Taking flight for an Artist Retreat

By early tommorrow morning I will find myself here.

I'll be meeting up with my long time soul-sister Karrie for a weekend of filling our inspiration cups to the brim.

Here is a bit on our agenda:
Visiting Golden Gate Park
Staying at the Hotel Des Arts
Browsing City Light Books
Wandering Chinatown
and the creme de la creme: Seeing Frida

I am so excited I'm practically glowing!

But first I'm off to see an art opening by the lovely Betsy of Baddins. Wouldn't miss it even for San Francisco! If you are in the Seattle area - specifically Capital Hill, I highly reccomend dropping by the Last Waltz Boutique on 18th & Union.


Finally Finished - Sheep Dreams of Wren

"Sheep Dreams of Wren"
Oil on Found Wood
And he's finally officially finished! (You can read up on the progress of this painting here, here and here.)
And coincidentally enough, this painting qualifies for the Illustration Friday topic of "Routine".
The sheep, a symbol for going with the flow and moving with the masses is daydreaming of swirling flight - of being a wren. This is a depiction of my own battle with the routine of security (i.e. day job) verses the dream of taking flight and following the string of my muse wherever she will lead me (i.e. wren).
And even though I've been working on this series for some time now, this is the first time I've been able to use one for an Illustration Friday topic. The only reason I've had to wait until the last day to submit it is that the weather was not cooperating with me for the photo shoot (i.e. rain)


One Should...

Indeed, indeed.
Found this morning on the ground in front of my feet.


Art Biz Lessons

In response to this post on wholesale inquiries and pricing, I have finally raised my prices a bit. Most items were not increased by much. I feel that I struck a balance between viewing all my items as if they were already marked at wholesale prices (which would have meant doubling everything!) and not raising them enough. I was armed with pricing worksheets and the consultation of friends. All of the advice I had received basically just reinforced what I already knew - that I was priced too low. The wholesale situation helped a lot. Etsy is not the place to discount my stuff. It is a retail outlet and we should treat it as such. My retail prices will help me better contemplate a future wholesale inquiry and it also allows for a teaspoon full of more self art worth. Cheers to that!

The comments on this post are fabulous - I do recommend reading through if you already have an art/craft business or if you are thinking of starting one.

And as a balance to that side of myself wanting to be el cheapo I've finally added a sale section to the shop.


August To Do List

The best thing about this blog so far is that it enables me to hold myself to a certain level of accountability. Blogs allow an outlet to monitor your own progression if you are like me and working towards large lofty goal (like becoming an independent artist!)
Previously, my method has been this. To make a list in my journal and paper clip the page so the book always falls open to that spot. Once the list is complete and checked off then I removed the paper clip. Farely ludite, but it works.

After seeing and enjoying another artist's task list posted on her blog I wondered why I hadn't yet posted my own. Not only does it give you a peek into what I'm up to but it also raises the bar of my own accountability. And I like that.

This list? It's current. These are all goals I set for myself for the month of August. Now that September is drawing closer and closer I'm starting to question my sanity. It's do-able as long as I hold onto that torch of focus.

All of these things I've been chipping away at. Such as #3 - start x y & z paintings. A large chunk of this weekend was spent with Andy who helped me cut and sand wood panels for said x y & z paintings. Thanks Andy!

And # 5 - website update - nearly ready except now that # 2 is done I might as well photograph and update with that but in order to do so it needs to stop raining. Which will happen soon, right?

# 11 will be complete soon and will include a follow up blog post to the wholesale pricing post from last week with a round up of advice I received from fellow artists and friends. Thanks guys!

Oh yes - and if you are curious about # 4, click here to view Rekoj on Facebook.


Illustration Friday - Sail

Ink on paper found out of the office recycling bin.
Sail on office workers, sail on.


The Swan Fates

The Swan Fates
Oil on Found Wood
15.25" x 19"
Let me introduce the 2 newest to the series (same as the sheep I've been working on).
These two have been finished for a little while and I finally took photographs of them a week ago. I'm not sure why I was holding off on revealing them - maybe because I liked them so much.
Or maybe it is because with revealing them, I feel the need to start explaining the series.
Hmmm.... I think I'll wait a bit more to reveal that bit of magic.
I'll let it percolate for a day or two so I can ask - what do you think this series is about?


Apex Summer Party in Pictures

The theme of this summer's annual Apex costume party was "Super Hero or Super Sinful" and my oh my was it fun. These are some of my favorite pictures from the evening:

Rosie the Riveter Sara & Stone Protector Randy

Alan, Jennifer & Barbara Bush Betsy
(LOVE what my camera did to the lights!)

Super Kale Kirsten!

Super Loser Andy!

All that ruckus you heard in Belltown Saturday night? That was the Yellow Hat Band playing on our roof!

Will certainly get the crew dancing everytime!


Art Biz Winner

And the winner of the "When Pens Fly" giveaway is:

Julia! Please send me a message and let me know how to get your print to you.

Thanks to everyone who commented about wholesale orders and pricing help. I'm still processing all the new ideas and I'll update soon with my strategy report!


Studio Tidy

Before last Sunday, this was my studio supply storage shelf:

This was my studio floor during my mini "remodel". Glad this only last a couple hours. Le sigh! The things we put ourselves through for organization!

And this is the result.
Voila! And to think I almost went to Ikea and spent a wad of $ on storage solutions. I didn't need storage solutions, I just needed to purge and move things around a bit.
Still not the most attractive spot in my space but it will hold me for now.


Art Biz Celebration

My oh my - so much has been happening in the last couple days I can barely wrap my head around it. The primary catalyst has been EtsyRain, which is the Etsy Street Team I'm involved in. We just celebrated our 1st Birthday as a group. (I can't believe it's been a whole year with them crafty folks!) I could (and should) do a whole separate post on the fabulousness of EtsyRain but that will have to wait a bit. For now I just want to give a hip-hip-hooray to our team for making the Teams feature on the Storque!

And in that Storque article my "Spring Forward Jean Vest" was one of the featured items along several other awesome EtsyRain artists. And then the next day, this AM, we all made the front page of Etsy. Wow! Such great exposure for all of us. And through that exposure I've been thrown into a business analyzing head spin --- I was contacted by a brick and mortar boutique for a wholesale inquiry. And I hadn't a clue how to respond.

First thing I did was to contact Betsy for advice - knowing that she has had several wholesale accounts in the past. She was super helpful and made me a little less freaked out about saying the wrong thing or messing everything up. I also went and read as much as I could from this forum thread on Etsy about wholesaling from the perspective of a shop owner. I basically came to realize that right now, my prices are pretty much already set at wholesale which means to pursue boutiques and galleries for wholesale accounts - which I already really wanted to do (it's on my to-do list in my journal - today's situation just gave me a nudge) I would have to take a loss. So I was faced with the decision of telling them no, sorry I can't at this time OR being upfront with them about just starting out and hoping they would be willing to work with me.

Pricing is something I know that tons of us struggle with. There are a ton of forum threads and discussions on Etsy about it every day. As individual artists we all want our work to be affordable. I hate the idea of making an item to sell at a price that I myself couldn't afford. It's especially tricky when other artists and other 20-somethings ARE your target audience. How do you price your pieces appropriately and still be fair to yourself?

I've just learned the hard way that I really have been selling myself short. I have been working with the mentality that if you buy direct from me I want to cut you a deal. Nice as that is, it isn't realistic for a real business and in the end I'm only hurting myself AND other artists. Too many of us on Etsy are doing that and it makes it that much harder for any of us to break out and actually make a living doing what we love.

It's hard to sit at craft show and watch your items sit with you with people over and over saying "Oh I LOVE this and ugh - it's how much?" It isn't fair to constantly be compared to Target just because I happen to be an artist who works on clothing. Just because it's clothing shouldn't necessarily equal cheap.

But it's also just as much of a stomach drop to read up on wholesale pricing and find out that stores expect to pay 50% less than what you charge. Seriously? That is common practice? There is no way. No way at all I can do that. So finding that out that my prices are pretty much already at wholesale. Which kinda puts me in trouble for this current wholesale inquiry. What to do? Is it necessarily fair to raise all my prices on Etsy 50% just so I can offer the standard discount to shops? Is it worth it? And since all my stuff is pretty much one of a kind can I even realistically sustain wholesale accounts? I probably couldn't produce much more than I already am without either a) changing HOW I make my art or b) quiting my day job.

These are all things my head is spinning with this morning which had me really distracted at said day job. I definitely don't have the answers yet, but this all is a good start regardless of the direction I chose to go in.
Anyone have any advice for this predicament??? (And here is where I get sneaky) In an effort to get as much advice as possible AND as a way to celebrate that I now have over 100 hearts in my shop due to all this commotion I want to offer a giveaway. Leave a comment with some advice and on Sunday I will pull a name out of a hat. The winner will be gifted with this print:
When Pens Fly
Because after all - all this hub-bub certainly is worth celebrating!


Port Townsend trip with the Ladies

Last Friday I took a trip with 3 fabulous lady friends. Let me share with you!
Lady friends Kirsten, Jennifer & myself met up at the Washington State Ferry terminal on Friday to head across the water to Bainbridge Island where we were picked up by Betsy of Baddins and taken to her delightful little cabin:

And we were met by little lady Otter:

What a cutie!

When we arrived at the cabin Betsy revealed not only homemade garden soup but fresh baked bread for dinner - delicious! We followed up dinner with wine and lots of chatting and somewhere in there Betsy even zapped some cookies into existence before going to bed way late. Oh yeah - that's what lady time is all about!

In the morning we awoke with amazement as Betsy had whipped up ANOTHER loaf of fresh baked bread (the woman is amazing no doubt) and we breakfasted on bread and eggs with coffee & kombucha. Just what some ladies need to kick off their morning of garage sales! So off we headed towards Port Townsend stopping at garage sale signs along the way.

On one of our stops we made some new friends:

And then there we were in beautiful Port Townsend on a gorgeous summer day. We paused in town for more coffee at Tyler Street Coffee House and a slice of Waterfront Pizza - neither should be missed. We ate our lunch on the beach and then continued on our way up to Fort Worden since we were pretty well shopped out at that point.

At Fort Worden Jennifer set the timer on her camera and we took our band photo --- if we were to start a band anyways this would have to be the album cover:

Sara, Kirsten, Betsy & Jennifer at Fort Worden.

We spent a few hours at Fort Worden spelunking and wandering the beach and painting and drawing. After which we were in dire need of corn, of course.

Oh how sweet the days of summer when they're shared with friends!

*** All photos in the is post were taken by our trip documentarian, Jennifer! ***


Urban ArtWorks

In the last couple months I got to work on something pretty darn cool and art related through my day job. I met and contracted with ArtWorks to solve a graffiti problem on one of the buildings I'm managing. It's an old brick building in Pioneer Square that served as a plumbing warehouse back in the day.

Now, you may or may not know that removing graffiti from brick is incredibly difficult and expensive. And the City of Seattle requires landlords to immediately remove graffiti - within 48 hours or something ridiculous and superhero-esque. Yikes! On a building where you can just paint over graffiti that is no problem. But on brick? Huge pain.

So an alternative plan was needed and in comes ArtWorks.

ArtWorks is a non-profit organization that works with at-risk youth to empower them within the arts by working on public mural projects. Their work has been cropping up all over Seattle since 1995 apparently - but I first took notice a year ago when I saw these incredible painted panels hung on a construction fence downtown near the Central Library. It was such a lovely thing to see art along the sidewalk instead of a drab plywood fence shielding the site.

At first I thought that perhaps it was some artist group just trying to get their work out there. Turns out I was right - but ArtWorks took it a step further by being an arts group mentoring youth to get their work out there. Many of the youth that end up in the program have been prosecuted for tagging - ArtWorks gives them an artistic outlet that is public and legal. I was impressed and may even end up volunteering for them sometime soon.

And needless to say I was thrilled when I got to head up a project with them through work. The mural above is my favorite of 8 murals we commissioned for our building. Here is another one:

On Friday I ended up spending the majority of the workday out on site coordinating the installation of all 8 murals. Each one consisted of four 8 foot panels that we had to place, align, mount and anchor. It was also totally up to me to figure out how to space the murals around the building which was more difficult than I thought it would be!

You would think 8 16 foot murals would fill a space pretty well but I was astounded just how small they all looked once we got them all up - as you can see!