Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hooray for new photos!

Last night, Russ and I hunkered down to shoot some photos for my wholesale catalog (it sure is nice to have a professional photographer in the house). We tried two different looks and I am so happy with the way they turned out!

The first round of photos set each piece against a grey seamless background. I think they look so refined and arty. And I'm pretty sure that I'm going to go with these ones for the catalog.

And then we did a round a photos set against a really wonderful dark wood. (Actually a small wooden stool that I've had for years and years.) I like the texture and the natural feel of these photos.

I've updated the gallery on my website and I'll be posting to my etsy shop over the next few days.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pricing... ugh...

I’m down to arranging the last little bits of my wholesale catalog… I have a photo “date” tomorrow evening, I have the catalog mostly laid out… The only problem is that I’m starting to waffle on including a certain pendant.

The pendant in question is a design I created in advance of a show in October, expressly so that I would have some items at a lower price point (read: under $100). I like the design. It’s simple, it’s easy to make, and it’s right in line with the other types of pieces I’ve been making. And, up until this morning, I was fully planning to include it in the catalog.

Except that I’ve priced it at $88 retail. Which, if you do the backwards math, means that I would hardly make anything if I sell it wholesale or on consignment. Basically, I’d have to learn how to pop them out in an hour or less to make any sort of profit. Which, I suppose is possible, since they are very simple, but… does it make sense?

I think that a lot of artists face this same sort of question… Do I potentially not make a penny on these pendants in the gamble that a wholesale client would buy some of the more expensive pieces that I would make money on?

I find it interesting how much of the pricing game comes down to sheer guessing. I guess I’ll have to chew on this a bit more. What would you do?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hooray for Spring

While there are many things that I miss about Oregon, today is one of those days that I truly love living in Southern California. Instead of braving the last bits of winter, I am already enjoying the sunshine and warmth of Spring.

My chard (that I planted from seed two weeks ago) is sprouting nicely on the windowsill of my living room.

And the flowers are blooming on the bushes outside.

Which means that there are lots of flower blossoms to collect and start drying for inclusion in future pieces of jewelry. Confession: I don't have any sort of high-tech drying rack for all of these bits of nature that I collect. I just tape them upside down onto the wall in my studio. It makes for an interesting sort of design.

And some exciting news... my boyfriend and resident photographer extraordinaire taped a segment the other day for a local public access tv show... and, as part of the clip, they're going to air the multimedia piece he made about me and my work. Don't you just love cross-promotion?!

Here's to Spring!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Work in Progress

I pulled apart one of the pendants that I was working on a few weeks ago and I've been working on piecing it back together. Basically, I didn't like the stark lines of the leaves against the rolling edge of the pendant.

Can you figure out what it is? Dozens of small dried flower buds.

When it's all dried and settled, I plan to add a small dangling seed from the thread on the bottom. Finished pics to follow shortly.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What constitutes training?

I just finished reading and commenting on Imogene's great post about alternative craft vs. established craft as it came through in a presentation at the SNAG conference (Society of North American Goldsmiths). And it made me start thinking about just what constitutes artistic training.

I took 3 semesters of metalsmithing in 2005-2006. I was looking to learn some basic skills in a structured setting. And then I was looking to get out before I became too entrenched in an institutional establishment. And I intentionally skipped the whole degree process (I already have a double BA in other non-art subjects) and continued practicing and learning on my own time. And, for me, this was the best way to learn.

So, when I hear the opinion that one person's training isn't as good as someone else's because one person taught herself and one person graduated with a degree, it just seems like academic snobbery to me.

My comment in response to Imogene's post: If you spend several hours a week with torch in hand teaching yourself how to solder, that’s a sort of training. And if you sit around with a sketchpad at a coffeeshop and work on designs, that’s a sort of training. You may not have an instructor leaning over your shoulder or be responsible for turning in those sketches for a critique, but you’re still learning.

And it seems to me that the most important part of education is that the subject is learning and taking it to heart.

Anyway, all of this also reminded me of a wonderful presentation from the 2006 TED Conference. Take a gander (it's about 20 minutes long). Maybe it's time we all start thinking differently about education and training.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Decision 2008

As I've mentioned, I'm working on pulling together a catalog of my work. It's an interesting process, and I'm amused by what it's causing me to think about. (Somehow I had this romantic notion that it would just fall together.)

One of the biggest decisions that I have to make is which pieces I want to include. And it turns out that it's no simple feat to look at what I've already made and try to make an objective choice about which ones I think might attract a wholesale buyer - and then figure out what I need to create to fill in the gaps.

In some ways, I'm glad that I'm having to think so hard about putting this together. I think it'll help ensure that I turn out a product that I'm happy with and that illustrates who I am and where I want to go with my work.

But I also feel oddly guilty about some of the pieces I have chosen to NOT include. As if they're living breathing creatures that will have their feelings hurt.

I wonder if fashion designers face similar decisions.

I wonder if it'll be any easier to choose pieces when I get around to making a second catalog.

I wonder if, maybe, I'm just thinking way too much about this process.

So, to keep myself from dawdling too much longer, I decided on a deadline of March 16 to have all pieces chosen (and created if I need to create new work).


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The view from here...

Sometimes it's weird to have a jewelry style that's quite a bit different from what other folks are making. I mean - who puts leaves in a pendant? - and then doesn't compeltely encase it in resin to make it nearly indestructable?

In the little bubble world that is my studio, I look at my work and marvel at it and think that, surely, everyone would want to wear something like this - it's just that cool. But, test-driving my jewelry doesn't always back up this lofty belief.

I think that anyone who makes anything that's not entirely in line with the status quo has moments when they look at what they're making and look at what's already out on the market and do a bit of a double-take and think, 'Am I crazy?'

Maybe I'm not crazy, but... as I start thinking more and more about putting together my catalog and figuring out just how to market myself and my work, I keep running into these same thoughts about producing a product that's a bit odd and not exactly the latest fashion.

Sometimes it calls for a little bit of fearlessness and being okay with being different. Like riding my bike everywhere instead of driving.

Sometimes it calls for taking cues from other jewelry makers and artists doing something different - like this group that I saw spotlighted today on Etsy.

And sometimes, all it takes is reminding myself that I do what I do because I love it - plain and simple.

Now, I just have to figure out how to look cool, not weird, in my catalog.

Monday, March 3, 2008

March Madness

When I made the decision a few months ago that this would be the year that I get all my ducks in a row and start treating this business like a real business, March was the month in my timeline for finishing up all the groundwork. Which means that I've got some work ahead of me.

The big projects for March? Finalizing the designs that I want to include in my first catalog and taking photos. Designing and laying out the catalog and then having it printed. And re-designing my marketing card and having it printed also.

And if that's not enough, I just received a call-to-artists for a fine art show that's right up my alley, so I have a week and a half to get my entry together and submitted.

All this and still go to work everyday for the dayjob. I guess I'm going to be busy this month. The good news, though, is that Daylight Saving Time starts on Sunday, so I'll get an extra hour of daylight in the evening - which will definitely help alleviate the feeling that the day is over by the time I get home.