When Marla James asked for an "about me" post I said sure, no problem, easy peasy. Turns out this was a bit harder than I planned, but it got me thinking - what do I really have to say that is relevant and useful to others? Well, here it is:
Hello, my name is Elaine Ray and I make and sell ceramic beads and pendants. I am super lucky to have a great working relationship with and share the task of selling my beads and pendants with a local bead shop, Ornamentea, here in Raleigh, NC.
Recently, I have been examining ways to increase sales (reading internet articles, listening to youtube videos and trying to keep current with Facebook groups such as Creative Bead Chat), which got me interested in analyzing designs I make and why I choose those designs. Many people would consider some of what I do "production work" - which is fine with me. It seems an accurate description for some items and one I don't shy away from. This was an especially good approach for me when my kids were still in elementary, middle and high school since at that time in my life, most of my artistic, one of kind, solution finding creative energy was directed at keeping everyone "on track" and supporting school activities. Now my kids are grown up and my creative energy is free to flow more directly to my beads and pendants.
Earlier this year I decided to work exclusively on new designs / colors for one month. During the first two weeks I concentrated on new shapes, colors, methods and tools. The second two weeks were for sorting out successful from not so successful designs, tweaking for ease of production and producing for sales. I have always made new designs and used new colors, but never with such extended single mindedness. During that month, when I was feeling creatively stuck it was tempting to allow myself some time to work on my familiar, well known shapes but I resisted that temptation and for that month I "just said no" to those old friends.
This was a bit nerve wracking for me to take a whole month to make items I wasn't sure anyone would buy instead of making items that were out of stock - items that I knew would sell. When the month was over, I realized it was an important step for me to take. I was reminded to allot adequate time to let new ideas out to play, not just squeezing in some experimental time here and there. Some ideas from that month are now in production, some are yet to be presented to the public and some never made it past the testing stage. Thankfully, both the successes and failures continue to lead me on paths to more new ideas, and so on and so on.
To circle back and sum up this post: I'm now managing my time with a better balance between making familiar, less mentally demanding items and pursuing new ideas. When I sit down to make familiar shapes (such as rounds or lentils) I let my mind wander around all it wants, but take good notes and make lists of the ideas as they zoom around in my head so they don't get lost. Then later, I allot adequate time to work through the new ideas, not letting myself go back to the familiar too soon if things get tough. This has seemed to impact my sales favorably and I'm enjoying my work even more.
I hope I have offered some useful insight to how I work and that it may be of benefit to your craft. If you have time, leave a comment about ideas that you have tried and how those ideas impacted your immediate or long term sales.
Thanks for stopping by, Elaine