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Creative Palate Cleanser

The past week has felt rather strange to me. It’s reminiscent of how I felt after all my final projects were turned in while I was an art student so many years ago. Suddenly, after so much work and very little sleep, everything was completed. My projects turned in. Or my artwork hanging in an art show. A once completely packed schedule of so much work is now empty. It all takes a while to get used to.

Creative palate cleanser:

Jumping directly into the creation of another complicated piece of artwork did not appeal to me. I wanted (needed) to create artwork. But I didn’t want to start something big. Making something smaller sounded good to me. It sounded easy-going. Just what the doctor ordered!

While cleaning up my work area, I’d discovered a few dolls that had yet to have their clothing or hair styles created. These dolls seemed like the perfect small pieces to work on while I got back into the swing of my regular schedule. And before I started adding the new business tasks that I have had to back-burner for a while.

Large is relative:

The first doll I began working on was Mielitietty. I chose colours and a theme I liked and started working on her. Her clothing wasn’t too creatively strenuous. Because I had already created the patterns for her clothing. As always, I had to give myself a challenge. With Mielitietty, it was her hair. I tried some new things. Some worked. Others didn’t. And again, I learned a lot from the mistakes I made.

The one thing I found incredibly interesting is how working on Mielitietty felt. She seemed gargantuan to me! HUGE! And she’s only around 27 cm (around 12 in.) tall! I’ve become so used to working on very small dolls over the past year. Any doll over 12 cm tall is Godzilla-sized to me right now!

Pastelli Pastel is the second doll I worked on. In addition to challenging myself with her hair, I also decided to use some unconventional felt as well. Her dress is made from a type of felt cleaning cloth sold here in Finland. (I could not remember the brand name) I wanted to know if I could create larger pieces using this felt. Pastelli is proof that I can.

Pastelli Pastel is what I call an alpha-version of a doll pattern. The alphas are my first try at a doll pattern. The beta-versions are the dolls that are sold. My alpha dolls are usually kept for myself.

Something new:

I decided to offer both of these creative palate cleanser dolls for sale in my shop. Like I said, I usually don’t do this. As always, they are each a completely one-of-a-kind creation. I will never make another doll exactly like them. Nor will I ever name another doll Mietitietty or Pastelli Pastel.

I do have one more alpha doll. It’s also a Dia de los Muertos doll. I’m still thinking about what I would like to do with her clothing and hair. This doll, when finished will be put in the shop as well.

So, now what?

There are already ideas that I’ve begun to sketch out for the artwork I want to create for the Käsintyön Museo. In fact, a few of the challenges I had creating Meilitietty and Pastelli Pastel will aid me in creating some of the new artwork. I know that the Käsityön Museo exhibit is a long way off, but as I learned with the Matara exhibit; it’s not that far away. Work needs to begin now!

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

PS: If you are interested in purchasing Mielitietty or Pastelli Pastel, please note that the shipping parcel post costs from Finland (2 week shipping) may be less than what is displayed. I’m still trying to work out the problems with this. And am refunding unused shipping monies to customers when they have overpaid for shipping. If you have any questions, please contact me though the Contact page.

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Challenges Not Anticipated by the Artist

Hello everyone! I’ve been absent from my regular Friday blog posts for a little while haven’t I? There are some extremely good reasons for this. ‘Busy’ doesn’t come close to describing it. However, my brain is still tired and my thoughts a tad on the mushy-side. So please bear with me as I attempt to explain my short absence.

Work, work, work:

December 2020 and these first two weeks of January 2021 turned into some kind of ‘perfect storm’ of many, many important deadlines and events for myself and my husband. Some of them were the regular holiday-related events. Others were a bit more complicated. Involving a lot of paperwork and scheduling. Oh! And I forgot that I decided to run a sale at my website shop.

I had begun the physical work or creating several entirely new pieces for an art exhibit at the Käytävä Galleria at Matara here in Jyväskylä in October 2020. By December, I was working non-stop at finishing the artwork for the show. Working on them occupied all of my time. It’s all I did from the time by rear-end hit my desk chair in the morning, until my husband told me it was time for bed.

It needs to be noted that I could not have completed the artwork for the exhibit without the tireless mental and physical support of my husband. He absolutely did yeoman’s duty in getting his own work (business, creative and the running of the household) done. In addition to the additional paperwork. AND taking care of me while I created artwork!

Then he went and helped me hang the exhibit! Damn. I knew I married the right man.

Art exhibit:

The artwork I created for Käytävä Galleria at Matara will be on exhibit until 5 February 2021. All of the pieces are for sale except for two. I plan on adding the pieces to my online shop the week after I take the exhibit down in February. The two pieces that are not for sale are ones that I feel additional work completed before I could offer them for sale.

I will be returning to Matara on Monday 18 January to complete a few repairs to a piece that was damaged slightly in transport. Pictures and videos of my artwork will be added to my Instagram and my website, so that those who are unable to see the exhibit in person.

Important lessons:

First, let me say, DAMN. Creating a body of new artwork for an art exhibit is hard work! I’m no stranger to creating pieces of artwork for exhibits either. I

specifically decided to create all new pieces of artwork for this exhibit. Initially because any artwork displayed needed to be hung on the wall. This alone would have been enough of a creative challenge. But there were additional challenges that I had no readily been aware of.

There were two major differences in the way in which I found myself thinking and physically working on the artwork. #1) I was creating an entirely new body of artwork from scratch. #2) I am the only artist being shown in the exhibit.

Clearly there were going to be some lessons to be learned. Important lessons that will potentially aide me in the creation of additional artwork for subsequent art exhibits in my future.

Let’s look at #1:

Being  a solo art exhibit, there was a great sense of freedom and control. I could create whatever I wanted! Creating entirely new pieces of artwork would be fantastic! Ideas that I had been putting off, or pushing to the side could be explored. New materials and techniques could be utilized too. Whoo-hoo! Cool! Let’s get started!

One of the largest challenges for me from the beginning of the physical art creation was the fact that I was working on multiple large pieces at the same time. Over the past few years, I’d unconsciously continued utilizing one of the parameters of the Creative Experiment: Do not start a piece of artwork until the one you are working on is completed.

This became problematic, as each of the pieces of art I was working on for the exhibit needed to be worked on simultaneously. I managed to work on several pieces at the same time during some of the initial stages of construction. Mostly during the cardboard, newsprint and glue portions of creation.

Endless juggling:

As time wore on, and I was working on more details for each individual piece. I was having a harder and harder time putting one piece down to work on one of the other pieces. My mind would become so wrapped-up in working on a single piece of artwork, that I would spend too much time working on it. While leaving the other pieces alone.

To combat this, I created a graph with a section for each piece of artwork. The graph detailed the specific work that needed to be completed for each individual piece until it was finished. This did help quite a bit. But I think how I used the graph requires some finer tuning to be more effective for me as a creative.

I plan on working on these challenges while creating the artwork for an art exhibit that is a little less than a year in the future. The different challenges that I experienced creating my most recent artwork and readying it for exhibition will no doubt be of help!

And now, #2:

Showing my artwork in a solo exhibit is something I’ve only done once in the past. That was at the Jyväskylä Kaupuniginkirjasto (translation: city library). That exhibit contained pieces that I’d spent the better part of two years creating. The fact that it was only my work displayed was new to me.

Prior to the exhibit at the library, I’d only participated in art shows in which I was one of many artists showing their artwork. One of the more comforting emotional aspects of a group show is that you’re not alone. There are other artists there showing their work. You don’t have to shoulder the success or failure of a group art exhibit alone.

While my husband was helping me hang my work yesterday, all I could think about was how panicked I felt about showing my artwork. It went beyond “Will people like my artwork?” and on to “What if my artwork falls off the walls?” and then further on to “What if people purposefully damage my artwork?” and then finally, “What if people who dislike my artwork then start telling other people how much they think my artwork sucks?!

It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t create artwork on a regular basis. But taking my artwork and hanging it up on a wall and letting other people look at it can be an emotionally terrifying experience. When I say that there are parts of me across town hanging on a wall for people to look at and judge. I’m not kidding around. It makes me feel very vulnerable. And at a loss of control.

Closer examination:

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for any length of time, you know that the challenges of detailed above will be more closely examined over the coming weeks. Coping strategies will be formulated and practiced so that I won’t feel at the mercy of my emotional and physical responses.

Methods of planning out my physical art creation and work will also be implemented. In fact, I was outlining what I wanted to start working on earlier this afternoon. I spent a half an hour running them by my husband before I took a much needed nap under layers of warm, toasty blankets while I watched more snow fall outside the window.

So now what?

Well, I have a lot to do! There is now the time to start implementing some changes I want to make in how I create my artwork. In addition, there are things that I have been pushing back that I can now start outlining and working on. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything pans out muself.

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

 

 

 

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A Short Blogging Break

I’m going to take a short break from blogging until 9 November. There is so much going on right now (sits back and gestures at basically everything). A short break is needed to help me deal with my rising levels of anxiety. It feels like someone is standing on my chest most of the time. Working on the new pieces of art for the show will give me a sense of control. It will also alleviate some of the physical symptoms as well as giving me a task that requires attention.

Man. Even typing this message has ramped-up my anxiety levels.

My shop is still open! There are lots of dolls that are looking for good homes! Take advantage of the one and only sale that I will have this year! 20% off every item in my shop!

Thank you for reading and I will see you again on 9 November 2020.

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Contents May Have Shifted

Strange:

I feel as though there should be more for me to write a blog post about. But the thing is, my thoughts and energies are in a lot of different places right now. There are several different projects that I’m working on at the moment. None of them seem to be in any sort of exciting spot that requires a blog post devoted entirely to them.

It would be a lie if I didn’t admit that events in other countries (the US in particular) have been gnawing at my thoughts. Stirring-up all kinds of emotions. Emotions that aren’t exactly productive in any way. These events are laying on my ‘fight or flight’ responses. Living with this button crammed into the on-position is just exhausting.

Exhausting to the point that there’s no need to elaborate. If you know. Then you know. If you don’t. Then contact me and I’ll let you know.

What I’m doing:

Writing, designing and creating the Go Marielle posts and stories continue to take-up a significant amount of time. I’m going to be changing around the amount of longer multi-panel stories that I post through November and December. I plan to post only one story a week instead of two. This post will be on Wednesday.

There are a few reasons why I’m doing this. Go Marielle takes a lot of time to create. Some of that time is needed for the creation of artwork for an upcoming art show.  Another reason is that I don’t want to burn-out on creating Go Marielle. I’ve got some fun things planned for future stories. And I don’t want to be grumpy and unhappy about making them because I feel tired of creating the stories.

Creating new art:

I’ve been in papier maché land for the past week or so. Five pieces have been started, with another six to seven that I want to create. Each piece has so many moving parts! So many little details!

This morning, while I was working, I was suddenly struck with some themes that have kind of snuck-in under my creative radar. These themes I had not in any way consciously been aware of while I’d been working on sketches and designs up until that point. It made me wonder if I had not been devoting enough thought to the artwork that I’m actively creating.

Hopefully, some of the time I’m freeing-up regarding Go Marielle will help me to focus a bit more on the themes of my new body of work.

20% off Sale:

The 20% off all items in my shop sale is still going on here on my website. There are lots of new items in the shop that I’ve never offered for sale before. So make sure you take a look at everything! As always, if you have any questions, please use the contact form to send me a message!

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

 

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Fixing What Needs Fixing

There are several different challenges that I’ve been facing as a very new entrepreneur. All of these challenges have one thing in common: putting my artwork, blog posts, and name in front of as many different people as possible. The following is an update on how things are going.

Increasing traffic on my website with the idea of:

Having people actually read my blog posts.

My writing is getting better with each blog post, but no one is reading them. In the beginning, I had decided to treat my blog postings more or less like journal entries. The idea being that I wanted to have a degree of authenticity to my posts. And make them something that at least a few people might find interesting to read.

What I haven’t fully considered is the fact that no on reads blogs anymore. Especially when they’re longer, like mine are. There’s also a distinct lack of pictures as well. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this doesn’t sting a bit.

Another factor that I’d not truly considered is that the types of people who might have read a blog post in the past have now switched to other forms of social media. Watching a vlog is much more popular now instead of reading a blog.

Looking at the items in the shop and making a purchase.

Getting more people looking at my website should translate at least into more people looking at the artwork I have in my shop. The more eyes there are on my artwork, the greater the chances that some of my artwork will be purchased.

The lack of traffic on my website means that there are fewer people looking at the artwork I have for sale in my shop. And this is a problem when running a small business.

Possible solutions to the traffic challenges:

Having a limited time sale on my artwork is one thing that is coming within the next week or so. This will be the first sale that I’ve ever had. My hopes are that by utilizing advertising for it on other social media platforms, that I can generate some sales. And perhaps even a few people will take the time to read some of my blog posts.

No hashtag experiment on Instagram:

I wrote previously about being shadow banned on Instagram because of the hashtags I use. This is still happening. I’ve dropped all hashtags on my posts in the hopes of re-setting my account. So far, it doesn’t seem to be working. My Instagram posts are still being buried. Especially those posts built on Canva that are letting my followers know that I have a uploaded a new post or added new items to my shop.

Possible solutions to Instagram challenges:

For the time-being. I’m going to continue not using hashtags. It may be that not using hashtags takes a number of weeks or months to have the hoped for benefits. I have also made a concerted effort to expand outside what the algorithm might call my established patterns of use.

There have been a few new followers to my Instagram account that seem outside of my “usual” algorithmic bounds. This has been nice.

Instagram stories are also something that I’m working on. I’ve purchased some inexpensive tools to aid me in hopefully achieving some success.

Opening an Etsy shop with additional, but different items for sale:

This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a while. It’s another place that I can gets eyes on my artwork. Etsy does take a cut of the profit though. There is also the potential for more people visiting my website and shop after having seen my artwork on Etsy.

This plan is not yet carved in stone. I have a lot of different creative plates spinning right now. Etsy will take a backseat to the Patreon account that I have decided on creating.

In the end, there is always sisu:

Sisu is a uniquely Finnish word. A quick translation into English defines it as guts, grit, pluck and perseverance. But there is much more to the word than that.

For an American living in Finland, I think of it as meaning ‘keep going’ or ‘one foot in front of the other’. You need to keep moving, even when you think you may fail in the end. You can’t quit, because you just can’t quit. No matter what.

In Wikipedia, the following definition was given:

“…a psychological key competence which enables extraordinary action to overcome a mentally or physically challenging situation.” 1, 2

I suppose the FuturamaYou Gotta Do What You Gotta Do” is akin to sisu in a way. Sisu implies much more determination and a high degree efficacy to me. One does not employ sisu without some kind of plan of action laid out first.

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

References:

  1. Lahti, Emilia (8 July 2013). “Sisu Is a Universal Potential Within All Individuals”Sisu Social: Transforming Barriers into Frontiers. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  2. Rockind, C. & Lahti, E. (27–30 June 2013). “WK 17 How to Find the ‘Why’ of Life: A Research-Based Process to Uncover One’s Purpose and Find Meaning in Life”. Third World Congress on Positive Psychology: Final Program (PDF). Los Angeles: International Positive Psychology Association. p. 108. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
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Fresh Hell

Instagram:

I’m not new to Instagram. My personal account has been active now for more than five years. Over time, my account has become less about showing snapshots from everyday life in Finland, to a platform in which I share my artwork and my artistic process. With the exception of a mental health break of a month during the summer, I’m posting photos to Instagram every single day.

My Instagram following is not huge. 1,184 followers for my main katie_kinsman_in_finland account. And 56 followers for my go_marielle_go account. There has been a noticeable drop-off in the likes in which the posts on my main account have been garnering. And I have struggled to gain any measurable increase in the number of people following the Go Marielle account.

New hashtags have been added to each of these accounts. I use hashtags in English and in Finnish for both of them. This seemed to temporarily fix the issues I was having. But not for long. Once again, I found that my followers began to fall, and the likes that I was getting were fewer and fewer and fewer.

It was time to do a little research.

Shadowbanning:

This term is new for me. I had no idea what it was all about. So I did some reading. According to Hub Spot (1), shadowbanning is “the act of banning a users content on social media sites, in such a way that the user doesn’t know it’s happening.” What this boils down to is that my content can still be seen by those that follow me. But as far as getting my posts in front of NEW people, that would not be happening.

WHAT?! What did I do to be shadowbanned?!

Well, it has more to do with the types of hashtags that I’m using. It was recommended that I try looking up the hashtags I regularly use to see if my posts were listed within the group. Two of the most common hashtags I use are #dollartist and #artdoll. I actually sat down and looked through all 220,000 posts with those hashtags and not one of my posts came up.

Now, remember when I said that I use English and Finnish hashtags? The same hashtags, literally translations, into Finnish are #nukketaide and #taiteilijanukke. When those hashtags are searched, my photos appear. There are far fewer Finnish speakers on the planet than English speakers. The population of Finland is around 5.518 million people. Compared to the population of the US, at around 330 million people. New York City has a population over 8 million. There are more New Yorkers than Finns on the planet.

What’s wrong with my hashtags?

Well, my Finnish hashtags are working. So I’ve got that going for me. But what about my English hashtags? What am I going to do to try and fix this problem?

Basically, shadowbanning exists as a means to control the amount of inappropriate or spammy content that’s ever-present on social media platforms like Instagram (2). A user can just attach a lot of hashtags that have NOTHING to do with the post or photo, and end up getting tons of views.

I noticed while looking up the English hashtags I mentioned earlier, that there were several dozen pictures of stacks of cash that were hashtagged ‘artdoll’ and ‘dollartist’. So I suppose the algorithm isn’t doing as good a job as it could be doing.

My mind cannot quite understand why the photos of my original, handmade, cloth art dolls are being snagged by this algorithm though. The vast majority of the ‘artdoll’ and ‘dollartist’ posts had mass-marketed, ball-jointed dolls. There were tons of Blythe-type dolls, as well as repaints from Barbie, Monster High and Bratz as well. Figuring this aspect out may take me a bit longer I think.

Selling Online:

To get down to brass tacks, the reason why figuring this out is so important for me is because I am extremely limited in my ability to sell my artwork in venues like art or craft-types of fairs or gatherings. Circumstances have limited the size of many different types of gatherings, including those instances in which I might be able to sell my work face to face with customers.

Selling my work online is important. It’s incredibly important for me to be able to get my work out and in front of people who are scrolling through their Instagram feeds. The shadowban for me as an entrepreneur and art creator can be a death sentence. And weird thoughts of piling up all my unsold artwork into a bonfire and burning it all to ash start creeping in.

Is this an upsale?

I’ve wondered if this is just Instagram attempting to get me to purchase ads. I know that Instagram is owned by Facebook. One of the many reasons I shut down my Facebook presence was because I felt I was being increasingly pushed to purchase advertising. My posts, especially those linked to my Instagram account were routinely not shown to my Facebook audience.

I’ve noticed that my Finnish hashtags have increased my Finnish and Nordic followers. Because of this, Instagram is putting more ads from Finnish and Nordic artists into my feeds. Often, when I click through to look at their Instagram account, they have 170, 300 or 670 followers and like ten posts total over a 12 month period. Did they buy the ads because they were getting shadowbanned too? Did they feel like buying the ads was the only way to increase their numbers?

So…now what?

There are several different solutions that I’ve researched. I take all of them with a grain of salt. Mostly because many of them are aimed at Instagram ‘Influencers’. This is a category that I am so, so, so not a part of! Some of the solutions are easy, like changing up my hashtags. Others may take a little more effort, like creating Instagram stories. I could also switch to an Instagram Business account. One of the sourses I looked at, suggested not purchasing followers. One site (Later) was offering to sell me an app to help with all these problems too. And no. I’m not buying their software.

If these solutions don’t work, I really have no recourse. Instagram already knows that shadowbanning is a problem. I don’t see the doing anything that would fundamentally assist me in growing my business. After all, they are owned by Facebook. A corporation, just like every other, that is set-up to make money for its shareholders. Not me.

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

Links:

(1.) The Hub Spot Everything You Need to Know About Instagrams Secret Shadowban

(2.) Later Is the Instagram Shadowban Killing Your Engagement? Here’s How to Fix It (Take this link with a grain of salt. It’s run by a company that wants to sell you it’s product.)

These two links had some interesting things to say as well:

Hootsuite The Top Instagram Updates

Search Engine Watch How to Optimize for the Instagram Algorithm in 2020

Plann 10 Tricks for Gaining New Followers on Instagram Everyday (And they want to sell you something too! Man. That grain of salt needs to be baseball sized.)

 

 

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Pumpkin Head Dolls!

New In Shop!

I have two new dolls available in the shop today! Nutmeg and Ginger are little pumpkin leshys. I’ve based them on the gourd leshys that my tabletop roll-playing game (Pathfinder/Dungeons and Dragons) character Karkarelia (druid) created. Leshys from Russian folklore seem a whole lot scarier than my cute little pumpkin heads!

Ginger (in the beige boots) and Nutmeg (in the tan boots) are both available for purchase in my shop! And don’t forget about Saffron and Russell! Ginger and Nutmegs much older, and much better behaved cousins!

Go Marielle!

And don’t forget to read about Marielle’s latest adventures! Two new stores are posted each week on Wednesdays and Saturdays on her Instagram account, go_marielle_go! There are additional shorter posts made every other day of the week!

Thank you for reading! And I’ll see you again next Friday!

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New Skills Acquired

Life long learning:

I take a great deal of satisfaction in learning new skills, and acquiring a new knowledge. Life-long learning is important to me. Not only as a working artist, but just as a regular human being existing on the planet. New skill and knowledge acquisition requires that there be some shifting around of older skill sets, knowledge, etc. All the experiences garnered through the learning process add new dimensions to my more seasoned knowledge and skills.

It took way too long for me to take a course at the Taitokeskus here in Jyväskylä. Way, way too long. Pinpointing exactly what was making me hesitate is difficult. Courses aren’t that expensive. The teaching space isn’t too far away. Maybe it was my lack of spoken Finnish that was holding me back? Perhaps. There might have also been the reticence to make art in front of other adults. Again, perhaps.

Well, all of these fears were unfounded. I took a three day course called Japanese Boxes. And I it was wonderful. Even with my severely limited Finnish language skills.

Learning something new and brushing-up on skill sets:

Many years ago, I took a course book binding while I was a student at the Herron School of Art. I loved it. The course dovetailed nicely into my graphic design major. We used one of Keith Smith’s books as a text and had a lot of fun playing with the concept of what really was a book. It got my creative mind working in all kinds of different directions. This was just the first step for me regarding story-telling through visual art.

From some of the books I read about book binding, I also learned how to create clamshell book boxes. These types of boxes are great for all kinds of things besides books. They’re great places to store photos, drawings, prints, etc. Really, anything fragile. The types of clamshell boxes I learned to make were archival as well.

So in taking this particular course at Taitokeskus, I wasn’t a total newbie. But I was in no way any kind of expert on the subject either. A lot of time had passed since I had done any type of artwork this. And my exact memories of how to do the work were quite faded.

Getting me outside of my own head:

There are very few people that I have enjoyed creating art with. I tend to work on my own most of the time. Creating the artwork that I do is a very therapeutic activity for me. Going inward and entering a flow state is an integral part of my personal creative process. So, taking an arts course in which I would be required to stay present for the instruction and interactions with fellow students was going to be different for me.

The studio that we worked in was neat, tidy and well kept. Tools and materials were abundant. All students had their own areas in which to work. There were tables set up for different stages of the box creating process as well. The instructor was clear in her directions, as well as being very attentive to each of her students.

This physical environment made it so much more comfortable for me to get out of my own head and have fun in the course. There was a pleasant hum of work among the students in this course, as well as from the adjoining art studios. Children could be heard laughing. Metal workers plinking-away with tools. People in another studio working on ceramics. The building was old, but felt safe and nurturing to me. A perfect place to create artwork!

Meeting new people and using my limited FInnish language:

The entire three days of instruction was done in Finnish. There were several students in the course that spoke English as well. The instructor too I believe speaks better English than she thinks she does. I’m glad that I wasn’t catered-to by the instructor language-wise. My spoken Finnish isn’t great at all. But during the class I discovered that I was understanding a great deal more of the instructions than I thought was currently possible for me right now.

There were times in which I did speak English to the students in the course. And there were chats in English while working or eating lunch as well. Anyone who thinks of Finns as being stereotypically quiet and reserved has never really spent any time with them. There were jokes and laughter just like any workshop/creative space I’ve ever been in!

Why did I take this course?

Part of the reason that I decided to sign-up for the Japanese box course at Taitokeskus is because of the art show I have coming up in January 2021. My artwork will be hanging on the wall. I thought that learning some new techniques around the creation of boxes would be useful.

Many of the pieces that I’m designing have a shadow-box or diorama kind of feel to them. I didn’t want to simply create the same sort of box over and over again for several different pieces of art. Creating a variety of different types of boxes for my artwork is a way in which I can make each separate piece distinct and unique. If I made the same sort of shadow-box/diorama seven times over, the artwork would look rather boring I think.

And, like I said, I like learning new things. Adding to my personal repertoire of art tools, materials and techniques.

Now what?

Well, I think I need to remember that I need to get out more. Covid has kind of monkey-wrenched many types of activities. I need to remember that being away from my own artwork, learning something new, meeting new people, all while getting to practice my Finnish language skills are all incredibly important for me to take full advantage of when I can.

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

Links: Taitokeskus Jyväskylä

Tuula Moilanen, she wrote the book Kirjansidonnan Opas (1997) that was used by the instructor of the course I took. It’s in Finnish, but even if you don’t speak the language, there are great illustrations to reference.

Keith Smith has written a lot of great books about book binding if the Finnish language is a bit daunting for you. Every one of them is excellent! Volume 1, Non-Adhesive Binding: Books without Paste or Glue is a great place to start.

 

 

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New Body of Work

Why create new artwork?

I have an upcoming art show taking place during the month of January 2021. It seems like a long way off in the future, but it’s much sooner that it seems. Creating new artwork specifically for an art show of my own is an amazing multi-level opportunity for me. On one hand, I get to make new and different artwork. And that’s always a good thing! On another hand, it’s good for publicity for myself as a working artist.

It’s just a jump to the left.

The biggest challenge of the gallery space I will be showing my work in is that the artwork all must be hung on the wall. There are no pedestals or cases for three-dimensional artwork. Everything I display must be able to hang on a vertical wall. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I do enjoy an artistic challenge. The learning potential for me as an artist is something I couldn’t pass up once my brain started chewing on it.

The challenge of creating and displaying work vertically also dove-tailed nicely into some ideas that I had been mulling over for quite a while.  In the physical world, display/storage space within my own flat is at a premium. Some of my artwork has begun going up onto the walls as a result. I’ve not been completely pleased with my results though. New methods will need to be devised

Part of that dove-tailing I mentioned, is also thematic for me in the creative sense. The concept of how we ‘store’ and ‘manage’ those intangible portions of our human experience. Where do those memories reside? How do some remain while others drift away into the ether? What effects do these memories, ideas, beliefs have on our present day existence? Do we need to have a place to put these things?

How I create artwork:

The Creative Experiment series of dolls fundamentally changed how I go about creating my artwork. Until just a few weeks ago, I was still unintentionally following one of the original parameters of the experiment; working on a piece until it was finished before starting the next piece. Even when working on the larger Play Set dolls (paper maché) I was still adhering to this parameter.

This method of working just wasn’t going to be efficient for the creation of this new body of artwork. This being said, I felt as though if I began working on several pieces at the same time, that the quality of the artwork would suffer. Suffer mostly because I wasn’t being completely present in the moment when working on an individual piece. I would lose the meaning of what I was creating in the attempt to make more artwork faster.

One bite at a time:

At first, I was a little confused as to exactly how I was going to create the new artwork for the show. The methods I’d employed during the Creative Experiment have served me very well, creatively speaking. But in creating the artwork for this show, I do not have the luxury of spending a month or more on a single piece.

As I went through my drawings and writings over the past few months, distinct themes began to emerge. The themes began to tell a story. I began to see each separate piece of artwork being a chapter of that story. The thematic structure I’ve begun to create has given me something to ‘hang’ the created artwork on.

When I approach each separate piece of artwork as a small part of a larger whole, my brain settles down. I become less anxious. I feel confident that I can work on multiple pieces simultaneously now. This is taking more planning on my part. I’ve outlined six new large pieces that I will create. These pieces will be using papier maché techniques. I’m also integrating a lot of the smaller dolls that I’ve creating as well.

Work has already begun:

Most of the pieces that I’ve been working on that are specifically for the art show are smaller, sewn components. The six small (12 cm) geometric form headed dolls are for a piece that will be in the show. The skeleton doll (30 cm), as well as another doll (30 cm) are also intended for the art show.

I’ve also been collecting a lot of the free materials I use in my artwork as well. Lidl is always a great source of card and carton board. I stumbled-upon a treasure trove of newspaper a month of so ago, and came home with a backpack overflowing with it! With autumn here in Finland, I can also venture outside for natural elements like wood and stone as well.

So now what?

I guess I would say, stay tuned. Because as always, I will be taking a ton of pictures of my artwork as it progresses to share with you!

 

Links:

How to Eat a Whale, Shel Silverstiein

Let’s do the Time Warp Again!; Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

 

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Value & Cost

Recap:

If you read my post from on 21 September, you know that the idea of where and how I can best spend my time as an entrepreneur. Social media platforms that are taking up too much of my finite time and creative energies are going to be dropped. Those social media platforms that I feel are worth the time and effort I expend to maintain will continue to be used. With the hopes that my small business will continue to grow.

That all being said, there are adjoining concepts regarding time, energies, costs and value that are never far from the forefront of my mind. Some of these concepts and ideas bleed off into other sociocultural areas that I feel ill-prepared to navigate. In many cases, my personal beliefs are at odds with the current zeitgeist.

Value:

There have been many times in the past in which I’ve stated that being raised in the US has impressed upon me certain beliefs regarding how I personally interpret buying, selling, marketing, consuming products, etc. “Eat quickly, drive faster, and make more money now!” (1) is a lyric that comes to mind when I ponder how being a US citizen consumer has shaped my personal and professional perceptions.

To that end, it’s been imprinted upon me that a thing is valued if it’s popular. If everyone has one, and you’re the only one without it, that’s bad. You need to fall in line and buy those things that will make you part of the larger group. Being a teenager during the 1980’s really hammered some of this home to me.

There’s an initial psychological buy-in that happens. Mostly without a person being completely aware of it. You see a an object (clothing, car, house, toy, food, etc.) everywhere. Advertising via print media, through the radio, internet, television. Even the movies, television and music deliver advertising. Soon, buying these things seem like your idea. And not something that has been put into your mind.

What is the Value of an Object?

The value of an object is determined by a lot of different factors. In fact, it seems like something that is ever-changing, especially when it’s related to the products of visual and performing artists. Trends can make something popular one minute, and out of style the next. Fashion is a good example of that.

The availability of an object also determines its value. This can easily be seen at an auction of fine art at an auction house like Sotherby’s. Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet was sold for $82.5 at Sotherby’s in 1990. Society has decided that van Gogh’s work is extremely valuable. Van Gogh is dead so there are a finite amount of pieces of his work. Scarcity can make for high prices.

What does this mean for me as an artist?

First of all, I’m no freakin’ Vincent van Gogh. I’m not even within the same art-making universe as him. What it does bring to mind is that I’m constantly creating artwork. Constantly. Regardless of whether it sells or not. Does this mean I’ve flooded the market? Too many original Katie Kinsman artistic creations out there in the world perhaps?

No. I don’t think that’s it. I do sometimes wonder if there are people who want to purchase my work, but are just waiting for me to have a  big honkin’ sale. Or, my work may be selling because people just don’t like it. There are also (gestures with hands at relatively everything going on in the world right now) economic reasons why people are not buying things like artwork right now. Many other things are taking precedence over purchasing artwork. Food, clothing and shelter come immediately to mind.

Cost:

The cost gets me coming and going as an artist. There is the up-front costs that I pay to create the artwork that I do. I don’t mean just the cost of the supplies. My time is a large hunk of that up-front cost, as well as my creative energies.

Material and supply costs are easy to figure. It’s all numbers. I keep track of what I spend on my materials and supplies, as well as shipping and handling for any pieces I do sell. Time is another that’s easier to calculate. But as I’ve written about previously, trying to make sure that I get even a US minimum wage from the time I put into my artwork isn’t possible. No for a non-entity like me on the art stage.

When it comes to creative energies, which I will agree is also related a to the expenditure of my time, that’s something that less quantifiable in strict numbers-sense. It’s where the ideas come from, intertwined with my knowledge and experience. Those creative energies are very much part of who I am as an individual. It’s difficult to attach a number to that.

Yeah, but what do I get out of it?

But the important thing is, I will continue to to create artwork even if I never show it on social media platforms. Or if I never sell another piece of artwork. I make the artwork that I do because the value to me, in the form of therapy, keeps me mentally and emotionally spackled-together. THAT is the value of my artwork to ME.

If there are other people who like my artwork and wish to give me money for it. Terrific! If not. Then. Okay. Go on then and do you then. Just not in relation to my artwork.

Then gate keepers determine value:

Gate keepers (2) are everywhere. In every type of work. They make sure that there are qualifications and credentials for professionals that must be attained before being a teacher, nurse, lawyer, architects, accountants, engineers, bankers, etc. In the art world, the gate keepers are gallery owners, shop owners, and museum curators to name a few (I’m leaving out the performing arts for now.). If an artists work doesn’t get past these people, then the art work will not be shown or promoted to the art viewing/ purchasing public.

The internet and the boom of social media platforms that have resulted have given artists a larger platform in general to share and promote their artwork. My artwork has been seen by more people in the past five years on Instagram than in the my previous thirty years of creating my art.

What I’ve come to realize in the past few months is that Instagram is just as much of a gate keeper as any art gallery owner. They just exert their gate keeping through algorithms instead of declining to show my artwork in their gallery. Instagram will show my artwork, but just enough. Then they would like me to pay to get greater exposure.

They want me to pay to advertise.

Back to costs and value:

Okay. I’ll admit it. From the beginning, I was näive as all get-out regarding Facebook and Instagram. As an creative art entrepreneur, I took full advantage of the free-ness of each of these platforms. Over the past three weeks, Instagram has become rather aggressive in it’s attempts to get me to buy ads on the platform. So far, I’ve resisted.

I’ve resisted because I have no money to spend on advertising. Zero. Zilch. Nada. None.(3) Not 20¢. Not 2€. Instagram has been putting a lot, and I mean A LOT of Finnish artists into my Instagram feed that are buying ads. I’ve noticed it. I know what they’re doing. And it’s gonna take a lot more to convince me to purchase ads on the platform.

Do I value the ads? I suppose so. I know that they are worth something. That something being, “more eyes on my artwork”. But more eyes on my artwork can easily translate into more likes of my artwork. The thing is though, likin’ ain’t buyin’. If I cannot be guaranteed a boost in my sales figures, then I’m not biting.

I will admit. I still have a lot of research to do on the subject of purchasing Instagram ads. I will rule nothing out at this juncture.

So now what?

This has been a long and rambling post. Value and cost, related to my artwork and the sale of it, are at times monolithic concepts that tread on an unsound mental and emotional path for me. Separating my personal value as a human being from the value of the artwork I create gets extremely complicated for me.

When a person tries to get me to come down in price on my artwork, it’s as though they are making me as a human being feel as if I’m of less value. In the past, I’v heard a potential customer say, “I could buy four dolls at Walmart for what you’re asking for one doll!” They value quantity over quality I suppose. But yeah, you go be you. Walmart’s waiting.

And on that less than upbeat note, thanks for reading. I’ll see you again next Monday.

 

Links and References:

(1) William Shatner with Henry Rollins, I Can’t Get Behind That, Has Been (2004)

(2) This is really a not great webpage to read, but it gives a pretty good idea of what an art gate keeper does and how they might be thinking. Mihaly Csiikszenmihaly is a good read if you’re interested in creativity.

(3) “Zero. Zilch. Nada. None.” is a line from a drag queen called Jiggly Calliente song called ‘I Don’t Give a Fnck‘. It is NSFW. NOT. SAFE. FOR. WORK. Or children, small animals or little granny ladies.

LA Money Train, Rollins Band, Get Some Go Again (2000) This song is a cutting review of American culture. Henry does not mince words in this song. I love Rollins. He’s an American treasure.