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Specifically to Sell

What brought me here today:

Most of the artwork that I’ve been creating over the past few weeks seems to be centered on a holiday theme: Halloween. I’ve not created much artwork with this specific theme. Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a much more common theme in my artwork. Some of the very first dolls that I created were influenced by this amazing celebration. A good example of this influence is currently available in my online shop, Cielo.

Day of the Dead became a favourite celebration of mine while I was living in New Mexico. It’s a beautiful mixture of Central American indigenous culture and religion, parts of Catholicism, as well as Spanish cultural influences. In Albuquerque, there were parades and public gatherings. The National Hispanic Cultural Center was a wealth of information and education for me as well. You can check out there website here.

Skull pins:

A few days ago, I created a simple pattern for a sugar skull pin and made a few trial run pieces. I have a metric tonne of pin backs from a delivery blunder a month or so ago. Creating sugar skull pins would use up at least a few of those pin backs. I purchaced some felt specifically for the creation of these sugar skull pins the day before creating the pattern. I spent about $14 (11.85 Euros) on all the materials at Michaels.

Once I figured out the most expedient way of cutting the felt. And what created the dimensional effects I liked, cutting them out went quickly. Adding the embroidery work to the skulls is akin to working on a very tiny needlework sampler. The pin backs are easy to attach to the back of the pin, along with the backing felt.  I can create quite a few of these pins per working day.

I also thought that it would be cute to add names across the forehead as well. This takes a little more concentration, as names can get long and complicated. These pins aren’t incredibly large. The pins measure about 2 x 2.5 inches (6.5 x 5.5 cm). The addition of names to the forehead would be in line with the sugar skulls that are given to people during Day of the Dead.

What’s the plan?

These skull pins are being created specifically to sell in my online shop. There’s no doubt that I’ll wear one of these pins myself. Just like there’s no doubt that some of the dolls I make I keep for myself. For me, there is a very distinct difference in these skull pins and some of the other pieces of artwork I create and then place for sale.

I sell my dolls, but rarely do I specifically set out at the beginning of a doll and think “YEP! This doll is going to be for sale!” It’s more creatively organic than that. There is an intrinsic need/want to create a doll. So I make the doll. It’s after the doll is completed that I make the decision as to whether or not it will be offered for sale. The three headed green witch doll with big boots will not be making an appearance in my online shop.

These skull pins were concieved of as items that would be specifically offered for sale. The materials were were purchased specifically for the creation of these pins. And the materials purchased, as well as the personal labour required to make them, have aided me in deciding on the pricepoint in which they will be sold.

Crappy custom experience:

I had an incredibly horrible custom order experience about twelve or so years ago. The client was from out of town, so the majority of our communications were by phone and email. I made sure that she okay’d every single choice I made for her doll. It was important for me to have her sign-off on every single design aspect of the doll.

When the day for pick-up arrived, she rejected the doll. She told me that it wasn’t anything like she wanted. Then she pointed to a doll that I had made for another client and said, “I want one exactly like that one!” So, I started all over again and created a doll for her that was as close to exact as I could get to another doll that I had created. Oh. And she needed it in like a week for some reason.

There was $300 dollars on the table. I was a poor artist and art teacher. So I made the replica doll and got my money. The doll that she rejected had crippled my hands because of the amount of embroidery work on it’s face and limbs, as well as clothing. The amount of work I had put into it far exceeded the price we had agreed on. Now I was stuck with it, and no buyer. I gave it away to a friend because I couldn’t stand having it in my presence.

Custom order pond:

A friend of mine suggested that I look into creating custom orders as a means of obtaining more sales. After the aforementioned custom order incident, I haven’t attempted any further custom orders. The whole series of events affected me so negatively that even the thought of offering a custom order made me sick to my stomach.

The skull pins offer me a chance to dip my toe back into the greater pond of custom orders without becoming overwhelmed. The only part of the skull pin to be customised is the name/wording across the forehead and the colour of embroidery thread the customer wishes to be used. A cutomer wants their initials “HPL” stitched on the forehead in red thread. No problem. Another customer wants “LOVE!” stitched in purple? Again, no problem.

What’s the difference?

Well, for one, I’m in no way emotionally invested in the finished piece of artwork. The second reason is that even though I’m offering a customisable piece of artwork, it’s limited. The space in which the customisation takes place is small. Most of the creative parts of the artwork have already been completed. Basically, the customer is picking a ‘blank’ and having me add in a few stitches.

So, now what?

As always, I can get back to work. I had originally thought that I would have enough pieces ready to add to my shop today. Tuesday the 14th of September seems like a much more attainable date to have these items in my online shop. I also suspect that Junia, Lenore, and Elena will also be added to the shop on the same day. Bat wings, black cats, pumpkins and all!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Friday,