Here, have an update

Hi y’all!

Those of you who keep up with me on social media may have noticed that I’m a busy monkey lately. Usually I do the bulk of my production over the winter, but this year Life Things made that not happen as well as I’d have liked, so I used the huge lag between my spring show and my late summer ones to make up the difference. And man, have I done that. I’ve got a serious amount of stock ready for these next two months of shows. Before you get too impressed with me, remember that I’ve got a rennie crafter’s ideas of time and workload management, and that this is my full time job. I have way more time than many artists do to art with, and was taught the valuable skill of working even when I’m not feeling it. Inspiration is a thing, and sometimes you don’t have it. But when you’re trying to make a living you have to not let that stop you. There’s lots you can do even when the muse is taking a smoke break. Fortunately, I work well under pressure, and my muse has been on board with me these last couple of months, so I’ve been frankenjunking like a boss.

You’ve probably noticed all the flowers hereabouts, which is a bit of a sidestep from my usual. My meditations lately have focused on the transitory nature of the states of being we experience. Things like depression, happiness, anger, contentment, and what it actually means to embody an emotional state, both physiologically, (like what all those fancy neurotransmitters are really doing in there) and experientially. What’s more symbolic of how brief our lives and experiences are than flowers, says me. Moths and butterflies are often used symbolically to represent transition and change, too. Hard core monks meditate in charnel houses next to decomposing bodies to really come to grips with the brief nature of our existence. While most of my materials are decomposing, an actual carcass is too Dada even for me. Also, stanky. So flowers it is. You’re welcome.

Plus, you know, they’re pretty. I like pretty things. Not everything I find attractive is dead, you know. I have layers, people.

So, shows! You can find them all listed to the left of my Facebook page under the “events” tab. You can also say, “Madam! Prithee, put me on your mailing list, for I am lazy and wish all pertinent information to be delivered directly to my device.” and then give me your e-addy and I totally will. (Ok, “prithee” is recognized by spellcheck, but “experientially” and “charnal” are not? WTF spellcheck??) But I’ll be back at Glenwood and Lakeview, and also Edgewater, though they haven’t notified me yet, they cashed my check like two months ago so I’d better have a booth number. And new this year I’ll be in Bucktown, which everyone has been telling me since I started this party that I should check out, so I’m optimistic. August and September are the time to see me this year, unless you’re in the Milwaukee area, in which case come on out to Re:Craft and Relic in November so we can hang. I’ve also applied to my first Chicago Art Girls show in December. If you’re all “wtf is Chicago Art Girls”, they’re a loosely organized bunch of women artists that promote and support each other, throw a holiday shindig once a year, and kindly let a few non members apply to their hootnanny. I have a lot of shows in common with several of these ladies and I deeply dig each and every one of them. I just wish they didn’t all live in like West Town or whatever. Those of you who don’t live in a city the size of a small country just don’t understand how difficult it is to get with people that live in farther flung neighborhoods of the county. It’s actually easier and faster to get to Wisconsin. But I digress. I won’t know about that one til September, so stay tuned for updates on that score, and the rest of the holiday shenanigans, as the November and December shows don’t tend to put their calls out for a while yet.

Speaking of which, I will not be back at Late Late this year, for any of you who attend that one. That crowd way wasn’t into my glittery shenanigans. A few FB peeps came out like the awesome, supportive rock stars you are, but on the whole I was clearly not what that crowd was looking for. Eh, live and learn.

A new Thing I’m trying this year at shows is pay what you want artist trading cards. I’ve made up a buncha tiny art that anyone can afford because you can pay or trade whatever you want for it (No children or pets please!). You can pay a quarter, a dollar, a flower, a c-note, a cupcake, a hug, produce, sandwiches, your own tiny art, or just say “thanks” and we’re square. If you don’t at least say “thanks”, I will think you’re kind of rude, because damn, where are your manners, but you can still have some art. The point is that you pay what you want, and if you want to pay with being kind of rude, I accept. I’m  gonna judge you, but I accept. It’s always been my jam to be accessible. This way, even if you’re homeless, you can afford art. Because they’re not “free”, you still participate in a fair exchange, even if your part is just shaking my hand. I dig this because I’m a control freak (no really, just ask my shop monkeys), and it’s a great exercise in not controlling, just accepting. Whatever your payment will be is exactly enough (As long as it’s not alive! I really can’t stress enough how much I don’t want a pet hamster or a five year old.).

Also! The knits are going away forever, so what’s left is going to be on super sale at the shows where they’ll let me have more than my juried medium. Some shows are picky about that, but others, like Glenwood, are pretty laid back about having more than one kind of thing in your shop, so long as you’re still making all the things. So hats, scarves and tubes made with super sexy, really kick ass fiber are going for less than cost of materials, even. I just need them outta my way. And, while not on super sale because they’re already pretty much at cost, the mini shrines are also going away, so what I’ve got is all that’s gonna be, and if you’ve been eyeing one, now is the time to commit. I still have a decent number left, so they’ll probably still be around next season, but I’ve decided I’m not even going to take custom orders on them anymore, so git em now before they’re gone.

Is that it? Hm. Yeah, I think that’s it. You know all of the things for now.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous summer so far. It’s all too brief in this godforsaken latitude, so enjoy it while it’s here. I know I am.

Advertisements

“How did you get here?”

“Here” being doing street shows for a living. The questions come phrased in a number of ways but basically boils down to wanting to know how this is my job. And there’s no simple answer. I didn’t decide when I was a wee lass that this would be my life. Some people do. Some people have a Thing. That Thing is their focus and driving force and what they work towards for a goodly portion of their lives. I don’t have a Thing. I am fascinated by All the Things, which makes for a hell of a time picking a life path, lemme tell you. If I could manifest my perfect career, it would be reading books and going places. I would be a Book Reader and Place Explorer. But that’s not a career anyone is going to pay me a salary for. So here I am.

There is a sensible path from there to here. It probably involves art school or business school. Or both. At least it must involve being able to do math and knowing how to draw.  But that’s not how I came to be here. Like most major decisions I’ve made, I just kind of went for it with no real idea what I was doing. That fact aside, this didn’t just occur to me one day as I was wailing on a heavy bag or having my morning constitutional. It actually started as a notion a former roommate and I were batting around over coffee at a Denny’s in Metairie, Louisiana about 20 years ago, the first winter I spent in New Orleans. I wasn’t a leather worker yet. I was barely even a nomad. I think it was my second year on the road. I just wanted to be the boss of me and hang out with art, not thinking for a minute I might be the one making it. At the time, I was dreaming of a brick and mortar shop of some kind (it was the far back times, when nobody had computers and the internet was a geek thing, but not something most people used or even knew about), where I’d just like, get really great makers to sell their stuff out of it. I remember saying to my roommate, “It would need a name so people would know it was about art and traveling.” He looked up from his grilled cheese and said, “As the Crow Flies”. We thought we were brilliant. And promptly forgot all about it.

Many years later I’m on a back deck at my best friend’s mom’s house, enjoying delicious grilled foodz and having a nice yak with a lively assortment of folks. I was apprenticed to two master crafters at ren faire at the time, learning loads of stuff, on the road for nine months out of the year and spending my off season in New Orleans. This was the thick of the “no fixed address” portion of my adult life. Conversation turned to business and goals and such, and I was noodling with the idea of maybe having my own shop someday. Bestie’s mom asked me what I’d call it and I said, “As the Crow Flies” kind of out of nowhere. I hadn’t thought about my roommate or the conversation we’d had for years, but there it was right on the tip of my tongue. The talk moved on to other things, like it does. But then a few weeks later, she hands me a sign she found at a garage sale. It’s this country cute thing with crackle paint and a bird stencil and says “as the crow flies” on it, and she said it was for my shop someday. Kind of as a joke.

Instead of putting that sign in my basement or some other no mans land of gag-y gifts, I sat it on top of my bookshelf. Where it has been now for many years. Staring at me. Kind of like a dare.

Between that day and this came more years traveling, hurricane Katrina, living and marinading in the funky mojo of New Orleans, college, several personal disasters, some cancer (not mine), and my major depressive disorder trying to make me walk off a building when the tangle of Life Things got extremely unruly. I knit when I’m stressed out, so the pile of hats and scarves got huge and an acquaintance suggested Etsy as a way to deal with them and pay for the yarn. From there it was a natural progression of “I wonder if I can do -insert art thing here-“. I took some online classes (happy to pass along the links for anyone interested), and played with glue and got ideas from paying a different kind of attention to the world than I had previously been paying. Got encouragement and invaluable advice from a huge number of friendly artists at shows and art tours who were happy to talk about their work and the work involved with art as a job. Did a small, one day show to see what doing shows was all about. Had Mary not let some rando from out of state do her Market, taken pictures of my stuff with such enthusiasm and posted them on her Facebook page, had Maday not clamored to find out who the artist was who made it (first time anyone had called me that in a professional capacity), had the customers not been so positive and encouraging, I may have stalled out completely. But they did. I made friends and connections. I kept going.

Anyone who tells you that the art brain is inborn and it’s not something that can be learned is lying to you. Some people come from the factory with an art brain, which gives them a head start, but it’s definitely something you can learn and nurture in yourself, no matter what kind of brain you start out with.

And here I am. It’s not a consignment store or a gallery, and it’s not a leather shop at ren faire, though at some future point it may encompass both or either of those things (remind me to tell you about Awesome Idea For When I Win the Lottery #12 someday). When my roomie and I first hatched the notion I wasn’t any kind of artist that I was aware of. Though I’ve always written poetry (No really, since I was five. Eh-hem. “Fishy fishy fish. You are so pretty fish. I love your gold fishy fishness. The end.” My folks thought it was super freakin’ cute. They probably regretted encouraging me when it led to open mics at cafes til 4 am, but nobody is psychic.), visual arts came to me way later. I guess I did kind of have a Thing. My Thing was to be the boss of me in whatever way made sense. Super vague as far as goal setting goes, but hey, it worked, so…