Illustrations by Nancy C. Sampson

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A gorgeous sunset from my trip with Kelly to the Chesapeake Bay area in the Fall.

The sun is setting on another year and I have been thinking about goals, both old and new. It’s important for me to remember to celebrate accomplishments first, before moving too far into the goal-setting stage. I found myself ignoring that last week, my thoughts focusing only on what I’d like to achieve in 2015. Taking a moment to compose this post is bringing me back to more positive reflection.

For 2014 I am proud to have welcomed a new rescue cat into my home, The Amazing Mongo! He has a very loving and entertaining personality. I am also glad to have deepened some new friendships and renewed some older ones. I brought my artwork to three craft shows and heard great responses from new fans. I conceived of, produced, packaged, and began selling a set of temporary tattoos in my Etsy shop: “Foodietoos.” My parents and I went on trip to visit beautiful Tuscany and Rome (the latter has a very different beauty compared to the Italian countryside) in the spring, and then visited my brother in Colorado for a week in the summer. (Greg and I spotted a bull moose in the forest one morning!) Friends and cousins came to visit me throughout the year and we enjoyed what the city has to offer. I have been keeping sharp at my freelance day job in magazine production and helped the publication complete some important articles. I’m so thankful to be part of the process each month. I made sure my friends kept laughing. I discovered a new genre that I’d like to explore with my drawings … which leads me to 2015.

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Mom, Dad, and I at lunch in Sienna, Italy in April.

Goals and resolutions are definitely important but I never can actually accomplish everything I set intentions for at the beginning of each year, unless they are very low goals! (Eat fruit. Don’t wait 4 weeks to do laundry.) I have learned to not let myself become discouraged if the way things turn out isn’t quite the way I expected or would have liked them to be. It is too easy for me to get into a negative mind space and start thinking about what I “didn’t work hard enough” at, or “didn’t do enough” of, which tends to dissuade me from moving forward.

Looking back at what I did in 2014 reminds me that I am living a full life and I have to allow myself to be fluid within it … if I only stuck to my goals I might have missed out on some surprises and detours that enriched my year.

In light of that, I’m not going to post any of my specific goals here (Are you surprised? I am, too.) but I will share my general mantra for the New Year: Keep exploring, stay positive, reach out and up. (I stole that last one from yoga class!)

What about you, do you prefer very specific goals or more general ones? Why?

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2014_Craftacular_BrooklynBUST Magazine is hosting its 9th annual Craftacular this weekend and I will be a part of it! Live and in person on Saturday 12/6 only, I will be selling items from The Nancydraws Shop alongside 199 other vendors. The event continues on Sunday, but I won’t be there. It’s all happening at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint at 79 Franklin St. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Fun reasons to come on over to Greenpoint and check it out:

  • The first 300 shoppers will receive a free goodie bag!
  • If you join my email newsletter list at the event you’ll receive a goodie bag from The Nancydraws Shop.
  • Lobster Mac-n-cheese!
  • David’s Tea is hosting a Cat Café and the proceeds will benefit Brooklyn’s own Sean Casey Animal Rescue.
  • The shopping, of course; one-of-a-kind gifts from amazing vintage and artisan vendors.
  • Access to a Gift Wrap table, a DIY Flower Crown Creation Station, and an Ugly Holiday Sweater photo booth.

 

So, I’ll see you there, right? Bring a friend!

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Percival eating noodles… a Hanukkah card available in The Nancydraws Shop.

At last I may share details about the tools that I was testing when I participated in a small-scale market for employees only at Etsy HQ! That clever, crafty company now has their own credit card reader for in-person sales. The timing couldn’t be better for me, since I am just beginning to get out there to the craft shows with my illustrations and greeting cards. I can tell you from my experience that the tool works perfectly with the new Etsy Seller mobile app. When you have the reader attached and the app launched you are ready to take sales in person via credit card, or use it to record cash sales. A full list of your shop items are available and the app creates e-mail invoices for customers and (I love this part) adds buyers to your page’s list of followers so that they will receive updates when you post new products in your shop. There are many great features, and I’m very excited to receive mine in the mail… I ordered one today about 4 minutes after opening the announcement email!

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The Etsy card reader!

For more info and FAQ, click here to go to the Etsy site.

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A Brooklyn sunset.

A Brooklyn sunset.

My yoga teacher shared something with me before class on Wednesday that really made my week! First, let me explain that earlier this year I came up with an experiment to leave copies of my artwork in public for strangers to find as a nice surprise. I printed my email address and website on the back in hopes that they’d also send me a note to say a little something about themselves or maybe even take an interest in this blog or my Etsy shop.

(You can read more about where I left my art work at this post: “Free Art! Turban Lady Edition.”) I also left copies of my Colson Patisserie artwork with the owner to give to random customers one day.

I didn’t have the highest hopes of getting any return on my gestures since I began with the concept of “giving back” and seeing if anything happened. If not, I was OK with the belief that someone found one and liked it.

So, this week my yoga instructor, Grace, said that after reading my blog post about the afternoon I met up with my friends to find hiding places for the artwork, she was inspired to give back in her own way and is planning a free yoga class in exchange for a food or other donation to a local community pantry. I just love knowing that my actions in some way helped someone else think of their own way to give back. I think this kind of action and reaction happens regardless of whether or not we know about it and more frequently than we realize, but knowing definitely brings me hope and reassurance!

Would you like to give back? How would you like to do it?

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It was all a mess when I began!

If you’ve read the first installment of my September Craft Show Wrap-up, you already know that I enjoyed my first craft show experience! I didn’t want that post to get too long so here is a second one to describe more about gathering and creating my table display.

When I was thinking about how to plan my craft show table for  The Nancydraws Shop my main goals were to make it inexpensive, lightweight, and eye-catching, so this is where my creative problem solving skills and online research came in handy.

I didn’t want my display pieces to be heavy because I thought I’d be able to carry everything by myself on the subway and save money on having to use a car service. (That didn’t happen, because of volume!)

At first I had no idea of my color scheme or even how I’d display any of my items until I purchased a couple of organizing bins at T. J. Maxx in a nice shade of green. I also had an antique gold card holder and since it can only display 6-8 cards I decided to look for some cardboard shelf-display boxes at the Park Slope Food Coop in order to have multiples available on the table. I found out that frozen burrito boxes were just the right size for my cards! I covered them with a matte gold wrapping paper that matched the antique gold card holder.

A week before the show I went into a dollar store near my day job and was lucky enough to find a sheet set with the perfect shade of purple printed with a fun but not-too-loud pattern for my table covering, and a couple of green metal buckets for some of my smaller items.

Testing out my display at home.

Testing out my display at home, before I added signs.

Towards the end of the end of my preparation process for each show, I added finishing touches; signs and price tags. I wanted to make all of the prices as easy as possible for shoppers to find so that they don’t need to ask.

By using a couple of things I already had at home and re-purposing the boxes I didn’t have to spend very much on the display itself, the total was less than $40. It was light (I needed 3-4 bags to transport it all along with the items I was selling) and as you can see, very pretty and inviting.

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Nuggets of Joy

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Me and The Nancydraws Shop table at Ridgewod Market on September 21, 2014.

Back in August I decided to give myself a new challenge and bring The Nancydraws Shop to a craft show. Over past year a few friends and fellow artists I’d met suggested that I give that venue a try. My friend Janet had put the Ridgewood Market on my radar. It takes place near her home, in an up-and-coming neighborhood in the borough of Queens. I also found that the vendor fees were quite affordable, so I set my sights on having everything I needed ready for the September 21 show. As I began making my lists of items to bring, supplies I’d need to purchase, and what I would need to create a tempting display, I was invited to a mini-craft show opportunity that was happening earlier in September, and I decided to go for it. I can’t share many details about it other than it was a GREAT experience and it was fun to be in on a secret that hopefully will be public in the next couple of months! I will have to share more about that in a future post.

A few Christmas cards available at The Nancydraws Shop.

A few Christmas cards available at The Nancydraws Shop.

Many people don’t realize that the majority of my greeting cards are printed one-by-one with my wonderful, hard-working, reliable Epson printer. Once they are printed, most of them need to be cut to the size I designed them to be. My Epson does take its time but it is worth it because of the excellent quality prints that it produces. After the image on the front of the card is printed, I like to let some time pass to make sure it is completely dry before I put it through again to print the inside greeting.  Many of my nights after-work and a lot of weekend time leading up to these shows was spent printing cards and gift tags, or cutting them up and placing them in their clear sleeves. Luckily, my studio assistant, Mongo was on hand and made sure I took breaks.

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Mongo knows how to relax.

As an artist I am really lucky because my parents own and operate a custom framing store, so they have matted and framed a number of my artworks in the past. Since they are in North Carolina, we have worked out a situation where they keep my prints until a customer purchases them from my Etsy shop, and they  ship them out. For the craft shows, my father was wonderful enough to pack up and send what they had. I definitely didn’t have to worry about printing too many of my illustrations, but I added some from my “Love, New York” series and restaurant illustrations. On top of that, he sent some professionally printed cards and journals with my designs that I’d had professionally printed sometime before I opened my Etsy shop.

"Gluten Forever" Foodietoo

“Gluten Forever” Foodietoo

The items I was most excited to bring to the craft shows was my temporary tattoo designs, Foodietoos. They were already available in my shop as of early August and I had a number of those ready to go, along with the labels I had designed for them, but of course I cut out and packaged up some more!

After the car service dropped me and my stuff off at Ridgewood Market (I am SO glad I didn’t try to drag a rolling luggage, backpack, and two large bags through the New York City subway system!) it took me about an hour to set up. I had plenty of time left before the market opened, but it was good not to have to be in a rush because I had more space to fill and decisions to make than I had at the mini-craft show. There were a few lulls once the market was open to shoppers, but not many. It was fun seeing what caught people’s eye on my table, even if they didn’t make a purchase. A handful of friends were even able to stop by, which made it even more fun. Creating artwork is usually a solitary experience so seeing customers reactions to my ideas was very rewarding.

I worked very hard to get those nuggets of joy, but isn’t that what being an artist is all about?

Percival Featherington III, “NYC Pigeon Extraordinaire” was the most popular of my characters, along with the turban-wearing lady from “Love, New York.” I was able to chat with a couple of other sellers near me, and it was fun to share the experience with them. A few even stopped by my table to let me know they liked my work or display, ask questions, or make a purchase. I did the same when I had time to wander and shop when there weren’t many visitors around. There was such a nice community vibe going on.

One thing that surprised me was that a few people asked if I had designed all of the items, which I had of course, but that’s something I thought would be obvious.

In case you’re wondering, I’ll definitely be at another craft show in the near future! Stay tuned for more about that, and for the second half of my September Craft Show Wrap-up post, which focuses more on how I put my display together.

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photo 1Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work, is a great follow up to his highly successful Steal Like an Artist; once you have been inspired and created work, you need to share your efforts with the world. Show Your Work is very simply written, using bold statements, art/poetry, quotes, and hand-drawn charts to elaborate on the author’s ideas. I appreciated Kleon’s bare bones style of writing; for this subject matter it really helps to get the point across simply and makes what he is saying memorable.

photo 2The main subject of the book is to get your work out there, and learn new and effective ways of self-promotion for your artwork. I have found other self-promotion or marketing books to be more complicated or difficult to translate to the business side of being creative. Show Your Work takes take the complication away and makes the subject matter instantly relate-able. From my own past experience, self-promotion has seemed intimidating, but the straight-forward way Kleon presents his material can help motivate even the meekest self-promoter! He recommends beginning the process of sharing by first documenting each day what you do at different stages of your process. After compiling this daily log that you create for yourself, you can choose what would be most interesting and valuable to share with others via your blog, e-newsletter, or social media outlet.

Sharing what you’ve been working on is definitely important, but as Kleon mentions in Chapter 7, there is so much information being thrown at us via the internet and email, we don’t want to become “Human Spam” to others. This brings up a very important and helpful point. Networking is not only about tooting your own horn and saying “Look at me!” Kleon offers that listening is an important part of the sharing process. By listening you may learn something that will help your work and you may also be able to offer something to the person to whom you are listening to. Being a “connecter” rather than just gaining “followers,” sharing ideas or aspects of your creative process, and showing true interest in others work are some of the ways Kleon suggests widening your circle of fans. This is a point I really appreciated since many artists are natural observers and listeners, and the old concept of self-promotion seemed like it was based on constantly promoting oneself.

The author doesn’t want you to be Human Spam, but expresses that you also need to be able to tell the story of your work in an interesting way to someone who knows nothing about it. As humans we all want to connect to personal stories and make ideas more tangible. The better you can be at explaining what you do and why you do it will make it more emotionally valuable to your audience and potential clients. He uses a quote from John le Carré to further illustrate this point: “‘The cat sat on a mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.”

photo 3The aspects of the book that I’ve discussed here were the most powerful to me, but Show Your Work contains much more. I had heard some of the advice before, but the way it was presented and explained made it innovative and I think even the most seasoned self-promoter can use a reminder, breath of fresh air on the subject, or an update. Check it out for yourself and see if you found it as helpful as I did!

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As I mentioned in my last post, I joined an online class at Skillshare to learn about hand-lettering. I had some time to begin the class this week and I’d like to share what I have so far.

Our instructor, Mary Kate McDevitt hs structured the class project around hand-lettering a brief quote. I have chosen “Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.” I heard the quote in Day of the Doctor, part of the BBC television series, Dr. Who.

I’ve done some visual research and I probably need to do some more. (See my last post with a link to my pin board showing some of the images I found) Here is the list of words that are associated to my quote to help me in my research.

ImageThe next step, which I am working on, is to choose one word from the quote and draw it in 5 different styles, chosen from a list of about 10 styles, per our instructor. Stay tuned!

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I began using Pinterest last year as an experiment to showcase my artwork and my illustrated characters’ lives as well as images or subjects that inspire my creativity. I have recently found it useful as a way to collect images for research related to my illustration projects.

I am taking part in an online Skillshare class about hand-lettering, and the main lesson revolves around choosing a quote to draw. I’m using Pinterest to collect the images I’d like to use as style and inspiration reference for when I am ready to begin sketching my ideas. The quote I have chosen is from the TV show, “Dr. Who.” I won’t reveal it right now, but I will share the Pinterest reference board and more about my work as I work through the lessons for the class: Hand-lettering Class Research Pinboard.

 

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