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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Long Time No Post

It's been a while since I last posted, but life is a bit busy, and will be becoming a bit busier as well in the near future.

Not sure how much time I have left in this world, so I am really being choosy and paring back a lot of the things I do on my evenings and weekends, after work.

Print on demand designing and my shops will most likely have to be one of those things that I back off a bit. I enjoy it a lot but I will be leaving things basically as they are, thinning out, and only really keeping up my most popular selling designs on items.

I hope to devote much more time again to my painting, as it is very self satisfying and my strongest and most true driving force creatively. I was very good, but I could have and should have been better. That chance is kinda gone, really, but I still am good and to relax and just paint a few hours one day a week, on the weekends, is great and I will pick up my developing again, and hopefully pass the level I left it at.

A lot of my body of work, the small pieces I sold over a 2 to 3 year period, many were lost, many were ones I really loved. The rat in my keyboard tray was my biggest sad loss :-( Something happened to or was done to the CD I had them all on, back in 2009 or 2010, and there were images on it of many of my paintings, images that I did not have saved anywhere else.

In any case, my artwork can be found by visiting my gallery site, a site I worked up on a rough piece of paper and that my husband built for me, just as a viewing gallery of some of the artwork I completed over the last 15 years or so, most were commissions or sold pieces.

Designing is a joy but I never have felt really that personally proud of my designs nor my photography, as much as I did as a painter, and though it sounds shitty to say, I don't feel it is as important nor is it as admirable or personally developing for me as an artist, as is painting. There are some real super talented designers and photographers out there, and I just don;t have the potential to be among those very great ones. Painting, I always had that chance, even if I did blow it often, with life choices and just my old A type personality that is bent on "doing way too much!" lol!

I will continue to do a couple calendars a year, as I really do love working with my photography. Also, I will continue to maintain my Etsy shops, the photo and design based one; artbyjocelyn and my polymer clay shop; asimpleknead

Monday, 20 November 2017

Sold my First Ever Calendar!

Yesterday I had a bit of a thrilling day! I discovered that I had Finally sold one of my few calendars that I had created. It is my most recent one, which I have to admit, is the best one I've created so far.

my original photo, used for the front
Photography is my biggest love, after painting, so I really want the products I offer that are created from my own original nature and local sights and textures themed photography to be well received and sell!

The idea I had was to create a calendar with some of my seagull shots. Though I like to keep my images as natural as possible, it really does not hurt to work with some filters and manual digital manipulation to make a good photo great and interesting!

With this calendar, I chose images that I really felt worked for specific months and that suited a horizontal composition and also that evoked some sort of feeling or emotional reaction upon viewing. I went with images that not necessarily were super high scientific detail of the birds, but were more atmospheric, gestural and described visually days in the life of seagulls.

When my husband and I go for hikes or nature walks, we always tend to pick places that end down at the shore of Lake Ontario. Upon seeing the seagulls, I often think, they really are beautiful birds in their own way, although many people do not care for them. They are fun and a challenge to photograph, especially in flight, or while hunting for fish. Not living as close to a marina as I used to, I do not get to see that as often anymore. Many of these photographs in my calendar were from a few years back, when I did live only 10 minutes from a harbour and the shores of the lake. They are mainly of the common ring billed gull, as those are the best photos I've managed to get of seagulls. Though, I have seen many different kinds, including migratory ones such as the Great Black Backed gull, the Herring gull, the Bonaparte gull, etc. I have yet to be in good enough conditions or distance to get a decent shot of them, however.

Though I am not a writer, I did write a short poem like verse for the back of the calendar, sort of summarizing the impressions that gulls have left on me over the many instances of having observed them. However, I did not include the very funny one about when my kids were little.

At the Toronto Zoo one year, probably about 2002 or so, when my son and daughter were maybe 7 and 5, I had taken them to the zoo. We didn't always buy lunch there as it is super expensive. But, I had just enough that one visit, to get them each a burger at McDonald's. My son had his burger in his hand, and was holding it up near his face when a gull swooped by and actually grabbed it from his hand. I ended up giving him the rest of my lunch lol! But, they are not always lazy and opportunist, I have seen how magnificently they hunt for fish, when they have to :-)

Friday, 20 October 2017

Gold Foil Cards From Zazzle - Review

What can I say! They are beautiful!

I ordered the note card size, on white matte card stock. The gold foil printing is superb!

I definitely feel confident about offering promoting and purchasing these cards!

The card also arrived well packed and safely.

These cards are difficult to photograph, this is my best efforts, but it is difficult to convey the beautiful chameleon like reflective finish on the printed gold foil areas. Let's just say that it exceeded my expectation.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Slowing Down

Lately, I just have felt that I am doing Way too much! I need to now edit my activities, and pick and choose, related to my design and print on demand pursuits. Having only evenings and weekends, I have been experiencing some heavy duty anxiety dealing with wanting to do too many things in too little available time. I've always been an A type personality, often doing things on an instinctual whim then becoming self overwhelmed. Though, recently, the anxiety of a ticking life clock has also set in and added to the cause of the anxiety, so I've decided I will pare down and put more relaxation into my life, and knock back a few things.

Mainly, they are things that are taking a lot of time but bearing no fruit for all my labour anyway. Most of those activities encompass designing with my photography and digital graphics to then create products available in my three main print on demand shops. It is basically short of impossible to then have many of those products sell.m There is far too much competition, much better and more trendy designers, and volumes better social media marketers out there than I am, nor that I have the extra time for, therefore I spend a lot of time creating many many designs that end up never selling on anything. Not to mention that many of these sites have their Own algorithm and marketing agendas, and have favouriting and sharing type games that contribute to being found, and on top of all that, my products, with their more traditional, timeless based designs and patterns, rarely get featured or found.

I do ok, basically cover my home and auto insurance every year with my small profits lol!, but not well enough to warrant the time I've been spending, and in the case of my Etsy shop and hosted separate Etsy driven website, I have to face the fact that I am "financing" myself more than any profit in sales is financing all of it. Therefore, it's cut back time!

No more evenings spent listing, designing, or any of that sort of thing. Evenings will focus more on leisure and exercise, and of course, dinner! Weekends I plan to concentrate on a bit of photo work and on my clay creations, some drawing, but mainly I will be reinserting painting as my main art and creative focus again. Painting is my first and foremost love, which had a bit of a halting to it from 2010-2015 due mainly to not realizing for the longest time that my eyes had changed, and I now need trifocals. Once that got solved, I slowly began building back up my painting skills again, to where I now feel confident that I am almost back to where I was in the mid 2000s, when I had hoped to really develop into a much better traditional painter.

A recent activity that really pushed me to finally make this decision was the Inktober initiative, that I just learned about, thanks to a fellow designer from Zazzle. I realized that in order to take part in this, I had to part the deep sea of all the Stuff I was doing, that otherwise, I'd never have time. So, that was the catalyst. That, and another factor which I won't get into here. I knew I was going to have to reorganize my time and what activities filled it, or I'd certainly burn right out and end up in the loony hospital.

I began the change this past week and already I feel far more relaxed! I walk up the stairs when I come home, 8 flights, I also do 10 mins of muscle strength exercise, we eat or dinner and enjoy a show, I do my little ink drawing, read and hit the hay. It's far more relaxing then trying to rush in as much "work" as possible on my designs or my shops.

Hiking has and always will play a huge part in mine and my husband's leisure time on weekends, as you can see here on my other personal blog. Even that was being affected by me spending Far too much time in front of the computer on weekends.

My Latest Inktober Contributions

All done freehand, first in pencil, then ink fine liner, all from my imagination. I rarely ever drew from my head, so this has been quite the change and challenge for me! Some would probably make really cool designs, if worked up a bit more, but, again, that requires lots of time lol!

Under Water





Sunday, 1 October 2017

I am Partaking in Inktober! Are You?!

I truly think this was a genius idea! So great! Thank you to the creator of this yearly month long drawing challenge and thanks to a fellow Zazzle arteest for sharing the information!

The event is called Inktober, and it was began 2 years ago by a fellow named Jake. You can find out all about it and maybe even join in the fun!

I completed my first one today, it took a little over an hour, and I must say, it lifted my spirits! It is a fun, therapeutic and positive spending of time, it is truly time well spent!

Having begun as a traditional artist way way back, and having graduated Ontario College of Art and Design (when it was just OCA and not OCAD) on the very beginning of the cusp of digital art, I am no stranger to markers, fine liners, inks, Dr. Martin's Dyes, watercolour, graphite, conte, acrylic paint, pencil crayons, even ruling pens, you name it! However, I leaned towards realism and I Never doodled things out of my head, from my imagination, generally. So, having begun this over the last few months, drawing and using fine liners, Inktober came along for me right at the perfect time!

I may not be able to do a drawing every day, but I will try at least to do one a week.

Join in! It's really fun!

Catterfly - Jocelyn for Inktober #1

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Big Struggle to be Featured on POD Sites

Lately, or not Lately, often, I run across designers and artists who offer their work on print on demand sites, or a site like Etsy, frustrated because they can not get a chance to be featured, or on the front page, part of marketing campaigns, etc. That it's always the "same stuff, the same designers" being given a chance, being marketed.
Have I been in that place? Yeah. Have I felt frustrated and overlooked, feel I have some really great designs and know I do from feedback from past buyers in many cases? Yeah, I admit it lol! Do I get darn sick and tired of the same script font sappy saying prints, all the stamped jewelry, all the similar variations with clip art wedding invites, the geometric animals made with a graphic program, maps, monograms, and more? Yes, I do. I can't really even express how sick I get of all the sameness all over. Even more "artsy" sites, sites I felt were more about artists and uniqueness, their front pages are loaded with that same stuff, with some different or unique great "omg that's so awesome and creative, I wish I had though of that" designs and ideas thrown in. Never have I noticed trends become so tunneled and so prevalent, in all my years of being a super in tune visual person, having always been interested in art, in an art education, noticer of design, illustration, patterns, colour, ads in magazines, etc. However, I may be just imagining that, and it is Always like that! lol. But, my gut says I am partially right. It's too much! Enough now lol!

Yes, always, I run across very unique and amazing and very successful creatives doing amazing work, and doing well, the very unique will always stand out among the herd. Am I one of those? No, not really, though maybe, like anyone, the potential is there, if I could focus, baby, focus, that, and have oodles of sweet time! But, those are my flaws, I want to do too much and have sooo little time!

The point I am trying to make, is that these sites are first and foremost, money making business ventures. They are an e-commerce site. Their front pages will Always be curated, especially once they become more established, and realize they have to, to stay around, look professional, and popular with visitors and buyers. They do make it possible for artists, designers, makers, etc. to run a shop on their platform. They though, still want to market the site as a site that thrills visitors/buyers, they do still curate their front page as any store does, to keep visitors, make visitors want to explore, and ultimately, buy. They don't tell us we Cannot be on their platform, they never promised us a rose garden though either. Most of us have as much potential as anyone to create designs that are noticed, and picked up and included in their marketing or features, what they present on their front pages, but they have the ultimate last decision on this factor. We still are free to do business with our shops, it just ends up more in our own hands, with maybe not so much help from their marketing team, no push from the site itself. At some point, one thing, or more, or our whole shop, may suit their vision, may get noticed as a real money maker opportunity for them, but this is not the higher percentage of designers, shop keepers, this is the smaller percentage. Most of us slug along, making some sales, marketing on our own and doing ok, or doing real well, making extra affiliating others' designs and products maybe (if the site has that option), or having small successes her and there, or in some cases, lots of drought at times.

Ultimately, your shop is between you and your buyers, first and foremost, whether the platform you have a shop on, markets you or not.

Aside from selling hot because the design is trendy (which usually has its ending point at some time), there is always a need to be highly professional looking, and organized products and store (something I lack a bit lol). Another factor is highly unique, unusual, or stand out in the creative world, which often equates to a short or long run of "sought after" or "collected" once discovered. On top of that, great photography (where applicable like in an Etsy shop). There also needs to be a story often, a connection to the Maker (more in the case of a site like Esty) or Designer that is appealing, pulls the emotional strings, is fascinating or interesting, amazing etc. There are many factors, but it is easy to sit and really admit what the common ones are, in being successful running a creative or maker based e-commerce shop.

Then there also comes the point where one has to say, "I have my own vision and I'm going to make a go at being successful with it" and make all effort to do that through education (free or paid), marketing skill, etc., or, "I'm going to find a way to keep up on the trends, fit in with what consumers really are buying, and hopefully make a success of putting my own spin on it" or, yeah, "copying exactly what sells" without infringing mind you. However, the latter does not always guarantee success either. One, it's already too saturated possibly, then one needs to be a super marketer of their Own stuff, usually via Social Media. This can take a damn long time, or may never work because there's a knack to it that some of us (me) don't have.

Time, is also a Huge factor, in a successful online shop and product or maker venture. I myself, don't have tons of that, and I am sure many don't, unless it is their living, or they are the 2nd not so needed income earner in a partnership at home and don't work outside the house at all or rarely. Time is needed for a plan, to implement that plan, and make a shop a professional, organized entity from the beginning. Me? Though I do feel I present my best designs and work, I do tend to do the "trial and error" method of filling my shops with a huge and often unrelated variety of designs and products. Not probably the correct way to go about it and hope to be super successful. However, it can work in some ways, especially through Esty and selling photography, etc., as a huge amount of keywords bring many different potential buyers to one's shop that way, which means more potential that they will see something they love, and buy (one hopes lol).

There are though, many factors out of our control, or not well within our control. One being the site's algorithm (not always perfect) and the sites search functions (also can seem messed up at times), as well as the specific SEO in place. It is not always easy to perfect our listings, tile, description and keywords, to get into the first result spots of potential buyers' searches. We are able to educate ourselves on current SEO basics for online search engines, but again, this can mean "needing to have a Lot of time!" I don't have tons of that, so I know only a few dribs and drabs of it, learned much of it from my husband, who Does have the time to be well educated in that stuff, and also to make myself aware of any of the info the site itself offers in the info or FAQ sections for sellers/designers.

Some print on demand sites work in a way which I don't find I want to succumb to, either, and that is all this sharing and liking and false "pushing ones products or designs in to the popular arena" by pleading for hearts or likes therefore getting not so organically shoved into the front position on searches and site's pages. Yes, the best and most fantastic and unique will Always make it organically. This fake and inorganic method is something that one Could attempt to do, and control, but in the end, I don't feel that is the best way. Frankly, it is Fake and cheesey, to me, and in the long run, doesn't feel good.

I find one of the hardest things, as an artist, is also to admit to myself when a design or work really isn't up to par, it kinda failed, it's just not working, or it just is not appealing enough on the product I chose to offer it on, basically, it's amateur schlock even lol! This also is something one needs to be open to exploring and accepting, all of us, with our works. If this is a conclusion one ends up coming to, one can work harder to hone their designs or skills, come up with better concepts and designs, or even seek education necessary in order to be better at what we've chosen to do, make our work more and more professional and stand out. I know I can always improve, and I am sure every artist and designer is constantly developing and improving. It's Recognizing that one must, that is the hard part. Or, just be happy doing what one does, keep doing it, and who cares :-)

To note, a lot of what I wrote is personal opinion, a lot from years of observation, some from my own experiences, education, exposures, etc. In the end, it is my Opinion really. Others may have a completely different, or much more expert, outlook and opinion on a lot of this stuff.

In the end, as an artist, I feel doing your best, and personally genuine work, will always come across and be appealing, to viewers and buyers.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Love this Ceramic Artist, Pamela, of Hobbitware!

Orange Monster Bowl ©Hobbitware
I first ran across her work on Etsy, on one of the (now retired) Treasuries. Her work was featured in one that I was also featured in, by another Etsy shop keeper. Her orange Monster bowl was so up my alley, I just had to have it! She did not ship to Canada, but she did agree to ship to me if I was fine with the shipping cost. Yes, it's not fair,the US and Canada both pay a lot to ship tracked to each other, as well as to Europe, and elsewhere. However, I was willing as her work is so worth it!

Her work is just so natural and so organic, so earthy and touches that wild Bohemian side. Just so genuine, she does what she loves, and you can feel that it comes from a deep place within her, the true artist self. I just love her work! I hope one day to purchase a 2nd piece, probably a mug.

Pamela runs 3 Etsy shops. One, her ceramics and one for her unique and amazing baskets! Hobbitware on Etsy is home for her beautiful ceramic offerings and Baskets by Pamela is her lovely basket shop. Her 3rd, spectacular shop, is Purple Toed Gypsy, for wonderful, earthy hand crafted jewelry!

You are also able to follow Pamela and her Hobbitware shop on Instagram or find her on Facebook.

Please take some time to look around her shops! A more unique gift you will not find!

Rustic Funky Mug