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Interview: Glenn Ivie, Your Photo to Painting


Examples of Glenn Ivie’s work.

Glenn Ivie started a business in Jacksonville called Your Photo to Painting with the idea of taking photographs that mean something to people. Through his special process, he creates a highly realistic digital painting to a customers preferred size, from 8 x 10 up to 24 x 36, printed with long-lasting archival inks on canvas or fine art paper.

His process caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal who recently did a piece on Your Photo to Painting. His work was so good that I had Glenn convert a photo I took of my home town, (picked by the T-U as a best Autumn picture) preserved as a painting. It is a major conversation piece at the house.

I recently caught up with Glenn to talk about his company, Your Photo to Painting:

What made you think of doing this as a business?

“I think it was a combination of 25 years of being an advertising agency art director as well as being a fine artist. I had a particular painting style, was doing commissioned work but was developing digital painting styles and formulas as well. The business model had been percolating in the back of my mind for several years. After 10 years of self-employment as an art director and graphic designer I met with Doug Wilder, a wonderful business coach and old high school friend who encouraged me and gave me some things to read, The E-Myth Revisited among them. That honed my thinking in terms of a turnkey methodology. I then attended a couple of workshops in Chicago with an entrepreneurial coaching and small business development group.”

What has the response been to Your Photo to Painting?

“Very positive! I realized that a new web-based business would need to overcome the hesitation and reluctance of potential buyers so I did a few things to overcome that resistance. I send out a regular “Ideas & Tips” e-newsletter to stay in touch and offer occasional discounts. My mailing list grows by capturing the email addresses of potential buyers who ask for a free online proof prior to considering a purchase. The list has grown exponentially over the first full year in business. I also offer an unconditional money-back guarantee of their satisfaction with the artwork since they are able to see (and tweak if necessary) their art online prior to purchasing.”

“I have been featured locally in the business section of the Florida Times-Union and a nice piece in the Wall Street Journal has given the company nice national exposure. “

“Our sales for November and December were double those of September and October, partly due to holiday traffic as well as the WSJ article. I was very pleased given the current economic environment.”

Do you feel like you are an artist or a technician?

“The point of the business model was to be able to standardize and document my procedure so that virtual ‘art technicians’ could be trained to process the paintings with as little customization as possible so that volume and profits can build over time. When doing that part of the work I feel more like a technician but I try to approach everything I do to operate and grow the business from my artistic, creative side.”

How broad has your reach been through the internet?

“My web traffic is from every continent (excluding Antarctica) and all 50 states. Most sales are from the most populous states, CA, NY, TX, FL and CO. Very little of the work is local. A combination of search engine optimization as well as pay-per-click online advertising is my primary source of web traffic.”

How did the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida help you?

“I initially formulated a business plan with the help of Kevin Monahan obtained referrals for a legal and accounting team. They also helped develop the final choices of Your Photo To Painting, LLC as a dot com address as well as the tag line “Make your memories into art”. Follow-up appointments helped critique the website and tweak the details.”

Where do you see the business going in 2009?

“In the last quarter of 2008 we produced 40 paintings a week. My goal is to double that by the fourth quarter of 2009. I may try to do a little more streamlining the work flow with my framing and shipping team and add an art tech or two. I’m being cautious in the current economy because I anticipate consumer discretionary purchases (which artwork is) will be weak all year. The brand position I am trying to solidify is that this is a wonderful and affordable alternative to traditional, more expensive commissioned artwork.”

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