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fighting the creative block

29 May

Hello friends! I’ve been wanting to talk with you about that age old issue that so many of us have experienced: “creative block” or “writer’s block.” It can be difficult, especially when working in an artistic field, to consistently come up with fabulous new ideas all the time.  With some personal struggles earlier this year, I got hit hard with a creative block… as with most things, time was definitely helpful, but the other catalyst that encouraged me to get out of the rut was observing the work and drive of other artists. When one of my favorite art blog writers, Danielle Krysa of the jealous curator, mentioned her upcoming book release, appropriately titled Creative Block: Get Unstuck. Discover New Ideas, I knew I had to pre-order a copy. creativeblock1-2Krysa interviews 50 successful and well known artists (Wayne White, Kate Bingaman-Burt, and Justin Richel, to name a few of my favorites). Each feature includes a dynamic little bio, several images of the artist’s work, questions about their practice, suggestions on how they personally cope with creative blocks, and finally a “Creative Unblock Project” designed specifically by that artist. I am about two thirds of the way through the book, and for the most part I am enjoying the read. In terms of actually doing the “unblocks,” there are some projects that just don’t speak to me, and that’s okay, while others do hold some potential that I hope to harness on a rainy studio day. creativeblock1-1Ironically when I read Cassandra Smith‘s interview, her suggestion for unblocking was already something that I had naturally explored on my own. “Make a little sculpture using a found object. Find something at a thrift store, wacky junk store, anywhere! An object about as big as your hand is probably the best size to start with. Transform the heck out of it! Paint on it, glue things to it, cut it apart. Use the object’s color or shape to inspire you.” creativeblock1-3Do you remember this little post about the golden fawn? If not have a read! I will be sharing more fun things from this book with you in the future, to help inspire both myself, and perhaps you, out of an artistic rut.


financial tips for art & craft shows

7 Nov

It has been about 2 and a half years since I started pursuing my art as a business, especially online with my etsy shop and this blog. Another big part of my creative career is doing bi-annual craft shows (during spring & holiday seasons… as you may have noticed with a few of my previous posts here, here, here, just to name a few) as well as summer markets (like here and here). I am by no means a veteran yet, but I am a firm believer that “experience is knowledge”, so I do have a few things under my belt that I can share with curious artists out there who have yet to exhibit in settings like this, or who need to refine their experience for next time. With the fast approaching Make It shows, I felt it was a good time to distill my advice into a post.

The biggest bits of wisdom seem to have all centered around finances. Artists spend most of their time dwelling on the creative right side of the brain, and if you are trying to turn your talent into a business, you need to learn how to shift to the analytical left side. At the end of the day, it still is about the money honey, So Know Your Costs! Things can add up quickly at these big craft & art shows; it is important to know in advance what things are going to cost, so that you can be financially prepared for every aspect of the event from start to finish.

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.07.24 AMSpace at the Show: The booth fee is always just the tip of the iceberg.  Lighting, walls, flooring, chairs, table rentals, tent top, display racks, signage, insurance, etc, can all be added costs to booking a booth space at a multiple day show. You need to be conscious of much more than just your square footage rental.Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 8.48.56 AMProduct Preparation: Do you have enough of your wares made and ready to sell? If not, what are the material costs, shipping prices, time requirements, packaging, etc. that you have to have on hand in order to make new work? Producing any type of hand-made item is going to take a bit of an initial investment, so make sure you have the moolah and the time to pursue your new designs or creations.Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.57.24 AMMarketing Materials: Each business card, promotional postcard, or even shopping bag that you give out to customers will cost you money! Make sure that these “freebies” are cost-efficient so that they don’t take much away from your profits. For example, you could make business cards at home instead of getting a print shop to produce them, hand-stamp plain bags with a logo, etc… On the other hand, you can consider the cost of promotional print items as “advertising investments.” It’s great to have your branded bags flashed around the show by recent customers, or have one of your free postcards get sent by a customer to someone who’s never seen your work.Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 8.49.53 AMTravel & Shipping Expenses: Whether driving, flying, teleporting (i wish), etc, the method you choose to get to a show can add up! Sometimes getting your stuff to the exhibit can be even more daunting than getting your sweet self to the show! Know your mileage, gas estimates, wear & tear on your car, etc. What can you take with you? What needs to be shipped? How many outfits do you really need? Look for ways to save like carpooling, seat sales, using air miles, or taking a slower but cheaper option like the bus or train. Explore shipping options from sending a box with greyhound to packing a pallet; it is important to look around in order to find out what is the most applicable and affordable travel option for your practice.Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 9.07.47 AMFood Costs: It may seem silly but if you are out of town, it’s easy to rack up bills at drive-thrus and dinners out. Before the show starts, take a trip to a local grocery store and buy healthy snacks and easy to make meals like ready-made dinners or sandwich/salad ingredients. I love to find food vendors at the shows and ask if they do trade: “art for eats” is super awesome! Of course you can treat yourself to a night or two out, but research restaurants to compare prices, order an appetizer, or share a large entree with a friend to help reduce the expense. Also, while you’re at the show, be sure to drink lots of water; people often confuse thirst with hunger!

Obviously doing these big exhibitions isn’t just about moolah, but about very important non-tangible perks like the experience, the connections, the opportunity… however, counting your costs sure does make a big commitment a lot easier to handle and a lot more prone to success. I hope these great financial tips for craft shows will help you be a little more conscious of your bottom line at big events. Happy creating and good luck selling at your next show!

fawning over altered treasures

4 Sep

Fawning1I recently wrote about my new gold-guilded basket that I created for my cruiser bike. I had plenty of extra spray paint left-over from my DIY activity that it was just fawning to be used for another project… pardon the mandatory pun, but later that week I was in a local  thrift shop and came across the most adorable ceramic sculpture of a baby deer. Fawning2 Fawning3 Fawning4However I guess adorable could be a questionable term if one wasn’t capable of looking past it’s horrible brown two tone glaze finish, chipped front paw and tacky hand scrawling on the back, in order to see its darling shape and precious character. Fawning5 Fawning6Spending only 50 cents and making use of my leftover spraypaint, turned a questionable 3-D piece of art into a true studio gem. Next time you are thrifting, don’t ever be off-put by a sculpture or a vessel’s color; if the shape and style is something you admire, you can transform the finish into any color of the rainbow!