Thursday, December 23, 2010

Business cards!

Have procrastinated on ordering business cards for awhile, and always kick myself. . .because I do meet people, get in conversations, they find out what I do and want to see it. . . and then, well, a pen (if we have one), a scrap of paper torn out of the Guardian or whatever's handy, which probably gets lost along with an opportunity to share my work (which, honestly, means more to me than selling it.)

So I'm a total "follower" here; I talked to a lot of people in SF in arts and crafts and the most popular card it seemed was from Moo.  And their Mini business cards are actually really cool.  You can have a different image on every card if you want to, with your contact info on the back.  Some images turned out better than others (I used seven different ones) but when I re-order I'll probably just use the 3-5 most definitive images.

I don't feel like I've been very organized or well timed in "getting it together" this year, but not terrible.  I feel like I'm laying groundwork that may open some doors and make 2011 a lot more interesting and fun.

SF Etsy Craft Meet Up

I'm really new to the craft selling website Etsy, and even newer to the concept of "teams."  I joined SF Team Etsy hoping to meet other artists, find inspiration, and learn from more experienced people.  It was really cool that one of the SF Etsy Team Members, Katy Atchison, was not only hosting a craft night but it was only a few blocks away from my house.  I'm super shy about meeting new people, but the fact that I'd joined a team to meet people, and that the week after I joined there was an event I literally could walk to made it impossible not to go.

I'm really glad I did.  Katy was a wonderful host and I enjoyed seeing her distinct illustrations and artwork in person.  The kitty cat "Tuna" was fun, and I didn't have allergies at all!!!

Everyone who attended  was a delight and an inspiration. Making arts and crafts is often lonely work, and getting out for this kind of thing was motivating.  And it's always great to meet wonderful, smart, creative people--it was well worth getting over my nervous social phobias,  off the couch, and out of the damned house!

Thanks Katy!  Hope to do it again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Vanity Post?

Why not put a face out there?  The Wooliverse isn't about me. . . but in case you are curious.  This is a short bio post.  I thought about a pic of me at work at my "felting station" but, well, lately I've been spending more time photo editing and uploading stuff to etsy, and researching marketing and all that stuff that is creative in it's own way, but which I find leaves me feeling pretty uncreative in regards to the sculpture itself.

Which is the whole point in the first place!  To make art!  So, I'm going to take the next few days and focus on yoga and friends and just try to recharge.

Anyway, since this is a "me" post. . . maybe a brief bio if you are interested.  I like to read, play guitar, cook, travel, practice yoga, and swim.  My guilty pleasure is videogames and comic books. . . both sources of inspiration in my sculpture.  I was born in Southern California, and currently live and work in San Francisco, which is an incredibly stimulating and inspiring environment.

I'm fascinated by world religion, mythology and concepts of magic both primitive and modern, and though I have no formal training in visual arts, I studied  literature and creative writing at the University of Arkansas under some very talented professors, and was profoundly influenced by the graduate work I did under professor John Locke in comparative literature, religion, and world mythology before he was tragically  murdered by a student (and classmate.)

Remembering that day, I feel sad now.  Sadness is a pretty big part of my inspiration, too, now that I think about it.  Which is ok.  It's the flip side of joy, and feeling deeply of the whole range of human emotions, is, I think what life and art are about.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SF is a small world, and a small town.

I'm shy by nature, but I've been forcing myself out there because I want to share this silly little gift I find myself with lately.  Still adrenalized from volunteering at Bizarre Bazaar, I was chatting at one of my Bikram instructors this evening about volunteering at Bizarre Bazaar, how much I love Urban Bazaar,  my new Etsy site, and my "busy sculpture season", and blah blah blah me me me (because being excited about me is new again) and, YAWN.    The universe said. . . shhhhh.  Listen!

It turns out she is not only literally Etsy's oldest member still selling, she just participated in a show at Urban Bazaar that I wanted very badly to go to but missed due to travel.  She is sublime in the art of crochet--and I'm currently in love with all things textile.What a cool coincidence, huh?  And if that isn't enough, her boyfriend has killer web design skills! (Another one of my future hopes. . . to have a and full creative control.)

Check this stuff out.  It's amazing!

 I have a number of textile artists I really like.  Sharing other artists in this field that inspire me  has been the next direction I wanted my blog to take after I finished catching up on writing about why I'm even doing this at all.  The fact that yoga has been such a huge factor in unlocking the visual/non verbal right-hemisphere of my brain, and that one of my most influential yoga instructors just happens to be an artist in a related medium .  . .I can't tell you how happy it makes me to be able to direct your attention to some very beautiful work from a true talent.

Sorry. . . I'm just having an unfiltered, unedited moment of happiness and spiritual awe.  It doesn't seem to matter how much synchronicity you experience, it never ceases to amaze.

It's just been a great day start to finish.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Nope. It's mine."

So. . . just when I think I'm going to have something cool to add to my Etsy shop, my wife looks at it, and says, "nope. . . this one is mine."  It was a tremendous compliment, and kind of a surprise. 

I'll leave it to her to give it a name and figure out it's nature and origin (she's a faerie and magical creature aficionado and fan of Brian Froud's art) so I'm guessing it's not extra-terrestrial, but an inter-dimensional from the faerie realm.

This piece is also a great example of my "imunu" process, the head in particular is just a "firmed up" clump of raw wool I discovered with this basic shape and face, and even the body, made of roving. . . I just wadded up some roving and started to tighten up the the dense and loose area's created in the wadding process (with about a bazillion stabs of the needle) until I could see what was coming out, then enhanced it. 

I've been working on "letting stuff go" but I'm honestly happy she wanted it (the first one she's specifically asked for, for herself) because in person it really exudes a life, a special kind of "controlled crazy" and I really didn't want to see it go  : )

Bizarre Bazaar: volunteering, learning, shopping!

I had a blast volunteering at Bizarre Bazaar SF arts and crafts fair yesterday at Fort Mason (they even had the Chairman Bao food truck!).  Got covered in sap setting up the xmas trees, and smelled like a combination of pine and a day at the gym.  Bought a lot of stuff (including a tie designed by Cody Vrosh called "Dressed for the Apocalypse" that I can't wait to wear.) 

It was fun getting to meet other artists, and some members of the SF Etsy Street Team. . . not to play favorites, but I freaking loved getting to see more of "Bugs Under Glass." Before my wife could get there he'd already sold the piece I wanted her to see (and maybe let me buy) but hey, it was exciting to see someone's shop doing so well!

I'd love to have a booth at a craft festival in the near future, but there's a couple things keeping that from happening so far.  Mainly, it's been a matter of inventory.  My process is slow, and I've sold a fair amount of stuff here and there.  The other thing is rounding out what I do with a specific niche or two of lower priced, more easily produced pieces.  And I'd like to do that without the "lower priced stuff" looking shoddy and poorly made (which is a problem, because "small" doesn't always mean quicker and easier with needle felting, depending on what it is.)

Pricing is something that is also really interesting to consider, because I have a hard time pricing my own work.  There was a fair amount of  felting/soft sculpture here and there--including a couple places specifically devoted to nothing else, but compared to the amount of jewelry, clothes and other more established, popular forms it still seemed pretty niche--there's so much more that can still be done in the medium of wool sculpture without aesthetic overlap.  But the prices seemed really arbitrary in relation to quality.  I enjoyed work from all the fiber artists there and I don't want to say anything critical, but I have to admit I was a little dismayed to see such high prices on a number of fairly shoddy, loose, little pieces (which is a disservice to the medium), and yet see relatively low prices on other items with more impressive aesthetic design and craftsmanship.

Also, I spent some time watching customers react to needle felting in particular, and I noticed some people expressing shock at prices (away from vendors ears)--and I mean on items that were totally reasonably priced in terms of their workmanship, artistry, and materials.  I think needle felting and soft sculpture are poorly understood and it seems of vital importance to engage customers and educate them that these aren't just stuffed plush items or quick, easy to make toys.  It seemed like, across the board in all mediums though, those doing best had good marketing materials and a true drive to engage with people passing by.

So those are some thoughts and lessons I feel like I learned about needle felting and the art of selling it (there certainly seemed no science, rhyme or reason to it), and I'm excited about finding more opportunities to work with the arts and crafts community (even if, like yesterday, it's just volunteering to help others who are further along their business path) and not spend so much time doing this work alone!

Again, it was a great fair, and I had a blast helping, as well as shopping--clothes, greeting cards, a painting, a print, jewelry, and, surprise surprise, a big bag of some really cool different colors of uncarded wool locks (from Pans Garden.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Corporate Mascots are magic too.

Scrubbing Bubble. . . I've loved this guy as long as I can remember.   I like to do cute doodles when I am between the somewhat psychologically draining "vision quest" pieces.

Most people seem to like the cute doodles a lot more.  Someone saw Scrubbing Bubble, and asked me to make a gift. . . of Hamburger Helper's Helping Hand.

It's been really cool this year to have had a number of "special requests," and I haven't even put myself out there for that yet.  I find doing things that I wouldn't think to do on my own really pushes me to work in new ways.  I hope Helping Hand makes his recipient really happy:

I find it surprising and unexpected to have done two corporate mascots nearly back to back.  It was also odd to have found that even these cute, innocuous mascots yielded relatively enlightening creative experiences.


When I've talked about "magic" in my process, it has been mostly related to states of consciousness evoked during both the initial vision and then the "hypnosis-like" state during the often epic creative process. Also, synchronicity has been recurrent, as well as archetypal symbolism's effect on the unconscious.   The pieces that have "taken me the deepest" were very old icons, like the Egyptian Bastet.

Working on these corporate mascots reminded me of a discussion on "sigil magic" in Grant Morrison's essay "Pop Magic."  It's available free online if you wish to read it.  The basic idea regarding sigils is that they are powerfully charged symbols designed to lead to a particular outcome.  A sigil is classically more simple, like the Holy Cross, or the Golden Arches.  But simple Iconic images like Mouse Ears--and Scrubbing Bubble and Helping Hand--are symbols with a lot of power to affect and effect.

I just find this interesting to ponder. The Magicians of Madison Avenue know exactly what they are doing.

But my pedantic over-analyzing doesn't change the fact that Scrubbing Bubble and Helping Hand are also just really cute and fun.  They represent positive concepts. . . and I am thrilled to send them out into the world