BUT...even though we all may try our darndest to only share the good stuff...the stuff that makes us smile....well, sometimes it's just not possible to be so disciplined. Sometimes life brings bad news and sometimes the bad news is just way too big to gloss over. We'd have to try really really hard to pretend like everything is rosy. Those favorite "all positive", life saving bloggers I spoke of up above...well, they also have had their share of bad experiences that they just had to share with us. And all in all I think all of us readers benefit from their honesty. We get the chance to be there for them. As readers it's our opportunity to give back. And also, even though we don't really need any more reality in our lives...these instances of bad news do serve as reality checks...but positive reality checks. Because we all have troubles and when we share our troubles we feel less alone in the big big world. I was just about to mention as examples, a handful of bad news blog posts from the archives of some of my favorite blogs. But I think to take them out of context is to trivialize and simplify them. And they deserve more than that. Anyway, if you read a lot of blogs I'm sure you know what I mean.
Ok, so let me get to it. I have a ton of good news...lots of positive...lots of hope. But I also have some crummy stuff that I simply can't ignore and I think if I left out the info I'd be dishonest to all of you guys. So as much as I hate to be a wet blanket just keep in mind that me and Aaron have got our eyes on the sky and we're facing the sunny horizon. We're staying positive and this post will certainly finish with a flourish of inspiration.
Alright, the number one bad thing on my mind is this: After much heartbreaking and teary deliberation, me and Aar have come to the conclusion that we simply cannot go to Silver Bella. There are so so many reasons why. It's almost been a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. First, me and Aar support ourselves with our art. This is the only source of income. And as of late, that income has been not so hot. In our studio we often keep on any one of the cable news channels while we work...since our favorite talk radio station doesn't come in so well at our new address, we now use cable news as our talk radio...since our eyes are on our work we can't watch the tv, we can only listen. And right around September it became very difficult to listen to. Ever since the word "Economy" started to sound like a curse word. Newscasters just love to be harbingers of doom, and they love nothing more than to flippantly tell us that we're on the verge of a second Great Depression. Me and Aar work away in our studio and every time the bad economy and/or the crashing stock market are mentioned we CRINGE. News like this directly correlates to a monster drop in sales for us. These news guys are telling us all to cut the fat...tighten our belts...stash the cash under our mattresses. And so what do you think cut the fat means? I think it means: "you don't need to buy a painting of a cupcake" and "you don't need a mural in your daughter's room" or "you should wait 'til the financial storm clears before you have Aaron and Jenny come in to your home to do some awesome finishes on those bookcases etc etc..." And that's exactly what's been going on. I wonder if these news guys know how powerful they really are. The worst part is that they don't necessarily even believe what they're telling us. They say it because it gets our attention. Fear is an excellent attention getter. Fear will keep you tuning in each day. They use it as a tool and it's just so very inconsiderate, irresponsible, and careless of them. Anyway...I know it's so unbelievably tacky to talk about money and I'm super embarrassed to even bring it up but I think I needed to.
There are other reasons besides cold cash why we can't go to Silver Bella but the expense is a big one. Sure, we were going there to be vendors...we were going there to sell our stuff. And last year teaching classes there was so awesome and we did great on vendor night. But this year we were to be driving there...a 2 day journey there and a 2 day journey back. That means, counting Omaha, we'd be staying in 3 hotels. We'd be gone from our studio for 7 or more days just to set up shop for roughly 2 hours. Don't get me wrong...we knew this going in...we knew this when we paid for our tables and reserved a room in the hotel. And we were more than thrilled to do it. The drive would be an adventure and Silver Bella would be an amazing 4 day party with the bonus of getting to actually set up shop and offer our artwork to some of our favorite people in the world...and to BUY stuff from my favorite artists in the world...I sorta planned on redistributing whatever we made at our table to all the other tables at vendor night ; )( This is actually really really hard for me to write about but I want to stay objective just so I can express myself clearly without getting too emotional...but I keep tearing up every time that I pause and picture all the faces I was looking forward to seeing....I swear, if you're reading this, you gals, my friends, just know that your faces seem to be painted inside my eyelids...I'm gonna miss you all so much!!!) BUT...I have to just make this point and move on. With our big drop in sales over the past 2 months the light of Silver Bella grew dimmer and dimmer. If business was booming it would be no problem at all...the trip to Omaha wasn't just for business. Our motivation was more social than business. We couldn't wait to see all of our dear friends that we don't get to see in real life. We woulda been ok with breaking even or even a slight loss on our expenses. But with the way things are now...it's just impossible.
Don't worry, I'm going to change the subject real soon. I hate that I'm talking about such crummy stuff! I guess I need to get this off my chest because I feel so guilty. Guilt is a big big thing with me. I feel guilty because Teresa is going to have an empty table on vendor night. I feel guilty because me and Aaron were in the advertising for SB. I feel guilty because we are letting down anybody who was looking forward to seeing us there. And my guilt spans further than Silver Bella. I feel guilty now for letting you guys know that business hasn't been good. Because I hate to tarnish your idea of where our artwork comes from. In our art we try to give you all the lightness and whimsy that we possess. I don't want you to think that we're feeling down while we're creating.
I swear, I will change the tone of this post very soon but there's one more thing I need to air out. It has to do with the way we work. Me and Aar are both cursed with artist brains. These are the brains that are opposite of business brains. Although we've had lots of success I think that we probably work much harder than we should. We know that success should come easier and that we shouldn't have to work 'til 3 am, 7 days a week to get our orders out...but we continue to repeat this behavior. And what's worse is that when sales drop we'll often make compromises with how we work. We'll set ourselves up to do way more physical labor than we're capable of doing, in a time frame that is simply unrealistic. The result is that we are constantly struggling to stay on schedule and we often have to make amends to some of our most valued customers. The only upside to this is that we LOVE giving gifts and making free artwork for our customers (there goes that artist brain again : ) )
So...that's why we're changing how we work. We will no longer offer 50-60 different versions of handmade stuff. We can't keep that much stuff in stock and doing it made-to-order keeps us locked away in the studio 24/7...really. We'll now only offer a couple things as made-to-order and we'll be switching to selling artwork that is already made and ready to go. We've been dying to do it this way. We'll be able to work like crazy on BRAND NEW stuff and then announce a shop update...maybe every 2 weeks. All new art...lots of one-of-a-kinds. We've been asked a million times if we offer original paintings. And now we finally will. Work for us has been: "time to make the donuts"...and we have to change that. We have to be artists...ever evolving...ever expanding. (*note: ever since I made the switch to Blogger and I've added the world map to my blog which shows where in the world my blog readers are coming from...I think I owe it to my international readers to explain some exclusively American references...in this case: "time to make the donuts" refers to a Dunkin Donuts commercial from the 1980's featuring a chubby little mustachioed donut maker who wakes up each morning to make the donuts and he mutters to himself "time to make the donuts, time to make the donuts..."...over and over...repeating the same thing...day in, day out....I hope that explains it!)
Wow, this is a long post and if you're still reading at this point...thanks! Now I must move on to the good news. New stuff! We regularly present our artwork on 3/4 inch thick wooden boards. We distress the edges, apply washes...I think the feel of well worn wood melds nicely with our artwork. But we recently tried out some of our paintings in a more "dressed up" presentation and I think the result is a big step up. Charlotte, The Well Read Raven, Cupcake Girls, Celebrate Everyday, The Recital... now will come set in a sleek 16 x 20 mat, signed, titled, and ready to be framed. We took some pics of them framed above our mantle and each painting seemed to be reborn in this new format. The images measure 11 x 14 but with the 16 x 20 mat and frame the artwork becomes a great decor focal point. And these prints are just the beginning. We'll be matting up a lot of our classic Cake Art at 11 x 14 and 8 x 10. The 8 x 10's come in a mat that measures 11 x 14. We're also going to be painting some new classics...cupcakes, layer cakes, a new pink mixer, and a couple super fab holiday images...can't wait to debut them!!! We took our own private refresher course on matting and now we're all set up to be matting machines over here. It's a thrill to see our artwork all pristine and slipped into their individual cellophane sleeves. And the best part is...they're all in stock and ready to ship!!! As a kick off for these we're gonna have a big sale... Buy one print and get your second print or any other item in our shop of equal or lesser value for half price!!!
*We will be adding more prints daily! Holiday designs and cupcakes coming over the next day or two!
More new stuff!!! We're doing tons or ornaments...sold individually and in stock! We hope you'll see new ones in our shop every few days. We've got some cool ones...our classic green mixer, a vintage sifter, cupcakes dressed in a spectrum of buttercream frosting, cake slices, full cakes, and a couple retro pin up gals with some 3D adornments...all are made of sturdy mat board and expertly cut by hand (and man are our hands sore!!! but we love doing these!) The backs are finished with some of our favorite patterned papers...polka dots, stripes, florals etc...as well as some bits of vintage ephemera like recipe book clippings etc...All are signed and they hang by a bit of classic bakery twine. Each will come in their own little cellophane sleeve...awesome little gifts, ready to ship and they ship cheap in a sturdy cardboard envelope. Also, our postcard packs are super fab stocking stuffers! Those are ready to go as well. The matted prints, ornaments, and postcards are some of the stuff we were gonna have at our Silver Bella table.
I got so many nice Birthday comments and emails!! It's just too too kind of you all. You guys really warm my heart. Thank you...really....thank you!! We've been so bound by work that I had to put my birthday plans on hold 'til we had some free time. Also, there's a bit of rough family stuff going on that needs to clear up. I like to celebrate with everybody in my family and at present it's just not possible. I'm willing to wait 'til we can all get together. Aaron's parents and Grandmother sent me the sweetest cards and his brother and wife, (the parents of that adorable nephew you've seen pictured on this blog and on my Flickr page)...well they sent over flowers, a balloon, a cake...so nice!!! And Ana, my sweet, funny as heck pal who is the best flea marketer and snail mailer in the business sent me a happy little envelope with a vintage card and this sweet rick rack and birthday seal!
And my sister Missy, who lives behind me and you'd be utterly shocked at how little I see her! She got me some really fun stuff...I absolutely adore this bottle of perfume from the Harajuku Lovers line...so sweet!
It's funny when the 4th wall is broken. I recently made an Etsy purchase from my online friend Mary. Well, like most online friends, I've never met Mary in person. But unlike most online friends...Mary lives like 15 minutes away from me. So she hand delivered my package...so nice of her! Aaron came outside and it was discreetly left on the railing of my steps, wrapped like a gift! Happiest mini aqua ornament stems...amazing pink, aqua, and silver trim...and some fab appliques! Love this stuff!!
Lastly, I'm thrilled at the results of the Presidential election. I know it's an issue that can be divisive and I'm not here to espouse my politics...I'm just happy with the choice America made. In the scope of America it's way bigger than that first step we took on the moon. I had tears in my eyes...no they were streaming down my face...when the declaration was made. Aaron was at the post office today and there was a poster in the lobby with a big picture of Obama...it was an ad that a local person put up who is setting up a charter bus trip to the inuaguration. When was the last time Americans were so excited and such a part of Washington politics? I imagine there will be charter busses coming from all over the country. It's so exciting...the idea of people coming together like that...for America...for a President. It's such a worthy and noble cause. It's funny, this choice of President is such a forward thinking, twenty first century event but at the same time there's a feeling of going back in time. A reclamation of national pride. It's been a long time since this many people even cared who won or lost. We've definitely made a huge step in the right direction and I'm proud to be a part of it.
Alright, I've taken up enough of your time. I have to get back to work. I'm super super sad that I'm not in a van right now driving to Omaha. We were already scheduled to leave. I definitely have more tears coming. But the decision to not go really wasn't a decision at all...staying home and working was in fact our only option. I'll really miss everybody so much and I can only look forward to next year. For now, thanks to all of you guys for being there for me. Me and Aaron are working hard to get things on track so we can really be there for all of you guys.