Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chester is going to Hollywood!

Well I knew it'd be a matter of time before one of my monsters became a famous actor in Hollywood! :) Chester's going to be a background character in the show Shark Bites. A show about a guy and his plush shark friend roommate.

The first season doesn't have an official start date just yet, but shooting starts September 8th. I'll keep you all posted when the first episode airs! I'll be embedding a link on my website and blog, and probably add photos as well. :)

In the meantime, let's wish Chester a farewell, and happy trails to North Hollywood for his debut in his very first web series!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Funky Friday Favorites: Kaydi-did Art

Happy Friday everyone!

I'd like you all to welcome this week's artist, Katie Adams of Kaydi-did.

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Visit her: Website • Store • Twitter • Facebook

Q & A

1. Please introduce yourself and your blog/ shop. 

My name is Katie Adams, and I am the person behind Kaydi-did. I am an artist and illustrator in St. Louis, MO. 

2. What got you started making illustrations and other creations? 

I have always had an interest in art making. I would draw random things as a kid, but my favorite thing to do was color. I loved coloring books. I also loved Disney movies. Pretty much have all of them on VHS (yeah..old school!). For awhile, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I just knew it was something creative. So I got my Associates in Fine Arts since I was still figuring things out. However, Fine Arts just wasn't for me. I really wanted to draw and create stories with unique characters that I created. That is why I ended up going for my Bachelors in Illustration. I learned a lot during my time in college, and I didn't actually have my break through until my last year and last semester there. Kind of sucks thinking about it now, how much I struggled. But I don't regret any of it. I struggled off and on for several years with my art. It wasn't until just a few years ago when things started to click for me. That was when I started creating my characters which you can find on my website. 

3. What made you decide to sell them?

I started selling them because I wanted to share my character creations with others. I figured what better way to do that then put them on products and make prints of them. I want to start my own creative business. I would love to have my own cute little boutique shop of products that feature my art and prints.  

4. Where did you come up with your blog/shop name from? 

Well, this is an interesting story. Kaydi-did comes from two different things. Kaydi actually comes from one day where I had to call a tow-truck company to tow my car off the campus lot and he misspelled my name (Katie) to Kaydi.  I liked the unique spelling of it, I decided to start using it. The 'Did' part comes from my childhood, where I would get blamed for many things. Anything bad happened, Katie did it.  So I decided to put them together to make a cute short name. Kaydi-did. Because I actually did all the artwork and am proud. :) 

5. Where do you find your inspiration? 

Oh, gosh. From everywhere! The internet is amazing for this, and also bad at the same time. So many artists I love and admire. Much of my inspiration comes from movies I watched, books I have read, or images I have seen on the web. A lot of my characters just come from who knows where. Usually I am doing something mundane when all of a sudden I have a strange idea about a character I want to do. 

6. So I know you started selling your stuff on Etsy, how is that going for you?  

Etsy is going okay. Since certain holidays have come and gone it is a bit slow. Also the fact that I am unable to afford new products in my store have slowed things down too. I do have a Cafepress site though, in case someone is unable to find what they are looking for on my Etsy site. I did have a decent amount of sales thanks to an awesome person who helped me and made me realize what I was doing wrong. Thanks, Melanie. :) 

(Isn't she sweet? You're very welcome Katie!) :D

7. Do you sell anything besides illustrations? 

I sell my illustrations on products if that is what you mean. I sell prints of my work, but I also do have infant, kids, and adult clothing. Most of those are on my Cafepress site. I do also have other products as well on that site, such as buttons, magnets, iPhone cases, etc. 

8. Any words of advise for people who want to start illustrating?

Don't give up. I graduated in a year where job competition was very rough. Sadly, I didn't have a job lined up for after college. It is tough out there in the world, and those who keep at it are sure to find something. Whether it be at an actual company or your own freelance business. If you are wanting to do freelance, I recommend finding out as much information as possible. Listen to podcast of other artist who have done what you are trying to do. Freelance is tough to do, but if you have the time and the determination you can do it. Just remember, everyone makes mistakes in the beginning. You just have to remember to learn from them. 
9. Can you name 3 of your favorite bloggers or creators? 

Picking favorites is always hard for me, because I don't want to leave anyone out. I don't really follow many blogs, too hard to keep up with. Plus, I don't have Blogger.  Much of my following is on Facebook & Twitter. I will have to say artist Greenbeanbaby is one. Her cut paper illustrations were a huge inspiration to me, and when I decided to start freelancing she was a great help. An awesome artist and person. Another artist I follow is Megan Lara. The way she is able to keep making so much awesome artwork is inspiring. I would love to be that fast with my art some day. Not sure if this is allowed, but my last artist I pick is Curious Little Bird. :)  A great crafter of little monsters, which I would love to own one eventually. Plus, the blog and FB page usually have great business tips. Another awesome artist who has helped me along the way. 

(Awww, shucks! Thanks for the mention Katie!)

10. I have to ask one last question. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with your little business? 

Oh gosh! I have actually thought about this a lot, hoping maybe one day it will happen. I would be able to focus on my business fully. Right now I am trying to juggle working on my art, trying to have a business, and working retail. I'm also trying to have a social life in there as well. Having a million dollars would allow me to not have to work retail to pay student loans and bills. I would be able to fully  focus on making art and making my business what I want it to be. All my debts would be paid off, and it would be amazing.  I would probably buy a little boutique type shop and have my studio in there as well as sell my work. Probably hire a person or two to help run the shop part. Owning a small boutique shop/studio would be a dream come true.  

Visit her: Website • Store • Twitter • Facebook

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Thanks so much Katie! It was wonderful getting to know you! I wish you all the successes, and send you tons of positive vibes!

Don't forget to visit her links, and share the love!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Update on the happenings for Curious Little Bird

Today is August  22nd, and I've had my very last class of the entrepreneur program with SAJE, here in Montreal. We had our business presentations as our final project. Of course, I wasn't as comfortable as I hoped, but I did my best. I did get some positive responses, and not many negative (which is good). :)  It's always nice to get more positive than negative. During today's full day of presentations, I decided to draw. My goal was to finish an entire sheet of paper full of sketches. I had no idea by starting a monster (far right side), that it'd actually change into a sea scene. I love challenging myself, and I did this entire drawing with a ball point pen, however, I started around 10 am, and I didn't finish it until about 4 pm. I think my favourite character is the rabid looking monster on the right side, and the jellyfish in the middle. :)

I can't believe how long I've been in this program. The day I got accepted, was November 2011, almost  a year ago. Well actually it was a 9 month long program, and a lot of work. I have to thank them for accepting me, giving me free business classes, and my counsellors for pushing me to go further than I thought. In 6 months I've more than tripled the amount of actual stores, and well, everything has been great. I can imagine where I'd be if it wasn't for that program. I'd probably still be making monsters while working full time (like so many people). The fact that I was already unemployed helped me to push me to start my own business. To take that plunge!! No one knows how hard it is to run your own business until you actually do it. I know many people who want to do it, but it's always good to talk to people who own their own businesses, and really talk to them about their struggles when they started. A start up is hard. Trust me. Although I love working for myself, and I find it highly gratifying to know that every penny that I make is going to me, and me alone, I have to say that it's highly stressful doing everything yourself, as well as the discipline. If you think about it, we grew up with someone telling us what to do every day, and then you change that to you being your own boss. Way harder than it seems.  But in the past 9 months I've finally found some sort of rhythm that works for me! It's not a 9 to 5 schedule, but close enough.

From tomorrow until the end of December it's going to be l'enfer (or hell in English). Hahahaha. I'm kidding. The business is going fabulously!

I'm also thinking of redesigning my logo. I'm not getting the impression that people are associated the bird in my business card with my monsters:


So I've decided to redesign it, so the business name is more condensed, and instead of a bird, perhaps I can do a sketched monster?

This is what I have so far, it's my napkin logo...

I've been thinking that a nice old fashioned font would be great, and a sketch of my monster! Thoughts???

Well that's that. Have a great rest of the week, and stay tuned on Friday when I have a new artist feature post! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Going behind the scenes: August 14

There have been some new developments this past month (my favourite word this week).  :)

I've made my first ever tote bag with a furry monster appliqué on it, and Carol in the UK got it! She's the happiest customer today!!

Carol posted this awesome photo on her Twitter account

Here's a closer look of the bag itself! This will be the hit of all of the UK!!

In other news, I have a new client to add to my list. Fleurs et p'tits caprices bought a nice odd number of monsters for their flower slash handmade boutique shop in Maniwaki, Québec. Here's a view of their shop:

Right there in the middle you can see some stuffed toys. Clearly my competitors are there first, but that means it's a good place to sell! :)

I've also been sought out by an online toy store in Australia, and I'm waiting for their confirmation of a wholesale order. It's not yet set in stone, and according to the world clock it's barely morning there right now. It was evening when he wrote me this morning. :)  It's so backwards! Hahaha

Last Tuesday I sent out an email to the head of the buying department for Chapters and Indigo. For those of you not familiar with this name, it's a Canadian bookstore chain spanning across Canada. I've emailed their buyer of the lifestyle department, but haven't heard a word from them in a week. I suppose I could call them and follow up. :) My business counsellor tells us half the time the reason we don't solicit stores is because we're afraid they'll say yes. In this case, he's correct. The reason I haven't called them sooner is because I'm scared they'll buy lots. I mean, the money would be awesome, but that would mean for me hiring on at least 2 full time people. That's something I'm unable to do just yet, no space. However, I'm focusing on the problem and not the solution! :) I will call them... soon.... give me time to build up the courage.

 Today I sent out a new package to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. These monsters are on their way to fill up the shelves of Dots and Loops Handmade! There will be so many more happy people once these little guys get all adopted.

In other news, I have a craft fair at the NDG community centre happening on August 19th, just 5 days away. I believe I will pass on it, because I haven't yet built up my inventory for Comiccon, and I've applied for the September Puces Pop which happens to be the following weekend. I'm not saying I'll get accepted, but I have been once, so I can't see why they wouldn't accept me a second time, right? Besides, the event in Montreal (NDG) is only expecting 200 people, and I could use the day to catch up. Sometimes slow events are more of a waste of time than anything. Perhaps if I had someone helping me sew, it wouldn't be so bad, but I've learned my lesson... As a full time entrepreneur selling artistic products, you can't do every single event. It's always best to choose the events that will bring you the highest payback. If you work 6-7 hours, and your time (say it's $12/hr for example) multiplied by 6 isn't higher or equal to the amount of money you made (after you paid your table), then it was clearly a waste of time. The point of these events is to pay off the table, and make more than that in sales. If you're barely breaking even, it's not worth it. I only attended one event this year where I couldn't pay off my table at all. I know it's not my product, but the location and the kind of people that came. That makes a big difference too!

Also, Comiccon is coming!! It's exactly one month away! Check out who's going to be there as special guests!? I wonder if being in the artist alley, I'll get a free pass to the whole event?? I'd LOVE to meet Patrick Stewart!!!

 I am so not prepared (inventory-wise) for that. I've been under pressure by my entrepreneurship program, and my counsellor to continue soliciting stores. I'm currently up to 11 right now, and if this Australian online shop agrees to buy, then that'll make 12. I haven't yet finished the 11th store's order. Thankfully the batch of monsters I was working on last week for myself and Dots & Loops happened to fall into the same ones this store ordered, so yay.

For the next month I'll be working for the new stores, and Comiccon (and possible Puces Pop), oh and of course for the Christmas rush that will be upon us soon enough!

Lastly, I know it's not Christmas, but I have a great deal going on in my store right now!  Some of my limited edition monsters will no longer be available soon, so it's best to think about what you'd like now, rather than watch them disappear forever!

Here's a list of monsters that most likely will NOT be available at Christmas time (starting as early as October):







To grab any of these cutie pies, you can stop by my shop here: www.curiouslittlebird.ca

Until next time!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to price your creations to make a living...

There are a lot of articles out there that talk about pricing crafts, but not many go into details about how to actually do it.

I've seen lots of creations out there (mostly on Etsy), that I find under priced for the amount of work put  into it, and I think personally that these people are not so concerned with making a living from their craft. It's very highly possible that they're doing this as a hobby, and if that's the case, then that's fine. But when someone is trying to make a business out of their craft, and wants to do it full time, there comes a time when you have to evaluate your pricing strategy. For example, if I were still selling my monsters with the prices I had in 2011 ($28 for a furry monster), yes I may have had more sales than today, but I have to work almost twice as hard to make the same amount of money as today. To be honest, last year's prices didn't cover my time and I was also just starting out. When I was already a month into my entrepreneurship program, they told us that if we have low prices that aren't properly priced to cover our expenses, time and even a profit, it will be a lot harder to raise them in the future than to do it right now. They explained to us that customers have a harder time dealing with a huge price increase than a price decrease. That's why in January 2012, my furry monsters went up to $44. I took into account the time and my hourly rate. Yes, I was worried that I'd lose customers, but I think because of the new price, I am respected more because my work is reflected in my price (or vice versa).

This blog post is going to break down how to properly price your work so that you can pay for your supplies, time, and even make a profit.

I want to start with this "Pricing Your Craft Worksheet - Part 1" file I found on the Louisiana Voices website. This is the key to pricing your stuff appropriately so you can start making money from your work. This is what I used to get the right price. :)

(the following text is directly copied from the Louisiana Voices website, and can be read here:)

After completing the Blank Pricing Your Craft Worksheet, read about the two topics below and answer the questions as best you can. Then use all of the information from the two worksheets to write a short essay that explains
why you are making this craft,
what factors influenced your decision for choosing the costs you would use,
what your final price will be.
1. Prices need to please both the buyer and the seller.

Even if you have accurately figured the Wholesale Cost of your craft item, the price may not be appealing to you or it may appear to be too high to attract buyers. These are some of the things you need to consider:

• Do you want to work for minimum wage? If not, you can change your hourly wage.

• Even with minimum wage, has your price for one item priced you out of the market?

• Is it too expensive? Will people pay that price for the item?

• If it is too expensive, can you change your materials or methods so that your cost is lower?

• Does changing your materials or methods lower the quality? People often will pay more for a handcrafted item of high quality than a manufactured item of mediocre quality.

• Have you gained a reputation for producing your craft? If so, you may be able to ask higher prices.

• Consider the example provided. The quality of duck decoys can range widely. Duck decoys can be "toy" quality and cost a few dollars. The price of more serious carvings can range from $50 to $10,000. Methods, quality, and the reputation of the carver are some of the factors in determining the price. Other types of crafts do not command such high prices and are not as appreciated by the general public, so it is unrealistic for the craftsperson to expect the public to pay the price determined by the formula.

2. Is money the only motive for producing craft items?

Some craftspeople are hobbyists rather than professional craftspeople and do not rely on their craft work to make a living. They are not so focused on the money as enjoying creating the work. This can be true of traditional, revivalist, or contemporary craftspeople. They may not need to follow this formula so carefully, but they do need to decide whether they want to be paid adequately for their work. These are some of the things you need to consider:

• Do you work on your craft item as a hobby rather than to make money?

• If you should sell your craft items, do you want to make a profit or merely cover your wholesale costs?

• Would you consider the costs you incur for making this item as recreational expenses, similar to expenses for going to a movie or dinner, or going to a concert?

• Would you consider it enough of a reward if you gained a reputation as being one of the best in your field?

This is a good starting point, and what I would suggest from here is if you have Excel, to create yourself a new document with all the equations worked out, so you can just punch in a dollar amount, and the file will do the adding/multiplying etc for you. Below is an example of an Excel file that I have for my products. I have one tab for each different price point.

Sorry if some of it is in French. The important stuff is in English.

I want you all to know that I didn't build this file, and it's set up for Quebec's taxes etc. I suppose if you wanted something similar to this in your own province/country, you could go to your local office that helps self-employed people, and maybe someone there can help you with the Excel sheet. OR... you take the Louisiana voices file, and modify that. Essentially it comes to the exact same retail price at the end, except you don't have a complicated file.

What's important for you are the following points:

1- Cost of raw materials  (fabric, buttons, thread, stuffing, etc.)

2- Hours per unit (How many hours does it take you to do ONE of whatever you make?)

3- Hourly rate (how little or much are you willing to work for? If you want your work to be priced as low as possible, you may have to work for minimum wage).

4- Overhead costs (how much do you spend on electricity, water, heating, cost of your apt/house).

5- Wholesale price (this is the price of everything above, minus the profit. At this point you've paid off your materials, hourly rate, and overhead without making a dime. This is also the price stores will buy your product, or consignment price (if they do 50/50)). **If a store does 60/40 (you get 40%) on consignment, then you need to increase your prices so you aren't selling at a loss. There's nothing worse than being in business for yourself, and not making any money, but losing it! You'll never make a living that way.

6- Retail price (this is your price in store, and the little profit you're making from your work. If you sell your work for $50, that's your retail price. In this case, your wholesale price should be $25.)

• • • • • • •

I hope this helps you to price your work according to your needs! Good luck! :)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Funky Friday Favorites: Johan Thörnqvist

Today's artist isn't going to be interviewed, rather I'm going to talk to you about a brand new artist that I discovered on the web while I was surfing through Stumbleupon.

Photo: Copyright of Johan Thörnqvist

Visit his: Website • Interview

The artist's name is Johan Thörnqvist and he's from Sweden.  Here's a translated portion of his interview:

My name is when Johan Thörnqvist, I'm 26 years old and live in Helsingborg. I have long worked graphically and got my first job right after high school. Then I made websites, logos and printed materials for local businesses. Then followed studies at Hyper Island internship in London and then a job as a web creator at an advertising agency. After a couple of years I got sick of being locked and not having time for my own projects, so I quit my job and started my own business. One of those own projects - the only thing that really got something with - was to teach me to draw. I bought a cheap tablet and started up. Even then, I had much free since I was a lot of craftsmanship and are used to working with ideas and form.
Ok, so that's not the best translation from Google Translate, but you get the idea. Here's another person that doesn't like working for the man, but for his own means and quits the 'system' to do his own thing!
He recently posted his I only used photos taken with my phone for these: It's basically not so fantastic phone photos that he's drawn over using his drawing tablet. I think this is genius! Totally inspiring. 

Here are a few of his works:

I think I like this one...

... until I saw this one!

I think I love this one the most. It shows how creative he is with every day objects.

I'm so glad to have 'stumbled upon' Johan's work! I guess that's what Stumbledupon is all about. I've bookmarked Johan's site for the future. :) 

Visit his: Website • Interview

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NOTE: All photos are copyright of Johan Thörnqvist. I do not own these photos, however I got explicit permission from Johan to publish them. Please do not download these photos without  permission from Johan.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Street Art and more..

I wanted to share with you some street art that I absolutely love. If you're ever on St-Laurent street in Montreal, walking south on the right side of the road (starting from St-Joseph and going toward downtown), you'll see this art. It's not graffiti, and it's permanent made by a group, I think En Masse. I honestly have to say that we need more street art on buildings to make our concrete jungle prettier. Am I right?

I would love to be able to fill up a page in my sketch book like this. No white space, but all inked in. Someday I will! :)

I also got to participate in some En Masse wall art for the Yelp Aide charity party I attended last weekend. The point of the party was to talk to the different tables, learn about the charities, and if you fill up your card, you get a kazoo. I didn't want to do that, but was there to meet people and have a good time.

Here's photos of my art!

Here I am imitating the weird hands on my drawing of the guy with the checkered hat.

A close up of my drawing. I didn't know that my drawing would be so funny! He's shooting a rocket out of his mouth!

I came back a little later to see someone had added more around my guy. At the end of the party, someone had added checks to his shirt, which had improved it, although I wish I had taken a photo.

I drew in the legs of that squiddy thing (as per the guy's suggestion who was drawing it), and that weird thing below the lynx (which I detest), and finally I added in one of my monsters and my business name just for the heck of it!
This wall art got auctioned off, and I'm glad to know that some of my art is owned by someone! :)

Have a great Saturday! I've got a great new artist for next Friday!