Sunday, March 29, 2009

I love my work, a fan letter to Pike Place Market

Yesterday was just one of those great days at my booth at Pike Place Market in Seattle. Sure, it was crummy, cold, wet weather, but that's par for the course in Seattle this time of year. It was one of those days none of that mattered and I looked around and thought "How lucky am I to do this for a living?"
The day started with a customer who came with a list of eight clocks he needed for gifts and continued to be busy and bring great sales. My neighbors and I all got hot delicious, steaming hot chicken adobo from the Filipino lunch counter. And we had a surprise birthday celebration for a dear friend we almost lost last fall - which at the market means a huge group singing a quick "Happy Birthday" out of tune, home made cupcakes and cake for everyone. You can't beat hanging out with other artists, meeting people from all over the world, and laughing with friends all day. These are the days I really just can't believe this is my job.
The highlight - an adorable 5 year old boy who fell in love with the UFO clock. He was practically dancing with glee "Daddy! A space clock! It will go in my room because my room is a space room! Daddy! I have to have it!!". And then he held it up and squealed "Look Dad! Look! It has golden tickers!!!"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Live Online Events

I'm really excited to announce my first live online Masterclass with CRAFTCAST host Alison Lee on April 8th. I'll be talking about how to get started selling your crafts, and you can join us live from the comfort of your own home!
Alison Lee's CRAFTCAST™ is a podcast covering the latest information in the crafting industry. Listeners get personal time experience with a wide variety of artists and crafters. CRAFTCAST™ mission is to inspire and nurture the creative spark within each listener.
For more information or to register click here. Join me on the PASSIONS & POSSIBILITIES RADIO SHOW
Sue Oliver's Passions and Possibilities Project is a blog radio show. On each show Sue interviews individuals who are pursuing their passions & possibilities in their lives and businesses. I'll be Sue's guest at 3pm PST on Wednesday April 15th. I hope you'll join us!
Bookmark Sue's podcast here to join us and listen to all of her inspiring shows.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I want to eat it

When I was a kid we had a family friend named Paul Rand who lived and worked in his studio just down the road from us. Paul was a painter as well as a very famous graphic designer. He created the logos we all see every day; Westinghouse, UPS, Ikea, Adobe, Volkswagen, ABC and IBM among them. When asked where his ideas came from his stock reply was “Any artist who gives you an answer that question is lying. Because I guarantee you, we don't know.” 
I knew what he meant. In fact, I was relieved to hear him say it because like all artists, I get asked that question a lot. And I’ve never been able to verbalize where my design ideas and inspiration come from.  Then in 1989 my mother and I went to Europe together, along with her friend, Caryl and Caryl's daughter, Laurie. Laurie is a very successful graphic designer and artist. The fourth day of the trip we arrived in Bruges, Belgium, a tiny village, something out of a fairy tale, cobbled and bricked, canals and cottages, ruddy faced smiling villagers with lovely accents, horse-drawn wagons clip-clopping through the streets. Canopied beds in our rooms, boiled eggs and cheese for breakfast, chocolate to die for and waffles which defy description. 
Late that night Laurie and I decided to take a walk, get to know each other. We sauntered along narrow, empty streets of stone, talking about life, art, travel, relationships. We strolled past darkened lace shops, bookstores, bakeries, cheese shops - and after a passing through the town square turned the corner and stopped in front of a textile shop. There in the window, draped over a lone antique chair, spotlighted by a single column of warm yellow light, was the most luscious piece of hand-woven fabric I have ever seen in my life. Laurie and I both let out audible gasps and stopped dead in our tracks. We stood together staring at it for a few moments in complete silence. After what seemed like minutes, Laurie said under her breath "I want to eat it." I turned and watched her taking it in. Her gaze never left the window, and after several long seconds she became aware of my puzzlement and finally smiled and said with a quiet reverence, "When I see something that beautiful I want to experience it completely - it's like I want to have it inside of me." I think of that night often, when I see something inspiring and miraculous and want somehow to record it, make it mine. Sometimes when I am some place I've never been before or I’m looking at amazing art or something beautiful in nature that inspires me, I feel all of my senses tingling, being overfed and stimulated, trying to absorb it, memorize everything I see. I think of it when I am fully enjoying something or someone with that joy - that intense wild thing we feel when we flirt or are infatuated. It's the way we feel when we're newly in love, we just can't get enough of life, that first blush that makes us want to swallow every minute and keep it forever. The feeling is so rich and thrilling, I want to be able to keep it and take it home in a box, to open up and revisit it later, keep it forever. I think this is something that artists do in a very vital way, ingest life’s most vibrant experiences, sights and sounds. It is my belief that they are absorbed, reshaped, and reborn in our art. I don’t think we’re even aware of the process. We can't be. We simply eat them, enjoy them in that most alive, intimate, physical sense that Laurie was describing. And in turn they become a part of us, settling in our heart, our soul, germinating with their own time and rhythm and are born into color and shape and texture in our art. Paul died in 1996. He was an ornery fellow and would probably argue this with me, but I believe I do know where my ideas come from. Although, I still can’t put it into a one-sentence answer when asked. When any experience is new, beautiful and moving and therefore feels more real, more dimensional than the rest of life I don't want to let it pass into the flatness of my memory. I want to savor it, I want to bury my face in its texture and color and breathe it, taste it, and yes, eat it. And later if I’m lucky, I’ll see a glimmer of it born into something I create. I don’t always recognize it by name, but it’s there, that I am sure of.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Artists teaching artists

It's just a few days until my next weekend workshop. I truly love teaching. I do it and love it for many reasons. But this is the big reason - the reason that got me started: 
I did it alone. All my friends did it alone. This is a business you do alone, you figure out alone, each step a puzzle with no one to guide you. There is no school that teaches the business of selling crafts. Colleges don't teach it, business schools don't teach it. Even art schools don't teach it. They help you refine your style, technique and talent and then they open the doors and set you free to figure it out all by yourself. And millions of us, generations of us have done and still do just that. 
We muddle through, all trying to answer the same questions, figure out the same issues, find the same resources, and all making the same mistakes. It takes years to figure it all out, learn from our failures, ask the right questions, gather the resources and knowledge, find the right opportunities, make the hard choices and build a successful business. But still, all of the others who come after us start alone, knowing nothing, fueled by their passion, dreaming of doing what they love for a living ...and stumble though it by themselves just as we did.
Does that make sense to anyone, when there are generations of us who have the knowledge?
It only makes sense to me to pass it on. And I love watching students walk into to class that first day wondering if they have what it takes and then over the course of a weekend see them start come alive, perk up, and get truly excited and energized as they begin to see the way to their dreams.