Decoding contemporary art and hand-crafting matters.

Archive for the category “Work Smart”

Sucess! (In Small Measures…)

So, only because it’s still fresh in my mind, I’d like to note how happy I am that an online crafting article can pick up steam (while being surrounded by “sexier” content like references to currently-hot pop culture TV shows, Fashion Week and viral cat memes).

My BuzzFeed article, “21 Things You’ll Find At An Enormous Craft Fair” – not my headline but there you go – ( hasn’t done too badly at all for a writer that is currently unknown to the BuzzFeed core readership, about a topic that only about 50% of Americans are stated to pursue. (And shouldn’t crafting have a much higher percentage than that?)

I did reach out via e-mail and Twitter to the companies covered in this article. I also did reach out to the local indie craft stores that I’m a customer at, industry professionals that I personally know (and some that I personally don’t!), as well as other creative and business luminaries in the field.

The result? Encouragement, positive vibes, page hits reactions, re-tweets, re-pins, and a bit of a moment on Facebook. So yay – crafting got some mainstream love. I also got a couple of nice thank-yous from some of the firms I featured. As a freelance journalist (I am also a designer myself, educator and a few other hyphenates – but I had no personal stake in this piece and no professional relationship to anyone in it), it’s great when the feedback is 99.9% positive. One person did put a BuzzFeed “fail” button on my post, but there’s always gonna be haters!

So, lessons learned? When you have a legitimate reason to contact others in a way that can help them too (without spending money, I’m talking more about the exchange of information here), be bold and do it. They might stop and take note.

Next step: putting a personality to my activated yet dormant Facebook company profile; also, join Pinterest and LinkedIn (don’t judge; I need to be writing more than I need to be doing stuff online, ideally!). Woot!


A Succint Meditation on Power

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

This quote, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, kind of explains why I have never found fulfillment working in a traditional office setting. Most of us are capable of it, but if you have an artistic nature, it doesn’t usually gel with our personality or temperament.

That’s probably why employees try to express their individuality with renegade cubicle decor (…0.0…1ac.1.fytAWbTzXFI#hl=en&tbo=d&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=cubicle+decoration+ideas&oq=cubicle+decorat&gs_l=img.1.2.0l10.25476.26005.0.28194.…0.0…1c.1.sSHlFHULPug&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.41524429,d.b2I&fp=e200120e98f4ec01&biw=1576&bih=821).

Freelancing has always worked out better for me: I can work on projects that are of personal interest, that matter or have some intrinsic value. Sometimes it’s financially rewarding, sometimes not.

This article in Yahoo news only confirms that, for me, I made the right choice: (

When I Must Finish a Tedious Project…

…I simply kick back with some reality TV and power through it. Why not something a little more high-brow (like National Geographic Channel or it’s ilk)? Because then I’d want to watch and learn something. Figure out what your “white noise” is (if you don’t need complete silence) and, to quote Tim Gunn, “make it work.” Whether it’s music, old movies, or even a table fan, having background sound can give momentum to repetitive or uninteresting tasks.

Change Your Cooking – Change Your Life!

In order to preserve my sanity, I’m changing my cooking schedule to better reflect my life’s realities.

Big dinners from scratch are on the weekend. Week days are reserved for frozen dinner options courtesy of Trader Joe’s supermarket (with fresh fruit and yogurt from the farmer’s market). When I’m feeling posh, jarred sauces from Williams Sonoma are a well-earned luxury – because they really do taste better than the average grocery store find.

Some years I’m Nigella Lawson, others I’m that mom from Malcolm in the Middle. Depends on the life stage I’m in!

Adding to Your Craft Stash

Independent craft retailers and chain stores aren’t the only game in town when fortifying your creative studio. Don’t forget about dollar shops, off-price and discount outlets, charity boutiques – even hardware stores – along with garage sales, estate liquidations and on-line searches. These source will often turn up unexpected, interesting tools and materials for your artful projects.

Happy National Crafting Month!

March is National Crafting Month! Each year, businesses both large and small in the creative community get involved with special projects, make-and-takes, tutorials – even sales promotions. It’s a great time to learn a new hobby and expand your artistic skill set. Perhaps you’d like the challenge of knitting a gorgeous scarf with yummy yarn, or tackling a tote with some newly-learned sewing skills. Cooking, woodworking, jewelry design… do a quick online search and find a pattern that strikes your fancy. Then research whether a teacher or a specialty shop can help start you on your journey (books are great, but personalized instruction can lower the frustration of a learning curve). Have a blast and good luck!

Sometimes it’s Preferable to…

…stay in a hotel at a moderately local conference, instead of doing a daily commute. You have an infinitely reduced chance of appearing as though you are a zombie when others meet with you professionally. This is to be avoided at all costs. Shame I can’t follow my own advice.

When You’re at a Cocktail Event and Know Positively No One…

…it just means that you haven’t formally met! Don’t be afraid to go up to people, smile, introduce yourself and ask them who they are and what they do. Everyone in a business networking scenario likes to share who they are and what their business is about – and if they don’t, thank them and move on.

I met a person last night who expressed a regret over missing another event; since I was at said happening myself, I told him what took place, then introduced him to the panel member he wanted to speak to (there would have been no way he could have picked him out of the crowd). So two firms met, connected, and have the potential to do business together in the future. All because I wasn’t afraid to say hello.

How does this benefit me? Well, it was no effort to extend the favor, but the return of goodwill has the potential to be a windfall for me. Not only do I look like I have the pulse on what’s happening at the event, but I am seen as professionally generous and willing to work with others (this isn’t 100% always the case but still…). Also, when I want to work with either of them in the future (which could happen), that won’t be nearly so difficult because we have established a relationship.  This is fundamental for growth these days, in such times of flux.

No money down, big ROI.

Don’t Skip All the Business Seminars at a Conference…

…they can be where you get your best ideas to grow your brand or company. Even when it’s dry or not applicable, that’s when you daydream and may get a sudden bolt of inspiration.

Brainstorming: Prepping for a Quick Meeting with Potential Contacts

When preparing to meet with new potential clients, business partners, design professionals and their ilk, take time out while researching them to devise a list of questions that they can answer. It doesn’t need to be long (if you’re a natural conversationalist), but open ended questions – ones that can’t be answered with a simple “yes/no” reply, could lead the conversation into new and interesting directions.

Ask them about plans for the upcoming year, what their biggest professional successes were in the past year, and what challenges they may be facing next. The more you find out about them, the better insight you’ll have into the company – and the clearer the picture will be of whether or not they are right to partner with.

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