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Scary

What brought me here today:

I had a strange thing happen to me earlier in the week. By the time it was over, it had become uncomfortable. Bordering on scary. This interaction was with someone on a social media platform who is a follower. They admire my artwork. This person seemed to quickly go from pleasant admirer, to irritated and demanding in the blink of an eye.

The fact that I didn’t see how quickly the interaction had changed to a negative tone disturbs me. I was so pleased to chat with someone who had questions about how I created my artwork. In the past, I’ve had some incredibly lovely interactions with people via social media about my artwork. This must be why this negative interaction with this person disturbed me to the degree that I’m actually writing a blog post about it.

The incident:

I received a DM from a follower on Instagram. This person does not speak English. And I don’t speak her language. Messages had to be run through an online translator so we could understand each other. The conversation began like many that I’ve had. This person admires my work. They had some questions about some specific techniques and processes as well. It was pretty close to other conversations I’ve had with people online.

The first mistake I made was in taking a photo of a technique in process and sending it to them. This made the follower want more, in the way of a video. When I told them that I didn’t have any videos on YouTube or my website yet, this seemed to kind of make them pissy. My second mistake was offering to video chat and show them the technique. This failed miserably. My phone is old and the connection was bad. So I ended the chat.

This follower then started pelting me with video chat calls. I did not pick them up. This made the follower angry. They didn’t understand why I wouldn’t answer. I decided to end the whole back and forth by telling them that I had to work to do and that I could talk to her at a later date. The follower then got demanding. They wanted me to show them what I was working on. They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just set up my phone and let them watch me making art.

My tiny freak-out:

I really started to lose it at this point. I was scared. Whether or not the follower intended this or not isn’t the point. I just needed this person to go away.  Now. They were repeatedly told that I needed to return to work, and no, they couldn’t watch me work. When I stated that the work I needed to do was not art creation, but writing and computer work, it just seemed to piss them off more.

By this time, I had spent over an hour talking to this follower. There was work I needed to be doing instead of dealing with them too. To get away, I simply said that I wouldn’t respond to anymore of their messages. After sending five or six messages that I didn’t answer. They finally stopped messaging me.

I have not blocked this person. Yet. If and when they start this kind of stuff up again I will block them. My husband thinks I’m being way, way, way too nice. I don’t disagree with him. Giving people the benefit of the doubt is something I like doing. But believe me when I say, if  the line is crossed again, they will be blocked.

Nature:

I’m an incredibly talkative person by nature. Small talk is not something that I’m bad at either. I’m better at keeping my mouth shut now. Finland taught me that. I’m kind of an ambivert. There are times and places where I’m quite animated an chatty, like when I’m  teaching art to children. I require down-time in between these interactions to recharge myself. Time alone with my own thoughts is a requirement for a mentally and emotionally contented self.

Entrepreneurship:

I’m a small art business owner. A one-horse operation. This requires me to be a bit more extroveted in a few different arenas. Social media platforms are one way for me to be out there connecting with the people who like and purchase my artwork. The pandemic has made this kind of interaction the safest option for me and customers from a physical standpoint.

I require some down-time to be alone with my own mind in between my more extroverted interactions. Social media platforms are something that I can easily turn on and off when I need that break. Or when I have to work on any of the many pieces of my business that I need to. Creating my artwork is one of the ways that I prepare myself for interactions through social media.

Social media:

I do not consider myself in any way, shape, or form to be a social media big deal. The number of followers that I have is not incredibly large at all. Compared to many art creators, I’m a tiny little art fish in a HUGE art making and selling pond. That’s okay with me. I value all of the people who take the time out of their day to like and comment on my posts. I’ve made some insanely cool connections with fellow art creators that I value a great deal. These followers make me feel less alone in my little one-horse art business.

Currated content:

Who I am in reality, and the person I choose to show to the world through social media are not the same. It’s a strange dance. I know that I tend to over-share here in my blog posts most of the time. Time, and a lot of editing are involved in the creation of my blog posts. What ends up being posted has been carefully constructed for my readers. It’s definitely me. But it has to be noted that it’s a very currated me.

The same can be said of the photos that I post for people to see. I rarely post pictures of myself. Almost all of the photos posted on social media are of my artwork. The way I see things, I’m not selling my physical image. I’m sharing and selling my artwork. To be a bit more honest, I detest having my picture taken. What I personally look like should also have no baring on whether or not someone purchases my artwork either.

Parasocial interaction:

The curated content is what people who follow me on social media interact with. That’s me, but like I said before, a version of myself. I enjoy making connections with people. I’m a teacher at heart. Sharing my love of art and creation is a big part of my identity. A part of my identity that sometimes can overwhelm other parts of my identity.

I’m an artist who sells their artwork. There is a transactional nature at the center of my rationale of even being on social media to begin with. It feels callous to say that, but it’s true. Even when there is no money and goods being exchanged, this transactional aspect is in play. If you like a picture I post, you give it a thumbs-up or a like, or a pin. Or perhaps you visit my website and comment on a post. The algorithm has been fed, and I receive more viewings and more likes, etc.

The big problem with the scary follower is that they were demanding more of me than what they were paying. Liking my artwork on a regular basis does not give a perfect stranger access to watching me create my artwork. Nor does it allow them unfettered access to me explaining how I create my artwork, including patterns.

So, now what?

It’s a weird balance that I need to find. I want to be open and friendly with my followers. But at the same time, I just do not have the bandwidth or time to deal with the scary, demanding followers. There have to be some solotions to be found to this potential problem.

After talking with my husband about this incident with the scary follower, I will be making some changes. There were some rookie mistakes that I made in my initial interaction with this follower. Those mistakes will not be made again. This also made me think about the FAQ that I have on my webpage. I can make some adjustments to that. Then direct people who may get demanding to reading that.

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

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Trade Off

What brought me here today:

I’ve been thinking a lot about employment lately. I’m a licensed visual art teacher (Ages 5-18) with ten years of experience teaching at the elementary school level. But I’m not teaching art at any school right now. I’m working for myself instead. My husband is my business partner. He runs his own small business Dancing Lights Press.

We both work from home. Each of us have our own work areas in the apartment. There are daily work hours. Sometimes these are extended for me. Because sometimes I just get on a roll and want/need to finish a piece. The same goes for my husband.

There are definite benefits to working for yourself. It’s not for everyone. There are trade-offs that sometimes need to be made. It’s important to know what these trade-offs are. And how to negotiate them. Being a small business is not something I ever thought I would do. Thanks to free programs like Tyobileet, my mind was changed.

First things first:

You’ve got to have some kind of business plan. My husband has a degree in business. With the help of Tyobileet, I discovered so much about myself and how I wanted to work. Tyobileet did so much to help me figure out all of the diverse ways I could take my art business. I felt as though I had within me so many different options to choose from. This also helped me feel as though I wouldn’t be narrowly defining what my art business would be.

Then the pandemic started. All my plans for teaching art workshops went completely sideways. I had to change around my business plan. A friend I made at Tyobileet suggested that I open up an online shop. Her advice was amazingly precise. She helped me to decide how I wanted to show myself and my work online with WooCommerce.

My husband’s first hand knowledge of running his own small business has been endlessly helpful to me. He might roll his eyes and say I don’t pay attention to him. But I do. Thanks to him, we each have long-form, fully fleshed-out business plans. The pandemic is still playing mary-hob with some of my plans. But that’s okay. I have plenty that I can do to work around it.

Road less traveled:

I thought that I would have more agita about this part of having my own small business. The path that my life and my art business have taken seem out of character for me as an individual. At least when they are compared to the trajectory my life was on prior to moving to Finland. That path was a well-trodden one. Teach art in the public schools. Do my “own art” during the summer. Sometimes sell my work at craft fairs. Retire from teaching when I’m 67-70. Then make art in my old age. And sometimes sell my work at a craft fair.

After living for seven years in FInland the aforementioned path just did not look inviting to me at all. The idea of going back to teaching art full time again in the US public school system was not something I wanted to do. I love teaching art. Being ground-down, mentally, emotionally and physically by the job of teaching is just not worth it to me. I have some borderline PTSD as a result of some of the things that happened to me as an art teacher. Things that I never want to go through ever again.

One of the trade-offs of having my own small art business instead of teaching art in the public schools is the regularity of a paycheck. For me, it’s the least easy of the trade-offs. There is security in knowing every two weeks there will be money in the bank. But when looked at from another angle, it’s trading off my mental, emotional, and physical well-being for a state-dictated amount of money.

Breathing room:

I’m an intrinsicly motivated person. Art has always been one of the central interests of my life. I need little prodding to begin my work day creating artwork. If it weren’t for my husband, I would work straight through meals and late into the night. This intrinsic motivation is great for being an artist. It tended to make my life as an art teacher complicated in a very bad way.

When working for myself, I keep to a daily work schedule. Much like I did as an art teacher. The biggest difference between the two (besides all of the children) is that I’m completely in charge of my own work schedule. My work schedule is flexible. I don’t have to teach three classes of art before I can walk across the hall and pee.

This morning, I had planned on finishing this blog post. My plan was to proof read it. Then finish writing a few additions. Then publish it. Instead, my husband and I walked to the grocery store for a few much needed items. While walking, I took some pictures for the Go Marielle Instagrm account I post to daily. The two of us talked about future plans and growing our businesses. We both enjoyed the walk, even though it did rain a little.

Adjustments:

I have the flexibility to adjust my work schedule like this as a small business owner. There are all kinds of small shifts and adjustments done to my work schedule throughout the week. I know what needs to be done. And by what time. The way in which I get to those points is up to me. As long as the tasks are completed well, and on time, I’m happy.

The other side of these kinds of adjustments are when I get a piece started and don’t want to stop. I have to stop and think about what tasks can be moved around so I can continue creating art. Some tasks like processing pictures, having to work on the not-so-fun parts of website and online shop maintenance, can be moved around.

Some tasks, like writing copy for items in the shop, or blog posts are done a little bit at a time. I’ll fill in time between other tasks by outlining a couple weeks of blog posts. Or setting up Instagram posts and Insta Story posts in Canva. The same can be said of designing and writing my Go Marielle posts. I have half an hour before my husband says lunch will be ready? Okay. I’ll drop in all the faces for a series of Go Marielle posts.

Off time:

There isn’t any. Well, that’s not completely true. My husband and I both work an eight-hour plus day each week. But that includes most of the weekend, and well past 18;00 as well. That walk to the store earlier? I always have Marielle with me, so I can take pictures for Go Marielle. I got work done, even though it wasn’t the work I had planned on for this morning.

The flexibility to schedule my own pace for work production means that I’m working many more hours than I did as a public school art teacher. But I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m creating my own artwork and selling it to people who are willing to give me money for it. And I don’t have a principal attempting to convince me that my fellow teachers all hate my guts while doing it.

Stuff:

Some of the things that I don’t have, don’t bother me. We live in an apartment we can comfortably afford. There’s no car to fuss and worry about. Our wardrobes are probably much smaller that most of our friends. None of those things bother me. We’ve made the decision to live in a rather frugal, John Wesley kind of manner. The items we do buy must have a positive purpose in our lives.

It may look as though I don’t have a lot. And that fact must make me unhappy. Nope. Not at all. I have a studio to work in, art supplies, and a crap-tonne of ideas. Plus the time in which to bring those ideas into the physical world. Oh yeah, and a husband who loves me unconsitionally and is a true partner in all of our endeavours.  Life may not be perfect, but I’m content.

Cost benefit analysis:

What I gave up was making me miserable in exchange for a steady paycheck. Adding to that misery, was the fact that I love teaching art. And yes, working for yourself can be a lot of feast or famine. My husband does an amazing job making sure that the famine parts of this inevitable cycle don’t suck as much as they could. And yeah, we have to do more planning when we want to go to Target, or the grocery store. But for me, I don’t have to worry about a car. The walk is nice and the bus ride not incredibly long.

These are the trade offs I’m willing to make so that I can live a relatively simple life of being my own boss as a small business owner. Perhaps it’s the way that I’m looking at these “trade-offs”. Some people may think that part of a trade off is puttin up with going without the thing your want, until you can somehow attain it. As if it’s a temporary time of unhappiness until…you get or buy what you want? (Car? House? Job? Significant Other?)

I look at my life as a small art business owner more like, “What do I have and what can I do with it?” So, I suppose this could be interpreted as a glass half-full kind of outlook? Perhaps. I sometimes think I’m far too sarcastic for that.

So, now what?

It should be noted that our current living and working situations will inevitably change in the future. Neither one of us knows what may happen in the next few years. I do love teaching art. And would love to begin teaching workshops again. I’ve ruled nothing out and prefer to keep my options open.

My small art business isn’t where I want it to be. But I’m working every day to get it there. I’m building up a body of creative work, along with my dolls and Go Marielle. These things not only allow me to hone my creativity, but show people what I’m capable of. Even when there isn’t a guaranteed paycheck at the end of every two week pay period.

And now, back to work!

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

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Support

What brought me here today:

Building my art business is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done. Everything that I’ve managed to accomplish has not been done by myself alone. My friends and husband have spent countless hours helping me with the infinite number of problems I’ve faced on my personal entrepreneurial journey. There’s no way that I will ever be able to adequately thank or repay them for their love and support either.

More than money:

There are admirers of my artwork who are not able to purchase it. I also know that my artwork isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. While the main reason I’m selling my artwork is to make money so I can, well…pay rent and buy food, etc., I don’t expect my friends to buy a bunch of my work. You know, just because we’re friends.

For all of these reasons, I thought that I would add my two-cents to the larger conversation around ‘how to support a artist/creator‘ that you may know, or admire or both. I know that people have busy lives, so I tried to keep my two-cents as brief and to the point as possible!

What you can do:

I did a little online googling about this subject. There are several how-to lists floating around on social media. As well as some great blog posts by artists themselves talking about what kind of support they would like to have from their friends, family, and patrons. Some of these suggestions you may already be familiar with. Others may be new to you.

Comment:

Long-time readers know that I post regularly to my social media accounts. I take photos of work that is in progress, as well as finished pieces. Clicking like or giving me a thumbs up is great, but taking the time to comment on my post does a lot to keep interest in my artwork up among potential customers. Any artist with active engagement, along with those likes and thumbs up, can help me a lot in the long run!

Share:

When you see a picture that I’ve posted of my artwork, share it with your friends! This can help to stir some word of mouth regarding my artwork. If you’ve purchased my artwork (THANK YOU!) display it in such a way that people will see it and inquire about it! Even if that artwork is not my current artwork. There are a lot of people out there in the world that have my illustration and printmaking artwork.

Opinions:

Tell me what you think about the work that I’m creating and posting pictures of. Ask me questions about how or why I’m creating the artwork you’re seeing. Is there is something that really just turns your crank? Comment on it! Does my work stir an emotion, or remind you of something else? Let me know about it! Do you wonder where the hell I’m going with my artwork? Ask me!

If you know me, you know I can talk a persons arm off about anything I’m interested in or passionate about.

Inquire:

Ask me what artwork I’m currently creating. I spend the vast majority of my time creating artwork alone. Having a someone ask me specific questions about what I’m working on at the moment can show me that I’m not just out here floating around alone. Ask about what kinds of plans I have for other pieces of artwork in the future can help an artist feel less isolated.

Display:

When able, come and see my artwork when displayed in public spaces. When my artwork is hanging up at a local coffee shop, stop in to see it and grab a coffee too. Tell the coffee shop you know the artist. If I’m showing my artwork at an art fair or gallery, tell people you know who may be interested in my work to stop at my booth to see my artwork.

Collaborate and Connect:

If it’s something that you’re into, collaborate with me! Is there something that you’ve always wanted to create but weren’t sure how to? Artistic collaboration might be the answer. Do you know another artist who I might like collaborating with on a project? Let me know! This introduction could lead to all kinds of interesting creative collaborative efforts. Or, it could just be two artists becoming friends. That’s a win-win in my book!

Write:

If you have purchased my artwork, write me and let me know about it! Happy customer testimonials are something I can use to promote my artwork on my website. If you like my blog posts, leave me a comment. In those comments, you can ask questions about my artwork too!

So now what?

Hopefully, I’ve given friends and admirers some things that they can do to give me support without having to purchase my artwork. Doing any one of the aforementioned suggestions would be a fantastic way to support me as an artist, or any other artist you know.

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

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Time for Changes

What brought me here today:

I wanted to talk about making new artwork today. But I can’t. Because I’m up to my rear-end in Instagram problems. These problems are highlighting other problems that I’ve needed to work on for some time. So, let’s just get down to brass tacks, shall we?

More like brass knuckles:

Like I said, I wanted to talk about making art. But the business end of my entrepreneurial efforts are just smacking the crap out of me around right now. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I’m very active on Instagram. I post there every day in two separate accounts; Katie_Kinsman_Artist and Go_Marielle_Go.

My Marielle posts range from a single panel, to as many as twenty panels. Today, I have an eighteen panel story that I want to post. The post has to be divided into smaller posts. Which is no big deal. However, over the past few days, Instagram has simply not allowed me to post anything in my regular feed for my personal account or my Marielle account. The account just hangs.

I did manage to get five panels of the eighteen panel story posted to the Marielle account. But directly after posting them, I wasn’t able to post anything else. I resorted to posting eight of the eighteen panels on Marielle’s Twitter account, @Go_Marielle_GO_11. Don’t EVEN get me started with the insanities of my Twitter problems as regarding Marielle.

Control:

Many of the problems I’m encountering with Instagram and Twitter, as well as my online shop, are highlighting the lack of control that I have regarding my sales and marketing. At any time, Instagram and Twitter can keep me from posting. Either by blocking me completely. Or by having an algorithm keep my posts from showing up in feeds.

Part of me thinks that the reason with the shadowy monkey-wrenching of my Instagram accounts has to do with Instagram wanting me to pay them to promote my work. And I don’t have any intensions of doing that. When I discovered that I was shadow-banned due to the hashtags I was using, I simply stopped using them. And my views increased.

Money-Talks-A-Lot:

What I know is that there is nothing I can do to get Instagram, or Twitter, or any other social media platform to work in my personal best interests. Lesson number 1 in using social media platforms: if they’re free, then you are the commodity that is being bought and sold. The only thing Instagram and Twitter are interested in is how much money I can make for them. That’s either by paying them to promote my artwork, or by selling my data.

I don’t want to pay Instagram to promote my artwork. It’s not worth the money. All of the frustrations that Instagram is causing me right now are just pushing me further towards Patreon. They will take a cut of what I make. But when balanced with the level of control I will receive. I don’t think it’s a bad deal.

Art creation:

Okay, there’s a little bit in this post about creating new artwork! My order from Benzie arrived yesterday, via UPS. I’m very excited to use the felt I ordered on Elodia and Daria! Part of the reason I ordered from Benzie is because I wanted to order from a small business. The other reason was the prices. Having the option to ship UPS was also a bonus. Our USPS isn’t great at delivering packages correctly, or on time.

New items in shop:

I’ve also added six new items to my online shop! Kaṭṭippiṭi, Klem, Kyssa, Suudella, Penelope, and Ystävä Tyttö are now listed in my shop! Go and check them out! They are incredibly cute, even though I say it myself. While you’re there, take a look at the Teensie Doll Brooches! They come in three sizes!

Remember, when you buy artwork from a one horse business like me, I do the dance of happiness!

So, now what?

I have so much planning to do for so many different businessy-type things. They are all things that are a long-time coming. But I’m confident that they will be beneficial to my continued entrepreneurial success.

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

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Whipping it into Shape

What’s brought me here today:

I have had plans for ways in which I would like to expand my small business for quite some time. All of these plans had to be postponed until after the big more to the US was completed. For several weeks, while we settled in, I felt as though I began to second-guess some of my entrepreneurial planning.

These feeling are all just fear of the unknown. There will undoubtedly be some minor course correction as I implement my plans. Chances are, I’ll learn a lot form these corrections. It’s just that there are no guarantees that anything I try will actually work; i.e., that they will generate more sales for my small business.

That undiscovered country:

I’ve wanted to start a Patreon for the better part of a year. There have been previous blog posts in which I blather on and on about it. But for one reason or another, I’ve not actually taken the step to create a Patreon account.  Why?

Part of the why was detailed above; we were moving. So the timing was just not right. The other part of why I have to acknowledge as my own imposter syndrome adding in its two cents to all of my entrepreneurial decisions. I struggle with this a lot. I’ve never had an incredibly high opinion of myself. To the extent that I just assume people don’t like me because they know I’m a total fraud. Yeah. I know exactly how twisted that kind of thinking is too.

Add to those fears the fact that I just don’t know if anyone is going to want to kick me a few bucks a month for the art making content that I create. There’s this little voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering, “If they won’t by your artwork, then why would they want to pay for videos of you creating it?!” Yeah. My head is uh…well…you know. Weird.

Tiny toe dip:

Last week, I put a yes or no question up in my Instagram Stories. It asked whether people who regularly follow me on Instagram whether or not they would be willing to pay me $2-$3 (1.70-2.56 EUR) per month for content not posted on Instagram. Forty-five people answered, with a 100% yes as an answer. Not to shabby.

But I know wishes are not horses, just as an Instagram Story poll is not something that I can deposit into my bank account. There’s a part of me that doesn’t feel as though I should rely on this one poll at all. Psychologically, some of those that clicked yes, may feel that they have done enough. And that there will certainly be others out there who will pay a few bucks a month for my content offerings.

Such are the dangers of relying too heavily on social media platforms to aid one in making business decisions I suppose! I remember people telling me to open an online shop where they can just ‘click and buy’ and they’ll be my customer. I’m still waiting on a lot of those people to start clicking and buy. These folks were all wish and no horse.

Patreon content:

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I have my hands in many different creative endeavors. With regards to any Patreon I start; I want to under-promise and over-deliver. Please remember, I’m one artist working in a small studio, creating all the artwork, handling the sales, website and online work, shipping, inventory, records, photos, videos, and everything else I forgot to list.

Shooting and editing video are new to me. There’s going to be a learning curve. I hope not a huge one too. A new camera and software will hopefully make it all a bit easier for me. I want to have at least two videos a month for Patreon, as well as a lot of previously unpublished photos of work in progress.

In addition to new video and photographic content, I want to add more in my own voice about creativity, art creation, flow state and how I think and feel about being an artist. Perhaps my writing style will make more sense to some of my readers if they can hear the way in which I speak!

What else?

I want to have some exclusives for Patrons, like patterns, tutorials and downloads. Most of my readers know that I also am the Tall Person behind the stories of a little doll, Go Marielle on Instagram and Twitter. I want to offer Go Marielle items, like personalized story panels (for posting) and downloads for different occasions or holidays.

As regards Marielle, there are videos that I’d like to create showing how I create her stories. As well showing the creation of her own miniature living space. In these videos and photos I would be detailing how I create her miniature furniture. Then offer the furniture patterns for patrons.

Oh! One more thing:

A newsletter. I’ve been dying to create a newsletter. I know it doesn’t sound like something that a person would be “dying” to do, but I’m weird. Perhaps it’s the graphic designer in me that just refuses to be silenced?

The newsletter would be downloadable and contain more content not posted in my other social media accounts. Discounts for my online store are another thing I’d like to add to a newsletter. Part of me can envision a newsletter morphing into something more zine-like that is sent out to patrons at a certain tier level every month. But that’s a ways off.

So, now what?

As always, I need to get back to work. More accurately, I need to make final decisions about what I want to create for my upcoming Patreon. I don’t want to burn myself out. I need to think about the implementation and running of my Patreon to be like origami. It needs to be accurate and fold into the work I already have to do, well.

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

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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.

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Thoughts and Objects

What brought me here today:

My husband and I are getting closer to the big move. I must admit, I’m finding it harder and harder to not create artwork for the majority of each day. Making art is part of every day. I wake up. Eat breakfast. Sit down at my work table and start working. Most of what I’ve been accomplishing is a lot of list making. This isn’t a bad thing. I just need to actually start doing the things on the lists!

My time has been occupied with two things: sorting my art supplies and creating the layouts for my next day journal. It’s a lot of putting items, thoughts, plans and lists into the correct places.

New day journal(s):

I have come to depend on my day journal to keep me on track over the past almost two years. As an elementary at teacher, I kept a lesson planner, daily class notes and a daily journal. All three of these helped to keep me focused as I planned my professional life as an art teacher and as an artist.

A few weeks ago, my husband pointed out that our local Flying Tiger had some larger bullet journals. They were closer in size to my current day journal (17.5 x 25 cm). I liked the larger size and bought it. I think it was around 4-5€ ($4.88-$6.10). My current journal will be done at the end of August. My plan was to prepare the large bullet journal from September to December 2021.

It took me almost an entire day to add the layout to the new bullet journal. My husband came over at one point to see what I was working on and seemed surprised by all the work I was doing. He confessed to being a little less picky about the layouts in his own bullet journals. It must be the graphic designer in me. I can’t leave the pages un-designed.

This seems excessively anal-retentive:

It actually took me almost two complete days to finish getting the new day journal ready. Everything on each page is colour coded. Two separate stencils were used to highlight the headers for each section on each individual page. The dates and days of the week were all written in by hand.  Pages were added at the front and end of each month for projects that I want to work on. Each month has a tab. They’re secured with glue and clear packing tape.

Yes. This seems excessively anal-retentive for something as utilitarian as a daily work journal. Except, it’s really not. This day journal is going to be with me every day. I want it to be something that I will want to use. Finishing the layouts on all the pages will make it an attractive tool to use. The finished, designed layouts and personalization will make it more likely that I will want to use my day journal every day.

Like what kinds of bad things? Well, not keeping track of my marketing. Losing track of long-term project. Not being able to find passwords or contact information. There’s also not knowing what I’m creating, or keeping track of how long it takes to create. I also wouldn’t be able to keep track of what I’m posting online either. Keeping a record my artwork sales and shipping wouldn’t be done either. My day journal is the instruction manual for my small business.

Dividing up art supplies:

Giving away art supplies is proving easier than figuring out exactly which art supplies I need to take with me. There are art supplies that I brought with me from the US that I didn’t use much. And while creating artwork in Finland, I’ve become dependent upon some supplies that I know will be difficult to obtain after the move. I’ll figure out how to do without some supplies. And find replacements for others.

My sorting method is extremely simple. I’m sorting the tools, supplies and materials that I’m not taking with me into two categories: donating to an arts organization and bags of different items for specific people. I also have my carefully curated bags of recyclable materials. Those are already sorted and will just be placed into the appropriate recycling bins.

Strange bits and bobs:

I do have some materials that resist being donated or given away. My rather large button collection is one example. It goes without saying that the vintage and antique buttons will come with me. But some of the buttons are weird ones that I’ve been collecting, with the intent of doing something specific with them. Donating them to an arts organization will probably be the final decision.

Object ownership:

When my husband and I moved to Finland, we downsized dramatically. We had been reducing the number of items that we’d been obtaining prior to moving. At first, it felt strange to not own so much ‘stuff’. I’m an artist and having a lot of stuff seems to be part of the job description.

What I learned after moving here is that I don’t necessarily need as many things to make art. It  became more important to have the right materials and a quality of tools that would allow me to create the artwork I wanted to. Everything else that I have can be re-homed, recycled and donated to the right arts organizations.

So what now?

I go back to sorting for one! My husband saw that Flying Tiger had a few of the larger bullet journals that I liked and bought me another one. This means I have another day journal to prep for 2022!

 

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Tuesday!

 

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In Between Again

What brought me here today:

I’ve finished two dolls that I’ve been working on for the past week. Honey and Bizzy are now both available in the shop. These two dolls are the last of the major pieces that I will be creating in my current work space. Creating is something that I do daily, as a means of therapy. So I cannot imagine completely stopping while preparing for the move that is coming next month.

I’m still trying to figure out what I will work on while completely taking apart my work space. Creating artwork while dismantling my work space seems like a precarious thing to attempt. I can’t quite remember if I worked in my studio up until the last few days before we departed Albuquerque or not. I remember that it was the last room that we dismantled though.

Creating art until…

I have a short list started for what I need to accomplish in taking apart my work space. The most important tools, materials and supplies will be set aside first. Those will be the things that are required so that I can create the artwork that I’m currently creating. Other tools, supplies and materials can be sorted and figured out from that point.

Sometimes, I wish that my needle work and sewing was more two-dimensional. That way, I could transport the tools, materials and supplies, as well as the artwork in progress more easily. While I can appreciate that kind of needle work, I need to work in three dimensions.

I’ve contemplated cutting out dolls and simply having them ready to assemble. But I’m not sure. I’m going to create a few new sketchbooks so that I have ample space to write and sketch ideas for pieces that I may not be able to create for a month or so. Whatever I end up doing, you’ll be sure that I will be writing about it here.

Diverted:

Go Marielle will probably be getting more of my creative attentions while we are actually nearer the end of preparing for the move. A lot of what I do with Marielle is done on the computer. As long as I have my laptop, camera and an internet connection, I can create and post stories for Go Marielle. Hopefully these new stories will not be boring.

There’s also several different projects that I am so itchy to start, but can’t until the move is completed. This makes me feel as though I’m in a hurry-up and sit still kind of mode. My sketchbooks and my daily work journal will be helpful in allowing me to flesh-out my ideas and plans. So when I do finally get to work on them, I have good plans to implement them.

So, what now?

Well, for one, it’s a short blog post. With each passing day, I feel as though I have more plates beginning to spin. Remember that my online shop is going to be shut down after June 12, 2021. When I open it up again, there will be some items that are no longer available. If you see something in my shop that you really want to purchase, it’s a good idea to buy soon!

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.

 

 

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Here and There

What brought me here today:

I’ve been thinking a lot about my continuing evolution as an artist. That happens when you arrive at my age. Realistically, I have more living behind me than ahead of me. Looking back at where I started my artistic career, and then comparing it to what it has become today is only natural.

I was so completely positive when I was in art school that graphic design was all I wanted to do with my life creatively speaking. Looking back at my much younger self I have to laugh. The complete naivety and total belief that I would have what I wanted if I just worked hard enough at it. It makes me wince a bit inwardly. I was such mess with so much learning yet to do about the world and myself.

Starters take your mark:

Like many artists, I started drawing. I loved the illustrations in the story books that I had. My father and older brother were both talented artists. They encouraged me and gave me instruction when I needed it. I tried to draw like I saw famous artists draw in art history books. Drawing was a lot of fun when I was was little.

As I grew older, other art instructors and artists became more important to me as a baby artist. I discovered the artists and cultures that inspired me. When I was in art school, we were encouraged to discover (create) our own unique style in the illustration courses I took. I never felt as though I really had a style pinned down while I was there though. My style needed longer to evolve.

After art school is when my own style began to develop. I would say by my late 20’s I had a creative/design style. It was also within this same time period that I began to pull away from working two-dimensionally. My artwork became more sculptural. I began using a needle and thread again.

A-ha moment:

In my late 20’s I began seeing a therapist for some mental health issues that were becoming hard to manage on my own. The therapist had an office in a local church. The waiting area had a large, semi-abstract, fabric banner hanging on one wall. I remember looking at the banner closely over a few weeks. I liked it quite a bit, but couldn’t put my finger on why exactly that I liked it.

It finally occurred to me one afternoon that it was the materials I was drawn to. The entire piece was made from felt. There were beads and sequins sewn onto it. And a lot of embroidery work. It reminded me of some vintage Christmas ornaments that I had seen as a child. They’d been made out of felt too. With beads and sequins on them. I loved them.

I drove from that appointment to a craft store and purchased felt, stuffing, needles, thread, etc. Everything I would need to make…I wasn’t quite sure. I just went home and started cutting and sewing. Soon, I had created a doll. Then another doll. And another. Then a lot more.

Contents may shift during transit:

I never looked back. As of this year, I’ve been creating dolls for twenty-one years. That’s not to say that I’ve totally given up on working with two-dimensional media. Over the past few years, I’ve been working on larger scale paper mâché dolls. These pieces have lead me back to using a lot of what I know about drawing, painting, and illustration. In fact, I view a lot of my dolls as illustrations in three-dimensions.

The years I’ve spent living and creating artwork in Finland have left their mark. I work with more recycled and up-cycled materials. I’ve discovered that second hand shops are a treasure trove of art materials and supplies just waiting to be discovered and used. And I’ve also learned that I can create artwork in a fairly small space with a limited budget.

The move that is getting ever-closer is not going to be fun, and I know it. There is this part of me that’s kind of eager to get it going and over with. Because that means that I can begin work on several different creative projects that I had been postponing. Part of me also knows that my artwork will change yet once again as a result of the move. And I’m curious to see what the changes will be.

The only constant:

I’ve been enjoying the artwork that I’ve been creating in the past few weeks. They aren’t a wild left turn for me in a creative sense. But they are different enough to make me stop and ask myself why I’m creating them. For me the question seems to come back to the question, “What inspired me to create this?

Sometimes the answer is easy. It’s because I like a shape, or am attracted to a colour. Perhaps the answer is that because I want try out an idea for a dress pattern. Sometimes the answer is harder to pin down. Right now, my dolls have more heads because I feel like I could use the extra brain power right now. Part of it is that I like making sets of tiny heads, each smaller than the previous one.

Is it really greener over there?

Sometimes, I wish that I could hit on a type of artwork that would sell well, to a wider range of people. I sometimes view my artwork as kind of ‘all over the place’. Yes, there is a style. But most of it just doesn’t seem to make people want to purchase it. I sometimes compare myself to other creators who have a much larger clientele and thousands more followers and feel like a failure.

Part of me is quite jealous of their success. They have found that idea, that concept, that item that they can create and market to a wide variety of people. And they get money for it! Cool! Meanwhile, I’m banging away on a ten year old laptop and gluing additional heads onto my already not-selling dolls.

I have to stop and ask myself the problem that I’m solving for. Yes. Making more money from the sales of my artwork would be super-duper nice. However, I do not create my artwork with the sole intention of making money. It’s around number three or four on the list of my prime intentions. Expressing myself completely and totally as an artist through the creation of my artwork has always been number one on my list. It’s my prime mover.

So, what now?

I go back to work. I have to finish Honey and Bizzy. I just started their stands. They need their hairdos completed with some ribbons. And I’m still mulling over hats for some reason. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again net Tuesday.

 

 

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Relocation and Online Shop

What brought me here today:

My previous blog post talked briefly about some of the rather large changes that will be occurring in the life of myself and my husband in the near future. The timeline for our relocation is slowly becoming more solidified. I honestly think that getting ourselves emotionally ready to relocate, and making the plans to do so are the harder parts of the entire process. We’ve done this before, so it’s not a complete unknown to us.

There is a certain degree of freedom felt on my part once the process is completely underway. It forces me to to make decisions about what are the most important tools, supplies and materials that I cannot part with. When those decisions are made, donating, gifting and selling the remaining items is easy. While relocating isn’t ever easy, I do employ some methods for making it somewhat easier.

I’ll detail some of those super-easy-to-do methods later in this post. First, I need to do a little “businessing” of the business.

Online shop:

During the relocation, I will need to shut down my online shop for about four weeks. The last day that I will be able to receive and fulfill orders from my online shop will be Saturday, June 12, 2021. Orders received by 12 June will be sent by 15 June from Jyväskylä, Finland.

Large pieces, like Blue Doll #10, Sister Bougainvilla, Point of Conception, and y Tragedia, require more intricate and careful packaging to be sent through the post. I recommend that if you wish to purchase any of these pieces, purchasing sooner would be better. The closer I get to the deadline, the less I will be able to package larger pieces for the post.

When will online shop reopen?

My online shop will reopen Monday, July 19, 2021. When my online shop reopens in July, there will be some items no longer offered for sale. I recommend that if you see a piece that you want, purchase it before 12 June 2021. Because I cannot guarantee that it will be returning to the shop in the future.

If you have any questions regarding the temporary closure and reopening of my online shop, please contact me here.

What about the rest of your website?

Blog posts on Tuesdays and Fridays will (fingers crossed) still be written and posted every week. Relocating can be stressful and anxiety-riddled. Writing blog posts is something that I can still do with nothing more than a keyboard and an internet connection required. Keeping up with my blog posts will give me some needed structure during a somewhat chaotic period of time. It will also give me a way of communicating to the world.

What may change around a bit is what I’m writing about within each of the twice weekly blog posts. My Tuesday blog posts often have entrepreneurial and/or business themes. While my Friday blog posts are mostly about creating artwork and talking about what I’m making or thinking about making. Relocation time may see these thematic posts morph a bit.

And this is totally okay. My personal motto is: “If it’s not bleeding or on fire, I can handle it.” What this really means is, if I don’t need a physician or a fire truck full of fire fighters, I can fix and/or figure it out myself. Okay, perhaps with the help of my hardworking, long-suffering, Totoro-Bear husband.

Now for something you’ll really like:

I’m still creating artwork, but I’m keeping it small. I created eighteen tiny, teenie and teensie dolls knowing that they will be finished after I have set-up a work space in our new accommodations. Other pieces like the 4 Box Doll set, and the 4 Bottle Dolls will be finished in the new location as well.

I’ve started playing around with the physical form of the 12 cm dolls. I created Penelope and made her two hair buns actual little heads with faces on them. I was partially inspired to do this by the Kashira in Spirited Away. There was something that’s strangely visceral for me about these three rolling and stacking heads. I can’t quite explain it. I just wanted to make a small doll with stacked heads.

Another influence for this head-stacking is an episode of Adventure Time. It’s the one where Lumpy Space Princess runs away and terrorizes a village of little people that she calls ‘fat villagers‘. There’s something about those little villagers. I just want to stack them one on top of the other. The residents of the Candy Kingdom are also an influence. Especially the ice cream people.

Penelope’s sister:

The news right now, and most of the world is a bit scary. We’ve been watching the Netflix She-ra and the Princesses of Power series. It’s very good. The creators did a great job updating the characters while referencing the artistic styles of the past. It’s better storytelling and more cohesive than the Snyder Cut of Justice League in my opinion.

I was never a fan of the original She-ra cartoon or toys. I was 15. A little old for cartoons and dolls. Even though I loved cartoons and dolls at 15. I had to put up the pretense of NOT liking them for my fragile teenage psyche. (Insert eye roll here.) Newsflash to my former self: I’m 50 and make dolls and watch cartoons and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. The Geezer Paradox is on full display here!

Penelope’s sister, who still needs a name, has been influenced by the Princesses of Power. Especially the residents of Bright Moon. She’s getting a longer, poofier skirt too. Her boots will be more like something Glimmer would wear though. And perhaps a little crown, or three that are a little more Adventure Time/Candy Kingdom too. But first she needs a name.

Super-Easy-Organization-for-Relocation-Method:

This method of making decisions regarding what to do with all the items I’ve collected for my art midden over the years is super-easy. It leans into my intense love of putting things into categories. The four main categories are: Keep, Donate, Give Away/Gift and Trash/Recycle. There is also another category: Sell. I’ll write another post giving more detail about how I use all five of these categories in the weeks ahead.

During the sorting of items, they may be moved from one category to another several times. No decisions are final until the donation van pulls away from the curb, or the bag of treasures given to a friend or colleague!  Do not feel that you MUST give up items that you have a deep or sentimental connection with either. That can be traumatic. And this method is an attempt to reduce mental and emotional trauma.

Don’t feel as thought you MUST do all of this sorting in one day either. There is no need to get yourself mentally and emotionally exhausted or wound-up simply to finish the task in an arbitrarily set amount of time. Sometimes making a list of who I would like to give/gift items to is enough for the day. Other times, I can blow-through an entire wall of cabinet items in an hour and half. Take the time you need to do what you need to do!

So what now?

Well, I’m going to continue working on small pieces. 12 cm dolls mostly. Then there is all the cleaning, organizing and dispersal of non-critical tools, supplies and materials. And that’s just my studio items! Then I’ll be seeing friends and gifting a lot of stuff!

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