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7 Reasons to Buy Original Art

I could surely think of many more, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 7 reasons to buy original art. I’ve also included photos from some of Andy’s past customers.

Andy Saczynski peace sign art
#1 – Show Your Personality
What does your art say about you? Are you serious or playful? Fancy or fun? Does your art communicate a memory or emotion? Art is a great tool to show your personality throughout your home.

Andy Saczynski whale art
#2 – Share a Story
Every piece of art has a story behind it, which is why many people connect with art on a personal level. This can be a special reminder for yourself, or a conversation starter with guests.

Andy Saczynski pelican art
#3 – Choose the Size
Perhaps you have specific size limitations… no problem! When you buy art directly from an artist, you can request a custom size to fit your space perfectly.

Andy Saczynski octopus art
#4 – Select Your Colors
When you buy art directly from an artist, you can also request your color palette. Many times, we have a customer or their decorator provide us with paint and/or fabric samples so their art truly has a custom look.

Andy Saczynski sailfish art
#5 – Own a One-of-a-Kind
Pieces of original art can be similar, but never duplicated. When you own original art, you can be sure that no one else in the world has exactly the same piece.

Andy Saczynski heron art
#6 – Grow Your Collection
Sadly, we’ve had a few family members pass away this year. From our personal experience, most things don’t have much sentimental value. However, original artwork and family photographs are certainly items that are cherished. Not only can you enjoy your original art, but your loved ones will also appreciate your collection for generations to come.

Andy Saczynski western lake art
#7 – Support an Artist
Those who create are a special gift to society. Whether their medium is art, music, or design, supporting these creative people enables them to continue making beautiful things for all of us to enjoy.

Those are my top 7 reasons to buy original art. If you’ve already started your original art collection or plan to soon, you might find these links helpful:

The Art of Displaying Art
10 Ideas for Decorating with Artwork
Getting the Hang of It: How to Decorate with Artwork
8 Better Ways to Display Art In Every Room of Your Home
10 Design Strategies for Art Lovers

Why the Lowe’s Near Me is Romantic

Andy Saczynski Lowe's Home Improvement Lowe's Destin
Andy Saczynski, the hopeless romantic

Earlier this week, Andy texted me from work: “Want to go to Lowe’s tonight? It could be a date.”

This isn’t the first time Andy has suggested going to Lowe’s Home Improvement for a date. What a hopeless romantic! And no, I’m not kidding. You might think I’m crazy, but the Lowe’s near me can actually be romantic. Honestly, it’s one of our favorite date places. To understand why, you need a glimpse into our past, present, and future.

The Past: Daydreaming on 30A
Andy and I started dating halfway through high school. He had a ponytail but no beard, and I had a ponytail but no makeup. I also dressed like a boy more often than not, an unflattering fashion trend I blame on Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Back in the high school days, we used to drive along Scenic 30A and daydream about one day having an art gallery there. At that time, it certainly felt like an unattainable dream. The term “starving artist” had some truth behind it, right? Not necessarily. This is America…. if you can dream it, you can do it!

Lori Saczynski Andy Saczynski Destin 1994
Dinner at Marina Cafe in Destin before our homecoming dance (1994).

The Present: Dreams Do Come True
A lot changed over time (marriage, five kids, etc), but our dream of a 30A art gallery remained. It took 18 years, but it finally became a reality when Andy Saczynski Studio-Gallery opened in Grayton Beach in 2012.

So, what does this have to do with Lowe’s being our romantic date spot? A lot, actually.

Andy Saczynski Lowe's Home Improvement Lowe's Destin Valspar paint
In case you were wondering, Andy prefers using Valspar signature paint in his artwork.

I assume most artists get materials from an art supply store, but Andy depends on Lowe’s for paint, wood, screws… you name it. And when we go to Lowe’s, it’s all about pursuing our dream together. We imagine, brainstorm, strategize, and plan. We discuss decorating trends, artistic themes, and popular color palettes. We talk about both our past and our future. And we flirt a little, because after all, it’s date night!

Lori Saczynski Andy Saczynski Lowe's Home Improvement Lowe's Destin

The Future: Dreaming My Dreams With You
I think one key element of a successful marriage is dreaming together. If you and your spouse have different dreams, you’re likely to start walking down different paths. But when you dream together, then chase those dreams together, you’ve always got your best friend by your side. You’ll never find a business partner as deeply committed as the one with whom you share your home and wedding vows.

Our relationship began in 1994, and The Cranberries released No Need to Argue the same year. Below is one of my favorite songs from that album. Here’s to a lifetime of chasing dreams with you, Andy.

I’ll be dreaming my dreams with you
And there’s no other place
That I’d lay down my face
I’ll be dreaming my dreams with you

How to Make a Boring Room Look Cool

If you want to know how to make a boring room look cool, you’ve come to the right place. I’m here to help.

Do you know what separates a boring room from a cool room? It’s true that wall color, furniture, flooring, and accessories can either make or break a room. But if you had to narrow it down to one thing, what would it be?

ART.

“But you’re biased, Lori! You’re married to an artist!” Okay, you have a point, but let me explain. You can have the perfect wall color, furniture, flooring, and accessories, but if you don’t have original artwork, the room is basically ruined. Think about it. Anyone can pick up something to hang on the wall at a chain retail store. But that’s my point: ANYONE can do that. Nothing says boring and generic like “art” from Kirkland’s, HomeGoods, and Old Time Pottery. Sure, it looks nice and acceptable on your wall. But it also looks nice and acceptable on 10,000 other walls in America. It reminds me of this commercial, which you should definitely watch if you’ve never seen it:

“Now that I’m looking at these boring and generic things hanging on my wall, I want to cry or maybe gag like the couple in the commercial. Now what?” I understand your frustration, friend. But you needn’t throw them in the trash or burn them in a fire pit. That’s not earth-friendly at all! Just put them all in a box and donate them to a secondhand store. Problem #1 solved. You’re welcome.

boring wall
boring wall (sad face, lonely, naked, terrible, yucky)

Onto Problem #2: What to hang on your now-empty wall. I’ve got two words for you: ORIGINAL ARTWORK. “But, Lori, I’m not wealthy! Just kidding, I have some disposable income, but I don’t know where to find fabulous original artwork!” No problem. Follow these simple steps and helpful tips:

  1. Browse Andy’s original artwork. I’m pretty sure the saying “go big or go home” is in reference to Andy’s art. Think: statement pieces. Your friends will be so jealous.
  2. Feeling thrifty and/or you’re on a budget? See what Andy has on sale right now. (Same link, just scroll down a bit.)
  3. If you want a specific size, color scheme, and/or subject matter, contact Andy about a commission within your budget. Also, if selecting art intimidates you, share photos of the room with us so we can help walk you through what would be best. Andy can even include sentimental odds and ends from your home!
  4. Let’s say you already have 10 pieces of Andy’s art. If that’s the case, WE LOVE YOU! But maybe you’re ready to add some other artists to your collection. Even WE have other artists’ work in our home, so…
  5. Go to art galleries. Start in your own city, and also visit galleries while you’re on vacation. Keep in mind that galleries that represent multiple artists usually have to raise their prices significantly, since the gallery will keep a portion of the sale. However, galleries belonging to only one artist may be willing to negotiate price.
  6. Attend art festivals. Some artists will mark down their work at festivals. That being said, please don’t haggle them. It’s rude, guys.
  7. Collect original artwork that has some kind of meaning to you. If it speaks to your heart, it’ll always be in style.
Andy Saczynski art
awesome wall with original artwork by Andy Saczynski (happy face, instantly cool, statement piece, conversation starter, jealous friends)

If you follow these steps and tips, your home will never be boring. You’ll have conversation-starters hanging on every wall, and your guests will be wowed. How cool is it that you’ll own art that no one else in the entire world owns? Plus, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped to financially support a creative mind rather than a corporate giant.

Things to Do on 30A and in the Surrounding Areas

Crab Island DestinBecause we live by one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, many people travel to this area. Our friends, art customers, and window shoppers all ask the same question: “What are some things to do on 30A?” I should have written this post a long time ago, but better late than never. Andy and I have lived here since we were kids, so we’re basically local experts. However, because our marketplace is constantly evolving, there’s always something new that we have not yet discovered. There are way too many great shops and restaurants to include in this post, so think of this as your starting place. This list isn’t all-inclusive, but I can guarantee that everything on this list is awesome. I will only suggest things to do on 30A and in the surrounding areas (Destin) if they’re (1) unique to this area, (2) I love them myself, and (3) I’d recommend them to my very best friend. (And, no, we aren’t receiving free meals and merchandise for this post. I mean, I’d gladly accept them! But this post isn’t sponsored.) This list was last revised on February 12, 2017.

Best Ways to Explore Nature
If you don’t have time to do everything on this list, pick your favorites based on the weather. For example, avoid the paddle board in January and avoid the nature trail in July.

  • Go to the beach, obviously. This area is called the Emerald Coast because of the turquoise water, and our sand is almost as white as snow.
  • If there are waves, take a surf lesson.
  • If the Gulf of Mexico is flat, rent a paddle board or kayak.
  • Take a boat or jet ski to Crab Island during high tide, when the water is the clearest.
  • Go deep sea fishing.
  • Walk the nature trail at WaterColor.
  • Ride a bike down 30A.

Shops of Grayton things to do on 30ABest Places to Shop
You can find big chain retail stores anywhere, so skip those and shop local.

  • Visit Shops of Grayton, including Andy’s art gallery (of course).
  • Stroll through Seaside‘s Ruskin Place and Central Square and check out places such as Central Square Records, Sundog Books, and Duckies Shop of Fun.
  • Exploring Rosemary Beach’s Barrett Square and Main Street by foot is a must, and there are too many great shops to name.
  • Feel the breeze from the Gulf while you shop at Gulf Place.

Best Ways to Entertain Your Kids
Let’s face it… this category needs its own post. Click here for my suggestions, from one parent to another.

Best Restaurants Between Rosemary Beach and Destin
Where do I even start?! Narrowing down my favorite locally-owned restaurants is almost impossible, so I’ll limit myself to ten. You can’t go wrong with these suggestions, but there are definitely so many more gems from which to choose. Our top 10, moving east to west:

Destin sunset HarborWalk VillageBest Places to Watch the Sunset
I could generically say the beach, but I’ll do better than that for you. Also, any local will tell you that October has the best sunsets. I can’t explain why, but it’s true.

Best Places to Go at Night
You should know that I don’t party. If you want a list of the best bars and nightclubs, I really can’t help you. But if you want a nice place to enjoy the night breeze and soak up your beautiful surroundings, you’ll thank me for these suggestions.

  • Seaside is always charming, but even more so after the sun goes down.
  • Ditto with Rosemary Beach, although I think the stores close earlier than they do in Seaside.
  • The Hub is a great place to chill, get something to eat, and listen to live music.
  • The Village of Baytowne Wharf can entertain both young and old for hours. So much to see! (They have fireworks every Tuesday night during the summer.)
  • I like HarborWalk Village at night, but mostly in the off season. It’s too crowded during summer nights. (They have fireworks every Thursday night during the summer.)
  • Destin Commons, especially if you have small children who will enjoy the playground while you drink a coffee.
  • Grand Boulevard has the best movie theater in town. If you’re really lucky, you can catch a play with Emerald Coast Theatre Company, located upstairs across from Cantina Laredo.

That About Sums It Up
So, those are some of my favorite things to do on 30A and in the surrounding areas. Again, this list isn’t all-inclusive, but it’s a great starting point. If you have specific questions, feel free to email Andy.

Things to Do With Kids in Destin, South Walton, and on 30A

I’ve called the Emerald Coast home since 1990, so I’m very familiar with the area. I have five kids ranging in age from 3 to 17. Below are my top 10 things to do with kids in Destin, South Walton, and on 30A. These activities are listed in no particular order. This list was last revised on February 12, 2017.

Destin beach
#1 The Beach
My favorite public beach access is James Lee Park (at the Crab Trap) because they have a playground, restrooms, showers, plenty of free parking, and an option to buy food if you’re too lazy to pack snacks.

Village of Baytowne Wharf playground
#2 Playgrounds
These are my favorite playgrounds and why: The Village of Baytowne Wharf (built of wood and the most interesting), James Lee Park (on the beach), Morgan Sports Center (surrounded by a tall fence to prevent little ones from escaping), Destin Commons (has a splash pad), and Clement Taylor Park (shaded with bay access).

Village of Baytowne Wharf fireworks
#3 Fireworks
During the summer, you can see fireworks every Tuesday night at The Village of Baytowne Wharf, and every Thursday night at HarborWalk Village. Arrive early to both or parking will be a nightmare.

#4 Outdoor Movies
Throughout the summer, you can enjoy family-friendly movie night in the Seaside amphitheater every Friday night.

Gulfarium Fort Walton Beach
#5 Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
The Gulfarium gives you an opportunity to see dolphins, sea lions, sea turtles, otters, sharks, alligators, tropical fish, and more!

Big Kahuna's Destin waterpark
#6 Big Kahuna’s
My kids love water parks, especially Big Kahuna’s. I hate to say it, but sometimes the beach is too hot to enjoy in the summer.

Destin paddleboarding
#7 Surf or Paddle Board Lessons
My kids have never taken surf or paddle board lessons because their dad teaches them. I know there are a few companies in town that rent boards and offer lessons, but since I haven’t personally used them, I’m not sure who to recommend.

Biophilia Center Freeport
#8 E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center
The Biophilia is a great place to learn about northwest Florida’s natural habitat and see a lot of cool animals.

Big Kahunas mini golf
#9 Putt-Putt
You can play miniature golf at The Track or Big Kahuna’s.

Fudpuckers Gator Beach
#10 Gator Beach
Gator Beach at Fudpucker’s in Destin offers free interactive gator shows every day at noon, 2pm, 4pm, and 6pm. You can even hold a gator and get your photo taken with one.

The fun doesn’t stop there, but this is a good start. And if you’re on vacation, this should at least keep your kids occupied for a week. If you’re looking for things to do that don’t necessarily cater to kids, check out this post.

Disney World Tips

Saczynski family Disney World 2014 disney world tips
(left to right): Mike Wazowski, Jonah Saczynski, Nathan Saczynski, Noah Saczynski, Taylor Saczynski, Josiah Saczynski, and James P. Sullivan | February 12, 2014

Last week Andy and I took our five kids to Disney World in Orlando. Five kids, four theme parks, three days. Let that sink in and then you’ll wonder how we’re still sane. Here are my top 7 Disney World tips to make a more enjoyable vacation experience:

  1. Go on days that are considered low crowd levels. According to Undercover Tourist, we went on “green” days and it made a huge difference. Most rides only had a 5-10 minute wait, with a few being 20 minutes.
  2. Before going, get the My Disney Experience app on your smart phone. It has so many convenient features. My favorite features? You can check ride wait times, find out when/where to meet characters, and change your fast pass selections.
  3. Use their free Magic Bands! It works as your theme park admission, fast pass, and room key if you stay on Disney property. If you order them before you go, you can select your favorite color and personalize them with each family member’s name.
  4. Stay on Disney property. If you choose one of their moderately priced resorts, you really won’t pay much more than any other decent hotel in Orlando. Plus, you won’t have to pay for parking at the theme parks and you can ride Disney transportation for free. Now, if you’d rather not stay on Disney property, our family loves the Orange Lake Resort. We rent their two-bedroom villas, which have a full kitchen and washer/dryer. Those two things are a necessity for a week-long trip with several family members. As a bonus, they have a fabulous resort-style pool!
  5. Pack your own snacks to eat at the theme parks. You will save a ton of money if you shop at Publix and then stock your backpack. With burgers over $10 and non-refill sodas almost $4, you will go broke eating at the theme parks, especially if you have five kids.
  6. Go in the off season: shorter lines and not as hot. I don’t understand these people who choose to go in the summer. Have you been to Orlando in the summer? It kind of feels like you’re melting in a kiln. And the crowds… OMG, the crowds. Again, use Undercover Tourist to determine “green” days. Yes, the kids might have to miss school. But when you’re paying that much for the Disney experience, you don’t want to wait in lines that are 1-2 hours long.
  7. At the Magic Kingdom, stay for the fireworks. They do an amazing job, and it’s a perfect way to end the night.

(In addition to these Disney World tips, I’d recommend calling our travel agent Brittany. She knows Disney World top to bottom and can help make your trip awesome.)

How to Be a Professional Artist in 12 Steps

When I was pregnant with our fifth child, Andy told me that he wanted to be a full-time artist. I objected, saying there’s a good reason the term “starving artist” exists. I couldn’t fathom how he was going to support our family of seven as a full time artist, but he was determined. Slowly but surely, his dream also became my dream, and I have done my best to help him along the way. Within 2.5 years of declaring his career intentions, Andy’s part-time hobby became a full-time profession. And guess what? We aren’t starving! I’m not necessarily an expert, but if you want to know how to be a professional artist, I’m happy to share what’s worked for us.

Andy Saczynski artist

How to Be a Professional Artist in 12 Steps

#1 – Follow Your Heart
Make what you like. Don’t just make what you think people will buy. Stick with your vision and your creativity. When your heart is in your work, it will always turn out better.

#2 – Look for Good Deals on Materials
Try to keep your expenses low. You can find “oops” paint at Home Depot and Lowe’s for a fraction of what paint usually costs. Also, every time we make a purchase at Michaels, a 40% off coupon is printed with our receipt. Use those coupons to buy canvas or expensive paint brushes. Andy prefers wood over canvas, and he can usually find what he needs at Home Depot or Lowe’s in the scrap bin. He’s also been known to drive by construction sites and ask if they have any wood they’re going to throw away. Don’t be embarrassed – it’s smart to save money.

#3 – Document Your Work
I take a digital photo of every piece of art Andy creates. The file names include both the name of the art and the dimensions. There are many ways to document your work, but this has worked best for us.

#4 – Price Your Art
Pricing your art is one of the most difficult tasks. I would suggest visiting multiple galleries or searching for original artwork online. How do you feel your art compares to the competition? My thought is that comparable art quality should have comparable pricing. Also, take into consideration how long the piece took to make and how much you spent on materials, then do the math. Let’s say a piece took 10 hours from start to finish and your materials cost $100. If you slap on a $500 price tag, would you be satisfied making $40/hour? It’s really up to you to find your sweet spot.

#5 – Get Online
Do not depend on only social media. You want customers all over the world to find you. You need an internet presence. Get a web site. Buying a domain name is cheap, and WordPress makes building a site fairly easy. Don’t depend on social media, but don’t ignore it, either. Social media is a great way for people to discover you, share your stuff, and communicate with you. Pick a few platforms and start building your presence. So far, our experience has been best with Facebook and Instagram because they’re the most photo-heavy. Play around and see what you like.

#6 – Keep Track of Sales
You can get fancy with QuickBooks or stay simple with Excel, but do something! You need to find a way to keep your income and expenses organized. I’d suggest calling an accountant to find out what all you can write off for tax purposes. Save your receipts!

#7 – Don’t Forget to Collect Sales Tax
Don’t forget to collect sales tax and report it at the end of each month. It’s the law. Do you like jail? No? Then don’t break laws. If the government finds out you’ve been making sales and not reporting them, you will have to pay the sales tax regardless if you collected it or not. You know what’s worse than paying sales tax? Paying another person’s sales tax. So, be smart and make sure you know what the tax rate is where the transaction occurs, collect that money, and then give it to the government in a timely manner.

#8 – Accept Credit Cards
Do you want to sell art for a lot of money? Well, guess what? Most people don’t carry two grand in their wallet, nor do they carry a checkbook. Make sure you have the ability to accept payment with plastic. A good place to get started is Square.

#9 – Donate and Participate
If you want to get your name and your work out there, there are two great ways. First, donate your art to charities. Consider who your target market is, then think about which charities those people might support. Donate a piece of art to those charities’ silent auctions. Second, participate in art festivals. Not only will you get good exposure, you will get to meet a lot of new people who may become good customers. Plus, you’ll probably sell a lot of art! A warning, though: People like to haggle at festivals. Put a little wiggle room in your prices and prepare yourself mentally that some people are downright rude. Try to not take it personally, and stand firm on your pricing when you don’t feel like negotiating. Remember, this is your career, not a yard sale. Respect your work, even when others don’t.

#10 – Get Your Work in Galleries
Visit galleries. Meet the gallery owners. Pursue gallery representation. Most galleries take a big percentage (like 50%), so you’ll need to adjust your pricing accordingly. When you’re selling enough to pay your bills and then some, consider opening your own gallery. This is risky, but the payoff is huge. Were we scared to open a gallery? Of course. Do we regret opening a gallery? No way. But we learned how to swim before we surfed. Which leads me to #11…

#11 – Don’t Quit Your Day Job Before You’re Ready
When Andy decided to be a full-time working artist, he didn’t do it overnight. He kept his day job and made art at night and on the weekends. He participated in some festivals. He donated art to charities. He got in a gallery. He learned how to swim. As art sales went up, his “day job” hours went down. It went from 10/90, to 50/50, to 90/10, and so on. This process took 2.5 years until his old job was completely phased out in March 2013. He was officially surfing! Now he’s living his dream of being a professional artist, but it didn’t happen overnight. Dreams take a lot of time and a lot of work.

#12 – Keep Making New Art
Keep making new art. Andy is always growing as an artist. When we compare his current work to stuff that he did a year or two ago, he’s noticeably improved (and sales have also improved). I know that will continue to happen as time goes on. As with anything in life, if you keep working on it and keep moving forward, you are bound to improve. While you’re working and improving, you will face rejection and disappointment, but don’t give up. If the transition from hobby to career takes awhile, don’t be discouraged. Let it motivate you to continually improve. If your dream is to be a professional artist, you CAN do it.