Friday, September 25, 2009

Merry Go Round - What is your next chapter?

It's time for another ride on the merry-go-round! Jump on and join a group of 9 artists/crafts-women as they link around the world and tell you a little about their lives in art and craft.

This month's question that myself and other merry-go-rounders are answering is: What is your next chapter?

When selling hand crafted items, people want to know your did you start, why did you start, what did you do before, how do you sell?.....Our "story" is very important - a personal connection to a potential buyer and a significant part of selling. It's what makes a difference between buying from an artist/craftsperson and buying a mass produced item. We are individuals with our own story.

Our merry go round question this month is here to remind us that sometimes we need to update our stories. Are we just telling the same story every time? What about it has changed this year? ....the world has changed this year, have we?...or have we changed direction since we started and "wrote" our story but not updated what we tell people... and what is our next chapter....where are we going?

I know I am guilty of telling the same old story - and it is time for an update. I like where I am now and don't want to go back to that original story - so it's time to tell it. Here are a couple of new chapter headings.....

1. One of the biggest changes is that at least 50% of my business is now commission work. Some of that is just variations on pieces I have made previously but the majority is totally new pieces. And most of the time it starts with "I want something for a friend...dont' know what". Like the bookmarks I just made - that was "I want a small gift for 12 friends for a reunion...what can you do?". I like these sort of commissions the best as we then get to start off the creative process by my asking them what emotion they want to convey and what does that person mean to them. And then I get to hear their story.

2. Another big change is that I spend just about all my time working on my business - either creating or promoting or.... It's more than a full time job. When I started, it was just a small part.... now I feel it is "me".

3. I am happy selling exclusively online. I've done the gallery thing and never liked it, tried a few shows which are fine but you need a lot of stock, but now my online selling is reasonably consistent so I can work steadily throughout the year and regularly add new pieces - but don't need to work in a sweat shop to prepare for a show or deal with the impersonal side of selling through a gallery. And my increase in commissions fits into this schedule well too.

4. I only do jewelry. No more knitting and felting and other things. Jewelry fills my time.

5. In future chapters, I want to be talking about other mediums with the silver. I've been experimenting and trying new things...but I'm not where I want it to be yet. Finding time to experiment is tricky but I do love to learn so there will be color, there will be unusual things you don't always see with silver...but there will still be silver!

6. I enjoy working with other artists.... I can see more collaboration chapters in the future....It makes you look at things in new ways.

7. I think the trickiest next chapter will be about how I keep growing my business.....I can't add more hours to the day, so I need to work smarter, not harder. Not sure of how this chapter will go..but it needs to be written.

I end my little story update today with a big thank you to all of you. One thing that hasn't changed is that I love creating and making whimsy in silver. But if you weren't there, reading what I'm up to, buying what I make, supporting me in what I'm doing, my story would have been a sentence. Thank you for making me multi-chaptered!

What about you? What is your latest and next chapter? Read the other merry go rounders below and see what they have to say and if you write yours on your blog - do link to back here so we can read it.

Fabienne at Easterya
Wendren at Wren
Sara at Sara's Texture Crafts
Marian at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Charlotte at FancyPicnic
Lily Pang at Lily Pang Art
Jenny at Jenny Karlsson design


meherio68 said...

Inspiring, as ever...

Easterya said...

I really think that you have a zen approach to your art and to your business, you are very very very good at prioritising, and the most important parts of your business are pushing you forward, in the right direction. You are so in tune with your art that it could not be any other way. I absolutely agree with "work smarter, not harder", this I will keep in mind from now on!

Ruth said...

Thanks both. It's interesting to see through these blog posts how all of us "merriers" go through different phases of growth, consolidation, rest, change, adventure, excitement, calm........

florcita said...

How interesting. I always admire how you know (or seem to know) how to organize yourself...a bit more organized is what i need. I ussually have a million ideas in my head and since I don't have anybody to tell me...hey, stop... concentrate... I sometimes tend to disperse...
What I think is key, is your phrase "work smarter, not harder". I think I need to learn to do that (errrmm organize myself?). otherwise what is supposed to be my job (one that I really enjoy and fulfills me)takes up every single second of the day...week!

interesting post Ruth!

Jenny said...

I love reading how you are thinking, and how far you've come. I love your whimsical creations, they are so jolly and makes me happy. :)
I will surely get my plans together more firmly after reading everyones' posts. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Ruth! :D

'fancypicnic' said...

Ruth, I need to take a leaf out of your 'book', and re-read it over and over! You exude a certain calmness - you know where you've been and have consolidated everything, but you have mapped out your next chapter, too!

Yes - 'work smarter, not harder' Great phrase. Oh, yes, yes, yes!

Wendren said...

Wonderful post.

Yes, how to work smarter and not harder is something I have had to learn too. In the beginning time was not something I was short of so it did not matter if each bag took me a day to put together. Now that I do not have that time, this does not work and I have had to change quite a lot of things without comprising on product involvement or in any other way. It is a different kind of challenge but one that is also fun. I hope you manage to find a way to fit it all in.

Sara's Texture Crafts said...

Collaborations would be wonderful for you, I can see your work being used with so many different mediums too. Wow, this is going to be insprational to watch.

I wish you all the luck! And thank you for being so inspirational.

Sara x

Sara's Texture Crafts said...

I can't wait to hear more about collaborations and new mediums... your work is so beautiful I can see it will extend quite well.

I wish you all the luck! And thank you for being so inspirational.

Sara x