For artists in the U.S., home studios and the Internet enable networking and sales that lonely Vincent Van Gogh surely would have envied. Meanwhile, just as in Ernest Hemingway's day, France still welcomes writers to its cafes. But thanks to the Web and home offices, authors can publish their novels directly on Amazon.com in a matter of minutes.
Here's the gist.
*Home Studios and Selling Art
Many artists across the U.S. are working from home and selling their art on their own websites. They also sell in marketplaces such as DeviantArt. If their work lends itself to merchandise -- for example, mugs, T-shirts and tote bags -- they can earn worthwhile income from CafePress, Threadless and Society6.
On the fine art side, artists Michelle Haley and Sherry Russo own the business Two Artistic Friends. The company epitomizes the changes that home studios and the Web have brought. Based in northern Virginia, the two friends met as young mothers on the soccer field. Several years later, art as a business came up.
"I had been playing around with the idea (of Two Artistic Friends) for about a year myself," Russo says. "I thought, 'Why can't I create an at-home party business where I would sell art, something with the business model of a home jewelry show or a home clothing show?'" She proposed the idea to Haley, and they launched.
The two work in separate home studios in their basements but try to paint together at least once a week. "Luckily, our basements are aboveground so the light is sufficient," Haley says. Like many artists, they have day jobs. Russo is an administrative assistant, and Haley is a business development officer at a bank.
The prices on their original work (see http://www.twoartisticfriends.com) range from $50 to $2,000. "We also offer note cards, fine art prints and seasonal items at shows that would range from $5 to $40," Russo says.
"To have a business in art, you must be focused, driven and extremely organized," Haley advises. "You must also network and connect with larger audiences to attract new clients. I recommend keeping your full-time job until your business takes off," she adds.
*An American Writer in Paris
Expatriate journalist and writer Marc Heberden moved to Paris from the Puget Sound area in 1983, long before the Internet. His novels, such as "Outside Man," now sell on Amazon.com, at http://amzn.to/YyfFlD, and he has a historical film script under consideration in the U.S.
When Heberden arrived in France, he wrote for newspapers and magazines and did publication work, public relations, advertising sales and translating. Now he lives with his wife and children in a small town south of Paris.
"When I started out, there was no Internet and few opportunities to work from home," he says. "Now writers can plug in to home-based work of all kinds, which would have made things a lot easier."
If you want to go to Paris to write but don't have a job in hand, Heberden says it still can be done. "You can cobble together part-time teaching, translating or consulting. It makes a hash of a set writing schedule, but finding a few hours a day is indeed possible."
He adds, "The great thing about France is there is always a place you can write -- the cafes. For the price of a coffee or a sandwich, you can buy yourself a table for several hours on end. You just have to learn to tune out the chatter."