Friday, June 30, 2006
Man, it's hard to get outa the chair on a hazy day off... but there is work to be done!
Yeah so, I'm getting ready for the 4th of July festival up in Crescent City, a bit up the coast from here. I'm a little nervous, this is my first time up there for a show... but there are issues with all of the 4th shows.
The Arcata one is best for me of course. This is my town and my peoples... my customers expect to see me there and generally I do well at any Plaza event. However, as usual, the folks who run these fairs keep increasing the cost for the honor of selling in their little town. Man I get mad. This year, this ONE DAY event costs the same as the North Country Fair - a two day kick-ass festival in the fall. Not only that, but the 4th allows imports (not only handmade-by-the-artist goods) and they are notorious for placing say, 3 jewelers in a row. Or, like last year, my booth next door to two big booths of rainbow tie dye. Sigh...
But, the show in Eureka's old town stinks. Or, rather... I didn't do well there. Lots of people, but more imports and the folks are more into buying cheap mementos than quality crafts. So...
This year I'm trying Crescent City. I have lots of friends up there, and it should be fun. The cost was comparable to Arcata, but with a bigger booth space, also allowing imports. Now that I have my info packet, though, I see there is a higher quality craft area nearby hosted by an art gallery. I think I'll be checking into that one for next year... but, we shall see how it all goes.
Anywayzzzz... I have some dyeing to do...
So... what was I going to write about day jobs... um...
Well, the one I have now I totally love. And I've been thinking about how it compares to the other jobs I've had the past couple years. Let's see...
Since I started my Mermaid Biz about 5 yrs ago, I've spent 2 of those years unemp - er - SELFemployed. The first year, I worked in that cushy office job mentioned below... running a storage rental office. That one really got my business started, I just poured all my income into it. Plenty of energy left over, even working 40 hrs per week, to do all my artgirl activities.
Later, I worked as an arts instructor in a day program for disabled adults. Man, that was a cool job. I basically played all day with a group of about half developmentally disabled folks, and half with various dimentias like alzheimers, stroke, brain injuries... as well as some physical disabilities mixed in. It was challenging and I loved it. I realized I have a bit of a talent for teaching and I got to come up with all kinds of arts and crafts activities for various skill levels and abilities.
Ultimately, a bunch of admin changes came about... and I was running the program. Which was cool for a while... but long story short, it ended up taking all my physical and emotional energy to do this job. After a couple years there, I realized I was totally ignoring my Mermaid and personal art stuff. It was gradual, and totally a worthwhile venture... but I just burned out.
After another year of Mermaid Biz activity... I needed another part time job for the off season. I landed in the office of a friend of a friend. Jumped right in without really having to look or interview for jobs. Sweet. But... that didn't really work for me either. Um, the pay was very low, the hours not enough to make up for it... and the atmosphere well, how do I say it. Uncomfortable.
I left there when I was hired for another disability job. I don't want to go into details here (only because I get so agitated still lol) but let's say it was insultingly low pay for a ton of responsibility in a very poorly run program. Whew, it was painful and brief.
So... after all this... I knew what I needed was a job that paid semi-decent, used any of my myriad of skills, and made me feel like I was doing something worthwhile... yet, also something I could leave at work, ie didn't consume my soul and thus all my energies.
And I have found it. I now work at a mail order company that sells buttons, stickers, videos, books and other stuff with a peace and social change message. It's great! I get to use all my officegirl skills (not brain surgery, but not boring either)... work with a bunch of happy, fun and caring people... talk to folks all over the country who actually give a shit about other people and the environment. I love it. And when I'm done working, I still have energy to work at the studio.
My boyfriend comments often about how much more pleasant I am to be around, and how much work I'm getting done in the Mermaid world.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
About 1/3 of the way through college, I stopped working as a (miserable) waitress, and lived off of student loans and grants... so I could pay more attention to school and art. At some point I did my best to take only art-related jobs, when I WAS working. I was poor, but oh so happy ... and I felt like a 'real' artist, actually getting paid for making things. I did all kinds of art jobs... I designed a website character for an internet startup... I designed and crocheted a ton of custom sweaters for a lady who just loved hand-crocheted stuff... I worked in a traveling kid's craft activity booth at festivals... and taught in an after school program. And I started selling things at small craft fairs, which is what I knew I wanted to do the most.
After graduating (my degree was in art, figure that out yet?), I was becoming pretty active in the recreation realm. I ran a summer youth arts program. I got hired to oversee an after school program in 3 schools, and there was talk of an artist-in-residence granted position for the future. The problem with working Rec programs... is they are temporary part time positions. At a time when I needed solid income to start my Mermaid biz... I made a choice. I accepted a mon-fri 9 to 5 officegirl job... nice starting rate, paid sick and holidays, and health insurance. It was great... low stress, I learned lots of useful officechick skills, weekends off and free storage for my booth stuff.
So what am I getting to, here? Well, I guess that was when it all started... the need for the balance between artgirl life and income needs. It's been over 5 yrs now, and I have to admit that it's more difficult than I anticipated to make the artgirl pay the bills. It's a delicate balance really... between all that the Mermaid biz entails, and finding a day job that doesn't suck up all my creative/emotional energy AND pays enough to cover my living needs.
Because the Mermaid comes first. I'd rather live in a cardboard box with my art supplies, than sell my soul at a job I hate. Those who know me, know that I really mean that... jeesh, I've come pretty close to box-living. Ha.
So... that's what I was going to cover here, how my current day job is perfect for this end. And what a struggle it's been the past yr or so to get the whole job thing properly aligned. But now I think that will take another post...
Friday, June 23, 2006
What I'm actually going to do today (after I'm done drinking coffee in my pj's) is head downtown to take care of some bidness. It is a beautiful and (for us) warm sunny summer day in Arcata, so it will be nice to bop around doing my errands. This is what I really love about living in a small town that IS NOT set up in a sprawling manner, like many other places in the state... I can drive to my studio, park and walk the 2 blocks to the plaza, where I can easily get all my errands taken care of. AND there are lots of folks walking around doing the same, like a community should be. WE get out of our cars and say hi to eachother. What a concept, huh?
So... first I need to meet Marianna at the studio, so she can pick up her table and the paintings from the opening we had together a few months back. Pack up some goods for that nice lady on the east coast (see below)... then head down to the post office to mail them and check my box for applications or whatnot. My bank is right across from the po, so I need to deposit my Officegirl check (to cover the ton of groceries I bought last night... mmmm fooood).
Then cruise across the plaza to Heartbead to see if they have the right beads for a custom necklace order. The challenge will be to only buy the beads for the necklace in question, and not some other goodies for myself - er, I mean, for making Mermaid stuff. I can get lost in that store for hours...
And while I'm out, I may as well go down to the Arcata Marsh and take a walk among the birds and bushes on the bay... on such a gorgeous day! Woohoo for days off!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
We have been working on some orders for her, via email. Which is great... Excellent.
Meanwhile, I have also been trying to find a 4th of July festival for the Mermaid booth. The local ones have irked me for various reasons... so I called for an application to the Crescent City fair, about an hour and a half north of here. I have been waiting for it, so I can apply before it's full... checking my po box daily. The other day I found a 'pick up at window' slip in there, figuring it was my application in a big envelope or something. Sigh... which annoyed me. Fold it a little, will ya? I was having trouble getting to the po before closing time.
Ok... so yesterday I finally get to the post office at 10 minutes to 5... of course there's a big line, and (for the first time maybe ever) no postal worker yelling out 'anyone just need to pick up mail?'. Of course.
But, when I finally get up there and receive my package... imagine my surprise to find a large white padded envelope covered with multicolored mermaid stamps. Beautiful ones with big Celtic tails and flowing hair. And inside, two lovely Celtic mermaid music CD's, from the very same lover of mermaids I have been corresponding with. She herself is singing on one of the CD's and there's a photo of her on the back of it.
It was really cool. I smiled and cooed and mumbled to myself about what a special mermaid surprise it was... for like an hour. While i shopped, while I drove...
nice, huh? AND she's buying a bunch of Mermaid clothes.
Is it possible to be addicted to bead catalogs? Whew. Cuz I can look at them all day long... make lists of the stuff I want... design jewelry, figure out pricing, etc. I have a stack of like 5 catalogs I've been looking through for days. I love them!
I have been working on designs for necklaces to match my mermaid clothing. I actually made some... but they really don't work for me. They colors are fine... faceted glass beads with semi-precious chips, which I thought would look earthy yet sparkly. And I guess they do, but they are so boring! I'm trying to create some simple but cute styles I can make quickly and so sell fairly cheaply... sounds easy.
If you can make decisions and not just pour over the catalog for hours.
You. Not me. Cuz I'm addicted. I guess.