Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Giveaway Winner And More Learning Lessons...

Hello Dear Blog Readers!
Many thanks to the comments left here and your encouragement regarding the current challenges I am facing in the "Make Art That Sells" online workshop. Your wonderful words have been inspiring me!

And many thanks to those of you who liked my new Facebook fan page! I am close to getting official 'fan page' status, thanks to you!

I'm sure you are dying to know the winner of the giveaway so here she is:

Heather Hughes of Tangle and Spiral

Heather has a fascinating blog which I have taken a peek at. Thank you for your comment Heather! Please let me know where I can send along the creative supplies...

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming! Feel free to continue reading as I share some Lessons Learned through my recent vendor experience...

Display of my personal book projects and workshop projects with my sign-up sheet

The past two weeks have been particularly challenging for me as I continue to learn more about myself and the work I want to do to share creativity with others in a heart felt and meaningful way, just as I state in my "About Me" page. Working through challenges is not always fun, but I do learn from them and I often learn a lot, like the lessons learned from being a vendor at Silverlake earlier this month, which are different lessons I learned since the last time I was a vendor at this fair...

Comparative Study!
I mentioned in my last blog post that I know it's a no-no to play the 'comparison' game, but this comparison game is more of a comparative study as I break down my experience of being a vendor at the Silverlake Art*Craft*Vintage Fair this year to my experience from last year. Let's begin the comparative study to see what I learned and you might learn something too...

Going Solo:
I participated in the fair by myself this time around thinking it would be a better option, after my previous experience being a vendor with what turned out to be a rather unreliable friend who flitted around the event instead of watching the table when I needed a bathroom break or wanted a minute to meet fellow vendors and 'network'...

Going solo was about the same amount of work for packing, then setting up my display after arriving. As for bathroom breaks, I managed to make friends with my neighboring vendors, some young girls selling gently worn clothing who came with two aunts to keep company. They were all nice ladies who offered to watch my space if I needed a bathroom break and I shared my take on some of the vendor locations I have participated in or shopped at and they appreciated my knowledge on the local flea markets! Their kindness to watch my space reminded me of a Tennessee Williams quote:

"I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers"

My display of vintage and creative goods - my kind neighbors were to the left of this display

Not only were my vendor neighbors helpful, but there was a food vendor at the event this time with tacos and hot dogs and he turned out to be a nice man who gave me a free hot dog at the end of the day, since I had been so friendly to him and his family, being cheerful and cracking jokes. Thank goodness this vendor was at the event since I packed a slim meal, despite the possibility of no food truck like last time, and having no one that could watch my space long enough for me to walk to the Subway across the street!

Taking time to meet with other vendors and "network" is really my way to get to know other people, and share my knowledge or experience with them, with cheer, humor and helpfulness. This winds up being helpful for me in ways I could not expect or anticipate.

Going solo was not as hard or solitary as I thought it would be and I met some very nice and helpful people that I look forward to seeing next month when I return to the fair...

Challenges or Red Flags?
I have to say that signing up for the fair was a BIG challenge, which makes me think in retrospect that maybe the challenge was meant to be a red flag...

To make a long story short, I was unable to use my Paypal funds to secure my booth space by phone and therefore had to transfer funds to withdraw cash to pay for my space at the venue upon arrival. I was then made to wait to be helped as the 'organizer' tried to help the vendors as they came onto the grounds, and not always on a 'first come, first served' basis, much to my chagrin. Also, I have yet to get my email confirmation of the booth fee or that it was paid.

 My handmade or altered book goods and a display of my workshop projects with sign-up sheet...

As last time, I had a mix of handmade goods and vintage goods, though, I may not have brought enough of either to make a good showing, despite filling my large table with handmade goods and filling two tables with vintage goods...but I barely made any sales at all, and I got one sign-up for my email list. The only person who expressed interest in my book workshops was visiting from Michigan!!

Luckily, my dear knitting buddy Jane came out to support me, along with her husband (on his birthday no less!). Jane bought a few vintage items and her husband bought one of my altered journals as a gift for his cousin. Without them, I would have only made $11 that day, but their purchases helped me cover my booth fee...

View from my booth space - many creative vendors...

...another view from my booth - more vendors and a few people walking around...

It was confusing to figure out why I was not making any money, since I made some money last time, but as I took a closer look at the 'vintage' being sold, I could see that the goods I was selling were not kitschy, nor were my hand crafted goods very kitschy either...and very few locals seemed interested in taking a fun, creative workshop.

My guess is that my earlier experience was possibly a fluke due to the holidays that were looming or it's possible that my esthetic is not in alignment with the general esthetic of the area...I may not know for sure until next month when I return, but that is my theory until I can prove it otherwise...

If experiencing challenges attempting to accomplish something, take a moment to reflect and decide if it is a 'challenge' or a 'red flag' message from the Universe! 

I really need to learn more about the areas of Los Angeles and figure out the collective 'esthetic' of the area to find out if my creative goods are a right fit or not

In the meantime, I have to figure out how I can make my next vendor event work to my benefit; I've thought of conducting 'artist demos' or I may just bring supplies and work on making books during the course of the day so it won't be a total loss of time. Hopefully I will figure out a solution by the time of my next vendor date: July 13...

One thing that did lift my spirits during this challenging time was taking a workshop with my wonderful book binding instructor, Wendy Poma! I had a lot of fun and Wendy gave my ego a much needed boost. I will share more about that workshop and the books I made in it in my next blog post, so be sure to stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

500 Blog Posts and A Giveaway...

Hello Dear Blog Readers,
I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far!

I am back from my little break away from my blog and I have many things to share with you all...sadly, not all of them are positive, but in my usual fashion, I am finding lessons to be learned! This may be a long post, so brew up a cup of tea or coffee, and get cozy for the news ahead...

Challenging Struggles
You may have noticed that I took an extra week of time away. I wish I could say it was for more relaxation, but it was anything but relaxing. I have been dealing with a series of challenges and struggles which is not exactly conducive to a restful summer holiday - to begin with, the hard drive to my dear boyfriends computer stopped working!!

We thought it had broken down completely, but we are currently in process of sending the hard drive to a data retrieval company in the hopes that we will be able to retrieve all the data that is stored on the drive: documents, pdf's, goodness, the photos!!!

I had been saving many photos to use in future blog posts and now I will not have access to them for a long time to come, if we can retrieve them at all. And then there is the brand spanking new artist CV I created mere days before the hard drive froze up on us!!

Something told me to save it to one of my flash drives, but I didn't do it...nor was I saving any of my numerous photos:

My fun and colorful flash drives for documents and photos - I actually carry them around with me ALL THE TIME so I had no excuse for not saving my work/photos...

I am hoping for the best that my dear boyfriend and I will have ALL our data retrieved for us in due course, but it is hard to think of all the work we have both stored on the computer that we might not get I try to put that thought out of my head!

If this incident were not challenging enough, I took on a challenge that seems to loom ever bigger with each passing week - I signed up for the Lilla Rogers online course "Make Art That Sells".

This course is filled with great information on how to get ones artwork into the markets we are studying in the first module: bolt fabric, home decor, children's book illustration, wall art, and gift.

These are all areas I have an interest in. However, I had not anticipated that I would be swimming in a sea of advanced graphic art designers, which I am not. I have very little in the way of Photoshop or Illustrator skills and there is no time to learn enough in those programs to get my style of work on par with my classmates.

It has been daunting to see the work produced by these great, experienced and highly skilled graphic design artists and I just can't help from comparing my work to them.

My humble hand painted design for home decor tableware - a plate with the artichoke for my motif and lettering done with help from my dear boyfriend who is more graphic design skilled than I am!

I know the 'comparison game' is a big no-no and I rarely do it, but seeing how inadequately I am skilled for this class has been a real eye-opener...yet I am learning a LOT about how these markets work and Lilla Rogers is one of the most encouraging instructors I have encountered, after my book binding instructor Wendy Poma! Watching Lilla's weekly videos (as well as other interview videos I found) makes me want to meet her! I just know she is a kindred creative beast =-)

The course involves weekly assignments and trying to utilize my skills and style of artwork for this online course has been challenging when I see the amazing creations being made by my fellow students, some of whom have already been getting work in these markets! During the second week of the course, I had to make the decision to keep to myself for the remainder of this course and no longer interact in the class Facebook group in the hopes I can keep from feeling discouraged or losing any more of the "Identity Capital" I have built up for myself, over my many years of creative work...

Identity Capital
I came across this great concept of "identity capital" while watching a TED talk with Meg Jay, PHD. Though her talk was aimed at 20-somethings, the concept of identity capital resonated very strongly for me and I think it is something we all work at, all our lives.

I found a link to a blog that discusses the work of Dr. Jay and the concept of identity capital - I think this quote sums up the concept well:

“Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are. Some identity capital goes on a resume, such as degrees, jobs, test scores, and clubs. Other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look. Identity capital is how we build ourselves – bit by bit, over time. Most important, identity capital is what we bring to the adult marketplace. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want.” - Meg Jay, PHD
 (underlined section by me for emphasis)

I love this concept, especially since it is something I have instinctively been doing, without realizing that there was a name for it...and knowing about this concept helped me come back to myself while struggling with my creative inadequacies.

With this concept firmly in mind, I took time away from the weekly assignment to work on things I AM highly skilled at, such as working on some alterations for a friend, completing a book binding project to give as a gift and making a special piece of art (all of which came together quickly I might add!):

Artwork in progress - I will eventually share the final finished piece here

Working on things I know I am skilled at helped me regain my sense of 'identity capital' as a creative artist. Though Lilla's course has been highly challenging (and a little discouraging) the course has taught me a lot so far and I'm barely into the third week! However, the biggest lesson I have learned so far is this:

I am not a graphic art designer.

Having this knowledge helps me face the remaining weeks in Lilla's course and I will continue to learn as much as I can and find a way to use the information I am gleaning from this workshop as I continue to make my way in the world as a self-sustaining, self-employed artist.

There are other challenges I have dealt with in the past few weeks, such as being a vendor at the Silverlake Art*Craft*Vintage Fair and making very little money, but I will save that 'Lesson Learned' for another day!

In the meantime, I think it's time to celebrate the fact that I have posted 500 blog posts!

Time for a Giveaway!
I have some creative goodies to give away to celebrate my 500th blog post...

Here is the breakdown of goodies:

brads, snaps, sticky bead embellishments

 ...clear rubber stamps by Tim Holtz...

...decorative ribbons and tapes...

...Jolene's Boutique holiday embellishments and epoxy bubble embellishments... glitter alphabet stickers...

...sponge brushes for creative gluing projects...

And the lucky winner with receive all these goodies in a fun colorful bag:

How can you win this bounty of creativity??!?

You will have the opportunity to enter the giveaway 2 times:

1) Leave a comment at this blog post
2) Like my new Facebook fan page and leave a comment there as well!

You must leave your comments by 12:00pm Sunday June 23 so the winner can be announced by Wednesday June 26. This giveaway is open to ALL, near or far!

BTW: there will be another giveaway to celebrate 4 years of blogging the following week, so be sure to stay tuned for that!

Many thanks to all my wonderful blog readers for taking time from your busy lives to read about my adventures here. This blog has been the means to meet so many wonderful bloggers, from near and far, and I am so thankful for the community that has been fostered here. Here's to 500 more blog posts!