Posted on

Last Art Workshop and More Dolls

What brought me here today:

I taught my final art workshop before me we move. It went extremely well, even though I say it myself. The students enjoyed themselves. They participated a lot in the presentation conversation. And they made some incredible artwork. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.

Well, I did ask for a little more. I asked if they would like some donated art materials. The answer was an enthusiastic “JOO!” I left my wheeled suitcase that I used for art workshop tool and material traveling, fully packed with materials and supplies. One of the directors will also be dropping by our apartment to pick up the rest of the art-related things I’m donating. YAY!

One of the reasons this makes me happy is that I know that the supplies and materials I donate will be used by young people to make art. And through making that art, they will learn more about themselves and who they want to be in the future. Win-win-win!

Teaching art:

I honestly did not think I would enjoy teaching students older than elementary school aged. Teaching art workshops here has made me change my mind completely. Putting my finger on what changed my mind has proved difficult. But I think it has something to do with working with people who have a bit more life experience, and their own creative wants, needs, and goals.

Small children are fun to teach because in many cases, I was introducing them to an art supply, tool, material, or technique that was a completely new experience for them. Getting to see them learn and grow is amazingly gratifying as an art teacher. It’s as if you’re in the instant in which a child (perhaps) forms a long-term memory. And in a way, become a small part in their unique life story.

Will I teach in the future?

I hope to teach art workshops once we’ve become more settled in the new apartment, and surrounding city. I’ve already begun looking for community programs that an art teacher like myself might work. Teaching art workshops would allow me to continue teaching, while at the same time continue to create my own artwork. And grown my art business.

More moving stuff!

A few days ago, I was looking for a specific doll that I had made several years ago. I looked everywhere in our apartment, and found nothing. While expressing my exasperation, my husband said, “Have you checked the storage unit downstairs?” I looked at him like he was nuts. I got the keys and tromped downstairs to the storage unit. Guess what? There were four large-ish boxes of dolls.

Needless to say, there was quite a lot of cursing done as I carted the boxes upstairs. GAH! When did I create so many dolls!? Long story longer, I spent part of yesterday evening going through every single doll and sorting them into different categories. Keep, Give-Away, and Donate.

I’ve not touched the dolls again today. I was too busy. I’ll go through the piles again, to make sure that they’re going to the best place for them. My husband, many weeks ago made the suggestion that I use a lot of small dolls as packing for the larger, paper mâché dolls that I’m shipping through the post.

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

Posted on

Large Scale Life Changes

Changes are never easy, even when they are needed. Personally, I love my routines and I love change equally. Perhaps at my age it’s what change can offer that I find attractive. When my life changes, so does my artwork. And I do love exploring new places, meeting new people, and trying new things. Change can be fun, while at the same time not being incredibly easy. This is where I find myself as I write this.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a brief update of some of the events going on regarding my entrepreneurial exploits of the past week.

Workshop:

I was invited by Nuorten Taidetyöpaja to give an art workshop last week. The people in charge of the program asked me to present my Guatemalan worry doll workshop. It was so nice to be back in an arts educational space with eager and talented people to work with! I had so much fun sharing my artwork, ideas and creative art methods with everyone in the workshop.

The pandemic hit just when I was beginning to venture out an offer arts workshops locally. I had to change around my business model to selling physical artwork instead of arts instruction. The results of which are still mixed at best. Getting to put my teaching toes back into the workshop realm was a lovely gift for me. Mentally, emotionally and creatively beneficial to me.

What has even nicer than being invited to teach one arts workshop was being asked to teach another arts workshop! The lovely people who invited me to give the first Guatemalan worry doll workshop asked me if I could come again in June and present the workshop again. Wow! Of course I said yes! Again, this is so mentally, emotionally, and creatively beneficial to me. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity they’ve given me.

Social media:

I finally bit the bullet and got a Twitter account for myself (@KatieKinsmanArt). I’m still in the early stages of figuring out what I want the account to do for me. Right now, I’m just trying to get the hang of the platform. I feel a bit clunky at it at present.

Twitter has been around for quite a while now. I feel a bit like a late-comer to the whole thing. From a business standpoint, I know that I want to use Twitter to reach a wider audience. Hopefully a few people in this audience might want to read my blog posts or buy my artwork. Again, I’m still just figuring it all out!

Marielle has also gotten a Twitter account (@GoMarielleGo). Again, the hope is to grow her viewers. Her Instagram followers hover around 90 people, give or take 5 or so. I have so many creative directions that I want to take Marielle, but haven’t been able to. I’ve been waiting for some things to happen that would allow me to begin working in a direction that would hopefully mean growth.

The things that are finally happening:

My husband and I are relocating. This part of change is more difficult for me. Mostly because as a visual artist, I have so many supplies, tools, and materials to consider. As well as the physical artwork I’ve created for exhibits, and for sale. You never know how much ‘stuff’ you have until you’re having to move to a different location!

I’ve pushed back launching several different projects because I didn’t want relocation to interrupt them. Perhaps this is why I went ahead and got the Twitter ball rolling? It was something new I could do that wouldn’t be up-ended by relocating? Patreon, instructional videos, longer-form Marielle stories, YouTube, a newsletter, etc., are all things that I want and need to start! I just didn’t want to start something big, like shooting videos, only to have them stop because I have to attend to relocating my studio!

I’m not posting any details regarding our relocation until I’m comfortable with it. A large part of my personality likes having a degree of anonymity. Or at least as much as can be allowed as an artist who basically will tell her life story to a complete stranger on the bus.

So…

Now you can see where my mind has been over the past few weeks. I’ve been dealing with depression on top of all of this too. It’s not been necessarily a super-happy-fun-time-explosion if you catch my drift. My husband has been AMAZING throughout all of this. I would not have my website or business without his constant assistance. He also knows that relocation isn’t something I’m terribly keen on. So he’s been doing a lot of work to help me think of this relocation as more of an adventure than a terrible, overwhelming task.

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

 

Posted on

You Must Advertise

A kind fairy, in my absence, had surely dropped the required suggestion on my pillow; for as I lay down it came quietly and naturally to my mind: Those who want situations advertise; you must advertise…” (Jane Eyre, Ch. 10)

Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I think I’ve read and re-read it a dozen times. There were times when I knew I was going to have a very long wait at a governmental office or at an airport, and if I had nothing else I was reading at the time, I would grab my worn copy off the shelf and stuff it in my bag to keep me occupied while I waited. I’ve seen several adaptations. Each of them use this above quote in different ways. Sometimes it’s Jane’s friend Helen who tells her that they must advertise, and in other versions, it happens a little more like it does in the book. Regardless of how it’s portrayed on screen, the fact that Jane looked at her current situation (teaching at Lowood School) and knew she didn’t want to be there anymore. She had no family or friends upon whom she could depend to help her find a suitable position either. She could only depend upon herself to find that suitable situation and to do that, she would have to advertise.

Now, remember, this book was published in 1847. Women had very few options when it came to employment. Teacher. Governess. Prostitute. And even those jobs that were not related to sex work were not always well thought of. Jane was a teacher, so she had a somewhat respectable means of supporting herself, but she was a no-body without a means of formal introduction to a potential employer. This meant that she was going to have to do something that wasn’t normal or lady-like: she was going to advertise for a position herself.

I kind of feel like I’m walking around in this passage of the book. I’m a no-body, from no-where, whose artwork means nothing to anyone. The difference between myself and Jane is that I have a very supportive husband (we just celebrated our 9th anniversary yesterday) and amazing friends that have been incredibly supportive of me. I also have organizations like Työbileet and Zonta International (which has helped me with tools and supplies for the teaching of art workshops here in Finland).

I’m so grateful and happy that I have the ability to teach art workshops. Having the tools and materials I need, and the ability to find more materials at low cost (Second hand shops, recycled and up-cycled materials, and Flying Tiger), makes me a much more marketable for the teaching of art workshops in a wide variety of subjects and mediums.

My challenge right now is: where do I advertise? Remember, I’m an English speaker, who has a loose grasp of conversation and art instruction in Finnish. I understand much more Finnish than I can speak, thanks to all plethora of compound words in the Finnish language. But still, I’m not fluent. By any stretch of the imagination! I want to teach art! I just need to advertise. Where?

I’ve done some research, looking at traditional types of print advertising in newspapers like Suur-Jyväskylän Lehti, but I’m not sure that the teaching portion of my business is quite ready for that. Part of the reason is the type of advertisement I would like is not within my budget. Hmmm…I don’t trust those free classified ad sites as far as I can throw them. They just seem a little hinky. This leaves me with not a whole lot of options. As I see it, the following are my best bets at present

Facebook:

It’s not the greatest option, but it’s free, and I am part of several groups dedicated to foreigners within Finland. English is the language used by the participants. I have advertised, i.e., created posts, about courses that I have offered through other educational institutions. The benefit of advertising for myself and the workshops I can teach, is that I’m in control. The cons are, I’m in control and I’m still pretty limited in my advertising reach. Part of me really hopes that there is some word of mouth that happens that can help me!

Website:

If you’re here and reading, then I’ve made contact with you! Hey! Would you like to have some private art instruction? Are you looking for someone who can set-up and instruct an open studio for a public event? Would you perhaps be in need of someone to teach a group of children art at an event? Contact me through the contact form and we can meet up and talk about it!

Instagram:

If you’re here, more than likely, you read about this blog post on Instagram. Again. I’m available for teaching art to children and adults! Contact me!

Flyers:

You know that kind I’m talking about, the kind that go on the bulletin boards at coffee shops, art supply stores, on university campuses, libraries, etc. I keep reminding myself, ‘I have to advertise.‘ I can’t just start at the top, right? I’ll just need to make some really attractive flyers to get people to look at them for long enough to me to get my name and that I teach art into their heads!

YouTube:

This has been pacing around in the back of my mind for some time. I watch several dozen YouTubers on a regular basis and I know how hard it is to break through the algorithm. If I do use YouTube, it would be something that I direct people to from other platforms like this website, Facebook or Instagram. I’m not super-comfortable being on camera, so I would have to really think about what I was uploading and why.

I still can’t believe that I have so many problems marketing and promoting myself as an artist and as an art teacher. What makes this even worse is that I have a BFA in graphic design. I love design and I love illustration. I just cannot seem to advertise myself, my art and my accomplishments with any degree of comfort. Sometimes I just want to post a sign like the one below:

I don’t think this would go over very well as a good advertising for myself or my artwork. Oh well. I suppose I have to get all of the bad advertising ideas out before I can come up with some better ones!

 

Posted on

I’m Teaching an Art Workshop!

I have begun working locally, teaching art workshops. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating art with the wonderful people who have attended one of my workshops! I have an up-coming workshop at Jyvälän Settlementti, teaching a one-day workshop in which the participants will create their own, unique worry dolls, inspired by the Mayan people of Guatemala.

If you live in the Jyväskylä and are interested, contact Jyvälän Settlementti at +041.217.202, or you can visit their website, at www.jyvala.fi. They have a lot of interesting courses to choose from!