Wednesday, September 19, 2012

That's Affirmative...

In today's hurry-up-get-it-done-and-on-to-the-next-thing world, we often forget to pause and reflect on what is really important in our lives. I know that I am totally guilty of flitting from one task to the next, barely even taking a breath in-between. And my brain? Forgetaboutit! It's going a million miles a minute processing what I have to do, what order to get it done in, times the amout of days I don't have to get it done in... sheesh! Is it any wonder we're all stressed out?

So I took some of that oh-so-elusive time and made myself a few reminders. I wanted them to be a little more special than a note taped to my bathroom mirror, or an index card near the kitchen sink. So I found some corrugated cardboard boxes, cut them into rectangles and painted them with acrylics... each one having it's own personality for the affirmation it was boasting. I've placed them all around my house and they really do work. Go figure! Now that's affirmative.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Facing A Blank Canvas...

After last week's confession, I feel like I'm beginning a new chapter in my life. Starting fresh. Like a blank canvas. Now, I must admit that a clean slate used to intimidate me to no end. But over the years, I've learned to just do something! Anything! Make a mark. draw a line. Paint on some color. I've learned that I don't need to know what direction I'm going... or where I might end up. As long as I keep moving forward. Painting has taught me a lot about life!

Now that school is in, it's the perfect time to "study up" on what it is that I want out of life. And as luck would have it... I stumbled across the perfect workshop to entertain my curiosity! Having admired Flora Bowley's work for some time now, I saw that she was having an e-course entitled Bloom True. Her 5-week workshop takes a "transformational approach to painting (and living) that celebrates intuition, connects body, mind and spirit and allows unique and expressive paintings to emerge naturally and authentically." So I've set my intentions for this class... and I know that I'm in the right place at just the right time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Letting Go...

Well, folks... it was fun while it lasted. After more than 2 years of running my own handmade business, I've made the decision to start looking for a full time job. As much as I've enjoyed hours, days, weeks and years of making dolls, collages, assemblages, jewelry, circus and boardwalk themed art and mixed media creations... my efforts are just not bringing in what I need to make ends meet.

I've thought about this for awhile and I am happy about my decision. This gypsy life of not knowing where my next dollar is coming from is not necessarily for me right now. I'm not letting go of the business altogether, but I am going to put it on the back burner. And I'm certainly going to keep making stuff... but in my own time and things that make me happy. I am my new customer!

So, along with this news... I thought I'd share with you a little bit of the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past 26 months that I've had my art business...

I loved waking up to make rag dolls... bits of fabric strewn about various rooms in the house. I was excited about scouring the flea markets for the random discardia that I would eventually turn into something new. And I stayed up late putting paintbrush to canvas, not knowing how many hours were passing by. I was exhilarated by the thought of a new idea and thrilled when it came to fruition. I was in my element!

When I discovered that certain products were popular, I came up with ways to streamline my processes... creating more efficient methods to produce a lot more pieces in record time. So, maybe I ate dinner on the couch for a couple weeks... but hey... the stuff got made!

Because much of my creative process is so organic, my one-of-a-kind pieces take as long as they take. And most of them took several hours.... yet my pieces don't command a "several hour" price tag. I found myself compromising my art to meet deadlines or perceived price points for my target consumer.

Being my own hand-maker of things means lots of work night and day... and very little time for leisure activities (oh, who am I kidding... I don't even have time to clean the house!). Great for saving money. Bad for my social life. I was literally tied to my work.

I was very regimented with my online and social media marketing efforts. I had a website for years. I posted on my blog multiple times a week and on specific days to create continuity.  I tweeted. I facebooked. I shared photos, techniques, projects, new stuff, old stuff, funny stuff... all kinds of stuff. I created an Etsy shop and kept it up-to-date with all my latest creations. I wrote cute stories about the products. It wasn't enough. All that effort did not really increase my sales.

I thought about teaching as a source of income, but it was so hard to come up with a project since most of my creations are really one-of-a-kind. When I finally entertained the idea of trying to teach online, the investment of time, money and new programs I would have to learn, outweighed my current schedule, budget and (lack of) patience! It was a good thought. But bad timing.

I did my share of craft shows over the past couple years. In the beginning, sales were great, I had tons of people crowding my booth, I was happy to share a piece of myself with someone, and could predict with some accuracy what items would sell. Since I started... the sales have gone down significantly, the art and craft crowd have diminished, I get more lookers than buyers (they love my stuff, but don't make a purchase), and what used to sell doesn't. For example... a lot of people at these shows are now making upcycled vintage mixed-media jewelry at prices that are way below what they're worth. The competition is hurting sales.

Not to mention Mother Nature... who rained on more than her share of art shows and ruined my displays, rusted some of my jewelry creations and blew over some of my now broken shadowboxes.

But it was a fabulous experience! I learned so much about myself and fine tuned many of my creative and business skills. I'm actually excited to go back to a regular 9-5 job with a steady paycheck. This journey has taught me a lot about what I really want in life and that new perspective is a big influence on what kind of employment I'm searching for. Although my background is in graphic design, I've realized that I don't necessarily need to return to that field. Of course I would love to have a job with some creativity involved, but it's not absolutely necessary.

So, I'm pretty open as to what my next job might be. What I really want is to work for good people, who appreciate what I can bring to the table, and who work together towards a common goal. People working in harmony. A company that really follows it's own mission statement. Heck... a company that has a mission statement! So hey... let me know if you hear of anything... okay?