Wednesday, April 29, 2009
A few months ago, I was asked to write an article for the Independent Artist. The IA is a publication put out by the National Association of Independent Artists, (NAIA). My husband Jon and I have been life long members of this great organization. I chose to write the following article about my experience with Etsy.com. Our paper is mailed to our national membership and will be freely handed out to artists at art fairs.
If you are a working artist and interested in joining a fabulous group of fellow artists who share your energy and concerns, please go to our website and join. We are the collective voice for art fair artists! Your $65.00 membership provides a voice, a forum for that voice, the newspaper, discounts for travel to shows, hotels, services and goods, truck rentals and updates on what the NAIA is doing for you!
One day, a few years ago, I was in my studio playing. Some of my best ideas have begun this way! Over the years I seem to have acquired an 'addiction' to rubber stamps.....This 'play' led to me stamping mahogany cigar boxes with black paint. I love rubber stamps and before long, I was hooked! The black paint on wood looked like tattoo's. I loved the look and was not sure where this creative energy and box fetish would take me. A few friends who lost pets wanted boxes to hold the ashes of their deceased furry loved ones. I created keepsake boxes for them. This added an artistic signature to a painful closure and began a body of work that was somewhat alternative.
Not certain if this body of work would fit into mainstream juried shows and wanting it to continue, I needed to find other venues to sell what I was having such fun making. I was calling this work TattooDreams. By this point my boxes had taken on themes other than commemorative urns and had a playful yet artsy old world look to them. I became aware of a site called Etsy.com.
Etsy.com is an on-line site that allows the user to set up a 'shop' and sell handmade work, supplies and vintage items (20 + years old). The site is driven by artists of every type and quality of work. Every age and genre of discipline from all over the world are represented. A listing costs 20 cents and is up for 4 months. With a 3.5 % fee taken out of the final sale, this grand exposure is affordable. Unlike the auction format of e-bay, here you set your own price.
I watched the site for a while and continued my fascination with black paint emblazoned onto wood. I was mesmerized by this. This body of work held a huge departure from my very colorful mixed media work I juried to shows with. It may have been this absence of color and emphasis on pattern and message that had me intrigued. My blackened fingernails were proof the trade was entering my body!
Whatever it was, I knew it was here to stay and needed to find a venue for it to sell.
In December of 2007 I set about posting my first boxes to the Etsy site we set up. Within 2 weeks I made my first sale! Into my email came the message from Pay Pal " You have cash"..........what wonderful words!! The excitement of that first sale and amazement that this on line shopping venue was working, I will never forget. I'd sold stuff on e-bay before, but never garnered this type of thrill. I was now selling art stuff!!
To further accommodate the needs of required sizes and add a more artistic flair to the process, Jon began building boxes for me. The cherry boxes he's building are the remnants of the wood we use for the frames from my other body of work. These handcrafted shapely boxes are a wonderful addition. Nothing wasted here!
Before I knew it, my TattooDreams were selling to people in Germany, Canada, Australia and across the US! Appreciative notes and feedback accompanied sales as buyers received their purchases, sent friends to my site and bought more. None of this hurts one's self esteem in a flailing art market!
These sales and comments from fellow artists led me to believe that this creative endeavor had found it's own niche market. I applied and got into a few holiday shows, have taken it to our local Farmers Market and had a solo exhibit with this work. I've learned a great deal from this experience. To have faith in your instincts, your work and yourself!
Last winter I began writing a blog. A blog is an on-line diary, if you will. Mine began shortly after I set up my Etsy shop. I began this as an avenue for creative writing. What it's become is a portal to advertise both bodies of work, chronicle our travels to shows, share recipes and open a window into the life of our artistic endeavors. I've come to learn collectors read my blog. They love peering into this window. With well over 14,000 visits to my site, I have 48 followers who have subscribed to this journal from all over the world.
What began as a creative release, has turned into another body of work I can sell in the right market. I've met some amazing collectors who have embraced my work and allowed me to create custom tables, mirrors and boxes for them. The global marketplace has it's arms wide open to artists. As the dollar twists and turns, overseas spending can add to on line sales. There are other on-line sites available to artists. I have tried a few other sites and have come to love the ease and exposure of Etsy.com.
In January Jon and I presented a 90 minute workshop class on the finer points of using Etsy at our local art center. This presentation was made to 77 local artists who felt it was a hit! This positive response fueled us to plan more and has grown into yet another money stream as we've given 4 workshops since this initial one. We charge $20.00 for each participant. The classes fill quickly and we're planning more workshops throughout the year. We utilize art centers and craigslist.com for gathering an audience. So a small stream overflows forging additional streams along the way. In this ripple effect, we move forward and are open to the possibilities of new ideas and how they can spring forth. We're grateful for these unexpected income opportunities!
In a difficult economy I hope you'll find the time to explore alternate methods of showing your work. Never could I have driven the wide array of traffic to a personal web site or garnered the global sales I've had, had it not been for exploring this site. I feed the site daily by utilizing their forums which helps generate exposure. Without that effort, little would sell. Etsy success is fed by exposure. As well we know, it's all about getting people to see your work, be it in your art fair booth or on line!
So my addiction continues with rubber stamps and my boxes find homes around the world. I'm not getting financially rich using Etsy, however 186 sales, the good will it generates and exposure make me feel there is hope. I know that sales will get stronger as the economy does and I will be ready with an on line market presence. I have 2 bodies of work fueling my need to keep my hands and mind busy!
Feeding the fire of creativity with a bit of fuel,
My etsy site: http://tattoodreams.etsy.com
On the right hand side of my blog is the red and white NAIA logo. Feel free to click on it and explore our website. Please, show your passion and dedication to your work by joining with other like minded individuals who, together, form a collective voice!!!
My article is being reprinted here by me from the newest IA issue with their permission.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Jon and I are in between shows in Dallas. These few days in between are providing a self-imposed break where we can't really do any work. After several weeks of what felt like non-stop work, this feels odd. Good, but odd. Today we slept in, went to a garden shop and a stamp store. Cruised a Home Depot and went to Whole Foods. More window shopping than buying, we gathered a few things for meals in our room. We have a small kitchen and are pool side. I've watched more t.v in the last 2 days than I have in the last 2 months. I've seen all I can watch about the swine flu virus. Applauded the Alan Specter switcheroo this morning! Seems not even republicans like to be republicans these days..........who can blame them!
The bird shown here is a Grackle. So black they're blue! They're loud and fill the local trees. We seem to love them as they're very vocal.
Tomorrow Jon has some conference calls for the NAIA and we may see a matinee movie. We go to the movies maybe once a year, so this will be a date. On Thursday we'll set up our booth in Cottonwood Park. On Friday friends arrive from Kentucky and Michigan and it will be good to see them. We're all in the same hotel and tequila may be imbibed. (!) On Saturday the show opens and we'll sell lots of art repeated again on Sunday when we'll sell more. On Monday we'll begin our drive home and arrive back at Purple Hill on Tuesday night. We're missing our kitties and studio, but life is good. The remainder of our year is crazy busy, so this self-imposed respite is appreciated.
Don't let my being away keep you from shopping at my etsy shop.........I'd love to mail a few things when I return!!!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Earth laughs in flowers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our existence here on planet Earth requires stewardship,
caring and nurturing of our most basic and necessary needs.
Every day needs to be Earth Day.
Never should the negligence of mankind be put before the care of our environment.
This blue marble is home to all of us. It's cradled, spinning carefully within our solar system
and has given life to generations before us and hopefully after us.
It takes all of us - right here, right now to tend to it's needs.
Tonight I'll give thanks to the dome of navy sky and stars above me that illuminate the night.
The moist cool dirt under foot where my flowers will emerge.
The Gulf I grew up beside and the ocean that is my friend. I've dived the reefs and walked the sandbars of both.
The desert west that invites my mind to explore the open spaces it expands before me.
This is my home!
Thank you God for such a beautiful place to spend my days!
It's all sacred.
Happy Earth Day!
Monday, April 20, 2009
(¸.*´ (¸.*`¤~This is my salute to those who write code! They do with numbers what I do with paint. They make things take shape, they communicate. So to the souls whose day to day left brain activities revolve around ones and zeros - this is for you, the Binary Box!
Rubberstamped on a recycled cigar box, this geekey box is 5 3/4" wide x 6 1/4" deep x 5 3/4" high (14.60 cm x 15.87 cm x 14.60 cm.)
It opens by way of a sliding lid, has black feet and is lined with black velvet. Adorned with zero's and ones, it makes the perfect geek gift for him or her. Imagine this in your office.......the ahh's and ohhh's you'll get!!!
My boxes are quietly making their way into esteemed box collections around the world. If you're interested in a custom box, please feel free to contact me.
••I love making special things for special people!••
On my Etsy site
Friday, April 17, 2009
(¸.*´ (¸.*`¤~ Here is my Art & Soul Couples Box! This upcycled cigar box measures 5 3/4" wide and 6 3/4" deep and 4 3/4" tall (14.60 cm x 17.14 cm x 12.06 cm). A great box with earthy amber feet. The top opens by a hinge which allows for full access. Inside, the bottom is lined with sexy black velvet. Emblazoned with a images of wine, grapes, chocolate, strawberries, hands and inspiring words.
Makes for a most unique, handmade wedding or anniversary gift.
on my Etsy site
Monday, April 13, 2009
Some words become part of our vocabulary even when they are not real words. Barack-a-mole is one of those words! What began as evening pep-rallies at our kitchen counter over a few shots of tequila, limes and salt and the hope of Obama winning the election, have continued! We now toast to the small victories. A week of great work and new ideas formulating, a check from a gallery, an Etsy sale.... The everyday stuff that, on some days, feels like great accomplishments despite the odds life is handing us at the moment.
On April 12th, we celebrated Jons 48th birthday. On that day, 48 years ago, a quiet unassuming man was born. 25 years ago I married him and every day I am eternally grateful for his light in my life. He keeps me laughing on the toughest of days and is the defintion of a soul mate. Our job is to make art together every day!
I am blessed! I will hold his hand and heart forever!
He also makes killer guacamole.....hmm...Barack-A-Mole! This latest batch was served in a bowl we traded for from a fellow Etsy artist, Kristin Love. She creates beautiful heartfelt bowls that echo sentiments of hope and kindness. In exchange, we made for her a TattooDream Box for her handmade cards. Though many miles apart, her Hope bowl now lives with us and our card box with her.
Here is Jon's recipe for Barack-A-Mole.
2 or 3 medium size ripe avocados
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. red onion
1 roma tomato
1/2 lime squeezed
1/4 c. fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 tbsp. sour cream (optional)
a few finely diced jalepeno pepper slices
1 tsp. coarse salt to taste
Prepare the ingredients:
Finely chop the garlic
Slice onion into thin slices and chop into pieces.
Slice tomato in half, remove inside flesh and seeds. Then cut outer layer into strips and chop into small pieces.
Rinse a small bundle of cilantro thoroughly, dry with a towel and chop into fine pieces.
Once all of the above is prepared, cut each avocado in half and remove pit. Scoop with spoon and place into bowl.
Begin by mashing the avocados thoroughly. Next, incorporate the onion, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes. Add the sour cream to bring consistency to a creamy suspension. Squeeze the juice of half a lime and mix thoroughly. This will bring it to the final texture. Cover the mix with plastic wrap and chill for several hours. When ready, salt to taste, adding roughly 1 teaspoon. Mix thoroughly.
Tips for the best results: Pick avocados that are firm and not mushy. A slight resistance means it is ready. If it is very firm, place into a brown paper bag and store at room temperature for 2-3 days until soft enough for preparation.
Some recommended chips:
El Milagro Mexican kitchen style chips or Lundberg's sea salt flavored Rice chips.
Enjoy with your favorite tequila and Mexican dish. Olé!
Celebrate all the victories life sends your way!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I'm sharing with you, my blog readers, a close-up of a new piece I showed this past weekend at Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival in Houston, Texas. The title of this piece, "To Dwell in the Possibilities" was a fitting name to begin our 2009 show season. This a small portion of the overall piece which measures 26" high x 57" long. Framed in a handcrafted oiled cherry frame.
This title reflects the optimism that I plan to bring to shows. Every time my canopy is opened to the patrons who view my work, an opportunity is given to me to connect on multiple levels. The psychology of sales begins. My job as artist is over and the ability to connect begins on a level that they feel comfortable making a purchase and I feel comfortable letting go of the time, talent and imagination it took to conceive and execute this work. They give up what they find of value and so do I.
The people of Houston were wonderful and appreciative of what the artists shared this past weekend. The staff at Woodlands was wonderfully warm and hospitable. Seeing fellow artists and getting into the sun did my soul good. The Celtic rock band Needfire played a great set of high energy rock on the waterside stage. Pure energy! We purchased their latest cd, 'Chasing Orion' to enjoy on the 20 hour ride home.
We're home and regrouping and will be back in our studio tomorrow.
All in all, a good start to what will be a good year.
We feel ready and open to dwell in the possibilities!