Archive for the ‘planning’ Category

“Experimenting with Textiles”

I am currently (like right now) watching a video from the fellows who bring you textileartist.org. I’ve subscribed for several years, and they are introducing a series of videos on finding your voice with your textiles. So far, 11 minutes into the video, I can see the various paths I have taken and why I had problems with them.

First, early on in working with stitching on marbled fabrics, I felt intimidated by mo own machine quilting skills, and I felt like I needed to do a huge amount of practice on smaller pieces before I came to the bigger works I wanted to do. A cyber friend kindly said to me – do the work you want and the skills will follow….and so they did. I started weaving strips of marbled fabric after I machine-quilted them, and I didn’t look back.

Second, I’ve always experimented with lots of techniques – marbling happened to be the latest one (embroidery, knitting, crocheting, painting), but the marbling hooked and and hubby. Now I have a body of work that utilizes marbled fabric and new means of quilting and embellishing. I picked up bead work only in the sense it could add to the overall design.

Lots of ups and downs in learning and trying to determine a niche for ourselves, as well as work within limitations of what we could afford.  I finally decided that what other marblers do is fine – so is our work in its own unique way. I didn’t want to marble paper – I wanted fabric – first limitation, and we made it work. We perfected our style on white fabric – very unforgiving – a second limitation.

How can I push the boundaries of the basics? Hubby and I laugh about what I have him end of trying to marble – “pushing” to do ribbon, silk flowers, canvas…all because I don’t want to waste paint in the marbling tray. Lots of additional projects opened up, mostly with embellishing what we were already creating. Any new techniques were pursued in how they could expand our marbled fiber art.

Making marbled art is expensive –  a pound of carrageenan is about $50.00 now. So because of our extremely limited financial capabilities we had to work within a very tight budget – and we succeeded. Looking at a display of our work several months ago, both of us marveled at what we were able to create with so little resources.

Embracing what we can do on our limited budget led me to learn how to manipulate my 1008 Bernina workhorse sewing machine to do what I wanted it to do. Yes, I miss “needle down” and variable speed….but my skill with this basic machine has led me to teach very successful machine quilting classes to folks who think they can’t machine quilt unless they have a long-arm or other fancy sit-down machine.

In terms of skill level, I am completely self-taught, with only one marbling class from a master (Galen Berry). Everything else has been trial and error….no color theory of design, so I started with putting everything with black fabric. Hubby has the color sense, and I slowly came around to improving mine. Now I can put marbled fabrics with a range of other colors and designs. I attended a workshop with Tony Conner, water colorist extraordinaire, who talked us through a painting he created. It was like a design class with a master, listening to him talk through his decisions. I kept referring to pieces I was working on to see that I was naturally doing some of the design elements. I was trusting my “eye” and myself.

You owe it to yourself to watch the first of these videos – maybe you are new to the idea of limitations. We had natural limitations through finances imposed on us, and it led to who we are as artists now. Check out our web page to see our range of work. Find textileartist.org on Facebook and get your free video.

PS – no more pima cotton fabric, special order didn’t work because it was too light, so we “over-marbled”…and it’s good to go…..making due with a limitation……

Making Progress…..

Just a Collection....

Just a Collection….

So I have finished reorganizing my Bridge folders for all the digital work and storage of all things art. About 6 hours total, but it feels good to have it done – serious loose end. Now I need to go through iPhoto and get some folders made to organize photos there – hopefully won’t take as long. Slowly setting up the to-do list for all things business.

Organized!

Organized! (Aren’t I just so good?!)

The fist item over the next 12 days is to get every piece ready for a major display for Burlington City Arts. We will have 10-12 of our medium and large pieces on display in the Maltex Building on Pine Street for six months. Quite a nice venue, and our first major exposure in a contemporary gallery in the state. Lots to do – Ocean’s Bounty needs some work with the connecting beads and Gaia 2 (Pele) will be making its debut also, and I need to get it on its new hanging system.

Gaia 2: Beginnings

Gaia 2: Beginnings

LOVE this piece and have since it was completed many years ago. Will post when I have the new hanging system….hopefully cholla wood and braiding to hang each of the points.

Ocean's Bounty

Ocean’s Bounty

Heavy piece with all the beading and layers and stones – but it will be good for it to see the light of a gallery.

(Wow – I just took less than two minutes to get those pictures from the digital folder – nice organization, Linda!)

Hubby is marbling a lot, as we have new ways of marketing our fabrics. We are selling marbled fabrics in the Red Mill in Jericho, which is “coming home” again – his family settled this area and now he’s helping to support the non-profit mill craft and art gallery.

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Four weeks today is knee surgery, with a three-six month recovery…I want to be back at the sewing machine within two weeks – too much to do!! I am finding guided meditations that will help prep for before and after surgery. My yoga practice is reviving itself as a way of strengthening the  knee and thigh muscles for surgery. I found an integrative medicine doctor through the medical center, and I LOVE her. Looking forward to working with her over the coming year.

On to attaching a piece to a covered canvas with fabric glue….will post when it’s finished and dry…..

Monday Marketing – Keep Your Chickens Flying

Love the headline. This article comes from Fine Art Views blog, and the message for me is very timely, and hopefully it will resonate with many of you. Here’s a quote from the article:

“Keeping the chickens flying means you will find a way to make it. The old farmer took the risk to haul double the amount his truck would carry. He knew he would have to keep half of the chickens in the air. It’s sorta like us juggling our budget to make ends meet. You are facing two choices, give up or find a way to keep your chickens flying.”

I think so many of us are trying to figure out new ways of working and diversifying so we can make it as artists. Lower prices, develop new products, try something completely different, double down our marketing efforts…..we will find ways to make it.

Sometimes you need to look at networking with others. I’ve written about The Textile and Fiber Arts List before. This is an amazing group of textile and fiber folk from around the world. $75 membership, one time only, no renewals. Lots of marketing opportunities. We are not alone in our work, even though it seems that way as we work on our art, stitch by stitch.  We need community, and TAFA is a great way to begin. Consider it your professional organization for your resume.

And while we’re at the motivation stage, here’s an article from Dumb Little Man. Everything just kind of goes together.

Here’s hoping to a productive art-making week – and art-selling week – for all of us.

Ps – any spelling errors are from one-fingered typing – put the needle through my finger……

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday

I LOVE LOVE LOVE surfing the web – so many resources, and just down-right interesting things to see!

Some more amazing eye candy from Joan Leschenault and the Perth quilt show in West Australia. I really like look at FMQ designs in quilts.

Want some things and don’t know how to make them happen? Maria Brophy shares this inspiring look at positivity. Hawaii, here we come!

Look at the studies in triangles from this week’s JPG Magazine.

Light Traingle Swimmers by Claire Smith

From The Best Article Every Day comes a really creative use of stock images to tell a story. Every single frame is different, and yet there is a cohesive story. Very clever!

For you origami afficianados, here’s a post from origamijoel with the work of another origami artist, Eric Joisel. Isn’t it amazing what can be done with a single sheet of paper?

There is a really fascinating documentary called “Between the Folds” that is well worth the watch.

40 Famous Photographs – some you’ll recognize, some will be new, but they all tell a  story.

 Another entry from 365 Magazine – love the lines on this one!

Under the Westside Highway by Michael Elliot

I tried to find credit for this next, “The Beauty of the Night,” but can’t find anything through Google. This is a gorgeous set of photographs in a powerpoint. When you click the black and white, it slowly turns to color. Gorgeous!

This is really cool – the Sydney Opera House as an art installation. Lighting the Sails by Urban Screen. Incredible idea! Take the time to view the video.

If you’re doing some form of artist trading cards – or would like to – here’s a free online publications that just might help you: ArtTrader Magazine. They look really interesting, and you can download past issues.

What did you find on the web this week?

 

Bogged Down…..

Okay, I have 15 minutes before I have a solid three hours of uninterrupted time before I leave to go tutoring. There are so many things to do right now, and I feel like I am desperately running short of time to complete a major project. So I need to process this in writing – which I have found over the last few years (since I’ve been keeping the blog) that this really helps.

Deadline is February 13 for a major art quilt. Last night I actually said, “Well, maybe I won’t finish it for this show.” Bah! BIG BAH!! I can’t do that, because it has kept me in the past from a lot of opportunities. I need to quilt during the day, as the light is so much better. And I really don’t have that much more quilting to do….break to email my second mom about bringing the shredded money with her tonight to dinner so I can begin to do the lichens….

So where was I? I also need to get a newsletter done ASAP. I missed ALL of last year, and it is a major goal for this year, especially since we have had a lot of new followers. But reality is I can do that at night on the computer when all is quiet.

We have a big Etsy order to go out, and I finished up what I need to do there. I can see I’m getting bogged down with my “brain dump” from Sunday, doing lots of little things, when I’m avoiding the really big, DO ME NOW, piece.

So, I’ve done my yoga, dinner is ready for tonight, tutoring is set to go for this afternoon, it’s 11:oo, and I am going to go sew…..my goal is to finish the actual quilting this afternoon and perhaps start the blocking.

How do you handle times when you get bogged down? I could use some great insights and ideas……

Later, y’all.

Thoughts on Entering Juried Shows……

I’ve written that one of my goals for this first quarter of the year is to create some new artwork to enter into a few select juried shows. Joanne Mattera had a really interesting blog post on Monday about entering shows: When Do You Stop Entering Shows?

Certainly timely for me. Her checklists of questions to ask yourself are excellent. I had success about 10 years ago with a series of shows I entered, especially Expressions in Textiles, which was more an early art-quilt venue. I would consider this my first prestigious show. I have success entering a show in Alaska each year, which is an art show, and fortunately for me they like fiber entries. I stopped entering a lot of shows from about 2006 on for two reasons: I was teaching full time and had  very little time for creating art, and entry fees were expensive (moderately so nbow, but I must say, being able to do online entries is a blessing). The entry fee was groceries. Then I entered an art quilt show two years ago and was rejected. Aside from being P.O.’d, when I looked at the artists selected, they were the “same ole – same ole” quilt artists whose work is very recognizable. That’s when I figured I wasn’t going to play with the “big girls” any more. I needed to make work for me.

Hence my decision to try for Visions and a SAQA show this year….there, I’ve said it. Big time. If I am selected, these will be two huge pieces for my resume. Which brings me back to Joanne’s article. “But at a certain point—a tipping point, let’s think of it—you want to see your exhibition experience evolve into opportunities in which you are invited to participate.”

Yup, that pretty much says what I am aiming for. Joanne goes on to say: “Indeed, most dealers looking at an artist’s resumé want to see that evolution. ‘When I see a string of juried shows on a mid-career artists’s resume, I have to ask, ‘Where’s the progression?’ says a dealer I know.”

I know I’m making progress in creating art, and I want to be mindful of shows that would add value to my resume and future opportunities. Quilt shows aren’t going to do it for me. Some art quilt shows? Visions, SAQA, Tactile Architecture…..probably. I’m not interested in dealing with the “quilt police.” My work is not mainstream quilting, although that’s a skill I use. A number of years ago we had our work in a now-defunct fiber gallery in Scottsdale. At the time I was doing different things with my “bindings.” I was serging or facing the edges of my art quilts because the technique helped enhance the message of the piece. The gallery owner – a fairly traditional quilter who worked with bright fabrics and called them art quilts – was appalled that I didn’t have regular bindings on my quilts, and she wouldn’t take a couple of pieces without regular bindings. Well, to my way of thinking, a binding would have constricted the design in a way I didn’t want.

Those pieces are now all in private collections, and I’m still spreading my wings as an artist, trying all different kinds of techniques.

Some shows I do enter – nonjuried, no-fee art shows, where fiber will be accepted. The Tikkun Olam show was an easy show, a twelve-by-twelve piece dealing with the theme, and it could be any media. I did receive a lot of feedback about the piece and some interesting opportunities – and a lot of interesting lessons (just because you say you’re a curator doesn’t mean you’re especially good at it….). There is another show like that coming up that I plan to create work for.

In retrospect, I am on the right track. My decisions seem based in reality and forward movement for me. We’ll see how everything plays out. I am behind on my piece for the Visions show, but I have a month…..less, when I think about photography, but I’m almost there…..a solid week of sewing (which will have to be next week…) should finish it for me. And then on to the rest of the first quarter list.

Monday Marketing: Getting Organized….Still……..

  I did a lot of thinking about organization and related business aspects during our trip to San Diego (hence the picture). I had my big notebook with me for major planning, and I keep a small notebook in my purse for sudden ideas and strokes of genius (yes, there have been some…).

  But man, there is a lot to this organization, especially if you don’t want it taking over your actual art work. I am slowly making progress in a number of areas, but I have to give myself a break and realize it’s not going to all happen at once. The important things – growth in blog visitors, more art being created – and more sales – are all starting to happen. It just takes time…and organization.

So herewith, my latest attempts, based on Action 3 of Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! I have read ahead in other actions, and I am making slow progress, but for me, I need to also complete each piece. That’s one of the biggest challenges I have found – not trying to accomplish a zillion things and making small progress but having nothing completely finished. Comes from years of multi-tasking in teaching and directing theater.

Action 3 looks at routines. Here’s an interesting thing I’m finding. In the past when I read a book (and I’ve done many), I usually skip the exercise part – figure I’ll get the most out of the reading and then move on. But I never really make any improvement. So part of my promise to myself in buying new books and art materials is that I WILL USE them. Does make a difference.

Routines: Every Day

* Sew (I have been VERY GOOD about this!)

* review goals (yup)

* comment on other blogs (kinda)

* send at least 2 tweets (nope)

* upate fan page (kinda)

* work on newsletter info (nope…..some kind of block going on here….)

Routines: Every Week

* accomplish 1 action (yup)

* Etsy marketing and new items added to the store (yup)

* review organizational notebook for progress (yup)

* add connections to Linked In (yup)

* get caught up on email (yup)

* take care of at least 3 loose ends for actual art making/sewing – like getting bindings finished (pretty much)

* work on licensing collection (not yet…)

Routines: Each Month

* read magazines at Barnes and Noble (yup)

* send newsletter (ABSOLUTELY DEFINITELY THIS MONTH)

* new work photographed (yup)

* visit two galleries (yup) – and a show in a week!

* check on affiliate income, etc. (yup)

Routines: Each Quarter

* complete at least 2 licensing collections

* set new 100 day/Season goals

*look ahead to holidays for Cafe Press

* add a new affiliates

We’ll see how this quarter goes. I’m happier with this organizational than when I tried to delineate my marketing on a day by day basis. Then I felt guilty if I didn’t get everything done each day! Here’s Alyson’s book – I HIGHLY recommend it!


Monday Marketing – Social Media Revisited

After nearly three months of work to get Marble-T Design in shape for some serious expansion, I have been thinking about the role of social media, since that has been a big focus. I’ve also been thinking about the market pieces in place now and how they are working.

Biggest help of all so far has been getting up and operating on Linked In. I completed my profile with two basic pieces: the art and my interest in doing private tutoring, with the emphasis on the art business. Even more so has been the group aspect of Linked In. I’ve joined a couple of discussion groups and met some great folks. Art Business, Art Marketing, Manhattan Arts International, and TAFA have been incredibly productive. Advice, people viewing and commenting on the art, increase in “Likes” on the fan page as a result of round robin visiting – lots more people know about our marbling.

Twitter – can’t seem to develop this one to the extent I probably should. I do tweet interesting articles, retweet others’ information, but I am lucky to get a half hour each day to read recent tweets. I do know that taking advantage of the Tweet aspect of listing items on Etsy has led to a lot more views, as well as some sales. That’s a plus, but I can’t seem to devote the time – at this point – to being a major presence in TwitterWorld. I use Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets, but I got really frustrated when it wasn’t posting tweets for the TAFA fund raiser. That’s on my long-term list of things to do, because frankly, it’s not a priority right now.

Facebook has been great – of recent interest has been the 7th grade picture of my class in elementary school – lots of interesting comments there! But in terms of business, the Fan page has been much more active, with an increase in “Likes,” and I am trying to post something every day. With the integrating features, my blog automatically gets posted, as well as Etsy items, and I try to get an Ebay item up at least once a week. I can tell from the stats on Ebay that the traffic increases each time I post. And…sales have been up.

Responding. This is the key. You just can’t read this stuff without letting people know you’re out there, enjoying/responding to what they’ve posted. And that takes time. But it has to be done, and done in a meaningful manner. When I first started blogging (some 528 posts ago), I was thrilled the few times a comment came in, but I never acknowledged it.You must do that, and you must have something sincere to say. I love doing this now – it is so gratifying that someone visits, and I want to respond to that.

Ebay – business is increasing, and we can see that because we are marbling more often.

Etsy – slowly starting to build. The key has been finding the niche market for Etsy, which is some of our more expensive marbled fabrics, not the big art pieces. I do think with the right marketing I can sell some of the small marbled art pieces, if I keep things under fifty dollars.

Blog – back to almost every day, and traffic is increasing significantly. I’m finally taking the advice of some other bloggers and having at least one day a week for what’s on sale from Marble-T Design. I do enjoy writing, and I enjoy visiting other blogs. I’ve expanded additional pages on the blog, from art blogs to visit to resources available. I still have more that I want to add.

These have been the Big Three that are in place and are working. Each week I am nurturing them along.

Website – we need to add more items (we used to have close to 14 items available for sale), and we need to increase the traffic/sales to the site. I need to update some of the art work, and I have done some rewriting of copy within the site.

Cafe Press – well, not so much, but I am advertising something each week. It’s been interesting to see the Cafe Press ads online – every time I see one, one of the items is usually our gecko tote bag.

Marketing materials – new business cards with all the social media information on them, thanks to Vista Print freebies. Plus, new postcards as thank-you’s for customers, encouraging them to sign up for our newsletter and win free fabric.

BUT – absolutely the BEST thing in all of this is that hubby and I are finally able to work together each day with our art, creating and having fun together all the while.

 

Working on Goals – Revisited

  Retirement is amazing – all the time to create art and work on the art business.I’m very busy, one one of the things I let go was the notion of substitute teaching during retirement. Nope, don’t want to lose a day to the classroom and grief when I can be making art.

Spending the money to redo the studio was an excellent investment. It means we’re serious, plus the studio is so inviting – we WANT to be in there all the time. And once I started adding fresh flowers to the studio – well, the feng shui has been very conducive to creating.

I am certainly getting things done, but what I am finding is that I need to move to getting larger chunks of a goal done within a few days, rather than dragging it out over a couple of weeks, with just doing a piece here and there. I need to get it off my list, and I think this will work.

That said, one of my goals for this 100 days is three of the action plans in Alyson Stanfield‘s I’d Rather Be in the Studio! So as I was looking over Action Plan 1, I realized I have done pieces of this before, but not with these particular questions. I’ve looked at my target audience, my ideal customer, I’ve looked at overall goals, but never really defined success itself.

So that’s my task today. Alyson lists 20 areas to ruminate on concerning how you visualize success.

* Production of art: I want to make at least three major pieces (Gaia weavings) a year; spend time each week in the studio revising, finishing, working on at least a dozen smaller pieces. So far for this second half of the year, I think I am on track – I already have three smaller pieces just about completed, and one new major weaving sketched out.

* Quality of artwork: It’s very important to me, now that I have the time, to take some art classes, primarily studio art as opposed to art history (which I still would like to do). I want my work to be excellent and gallery-ready. I may still pursue a couple of show venues, but that’s not as important to me as it was. I want to continue to learn new techniques to include in new artwork. Both hubby and I are really looking to improve our marbling skills.

* Exhibition venues: As I said, not as important to me to enter juried shows. I want to find a couple of galleries to carry my work, beyond the website. I am entering a local show (not juried) for the possible connections, as well as seeing if I can make what is in my mind actually happen in the piece.

* Teaching venues and opportunities: hmmm, possibly, but not at this moment. I’ve done a number of local gigs over the years, but never really went prepared with stuff to sell. Maybe something to consider after I have all the other business pieces in place.

* Travel: oh, yeah, and not necessarily for business (but we always visit galleries). I want to get at least one big trip in each year. We always visit museums and galleries, so outlets for our work, as well as new ideas, are always part of our travel. We even have promo literature to take with us.

* Home, Studio, Environment: The studio makeover was critical, and it will more than pay for itself in productivity. We’re happy with our apartment and locale, although eventually we will move East again.

* Spirituality: I am practicing the principles of the Laws of Attraction and Abundance and I have been extremely pleased with my whole attitude change. I am reading Native Wisdom for White Minds by Anne Wilson Shaef, as I love the saying of our indigenous people around the world. And nothing beats standing and wondering at some amazing site in nature.

 * Health: major goal here, as I want to be around for a long time. I am taking steps to do what I need to, and hopefully with this 100 days I will see some good success.

* Leadership Roles: kinda done with this. That’s why I retired. I’m leading myself to success.

* Published Work: hmmmm. Something to think about, just not sure how I can turn the marbling into a successful book. Seems like the books that have been written about marbling and projects haven’t lasted long. And I’m not sure I want the pressure and deadlines of a book contract. Been there, done that.

* Visits to the website and blog: Numbers for the blog have been steadily increasing since I got back to blogging. The website has stayed pretty static, but I am not doing significant marketing on that yet. I’ve done some small revisions on the website, I still need to add new work, and I need to think through the purpose of the website. I want to see the blog traffic translate into sales.

* Subscribers to the newsletter: I am so lacking in this. I thought I had it under control last summer, but school hit and my time was no longer my own. I have signed up with Mail Chimp and am busy importing the addresses of subscribers so far. I want a schedule of every three weeks, but I need to spend time seriously looking at the content for the newsletter, plus be VERY prepared for this year’s holiday season.

* Social Media  connections: you can read about this progress on tomorrow’s blog. The only thing I haven’t seemed to master dealing with is Twitter.

* Sales of my book: Nope, but I’m going to change “book” to “patterns.” This is an area for long-term development. Two quilt patterns art in progress, and I need to refine my Polynomial Quilt pattern.

* Sales of my art: Definitely a big goal. I want our art business to help provide for travel in retirement. My immediate two-year goal is $1000 a month from the business.

* Grants received: another hmmm. Something to think about on down the future. I do have experience writing grants, so on down the road I will look at this.

* Articles by me: I did get paid abut 4 years ago for a series of articles on a quilting site. This will go on the long-term list of things to explore, as I do enjoy writing.

* Commissions: just finished my first big one, and I certainly want more. To this end I need to develop and promote my contacts and collectors lists. I need to put on the long-term list to check with the local and state  arts council for both grants and commissions.

* Public or private collections: not quite sure about this – something to think about.

* Licensing: this is a major one, and I have already identified some collections. I need to begin fleshing these out till I have at least 10 developed, and then I’m going looking for an agent.

* Volunteer work: I added this one, as I want to donate time and art to a local organization called Ben’s Bells. Very worthy, and I want to help. Also, I want to continue the work for Art from the Heart (see top right of this page) to help promote peace.

If all of this intrigues you, you can pick up Alyson‘s book. WELL WORTH the investment in yourself and your art.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Marketing – Creating a Schedule

It’s Monday again….and it seems like all I did was read, look at emails, and set up buttons and the like. This is the “time-sucker.” So my goal for this blog post is to try and identify what needs to be done each week for marketing and set up a kind of calendar to work with.

This is what I’m dealing with: Ebay, Etsy, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Cafe Press, Zazzle, newsletters, a website, lynda.com, flickr, and a blog. I am trying to avoid doing all of this every day, because nothing else seems to get done. I’m brainstorming as I write, with the hope that by the time this post is done, I will have a plan.

Ebay: hubby handles almost all of this, including postal trips. But…if we are going to increase sales, we need more product, and I would like to help with the actual marbling. So…..marbling weekly. I do need to update the About Me page…..

Etsy: the bulk of the organization is done. But…I need to be adding product on a regular basis, which means I need to keep making things. It would be nice to have one new product up each week, if not more often. One of the goals this week is to add some of the major artwork (even though I don’t expect to sell it on Etsy, it is more exposure) on the site, as the pictures are redone. I want to continue with the circles marketing, which, if I have enough products, could be done every day – 15 minutes for this. Plus, I need to keep working…….

LinkedIn: profile is done, and I have registered for several groups for business. I have found already difficulty in keeping up with reading emails each day from the groups and have already deleted one group. This week I will determine which groups look to be the most advantageous. I also need to complete the setting up of a profile of artwork.

Facebook: I read this several times a day. I have a fan page which needs serious work, as well as Art From The Heart, which is to support healing art after the Tucson shootings in January. I have added FB buttons to my blog and this week to my website. I have read the Terms and looked at all the privacy settings. I also went through the photo stream stuff for FB and fixed photos for both the personal and fan page. I need to really think through what is going to happen with the Fan Page.

Twitter: I am finishing a class from lynda.com on using Facebook and Twitter for business, and I highly recommend the site. For #25 you can choose different trainings all available for a month at your schedule. I picked up all kinds of little tips, most of which have already been implemented. But….and this is a BIG but….the time for tweets and what to tweet. By syncing a lot of the programs, my blog appears on Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, my tweets appear in a couple of places. I don’t think I can go further with this – the tweet button is on the blog and soon to be on the website. This is one area that needs some serious scheduling. Since I use TweetDeck (which is free…), I can schedule and keep track of who’s following and what is getting retweeted. So…I’m going to use Sundays for scheduling business tweets for the week, and I will look through the twitter feed once a day to see if there’s some good stuff to retweet.

Cafe Press: I have a site, a free one, so I am limited as to the number of products I can put up. I haven’t looked at this in several months and it needs serious work. To have a store isn’t much money each month, and I could have a lot more products available, but the issue is marketing and driving people to the site. I have some great digital stuff already to go, and I need to start planning around the holidays, reading about marketing through Cafe Press, and so on.

Zazzle: Ditto for Cafe Press……both are not a high priority right now.

Newsletters: oy, it’s been months since a newsletter went out, and I have all these contacts where nothing is happening. I used Constant Contact last year for a few months, until I couldn’t keep up with the demands and school at the same time. I was happy with it, but disappointed that not many people actually read it. I need to go back to a newsletter and offerings at least once every three weeks, and more during the holiday seasons. I need to check out Mail Chimp, which is free, and I have heard people have good luck with it. I’ll try and make this a priority this week.

Website: Most of the changes to the website have been made by my wonderful web lady Suzan. I need to get a couple of buttons set up, and then do something about newsletters and contacts. I also have some pages to add on Digital Marbling (TN), and I need to evaluate “print on demand” for artwork. This is a “need to think about” topic…..

lynda.com: I have until Friday to finish my month of training. I still need to finish Twitter, and I want to get the html newsletter course done. I am not going to continue with Dreamweaver because it isn’t a priority.

Flickr: I have photos up, not all of them with copyrights, and there is a class on lynda.com if I have time. I’m not really sure what I want to do here….

And finally, my blog, Marbled Musings. I went a bunch of months with no new writing, and I’m at maybe three times a week. I need to get back to at least four times a week, and eventually every day. I have plenty to write about…and I need to stay up with my Google reader – as well as comment more on some of the posts. This is probably the biggest area for marketing that I have to schedule.

Weekly:

* Marbling fabric

* Work on Etsy products

* Sewing and other design

Mondays:

* Add Etsy product

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Monday Marketing

* Google reader and at least three comments

Tuesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog post Top Ten Tuesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Wednesdays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Work in progress Wednesday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Thursday:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog – Thursday Thoughts

* Google reader and at least three comments

Fridays:

* Add Etsy circle information

* Read newsletters from LinkedIn groups

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog Photoshop Friday

* Google reader and at least three comments

Saturdays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Blog posting on Specials

* Google reader and at least three comments

Sundays:

* Read Twitter feed

* Schedule Tweets for the week (i.e. Etsy, Ebay…)

* Blog Sunday Stories

* Google reader and at least three comments

Goals for next week:

* FINISH LYNDA.COM

*Update “About Me” page on Ebay

* Update Etsy products, especially note cards

* Evaluate how calendar is working

* See if buttons are added to the website

* Decisions on what will happen with the Facebook Fan page

* Long-term thoughts – what to do with CafePress and Zazzle

* Read and decide about Mail Chimp for a newsletter

* Spend some time thinking about what the website still needs….

Okay, I think I have a handle on this…we’ll see next week as I evaluate how the week goes. And…I’m taking some online classes!

Thoughts??

On Rethinking Retirement……

Today was the first day of two for professional development on Understanding by Design, or UbD. The staff at the school all has to have this training as part of our three-year plan, and I was resisting this because I’ve read through elements of this on my own, as well as tried to apply some of the “big ideas” to a museum project several years ago. I am here to say today is causing me to seriously rethink retirement – the day was amazing, and I do not say that lightly about professional development.

Understanding by Design is a three-stage program to develop more meaningful curriculum that is effective, engages students, and promotes enduring understanding, as Howard Gardner would say. We spent the day on Stage 1, unwrapping the curriculum in order to plan for the end result. Duh. In 20 years of doing student theater, I always did what I call “backplanning,” but NOT ONCE did I think to apply that skill to my classroom teaching.

As we continued through the day, I kept seeing lights at the end of the tunnel, answering for me ways to fix what I am unhappy with in my algebra classes. I do too much direct instruction, I don’t have the kids do enough inquiry, and they aren’t engaged enough or see algebra as a meaningful course of study. I actually wanted to read through standards and try to cluster some of the performance objectives so the planning  makes more sense. The warm-up we did would make more sense than the (to be honest) drill and kill I usually do for practice (and, really honest, management…). In fact, I have some ideas for small group bell work for next week to extend some of the understanding.

All through the day I was (and still am) very conflicted. I am planning to retire in two and a half more years. I have been dealing with some health issues that may make me retire early. Plus, I realized if I go the full years more I will actually end up hurting my retirement benefits, as there hasn’t been a raise, and nothing is in sight. Two and a half years would cut off one of my higher salary years. So I am looking at numbers.

But then I sit in a workshop and get truly excited about trying some new strategies and ideas for teaching algebra, and I don’t want to leave. Retirement is an ending, as well as a beginning. I started teaching 40 years ago this September, and while it is probably time – age-wise – to go, it feels like “the end.” I don’t think I’m ready for closure, even though I want to seriously expand my art work and licensing. I’m not sure I can “let go” of 33 years of teaching, when I still feel like I have a lot more to offer. I still love this stuff – workshops, class management, curriculum, and all. I miss the teaching teachers that I used to do. I have all these skills and experiences (and endorsements) from all these years, and I’m not sure I can give it up…..

So just when I think I am coming to decisions, something happens to change it all. Darn you, Dr. Larry….now what do I do?

Monday Marketing – Sun Tsu and The Art of War

I’ve never read The Art of War by Sun Tzu. I suppose as a history major I should have, along with my reading of Machiavelli…but my college history department at the time didn’t have much related to Asian studies, let alone economics. So when I stumbled on this from Dumb Little Man, I was interested.

Hmmmm…..Five Factors for Life-Hacking Domination. Whoa – kinda strong when you think about marketing…but maybe not. Let’s explore this further. Something that has been around since the 6th century BC probably has something to teach us.

Life-Hacking – getting to the essence of life and making it work for you. Most of us struggle with this until we realize life is short and we need to get the most out of it before it’s too late. On a marketing level, most of us don’t know how to market our art, and we need to before we are left behind.

Teaching 1: The Moral Law

Sun Tzu said: “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.”
Whoever is our ruler, spirit, creator, God – we must live in harmony with that. For me all my decisions have been predicated on the “do no harm” and “do unto others” principles. The same has to be true for me to be successful with my art and my business. What is the best possible product that is true to who I am, that is environmentally responsible, and that will bring me and an art buyer happiness? This can only be a great morality to live by.

“Every eye forms its own fancy.” from Mrs. O’Malley, Irish proverb, from “Native Wisdom for White Minds.” We all see what we want to see, or what we’ve been trained to see, and hence we miss whatever else we’ve not been taught to understand. Our reality isn’t the only reality…can we be open to other possibilities in our art and in our life that will serve us well?

Teaching 2: Heaven
Sun Tzu said: “Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.”
To Sun Tzu, Heaven is a consistency and a variable, all at the same time, and not necessarily religious. We know where we are going, we have a plan laid out, but we need to be aware of possible changes, pitfalls, opportunities. In this current economy, how are we reacting to sales and the health of our art business? What are our contingency plans till people start buying art again? Are we still making art, planning, creating product, connecting with others, teaching ourselves new skills? Above all, we need to be flexible: study the environment and decide how we can make it work (great advice from Tim Gunn…).
Teaching 3: Earth
Sun Tzu said: “Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.”
I’m quoting Dumb Little Man here: “Those entrenched in the status quo make the obvious and socially-acceptable choices – regardless of how ineffective and/or inefficient those choices are. They don’t take the time to observe the ground beneath their feet. Hence, they are incapable of seeing and feeling the optimal way forward. The life hacker thinks and acts unconventionally. She looks for the paths of least resistance, the 80/20 shortcuts, and the hidden passageways through life.”

That’s a huge mouthful, and one most of us will not consider. Having always been accused of “unconditional optimism,” I think I am quite prepared for this one. Everything has a solution; it may be one we haven’t thought of, one that is uncomfortable for us, or one that forces us to seriously change our paths. A sluggish economy is a huge problem, one that will take extreme  courage and innovation to survive. Are we ready?

Teaching 4: The Commander

Sun Tzu said: “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and strictness.”
This ties in to all morality. We must all take the higher path, and I editorialize here that in this economy – and our lives in general – I don’t see this. There is so much incivility the ugliness among us that I think we’ve lost our courage and sincerity. Living by a moral code can only help us be better individuals, more productive citizens, and better artists. We do art not for the short-term gain but because it feeds our soul and hopefully those around us. We do art because we must, not because we have found the secret to making great riches. We can’t sacrifice our virtue and integrity.
Teaching 5: Method and Discipline
Sun Tzu said: “By Method and Discipline are to be understood the marshalling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.”

This is marketing. How are we building our business? How are we preparing for sales? A personal story here: we did a number of demos of our marbling in the past, to some critical success. People loved what we showed them. But we missed a CRUCIAL piece – we had no product with us to sell. We had plenty of examples of what to do with marbling but nothing for people to buy. No sample fabrics, no remnant bags, no cards, no digital work. We totally missed the “buying” piece. Needless to say, we don’t make that mistake any more.

Think about everything you need to do to build your business. Do you have a plan? This is “method and discipline.” I need to take my own advice and be sure that I continue with the blogging; this is discipline, and this is focus.

Well…..I didn’t expect this to turn into an essay, but I guess it did. I had read the piece initially and felt it would be good for a post on marketing, but with the writing came analysis and lots to think about. Ultimately I feel validated, in that the moral life and the decisions and turmoil that come with it are the way to go. I am interested in your comments….what resonates with you? What method do you most follow? Leave me a comment below.

Native Wisdom for White Minds

Monday Marketing – Using Social Media

It has been an interesting activity, pulling together your social media efforts. Between Facebook and Twitter, a lot of time is involved in getting your brand and business out to the public. and I haven’t even started with LinkedIn and any other social outlets.

Then factor in an Etsy store, Cafe Press, and Zazzle…and then there’s Artwire and several other outlets. In fact, the Sunday NY Times had an article about artists using social media and online outlets to get their work before the public. Lots more places out there to explore.

Also you have your newsletter development and subscription list. You need to develop a customer base. Readers of this blog know we had some difficulties for two years with our marbling. During that time we let go of all the things we had been doing on line to market our fabric. It took us a while to realize that everything the marketing experts are saying you should be doing – well, we were doing that, and now we’ve gone back to it.

All of this takes time, and it takes a concentrated strategy. If you are planning to go in this direction, you will have a lot of work to do initially…and then you have to plan for all your follow-up.

Case in point: I have my personal Facebook page, as well as a Fan page for Marble-T Design. I carefully read and respond on my Facebook page each day as I see interesting things. That’s not a problem. To keep a concentrated message on the Fan page takes more time. I’m listing what I want to have for each day, so I’ve already thought through the week.

Twitter takes a lot of time. I’m still trying to read a portion of messages every day, but with being in school, that’s going to be very difficult. Thanks to TweetDeck I can schedule business messages for the week, but that takes away from the “conversation” that is Twitter. However, that’s what I will need to do while I’m still teaching. And it is driving traffic: last week I scheduled tweets about various items for sale in Ebay and Etsy. I certainly had more traffic to both of those sites, and I can see the difference in visitors to the items I tweeted…but nothing is converting to sales yet, so i need to process that.

Then there are blog posts…you want to stay timely. While I can schedule my blog posts ahead of time, I enjoy writing, and since I have a schedule of topics, I want to be able to write each day when I geet home from school. And I love reading and responding to comments. My problem with the blogs is going to be staying up with Google Reader and the blogs I follow. I always find great articles and amazing eye candy…but you have to find the time. Staying up with your blog reading I think is critical; I enjoy the people I follow, they are helpful, and I learn a lot – well worth the time for your business.

I had started a business class last January, and there was some gret information there. But to do everything that was suggested made me realize within a couple of weeks that I couldn’t do it all and still maintain my teaching responsibilities. That is what has been so wonderful about the concentrated time this summer: time to do all the set up and learning. Some of these things are not easy to do…like my first newsletter with Constant Contact. There was a steeper learning curve than I would have liked, but I mastered it, and now my newsletters won’t take nearly as long to do.

And don’t forget – we still need to create our art.

Speaking of newsletters, you should subscribe to ours (upper right corner). We do a drawing for a free sampler pack of marbled fabrics, but you can’t win if you don’t subscribe!

Friday 5 – Brain Fried….

There is so much going around in my head today, between school starting again in two weeks, projects unfinished, next steps for the business, planning a new algebra class….My kids have learned about brain farts – when your brain just isn’t engaged with your mouth. We all know about brain freezes. Now I’m coping with fried brain…..How do you know?

1. You can’t even think about making a list of things to do. There’s too much going on in your mind.

2. You  still have three lists left from the past month, each one with additions to them as you think about more stuff. It’s like it never ends.

3. You started thinking about lists of holiday gifts – and it’s only a day away from August…4 and a half months away…….

4. You can’t move in your studio with the projects you have going, and yet you want to head to the quilt/craft store for mor ideas…and perhaps anther project…..

5. The dust bunnies have become a legion of warriors, creeping up your list of things to do…almost making it into the priority column.

I’m thinking about the post last Thursday on niche marketing and the very last item…make a new plan. That is what I have to do – sit down with some quiet time and think about what has to happen next. How will I be most productive with the next week?

In the Presence of Greatness…..


(Tongue in cheek….)
One of the things I do really well, and have as long as I have been teaching, is organize events, large and small. We were talking at dinner, and I was saying that most of the teachers are going to be surprised at the art show and its organization. Yet this is the kind of thing I do – and love doing – plan all the nitty gritty details for an activity. So the panels are ordered, invitations are out for the kids, need to do invitations in mailboxes next week, invite central office people and Utterback staff, get artwork organized, and so on.

April 28 of next year will be the 35th anniversary of World Peace Day, an activity my Pacific and Asian Affairs Club organized in 1972. We had a state-wide day devoted to recognizing and working for peace. Brings back lots of memories – the 9 mile Walk for Peace, where I could barely move the next day, being following, trying to get a parade permit from the mayor – a great nine months of planning. I love doing this stuff!

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