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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Holiday Bootcamp Week 5

I am reporting on the successes of Operation: Holiday Bootcamp.  After a few weeks of fairly diligent work and adherence to the goals of this project, I have fallen off the wagon.  I repeat.  I have fallen off the wagon.  Last week, I couldn't focus on anything other than piecework and am positively swimming in wire-wrapped bead links, nicely composed pendants, and organized projects from the week before.  Most of the stuff only needs to have a clasp added before it's finished.  This is all really unsettling.
I'm sorry to say this, but it seems my jewelry Muse has taken a hiatus and is sitting pretty in a pile of unfinished components, smirking smugly at me as I try to conjure up the desire to create.  I'm completely failing to finish anything.  It all seems so lackluster to me.  My Muse has fallen to sloth!  Sloth is the enemy and must be vanquished to maintain a good Protestant work ethic! 
Alas, while the muse of Jewelry is laying around, turning herself into a bloated walrus as she wallows in the supplies she holds so dear, my drawing Muse has stopped being so lazy and decided to allow me to churn out some rather dynamic sketches as well as some potential logo ideas.  Here's something I worked on last weekend.

I feel like the background is missing some depth... I'm still new to doing backgrounds, so I'm not entirely sure how to go about fixing it.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Organized

Sometimes, I could really, really just kick myself.  Last Saturday was one of those times.  The whole ordeal was...interesting.  Oh no, not interesting as in 'Oh wow!  So amazing!'.  It was interesting along the lines of 'Oh my God, WHAT have I done!??!'.  Only with more exclamation points.

Last Saturday... I opted to ... Alright, Moms take a deep breath before I say this.  Last Saturday I opted, quite freely to...
Clean.  My.  Room.
AHHH!!!! OH MY GOSH!  ...Yes.  I did it.

Well, part of it.  I only managed to clean the two worst 'corners'.  Do you know what I found?  Art supplies.  Sketches.  More art supplies.  Art supply residue (Read: the little fuzzies that drop off when you cut a piece of velvet).  Oh, did I say art supplies?

My room, usually looks like a craft store exploded in it.  There are random bits of cloth hanging out of bags, tons of unidentifiable UFOs, beads in cases and baggies, boxes of mailing supplies in case I actually have to mail something out to someone kind enough to buy something I post on Etsy or DA, and things I can't really even explain- like the really nice case for organizing beads...that had nothing in it but dust...or that pile of colorized paperclips shaped into ...non-paperclip shapes (Dog bones, cats, little swirlies... you get the picture).  I don't know why I have these things...or when I got them, they're just THERE.

So, I dumped out my art cart, drawer by drawer and found the most appalling things.  Gel pens I'd gotten in high school, markers that I hadn't known I'd had and subsequently bought MORE of ...dried out, the colored ink crusted all over them, and worst of all..BEADS.  I had beads EVERYWHERE.  It disgusted me.  When I got to cleaning out the art shelf, it was even worse.  I never knew that I'd had so many supplies, just rotting from disuse or just how much I'd mismanaged my space. 
Still, the hardest part was throwing it away.  I kept looking at markers and other things and saying 'I really could have used this...but now it's useless'.  It was even worse when it came to the beads, because no matter how many of one kind you have, you can, actually, still use them for something.  Still, it was disorganized and sometimes, taking the time to pick through and sort things out makes the whole process not worth it.

In the end, I came away with a new motto!  "If it's not in the right spot, I don't have a proper place for it, and the likelihood of me using it in the next year is lower than 40%, GET RID OF IT!"

On that note, does anyone want to chat about buying a Sega Game Gear and some games?  What about some Inuyasha and Sailor Moon stickers?  Dragon Ball Z Poster?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Creative Process and Motivation

The Creative Process and Motivation
Everyone’s creative process is different.  Each person goes through their own little set of rituals and rigors when they decide to give birth to an idea bouncing around in their head.  But they always have to have the drive to do it.  A lot of normal people look for motivation from outside sources.  But that’s not quite right.  Motivation, comes from within, my little potato dumplings.  Your motivation is your reason for acting, your purpose and your drive. 
Most things we do are done out of necessity.  For example, if we didn’t need to work for our necessaries, we’d bum around all day.  Since we do have to work for those things, we are driven to find a steady source of income in order to survive.  For hobbies, that whole drive thing is a bit different.  It’s not one of the usual needs.  It’s the bastard child of our species’ intelligence, creativity, curiosity, persistence, and a need for self-actualization.  …Thinking about it, perhaps ‘bastard child’ wasn’t the best terminology, since puns turn the whole thing into an orgy of abstract ideas.  ANYWAY, for me, everything starts with a desire- motivation and the creative process.

Stage 1: Desire

Whatever it is you plan on doing, you’ve got to want to do it.  If it’s jewelry making, you’ve got to want that necklace you saw in the catalogue and you’ve got to doubly want to be the one who brings it into existence.  Once you desire it enough, you’ll get the drive to do it.  And if your desire is independent from wanting pats on the back or to be acknowledged for what you can do, you’ll push it to the furthest reaches of your own imaginings, success or failure.

Stage 2: Curiosity

In this stage, I’m usually curious about what I’ve seen.  I want to touch it, poke it, taste it and smell it- that is if it’s edible, but usually this process just involves poking.  A key part of curiosity is satisfying it.  That means, reading about the topic of interest, studying it, and researching it down to the last basic detail.

Stage 3: Dabbling (What's down there?)

Here, I find myself making shy attempts at performing the basic actions required of the interesting topic.  It’s never anything big, just using the notes I took while researching and applying it to one or two instances.  An example would be baking cookies from scratch.  I started with the most basic recipe I could find, sugar cookies.  Butter, sugar, vanilla flavoring, flour and a pinch of salt.  Sugar cookies.  That’s it.

Stage 4: Experimenting

Once I’ve got that basic recipe/procedure/technique down, I get a little saucy, because I bore easily.  Why should I ONLY make sugar cookies?  What if I want Peanut Butter cookies?  Or chocolate chip cookies?  Or hell, what if I want smoked habanero and chocolate cookies?!  Yeah, that’s where experimenting comes in.  It marries stage3 with that need to be creative and sometimes, it produces beautiful results.  Other times, it leaves you with little burnt lumps of something that turns to powder in your mouth.

Stage 5: Tweaking

Once you recover from that exploding ball of hellfire you gave birth to in the experimenting phase, you start to tweaking it.  That requires careful examination of what you did and developing or finding a means to keep it from happening again.  If your cookies burnt everyone’s tonsils out on Christmas day, you must gather the courage to go back and redo those cookies with a bit less habanero, or maybe, no habanero at all.

Stage 6: Give Yourself a Moment of Glory

What, you thought that you weren’t entitled to a little bit of gloating?  Well, you are.  Gloat a little.  Say to yourself ‘This is the thing I created!  I did this!  I am AWESOME!’ whilst cackling like a mad scientist.  All that is horribly important too.

Stage 7: Add Some Spice

After you’ve become savvy with your process and got a tried and true thing, it’s time to diversify.  Go back to stage 2 and work your way back down here.  I usually do it until I feel that I’ve expanded my skillset to a point where I can’t really expand it too much more.  Soon, you’ll be creating new designs, tinkering with physics (There is some of that involved when you’re making jewelry, believe it or not), and making some mind blowing discoveries (maybe not, but it will still be pretty durn cool).

What’s this?  I didn’t tell you what motivates me?  Honestly, I don’t think that information would help you very much.  I’m not even totally sure what motivates me, myself.  The desire and the drive to create is just there.  When I get some energy, supplies and some time, it takes off like a rocket.  That’s the thing with motivation, it MUST come from within.  If your motivation doesn’t come from inside of you, your creative process will not survive passed dabbling.  Finding a hobby you love and can live for is a trial and error process.  The important thing is to experiment and try and when you find something that you enjoy tangling with more than once, something that you can be proud of even the smallest achievements in, you don’t need to know anything about my creative process, you’ll make your own.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Holiday Boot-camp- Week 3

So, this is week…3, or something, of my holiday boot-camp extravaganza and already I’ve shown myself to be a pitiful soldier.  My deadlines are becoming optional instead of mandatory.  I’ve even started posting my blog later and later in the week.  But don’t worry.  The boot-camp has punitive torture for that, like the ‘empty wallet with nothing to show for it’ torture and the ‘Jabba, the Hutt sized piles of supplies strategically placed to trip and injure you’ torture.  Believe you, me, these are tortures you never get used to.  I mean, every almost-blind person needs to have a certain chaotic order in their sleeping space so that they can navigate it in the dark, right?  Right?  Helloooooooo… Well, I suppose you’re all busy with your boot-camp duties too.  At least, I hope that’s the reason why I haven’t gotten any comments. 

Anyway, I’m not going to go into agonizing detail about the horrible setbacks.  But, for the sake of sating your curiosity, let’s just say that my haphazard plans and schedules bit me in the butt.  Tests, fashion shows, bumming around on the interwebs instead of watching a butt-load of Attenborough dvds for my ANTH class, and not enough sleep… they were all contributors.

 (Ain’t that a nifty graphic?  Made it in that, there, new version of paint.)

Production Goals:  Each week, I am required to make at least 5 pairs of earrings, 3 bracelets, 3 Joolry Necklaces and 2 ‘Premium’ Necklaces.  If the preceding number of each item cannot be attained or maintained, I am required to spend an approximate time equivalent of 10 hours and 45 minutes (per week, ya’ll) devoted exclusively to the creation of pieces to fill the inventory by and for the holiday buying season.  In the event of a test or a paper (5 pages or more) the production rate will be halved to accommodate necessary study times. 

Planning Goals:  Each week, I will devote, at least, 2 hours to planning designs for production during the following week.  Planning the design not only involves making the design itself, but also determining what materials will be needed, procuring those materials, and determining if the item is something that can be duplicated with relative ease.  The degree to which an item can be duplicated determines its premium, so this is all very important.   As planning may occur anywhere at anytime, I am required to make a note of these plans in a specific notebook before my noodle-strainer of a memory loses the idea.  Once the item is complete, I am required validate its quality and take pictures of it (if it meets my standards).  Once the product has been named, photographed and priced, it is to be catalogued on deviantart and in the portfolio. 

Maintenance Goals:  I am required to conduct maintenance on both my supply inventory and product inventory.  This includes taking stock of supply levels (Monthly) and keeping weekly updates to the product inventory.  I am required to properly polish products upon their completion and package them in a resealable plastic baggy to prevent tarnishing before placing them in the inventory box.  I will develop labels for each item to enable me to tell at a glance what is in which baggy and also keep things organized.  In the near future, I would like to have a better organizing system, but for now, just improve on the one I’ve got.

Supply Goals:  In addition to cataloguing my supplies, I will also keep a tight hold on my purse strings.  It is important that I cease the financially detrimental habit of impulse buying and ‘collecting’ supplies.  Supplies are meant to be used, consumed, or, if they don’t meet my standards, disposed of.  In addition to this, I will acquire and maintain ‘staple supplies’ and keep in my largest supply box and finding bags.  Staple supplies will include beads catalogued by shape and color, chains, and findings.  More distinctive beads and findings will be kept in smaller cases.  Damaged or unusable beads and findings will be thrown away as soon as they are located, no saving.

Pricing Goals (met):  I will develop and use a standardized pricing model for my products.  This model must be able to cover the cost of materials and pay me for my time.  I will not jeopardize my own financial future by being nice and only pricing things at material cost.  This is a hobby, yes, but it also opens options to grow and expand financially in the near future.  I will treat it like a job.   In accordance with this model, I will go back and reconfigure the prices for old items in the inventory to fit this pricing structure- OR begin to recycle them as ‘free gifts’ for people who have spent $200 or more.  I will make my pricing structure public knowledge in an effort to rid myself of guilt when people complain about something being ‘oh so expensive!’.

Normal Wholesale Price Model for Jewelry:  (Materials Costs + Labor Costs + Over Head Costs + Profit mark-up) x 2
My temporary pricing model: Materials Cost + $10.50/work hour + Overhead Costs + 20% profit mark-up

Profits will be used to build the business (getting a tax ID, getting a license, creating checking and savings accounts), hopefully getting to a level where hiring additional help is possible.

Blogging Goals (met):  I will update my blog each week with at least one typed page in the following format: Arial, 12pt font, single spacing.  I will include pictures for emphasis and ‘spice’. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Holiday Bootcamp

A couple of weeks ago, I got a secret message from, a call to arms, the draft letter for Holiday Bootcamp! 

At first, I tried to 'dodge the draft', ignoring the summons to 'battle' because I had other commitments that are more important: school, work, church... Adding to the list would just be too much!  I couldn't sign up for 'Holiday Bootcamp'.  I barely have enough time for all my other hobbies like..reading non-school books, watching the webisodes of my favorite animes and documentaries and horror movies, reading manga and writing stories!  Holiday Bootcamp would just be too much!  It would kill me!  Oh my aching schedule! 

But then one day I got up the courage- or curiosity- to it.  Just once.  Let me tell you something... it blew my addled little mind!  Everything is intricately structured, there are lists and schedules and all kinds of hints and tips laid out like a Christmas feast for anyone brave enough to take advantage them.  The clever snakes toyed with my curiosity!  They knew that I wasn't like Eve, stupid enough to go after a plain apple.  Oh... but they bated the trap well.  They dipped my apple in caramel, chocolate and peanuts.  It went downhill from there.

I suddenly found myself inspired, almost to a point of madness. Tons of sellers on Etsy are having little 'Pre-holiday' sales, tossing out glittering treats of jewels and precious metals, candies and fairytale lures for a fraction of the normal price.  And with a mind structured like a bluejay, I cried "SHINIES!!!!" and plunged right into this hellish cycle of plotting, creating and feeling utterly bereft when the materials all run out.  It leaves me feeling validated and...fulfilled, the rush of creating something sparkling and new from something old or broken has had me humming and singing made-up songs for the last week or so.  And now, now I can't go back to 'civilian life'!  Not EVER! 

And I can do this Holiday Bootcamp thing!  I can... I've seen myself do it.  Just yesterday, I created 19 pairs of earrings, 6 leather/velvet/button hairclips, and 6 rings and planned out 5 fancy-style bead-woven and filigree slider bracelets... in less than 2 hours.  It feels good, but it's not enough.  It will never be enough!  I must have MORE! 
And so, I challenge you, the readers to join Holiday Bootcamp with me!

1. Take the pledge:  Number 0: The Pledge
2. Construct your Mission statement
3. Join the Bootcamp on Facebook
4. Find a Bootcamp Buddy
5. Read the Articles:  Number 1: Success tips, Number 2: Merchandising, Number 3: Pricing, Number 4: The Art of Bundling, Number 5: Discounting
6. List and Examine Your Most Popular Items- For yourself
7. Brainstorm Something New
8. Construct a schedule and attack plan
9. Get your rear in gear!

More updates later.  Until then, stay frosty men!  And check for updates:   My Deviantart.