Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Takin' a Little Break

I'm going to be closing my Etsy shop for a couple of weeks. Between tomorrow and April 7th, I'm going to spend some time resting and recharging. I'm also going to overhaul my bookbinding studio. The ripped, vinyl wallpaper is going out! The old white carpet is going, too! My husband and I live in a wonderful old house (built in 1922), and I can't wait to see the lovely hardwood that's hiding under that white carpeting. We moved in just over a year ago, and have been slowly painting rooms and doing some fixing of things.

Right now, my studio is a bit of a rat's nest--I have a hard time getting rid of things ("....but, I might NEED that two-inch piece of hemp cord someday..."), and I have a tendency to stuff things I'm not currently using under various work tables and in the closet without any real organizing principle at all.

The sad reality:

Note the massively overflowing waste basket under tall table :(

This may just be a long moment of self-delusion, but once I have repainted and un-carpeted the studio, I'm also going to add more shelves, and maybe, just maybe, create one of those supremely serene, organized artist's studios like the ones you see in magazines. Or not.

Now, this is what my studio SHOULD look like (sigh):

It's the studio of artist Veda Stanfield, who creates amazing paintings of the natural world. She describes her work as "haunted realism". I love her work--it really gets at some undefinable quality about living in the country (I grew up on a farm).

How about you? Is your studio/creative space everything you dreamed of? Or more of a nightmare? :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yum, Toast!

On my last visit to the paper store, found some loovly golden brown, handmade lokta paper that I couldn't resist. Got all excited and used some to make an address book . I'm calling this one "toasty squares."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Charity Drive Update

I belong to the Etsy Bookbinder's Street Team (BEST), and we're in the middle of a nine-week charity drive. We're donating some of our handmade books, and 100% of the profits (minus shipping and Paypal fees) from the sales of the books will be donated to H.E.L.P. International.

H.E.L.P. International is a registered charity dedicated to providing health care and education for children throughout the world who are orphaned, destitute or disabled.

Here is the book I'm donating. I used handmade banana bark and Korean papers for the covers. It has 80 lb Teton paper inside, good for writing, sketching and light wash watercolour. If you'd like to know more about this book, you can see it here in my Etsy store. You can also find more lovely donated books, on the BEST blog at http://etsybooks.blogspot.com/2008/02/test_17.html

Hope you can help us help H.E.L.P. International!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crafting Your Business:Making a Living in Crafts

Another useful book from my bookshelf is Donald A. Clark's Making a Living in Crafts. Clark is an owner of a high-end craft shop, and clearly knows plenty about the world of crafts. The book has good information on the nuts and bolts of the business end of being creative, including writing a business plan, pricing, and where and how to sell your art/crafts.

It also includes interviews with artists and gallery owners, who offer their advice.

One thing I find especially useful is a section at the end with worksheets, including ones to help you figure out pricing, costs , marketing costs, etc--the kind of thing us creative types sometimes don't stop to think about :)

My focus has always been to make the best books I possibly can, and this book (especially the worksheet part) has been really useful to helping me build a solid foundation for my business.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Art Gallery Books

Took a couple of leather journals to the Kamloops Art Gallery today. I sell some of my books through their shop--journal/sketchbooks, some little quote books, and now leather journals. Usually I don't sell through shops, because it takes a fair bit of time to make each book, so I don't make enough of them to sell them in a lot of different places.

The Art Gallery is an exception. I like having my books there, because any profit they make goes to support the arts locally, so it's a win-win thing for the community. And I have to say, it's kinda cool to see my books on the display shelves in their nice little stands! :)

I usually sell my work at selected art and craft shows and, more recently, in my Etsy store. I opened my Etsy store about a year ago, thinking I was going to start selling right away, but somehow didn't get any books in it until last November. Don't know what happened to the rest of that year!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Naming My Books

Been doing a bit of sorting and dusting in my Etsy store. I make hand stitched leather journals--all of the designs are variations on a medieval binding style called the "long stitch," but I can't keep calling them all "long stitch journals." Too confusing!
So I decided to give each style its own name.

I decided to call this one the "Medieval." I love this stitch--it's a bookbinding stitch that's been around for hundreds of years, and I love the idea of recreating old styles of books.

I named this one the "Venezia", because the first time I ever saw this binding was in Venice. I visited some bookbinders there (when I wasn't busy stuffing my face with lovely Italian food and drink, and gawking at the buildings), and decided I wanted to make books like this. It's another binding that's been around just about forever.

This one is the "Rustic." It has two shorter stitches in the middle of the spine, instead of one longer stitch (like the Venezia has). Just seemed like the right name for it.

It's been fun coming up with names. Get to think about the things that make me want to create books.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Crafting Your Business--Making $$ as an Artist

You get to spend time creating beautiful work, then someone else sells it for you... Sounds just perfect, doesn't it? :) If only..... :) I sell my books in a local art gallery store, online at Etsy, and at really nice arts & crafts shows. I spend time creating books, but also a lot of time marketing them, too.
I've collected several books that have helped me with the marketing part, so thought I'd share some that might be useful for you, if you are looking for ways to find a wider audience for your work.

My first recommended book is called How to Make Money as an Artist: The 7 Winning Strategies of Successful Fine Artists, by Sean Moore. Whether you are working in fine arts, or some other creative field, this book has lots of useful advice. There are chapters on the basics of marketing (including business cards, news releases, slides and photos, etc.), how to get a gallery, marketing yourself locally, getting into juried shows, cheap or free advertising, and how to make and sell prints of your work.

One thing that's good about this book is that Sean Moore is an artist himself, so he focuses on how to market creatively without spending a bunch of money. I followed some of his advice on crafting press releases, and got two interviews with a local newspaper. That was about a year ago, and I still get calls now and then from people who saved the articles. One of them was from a bookbinder who was retiring. I went to visit him (as I mentioned in an earlier post), and he sold me some georgous leather at a discount. So, marketing does pay off, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
This is a good book to have on the shelf--I find myself dipping into it as I have questions, or when I'm trying to find a new angle for marketing my work.

I'll be reviewing more useful books in upcoming posts....