Friday, July 31, 2009

...And Just For Fun...

... it's BBC's Odd News: it's Odd Box, which is a about 4 minutes of the week's top 10 odd news tidbits. Usually enough charming and amusing stuff to bring a smile and a chuckle. The video link is at the right hand side of the page under "From Programmes". This week covered the NY Central Park underwear run and Japan's top supermarket cashier.

... and Fabulon, a blog that is NSFW (not safe for work), but is fun nonetheless, that covers fabulous fun fashion, vintage and celebrity shots and houseboys... you don't have to be gay to appreciate the, eye candy.

...and lastly, Ben Conrad's embroidery, it's not just for grandma and it's not flowers, it's an anatomy lesson. Ben is Jersy City, NJ artist, his other work is good too. It's nice to see traditional art forms stretched.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Autophobia and Athazagoraphobia: fear and loathing in New Brunswick

Fear of self and fear of being forgotten... are perhaps more related than being just phobias.

Autophobia is often associated with self-loathing and low self-esteem. Self-loathing and low self-esteem are often masked with arrogance, which is strongly associated with overbearing and egotistical attitudes.

Athazagoraphobia is often felt by people with low self-esteem with symptoms of self-doubt, the feelings of being unlovable, unwanted, undesirable. In other words, they feel that they are unremarkable people in and of themselves, thus are easily dismissed, unless of course they do something spectacular with their lives to bring some form of notoriety, which can be interpreted as egoism and arrogance.

Fears, and I know I touched on fear recently, so bear with me here, can sneak up on us. They produce symptoms of depression and bring a sense of gloom and hopelessness. Sometimes it makes us near motionless, stopping us in our tracks, figuratively and even literally. It can make us turn around and run back to our safe place to hide out until the feeling passes.

Sometimes our fears are brought on by a decision that we have to make. Sometimes it is having to face another person. Sometimes it is a physical place. Sometimes it is our own self-talk, our own personal doubts about our worth as a person that creates the fear.

The fear is a dark place in our own mind and it isn't as real as we think it is. What is real is that most of us experience it at some time in our lives, and what is real is that by taking some kind of forward action, it can be overcome. Not all at once maybe, but step by little step.

I have been thinking about this for a couple of days now and I wonder how often my own issues with self-esteem are misinterpreted and how often my fear gets in the way of growing forward?

... and maybe that is why blogging gained so much popularity so quickly, the words and actions of our lives are digitally recorded for a potential eternity, never to be forgotten.

Someday I'll deal with my fear of regret.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stuff again

I'm glad that I had a class to teach tonight. The ladies that attended the earrings 1/2 combo class at the Beadnik in Fredericton were fantastic. It was good to get out and good to get out my own head for a few hours.

Concentrating on the teaching and on the students was good. I was able to forget about some of the disappointing things from this past week.

The show in Halifax was pleasant with lots of positive comments, but the overall results were not fabulous for me. The emails and postcards didn't seem too effective this time around though it did get some folks out that hadn't visited the summer show before.

A good friend that has been plagued with some health issues got another call from her Doc today with some not so good results... time will tell, but at least we made some fun about it, and this was after a bad fall yesterday after some other med tests. Keeping my fingers crossed for her.

Another bud has called his vacation short which meant that the part of the trip that would have brought him east to here is off. He has some "stuff" to deal with. Keeping my fingers crossed for him too.

With all this finger crossing it might be a bit hard to get some new work done for the shop in the Garrison District and the upcoming Women's Festival in Fredericton on the 22nd of August, but I am sure that I will figure something out.

The challenge with any disappointments is to keep it all in perspective, and to keep myself from getting to mired in the negative aspects of it. Getting out and doing is still a pretty good solution. None of us should stop trying to live even when things are looking down.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Bad Fear Day

It happens.

It was one of those days that I felt it badly. It sneaked up in me this morning and grabbed me by the throat and threw me around for a bit. "Stuff" going on is the simple way to explain why I got overwhelmed for a bit today. I found that part of the solution to this feeling and the immobilizing condition that it brings on was to write about it... longhand and just pour it all out onto the page. Once I exhausted the word "fear", I tackled the words "afraid" and "scared" and listed all the things that I attached to them today. I finished by asking myself "Is there anything I am not afraid of today?"

The quick realization that followed the writing is that there were many things I am not afraid of; that what was scaring me was OK and that I could handle it and that I would be alright.

I followed this with a list of accomplishments for the last week, which was a far longer list then the fears and by the end, made me feel pretty good about "stuff".

This is the first time in quite awhile that I have felt this much fear, and a lot of times when I have, I have stayed stuck in it for several hours, sometimes days. It is immobilizing and has prevented forward motion before. The interesting thing about addressing it quickly in writing is in how quickly it dissipated and how much more I actually got done today because of the writing.

There is something to be said for writing in a journal. It allows one to sort out the real problems that can be worked on from the ones that are beyond control. It puts it back in perspective... at least for me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Show in Halifax, etc...

I'm getting ready to hit the road again: this time for Halifax.

The Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council's Summer Market is fast approaching with the opening on Friday at noon. The show returned to its original location at the corners of Spring Garden and Queen last year after being very downtown at the waterfront for a short time and then a year of non-existence. This year the show has grown again and boasts 32 attending artisans.

I have made several new pieces for this show, not that I have photographed them all, have to take the camera and grab snapshots of the pieces on display, just so that there is a visual record of the work before it sells (now there is some optimistic thinking).

My postcard invites went out last week and my email invites went out yesterday. The more inexpensive pre-show promotion that we can do the better. This little bit of work on my part has the potential to add between 40 and 80 visitors to the event that might otherwise not become aware of it. And the moral of this tale boys & girls is that the more artisans that create a client list of thier supporters and interested persons and use it, there are going to be more people aware of the event and in turn, the more there is for all of us. It's a win-win idea. I invite my clients, you invite yours and we share. Not to shabby, eh?

In other news: I am enjoying the social life provided by my partnership in the "Garrison Studio" in the Garrison District on Queen in Fredericton. The sign for the shop was painted and installed yesterday. Big cheer there as that meant that the weather was finally dry enough for the city's summer students to get it done. It also doesn't hurt my feelings that there have been some decent sales from the effort and I've only been brusque with one person so far this summer... "No, I don't make this in Mexico." Sorry dude, I know it's a legit question, but when you add that you are super familiar with the differences in jewellery styles, it strikes me as an odd question and I was obviously in an odd mood. Ooops, now you all know how to get me riled up;)

Went to a meeting for the Fredericton Arts Alliance Art Trek last night. The question is wether or not the open studio tours for 2009 can be pulled together as there was significant decrease in funding for the coordination and operations of this growing event. One brainstorming session later, it is looking a lot more positive, but the committees involved are going to be one very busy bunch for the next short while. As it stands, dates for the event are the 17 & 18 of October with a gala opening on the evening of the 16th.

Anyway, we hit the road on Thursday morning, drive through and find our flop-house in H'fax, check-in and then do the set-up for the show. On our way back after tear-down, we stop in Moncton and deliver some finished work to a colleague at midnight or so. Looking forward to this weekend and then getting back, grabbing a nap and getting ready for company that is arriving mid-week.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Decision Made

When I look back over my history of attending both retail and wholesale shows for the past 15-plus years, I think that this is the first time that I didn't tough it out to the end.

This weekend was the New Brunswick Crafts Council Fine Crafts Festival in Rothesay. It is a nice show with wonderful artisans in attendance, but because it is an outdoor event we are always at the mercy of the weather. In the past, we have been windblown, which is disastrous for pottery displays, the artisans have chased jewelry across the field, and weavers and fabric designers get blown away and bleached out as we all stand nonchalantly at the corners of our tents trying to look calm as we wonder which gust of wind will finally take it away into the neighbours' glass display. Some years it just rains and other years we all bake in the hot sun. This year in the span of two days we had all.

If I hadn't looked at the weather radar this morning, I might have decided that the weather was going to improve quickly and stick it out... at 3PM it is still raining there according to the highway webcam in the area. Not spending the entire day cold and wet is a good thing in my book even though it does affect the quality of the show. The quality of which is determined in part by the quantity of vendors, which was rapidly decreasing at our arrival on site this morning. A few other artisans with weather sensitive goods had already decided that they weren't staying for the day prior to a quick meeting held to gather a consensus about shutting down the show.

In brief, there are many artisans that are just getting to the point of not wanting to be at the mercy of the weather, product is too easily damaged and costly to rebuild, replace, or repair. A lot of time is lost from regular production when you have to clean up everything including product, tents and tablecloths in the days following a show. Besides, very few people enjoy shopping in the rain and no one likes to sit in a tent for hours with nothing to do except watch the rain.

I repeat, the show is good, the artisans wonderful, the NBCC is certainly putting in a fantastic effort but it is the weather that is going to inevitably kill the outdoor crafts festivals as more and more artisans become reluctant to exhibit at outdoor venues. I know that I am now among them after just a few short years of trying this event.

In balancing the real costs against the income from the events, with the prospect of loosing productivity and revenues because of the increasingly unpredictable summer weather, add to that the wear and tear on the nerves from just the wind, and it starts to look like a 'never again' kind of thing. If anything, this weekend's experience was far from bad, it was just another lesson and I know that I am not as hardy and stubborn as I used to be which also means that I look after myself better than I once would have. I appreciate being warm and dry.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Favorite Times of the Year

One of my favorite times of the year is upon us right now: Haute Couture Autumn/Winter. The other is Haute Couture Spring/Summer.

I have been following the Paris Week via the UK Telegraph among others.

The eye candy of the Haute Couture season is always inspiring and sometimes awing and occasionally just baffling. Periodically the scene will promote haute jewellery such as that of Loulou de la Falaise. This season it is stunning works of floral inspired multi-stone pieces. I am smitten which is not a surprise for a stone cutter.

I am looking forward to following this season's haute presentations as fashion weeks rotate through Paris, London, Milan, Berlin and New York.

Inspiration will abound...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Recent discoveries

This is hardly a post of thoughtful philosophical discoveries but of things that are fun.

Internet radio is not new and this station isn't either: Martini In the Morning, but it's new to me, and I have always adored Rat Pack music. I'll admit now that I was an 80's kid... I missed the big hair and opted for short pixie/punk kinds of cuts. I also toted around my post-punk 80's rock like Adam and the Ants and shopped the yard sales for used Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald LP's (the big black vinyl disks that preceded cassettes that preceded CD's). Now I'm starting to feel old and I might have been a bit of an oddball musically.

I came across June Cable's WiZard of Felt web site a few years ago and was smitten with her felted dolls. I thought they were fabulous with great whimsy but at the time she didn't live in New Brunswick. She obviously moved here sometime in the past couple or three years. She is delightful and just as whimsical as her fabulous creations. I had the privilege of acquiring a couple of berets from her this past weekend. I love them and anyone that knows me, knows that I like my hats, not too wild but just different enough to be noticed and June's work gets noticed.

A friend recommended William Shatner's autobiography "Up Till Now" to me recently. Laughed my way though it when it was appropriate. Like the fine actor he is, he plays the comedy off the tragedies of his life and it makes a fine read. It's not heavy and moross so it is ideal for grabbing a few pages here and there, but really, you may get into it and not want to put it down.

Enjoy the discoveries.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Revisiting Praise Junkie

I've been thinking about what I said here in June.

I'm wrong, the rare compliments are the true gems. The usual ones are great, but they do loose their luster faster by fading from memory sooner. The rare ones are the ones that truly get tucked inside the mind and held onto as real treasured memories.

Time has a way of passing, and in passing, teaching.


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Measuring Success: it's not just in the money

It's a topic that I have been thinking about for awhile and it certainly comes up with every show that I do. Inevitably an organizer, or more frequently, other artists/artisans will ask "Was it successful?"

Very rarely now do I feel that a show has been a failure. It has to be a real bad one in a lot of ways to get that designation.

This weekend's Art Market in Fredericton was no exception. All the attending artists were asked to complete a survey with various questions measuring the success of the venue. Did we hear/see advertising for the event? What went right, what went wrong? What else could have been done? And the clincher of most events that have some amount of municipal, provincial or federal funding: Circle the number that represents your sales for the show.

The problem with evaluating the success of a show/sale totally in terms of actual sales at the event is that it never takes into consideration the other things that make it a personal success.

There is the amount of personal promotional effort that a person puts in. How many business cards and brochures were distributed? How many conversations did you have with people who have never seen your work before? How many people are seeing you again and are now getting interested in what you do? How many people were complimentary or just plain curious? How many names did you get to add to your contact list for the area in which the show was held?

Answering and measuring from that perspective can take a show with low sales numbers and turn it into a success that can built upon at a later event.

The surveys also don't address these possibilities either: If you teach in your medium, did you get new students? Were there any commissions or custom orders placed for your work?

Another avenue for success: Did you make a connection with another exhibitor or a visitor that may lead to another income stream, exhibition possibility or further recognition for your work?

And finally, one of my favorite ways to measure the success of a show: Was it fun and did I get to meet other artists and exchange ideas?

The Art Market in Fredericton was a raging success for me on a lot of fronts. There were sales and a couple of commissions. Lots of compliments and conversation. Plenty of cards and brochures out there now. No new names on my list, I'm really bad at that part yet. Met a lot of the other artists and had some great conversation with them. Got some new ideas for business too and may have snagged a couple of new students. Not bad for a rainy weekend in Freddy Beach.