Friday, September 28, 2007

typepad questions

So as I’ve written in here previously I’ve been toying with the possibility of switching to a typepad account and hosting my blog on my own domain as www.ComfortableShoesStudio.com, which is a domain that I already own. So I’ve already put that into process. I’ve purchased the typepad account, and set things up at my domain host and currently your able to see a basic version of my blog at ComfortableShoesStudio.com It won’t be stable for 14 days or so while I evaluate how much I like typepad or dislike it. So far I like it just fine.

However I realized right after I went through all that trouble that I managed to miss that Blogger offers the same damn service, for free. So I’m debating the need for the typepad account. I have a 14 day trial period to determine if I like the service or not, after that I’m paying.

So the major discussion in my head is whether or not I like the service typepad offers. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, I’ve been pretty happy with blogger, so I’m not sure a switch is a good idea or not. So for now I’m posting posts to both accounts.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

whirlwind weekend

I wrote on here about a week ago about how we were missing someone from my team at work. Well, I’ve been filling in for that person over the last 2 almost 3 weeks and I seem to have a talent for the position. So I’m applying for it! It will mean some changes to my schedule but nothing too major. I’m hoping I get it but if I don’t then I’m back to my regular schedule and same old job. We’ll see what happens. I think it will be good in terms of my art too, as it will leave me with regular hours, and working a typical week of only 40 hours. Yay.

So that being said I’ve been on a whirlwind of making books this weekend. My boss unearthed a treasure trove of old signs and passed them off too me. After a very funny request for a book made with the poster of our regional president, I was off with a good stack of posters. I, being the ham, I am obliged her with the book of our regional president and it was a hit. It is hilarious. I won’t show it here but it’s hilarious if you know the company.

Today I made a massive stack of jotters. 72 to be exact. Of course some of them are screw ups but most were good. I’ve listed 1 set to eBay and 2 sets to etsy.

I also finished a notebook for a custom order. I’m working on another custom project as well. So I've had a few busy weeks. Next week should be busy as well. BUT I have a pre-scheduled 3 day weekend coming up and it should be awesome. Well, I'll probably geek out, clean my house and watch all my Tivo'd episodes of the season premieres of the shows I like to watch.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thursday, September 20, 2007

biz cards

Let’s talk about business cards or as I like to call them Biz Cards. I’ve had a few great debates on the merits of the biz card over the years- about whether artists should or should not have them. Are they worth the money you’ll spend and time in design? How can you design them?

I recommend them. I love my biz cards. I refer to them as little nuggets of marketing and networking GOLD. Business cards condense your contact info down to a small readable format that you can slip into a pocket and pass off at a moments notice. If someone is interested in your work and pursuing more about it at a later time- what’s the best way to give them your telephone number and contact info? A post it fished from the bottom of your bag? Nope hand them a biz card.

The useful attributes of a biz card are as follow: Everyone knows what they are; you don’t need to reinvent the contact wheel, just go with the flow. They are small, immensely portable and cheap. So you can take them with you anywhere- plane, train and automobile. Putting 10 cards into your go bag won’t weigh you down. Heading out to paint in public? TAKE SOME CARDS! Because they are cheap and portable you won’t mind passing them out. The best thing about them is that in this small portable format you have everything you need for contact information- phone number, address, website and name. (All those items aren’t needed for a good card but are good prospects.) When someone asks you for your info, there’s no awkward attempts to remember your phone number or email address, it’s all there. All in all they are super easy.

I take a small stack with me everywhere. I keep a few in my bag, and a few in my to go notebook. Just in case I talk about my book or art and someone wants to see more I give them a card. I hand them out like they are going out of style. In my 5 or so years of using them regularly I think I’ve made and handed out thousands.

Most office supply stores offer an inexpensive service to make a basic black and white card- about $10 for a thousand. Staples is running a special to make a certain number while you wait. A great thing is to look at the publishing software on your computer and see what sort of templates are on there- adapt them to suit your needs. This is great if you move around a lot. You can print off 10 or 500. Office supply stores also carry biz card blanks- perforated sheets of cardstock in biz card size. Print and tear. Easy. I happen to use cardstock from the craft store- I buy the color I like by the packages- 100 sheets, print up 20 or 30 sheets at a time and cut them by hand. This lets me change them however I like and I can print them when ever I like- it’s on demand.

As far as information on your cards- name, title, website, email and a phone number (if you want). I include a blurb about what I do- artist and bookbinder and my location- city and state as well as my eBay id. I give them out freely- friends, people I just met, and I put 2 in every eBay package I send out. If you are using card stock think about ways you can use the template on your computer to make your cards a little different. They simply need to be around the same size of a biz card 2 inches by 3.5 inches. (I suggest keeping the width about the same as standard- that way they fit into a rolodex.) There are loads of books in B&N and Borders probably in a small local chain about biz card design, some of the ideas are impractical and many are so cool your going to want to use that idea. Take a look at those books make some notes.

Then head back to your studio and think about what you want to impart about your art/website with your cards- rough, rugged, different, tough, durable and earthy were some adjectives I used to describe my work. So I wanted my cards to reflect that. I picked out a paper- kraft paper. Initially I picked a rough chocolate coffee brown cardstock with a neat texture, but it didn’t print well, and then I happened upon a package of kraft paper cardstock, and it was perfect. So that is what I use for everything now. I also found some kraft paper that was perfect for my stationary, and thus I created a complete package around those adjectives that I felt described my work.

Put some though into your design and information and you’ll quickly have a great card that you’ll stick with and want to hand out to everyone.

* a quick note about those prefab cards from staples, I saw a really cool card from an artist that was a inexpensive card from staples- black ink on white paper that the artist quickly stenciled a design onto. The print of the card itself was tactile and nice, and then the image overlaid that and added more interest to the card- still one of the coolest cards I’ve ever seen. So spending $10 on pre-fab cards is great too- you can use them as is or add to them and end up with a fabulous card.

Cross posted to Comfortable Art Marketing blog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

ebay listings

It’s been a long week for me here. I’ve been working extremely hard at the DayJob which has left me still little time to work on books. It will pass soon. We’re hiring for the missing person and all should be better after that.

PHEW!

However I’m listing some of my backstock items to eBay, you can see them here.

I’ve got 2 sets of 6 jotters, 2 one off graffiti jotters and a large hedgehog journal covered in marbled brown leather- it’s awesome.

I’ve also started to rededicate myself toward making art. I’m focusing on working in my moleskine with gouache and painting things out of the news. I should say people from the news.

I’m getting half as much done on books as normal and it’s frustrating me. I’m almost done with a hedgehog project that I started weeks ago only to find that I’ve not gotten it done… I’m like 2 steps from finishing it… GRGH, silly mortage, why do I need to pay you? Kidding.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Quick update

UGH! I'm going to be working late all this week. At least it's not so hot I"m sweat my rear off.

Long days.

So a quick update- I'm working on the custom hedgehogs- they look great and are 90% done.

I'm pricing out a custom book. I"ll think about it while stuff loads tomorrow. While that happens I'll hopefully be able to price things out.

After the next 2 weeks I'm going to need a long weekend.

That being said I have my birthday off and my parents are coming to visit- this is exciting on a number of levels- my Dad rarely leaves the state of Maine and he's going to come down to help pick pear off my pear tree and advise me on which branches I should trim- I defer all this to him. As much as would like to pretend I know what I'm doing I might kill it. Then it would be like my fabulous kiwi plants- that I keep forgetting to water and killing, then watering them and bringing it back- it's a vicious cycle. However that means my weekend won't be as relaxing as it could me.

Anyhow, I'm busy but still making art. phew what a week so far.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Listings

Just a quick note but the pictures below are all from the listings I have on eBay now. You can find them here.



Sunday, September 09, 2007

A little Planning Goes a Long Way

So I wanted to write about my DayJob a bit here and how it’s affected my ability to spend time on internet and art things.

Obviously the DayJob is important to me, I’ve learned a lot of useful skills from them, some of which I’ve applied here online and some that are universal- like when to shut my mouth. I worked 50 hours this week. Yup, 10 hours of sweet overtime. But it’s left me with less energy when I finally arrive home. Keep in mind that now I’m in the new location I drive about 1 to 2 hours per day for travel completely dependent on traffic. So my days are sometimes 12 hours long. Obviously that’s a lot of time, and I’m left exhausted on some days.

So I’ve had to carefully plan out my days when I come home from the DayJob- cook dinner and lunch for the next day, eat and pack it up. Then I clean up. I relax for about a half hour reading my email then I head to the studio for about an hour. Because I only have an hour I have to pick and chose what I do carefully. This week it took me 3 days to cut and fold paper for hedgehogs, something that normally I’d have done in 2. In addition to that I worked on the 2 portraits for my boss while I relaxed in front of the TV. Normally the portraits would have been done in 2 days or so.

Because I’ve prepared for the unknown things happening I’ve been able to plan ahead for certain things- like the covers for the hedgehogs have already been cut, so all I need to do is sew them and glue them up. But when unexpected emergencies arise- such as the recent instance with eBay taking down all but one of my listings it throws me for a loop. Thanks to eBay I’m out a possible $50. While not a big deal it is a burden for me, I simply didn’t have the time to relist those auctions, it would have required me to shift my other responsibilities.

I try to prioritize the studio, website and personal items. Obviously blog entries go to the wayside in weeks like these, custom orders that I would normally weave into my time get shifted to top of the pile and get done first and eBay listings are saved for weekends when I have more time. I keep a to do list in the front of my Jotter notebook that lists the items I need to accomplish during that week, I cross them off as I go. In terms of personal items, I’m keeping a shopping list on a post it in my jotter. The rest of the personal stuff is sort of a routine: dinner is made easier by having a lot of pre-packed veggies in the freezer and chicken ready to go, so for nights where I come home ready to sleep- I can throw a chicken breast in the frying pan, a package of green beans and maybe some rice in the rice cooker.

Essentially we plan for this sort of thing with my job- there are often times when an emergency arises- wireless dies, registers stop working or card readers stop working. In those instances I have to stay until it’s fixed. Sometimes I know I’m going to be there for extended periods of time- such as this past week and probably the next couple of weeks- though after this week things should calm down a lot.

I’ve also had to plan for things within my job too. I’ve had to dedicate a page in my planner to planning out important instances with my day. Appointments, interviews I’ve set up, interviews I’m conducting, call back etc. For the first time I’ve had to look at my duties and prioritize them and see what I can accomplish in half my day while shifting my temporary duties (human resources) to the forefront of my day. I spend my AM doing my normal duties while every 2 hours looking at a specific program for my temp responsibilities for a half hour; back and forth until noon. I then shift gears in the afternoon and work solely on the temp responsibilities.

Towards the end of this past week I started to feel more comfortable with the temp responsibilities which has lessened my stress level as well as the time I spent at work. My goal is always to get everything done that I can do in 40 hours. I like my job but my website and art are my real focus in life.

In short a little planning and focus have made my home and internet life run a little more smoothly though I’ve been wishing there were more hours in the day.

Relisted on eBay

So after being completely angry with eBay for the last week I’ve decided to relist my items that were pulled down, they were all ready for eBay anyway, so I figured I’m not out anything but my precious time to relist them. So you can find them here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Pro Blogger

So I found a new blog that anyone interested in blogging; whether for art or not but as a way to promote their business should read and regularly check out: ProBlogger.net

It’s really great- good articles, informative articles that translate well to art- or anything really because the subject is blogging not just business. But I thought that their were some great suggestions and IDEAS for people interested in the subject. So head over to problogger.net for a good read and learn something.

Also in this vein of thought I’ve decided that I need to separate my art marketing interests from the art part of my blog, so from now on updates on my ‘zine on art marketing and blog strategies will be made here. Of course I’ll post links to let people know I’ve updated here but all real posts will be made to that blog.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

oh ebay you fickle thing you

Well, after yesterday I had hoped that my listings were safe but fully expected them to come down. So this morning when I got up I wasn’t sure what to expect. So to check my email and find that 2 of the 3 remaining listings were gone didn’t surprise me, but the randomness of the removal is what gets me. The final listing also had the same string of keywords and was also listed at the same time. So I don’t get it.

I understand that I’m in violation of the rules, but I’ve literally been listing with those same titles for years, with not one peep of rules violation or warning or indication that they were in violation of the rules.

I also removed the word “like” from my listing, replacing it with “better than.” Both of those listings were removed. However, the words “better than” were not on the list.

I sent a note to eBay regarding the matter and apparently you can’t compare your items at all to another in the listing title. So I can’t even include the word moleskine or cahier at all. Even though cahier is French for notebook. So I’m screwed.

I hate ebay even more today than I did yesterday. But I’m between a rock and a hard place. Etsy is great and I’d love to do all my sales through it but I’ve always done the bulk of my sales through eBay. I’ve stuck with it through thick and thin but this may be where I draw the line. I’m carefully weighing my options, and I’ll come out with a plan soon. I wish this could have happened on a different week, I’m working crazy hours at my DayJob and I’m literally coming home to fall exhausted into bed, if I had more time I’d be able to deal with this in a more effective manner and get the listings back up on eBay the next day.

So those of you who are bidding, I’m sorry eBay stinks these days but expect that one last listing to come down tomorrow. I’ve contacted someone at eBay regarding my attempts to edit the title and being unable to do so, and I’m hoping that having made those attempts will get me some slack but I expect not.

(On a side note- I took a look at some of the other listings, and I’ve noticed that they do seem to be cracking down on this across the board. Knockoff bags, shoes etc are all getting taken down too, so I don’t feel so bad, but I’m expecting that for me to come into the radar that some one reported me.)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

eBay sucks

Again eBay renews my love hate relationship for them. I listed 6 items using my templates. Everything looked good, bids were coming in, and then I got up this AM to find 3 of my 6 listings had been taken down, by eBay. I had a form email in my email telling me what I had done wrong- used LIKE in my title. I’ve been listing items for YEARS with LIKE in the title. Never once have I received an email telling me that I can’t do that.

When a listing is placed, if there are words in the title that uses a prohibited word their listing format should tell a seller when it may violate eBay’s rules, that way a seller can amend it then rather than have it taken down by eBay.

Here again eBay screws the little seller selling low cost items.

So if you are interested or are bidding on my current batch of items be aware that eBay may or may not take them down.

I’m not sure how I’m going to proceed from here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

ebay listings

After 2 weeks off I've got 6 auctions up on eBay right now, one set of coffee jotters, 2 sets of regular recycled jotters, 1 set of 100% recycled jotters, and 2 auctions for the custom jotters.

You can find them all here.

One Shots

So I was on YouTube watching som eThread Bangers episodes and I was thinking that those very same stencil design ideas could be applied to the covers of notebooks. I did a whoel art series a few years ago (okay so more like 9 years ago) of spray pained backgrounds, stencils and what not on paper, so I KNEW that the ideas in the threadbangers video would work on paper. SO I decided to take what I knew and apply it to a few covers of jotters and make a limited edition series of jotters. Here are the first few- I made 17 total, metallic spray paint, red and black and gray. I pulled a tribal wing flash design off the net and adapted it, a diagram of a heart and adapted that too, through painted up the back grounds, layers of paint, and gessoed covers, and finally embellishing with some snazzy stitching here are my results:






I decided to test the limits of my sewing machine too, I've added several extra pages- I went from 48 to 60! Yikes! I also went high end with the paper, some have 24lb 25% cotton and some have 100% cotton paper and some have hand stitchin. I'll have a few up on eBay later today and some on etsy too.

some graffiti jotter pics




Saturday, September 01, 2007

How it's Done

I’m going to post some pictures of this a little later, but I’m writing out my process for my moleskine paintings.

I start with a photo from the AP or another website. I print it off fairly small. I then take a pen and outline the major areas of dark and light. Anywhere I see a shape of different shade I hit it with the pen. I scan this in and open it up in photoshop. I edit some of the darks and lights and make sure my lines are all visible in black and white. I use a little find edge filtering and really highlight the lines I made on the print off. Then I save it as a black and white jpeg. In the photo wizard I open up the image and go to print. I pick 4x6 print, which enlarges and distorts the image a little more. After printing it off. I cover the backside with a even coating of soft graphite pencil- usually a 4 or 5B- SOFT is best.

I tape the image down to the page in the moleskine and trace my lines with a hard pencil 4H, or a ball point pen.

After transferring the image. I start with my blacks and lay those in. I work progressively through the shade until I get to white. I’ve been told I should work in reverse and maybe I will one day but I find that when I try and change up the painting style it screws me up and I end up making the painting messy.

After I finish the face I lay in the background. Depending on how much soak through I have from previous pages I decide on watercolor or gouache for the background. Lately it’s been all watercolor no matter what.

After all that I let it dry and close up the book.

Really enjoying this tea. The benefits are fake but it is super tasty.

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