Phil Boyd Origins sells cards with Boyd's paintings on them. - Jim Craven

Art in miniature

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

I'm an artist and have been doing greeting cards since 1998. I also do large paintings.

I sell about 20,000 cards a year. I hand paint each design, take them to Pronto Print, where they are digitized and printed. I have more than 175 designs I currently run and rotate. I try to put out 25 to 30 new cards a year, sometimes more and sometimes less. I'm in the Market of Choice stores, Tark's in Talent, gift stores through the Northwest, and the Whole Foods Market at Union Square in New York City.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?

I was raised here and went to Medford High School. For 25 years I lived in Eugene and San Diego before returning 10 years ago.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

It's pretty cool to make people happy. We traveled extensively before moving back here and saw some pretty amazing things. I saw there was niche work for this and started selling prints and cards at the University Street Fair in Seattle and the Portland Saturday Market. The amount of people that responded to this artwork told me I was on to something. I saw I could sell greeting cards directly to companies and not have to travel as much.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?

I would have started sooner and would have gone out and done more one-on-one sales. When you're at the market selling to the public, you get a real sense of your demographics. Greeting cards are such a competitive field. Another thing I would have done is getting to know demographics better. It's a great tool for an artist when you can go to a show and talk to thousands of people that come up to your booth.

What's the toughest business decision you've made?

Taking a leap of faith and walking into stores and talking to the principals. Basically you just want it to fall into your lap and you have to get out and knock on doors, and artists have a hard time doing that. There are a lot of "no" answers out there. The companies get bombarded with a lot of people wanting to sell something to them. You have to do the research and see who's buying so you can give numbers and demographics. My buying public is 80 percent women who are 18 to 80. For men, it's 20 percent, from 20 to 79. Also knowing how many cards a month you can actually sell is important. When I go to shows and talk to publishers, they will tell you they want something new, but what they really want is the same thing — just regurgitated in a different way.

Who are your competitors?

Leanin' Tree out of Boulder, Colo., they're huge; Avanti Press in Detroit; Recycled Paper Greetings in Chicago. In the chain of stores, I'm in they're sitting right next to them.

What are your goals?

Keep growing it, adding more locations is a constant. I'm doing more designs and there is always more fodder and things to say. Expanding my client base. Especially in the card industry, if you're not selling a lot, you don't stay there. The floor space is so competitive and since I'm an independent and selling against companies with tons of employees and many artists, I still have to knock on doors. It comes down to customers that keep supporting me.

What training or education did you need?

I'm self-educated with my art. I've learned by doing and constantly working at it. Phil Boyd is a line of characters; they're happy-go-lucky color ful characters that enjoy life, representing fun, laughter, eating, drinking. The characters have a lot of references to primitive settings.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Do your research; don't take no for an answer. The hardest thing, at least in the art world, is believing in yourself. Do something different; I think you have to take a gamble and try to do something that's not out there.

To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

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