art · Small Business

The Handmade Marketplace, 2nd Edition is a great resource for crafters!

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I just finished reading The Handmade Marketplace 2nd Edition by Kari Chapin, another awesome book I found at the library. It was a quick and easy read (I finished reading it during breaks at my day job), but it was a very thorough overview of the craft business. Throughout the book, Chapin adds input from the “Creative Collective”, a group of craft professionals of all different disciplines from around the world.

Chapin starts at the very beginning with setting goals and setting up your workspace in chapter one, and branding in chapter two.

Everyone seems to struggle with pricing, including myself, so I found chapter three extremely helpful. In this chapter Chapin explains pricing and members of the Creative Collective reveal their formulas and strategies. It was like someone turned the light on as these craft professionals demystified pricing.

Chapter four is about marketing, and Chapin emphasizes the importance of good photography. She adds simple instructions on how to make a light box using materials you probably already have at home.

Craft communities and the importance of making connections are highlighted in chapter five.

Chapters six through eight explain ways to promote your work such as blogging, advertising, and using social media.

The last four chapters of the book outline the different ways to sell your work. Craft fairs, e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores, and other creative opportunities are all included.

The Handmade Marketplace is a great resource. It’s so thorough; I can’t think of anything Chapin left out. I highly recommend this book to any crafters ready to take it to the next level.

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art · mental health

Drawings Influenced by Mental Illness

I would have never pursued art if it weren’t for my mental illness. There have been times in my recovery when it has been easier to show than to tell, and I have numerous drawings and paintings depicting my symptoms. I’d like to share a few with you.

 

all eyes on me

This drawing, “All Eyes On Me”, is about my visual hallucinations, or the “ghosts”. I often feel like I’m being watched before I see ghosts.

 

 

Don't-Let-Me-Sleep

This one is called “Don’t Let Me Sleep”. It’s about the fear I sometimes feel when I go to bed, wondering if the ghosts are around.

 

 

future motherhood

This is called “Future Motherhood”. I have always wanted children, and for years I wondered how pregnancy and motherhood would affect my mental illness. Now that I have a daughter, I know it’s nothing I can’t handle.

 

 

limitations

This drawing, “Limitations” is about the times I have felt my mental illness has gotten in the way of the things I want in life.

 

 

brainstorm

This one is “Brain Storm” and depicts the feeling of racing thoughts.

 

It has been a while since I have created any drawings like these. I love how my mental illness has caused creativity, however, nowadays just about anything in life can influence my drawings.

art · graphic design · Small Business

My New Favorite Series on Netflix – Abstract: The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design is a series that came out earlier this year on Netflix, and I was instantly drawn to it. This inspiring program profiles the beautiful and innovative work of 8 designers at the top of their game as they reveal their processes and motivation. This is a must-see for anyone pursuing a creative career. I found their stories fascinating as well as an incredible learning opportunity.

Episode 1

Christoph Niemann talks about his illustrations as he works on a ground breaking cover for New Yorker. He explains the importance of abstraction and shares exercises that help him with the creative process. I have enjoyed trying these exercises myself. He says on a trip to the museum, “The gateway drug is not creating art, it’s experiencing art.”

Episode 2

This episode follows iconic shoe designer and creator of Air Jordans, Tinker Hatfield. Tinker discusses the problem-solving element of design and the importance of creating something meaningful – something that tells a story. He says, “Get out and experience life. Then you will have a library in your head.”

Episode 3

Es Devlin opens up about her successful career as a stage designer. She’s designed for small theaters as well as sets of today’s most famous pop stars and everything in between. She discusses 5 ingredients she uses in her design work, and what it means to fill a void with art. She explains, “Everything’s only going to exist in the memories of people.”

Episode 4

This episode follows Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. He created an inclusive approach to architecture and his work focuses on sustainability and problem-solving. He explains, “The way you realize your dreams is one step at a time.” You won’t believe the clean power plant with a ski slope on top of it.

Episode 5

Episode 5 profiles Ralph Gilles, automotive designer for Chrysler. He says, “Everything should be art.” His designs are beautiful and functional. He calls designers “taste makers” and as he explains, “Taste making takes time.”

Episode 6

Graphic designer Paula Scher is featured in episode 6. She describes design as “existing beyond screens” because “it affects real life.” She’s a big fan of typography. As she explains, “Making stuff is the heart of everything. That drive never goes away.”

Episode 7

This episode follows photographer and cultural provocateur Platon. He still shoots with film and has an amazing way of connecting with people. He always asks himself, “What can I learn from this person?” He has photographed numerous world leaders and everyday people alike.

Episode 8

Ilse Crawford, the successful interior designer, is the focus of episode 8. She considers all the senses in her work, because “we are our bodies”. She explains, “Design is a thought process, a skill, and a tool to enhance our humanity.”

I loved this series and I am grateful to the designers for sharing their work and stories. It was truly inspiring. I am more motivated than ever to learn and discover as much as I can about my own discipline. Time to get to work!

art

Drawing Tips and Tricks

As everyone around me knows, I absolutely love to draw. I’ve come a long way, too. I’ve learned so much from other artists as well as taking classes that every time I pick up a pencil I feel I get a little stronger. It’s just so important to always be willing to learn. I would like to share a few tips and tricks that have helped me along the way.

A few years ago I took several classes at the Art College at Origins Game Fair. One helpful tip I learned is to use tracing paper to transfer drawings. This has saved me millions of erased pencil lines. Cover a piece of tracing paper with graphite, and tape it graphite side down to your paper using painter’s tape. Tape the tracing paper containing your drawing on top, and trace your drawing with a ballpoint pen.

Another fun trick is to use Sharpies during life drawing sessions. I remember using Sharpies in my drawing class in college to practice making deliberate lines. I’ve experimented with them during figure drawing, and I was pretty happy with the results.

life-drawing

Draw what you actually see, not what you think it should look like.

Guides for body proportions are also helpful. I find drawing hands to be especially challenging. I tend to make them too small. My drawing instructor used to hold his hand in front of his face so I could see a comparison.

This is a really simple one, but it made a huge difference for me. When I first started showing my work I had a lot of abstract paintings featuring eyes. One artist suggested I put a light catch in my eyes. I had never even thought of it, but it was definitely an improvement.

eye

My last tip is to experiment. My favorite project of my drawing class was to find 25 different ways to draw a single object. Not only was the project fun, I also ended up with some interesting pieces.

Elmer

I want to continue to learn, experiment, and grow. Hopefully, soon I can write another blog post about new things I’ve learned.

Do you have an interesting or useful tip? Please share and comment below!

art

My Favorite Past Art Shows

There is nothing more freeing to me than drawing. Discovering and feeding my interest in art during my early recovery from schizoaffective disorder was very healing, and expressing my symptoms through drawing brought me peace.

Over the past ten year I have been able to participate in some amazing art shows in some interesting places. Here are my 5 of my favorites.

  1. Multimedia Recital at Michigan State University (2015)

My dear friend Travis, a euphonium player and doctoral student at MSU, invited me to participate in a multimedia recital. He performed the music, and I created artwork inspired by the songs he selected. During the recital, the lights were off and my artwork was projected on a large screen. Art shows usually make me nervous, but I was especially anxious at the recital when I saw how big the projection screen was. I was happy to have my supportive family there with me. You can see a portion of the recital here.

  1. Visions and Voices (2013)

This was a solo show I had at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, OR. I feel like there’s a lot of freedom in solo shows, and all of these drawings were about my hallucinations. Unfortunately, school and work schedules and finances kept me from attending the show in person. I live in Ohio, so Oregon is pretty far away.

  1. Gen Con Art Show (2012)

This was my first artist alley, and the size of the convention was so overwhelming. I like this show because I was really struggling the first couple days. I’m shy and crowds freak me out, but by the end of the con I had made several sales, enough to break even, and I felt like I was on top of the world. Plus I challenged myself by doing art with a fantasy theme.

  1. Exposed and Empowered (2012)

Red Tornado Art Gallery in Findlay, OH hosted my friend Rebeca and I for a two-woman show. We dealt with mental health issues and the show felt very raw. This was the most people I have ever had at an opening. We were both from the area, so there were lots of family and friends. Plus Findlay is a small town and the gallery owner knew everyone.

  1. Agnes Reynolds Jackson Fund Benefit (2009)

This group show had many artists and bands as well, and was held in Toledo, OH. The show had a very underground feel. The Agnes Reynolds Jackson Fund is a local organization that fights for women’s reproductive rights in Northwest Ohio, so it felt great to be a part of something so meaningful.

These past ten years of art shows have been amazing, but I’m hoping it’s only the beginning.

art · graphic design · graphics for shirts · Heat Press · Onesies · Small Business

Branching Out: Comparing Etsy, eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet

I have been selling products online for nearly 2 years now, and I fear I am putting all my eggs in one basket. I spend most of my time working on my Etsy shop. I also sell on eBay, ArtYah, and Zibbet, but I often ignore these sites. I want to learn more about these other shops. The vast majority of my sales come from Etsy, so that’s why I spend all my time there. It’s time for me to branch out. As I’ve painfully learned, online sales can be unpredictable, so now I would like to develop multiple sources of income. It took a lot of work to get where I am today on Etsy, so it probably takes just as much work on the other sites. Here’s what I’ve learned.

Etsy

Let me start with what I know about being an Etsy seller. Etsy is a very popular site for handmade and vintage items, and your customers are very targeted. Customers come there looking for items that are one-of-a-kind. There are over a million active sellers on Etsy, so competition is fierce. Some of the things I like about Etsy are that it’s easy to create custom orders, the site is very user friendly, and you can always find help in the forums. Listings cost only 20 cents, and it’s very easy to get a shop up and running. Now what I don’t like: the fees! Every month I get slammed with transaction, processing, and promoted listing fees. For every item purchased there are separate transaction and processing fees. I do get sales from promoted listings, but man those fees really add up!

eBay

I also sell on eBay, which is also a very popular site, but the customers aren’t as targeted. You can find just about anything on eBay, not just handmade and vintage. I find eBay to be more difficult than Etsy. It’s definitely not as user friendly, especially when adding listings. The fees are a mystery to me. Sometimes my listings are free, but if I post to multiple categories, it’s 30 cents. I do like the bulk listings feature, though. One thing that’s disappointing is that the traffic stats lag a few days behind. I keep a record of my stats on Etsy and eBay so I can track trends. Etsy is usually just a few hours behind. I also read on the Etsy forums that many sellers think “bigger stores” overrun eBay.

ArtYah

I opened a shop on ArtYah maybe a year ago, but have mostly ignored it. I am checking it out again because ArtYah is gaining popularity among Etsy sellers. ArtYah lets you import your listings from Etsy, which makes adding items to your shop a lot easier. ArtYah specializes in handmade and vintage similar to Etsy, and the listing fees are only 10 cents. However, ArtYah also charges a 3.5% transaction fee plus a percentage commission, so in some ways it’s like Etsy.

Zibbet

Zibbet is a little different. You can try it out and list 10 items for free. This is what I’ve done. Instead of charging listing fees, transaction fees, processing fees, etc., Zibbet just has a monthly subscription where you get your own domain. The starter plan is only $4/month. Zibbet also lets you import your Etsy listings similar to ArtYah. Zibbet specializes in art, handmade, vintage, and craft supplies, however is not as widely known as the other sites.

So that’s basically what I know. I have a lot more to learn! I plan on looking into these other sites and spending time finding other sources of income. I’ll keep you posted!

ArtYah ListingEtsy ListingZibbet Listing