Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Moving forward, pattern design and some paintings

Things have been quiet around here recently, I know. With all that is going on in the world my creativity has taken a back seat. In fact I think it may have gone on holiday somewhere interesting without me. However, as you can see, I have done some painting. So I thought I'd share a few images in between my ramblings.

Bead and silk cord sales have been good over the last few months and I have sold a few paintings  - which I am very grateful for. But product development and general crafting has been limited. That is not totally down to Coronavirus. I have been struggling with Etsy for the last couple of years and it has taken its toll on my mental health.

If you read my post last year about Etsy's free shipping push you will know how angry and disappointed I was about that. Sales there have become fewer over the last couple of years, fees, taxes and postage charges have climbed higher and higher and Etsy is pushing us to use more seller services if we want to get found. Selling there has become a horrible chore for me. On top of that, being found on social media is increasingly difficult and my blog does not get the exposure it once did via Google. To me, selling online has become a dance with the devil. With family commitments as well, I am just plain, old worn out.

So, after all that, where am I going with my work? I was very lucky to access a creative business course for free during lockdown. The Make Art That Sells MBA course is run by Lilla Rogers and Beth Kempton. Lilla is an artist of almost 40 years and an art agent and Beth is an award winning author who helps people reach their full potential. The course guides creative people through finding a path forward, setting goals and advising on business practices in the art world. The offer turned up just when I needed it and has offered a lovely spring board into planning where I want my future self to be. It also led me down a rather large rabbit hole.

Beth Kempton is also linked to other creative people who run courses along side her. While Make Art That Sells is mostly about the illustration world, Beth also runs her own site that helps you build a more fulfilling lifestyle and is co-founder of Make It In Design with Rachel Taylor. By chance - or by Facebook's algorithm - and advert for Make It In Design's Florals in Nature course popped up. It covers creating floral and nature themed motifs for using in surface pattern design, i.e. all those pretty patterns that cover everything from wall paper, cushions and curtains to lunch boxes, notepads and phone cases. It opened a whole new world of possibilities for me and my first love, my art.

Following on from that course, I signed up for the Make It In Design hub that has lots of videos, interviews and inspiration for design (sadly, it is only open for sign ups at certain times during the year). Then there was a writing course by Beth - Word Heal. That was a joyful experience and introduced me to new self help options, new authors and new styles of writing. Next, I signed up for the MIID Summer School which gives us professional briefs and inspiration so we can try and design patterns that might be usable in a professional setting. (It started this week and I am already knee deep in sketches for my first brief.) And I hope to sign up for yet another course later this year to help me focus on new selling options. On top of that, I have also taken short courses and webinars in art and design by Tracy Verdugo, Bonnie Christine, Stacie Bloomfield from Gingiber, Martina Flor, Mye De Leon and more than a few via Domestika - a Spanish speaking art platform that offers art related courses with English subtitles. Phew! By the way, I'm not affiliated to any of these businesses - I have just enjoyed their courses and thought others might be interested.

So, now I have to put all of that knowledge into action. I am hoping that my future work will be more varied, more interesting, more stimulating, more profitable and more enjoyable. I have a path forward! In recent years I have not had the opportunity to do as much art as I would have liked. With all the problems over Etsy I have spent most of my working days trying to fix things rather than be creative. It has been no fun and far too much stress. So, onwards and upwards and hopefully the new things will bring me some new joy. I already have some new pen and ink drawings. I haven't used pen and ink properly in YEARS - and it is FUN! 

No doubt I will be sharing some of my new work on here over time - and hopefully more regularly too. It has been a while since I have been so upbeat about my future work projects so it is nice to feel free again. As always, if you happen to be interested in the paintings, they are all available on my web site along with a few more. Here's to a more creative future!

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