Happy Weekend! If you’re a Lowcountry Local and will be around Port Royal Saturday, come on down Paris Avenue and look for the Starving Artist Market! I’ll be giving that a go for the first time tomorrow – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., weather willing…. :0)
It’s about that time – time to slow down and name what we’re grateful for. I’m most thankful for the priceless intangibles: family, friends, health, freedom, opportunity. My thoughts and prayers are for those whose hearts (or bodies) ache this time of year.
And while my art business is less important than those intangibles, I’m still thankful to be able to say – Whew! Made it through the first year, and I’m excited about the future. I might not be paying the mortgage or the college tuition (yet, anyway!), but I’m pleased to be moving forward. I learn more with each show or festival, and I know a lot more about selling on Etsy now than I did last fall. I’ve had a lovely little rush of orders this month, too, which I hope continues through the holidays!
My art business has tangibles and intangibles, too. The tangibles I’m thankful for include a “yes” from the Trademark office this past year re. my artsyletters name, and a new, old studio space waiting for me in Beaufort, South Carolina, where we’re moving. (I’ll do a post on that in the future – it’s right on Bay Street, in an 1890 building!) I’ve found suppliers I love ordering from and I’m getting better and better at shipping, with all its myriad dynamics. My booth set-up has gotten more appealing with each show, and I’ll continue to tweak that I’m sure.
The intangibles? First, discovering that I was indeed appealing to my target market. I’ve sold items to fellow writers & poets, teachers, librarians, college professors, artists, and book lovers of all ages – sending packages all across the country (including Hawaii) and to England, France, and Canada. Nothing could make me happier. Even more special, some customers have shared comments I will treasure always, particularly about my altered page collages (I’m making more, I promise!): “Your work calls to me.” “This piece speaks to my soul.” “So excited to give this.” “Love your creativity.”
Those kind words are the fuel that keeps me in a creative frenzy!
This Emily Dickinson collage features “There is No Frigate like a Book” and gorgeous 1800s illustrations, plus vintage bling, and the fairy door book collage below says, “I think your wings are strong enough to carry you” from a 100-year-old text. I think the glue was still drying at last weekend’s show, and they both sold!
Second art business intangible: the amazing support I’ve received from creative friends. There’s my art critique group, who heard me verbalize this nugget of an idea for the first time just over a year and a half ago. (My Thanksgiving post last year was about them! – Also thankful that we added Leighanne Schneider to the mix this year).
Also, where would I be without Kim Siegelson,
my award-winning writer friend with a wonderful vintage shop on Etsy, Perfect Patina. Okay, I’d be floundering. I’ve called Kim – um, I don’t know exactly how many times, but several – with Etsy questions. I’ve got some good books on Etsy and online selling of art, and I consult the Etsy blogs, but there is no substitute for talking to someone who has been in the trenches and marched triumphantly ahead. Thank you, Kim!
Whether it’s pestering graphic design whiz Kathleen with emergency photo editing questions, or snagging Paula and Beth for antique market outings, or doing some serious vintage hunting with Kim, I’ve been so very fortunate to have partners in my artsy crimes. Friends have shown up at shows, too – aforementioned Beth and Paula, Peggy, Barbara, Janice, Michael & Candy, the Kennedy clan, Trish and others- not only to buy a gift here or there but to offer a booth-sitting break and words of encouragement.
Finally, I’m thankful for my family (hubby Jeff and kids Morgan and Seth) – they’ve put up with art show explosions from time to time in the house. (Oh – you’re supposed to EAT on the dining room table?!) And, they’ve put up with my way-too-old-for-this all nighters and my being out of pocket for weekends here and there. Daughter Morgan put my entire inventory on Square so I can make sales with just a couple of clicks at shows. She can tweet, post to Facebook, and conduct transactions all at the same time!
Huge thanks to my online friends who have “liked” my Facebook page and shared posts, followed me on Twitter, commented on my blogs and mentioned me on theirs, “favorited” items on Etsy (& purchased them, too!), and generally helped spread the love in this vast virtual community. Julie, Renee, Cathy, Jone, Liz, Jama, Irene, Susan, Laura S., Laura Sh., Tabatha, Stephanie, Tricia, Linda, Kirby, Betsy, Joy, Elizabeth, Gail, Michelle, Beth, Janet and more – I am very, very thankful! :0)
Wishing you and yours a creative and love-filled Thanksgiving holiday.
I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas In Central Park in Cumming, Georgia this weekend. (Nearly 100 juried arts and crafts vendors, plus holiday family fun and food!)
My little basket full of holiday promotional postcards went to the post office yesterday, too – all dressed up with holiday stickers.
(If you don’t receive one and would like a Coupon Code for my Etsy shop this season, please send an email!)
Do you have any book lovers, teachers, librarians, writers or poets on your holiday list? I hope you’ll check my Etsy shop, where I’m continuing to add items each week. Maybe some art for a literary type?
Note cards perhaps, or bookmarks, magnets, fancy matted initials… Feel free to browse around the shop and ask me any questions!
I really do love creating items that others will enjoy. In fact, here’s a sneak peek at my version of a manicure this week- ink under the fingernails, paint on top. Just the way I like it!
Oh – and I’m always happy to provide FREE GIFT WRAP with a hand-lettered tag.
Raising a cup of cocoa with wishes for lots of happy jingles in your corner of the world. Now… break’s over – I’ve got to get back to work!
I love my customers. It’s been an honor to connect with old and new friends at recent shows.
Folks who are attracted to art with a literary bent are usually pretty interesting, thoughtful people. One such new acquaintance discussed a custom order option for her book club – she wanted to present the members with bookmarks as gifts and picked out a few designs for me to send her in bulk. We got to chatting, and she said, “If you ever make a Book Club bookmark, let me know.”
“I’ve had that on my to-do list,” I said. “How soon would you need them?”
Long story short, I came home, set up a little still life, got out the golden-buff parchment paper and my inks and paint, and got busy. Nothing like a “lowest prices of the year” sale at the online printer’s, ending at midnight, to spur on creativity! (I use Overnight Prints, by the way – “the greenest online printer in the world,” so says their website.)
I emailed her the image I sent off for printing, and she decided to get these instead of the ones she’d picked out. Customers do have great ideas!
Well, with that sale’s ticking deadline teasing me from my computer screen, I also got out the white paper, whipped up this “Poets” bookmark design, placed it over the illustration I’d just made (covering the Book Club lettering), scanned it in, and ordered these too. (Love me some Gothic/black letter, I do.) I made the deadline only because it wasn’t Eastern Standard Time there, evidently. ;0)
Sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way! I’ll get these new bookmarks listed in my Etsy shop sometime today. [DONE – Click here for the link to the Book Club bookmark, and click here for the Poets bookmark.]
In other news, we just returned from Nashville to celebrate Family Weekend with our youngest, a new college freshman. Before we hit the honkytonks Saturday afternoon to listen to music, I dragged my guys out to find Antique Archeology, one of the storefront shops of Mike Wolfe and crew from The History Channel’s American Pickers.
It was a fun stop, but heads’ up – it’s a small space (overly warm if lots of people are inside), featuring some items recognizable from episodes and primarily show souvenirs such as tee shirts, coffee cups, and the like. I bought a cool postcard and a small poster which says “Rock the Rust” for my studio.
I plan to rock a lot more rust this fall, and more thick black lettering, too. Wishing you a creative October, whatever time zone you’re in!
Thanks to everyone who ventured out this past weekend to Art in the Square here in North Georgia. A special shout-out to my daughter, Morgan, who interrupted her busy college studies to drive down, package cards til after midnight, get up early both days and help haul, sell, and send out some social media love. Couldn’t have done it without her!
(She also recently set up my whole inventory on my Square register on my new iPad Mini. Can’t TELL you how easy that makes it to conduct transactions with a little less fuss and flurry! Square keeps track of everything – cash as well as credit card sales – and now the whole process is even easier. No entering of numbers, just a few clicks!)
Saturday started out all right, but the sprinkles became drizzles and, sad for us, soon a deluge. Show organizers came around early afternoon and said it was all right to close up and return early on Sunday. I think just about everyone did. Tip: If rain’s in the forecast, don’t put your booth right up next to the curb. The rain came in a torrent and flooded our tent. Our show-savvy neighbor helped us move the tent up a bit. My merchandise fared all right with the tent and with plastic I brought, but Morgan and I were drenched and miserable. A bright spot? The gentleman playing bagpipes, undeterred by rain!
Other bright spots included friends who came by, such as Paula:
She has a great new blog, by the way – “Random Thoughts from the Creative Path.”
Check it out!
Sunday brought the S*U*N, and a happier vibe all around. I enjoyed meeting customers, some from last year and some brand new!
The lovely Maddie, who had been to my booth last year, came by with her family, and her mom was one of my very best customers all weekend. (Thank you!) Maddie picked out one of my favorite items, too – some really old typewriter keys I set into earrings. Why were these special?
Well, they have neat white letters & symbols on backgrounds, but even better, along with the letter “M,” Maddie liked the number five key, which has the British pound symbol above it! Very cool. She put them right on and consented to letting me snap a picture. Isn’t she classy and gorgeous?
After some constructive comments from a couple of artsy friends at the last show, and following my own instincts as well, I opened up the layout of my booth and was really happy with the flow.
I had to sacrifice one side of a panel, but the extra space was more than worth it.
All in all, even with Saturday’s washout, it was a good weekend. Thanks to my father-in-law, Reuben, who helped break down and pack up my booth after Morgan had to get back to school. I finally got my car unpacked, but don’t ask if everything’s put away yet… ;0) Some of it won’t be right away, anyway – I’ll be listing these new items I made for the show in my Etsy shop very soon!
As we soon round the corner into the holiday gift-buying season, don’t forget to support your local creative folk. The artists who participated in Art in the Square (and ones in your town, too) offer unique and wonderful treasures, and they’re made in the USA!
(Happy First Full Week of Fall, Y’all…)
In Unity’s “Daily Word” devotional booklet entry today, there’s a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
As we celebrate sweeping, life-affirming dreams for humanity today, I’m also thankful for smaller, individual ones. My kids are both starting a new year in college, and my husband has just begun new, fulfilling work. And I’m pondering that artsyletters is almost a year old!
While my business won’t fund those college educations, I feel blessed with the feedback I’ve gotten from customers this past year. I’ve sold work to college professors, history teachers, librarians, writers & poets, artists, high school students, mothers and grandmothers and husbands – folks from across the country and even across the ocean. And I’ve only just begun!
This weekend I’ll have a booth at the fabulous, crowded, lively Decatur Book Festival
BOOKZILLA interpreted by Dan Santat
in Atlanta. (Not too far from the children’s stage – come on by if you’re there.) I’ve enjoyed participating as an author before, but this will be my first time as a solo vendor.So my desk/work area pretty much looks like this:
Multiply that, and you can imagine what my studio (and the rest of the house) looks like this week.
I will not have all the inventory I’ve imagined in my mind – so many projects, so little time! But I won’t run out of ideas for future shows, either. Here are some 5 X 7 pieces made with those new letterpress blocks I raved about before:
I’ve hand-stamped the blocks with oil-based printing ink, then decorated with a dip pen and India ink (and some gold on the smaller ones) .
And because I just found a wonderful complete set of typewriter keys on Etsy, I’ve assembled a few more earrings:
I’ve just sold three collages out of the blue, so I’m hoping to finish up a few more framed pieces to add to the mix. And I need to get back to blinging up some bookmarks, packaging notecards, putting together magnets, sprucing up booth decor… Who needs sleep?
Wishing you a moment to pause today and think about dreams big and small, with gratitude for those who have risked their own lives to make life better for others. And I wish you an outlet for your own creative dreams, no matter the size!
Greetings, Art Friends!
On the home front, I’m zipping between region and state tennis tournaments this week for my youngest, a high school senior and captain of the team. (Blog posts I’ve been planning in my head have yet to materialize, in other words!)
But it’s still Wednesday, so I’d love to share a few links which are sure to delight your eyes. Click around and enjoy!
Chip is a recent graduate of Auburn University and currently enjoying his first gallery show at the Ellenburg Gallery at the Homewood Public Library, next door in Alabama. If you’re in that neighborhood, check it out! If not, please enjoy clicking and scrolling online.
Next, you’ll enjoy tooling around the portfolios of Joseph Bradley. I met Joseph briefly at The Maker’s Summit in Greenville, South Carolina, in February. He hails from a neighboring town, Pendleton, and I quickly assessed that his paintings on wood panels have more than a few fans. Take a look-see and you’ll learn why! Joseph has just added many new pieces.
Last but not least on our mini gallery tour today is the newest member of my wonderful art critique group, fellow Georgian and the creative force behind Doublefly Design, Leighanne Schneider . Here’s a link to her fine art site, and she has a treasure trunk full of irresistible offerings at her illustration site. She doesn’t know this yet – nor do my other art critique group partners in crime – but I do plan to feature each one of them in a proper interview post in coming months. Forgiveness is easier to get than permission, you know…
Here’s hoping you are surrounded by colorful April flowers – and art! – springing up, and that the pollen is passing you by. Enjoy creating, and support your friendly local artists. :0)
Thanks for visiting.
‘Tis the season for holiday marketplaces. This past weekend, I had the privilege of exhibiting and selling my wares at the All Saints Fall Festival,
a church-sponsored art and gift show benefitting the youth of All Saints Episcopal Church in Atlanta, where my brother-in-law Tim happens to be a new priest working with the youth. (Thanks for letting me know about the show, Tim!)
This was the first time I’ve done an art show in an indoor venue. Ahhh – no worries about wind, rain, or fluctuating temperatures! I could get used to that. The space was smaller than the standard 10 X 10 outdoor show space, but I culled some items and squeezed in a bit.
Probably my favorite investments for the few shows I’ve done this fall have been:
A decent tent. I ordered a Caravan tent and have been please with how sturdy it is and how nice it looks. It was pricier than what you’ll find at WalMart, but I think it’s worth it.
Decent panels. I knew I wanted a couple of panels to hang framed pieces on, and I did some online research. The Pro Panels system seemed to get consistently good reviews. I took my hubby to a couple of art shows and had him help me compare the carpet colors on Pro Panels in different exhibitors’ booths! We liked the dark gray the best, so that’s what I ordered for mine. I’m glad I got the six-foot ones (not the very tallest) because I can just squeeze these into the back of my 2004 Honda Pilot.
A narrow display table (and a smaller one as well). I found a lightweight long, narrow table for trade show use and it’s been a great investment and easy to carry and set up. Google “trade show displays” and compare items from different vendors. Also, shop around online for a good price on table cloths. I opted for classy old black. (If they’re a bit large, just tuck them up and in with bulldog clips or safety pins.)
Magazine racks. I found lightweight folding magazine racks online and they’ve been great to set up displays of cards and small items in the outdoor tent spaces. It’s easiest to keep them in the box for transport, because those wire “shelves” will otherwise catch on everything. A folding display rack (lightweight metal legs and canvas) available from online art supply stores is perfect for matted prints.
Banners. I had a canvas banner made to stretch across the top of my tent with “artsyletters” big enough to catch the attention of folks walking around. Then for this indoor show, I had one made about half that size to stretch across my table. I read recently that it’s great to have your business name outside your booth AND inside of it, so I’ll keep using both. In my neck of the woods, you can get a nice long banner for less than $100 and a shorter one for less than $50 at local sign/printing shops.
Signs. After putting up a couple of hand-made ones, I had a few smaller signs made with real typesetting with phrases such as “Art for Your Literary Side,” “Gifts for Readers and Writers,” “Teacher Gifts,” and “Book Club” printed on them. They’re printed on a strong foam core type base, so they are not indestructible – but they’re lightweight and can be stuck any place with Velcro.
Lights. I’ve gotten positive comments on some delightful little battery-operated strings of lights I picked up at a shop in Greenville, SC. Should have gotten more. They were about $10 apiece and you can bend or wrap them around anything. I also use a few battery-operated “eye” lights I can twist around the tops of the panels. Found some on clearance at Office Depot and a couple more at Target.
Vintage, repurposed items. For my bookmarks, I found two vintage metal receipt holders. These would have been used years ago in a general store for families to keep track of their running tabs. They weren’t cheap – maybe $35-$40 apiece? – but they are so unique and they draw customers in to investigate. They also perfectly display the bookmarks.
Also, I found an chic-shabby shallow hanging shelf with great chippy paint. It fits right beside the receipt holders on one side of my panels. A few small nails in the outside edges of the racks, and, Voilà! More bookmark display space.
Oh – and when I display small refrigerator magnets, a small mid-century metal vanity shelf I found in an antique store does the trick! It even has little sliding doors I can store more inventory in, and it’s a nice height for the table.
Probably my favorite item is an old spinning card rack I got many moons ago from a store closing its doors. It holds 48 packs of cards and is narrow enough for easy transport, plus it comes apart and is easy to set back up. And you can put a sign on top! (I’d given this to my son, now 17, to put his baseball caps on – then took it back when I started my art business this fall. Sorry, Seth.)
I transport my items for sale in plastic tubs that can be stored under my tables. Remember, rain makes all the ground wet! So you don’t want cardboard boxes as your only storage option.
The cost of setting up a travelling shop can be a little daunting, but sales at my first couple of shows this fall just made up the cost of display fixtures. I think it was a good investment.
If you’re an exhibitor, what do you think are the most important things to think about when setting up for art shows? Do you have some favorite ways to display your work?