Reflection and Moving Forward

Holiday season is here! In fact, Christmas is next week, so we’re actually at the end of the season. We still have a few weeks in 2018 to go, but with the holidays and some traveling that we plan to do before the year is out, I think now is as good a time as any to reflect on the year and plan for the next.

We have been really busy with our day jobs through November and December because of the season, and we have not had a lot of time to put towards the shop. But! We have had the opportunity to evaluate what we’re doing a little better and make some decisions about where we’re taking the shop and what we’re trying to do.

First off, we are aware we have not really been able to put a ton of time and energy into the shop this year, despite what we may have wanted to do starting at the beginning of the year. Making artwork takes a long time and we just haven’t sat down and committed to making pieces to sell. OK, let’s be honest, we (mostly me) haven’t even made the time to properly unpack the studio room after our move in June. It would be a great space to use, if it was clean and not a jumble of things thrown there to “deal with later”. There’s no excuse, it’s just not a fun chore and the longer we’ve been in the apartment, the less motivated we are to fix it up.

We’ve had time to sit and talk some about platform. So far, Etsy has really not worked well for us, and I think it’s because of the products we’re selling. Fine art has a market, but I’m not sure that Etsy is that market, even just for publicity. We have so far not been very successful with the site at all for the print shop. For my kid’s toys shop, TheWingedWhale, it works great; but that shop is more in line, I think, with the things people go on Etsy to find: crafts, knits, tangible things you can use right away. While there is a fine art market on Etsy, I don’t think it’s the right platform for us.

Of course, if Etsy doesn’t work for us, what alternative can we use? We’re definitely not planning to just let the shop go, so we have to find some way to sell our pieces if we continue and have decided what we’re doing doesn’t work.

We’re still planning to talk to a few locations that we frequent about selling our prints locally. We have a few coffee shops, gift stores, and galleries in town here we could talk to about selling our artwork. Lots of the places in town here feature local artists, and really we just need to reach out. We’d still like to put together a proper portfolio with some small sample prints to advertise our art, with the promise to supply small or larger pieces if the shops will take us up. It’s a scary thing to do, and would require a lot of cold calling, and holiday season is perhaps not the time to go about it, but ultimately I really believe that would pay off.

Another plan we’ve had in the works for some time is to apply our artwork to physical products to sell. We want to be able to offer our art as shirts, mugs, mouse pads, phone cases, etc. We have been searching for a way to do so without investing more than we can afford in stocking the items. Eric found one! The site is called RedBubble. It takes artwork and transforms it into clothing, cases, stickers, and more traditional prints like greeting cards or wall art. As of now, we don’t have the shop up and running on the site, but Eric has been working to get our artwork up and we’ll have links soon.

Additionally, we each have our own literary works we want to develop, write, illustrate and ultimately get out there for other people. Again, we haven’t been able to set aside as much productive time with these projects as we hopes we would this year, but we have a better idea of where we’re going with the story lines and just need to work some dedicated time into our schedules to get them on paper and ready to go. I think we’re close to being able to achieve that though, and once we start working on them and get into a rhythm, I think we’ll find everything fall together more easily than expected.

So! for the future of our art, we have a vague battle plan emerging for 2019:

  1. Finish unpacking from our move so we can actually use our space as planned.
  2. Put together a physical art portfolio to put energy into marketing ourselves locally. (You can find Eric’s online portfolio here.)
  3. Get a RedBubble shop up and functional.
  4. Generally set aside more time to work with our art and stories.

As always, I’m looking forward to what the future brings, and I’m sure that we can achieve our goals if we prioritize them correctly. I think we’re in a better position than we were last year, and as life shakes out and we work through more decisions, I think we’ll only continue to improve.


Injury News

Things have been pretty hectic for us the last few months with a string of responsibilities, jobs, school, some injuries and getting sick. As always the lead up to Christmas means a lot of stress, especially in our retail jobs.

Back at the beginning of August, I fell in the back room at my job and sprained my left wrist catching myself. That healed up after some care, a splint, and training myself to use my right hand (dominant hand) to actually do more than write. I learned pretty quickly that I use my left for nearly everything, and it was a long process to reteach myself to carry things or pour things with my right hand. But! eventually that healed up.

Fast forward to the end of November. My dad and his partner decided to make another trip out to Taiwan to visit some friends and see her family. Dad flew out first, meaning I had to drive his partner to the airport for her flight. Fine, I agreed to do it. Her flight was early in the morning on a Thursday, and you have to arrive at the airport a few hours earlier than your flight, and it took about forty five minutes to get to the airport from their house. So I drove down Wednesday night after an eight hour shift, and we were going to leave at 3:30AM to get her there on time. She’s injured her neck which restricts her movement and she can’t carry anything heavy, so I carried her bags out and threw them in the car. In doing so, I re-injured my left arm.

So now, I’ve had the injury a little over two weeks. The pain is in the middle of my forearm, especially when I make any sort of twisting motion. It is not my wrist again, which I had sprained in August, but I’m wearing the splint to try to keep off it anyway. It has been slowly getting better. I can carry things with that arm now, and I’m capable of a wider range of motion again. The thing is, any twisting of my forearm still hurts, and it hurts about the same as the initial injury. This leads me to believe I pulled a ligament on my ulna or potentially even hairline fractured it, but I’m stubborn so I’m still treating it like a sprain. I said I’d go get it checked out again if it didn’t feel better by last Wednesday, but now I’m just back to trying to mediate it myself, and haven’t seen anyone at the clinic.

The injury made the last couple weeks of my class pretty stressful, on top of how it effected my ability to work efficiently at work. Headed into the end of the semester and the holiday season, neither of these effects have worked out very well for me. I finished out my class with some clumsy signing. I’ve gradually been able to do more at work, especially with help of Tylenol while the shop has started booming with all those people who told us throughout the year that they’d be back for Christmas presents.

I’m getting pretty tired of wearing the splint (which smells like a nice mix of spices from work) but the few days I took it off because I was sick of wearing it, I managed to twist my arm again. Most notably, I took it off to sign my final exam story for my ASL course, and halfway through gestured with my arm to meet pretty sharp pain after a day or two of it being mostly ok. (You can see me wince in the video.) Ironically, the story I chose to tell for my final was how I had sprained my ankle when I was a kid.

Eric got pretty sick at the start of December too. He seemed to have the stomach flu on top of a cold, though he never throws up, so it’s a little uncertain. It took him out of the game for a week or so while we tried to kick that in the butt. He missed work, felt super light headed, and had a fairly upset stomach for days. It was a rough week, and he has informed me he has no more desire to eat soup. But, he did eventually get over it and headed back to work and has been mostly fine. Eric wakes up at 3:00AM to get to work by 5:00AM, and then has to deal with my having energy and wanting to have discussions super late at night and coming to bed at 11:00PM, which I’m sure doesn’t help.

Anyway, we got him mostly threw the worst of it, just in time for me to catch it and be a big sick baby for the next week and a half. I went into work, since I only work three days a week, but I couldn’t stay for my full shift because I have been simply exhausted. I got over the stomach symptoms pretty early on and the whole thing has just become a nasty cold. On top of the arm injury, it’s made me pretty useless for work during a time that I really need to be counted on to come in so my boss isn’t working all hours. I’m his only employee, so it’s kind of important.

He’s had me come in an hour later than normal for the weekend, then I stay and work as long as I can, which both days this weekend meant I stuck around until around 3:30PM. So, I’m looking at a typical 18 hour weekend of work, brought down to 7 or 8 hours total, which is rough. And with my re-injured arm I have difficulty doing a lot of the fine-motor-skill work I need to be able to do for a shift as well. And now, a week out from Christmas, I really need to be at the top of my game so my boss doesn’t burn out.

So that’s where we’ve been for the last few months. Hopefully we’re back to full power soon.