Thoughts on engraving by Chris DeCamillis

Nov 9, 2006
Traverse City, Michigan
Thread starter #1
If engraving is your passion and you want to do it as a profession then you need a positive attitude. When people tell you that you wont make any money and keep your day job, if you buy into this it will become a self fullfiling prophecy. Instead spend your time and effort on formost practicing ,drawing,and marketing. Next approach it with a business mind, as well as an artists mind they contaridict each other so you must find a blend of the two that works. To use the philosiphy that if I hang out my shingle they will come will get you no where fast. MARKETING is the key,second only to developing good engraving skills.So what to do?
First realize that like any business there are start up costs. The equipment you buy the classes that you take.the books you buy are deductable .When I Hear people say I cant afford to do that, MY ANSWER IS YOU CANT AFFORD NOT TO. If you have to take a loan out then do so ,remember all these things are deductible if you go ahead and purchase them you may end up saving by paying less taxes then if you didnt. Esspecially when you are working a regular job .You need to keep track of your milage used for business that means that when you go to the hardware store to pick up some screws for your workshop not only do you deduct the screws you deduvt the miles and that adds up in a year.
The one mistake I see that someone starting out makes is they want to engrave designs that are far above the basics,which is understandable, but one needs to start at the begining.Draw and learn to cut classic scrolls with simple leaf structures first before trying to get to complicated. A good basic and classic scroll will outshine a poorly designed fancy scroll everytime. Another area that new engravers need to concentrate on is LETTERING. If you dont learn to do good lettering then you might have to keep your day job. I cant believe how many accomplished engravers I talk tom say I dont do lettering. not only is good lettering as beautifull as any scroll or bulino scene, its some of the best money that you will ever make engraving and there is a lot more lettering work out there than gun and knives to engrave. Example to do an oval on a gunstock I charge 150 dollars the total job from layout to cutting is about thirty to fortyfive minutes tops. you do the math. There is an array of lettering jobs out there. I know you are saying but I dont enjoy it as much as engraving a gun or knife,I understand but if you do both you will be able to pay the bills with lettering and concentrate more on the passion the guns and knives etc... The jewelry world is begging for engraving.
This brings me to my final thoughts. Marketing. how do I do that? Make up some plates that contain examples of lettering styles that you do and take them to your local jewelers with a pricelist. and tell them this is availiable. Leave the sample plates with them free of charge to show customers once they know its available and have something to show customers ,that is a real example not a picture or drawing , the work will start coming in. Remember though good lettering as well as good scrolls etc.. starts with a pencil.I have a friend who is a machinist by trade he has been coming over and engraving for a couple of years he had the idea of making some stainless steel pendants round shapes he cuts on the lathe and gives a slight dome to. on these he engraves scrolls, He put them in a local jewelry store and has been selling them. they sell for between 650 and 1200 dollars the store takes 30 percent they take one to one and a half days to engave. again you do the math. Another simple way to market is to go to the local trophy and machine engraving shop. Let them know that you can work on things they cant hold. Caution!!! dont except plated items or you will be buying things you may not want, a slip on these will cost you . Remember that all these jobs you recieve from these sources are also potential customers for an engraving on a knife or gun as well.
Enough for now So remember start at the begining with the basics There is no subsitute for the pecil and paper computers snd such are a great additional tool to the basic pencil and paper copy machines and such as well. Use some of that creativity to turn your passion into your livelyhood Chris

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