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Lists

What brought me here today:

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I’m participating in a holiday pop-up sale on November 27th. It’s been at least eight years since I’ve sold any of my artwork at an in-person venue. The vast majority of my sales are via my online shop. My online shop came about because of the pandemic. I had indended to use my website to be a place to display my artwork, and to market my teaching of art workshops. Teaching in-person art workshops could not be taught safely at the time though. Selling my artwork then became the primary motive for my online presence.

Selling my artwork in person is full of all kinds of potential mental and emotional snares for me. The internet allows me a degree of personal anonymity that I’ve come to appreciate. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’m not incredibly keen on how I look from a physical standpoint. I feel as though my unappealing physical appearance might make people less likely to purchase my artwork.

That all being said, I’m still looking forward to the holiday pop-up sale. There is the potential to participate in additional pop-up sales at Books & Bagels during the holiday season. The limited amount of time for each Saturday sale is also short enough that I won’t get overwhelmed mentally or emotionally. I’m also looking forward to meeting other makers and creators as well. In this context, my extroverted side usually takes over. This usually helps me gain control of any mental or emotional stressors.

Prior experiences:

One of the ways that my husband and I made money for our move to Finland was through arts and craft shows. It was one way that we could make some money that could just go directly into our savings account. Almost all of the sales I’ve participated in were conducted at (then) local public school gynmasiums on the weekends. Two were quite large too. The table fees were pricier for multiple days. But the trade-off was a larger profit.

There was also an opportunity for art teachers who were practising artists to sell their artwork at the annual art teacher’s conference. I think I was the most nervous and the most comfortable about these once-a-year sales. Nervous in that I was showing my artwork to other artists as well as my fellow art teachers. And comfortable in that I had my close art teacher colleagues there as moral support.

One of the ways that I paid for my travel expences to go to the art teacher conference was through the profits from the sale of my artwork. There was also a nice little bit of profit on top of that as well. My friend Cinamon was such an amazing help to me during these sales! I’m just rubbish when it comes to creating attractive displays of my own work. This is one of Cinamon’s many amazing talents. She just made everything look so beatiful! And she was a great sales woman too!

Emergency:

I had so much artwork to sell at my last art teacher’s conference! My gallbladder had other plans though. While I was under-going emergency surgery about two miles away, Cinamon set-up and sold my artwork for me. Cinamon made sure that everyone attending the conference knew that this was the last time I would be at the conference. She made it a YOLO kind of event! The profits were excellent from that sale. And it was all because of Cinamon!

Prep work:

I do a lot of prep work prior to the day(s) of an arts and crafts show, or pop-up event. The actual day of the sale itself is one of the least eventful days. This is one of those events that could be illustrated by an iceberg. With the day of the sale being what everyone else sees above the water. And everything else I write about in this post being the enormous portion below the water. So, how do I start planing for an arts and craft show, or holiday pop-up sale? Read on!

1: Lists

I start by making a list. Actually, I start by making a lot of different lists. A list of the items I want to include in the sale. Plus lists of things like, displays, signage, business cards, petty cash, new point-of-sale card reader, bags, packaging, travel, set-up, tear-down, table coverings, table displays, etc. This is one of those instances when my natural inclinations toward having multiple contingency plans (i.e., Plans A-ZZZ) is definite asset. I’m already looking for some of the aforementioned items when were out running errands. The Dollar Store is going to a life-saver for some of these items.

There will be some services that I will need to purchase. Like business cards. We don’t have a printer yet, so I’ll need to go somewhere to have it done. I checked at the local library to see if I could print them there from a digital file. I can, but the problem is that I can’t use my own cardstock. So an email went out this morning to a local printer who has advertised that it can do small run copy work from digital files.

And, I go as far as to make lists of what I could wear so that I will look as nice as I possibly can.  I don’t want the people at a sale to not come and take a look at my artwork because they think I, or my display look unattactive in some way. I know that I’m trying to create an experience of myself and my artwork for any person, or potential customer looking over my artwork.

2: Accomplishing tasks on lists

The lists have to be divided into different sets of tasks. Some tasks are relatively easy. Buy table. That was easy. I’ve already checked it off one list. But then I have to think about the table covering and the displays. The table covering could be something that I simply purchase. But the displays are going to require designing. And in the case of the upcoming pop-up sale, constrution as well.

I know that I could easily purchase collapsible displays online. I’ve actually looked at some. The problem is that I didn’t find anything that suits my artwork. So, I’m going to build them myself using corrugated cardboard. I had created some displays using a Mr. Printable design that you can find here. There’s a super-cute little house too that I think I might try as well. The cardboard that I saved from all the boxes I broke down will be used to create new displays. These are quick builds. One day to get the structure together. Decorating them doesn’t take long either.

There are other tasks that will take much more time. I have decided to create new small pieces expecially for this pop-up sale. This requires me to hunt down the correct patterns. Choose the colours. Decide on exactly how many to create. And if needed, purchase additional materials to create them. I was just going over one of these lists this morning, making adjustments. Why? Because I need to be as realistic as possible with regard to my ability to create any given number of new pieces to sell.

3: Keeping in contact

I cannot stress to you how important it is to maintain an open and frequent dialogue with the people coordinating the sale, pop-up, or event! The minute that email or text plongs on my phone or lap top, I’m answering it. This helps the coordinator keep as up to date as possible. This makes any kind of holiday pop-up sale run so much more smoothly for all of the participants.

Yesterday, I received an email asking if I would like to submit pictures or video of my work that could be used to advertise the pop-up sale. I asked some questions about sizes and formatting and received a quick answer from the coordinator. The photos I chose will be sent to them today or tomorrow. For me, there’s some great free-advertising as a working artist. People who don’t know what my artwork is like get to see it. Heck! They may even buy it! The venue gets to show what kind of art items will be at the pop-up. It’s a win-win all the way around!

4: Moolah

Yuck. Now it’s time to talk about pricing of items for this pop-up sale. I am completely, and most horrifically bad at pricing my artwork. My husband tells me that I under-value my artwork. There’s a part of me that wishes I could comfortably price my artwork higher. I’ll get there someday. If business were to pick-up to the point that I was having difficulty keeping up with demand, higher prices would be in order I think.

I try to balance out the prices of my artwork at sales. There are a few higher-priced items. Many more items in the middle of the price spectrum. And juuust enough of the lowest price-pointed items to balance it all out. The logic being that there may be a few people who are willing to spend more on a single item, with many more able to purchase items at the middle price-point. Then there are the lowest priced items that are much more easily affordable for everyone at the sale.

I’m a bit nervous about using a new point-of-sale card scanner as well. It’s the kind that is attached to a cell phone. I’ve seen them used by small businesses here and in Europe. Giving potential customers different options to pay for my work is something that will benefit my small business. There are a few more things I need to set up on the point-of-sale card scanner website. Then it’ll be ready to go!

So now what?

There have been people in my past who’ve told me that I would “make a mint” selling my artwork. And that “selling online is easy“. None of these people were working artists. Nor had they set-up and maintained a website or online shop.  I have some experience under my belt running a website and selling my work online now. Enough experience to say that it is most assuredly not easy by any stretch of the imagination. And it has yet to make me a tonne of money.

I can say the same about getting ready for selling my artwork in person; it’s not easy, and won’t make me a lot of money. But, it does offer me a lot of benefits. I’m as much in control as possible over a great deal my little part of the pop-up sale. This control tamps-down a lot of my mental and emotional fretting a great deal. The success or failure of my performance is not measured solely in dollars and cents.

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

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House Cleaning

What brought me here today:

The fact that it’s already November is kind of freaking me out a little bit. A little bit. Not a lot. But still, it’s already November! How is it already November?! Having Halloween on the last day of the month of October makes the beginning of November seem like a total surprise somehow. The weather over the last week is seeming much more like late autumn too. There are more leaves on the ground than before too.

A part of me is still in Finland. At least where the month of November is concerned. The only month I destested in Finland was Marraskuu (November). It’s cold, wet, and dark. This month is not great for anyone who suffers from seasonal depression. The weather here is nowhere near what my mind and body are bracing themselves for here in Delaware. It was actually quite sunny this afternoon. I decided to start November off with a day full of some much needed work and organization. To start the month off on the best footing possible.

Cleaning and organizing:

We didn’t purchase a whole lot of furniture when we moved here. Only the essentials were purchased at Ikea. You can read more about that here. We were fortunate to have a few pieces of furniture gifted to us by the previous tennant. If you’ve purchased furniture from Ikea, then you know it all comes in flat pack boxes. Even with only the essentials furniture items we purchased, we had a lot of cardboard boxes left.

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you know that corrugated cardboard is one of my favourite recycled materials to use in creating my larger, paper mache artwork. The bedroom of our apartment is so large that I just left the boxes in one corner. I intended to cut, organize and store all this cardboard at a later date. Really, when the weather wasn’t so horribly hot.

Today was the day for organizing all of this cardboard. As well as all the other recycled items that I’ve been gathering over the past month or so. I started after lunch. It took me about four hours to get all the corrugated cardboard cut and stowed in a neat and tidy manner. All of the carton board had to be broken down as well. Bubble wrap, tissue paper, and other packing materials were also kept. Then organized and stowed properly. You can see some of the organized cardboard here.

Other bits of organizing:

I also went through most of what I call my “crap bags”. These are just little collections of interesting bits and bobs of plastic and metal. All of the clear, rigid, plastic packaging I had was cut down into easiery to handle pieces, and stored. So that I can actually find them and use them. To someday be made into wings or windows or whatever.  I now have one nicely sized “crap box”. There’s still some work I need to do with it though. Just some sorting, so I know what I have on hand to use when making art.

Halloween items removed:

I will be removing the Halloween and Day of the Dead inspired pieces from my online shop this week. The last day that you will be able to order any of these pieces will be 7 November 2021. These items will not be returning to the shop at any point in the furture. The items to be removed are: the Day of the Dead customisable skull pins, Lenore, Minerva, Xochitl, Novalee, Lucia, Miranda, Saffron, Russell, Ginger, and Nutmeg.

These Halloween and Day of the Dead inspired dolls and pins were a lot of fun for me to create. I’m so happy that so many other of my October doll and pin creations have found such lovely homes all over the world! Thanks to everyone who has purchased any of my creations!

New table:

Really? A new table is this important that it gets it’s own section within a larger blog post? Well, if your me it does. I bought a black, folding card table. It’s light weight that I can carry and set it up by myself. The legs and the center fold nicely and have a good locking mechanism too. I used this table today while I was sorting and cutting the small mountain of corrugated cardboard in my bedroom.

Holiday in-person sales:

One of the reasons that I needed the new table is that I’ll be participating in four holiday pop-up sales! I’m excited and nervous about these sales too. I’ve not sold my artwork in person for over seven years. The pandemic has changed around how artists and artisans sell their work at in-person venues like these pop-up sales. Masks are required. And there’ll be a lot less “smushing-up” of potential customers as they look at the artwork for sale.

This month I will be working on getting ready for these pop-up sales. I’ve been planning the items I would like to create especially for the pop-ups. Some of the larger cardboard sheets will be made into displays. The construction of these displays shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ve made displays like this before. They’re lightweight, portable, and can easily be recyced.

The first of the pop-up sales will be happening on Saturday, November 27 from 1 tp 4 pm at Books and Bagels here in Wilmington. There will be three additional holiday pop-up sales after that: December 4, 11 and 18 from 1 to 4 pm. If you’re in the area and would like to meet me and see my work in person, please stop in!

So, now what?

I think that just about does it for my current house-cleaning needs. I’ll be posting pictures of the progression of the new items for the pop-up sales on my Instagram and Twitter accounts. There is so much work that I need to get done before the first of these pop-up sales. So. Much. Work. I guess I better get to it then!

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

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Halloween Weather

What has brought me here today:

There’s a large part of me that is having a difficult time getting into the flow of the weather here. This seems like some sort cognitive dissonense. I think the weather should be colder. The days shorter, with less light. Almost all of the leaves should have fallen off the trees. Birds should be flying south. Frost should be on everything in the morning. And perhaps some snow should be falling as well.

Then there is all the Halloween decorations and reminders in the shops! There are signs in different neighbourhoods announding Halloween parades for children. Then there are venues holding Halloween events for children, in lieu of trick or treating. Some of the houses in our neighbourhood have lots of terrific Halloween themed decorations as well. I mean, BIG displays too!

Background:

As a child, I adored Halloween. I loved figuring out what I wanted to be for Halloween. Then getting the costume together. We always had homemade Halloween costumes. A mask or some additional details for the costume might be purchased. But the vast majority of the costume was made at home. My older brother made some cool costumes for us. I rememer my bother and I were a pair of dice one year!

Then there was trick or treating! Dear God! That was a miraculous event for a kid like me. The kind of kid who has not just one sweet tooth, but a whole mouthful of them. The concept of dressing up, going door to door, and getting free candy was all that was needed to pique my interests. Free. Candy. Oh! And candy that I was in complete control of too. No one could take it away. Or prevent me from eating it either. It was all mine.

There were candy exchanges. Every American kid who has trick or treated in the past can attest to this. My younger brother and I would go through our candy loot and make trades for favourite candies. I was a sucker for Smarties and anything chocolate. Jolly Ranchers were also a favourite of mine. Except the grape ones. Gross. Fortunately, our older brother (who sometimes took us trick or treating) loved grape Jolly Ranchers.

Worst Halloween:

The Halloween of ’78 suuuucked. A few weeks before Halloween, the chicken pox ran rough shod through my second grade classroom. I still remember my teacher coming over to my desk where I was working. She wanted to know why I was scratching my forehead so much. I remember her putting her hand under my chin and making me look up at her. She told me to put away my work and go directly to the nurses office. I was the third kid in the class to get chicken pox.

I still have scars on my face from my bout with chicken pox. It felt like I was sick forever too. In 1978 there wasn’t much to do about chicken pox other than send the kid home. And let the virus run it’s course. Oh. And lots of calomine lotion. Ick! I don’t rememer much of the fever part. The itching was the thing that got to me. I was miserable! Like I said, I scratched so much that I still have scars to this day.

There was no way I could go trick or treating. My face was a mass of big, red bumps and scabs. I wore a sheet and was a ghost to hide my face. My older sister and her boyfriend took me and my little brother out to a couple houses of his family members on Halloween night. One of whom was my second grade teacher! There was candy. But not nearly enough for my sweet-tooth-heavy sensibilities!

Present Day Halloween:

I did not think that the short time away from the US would make me so sensitive to some holiday decorating. The lifetime of accumulated experience prior to break from Halloween should have more weight. Or at least I think so. Finland doesn’t celebrate Halloween. There were never any big displays in shops or neighbourhoods. No trick or treating either. It’s too cold for that!

The thought of getting trick or treaters got me excited for Halloween. I may not be able to dress up and go get free candy myself. But I can make damn sure that the children who come to my door get awesome candy and someone who will tell them their costumes are awesome! But there’s no trick or treating in the neighbourhood we’re living in this year. The Halloween parades and planned events at different venues are safer for the kids. And I completely understand that. There will be other Halloweens.

Weather:

Many of my Nordic friends are posting pictures on Instagram of the weather. I honestly never thought I would actually miss the weather in Finland. But I do. Perhaps that’s incorrect. I miss all of the things that come along with the weather turning colder. Hygge is the word some people might be familiar with in the US. Everything gets more warm and cozy once the weather starts turning colder in early October in Finland.

The month of October, (Lokakuu: mud month) is the last bit of autumn that’s pleasant before November (Marraskuu: dead month, not a direct translation). Marraskuu is sometimes referred to as “the month that shall not be named” because it’s just miserable all the way around. It’s cold, wet, and dark. Most of the time, there’s no snow. Only rain. I cannot express adequately to you readers how completely miserable this month is. Cold. Increasingly dark. And so, so, wet.

Your reward for getting through November in Finland is December (Joulukuu: Christmas month). A month of tremendous HYGGE! And SNOW! Centimeters  and centimeters of lovely, white, noise dampening, easy-to-walk-on, light-reflecting SNOW! October is the reminder of the cruddy stuff that we have to get through (with the help of hygge) so we can enjoy Joulukuu.

My brain:

Right now, my brain is not seeing any of the above. It rained and was overcast for most of the day yesterday. Today looks like it’s going to be more of the same. The thing that is unnerving me is that there are green leaves on the trees! How can it be colder and rainy and the trees still have green leaves?! My brain is just not allowing me to adjust as quickly as I would like it to.

All the reminders of Halloween in the shops and the neighbourhoods combined with the off-kilter weather makes me feel unsettled. Like there’s something wrong. Global warming has a part to play in my current feelings of off-kilterness. I’m sure of that. Another part is that we’re living so much closer to the ocean. The weather is just not going to be like I remember it was as a kid. Or when I was living in central Finland.

So, what now?

I do plan on eating Halloween candy. As an adult, I can buy it and eat it for dinner if I want to. I won’t eat it for dinner. Maybe. The weather is just something I’m going to have to become accustomed to over time. There’s no way to hurry this process either.

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