Friday, January 23, 2009

Consignment at Artist Alley

I have been invited to display and consign my journals at Artist Alley in Southern Pines, NC! I'm excited about this great opportunity and just mailed my initial inventory off today. I had a friend scout out the shop and she was so impressed she wants to consign there also! It's in the historic district of Southern Pines, right off the main drag.
Here is one of the journals that will be in the shop. Winter Elegance Journal and it's companion, a little mini book. It would make a great wedding or bridal shower guest book!

I have consigned at several other shops and with a little experience under my belt I feel somewhat worthy to offer these tips.

If you're just starting out, I'd recommend consigning locally until you get the hang of it. That way you can go in a check on your stuff whenever you want and can go visit the gallery if there is a problem.

Consigning out of town requires a bit more precaution. If you can't personally go check out the shop, send someone you trust to give you a report. What's the location like? Is there the potential for a lot of foot traffic? How are the items displayed? Is the store cluttered or well-maintained? Check the shop owner's credentials. Do they seem reputable? Ask for referrals from other artists who currently consign there.

The typical arrangement is a 60/40 split with the gallery taking 40% of the sales price. Some galleries are lower and some are higher, but that is the most common scenario. Be sure you both sign a contract. If the gallery does not offer one, bring your own.

Another thing to consider, does the gallery insure your work against loss or damage? This is particularly important if you sell small, expensive items that can walk off easily. Most of the galleries I have consigned in do insure, but some do not.

I've had two instances of loss and damage; the first happened years ago at my very first consignment location. A group of school children came through the gallery for a tour (it was a working gallery where artists rent studio space). My jewelry was ransacked, about 75% of it stolen, but the gallery cut me a check for the lost items so it worked out okay for me.

The second was more recent at a gallery at which I no longer consign because of multiple issues. The price tags on my items were mixed up, causing some items to be sold at a loss to me. I addressed the loss with the gallery and the mixed up tags were corrected, but was not offered compensation and I didn't press the issue.

Then they "lost" one of my journals on the sales floor, only to rediscover it months later and return it to me in damaged condition. It was so bad I had to take the journal apart and remake it. The pages were dirty and rumpled on the edges and they ruined the first page by TAPING a price tag onto it!! That gallery is considered to be the "happening" place to be...I was shocked at their lack of professionalism.

The other local gallery I currently consign with is a new business run by the owner and her husband. Her gallery is small but she offers a nice variety of items and they are well displayed and cared for. Even though her gallery doesn't have a lot of foot traffic since it is rather new, she and I are hoping as the word gets out things will continue to pick up. After my experience with the previous gallery, I'd much rather do business with her, even if it means I don't sell as much!

As you can see, there are lots of things to consider when consigning and you do take a risk once your work leaves your hands. You just have to determine how much of a risk you're willing to take and what the cost will be to you if you experience loss or damage. I do this primarily for fun -- if I had to pay my bills with the money from my art I'd be living in a cardboard box! -- so a gallery that causes me big hassles and headaches just isn't worth it to me.

If you have any questions regarding consignment post them here and I will do my best to answer them!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am an artist...I am an artist...

*Repeat to self over and over*
It has taken me a while to realize that I really AM an artist! Ever since I was able to hold a crayon in my hand I always told everyone I was going to be an artist when I grew up. I loved to create things and draw pictures. When my dad went on business trips I would spend my time making a special welcome home project for him. Sometimes it was a colored banner, decorated streamers on the back door, or a giant paper flower.

I recall in the second grade my friend Lisa and I started a comic strip. We added a new segment each morning during coloring time. By the end of the year I had about a ream of paper's worth of comics. Lisa and I thought they were hilarious and came close to wetting our pants on a daily basis laughing as we created them. The only thing I remember is a story about a caveman frozen in a block of ice which melted when an explorer shined his flashlight on it! I wish I still had my comic book but my mother threw it away in the name of "cleaning up". My mom just didn't get it.
A watercolor I did in high school of Marilyn Monroe

Through the years I took all the art classes I could and majored in studio art in college, but I never felt like I was "good enough" to do this professionally. I pursued other careers partly because I didn't believe I'd be able to support myself financially as an artist, and partly due to the influence of my college's career development department. They didn't know what to do with me; the only career they could suggest for me was to work in a museum.

One of my Art Club projects Ophelia's Memories

I continued to create art on the side, but really didn't get serious about it until about until I joined an art club sponsored by a local rubber stamp store. We had monthly projects and when I first started showing my work to others, I felt like I was just pretending to be an artist. The encouragement and compliments from my friends really helped me gain confidence in my work.
My first sale...the early version of Sand And Sky Seaglass Journal

It was a big step for me to start selling my work on Etsy but the immediate success I experienced was exciting and confirmed this was what I was meant to do! I sold my first piece in less than 24 hours but before anyone gets too envious, I must state I experienced a dry spell for several months afterward with no sales due to my ignorance regarding marketing!
This summer I had a fabulous opportunity to work with the Arnold Grummer company to design a book project for them (pictured above). They are a small family company specializing in handmade paper products and supplies. You can find their products in arts and crafts stores as well as their website.

I suppose this means I'm officially a professional artist! I still sit in front of my desk in my studio and repeat my mantra to myself over and over. I am an artist!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Yet another day is almost gone and I feel like I've accomplished very little. Each night I go to bed with high aspirations of what I'm going to do the next day. "Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the sewing pile. I'm going to hem my jeans. I'm going to do some baking, make a new journal, retake some photos of items in my shop..." and so on. Here is a partial view of my sewing pile. Some of it is simple stuff like sewing buttons or fixing a seam. It's just a matter of setting aside a few hours of my time to finish it. But honestly, I'd rather be sewing the bindings of journals!

And at the end of the day, what do I have to show for myself? The same list of things that I went to bed with the night before. Why is that? What do I do all day??

Well, I answer questions all day from my 3 year old such as, "Mommy, where is North America?" and "Is there a monster in my closet hiding my books?" He will not be satisfied with a simple answer. All the answers must be given in great detail with full eye contact. If I try to mutter something while working I get, "MOMMA! Look at me!"

I also spend a lot of my time rescuing the dog from the toddler. He doesn't understand the dog isn't a peer and can't play cars because:
l) he has no interest in toys that don't squeak,
2) Hotwheels are not edible, and
3) he has no thumbs.

The fact that the dog cannot speak our language doesn't seem to bother my toddler in the least. He still yaks the dog's head off, telling him the ABC's, asking him questions, and narrating what Clifford is doing on tv.
I was able to accomplish a few things today. There are four finished Japanese paper journals in the book press. Tomorrow I hope to photograph them and list one. The blue paper next to the press is part of a new Sand and Sky Seaglass journal. I'm making one like my avatar, only with blue paper inside instead of tan. I hope to get the pages cut tonight and maybe start on binding the book.

I work best at night after the little guy has gone to bed. Or I should rephrase that...after he has gone to SLEEP. Just because he's in bed doesn't mean the questions stop. The other night he called me in there because he thought the Pooh bear on his nightlight was a monster. I surmised from this event that Scooby Doo is still too scary for him; we watched some old Scooby cartoons that day and he talked about the Willawaw for days afterward. "They are big walking owls, but they really men inside. Like when I wear my Halloween costume. They try to get Scooby Doo but he runs fast."
I also made some Parmesan-Pepper Bread. I wasn't too sure about the pepper part, so I only put a little in and it turned out great. I'd like to pretend that I made that mug, but I'm not that good a potter. My friend Rae is the expert potter. Maybe one day I will be able to make a mug that isn't an inch thick and lopsided. Until then I will buy them from Rae!

So that is a summary of my typical day. Tomorrow I will tackle that sewing pile, hem my jeans, finish a we go again!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Will I ever...

...have a clean studio?? Martha Stewart needs to come to my house. She can tackle my closets while she's at it. But that's another blog posting. A very lllllooonnnnggg posting. Here is Martha's studio. Do you think she uses it?! photos from MarthaStewart.comIt seems I do nothing but clean my studio. It never lasts for more than a day before I've messed it all up again with my projects. Papers everywhere, missing my bonefolder, glue stuck to the table, containers meant to keep things together open with their contents strewn across the table...

My studio is long and narrow with short walls like Martha's in the first picture, but not as wide. I have a table I used as an island in my former house, but when I tried it in my new house I kept falling over it. I get injured enough as it is without setting up obstacles for myself.

I've blogged about my studio before and posted photos. Some of you said my studio looked neat and organized but that was just for the photos! Ha ha ha! It never stays that way. If I were to photograph it right now you'd see!
I love all the drawers. They're shallow, just the size for small art supplies. The paper organizers are nice also, but I would need about 35 of them for all my paper!
Just look at all her little glitter jars all lined up so you can see what color they are. I have my glitter and embossing powders in a small stationary organizer with drawers. I am forever opening the wrong drawer and picking up every jar in it to find what I'm looking for. And the sad thing is I even have the names of the colors written on the caps. Obviously that doesn't help me much.

But seriously, look at all that wasted space in the sharps drawer! All those scissors could fit in one compartment and the others could be filled with something else. It is exactly that kind of thinking that has gotten me disorganized. I can't find anything for all the *things* in the drawer.
I've always wanted to keep my ribbon in a little box for easy dispensing, but the trouble is I have too many spools, they're all different sizes and wouldn't fit neatly into the same box. I do have cute little jars like these pictured but I have nowhere to display them because every flat surface is cluttered with something already.

It is beginning to sound like I need to downsize and reduce. I have accomplished that in much of the rest of my house. However, I refuse to budge when it comes to art supplies. I am a packrat and a hoarder, I admit it. You never know when a project might call for an old candy wrapper, a shamrock green bamboo twig, or a torn page out of an Agatha Christie mystery. These are just a few of my treasures stashed away. If I could just remember where I put them...

In the time I have spent drooling over Martha's organized space I could have cleaned out my art cabinet. Sigh. I just need some inspiration. Maybe these photos will help me aspire to be more organized. Or more likely, I'll continue to drool over them until I get cross eyed and sleepy. Then I'll just go to bed, dream about having Martha over and my studio will still be a mess in the morning.

Friday, January 9, 2009

An Exciting New Year

Ackk! I've been MIA from my blog for the last few weeks trying to get inventory and the tax end of my business figured out. I'm not much closer than I was before I started! I was caught off guard at year end not fully realizing I had to deal with all that stuff! I really enjoy the artistic side of my business, designing journals and pendants, working with customers, and networking, but the yucky business details I can do without! I definitely need to talk to my tax adviser. Ugh!
On a lighter note, my Caribbean Blue Journal (third row, far right) was featured on Etsy's front page last Saturday! My work has hit the front page twice within three weeks. Woo-hoo!
I've been busy working on new inventory for Valentines Day. Here is one of my Valentine Gift Tag Booklets just listed today.Here's a sneak peek at some of my latest pendants. I'm working on listing them tonight, hopefully. I haven't even thought of a name for them yet.

A big thank you to Tialey Vintage Clothing for the awesome feature on her blog! I was the featured Neato Stuff Shop of the Day on Thursday and she gave me a shout out on her blog.

So far my new year is off to a busy and exciting start. Best wishes to all of you for a healthy and prosperous year (despite this stinky economy!).
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