Thursday, September 24, 2009

Take Two!

My second Uptown Market event (the final U.M. of the year), was even better than the first. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: no threat of rain, a light breeze, and a temp in the mid-seventies... Ahhhhh. The turn out was a little better, my display was more catchy, and my neighbors were awesome.



I put one table all the way to the front of the booth and squeezed in most of the topo pieces there. I staggered the second table a few feet back and placed the flower pieces and the 8 x 10" works on it. Only a few people ventured all the way back to the second table and it definitely helped when I invited people there or pointed it out.



One of my favorite parts of the day was watching people do double-takes when they passed my booth. They'd be cruising along, glance over at my display, look ahead again, then quickly turn back, stop in their tracks, and make a line for the table. Sweet! I'm sure some of them were just curious about what all those "colorful blobs" were, but some asked great questions, spent a few minutes browsing, and a few even bought something for themselves.



The best seller, hands-down, was the Chain of Lakes pieces. Local folks shopped locally and liked the piece that represented so much of what makes their neighborhood beautiful. Because of those pieces, I also received many inquiries about custom work of other lakes and areas.

To my left was the painter, Patrick Ginter and his colorful, eye-catching works. The only thing more colorful than his paintings was his personality and sense of humor. I enjoyed our little chats and random musings throughout the day.



On my right was a talented team of cousins who put together a sell-out spread of organic goodies made from local fruits and veggies. Mary Ann Knox, a bit of a local celebrity and compost queen, along with her cousin Linda were experts at luring folks in with delicious-looking treats and handling the entire event with professionalism and bright attitudes. I bought one of their outstanding pecan pies before they were gone. Divine!



A little further down the street, a sweet-smelling bath and body vendor had the genius idea to do a little sidewalk chalk promotion. I complimented their idea and they were kind enough to let me wear down a couple of their sticks for my own little walk-over ad. I'm not sure a ton of people noticed it, but it was a fun experiment.

I also met the delightful Miss Laura Brown who made a special point to find me, introduce herself, and declare her intent to be my friend. How could I resist? :) Later in the day, she ambushed my booth and dropped off an adorable, felt, mini-pennant banner that I immediately strung up on my front table. Super cute. Laura has a sweet little shop on Etsy too!

As usual, there were a few musicians busking here and there. Two spots down from me, a couple of dudes struck up a few tunes playing Avett Brothers songs and a few others. It made for a nice mood and some sing-along moments. Here's a little clip and a short panorama:

video

Before, during and after the market, I was MUCH less keyed up than I was for the first one. I knew pretty much everything I needed to know and felt confident about what I was doing. Matthew helped me set up and take down, and then spent most of the day with the girls. My mother-in-law stopped by for a while and brought my Leah Bear with her for a nice visit.

In all, the Uptown Market was an enjoyable opportunity for me to be introduced to the world of craft fairs. I felt successful and inspired. Boo-ya!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Custom Work

I know, I know, I really should be working on building up my inventory for the final Uptown Market this Sunday. Or, I should be adding new pieces to my dwindling stock in my shop. Or, I should be making prototypes of season-based pieces from the sketches I've drawn. But, I've been having way too much fun working on some very cool custom pieces.



The first one is a "downward" topography of Joshua Tree National Park in California. It is to be a wedding gift from the bride to her groom. I think this piece ended up with a perfect blend of accuracy and abstraction.



The next custom request was a fun and challenging project that involved incorporating maps from various games into five separate yet similar 12 x 12", topographic pieces. I've never before used anything other than my own stash of cardstock, so working with/around/through the maps sent to me was a go at something new.





I also made a custom collection of topographic card sets in the shape and depths of my hometown lake, Lake Bemidji, in northern Minnesota. They turned out really well, and I was so excited to send them off that I forgot to take pictures of them. Ah well.

When starting a custom project, I really try to make sure I understand what the project means to the buyer and I try to get a clear description from them as to what they're expecting the piece to be. When the piece is complete, I still hold my breath a little each time I notify the buyer, hoping that what I've created is close to if not even better than what he or she had in mind. And when I get glowing feedback from the patron when all is said and done, then I feel awesome about the whole thing!

I keep a small blackboard in my studio. This is where I write my custom orders, what they are, and when I promised them to be complete. Currently, it's a blank slate. And even though I have so many things I should be doing as I mentioned earlier, I get a strong urge to ask the world, "What's next? Whatchya got for me?"
 

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