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DesignerCon Report November 22, 2009

Whew!  I’m finally back in town for a couple of days before heading to NYC on Wednesday.  I can’t WAIT until all of this traveling is over.

Just got back from the DesignerCon show in Pasadena.  I was pretty unprepared so I didn’t do very well there.  My intention was to split my booth between selling Sweet Meats and promoting my custom plush services.  Not knowing the set-up or having enough time, however, I lacked the appropriate signage and display materials to make this apparent to the attendees. I could have used some kind of collapsible shelving and a banner or two, or at least a second table.  As it stands, this is what my table space looked like:

Pathetic, no?  How the hell was anyone supposed to know what I was there for?  Well, they didn’t, and it was sort of a mess all around.  People kept trying to buy the things that were not for sale and they seemed surprised that I was the designer of all of the toys on my table.  Maybe for WonderCon I will make some huge buttons that say “I AM THE ARTIST. I am not the girlfriend of the artist.” and hand them out to the other artistic ladies there.  I will also make a giant banner to hang behind me that says something like “Custom Plush Toys from YOUR Character!” and shows a drawing of someone’s character next to a photo of some plush toys I made of that character.

DesignerCon was also the first stop on the Custom Yoka show’s tour.  I brought A.’s Yoka down but mine didn’t make it.  Oh well.  I will mail it to DKE for the show’s next stop at Black Maria Gallery.

All in all it was a good learning experience and a (relatively) cheap way to prepare myself for WonderCon in April.  I definitely need to get my name out there a little better and make sure I have a well-publicized “exclusive” for sale at the show.  Those exclusives seemed to be the main focus at DesignerCon.  Sure, some people were interested in the toy giveaways, artist signings and live painting on bikini-clad girls, but the lines really formed for the exclusive toy releases.  This designer vinyl business seems to be a serious investment strategy for a lot of collectors.

Some show highlights for me included meeting Ze Frank (to whom I gave a Shapin’ Bacon), being asked to sign a customer’s deli-wrapped Hambone, and being interviewed for Electric Playground.  I also sold enough to pay for the trip, so I really can’t complain.  Now if I can just catch up on my sleep, I’ll be all set.

 

Studies October 29, 2009

Sorry my posts have been so sporadic lately. In addition to prepping for holiday sales, I’ve got two art shows coming up in November that I haven’t finished the work for yet. I’m working with sort of childhood theme–lots of bright colors and repetitive geometry–and I’ve done a couple of studies, but no finished pieces yet.

The first piece I’m working on is a custom Yoka vinyl toy for a show at DesignerCon on November 21st. A Yoka is a cute, jointed, vinyl toy bear. Mine is only 3″ high.

yokafront

I was kind of surprised at how many people have made custom-decorated Yokas. Check out this one by Phu! This is a 10″ but he’s also got a 3″ in the DC show.

With such high-caliber work to contend with, I want to make sure my Yoka isn’t jankity and represents my strengths/style as an artist. My first thought, of course was to make a plush Yoka, but Alisa Ross already did that.

Then I thought I would put silk pins into it and wrap the pins with colored string, like the string art projects I did in summer camp. I pictured a delicate, multi-colored scaffolding that was same shape as the bear, but floating about a centimeter off its body. You’d just barely be able to see the white toy underneath through its gossamer shell. But when I actually tried this on a little foam model, the threads all slid down to the bear’s body and he just ended up looking like a coloring-book version of Hellraiser.

yokastringstudy

I thought about trying to hold them up with those tiny orthodontic rubber bands but that’s just too bulky for such a small toy. Now I think I’ll just embroider the designs directly onto the toy. Not as cool as a floating rainbow exoskeleton, but still pretty sweet.

The other project I’m working on is a set of mandalas for The Lab’s Postcard Art Show Dec. 4-6. They’re small pieces (about 6″ squares) and made with sticker shapes I drew. Here are some of the stickers.

stickers

Ideally I’d make the whole mandala set with stickers I drew myself but that’s a lot of time spent cutting tiny shapes and I don’t have much time these days. Depending on how quickly the first few go, I will either make them with a combination of my own stickers and stickers I’ve bought (of the Mrs. Grossman’s ilk), or I will just make digital prints of the mandala patterns I’ve mocked up in Illustrator. Here’s one from yesterday:

mandalatest

Apologies in advance if my posts are widely spaced until the holidays. Wish me luck!

 

Win!

I’ve never won a raffle before, so I was STOKED to hear that my name came out of the fishbowl at the Neon Monster second anniversary party.  What did I win?  This incredibly sweet original painting by Reuben Rude!

reubenselephant

Richard Starkings and Justin “Moritat” Norman were there signing issues of their Elephantmen comic, so Reuben painted this elephant outside  during the party.  After it was over, he took it home and added a few collage elements and the drips you see.  I really love that all four sides of the painting (which you unfortunately can’t see in the photo) have gorgeous orange to green to blue gradients on them.  The painting measures about four feet per side and two inches deep.  Amazing!

Speaking of raffles, I have to put forth a little plug: come to the Bazaar Bizarre in Golden Gate Park December 12-13!  I’m organizing the raffle this year and the prizes are amazing.  You can see some of them here at the BazBiz Flickr stream.  At the last Baz Biz there were eleven prize lots each totaling more than $300!  For the price of one ticket you walk away with eleven chances to take care of your entire holiday list!  Craft and Make Magazine will also be there with a raffle.

16 Towers Print by 3 Fish Studios

Fruit Stripe Vase by Why Girls Go Astray

 

Deep Creeps! October 6, 2009

I’ve been working on a set of plush deep sea creatures for a couple of years.  I’ve been calling them “Deep Creeps.” (Yes, I know, it sounds just like “Sweet Meats.”  I’m a one-trick pony when it comes to titles.)  ANYWAY, after several iterations but no real progress, I decided that I would use the Plush You! show at Schmancy as my deadline for having finished versions of a dumbo octopus and an angler fish. I finally finished them yesterday and they’ll arrive tomorrow, a scant two days before opening night.  It remains to be seen whether they’ll actually make it into the show now.

In August, I made two pillows embroidered with original drawings in glow-in-the-dark thread.  They look cool in the dark, but Plush You is a high-caliber plush show, not an embroidery show.  I put the pillows up in my Etsy shop and started over.  One month plus one extremely intense sewing week later, I’ve got two finished creeps and a massive tension headache.  So if you’ve been wondering what my craft-a-day has been since I last posted an update, here are the foam models, patterns, and body part prototypes I’ve been churning out.  These are just the few I hadn’t thrown out yet.

patternsprototypes

And here are the finished Creeps.  For more photos/larger versions you can visit my Flickr stream.  Yes, the angler’s bulb glows in the dark.

dumbofrontdumboleftishdumboclosefrontanglerleftfrontanglerfrontanglerright

 

BUST Craftacular Applications are Up October 3, 2009

Filed under: events,extra income,fairs and shows — bizmiss @ 12:05 pm
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For all the east coasters out there (or folks who can travel light), BUST magazine’s annual Holiday Craftacular has posted its application page for this year’s NYC show.  The 2009 Craftacular takes place Sunday, December 6th from 10am-7:30 PM.  Their booth fee seems steep, but it looks as though they’ve moved the show from Brooklyn to Chelsea, so it might very well be worth it.

 

Happy New Year September 20, 2009

Fall is the beginning of my year.  It always has been.  In the first place, I’m Jewish, so I celebrate the new year in the fall rather than in January.  I take stock and make my resolutions in the fall.  Fall is also when school starts, and when people come back after having a long break.  Fall is when I naturally feel compelled to start in new directions and when the economy begins to ramp up again.

This year my main goal is to take those new directions and make them more, um…directed.  I’m trying to set clear, achievable goals for each of my current projects, which I am trying to cull and focus in service of a greater professional goal: an independent and sustainable career as a creative professional.

I’ve decided I need help with this, so I’ve been in contact with Lisa at the Renaissance Business Center here in San Francisco.  Renaissance is a non-profit dedicated to helping people start and/or grow small businesses.  What makes them different from SCORE, SBA and the SBDC is that they are much more focused on providing intensive, long-term assistance.  Two programs I’m currently looking at are their 14-week business planning course (which has been described as a mini-MBA program), and their 1-3 year business incubation program (probably the virtual incarnation).  I’ve got a tour and orientation on Wednesday.  Hopefully they can help me focus and kick my ass a little.

In the meantime, I’ve been applying for some holiday shows, and trying to create new wares for them.  The one I’m currently most excited about is DesignerCon in L.A. (formerly Vinyl Toy Network).  It’s sort of a combo trade fair/cash-and-carry for folks who make the kinds of things you see in designer toy and comic shops–plush and vinyl collectibles, limited-edition prints, and character-driven art of all kinds.  At $125 for a one-day booth, the cost is comparable to your standard craft fair.  I’m planning on showcasing/selling Sweet Meats on one side of the booth, and presenting samples of my plush design work on the other.  DesignerCon is on November 21st, which gives me a concrete deadline by which to have my new web site and business cards done, as well samples of next year’s toy line.

A little bit further down the list is a book proposal.  I’ve heard from fellow crafters that writing an instructional book is extremely difficult and takes about a year of full-time work to complete.  According to Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo, just writing the proposal takes a week.  Things being what they are in publishing, writing a book is often not very lucrative, assuming that your proposal even gets picked up a by a publisher in the first place, which is unlikely.  On the other hand, authoring a successful book significantly increases your profile as an expert in your field, leading (hopefully) to press, more clients and higher rates.  What doesn’t get picked up you can always publish on your own, so I’m keeping it as an option for now.

As for making a Thing-A-Day, I’m still doing it, though I’ve fallen back on the “work on an existing project for 30 minutes” net a couple of times this week.  Yesterday I made and decorated a cake for my friends’ 26th/30th birthdays, but I didn’t like it enough to photograph it.  Otherwise I’ve mostly been working on re-making my pieces for the Plush You show next month.

It’s going to be a busy fall.  I’ll keep you posted about what I learn along the way.  Happy New Year, everyone!