How are we already halfway through January? Time has always seemed to flow at it’s own pace but with Covid 19 still looming over us it seems especially random. This time last year I would have still be deciding if I wanted to go full time with my art. I would have (or maybe very shortly after this date last year) signed up for the “Punk Rock Flea Market” – a very unique sort of show that included your normal craft faire stuff with car smashing and live bands. It was an un expectedly good event for me. I believe that same weekend I got accepted into what would be my largest show ever, the state fair up in Puyallup, WA. I felt like I got my sign that said go ahead, be an artist full time. So I quit my day job, excited for my overwhelming line-up of opportunities!
And then the virus struck, with lockdowns happening a mere week after my last day at my old job.
Long story short, nearly all my shows were cancelled and I even cancelled my own wedding too. 2020 was a rough year. But here we are, in a new year and with a vaccine on the way. And for all the disappointment I will say this unintentional sabbatical has had a few upswings. Without the expectation of selling things I allowed myself time to explore techniques or to make large show pieces. The improvement in the quality of my work has been quite drastic. I’ve also grown my social media presence and finally started making some online sales. I have invested heavily in myself and am curious to see what this year (and future years) bring. I will probably always wonder what last year would have been like without the virus. I’ll think wistfully of large events like state fairs, which may take a few years to fully recover from all this. But I am not going to live in the past, or whine (too much) about my lost year because it wasn’t really lost. Today I have an impressive catalogue of 54 items on Etsy. I have a better appreciation for the value of my own work, a few of those large show pieces I made last year actually sold with no shows at all. I feel focused. All this extra time to reflect of whether or not I should be a full time artist have actually strengthened my resolve. I can do this!
This year has been rough, I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had life impacted by 2020. But now it is December, and with the new year looming around the corner I want to send out some positive energy and be hopeful that next year will be better. So I want to flip the script, see the silver lining, and remind myself that these trials may one day be a shining accomplishments that help me grow. My best accomplishment this year was continuing to work on my fiber art in spite of losing most of the venues I could sell it at.
I didn’t just work to keep my hand busy either, I worked to improve. Without all the show and conventions I didn’t need the small impulse buy type items I sell the most of. So this was my chance to get artistic, test techniques, new materials, and work on my understanding of anatomy.
And something great started to happen. I wasn’t just improving, people were noticing it! Big pieces I thought for sure would sit around for a while because I had to price them high were selling and I was getting commissions both big and small. The past couple of months have been close to profitable and that is amazing all things considered.
So I’m feeling optimistic. Almost confident (for the first time since the pandemic began) that I can make it in this world with my art. So crazy!
If you want to learn more about commissions feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love fall best of all the seasons, and October is not only my birth month, but Halloween is definitely my favorite holiday. So imagine my pleasant surprise to get two large, theme appropriate commissions for this month. First up is a raven dragon pictured below. Life has been so hard this year but I truly want to make the most of things, even now in 2020. So yay raven dragon! Who knows, maybe this is the first domino in a long string of commissions. Christmas is coming up after all.
Commissions have certainly been a saving grace for me so for in this pandemic. Sometimes people are just looking for a certain species of animal but many times people want their favorite character recreated. I’ve done fanart ranging from reimaginings of children book illustrations to video game characters. Below is an image of my version of Flick from Animal Crossing.
He is sold ( a past commission naturally), and the customer plus their recipient were quite happy with it. I’m proud of it but at the same time it *is* fanart and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It won’t be my last (in fact email me any commission ideas you have lol!) but I wonder how much I should let it be a part of my business?
I decided to revamp my online presence. I confess that I started out strong but have slowed down as the this endless pandemic continues. I don’t have a strong drive to do social media and I always preferred in person sales. But as the weeks turn to months and I find my self esteem slipping. I told myself “the economy is just too bad to sell luxury items right now.” Or that “I’ll get to do a (in person) show soon. The truth is though, I *need* to be online right now. So I added my newest platform: Pinterest. And as I did my research I realized I’m long over due for a water mark on my images. The felted little deer to my left is an example of my new branding.
We are already into month 2 of the lock down. My shows are being cancelled left and right and I have a hard time thinking that spring is just about over. What has happened to this year? And what will happen in it’s second half?
I will take a moment to pat myself on the back though. I’m prone to depression and this situation is certainly weighing heavy on me but I’m still creating. And honestly without any deadlines or sense of “what my time is worth” I’ve been really throwing myself into projects and making some amazing pieces. Even if I’ve fallen back onto the habit of selling for less than I should it’s still nice to see some progress.
Naturally with large gatherings being banned across the nation now is a rough time for professional artists, any small business really. I follow a few small time sticker companies and they are pretty much begging for people to keep buying stuff. I’ve definitely have had to slow down on buying material for shows because at this point I don’t know when I can sell again, if people will come, and if they will have any disposable income. I thought, briefly, about trying to get my old bakery job back. After all I could start over again in a year, maybe the universe would be more forgiving of me trying to start a business at that point. But then, much like taking a year off of school, would I really be able to pick back up where I left off? Maybe I would, but I’m going double or nothing on this art thing. It’ll hew through my saving considerably but I’m going to stick with my business long enough to see if things become a bit more doable in summer. Until then I should just keep creating, after all, I may not be able to find chicken in the grocery stores but I won’t starve and I can make my own fluffy chickens here at home.
I ended up quitting the day job, and I was full of confidence for the first week. I definitely filled my days with lots of felting and was able to really spend time on the projects I liked, like the octopus featured on this post. She has to be one of my best creations yet!
Now I’m starting to get notices of potential event closures due to the Covid virus and I am nervous. I respect the decision certain counties have made to limit large social gatherings. I really do, but it’s hard not to be a bit concerned too. Not for physical health but my financial future. When I put in my notice at the day job I had so many selling opportunities lined up! Many are still there – so far, but with the closures and the new recession hitting I worry I picked a very bad time to follow my dreams.
My 2020 was off to a rocky start art-wise. In a bid to try and shake off the funk I was feeling I applied to the Washington state fair. It’s a juried venue and a very large one at that so I didn’t really think I could get in, and if I’m being completely honest I applied just as my way of telling myself I wasn’t giving up on the idea of going full time with my “art” (art is in parenthesis because while I feel what I do is arty, most people would put in squarely in the craft territory.) What followed was a series of events that made me feel like the universe was screaming, “Yes, you can do this and I’ll even help you a little!”
First I had gotten into a little local show. Last year is was profitable but nothing too extreme. And wouldn’t you know it, the week leading up to that show my day job needed a lot of extra hours. I didn’t worry too much since again, it was a small show in my book, but I would have liked to spend more time prepping. It got me to thinking just how long I was going to avoid going full time with the arts and crafts since there was already a conflict of interests. To force my hand a little the universe replied with an acceptance letter from the Washington state fair – I made it in! Now to decide if I was going to go through with it. While looking up potential airfare costs I got a large order off of Etsy and that felt like a sign. Then at the small local show I made about 3 times what I did last year despite not being as prepared as I would like. What a confidence boost! So I put in my notice at work and was feeling pretty good about it. Then I started to debate packaging since this new large event required a lot more labeling than the average craft fair. I had a nice chat about my target audience and felt sure that even though my stuff really appealed to kids they weren’t the buyers I was after. But doubt started to creep in my head the next morning. I wondered, is my target too small, is it sustainable? High end “toys” that aren’t toys is definitely a small niche. As though the universe was feeling my hesitation I got a message from a buyer that I made a commission for last year, they wanted to commission me again! I can’t ignore the signs any longer. I’m going to do this and I am going to succeed.