the wallets so I just rolled with it. I added card cases to the line for awhile, but eventually stopped because they wreaked havoc on the paper cutter I used to trim the edges of the cases. The vinyl was pretty thick on those things.

Dayler Card Case

Dayler Card Case

Dayler Card Case

I also made a few checkbook covers, but never really focused on them too much and mostly made them by request.

Dayler Checkbook Cover

Dayler Checkbook Cover

I’ve always thought the wallets could grow into something bigger, but I’ve never fully dedicated myself to them because it’s hard to juggle while being a full time painter. About a week ago Coral and I were talking about my inability to focus on one thing. Am I painter, a wallet creater or a candlestick maker? Then she started throwing design ideas at me and insisted I make a women’s wallet, which is something I’ve never made. She’s mentioned it before and I always resisted because girls have purchased my wallets. It’s just that Coral isn’t the type to carry a little square wallet. Let’s face it, she’s got a lot of shit to carry in her wallet and the ones I make simply don’t cut it. Something about what she was saying finally inspired me to try it out. I’ll have to admit, she has some super fantastic ideas. Also, she was very excited about contributing design ideas and giving my wallet line a complete overhaul. I pulled out a roll of vinyl, started cutting and sewing. I made about six different versions, making adjustments and adding improvements with each one. We finally arrived at a version that we’re both happy with. Now we’re working on some graphics and will do an official launch once we get a dozen or so designs under our belt.

That brings us to the topic of what to do with our remaining inventory.
The answer: SALE!

Yes, all Dayler products are on sale for the remainder of January. Don’t forget to enter the sale code during the checkout process. The code is DAYLER30 and orders can by placed in my etsy shop

As for the makeover, we are very excited to show it to all of you. Please be on the lookout. There are a couple of teaser pics on our new Instagram account. If you have yet to get addicted to Instagram like we have then check out our Tumblr, which is basically a feed of what we post on Instagram.

Yeah, there’s a Facebook Page too. You might even be the first to like it!

Thanks for reading!
– Jeff

DIY’ers: Facebook About Page Revisited

motley crue

I just realized this idea (“Put Your Facebook About Page To Work”) is also for bands/musicians. I just looked at five “about” pages of people I know that are in a band and none of them have their band listed in the “work and education” section of their about page.

Being in a band takes a lot of dedication, so I would assume that a lot of people in a band would love for their band to be their full time job. I am pretty sure that most people that have put in the time to write songs, meet for practice, record albums and load heavy equipment in a van to go play a 20-30 minute show are pretty serious. In other words, it’s not just a weekend hobby for them. If this is you I suggest deleting all the non-musical work from your about page and list your band as your main job. Also, get all your bandmates to do the same.

A Little Insight About Promoting On Facebook

I decided to experiment on Saturday. The experiment was promoting an “item of the day”, which was a print marked down 50% for one day only. I posted a link to it on my FB Fan Page. As you can see from the screenshot, only 403 people saw the post out of a potential 2,300 people that have liked my page. (This was four hours after posting. It’s Monday now and only an additional 103 have seen the post. Obviously, the first couple of hours will be the time your post gets the most views.)

In the next screenshot, which is from my Etsy stats, out of the 403 people that saw the post on FB only 18 people clicked the link to see my “item of the day”.

Out of the 18 people that looked at the actual item in my etsy shop none of them took advantage of the 50% off deal. You win some, you lose some.

Naturally, there are an enormous amount of factors to consider:
– Posting on a Saturday might not be the best day because more people are away from their computers than on a weekday.
– Time of day that I posted was possibly a time where less people are online.
– Perhaps the item I chose to promote isn’t a popular one. Then again, maybe it is, but it might be more popular in a different format like a limited edition print on wood with resin coating as opposed to the open edition that I was promoting.
– It’s the end of the month too, which could mean people aren’t spending money on artwork because they have rent due in a few days.
– With the amount of people on FB it’s highly likely that my post simply got buried on people’s home page within a minute or two.
– I only posted the link once. It would have gotten more views if I posted the link every few hours.
– And the list goes on and on.

My main point though is the number of click throughs. I have 2,300 “likes” on FB, which I think is a lot. I know it’s nowhere near the high profile “rockstar” artists, but it’s certainly more than a lot of other fan pages on Facebook. The thing is though, out of 2,300 people I only managed to get 18 of them to click on the link and to look at the item I was promoting. How many people would have had to see the item before a purchase was made…19…20…300? We may never know.

Armed with this information what is a DIY professional to do? First and foremost, it’s good practice to not let stuff like this get you down. It’s completely irrational to get upset because people don’t buy your creations. And when 18 out of a possible 2,300 click on your link you need to keep in mind that 18 is better than zero. You must forge ahead and keep at it.

Naturally, you might be asking yourself, “is it worth it?” In the big picture I would have to say yes. Simply because there are too many factors to say this particular promotion was a failure. I could try the same promotion with a different item and have totally different results. Possibly better results or maybe worse results. I could even do the same exact promotion with the same exact item and end with different results by posting on a Monday as opposed to a Saturday.

In conclusion, I think it’s best to continually experiment with promoting. Who’s to say that one of those 18 people won’t come back and make a purchase later?

Any thoughts, comments, ideas, past experience with your own FB promoting…I’d love to hear them.