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Sunday, January 18

looking forward, looking back

I had a lot of grandiose plans last January. I think I was going to make lamps, learn to take amazing pictures to grace my journals, etc. Oh, silly girl. How long you been doin' this now?

Writing this blog over the course of a whole season, from applications to the last gift show, has been like a little searchlight in my addled brain. The common wisdom is that creative people are just not business people. I don't think that's always true, but it's real true for me. At my part time theater job, I've heard some people opine that when you have theater people trying to be business people and business people trying to be theater people, it's just going to be a problem, no way around it.

Well, the theater makes a profit, no reason I can't. (she said, defiantly)

Last year was good for us. At the beginning, my fellow art carnies were predicting that it would be a really bad year because of gas prices and then because of the economy. But, show after show, the surprised reaction was that, once again, for most of us, it had been a good weekend. Better than the year before.

Why? C'mon. Who am I, John Kenneth Galbraith? Please. I do have an opinion, of course.

I think it's a combination of two things. The first is practical...people cut back on things like vacations and new cars and appliances, so they had more money for small luxuries.

The second is emotional. When things are getting ugly and sad you are drawn to things festive and pretty.

Hey, Mr President-elect, got a Cabinet job for me?

Now, how this will work out for 2009 is anyone's guess. There is much to be excited about but even more cause for worry. But what can you do? I am tethered to this life out of love and necessity. Adjustments will be made, fingers will be crossed. are the decisions for 2009 that I will most likely sneer at in 2010.

After a dozen years in this business, I know what sold and what didn't. Getting bored with something is no reason to stop making it if it sells. The things I make for 2009 will be the things that have sold for me over the years. No more perusing art books for inspiration. I have inspiration. Food.

Little sales add up to big weekends. I never, ever, had enough collage cards. At any show. I raised the price to $4, which is still on the cheap side for comparable work, and continued to sell out every show. I need to have hundreds of them every weekend. Which means I need to start now. They are very inexpensive to make but not easy.

More little sales...the little desk top collage quotes I sell for $7 were popular again. Book beads. a couple of bucks apiece, easy to make, fun. Adds up.

My journals, the heart of Simplesong, will get more cover embellishment. I'm going to work on cast paper designs for them. The raised collage cover was always a good seller. Need to make more of those.

Mirrors. They have been surprisingly popular and I am getting better at it. Now, those are not easy, but I am almost always pleased with the final product. They are my most expensive item, so I need to have enough of them just in case.

Bowls, bowls, bowls. When I was perusing my picture files for jury slides. I remembered how much I liked making those. They weren't a great seller, but the people that appreciated them really appreciated them. They will be my fun project for this year. If I don't get a lot of them done, no loss, but I will get to play with paint and powder. You need to keep the creative spark going when commerce takes the front burner.

More shows. Russell and I disagree about this, but he has more faith in me than I do. He thinks I should make exciting, expensive things and sell them at very high end shows. Then I only have to do 4 shows a year.

He loves me, what can I say? Thinks I can do anything. Very cute.

The reality is that i just don't make big, expensive things. I wouldn't know one if I saw it and it is just not in my DNA to be "that kind" of artist. As for the better show idea.. you just don't show up at the Smithsonian with your RubberMaid totes. I think I create some pretty nice work, but I am a definite mid-range artisan, so there will be more apps this year.

That's a pretty good plan, I think. If I really start working on product now, there is the possibility of a pretty good year.

I let you know how it worked in January ought ten.

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