Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Archive for the ‘business’ tag

Joining the Modern World

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Well it’s been an interesting week, between the new phone contracts and some new endeavors I’ve been pushing through to facilitate taking payments from people.  I am literally fried with new passwords, paranoia, and learning how all these new tricks work.  I’ve been terrified for days of all the ways I might be handing over the keys to my bank account or credit to what forces may be in these here wily internets.  It’s been a real leap of faith.  But the functionality I’m getting for that leap is certainly promising.

Up from last week, I am once again connected on the go.  Yes, I finally rejoined the ranks of cell phone owners.  And not only have I reconnected to a mobile network, but I’ve upgraded substantially into a modern smart phone.  I picked up the iPhone 4, recently marked down with the new release of the iPhone 4s.  It’s amazing.  There is still so much I haven’t figured out on it yet, but already I am amazed at everything that I can do.  And over the weekend I signed up for an account with Square.  Square is a company that is quickly making a name for itself amongst merchants.  Basically, you sign up, and they send you a credit card reader in the mail that connects to your smartphone and allows you to run a credit card via your phone.  You have to connect it to your bank account, but then you have the ability to directly deposit money from a card into your account with just your phone and that little plastic piece.  The only fees are a small percentage that gets taken from each transaction, and it’s about the same as you see for larger credit card readers like businesses use.  It’s really a pretty sweet deal.

And then today I also set up a PayPal account so that I can sell pieces online.  With all the hassle I’ve been experiencing with the post office out here, I finally let my fears of direct 3rd party involvement in my bank account go by the wayside.  So now, if you see something of mine here that you would like to purchase (other than the Cafe Press site that is), you can do so with an online payment directly to me.  All I will need is your email address to send an invoice, and your mailing address where I can send your purchase.  Pretty neat, eh?

So it only seems fitting that I should follow that all up by highlighting a few pieces that are presently available for purchase…


If you’re looking for prints, I still have just a couple left from a very limited edition printing I ran on “Red Woman.”  The painting itself is no longer available, but the individual prints sell for $100 each, plus shipping if you’re not in the area to pick it up.)  They are done with archival quality ink and paper, and there were only six made in total.


I have also been considering making prints of the blood vessel scene if anyone is interested.  I don’t anticipate making a limited run out of these so I would have to charge a little less.  If someone is interested, let me know and we can talk sizing and prices.


If an original painting is more your thing, I still have several of those available.  You can peruse them all at my gallery page, and any individual image will let you know when you click on it if it is still available.  But while I’m doing this, let me highlight a couple that I know to be available right now…

Of course, there is still the most recent, “Feel,” which is a 6″x6″ acrylic on canvas piece.


I also have “Tom Tips His Hat,” which is another small acrylic on canvas piece, 6″x9″


Or, if you are interested in my larger work, the two biggest pieces I have at present are “Scream,” which measures 24″x30″,


and “The Fall,” which measures 40″x30″


There are plenty more up on the gallery site, but sometimes I think it’s easier to just see a few at a time.  And if you are interested in making an offer on a piece, or asking for me to name a price, I can always be reached either in the comments here, or by email – sara(at)anatomyandart(dot)com.

I am all revved up and ready to make things happen!

Written by Sara

October 25th, 2011 at 2:39 am

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Where Things Are

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I know I haven’t written much this week.  Been reacclimating to Chicago, and fighting off a cold in the process.  But the cold is finally fading and it’s time to be sending off resumes far and wide to all those places that might have use for an anaplastologist just out of school.  I’m also finalizing the animation and finishing my research project paper for graduation this summer.

I’m attaching my resume here for download as a PDF.  It’s a shiny and new resume, and I’m rather fond of how it turned out.  It does have my current contact information, so here’s hoping that this isn’t a terrible idea to post here.  If ever there was a time to put it all out there, I suppose that now would be that time.


Written by Sara

May 23rd, 2011 at 1:14 am

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Thoughts About Web Design and Selling Art

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So after making a sale so quickly on that last painting, I’ve been giving a little thought to the power of these here internets, and how I can use that connectivity to make more sales.  As it is, I went back to my primary website where I’ve been keeping a record of everything I’ve put to canvas since coming back to painting in 2001 –  It’s not really set up for sales, but I have always kept a record there of which pieces have been sold or given to someone.  That information presents in the single image view for any piece.  I went back and specifically put the words “available for purchase” on all the other ones though, to make that clearer.  Ideally though, I’d like to come up with a site where anyone interested could just buy a piece right then and there, or at least contact me directly with ease about pricing.  I wrote up a few scribbles about how I might go about this yesterday while I was thinking about it.

That’s the basic layout I came up with.  The one drawback I guess is that I never get to show off any of the pieces I’ve done as gifts that way.  I’ve got a few that I’m pretty proud of that fall under that category.  I’ll have to think about that some more.

This is usually about the point that I shake my head a bit and think about how narcissistic this whole process is.  And that pretty much goes for art on the whole, not just promotion.  Sometimes I feel like a little kid clamoring for everyone to look at me, look at my picture.  But it’s what we do.

Unfortunately, I’m not that great at web design.  All those little colons and semi colons all having to be just so, well it’s not exactly a strength for me.  Even if I was better with basic design, I know it’s another step entirely when you start bringing credit card transactions into the picture.  People do it though.  Maybe someday it will be a worth while investment for me to get someone to put that together for me.  In the meantime, I’ll keep scribbling notes about such ideas down for later reference.

Written by Sara

May 17th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

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Insurance and Anaplastology

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I was recently asked about a comment I had made in another post regarding insurance policies and their coverage for anaplastology.  The other post wasn’t really about that, but the truth is, this is something I think a lot about.  It isn’t really something I know much about though.  I mean I’ve certainly kept my ears open for snippets of information here and there around our clinic, and the clinics I’ve visited over the years.  Most of what I’ve gathered from all of that though, is simply that dealing with insurance companies is going to be a royal pain if I should ever open my own clinic.  And given my own skill set and history with handling bureaucracies I’ve pretty much decided well ahead of time that I am not someone who should open a private practice until I believe that I can cover the costs of hiring someone else to handle that aspect for me.  I’m more the type who has spent large swatches of their adult life without any health insurance because I find such bureaucracies so challenging to navigate.

But here I am, author of this little blog, and it occurs to me that maybe I should do a little looking into just what kind of coverage is available out there for anaplastology cases.  So I called a couple of places with questions.  Now, my first attempt at this was late on a Friday night (which sadly probably does speak zounds about my personal life these days.)  I tried to reach Blue Cross Blue Shield, but found myself on hold for roughly half an hour.  It was at this point that I came to the conclusion that I was likely waiting on line with people who had real emergencies and not just a curious streak, so I decided to call back later.  The following week, I found myself thinking about it again during regular business hours and I decided to try again.  This time I started with Medicare.

The number I called to reach Medicare was 1-800-633-4227.  I was on hold less than six minutes, but then when I did reach someone, it was impossible to get any real answers.  First, the woman answering had never heard of anaplastology.  She was very nice about looking up as much as she could for me though.  Eventually she was able to tell me that they covered the replacement of arms, legs, eyes, and orthopedic braces for the back, foot, or neck.  She suggested that I call individual clinics to ask about whether Medicare was accepted or not.  After a 25 minute conversation she attempted to connect me with another branch, but there was no hold music this time, and after 15 minutes I decided that the transfer must not have gone through and hung up.  So that was disappointing.

Next I went back to Blue Cross Blue Shield.  The number I called was 1-800-633-4227.  They were much trickier to even get to the hold part, with a lot of push button questions, none of which offered an option for questions about anaplastology coverage of course.  And then when I did get to the hold part of the call, I couldn’t help but write down the phrase “discussing policy benefits is not a guarantee” which was actually part of the recorded loop playing while you were on hold.  I mean I guess I get it, but hearing it over and over again while I waited just played into some pre-conceived notions I already have going about these guys.

When I finally did get through with someone, he was very adamant about how there were no over all options or plans.  It got me wondering about how much negotiation is really involved in setting up an insurance plan.  I tried to use the example of seeking coverage for visits to an anaplastologist regarding two missing fingers.  I thought that would make things easier, and also should let me know if there are differences in the way facial and somato cases are handled.  I was told that the question didn’t really make sense, because coverage packages vary, and as an individual seeking to set up a service plan, you wouldn’t be able to get care for a pre-existing condition anyways.  So basically it could only ever come up if someone with a coverage plan in place was to loose those fingers while insured and they would then have to check their plan for coverage at that point.  I was shocked.  I didn’t think discluding coverage for pre-existing conditions was even legal anymore, but I guess it is.  The man I was speaking with then tried asking me about the code for the service I was trying to ask about.  It sounds like there are ways to look up specific procedures if you have the right insurance code to search under, but I didn’t have anything like that.  In the end, the most information I was able to gather about BCBS’s coverage was at the following link which describes prosthetics coverage, discluding lower limb prostheses. *

*On second review, I realize that to get to the intended page you must first click to agree (I believe the agreement is not to hold them to anything they say), and then perform a search for the word prosthetics, search all, and then select “Prosthetics, Except Lower Limb Prosthetics”

I was also given a number to dial for providers, 1-800-972-8088, and I tried that but it was after hours when I did.  I did notice that the initial phone options were limited to the categories, medical, pharmacy, dental, and behavioral health.  So I think that even if I had caught them in their regular hours I might not have been able to establish much.

Honestly I think I’m more confused now, having attempted to clarify information than I was before making these calls.  I’d made the calls in an attempt to understand how anaplastology was covered by the major insurance providers.  I was interested specifically in if there is a difference between how facial and somato prostheses are covered, or if that idea is just a misconception I picked up by not having the full story.  But in the end, I think I just learned more about why no one likes dealing with insurance companies.  And I once again spooked myself about the prospect of ever needing them with regard to my own health.  To be fair, I spook easily about that particular topic, but really, I have yet to understand how anyone ever gets treated for anything in today’s day and age.  And I find that terrifying, both as a human who sometimes needs medical care just like anyone else, and also as someone learning to be a clinician, who at some point will need to understand the system from the side of the care-givers as well.

Written by Sara

December 19th, 2010 at 6:50 pm


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Recently I went through the process of getting prints made of a painting.  Real ones.  Good ones.  Expensive ones.  I have to say that the process has been a little bit terrifying.  For starters, let’s face it… I’m not exactly the greatest business mind out there.  But I gave this some thought as to what was reasonable to charge, how many I would make, how many I thought I could sell, and did a little research into what it would cost me.  Unfortunately, the first estimate of what it would cost me reflected less than half of the ultimate total costs I wound up spending.

At first it was a matter of having having gotten my estimates based on the image size without doing the math on what the added border for framing would be.  I’d expected there to be added cost for that, but I had underestimated how much.  Secondly I had to rescan the image.  Letting the printers scan your painting is not an inexpensive endeavor.  But in this case, I believe it was both necessary and worth it.  Between those first two points though, I wound up deciding to make fewer prints than I had originally intended.  It’s good that I didn’t make as many though, because the next blow came when I went to pick up the prints and found that their scan had picked up so much detail, that it had practically x-rayed my painting.  I didn’t catch it immediately.  At first glance, all I saw was that they had gotten the red right (no small detail, that), and that the new scan had not shown the same problem as the scan I had done previously.  I left happy.  But then as I was packaging up my first print for shipping, I saw that there were mistakes, familiar mistakes.  I kept wanting to dab a bit of paint here or there to fix them, and then I realized that I was having the exact same thought process I’d had while finishing the painting in the first place.  I was seeing mistakes brought back that I had already fixed, and I couldn’t send that to paying customers.  So I called the printers back.  I went through Gamma to do all of this.  Their tech who had done the scan for me had already left for the day, so I had to make plans to go back later that week after my finals (and yeah, taking on this process at the end of my semester, maybe not the greatest plan of action.)

I had purchased a digital copy of the scan as well, so I was able to review that as well.  I was surprised when I didn’t see the same detail from the under layer there.  But just now, just today, when I opened the image in Photoshop I did.  It’s the strangest thing, the detail is in there, but I wasn’t seeing it in the raw file.  It’s actually kind of a relief to see it now.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how I was getting added detail from the printing process.  Anyway, despite picking up those covered brush strokes, it really is a beautiful scan.  Here is smaller version of what they got…

So I was able to go back in and discuss things with them.  It’s been a good thing, having the painting handy for all of this, not just for rescanning purposes, but also as something to bring in while talking about the desired outcome of the prints.  I’m fortunate that the buyer wanted me to hold on to it for the time being, and that I’ve been able to do all of this despite the sale.

They saw the problem, and we decided to have the prints redone with different settings.  Unfortunately, this brought my costs up considerably.  Since I hadn’t paid for giclee printing (which comes with the opportunity to approve proofs) my options were limited in terms of how to handle this.  They did make an effort to work with me though, and while I lament loosing so much of my profit margin, I am very happy with the way the 2nd set of prints came out, and the product I can now deliver to my clients.

In the end, I only wound up making six of them.  I’d initially thought about leaving the window open to further printing down the line, or making 12 all at once and just selling them off over time.  Especially considering the added costs along the way, I am happy that I only opted to create the six of them.  At present three of them have been paid for and shipped off to buyers.  One is spoken for, to be paid for and picked up in January.  And I may have a fifth buyer in the works.  All in all, this has been quite the learning experience, and something that I hope to do again and again with other works, though hopefully with less nervousness and better planning along the way.  It’s tricky though.  You don’t know if something is right or not until you see it.  You can’t know.  But I do know a little more about what to look for, and what to ask for now.  So here’s hoping that next time I can be a little less neurotic artist about things, and a little more savvy seller of my art.

Written by Sara

December 17th, 2010 at 5:57 pm

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Business Cards

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So I’ve been toying with thoughts of new business cards.  The other day, in surgery, the doctors asked us if we had any to give out.  One said he had research to publish soon.  Neither of us had anything.  The day before, I went to the VA Hospital, to get to know it a bit and look into common patient needs over there.  I got the same question then.

So last night I pulled out my old cards.  They all reflect my time in Los Angeles.  They reflect my skills as a photographer, and as a video editor, for a time I had some that I made to represent me as a painter, but nothing of the last year and a half.  So I made a few of these for the time being, until I get something printed up professionally.

There are a lot of strategies one can apply to the design of a business card.  You can make something flashy, and eye catching.  Others feel that a more subtle understated approach shows more class.  There is the issue of how much contact information one wants to give, after all these are intended to be handed out to near strangers, right?  And as an artist, I think it’s nice to give some impression of what you do.  Titles are nice if your work falls simply under one job title, but you don’t want to over define yourself if your skills involve more flexibility.  I think the above design will serve me well enough for the time being.

Written by Sara

January 17th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

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Artists, Scientists, and Business?

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I was recently visited by an old friend who works as a scientist out at CalTech in Pasadena.  Wine was shared, university stories swapped, all those brilliant and brewing ideas discussed, and once again, as tends to happen in these types of conversations, we came back to the nature of doing business.  And while art and science may be very different in the classroom, one can’t help but notice that there is a similar struggle that happens when one tries to bring their ideas into the business world.

There seems to be this unfortunate correlation between one’s passions and their business savvy.  And I suppose it makes sense.  The more obsessed one allows themselves to be in any endeavor, aside from that of making money, the less attention and energy one has for business.  Now some people are fortunate enough to be passionate about making money.  And a lot of people are just smart enough to keep their business about business and their passions elsewhere.  But for many, there is this struggle.

Arts and sciences in particular tend to attract people who are driven for reasons other than money.  Artists and scientists are not exactly known for their polished corporate qualities.  And yet these are career paths that seem to require more defending than most.  These are the ones that require you to submit individual projects for grant money, or maybe even fund-raise independently to support the work you are doing.  The other route one can go, is to latch onto someone else’s project.  And if you are lucky enough to get on with a good one, something you care about, that pays your bills, a good work environment, then that is lucky indeed.  But unless that job is with a strong corporate entity or university, chances are another search for another good fit is just around the bend.

Now you might say that anyone is lucky to have a good job in any field these days, and there is truth to that for sure.  But I think that artists and scientists have the added kick of knowing that their best chances for really being recognized, for really getting their ideas out there, for being true greats in their field, is to take that leap into uncertainty; to keep practicing their craft, insisting on environments that push them to create, and doing their projects even when no one is paying for it; in essence, to allow themselves to become obsessed.

Now I wish that I had a list of perfect answers for these all too common problems.  And maybe someday I will.  I have met, in my time, a few very successful artists in this effect with brilliant work.  And there are as well, very successful brilliant scientists.  So it is possible.  The people I notice walking this line the best seem to be of a generally good temperament.  One can’t help but wonder if that’s a quality that has led them well into success, or if it is a result of finding that balance and being happy in the work that they do.

Whatever the case, I think it is worth recognizing that these struggles aren’t jurisdicted to just one field or the other.  In fact, I’m sure these are problems that speak to more than just the artists and the scientists.  So maybe there is comfort in even just that.

Written by Sara

July 31st, 2009 at 12:45 pm

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