Keepin’ it Real
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to share my story with others. Like what is the value in my work and how do I communicate that value and meaning. Buying art is a luxury, not a necessity. And there are so many unnecessary luxury items taking up space in the world, how do I feel socially responsible putting out more stuff for people to buy? When I ask myself these questions, I find it helpful to turn the situation around. Why do I buy other artist’s work?
I watched a Marie TV episode with Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge. I just bought her new book In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists and Entrepreneurs because I want to surround myself with other like-minded, inspiring artists, to remind me of my path and what I want my path to look like. But I also bought it because of Grace Bonney herself—a woman I really admire. Her strength, her courage, her kickass-ness, her aesthetic. I know these things about her because she’s been real in how she shares her life, her business, and her story.
I think keepin’ it real is what gives value and meaning to something. When I think about telling my story and how to communicate it to others, I don’t think it’s about creating this perfect little blurb or facade solely to sell my work. I think it’s about sharing my experiences in a real way—the fun I’m having making something, the challenges, the explorations, intentions and thought processes. You know, being human. That’s valuable.
Speaking of value in artwork, taking part in craft shows has become something deeply satisfying to me. I am totally keeping’ it real when I say how much I love talking to customers and fellow makers. Meeting the people who buy my work, or who just stop by my table to have a look, are instant friends. We have things in common. If we went to a pub for a drink, we could sit and chat.
Most of the time we interact without being real. We ask “how are you” but we don’t get a real answer. Or we pretend we are the person we want to be, instead of who we are. Or we’re just completely distracted with being busy and with our internal dialogue. Artwork has the compatibility to take down the barriers we put up. To reach out and connect, and can’t help but be real. That’s valuable.
Mistletoe Magic—I’m taking part in the 7th annual Mistletoe Magic Artisan Show here in Belleville. The organizers Barb and Connie are the creators of The Mother of All Craft Shows in Corbyville, and Kaleidoscope in Prince Edward County. It’s held at the historic Albert College, Ackerman Hall and they’ve added a second room, (the Common Room) this year. November 12, 10-4. Admission $2.00. Raffle prize draws will benefit Food Learning Program.
Fat Goose Holiday Craft Show—The Fat Goose Craft Collective are the organizers for the Etsy Made in Canada event in Kingston. I’m grateful to take part in this one because they’re such a fun crowd and I love what they do in the community. December 3rd, Queen’s University, Grant Hall, Kingston.
Keeper of the Light
My third picture book is out! If you’ve been following me on social media, you might remember all those lighthouse works-in-progress pics awhile ago. Well now it’s in its final form! Written by Janet Barkhouse and published by Formac Publishing, you can purchase it at formac.ca, indigo.ca, amazon.com, and amazon.ca. If you’d like a signed copy, you can purchase it right here on my website, on Etsy, or just send me an email and we can work out payment and shipping via Paypal or e-transfer and please note who you’d like the book signed for.The illustrations still surprise me as I find them quite different from the last two books. Working with Janet was a real pleasure because we just got each other without having to say much. That’s a sign of a well-matched project!
Besides the new book, there are other new things! I just released a new giclée print Botanicals & Snails. This painting is part of a series of botanical watercolours that I’ve really enjoyed working on. It’s a nice break from children’s illustration and is much more about meditation, pattern, and learning about colour, process and design. It looks real chic. Because friends (and this is part of sharing my story) the most important thing to me is giving you a high-quality product. I don’t know how many times people tell me, “no one will notice!” But my belief is, selling my work would make me feel good as long as the quality of my product is good enough for me, and something I would buy. Guys, I wrote that down in my notebook and titled it “Articulating my Values”. I trust that other people have the same high standards as I do, and I trust that the people buying my work notice the details and appreciate them. I want my customers to hold me accountable.
So I pay a little more for the little things that I believe make a product go over and above expectations. I use a small-business printer in Vancouver who colour-correct my scanned painting better than I or anyone else can. I truly believe that. Since I put a lot of care and consideration in colour when painting, it’s important to me that the product stays true to the original. The wonderful thing about prints, is that they make art accessible. But this shouldn’t mean that the product degrades in value. So my prints are museum-quality—made with pigment-based inks that don’t fade, with lots of colours that retain the same vibrancy and intensity as the original. And lush, heavy, art papers.
Fabrics—You can also find throw pillow covers and cloth napkins with my watercolour designs in my shop. These are cut and sewn by me, and boy am I loving the process! What’s even better, is that I found a Canadian fabric printer who sent me some test samples. Their fabrics have a better feel than my previous U.S. printer, and their colours are more “true”. Bam.
Boxed Card Sets—here’s me keeping’ it real. I don’t sell these enough to make it worthwhile for me. My experience is that the cost of getting cards done, is too much for what I feel comfortable charging. For years now I keep saying I won’t do any more but the truth is, this is how Strawberry Snail started, and I LOVE making them. The solution is to license my designs to card companies. I haven’t got around to this yet. In the meantime, you can find two designs in the shop made from my botanical watercolour paintings.
Guys, this post is already too long for anyone to find time for. So I’m going to leave you with one more thing:
My Podcast List to You
One Part Podast “Jessica Murnane talks to some of the most interesting and inspiring minds in wellness, music, food, fashion, and design. On MONDAYS, hear revealing stories of successes & setbacks, sweet motivational secrets, and a whole lot of advice. On FRIDAYS, tune in for The Things That Freaked My Week, where guests share the things they had to eat, people they thought were neat, and all the things that made them say sheeeeet”. And I’ve been binge listening.
Nocturne is essay radio – a hybrid form of audio storytelling that blends elements of documentary, fiction and sound-art. “There are 24 hours in a day. Seems pretty straightforward. But what do you really know about the hours between say, 11pm-6am. From graveyard shift jobs to “secret identities”, who we are and what we do at night is often less fully perceived by others, whether by choice or by circumstance. Peering into the dusty corners of the night, Nocturne explores these often overlooked and undisclosed slices of life…”
128 Sterling My favourite publisher Anansi, presents 128 Sterling. I haven’t listened to this one yet because it’s brand new and I JUST heard about it yesterday. “In 128 Sterling, author and broadcaster Noah Richler, who traveled a mari usque ad mare (usque ad mare) for his prize-winning literary portrait of Canada, “This is My Country, What’s Yours?” looks to fellow writers here and abroad to explain not themselves, but the world as it is — the circus of the American election, the perils and punishments of school, the appeal of impostors, the state of being in between, and more.”
And you can find last month’s list here (scroll to bottom).
Make and Share, friends. And thank you, as always.