Peek into the Studio

cat drawing

This week I continued to work on the last of my custom Christmas orders. This included a bunch of magnets but also five really fun custom pet portraits. One of them is Bip for President. If Bip really was running for president, I would lobby to make him some lapel pins for the election.

I’ve been practicing my talents on that front. Currently, I’m finishing up an order of name tag pins for a boutique in Perth called Fox and Rabbit. I love seeing my drawings as name tags. I’ve done a few for veterinarian offices and now this order. I think it’d be really fun to make a line of name tags for veterinarians and pet shops.

 

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Custom orders and motivation

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While I was working in Berlin a few months ago, I received a pretty exciting custom order. It came through in the middle of the night and I awoke to the request. When I read it, I was so excited, for a few reasons. It was my first order to Japan. Plus, the request wasn’t for the usual pet dog or cat, but instead for a pet rabbit. And finally the background was to include hearts, a stretch from my normal geometric patterns.

After getting over the giddiness of realizing that one of my pet portraits would hang in a hallway or bedroom across the world in Japan, I started brainstorming about the heart background. It’s very important for me to keep GoodAfternoonan’s items cohesive. I work to refine my drawings to fit a particular look. I knew that keeping that look and including hearts in a background was going to be difficult. I also knew there was a way so I got to work, sketching out ideas. Custom requests always keep me motivated by stretching me.

This rabbit is not only one of my favorite compositions, but I absolutely love the heart-patterned background. I’m so incredibly thankful for my customers’ ideas and requests. They always reawaken my love of drawing.

Creative Impulse Series

This post is part of my Chasing the Creative Impulse Series, which explores techniques for sustaining creativity in a busy life. I believe that the habit of creativity comes from practice and not just from a compulsive feeling to create. This series outlines ways that I’ve maintained a creative life.

Sunday Shopping: Christmas Dinner

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Christmas is the one time of year where I expect to see the table set in the finest china with the good linen and a gravy boat. Even though I’m in my mid-thirties I still don’t have these fineries, but I could turn to Etsy to build my dream spread. And here is one version for the Christmas dinner table:

  1. striped dessert cups by ClaraLanyiCeramics
  2. vintage hotel silverware from PeppermintBark
  3. snowflake ornament by cranberrydreams
  4. midcentury candle holder from DJandPvintage
  5. soup tureen by TulaneRoadPottery

Why Craft Fairs are Important

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As you know this last Saturday I participated in BUST Craftacular. If you don’t live in New York, you may not know that we also got a long, wet snow all day on Saturday. This made for a less than ideal audience for the fair, and it put a bit of a damper on my sales.

You might be surprised to hear, though, that I don’t participate in craft fairs for the profit. I participate in one or two a year. And I will continue to do one or two fairs a year even if I only break even. Here’s why:

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Exposure

Extra exposure is the most obvious benefit to sitting through a long day at a fair. At fairs, you are able to reach hundreds of passersby. If you have an enticing display, many people will pick up a business card or postcard, and if you’re lucky one or two will find you online afterwards and become customers. Last year, I met one of my best repeat customers at BUST. She didn’t purchase at the fair but contacted me later to make her something custom.

This year BUST became my catalyst for starting a newsletter. I put out a clipboard and collected five email addresses. Those are five people that may become customers in the new year. Almost 100 people walked away with my postcard coupons for discounts on pet portrait purchases from my shop.

Feedback

Fairs are a great place to test new products. You can actually listen to what people say as they browse your items. A lot of people liked my dog magnet, “The Anticat.” I initially thought little of that one, but it made everyone laugh. My Boston Terrier magnet was also the most popular item. Not only is that getting added to the shop, but so are my button and sticker packs.

Niches

On that note, not everyone that walks will stop or even glance at your stuff. This can feel kind of tough. Craft fairs are reminders that if you have a specific item, you cater to a specific audience. You are not making your item for everyone. This will also remind you that you should market your item to that specific audience. Craft fairs can be a good wake up call to refine your marketing strategies to reach the customers that want your items. You may not get as many eyes on your items online if you narrow your marketing strategy, but you will be getting attention from the people like those who stop at your booth. Why waste time trying to get someone into your shop who doesn’t even want to glance at your items. Spend time catering to your niche.

I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit disappointed with my sales this weekend, but I did break even and happily learned a whole lot about my items and my customers. BUST marks the first of my two promised fairs for 101 in 1001 and despite my very small profit, I’ll still go on to do another holiday fair next year.

Creative Impulse Series

This post is part of my Chasing the Creative Impulse Series, which explores techniques for sustaining creativity in a busy life. I believe that the habit of creativity comes from practice and not just from a compulsive feeling to create. This series outlines ways that I’ve maintained a creative life.