While sorting old files I ran across this article about me that was published in The Feminist Connection, a Madison, WI based newspaper. I was 26 years old and had a whole career ahead of me. This is funny to read now, since I went on to get that art director job anyway, and later became a creative director for 25 years. Now, full circle, I am doing my own art again. I was insecure and didn't have a clear path, but I eventually figured it out. And I didn't even get arrested!
The author of the article is writer, activist, feminist and free-thinker, Annie Laurie Gaylor, who was also in her 20s at the time.
I have retyped the text because the newspaper clipping was hard to read as a photo image.
HomeScapes:Launching A Freelance Art Biz
Annie Laurie Gaylor | Feminist Connection, Madison, WI Oct./Nov. 1984
Talented artist Wendy Bale recently launched a unique small business, HomeScapes, making beautiful pen and ink drawings of homes, farm buildings and historic sites.
Before she found her artistic niche, Wendy remembers thinking:”I figured I was just stuck in the retail business. I was really frustrated. The only creative outlet I had was making signs like, ‘No Returns After 10 Days,’ “ she quipped.
Born in Spencer, Iowa, Wendy moved to Wisconsin with her husband Bill and daughter Leslie, now 7, about five years ago. Like her own daughter today, Wendy was always drawing. Horses were her childhood passion. As a student at the Quaker prep school Scattergood, near Iowa City, Wendy studied portraiture and water color at the “excellent art department.”
After that, “For a long time I wasn’t doing anything with the talent I’ve been told all my life that I have. But I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I could sit around all day and draw things I like, but no one would buy them. What I’m doing now is something marketable, salable. I still do other things like portraiture and water color for fun, for my own recreation.
“Being mostly self-taught,” Wendy reflected, “makes it harder. I can’t just go out and apply for an art director’s job. I don’t have that piece of paper that says I’ve been to school.
But, she added as an after thought, she doesn’t really want that art director’s job. Her heart is in illustration and advertising artwork. “Designing a book would be wonderful, too. But the more logical path for me to follow would be some sort of advertising.”
Wendy has received on-the-job training at Stoughton Newspapers since joining their staff as a production artist.
Wendy lays out and designs ads, including many of those found in the Feminist Connection.
She launched HomeScapes about a year ago. Her first major project was to portray an historic Victorian mansion in Stoughton as it appeared circa 1910. The home, now in the process of being restored, lost some of its turn-of-the-century charm in an ill-advised remodeling job replacing the gingerbread trimming with stucco. Working from a photo of the house taken in its Victorian prime, Wendy captured its ornate appeal.
HomeScapes clients are people who don’t necessarily live in historic homes, but who “like the idea that the drawing is unique, created just for them,” Wendy said. Therefore it’s a good gift for people ‘who have everything’ ”
Because many clients have commissioned drawing for other homeowners as a surprise gift, “I feel like a spy sometimes” Wendy says laughing. “I have to take the pictures real discreetly. Sometimes I’m afraid it looks like I’m casing the joint —instead of doing something on the up and up!” But, she adds, “I haven’t been arrested yet!”
Once commissioned, Wendy photographs the house from all angles, preferring to make a compete picture by patching different parts of he house together rather than using a wide angle lens which distorts. Sometimes clients ask for her to draw the house from front and back view.
“I don’t ever trace them,” Wendy adds firmly.
The final product — which takes between one workday and 25 hours to complete is approximately 9” x 12”. “Clients are always happy with the work!”
She also offers stationery such as letterheads, note card and greeting cards—”Note cards are by far the most popular. People just don’t write long letters anymore.” Clients often order up to 200 note cards.
A typical drawing will range between $75 and $100. Depending on the house in question, Wendy uses black or brown ink. A minimum of 50 card and envelopes ranges between 50c to 25c a piece.
Note: I made a few hundred residential and commercial drawings, then got distracted by etching and other artistic pursuits. In 1988 I took a gig with WinterSilks that sent me on route to that elusive art director job. —WB