Things I have learned by getting my art ‘out there’.
Last year was a year of growth and getting myself ‘out there’. I didn’t have too much of a plan other than to do Sennen Market every Tuesday and to do a few ‘bigger’ events in the summer and at Christmas.
Sennen Market is a lovely locals farmer’s market. The stalls offer locally grown produce, organic skincare, plants, jewellery and a variety of art. Sennen is predominantly a tourist town though and during the winter, on a day like today, it is cold and the people are sparse.
One of the great things about having a stall is that you get to chat to the other stallholders and there is a great sense of community there. This is important to me as it keeps me feeling part of something, rather than just feeling alone in my little art bubble.
By chatting to other people you can learn all sorts of things from what other markets are good to do, what shops to try selling your work in and also recommended suppliers. On quiet days, you realise it’s not just you and you gain strength in the shared experience.
Putting your work on display every week is useful as it lets you see all your work together. This might sound a bit obvious, but until I started I hadn’t really had the chance to view my creations as a whole. You get an overview of yourself as a brand!
It is close to having a shop window as you get to display things in groups, or colours, items or themes! It’s actually pretty fun and I really enjoy the opportunity of playing around with my display. I love it when I have new items and get to put them out for the first time.
Being able to watch people gives you pretty valuable information on what people are drawn to, what attracts them, what they pick up and what they put they down. All of this helps you to decide on what you need to make/buy more of and where is the best place to put it on your table.
By showing up every week you establish yourself as an actual business. People realise that you are serious about your work and this means that you also take yourself more seriously. The routine is good and by being more visible to others you increase the potential for opportunities.
I think that by having a physical presence has also had a positive impact on my online sales. I had 500 postcards made up with my details on with the intention of contacting art directors, but instead ended up using them as business cards. I have given all of these away now and I like the thought that people are becoming more aware of me and what I do.
The positive feedback that I have had has kept me going and given me the confidence to try new things. Don’t think that I don’t have bad days or that all my choices were spot on. I made mistakes in buying things that didn’t sell as well as I hoped for and I had some days that were so bad that I cried and doubted everything that I was doing.
As an artist you do need a lot of faith and you also need to know that the bad days aren’t a reflection on you. There are lots of other factors involved and it’s good to become aware of your target audience and the best way to find them.
My best event last year was a FLAME Christmas event at The Acorn which I designed the poster for and helped promote on Facebook. I think that the energy I put in came back to me and this is something really worth taking on board.
If you are struggling to find a place to sell your work, then perhaps organising an event with likeminded local people could work for you.
I put more effort into my Etsy shop, updated photos and tags, joined Facebook groups and again learned things that I was able to apply.
There has been a lot of learning and now I am learning to push myself to do the things I don’t want to do. It’s easy to be an artist and live in a world of your own imagination, but it takes another mindset entirely to take that into the world and make money from it.
This year is all about magic for me and part of magic is alchemy - transforming something into something else. I want to be able to create a life that makes me happy whilst making others happy too.
There are some interesting lunar events coming up as we have the first blue moon of this year on the 31st of January, followed by a ‘black moon’ in February, which means that February doesn’t actually have a full moon. This apparently only happens around every 19 years. Then March has another blue moon!
I don’t know how this will affect how we feel, but it’s interesting to be aware of these things.
The full moon in Feb is usually called a snow moon or hunger moon and although this full moon falls in January this year, we may as well consider it to be the same moon.
However this moon is also going to be a blood moon as there will be a full lunar eclipse which results in the moon turning a reddish colour.
For many people these terms would be appropriate as this time of year can appear to be a time of lack. Lack of light, lack of money, lack of vitality. January is often seen as a depressing month and it’s not surprising to feel low at this time of year.
I find that a new year project has worked well for me. Last year I learned how to screen print and this year I have my necklace project. Having this sort of focus is great as it distracts me from feeling limited by the weather and it helps me feel like I am moving forwards and learning.
Having things to look forward to are really good as well. I have an exhibition coming up at Morva gallery with 6 other local artists which is keeping me busy. I have wanted to show my work there for some years but have found the costs a bit off putting. However being part of FLAME - first and last Artisans and Makers - makes this sort of thing achievable.
I’m still working with my crystals in conjunction with the moons phases and am changing the layout in order to reflect my intentions. With the waxing moon I have surrounded a beautiful piece of spirit quartz with some quartz points to amplify the energy.
For me this represents my ‘prime directive’ of putting magic out into the world. I want to get my necklaces into some shops, but I find that if I focus on making money then it starts to lose its attraction for me. It’s really weird. I need money, like everyone does! But if I use it as my motivating factor then I get the colour black. If I think about spreading magic, then I see sparkles and lights and it feels really joyous!
So those are my thoughts as we build towards the full blue moon. I’d love to hear how you work with the phases of the moon and any lessons learned this month.
Love and magic
I have been paying a lot of attention to the moon and my feelings recently. There is a part of me that just wants to use the moon for guidance - a kind of ‘what do I do next and how should I be feeling?’ But I know that that isn’t really the point. I think it’s a bit like riding a wave - if you catch it at the right point then you can ride it and be part of its energy. You might feel pushed in a certain direction, but you can choose what moves to make.
I have been trying to release and let go as the moon has waned. I have stopped drinking wine in the evening without even really meaning to. The energy just felt wrong to me and now I am focusing on feelings of health and vitality. There is something about winter and getting ill and cold that can make you feel quite fragile and vulnerable. It feels like the time is right to start shaking these feelings off.
There is no rush though. January is a time of slowness. The days of sunshine come as a welcome respite to the all too familiar greyness and remind you that the earth will soon start to awake again in bursts of colour.
I feel like I have been planted. That I am dreaming in the earth and starting to grow.
It’s been a good week. I’ve enjoyed the last week of the holidays, spending time with Tabitha and my husband and making moments count. We have enjoyed hot chocolates in cafes by the sea, watched Ferdinand at Newlyn Filmhouse and had lots of fun just enjoying each other’s company.
There was part of me that was like ‘I must do it ALL now’ but it made me feel worn out just thinking about it. I have been fighting of some virus that never got too awful, but just made me feel very tired and gave me a very husky voice.
This made me reflect on how the moon will return to fullness again and that I can always use that time as a signal to take stock, get organised and release. It feels really good to be in tune with the cyclical nature of things. Life can seem so linear at times and it’s helpful to be aware that life is a bit more like a spiral where you return to a similar point of awareness with a little more experience and understanding.
The picture of the triple moon fairy/goddess was one of my 100 fairies that made it into my book Glitter and Earth: Tales of Magic and Wonder. I had had some canvases printed for my book launch, wanted to sell them and actually never did much more than taking some poor photos of them and listing on Etsy.
I stored them under my bed and felt the prod of failure every time I thought about them.
When going through my cleaning though I decided that enough was enough. They had served their purpose and I could have them. I have now put a couple up and I love it that my energy had now shifted to think positively about them.
I love my crystals, but I do tend to forget about them sometimes. It was nice to line them up earlier and see how gorgeous they look. The big quartz one is a ‘bridge’, a master crystal that is supposed to help you connect your lower self with your higher self. I like it a lot. There is also a tantric twin there which is good for relationships and love. It’s always good to focus on love.
Things get back to normal next week. Tabitha goes back to school and I go back to Sennen Market. It’s going to feel a bit strange getting her ready for school again and for me to get all my work set up again. I think that the first bit is the hardest. Once you have got into the routine it’s not so bad, but it breaks my heart to see Tabitha upset and I hope it won’t be too difficult for her to make the transition back again.
Anyway, I hope you have a good week - I’m looking forward to see what unfolds.
Creating pendants with Zap
This is what I have been working on and I’m sooo excited about it! I was actually looking into getting some enamel pins done, but found you had to order a large quantity of one design with an outlay of around £100. That just felt a little risky to me, but then I found the laser cut pendant option where it was possible to get five designs done for an order of 50 pendants and for me that was a lot more exciting!
There was a choice of 3mm plywood, to a 4 mm thick maple, cherry or American Walnut. There is also a good range of sizes from 1/2 inch (I think) to 3” - maybe 3 1/2. - I can’t quite remember now. I went for 1.5 inches though which seemed a decent size without getting too big and the maple wood which was quite a light wood.
I liked the idea of statement pieces, but thought this size would be more wearable with more things. The larger the design - the more expensive it was too, so that is worth thinking about when creating designs.
Since then I have been tweaking my designs, getting them formatted properly in Photoshop and working out where to put the loops.
It has been quite some time since I did anything in Photoshop, but Zap provide you with a template with layers to place your work onto and a detailed guide of how they need the artwork submitted. The process was pretty enjoyable for me and didn’t cause any hair pulling moments!
I was however worried about the integrity of the final pendant - that is its likelihood of breaking - as it’s such a small size. I watched a few videos on laser cutting to get a better idea of the process, but without being able to play with a machine myself it’s pretty hard to judge the level of detail that can be achieved without making the item too fragile.
To be on the safe side I added some additional background to my designs which will be wood in the final item. In the above image you can see I used a browny colour behind the image and that was to give me an idea of how it’s going to look on the wood .
Some of the designs have a black background, but that is how Zap creatives prefer the image to be submitted and that area will actually show the lovely maple grain of the wood I have chosen.
Adding the loops was interesting (they won’t look that massive in the final thing) as again I had to visualise the balance of the item and how it would hang.
I have also been thinking about packaging and have been cutting out bits of paper to the size of available boxes to get an idea of the final product. It’s important to me that the product is as sustainable as possible which is why I have chosen a wooden (FSC) pendant rather than an acrylic one and have found a natural looking recycled box for it to go in.
I was happy that my work synchronised with the full moon too, as everything was decided and submitted by then. I am now waiting for things to be delivered and I can then start piecing it all together!
It should take a couple off weeks to get my pendants and then I will take them with me when selecting chains and clasps etc so that I can really see how it will all look together. I certainly don’t want to order metres of chain to find out that it just looks too heavy or just wrong in some way.
I’m excited and hopeful! I really want it to look as good as it can be so that I can get them out in the world and spread a little extra magic!