Sep 26, 2008

Inspriation from the Strangest Places

Last week I was at a Junior Chamber conference in Kelowna (where I bought a great piece of local art from a neat little store called Funktional). During the conference there was an Effective Public Speaking competition and the topic was 'getting inspiration from the strangest places'. During some of the speeches my mind wandered (says a lot for the speakers doesn't it? that's a whole other blog entry!) and started to think about where I get my inspiration from.

At my core, my most basic level of inspiration comes directly from my family. I have an over-active need to make them proud. I remember when I was in college out west and stumbling across a really old hand carved tomb stone that said his name, years and in quotes "..and he was a damn good Irishman." I think that sums it up, he made people proud of who he was. Now I may not want mine to read the same thing (since I'm not Irish) but I hope it will have the same impact.

When I moved passed my core I thought about my art. Why do I create? Why do I choose beach glass? I started jotting notes down and then I realized I was basically re-writing my artist statement. I remember when I first wrote my artist statement it seemed so daunting and difficult, but putting it in the context of inspiration it was all of a sudden easy.

So the next time you're asked to submit an artist statement, start with the question 'where does my inspiration come from?' You may even be surprised with your answer!

Sep 16, 2008

It's orientation time!

On Saturday, we had a new exchange student from Japan move in with us. Shizuka is here studying english for 4 months. The last few days not only has she had an orientation at Queen's but at our house as well. Everything from how to do laundry here, that we have a funny hot water tank in our house, what life with a 4 year old is like, the type of food we eat, etc. It's been fun for all of us, but it did make me relate it to my customers a bit.

When my customers buy a piece of jewellery from me, it is often their very first piece of beach glass jewellery. Which means they don't know how to take care of it; how to wash it, how often it can be worn, what if it tarnishes, etc. So I need to make sure to give them some sort of an orientation. Do you do this for your customers? Maybe with an FAQ page on your website, a little tip sheet given with each sale, or just by showing them during the sale?

The second thing it reminded me about was language barriers. In most cases, the challenge may not be as significant as Japanese to English; but often I hear artists (and other business owners for that matter) getting too technical when they talk to clients. Remember, you know the intricate details and 'lingo' associated with your industry but your customers may not, they may not know what those acronyms mean. You may just get the same crossed-eyed, squished up nose look I got from Shizuka when I said it was 'muggy out on the weekend'. So make sure you are speaking the same language as your customers, they'll appreciate it, Shizuka does.

Sep 5, 2008

First Day Jitters

Yesterday was my son's first day of school, JK. All summer both of us were looking forward to it so much. He was so excited about it until....the night before. That's when the nerves set in. "What if they make me play games I don't know?" What if no one wants to play with me?" "What if I can't reach the toilet paper?" (I know who knew he had so many worries?) So we talked them all through and other scenarios that might pop up too. We read the letter from the school and packed his backpack with everything on the list. We made up his lunch and labelled it all.

In the morning we went over the letter again, reviewed what was for snack and what was for lunch. We walked to school early so that it was less intimidating when we arrived and we could get the lay of the land first. He made friends instantly and all seemed to be good...until the bell rang and then the tears started. So we re-introduced in him to the teacher, went over his backpack and food again. Talked about what the day would be like and told him he could ask the teacher to call me at lunch if the day was still horrible. I never got the phone call, in fact when I picked him up at 330 he said he had a great day. It was harder than daycare because he had to learn more and play more, but he liked it.

This whole process reminds me of preparing for a new show. I am all excited leading up to and the night before I get nervous. "Do I have everything packed?" "Do I have enough stock?" "Do I have the right products for this show?" So I do the same things as I did with my son, review the confirmation letter, review what I packed and try and get a goodnight sleep.

The day of the show I try and go early to get the lay of the land. Introduce myself to the organizer. Give myself a time that I'm allowed to leave if I want (if this is possible with this kind of show).

The morale of the story is whether it's the first day of school or preparing for a show, preparation is key, but most important is to make sure you've packed some good snacks!