Yesterday, I tried to get out of bed.. I could not. My body felt like the pit of despair. Quickly, I ran through my reasons to be grateful. I read the poem my Nan gave me. It’s posted at the head of my bed.
Suddenly, my eyes became cloudy. Tears running down my cheeks. The feeling of hope and determination surfaces. I put my headphones on and listen to my morning music.. I message Kendall and my mum to tell them what’s going on. I send them my crying face photo. I talked about my feelings and then my day started like any other day.
Lately I have been struggling of sorts. Approaching my 30's and reflecting back over my 20's. So what has changed? That feeling of invincibility has evaporated.. The notion of wanting to be good at everything looks unrealistic from where I sit today.
What if I only have time to be great at a few things? What if I can only be masterful at one craft?
Ceramic work and the dedication it evokes has given me a renewed sense of self-confidence. When I am at the wheel, I don't feel tired. I am not fighting off sleep. I am just innocent and me. The clay reflects back an honesty about where I am at that I am unable to see in the mirror. It teaches me self-care, patience, and humility. Without that perspective of self.. I am lost.
In the last year I have made a continual effort to keep my finances in perspective. I make art but I also sell art.
In order to keep producing and doing the tasks I love I have to become proficient in other areas too. Keeping accurate records, accounting, promotion, and marketing. It’s helpful for me to have this artist module in my head to use as a working example.
A lovely lady brought it to my attention that I will never get rich off ceramic art. I replied:
My plan is not to get rich. My aim is to feel fulfilled, challenged, and healthy. My intention is to understand on a personal level what artists struggle with and why.
Putting into action the theories taken from inside the classroom and applying them immediately.
I have recently been working on ideas for packaging and displaying art. Trying to simplify the merchandise setup for nights that I am not available to attend.
It seems that no matter how much I plan every venue has its own challenges. The location of the merchandise table is crucial. The best spot is an entrance or exit. Stage left or right seems to be the Achilles heal. Especially if the crowd is on the older side. It’s better to have half the audience walking by then being visible to everyone but inconveniently located.
As an artist I struggle with the shameless self-promotion aspect of selling my own work. Having Kendall and the band helping with that initial awkwardness has been a blessing. I have no problem promoting Kendall or my artist friends work… Just my own. It’s a weird sensation of insecurity that creeps up on me. With time thankfully it has been easier.
What does art have to do with marketing? Had you asked me a year ago I would have given you a quick text book response. Speaking from experience I can now tell you.. Trend tracking and consumer buying behaviour.
That is a powerful sword if an artist can wield it. Understanding the target market or audience can make the difference between selling nothing and selling out. I sold out of the tank tops & t-shirts this year at Rock of the Woods Music Festival. In contrast to the year before where I sold one.
How many approvals did the t-shirt design go through? That thought had never crossed my mind till recently. The answer is 7 or 8.
My initial proposal came attached with a t-shirt design. I was using an advanced technique which erased colour from black t-shirts leaving a cosmic sky effect. The problem was the colour varied and on a good test the colours were hues of purple. The Director of the festival David Bain and I worked on this for most of June via Email. Finally we agreed.
The goal was to create a design people wanted to wear. It needed to be different than the existing ROTW merchandise and gender neutral. A piece of original art.
Once I understood the core of what they wanted.. I could relay that information to the graphic artist and visual artist liaison Coby McDougall.
She nailed it in her first attempt. I then needed to screen print test the design and work some handmade magic.
In the end I would say the market research ( trend tracking ) and understanding what the consumer was in search of shaped the design. The art was great but so was the marketing. Being able to communicate to Coby what the client wanted allowed her to do what she does best.. Be creative.
My sincere thanks to David Bain and Coby McDougall. Without them it might have been another one t-shirt year. Also, I would like to thank Mr. Alan Perry for carrying me through the late night printing session.
Seeing all the smiles of strangers wearing something that I printed.. Made my dream complete.
The art generated a buzz at Rock of the Woods… Which echoed in the Cowichan Valley into the next weekend. I was asked by the city of Ladysmith, BC if they could display the mural over the long weekend! I thought it was quite the honour.
Meanwhile, back in my studio I had fallen behind on t-shirt orders and also ceramic wares… I needed a full day in the studio to evaluate how long it would take to catch up, so I could promptly inform my customers.
After three phone calls.. I could kiss my day working in studio over. I would spend the rest of the day setting up the art and getting the artists approval. I was torn between my own work and representing others.. But I felt compelled to get the visual artists as much exposure as I could for their dedication.
It’s hard to believe that a year ago a few friends and I stumbled through the screen printing process the night before Rock of the Woods music festival 2013. We were making t-shirts for Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys. In fact, I didn’t finish the t-shirts til a day into the festival.
A year later, I returned better organized and accompanied by a stellar support cast.
The art was top class. It challenged social norms, sparked interests and lots of conversation! Above all it brought smiles to many faces.
Spending my weekend talking to people.. It was clear that the appreciation was abundant.
Visual artists deserve exposure but usually it’s the musicians that get all the applause! This year Rock of the Woods showcased some of Vancouver Islands emerging visual artists as well as top musical acts. I believe it was a success.
The artists featured were all
Vancouver Island Students and recent graduates. They all worked incredibly hard and I am very proud of that.
29 year old male from Nanaimo BC recently found with garage packed with used pottery and screen printing equipment.
In the most recent purchase, the 3rd kiln to add to the arsenal. His accomplice was seen wheeling the kiln on a dolly back to their respective street in the middle of the night. Ciro (29 year old male) was seen driving home comfortably as his accomplice (Robert F) was labouring the kiln back to their street.
In the span of a few months I have acquired 4 pottery wheels, 3 kilns, and a 4 colour screen printing press. It’s all very strange. Slowly my garage/studio is becoming more efficient. Thanks to my friend Robert F. (accomplice) I am able to fire my kiln at his house down the street. Robert also brought to my attention that it is impossible to use more than one wheel at a time. Kendall believes I am slipping into hoarding tendencies.
Right now, I am working on various glaze test batches. Trying to develop my own glaze colour palette. It will take time and lots of research.
What I love about the ceramic medium is it’s versatility. It can be used for function, art, or both.
“Look to combine beauty and function in a pot.” – Bernard Leach
I woke up after the spring semester was over feeling lost. My objective was over.. no goals, no drive, and simply just exhausted. I was instructed to lighten up, relax , and for heavens sake get some sleep.
Easier said then done for me. So what did I do? I talked to professors about jobs and future plans. What I learned was the only certainty that university could offer me was if I got an accounting degree. Then I would most likely have a job. That was not music to my ears. Then I heard something that would resonate with me. The kind marketing professor said well there is another school of thought. You could carve your own niche, somewhere between entrepreneurship and digital marketing. He challenged me to spend my summer surrounding myself with people I find interesting and to also not turn a job down, even if it means working for free. The reasoning being that eventually these people will provide lucrative opportunities or introduce you to someone that will.
So I am paying my dues. It’s better than relaxing. I submitted a proposal to Rock of the Woods Music Festival for a Visual Art display. I am now a proud member of the staff. My title: Art Director. This allowed me to also give back to my fellow Art & Design club members.
Providing them with discount tickets and exposure for their work. 11 days til the music festival.
I witnessed an amazing spectacle at the new Showroom location in Duncan, BC! I was witnessing something fresh. A change had taken place. Kendall Patrick and the Headless Bettys were not only entertaining the crowd but captivating it. Instead of the normal on stage banter, there was improvisational theatrics. They played new tunes and demonstrated how talented they all were. Taking turns dazzling the audience individually and as a group.
As their manager, I was shocked. I threw down the gauntlet to them last week and said: I want new songs and I want you to have fun with it. They did that and more.
Most days in our private life I am three roles constantly interchanging between the lover, manager, and very dramatic premadonna artist.
When I am working on the pottery wheel I convince myself this mug might just save the world.. It’s like an artistic god complex.
I find it very hard to be objective of my own work when that creative mojo is pulsating through me. It feels sacred.
On nights like June 3rd I don’t question my purpose or direction in life. It’s clear to me that I am right where I am supposed to be.
At the encore of last nights performance an older gentleman went up to the stage and whispered something to Kendall. I could see in her face that she didn’t know what to do.. The gentleman who I had never seen before requested a slow song as the encore. Kendall did her best to handle the situation and almost turned down the request. Without hesitation I yelled… You better take that man’s request! She played her singer/ songwriter heart right out. The whole crowd appeared to be holding their breath. The man that had made the request was now glowing. He was now a solidified true fan. It could have gone a different way.
My mother would always refer to the customers at the ristorante needing to be fulfilled and leave feeling special. They might then tell one or two of their friends. If they left mad or unsatisfied you could guarantee they would tell at least 5 people and might not ever comeback. The customer is not always right, but they deserve to feel as though they are. It’s a rotten business in that sense.. No room for excuses or alibis.