Sunday, May 22, 2011

Becoming part of the Family

I think one of the things that i like best about my StymiepieStudios shop is the special occasion work people request. Baby showers, birthdays,recitals, graduations..what ever moment that they choose to celebrate in their lives, when they ask me to create something for that special day, it's an invitation into their lives.
I don't take it lightly..i think it's kind of an honor to be asked to become part of a memory that lasts long after the party is over, and i'm always touched and pleased by the thank you's and sharing of stories about the gift giving.
There's one lady that has asked me to make a bank for each new grandchild..(fortunately she has 7 children,,I LOVE HER!!) and each one has to be as unique and special as the new child that is to receive it. She is thoughtful and specific and it is a fulfilling collabrative effort every time.

And one of the most challenging and rewarding pieces was a gift that a customer asked me to make for a new baby, to memorialize the child that the family had recently lost. That's how the "Memory Star" frame evolved.

A grandmother asked me to make a volleyball bank for her granddaughter who was going to college, the first time she would be away from home..she felt that the bank would make her feel "at home", and it probably makes her think of her Gram and home each time she looks at it.

The "Art Fund" bank was from one teacher to her retiring colleague, hoping she could finally save for all of those treasures she wanted....we had a lot of fun deciding that i would do famous works of art on her bank. It made me laugh to paint my versions of the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso and even Michaelangelo's pieces on a piggy bank!

When my customers' return to my shop, i always feel like we have become part of this large extended family..they rely on me to create that perfect gift for the person that is so special to them..i appreciate their making me important in that way..and so we go..on and on..and on. Every piece i create is special to me in that way, 'cause i know that once it reaches that shelf or the top of a dresser or the corner of the room belonging to the person it was made for, it becomes part of their lives, and the memory of the day it was made to celebrate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Facing The Fear

Everytime i sit down at my drawing board i feel a mixture of confidence and terror. I'm sure that this is what performers feel as they walk out on stage..sure , i'm not Lady Gaga or Sting facing 22,000 screaming fans at Madison Square Garden, but it's probably close to that.

You know that you are good at what you do and you trust your ability but each new piece, each new caricature, each new design takes courage to put down on paper.

I see them before they not like the Sixth Sense, I don't see "not drawn people" but close to it..these designs, characters are formed in my mind and my hand struggles to bring them to life , with each nuance and contour..which can cause extreme frustration when my hand refuses to a bad child on a playdate..sometimes my brain and hand work as one..and when that happens it's sweeter than anything i can describe, it's sublime..but when they don't compliment each other . no amount of trying or working can make it's like sexual chemistry..either you feel it or you don't.

There have been a lot of instances when i've been about to start a mural in someones' home that this feeling of excitement and terror hits matter how good i feel about the project, no matter how much research i've done or countless times i've painted the design, each time is the first time. you stand in front of this clean , blank wall and think (not a good idea right before you try to be creative) "What if i mess this up? What if this time i can't do it? Of course i can do it, they hired me to do it..i can draw anything ,..i"ve done 400 murals..what's wrong with me? why did i think i could draw a horse on a trampoline..or a chicken in a ballet costume or a bunch of cats fishing?" and just as i'm about to start , the client comes in and says "Do you mind if i sit and watch while you work?" "No, i say (as i'm screaming inside) i love when people keep me company"..and i start to paint.

I try to remember those days when i'm ready to begin something new..that you summon the courage and the talent and the sense of yourself and you go out there in front of 22,000 screaming fans and sing your heart out, and you do it to prove that you're brave enough to do it again and again. Even when you fail, you win, cause you get to do what you love.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tryng To Swim Upstream

So here we are..all trying to carve out a little piece of web real estate. Each of us unique in our own creative way , we compete in this internet wasteland, hoping to reach the person that just at this very moment is desperately searching for us.

It's like being on some bizarre dating trot yourself out, with photos and witty comments, giveaways and contests..will you win their hearts? Will they "call" again?

And you always think that if you could just get some exposure or that one "lucky break", everything will change.. just one stroke of luck and you'll sell a million pictures, quilts, magnets, crochet dog hats, paintings of asparagus..well, what ever it is that you create, right? Well i don't wanna be the person that bursts your bubble or destroys your dream..but here's what happened to me in the last four months, and you might have noticed that i'm not a household name..or NOT noticed..that's the point!!

There's this great guy that i know and he knows EVERYBODY, i mean EVERYBODY!! When i started producing my rock and roll caricatures he said.."Hey. give me a few of those, i know some guys that might like them.." and he went out to dinner with some of his buddies and the next time i saw him, he gave me an order for my Ringo caricature.."Yeah, Ringo's manager loved it, so he bought one and he's taking it to L.A this weekend to give it to him"..and he said it so nonchalantly, like someone saying "hey, i like fries..can you pass me some?" My reaction? Beside the supreme adrenalin rush, was....RINGO? ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDING ME????? i thought.."this will change my life..Ringo will call and he'll want one for Paul, and of course he'll want to meet me and have dinner and talk about my fabulous hair....BUT, i digress. That was four weeks ago..and even tho i do check my messages, Ringo has not called..neither has Paul. I'm thrilled that he has a piece of my art, but so far we haven't shared hair product secrets.

A site that i work with recently invited me to participate with a goodie bag item for the MTV MOvie Awards, to be given out to the pregnant and new mommy celebrities at this June's ceremonies..EXCELLENT!! i was thrilled, and started on the enormous task of handpainting 50 wipes cases with original designs in a week..and while i painted i fantasized..who would get one? Kate Hudson? Jessica Alba? Mariah Carey? And then they would discover my shop, and decorate their baby's room with a stymiepie cart full of products. It was only after i sent them out that i realized that most celebritys don't change their babys' diapers..the nannies now i'm hoping that the nannies visit my shop..i'm equal opportunity..WELCOME NANNIES to the famous and semi- famous!!

And then there was the INC. magazine photo announcement was posted on Etsy that the magazine was having a photo shoot that would include 100 of the artisans that were able to show up in NYC at a loft, and accompany an article on their shops and Etsy. The opportunity of a lifetime!! I got there, filled out a questionnaire about myself and my stores..filled with insight and humor..had my picture taken by a mad photographer who LOVED my hair (hahaha) and in the weeks that followed, as i frantically searched every Barnes and Noble in a 25 mile radius for the magazine, i thought.."This is it!! People will read about me and connect and the sales will pour in!! How will i keep up? How many banks do they expect me to paint in a week? I'll need help..!!" And then the magazine came out.....and actually could hear the crickets, it was so quiet in my shops. The article was about the founder of Etsy, and there was a two page spread with our faces in 1" x 1" squares with our names underneath. No shop names, no witty or insightful comments, no info. Just an article on the guy who started it all , who doesn't seem to be having a problem with money.

So here's the point of all this... I'm beginning to realize that there will always be great opportunities filled with potentail but the magic is inside each of us..we will create the lucky breaks by never giving up on our dreams. I will keep a candle burning in the shop window for Ringo and all the pregnant famous ladies but i'll remember to believe in myself.
Now, i have to go out and buy some Lottery tickets, cause i have a really good feeling ..feeling lucky..OH!! did i tell you that Bethenny Frankel has one of my wipes cases and a print?......what if she stops by? i should make coffee....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stumbling toward Nirvana

I've been at this now for two that is. And the one true thing that i have learned is that i will always be confounded by the nature of the business that we are in..running a business on the internet.

i tumble, and tweet, i flickr and kaboodle, i 'm mashable and facebookable..i blog and i comment and it seems like the only thing i don't have time for is creating.

i love what i do, and i consider myself so lucky to make a living this way..i just never realized that 90% of my time would be spent promoting, listing, retweeting, and liking ..and just when you finish, it's time to do it again! Because this baby needs to be fed CONSTANTLY.

A typical day? well. we online business owners don't work 9 - 5..we work til we can't sit in the chair anymore..or our hands get numb from typing,drawing,painting,crafting..i for one, have invested heavily in Mineral Ice..i smell like menthol all the time, but i can move my neck.

Get up at 7..check your shop(s), relist , restock, convo your customers..promote on the threads, on your team sites..check links, get lost jumping from link to link, blog to blog..reading articles that tell you "how to" as you get lost in the countless steps and maze of adding counters and rss feeds and changing tags so that you get the most out of your SEO. Honestly, once i was in the midst of reading the third link on how to do something and i had absolutely no idea of where online i was, or what the language was that i was reading or what i had originally wanted to do, because it all seemed so complicated..i would like to think that i am a smart person, but a lot of this process brings me to my knees. I have developed a new repetoire of curse words.

Check your email
Go to comments, staus updates, wonder why EVERYBODy has more fans than's like a party that everyone's been invited to but you, and then you get the invitation, but you don't know how to get there and when you finally get there..everyone has gone to another party.

Start a new blog post..i stopped writing for awhile coz there was no time, but i missed it so now i try to write once a week and feel guilty coz there's still no time.

Hit twitter, reply to messages , check out followers, follow some more people and wonder if any of them ever visit my shops

Start to get hungry and realize it's 11:00 am..and time to renew some items in my shops..should i check the mail?

Now mind you, i have orders waiting to be painted , but the seductive quality of this constantly changing and morphing online entity calls me.."hey, what if a customer has a question? what if you got an order?what if you got "liked, tweeted,kaboodled,linkedin (insert your addiction here)?"

There are days that i feel like I've achieved my goal..i'm a business owner, in control, growing and learning, as my business moves forward.
And there are days like these, when i feel like there's a test today that i didn't study for and boy ,are my parents gonna be pissed.