Basic Reconstructive Meditations

I have never been very consistent with anything. Not with keeping schedules, not with artistic styles, and definitely not with keeping in touch with people I care about. The real hardest part of letting go is not Letting Go of Responsibility! Being a Capricorn, it’s easy to mistake getting things done as something that I’m attached to, and not realise that it’s just doing everything My Way that I gotta let go of.

And actually speaking of inconsistency, one thing I’ve noticed about my blog posts is that I tend to lose my point among all the things I’m trying to talk about. Like, I really just abandon the point altogether most of the time and go off on some tangent, and then almost as an afterthought make a half-hearted attempt to return to it. I suppose it’s because of a lack of focus on what I’m trying to achieve with each post, as I attempt to fill the space around my point.

And since I’d like to focus on my blog a bit more in the present and future, I think that resolving to have a clearer focus for my posts is a good step. Focus has actually been something I have been persuing, and what fleet feet it possesses! The persuit of focus has quite literally become a religious persuit for me, as Buddhism happens to possess many tools and exercises for improving one’s focus.

Which brings me to my next point about balance, and how I need to balance what I focus on. I think my main stumbling point is that I try to complicate things by tieing in some vaguely related art piece to an idea, or a vaguely related idea to an art piece, and I inevitably lose one or both of my points. A pertinent example would be my New Year’s post from a few years ago titled “Shit I’m Gonna do Better Next Year” in which I discuss none of the things I’d like to do better, and instead ramble on about a sketch I did for an Art History project and how my and my partner’s perspectives differed superficially. I can only suppose I was still afraid to do enough reflection to actually have something to say in that regard.

For some reason (I’ll give you two guesses why), I always have trouble making and keeping New Years Resolutions, but I really enjoy making sacrifices for Lent. It seems like only ex-Catholics understand why I still do Lent; more non-religious folks have less tolerance for religious holdovers. I think that the time constraint makes the biggest difference, because it allows me to set bigger challenges for myself without all of the pressure. One year I gave up speaking negatively about other people, and it was one of the more humbling experiences I have put myself through. Last year I gave up alcohol, and because of that I barely drink at all anymore. This Lent may include a certain social media platform.

This past month or so I’ve been making a consistent effort to get more of my artwork on my Etsy shop, and that’s what brought me to create my Sociey6 shop (and soon enough Redbubble). Looking forward, I decided it was a good idea to make something I could sell for Valentine’s Day, so I’ve started some heart-themed illustrations for cards and prints. This is all part of making art more of a business pursuit for me, something I can depend on more for income. I had to take everything I’ve learned from selling and showing my artwork and apply it in terms of a business plan.

And so I have begun to think about my art in new ways. I want to focus on simple yet powerful images. I think that in the past I had been too afraid to take chances, afraid that I might get too invested in something that won’t pan out. But one thing I realised is that if I focus on quality work, I feel more confident in my ideas. I used to use cheap materials, but I understand now that I have a greater potential for profit when I use quality materials.

I guess my one actual resolution is to create more artwork. Getting my online presence and shops updated and set up was important prep work for focusing on production and having my work seen. I did a lot of brainstorming and thinking about which pieces of mine people have shown the most interest in, and what I see other artists selling. I also had to prepare work space, which is difficult in my small apartment (and involves moving lots of things around and laying paper on surfaces). I would probably pay a little extra to have an entire space to myself to create art in, but paying more than twice what I am now just to have a separate studio is still out of the question.
I’ve been trying to learn a little bit about marketing so I’m going to share a few things I have learned and will try to implement:

  • Show Your Work – People like to see your process, and sharing an inside view of your work builds interest, and is a natural way to make a bunch of posts that tell a story about a piece.
  • SEO Keywords – Think about what people might type into a search engine to find your work. What are the best words to describe the piece in terms of content, color, texture, and function? Use those keywords when you talk about your work to increase relevancy. Don’t try to include keywords that are only vaguely related to your product or post, because search engines will penalize content that is not related enough to the tags. Edit product listings every so often to keep them relevant to current trends.
  • Use Site Analytics – Etsy has really great analytics that actually tell you what people search for, but WordPress’s free analytics tools leave something to be desired. Use the data to guage what people are most interested in and what can make you the most money. Over time you can see trends and the best opportunities for promotions.
  • Make More Art than You Show – This is a piece of advice from a fellow artist that I really liked. To keep up with having enough great work to post regularly you must create a lot, and allow yourself to have a lot of work that is not as good as the rest, so that you can try new things and make mistakes. You can always save the extra art for Show Your Work, allowing your audience to see your process and your world.
  • Use Promotions – Etsy allows you to set coupon codes (which you can use as a way to see where buyers are finding you), and Society6 regularly runs artist promos that you can share with customers. Both give buyers that extra nudge to purchase your work, and give you excuses to repost old work with new promotions, keeping your work in front of people’s eyes.
  • Engage Your Audience – Ask questions, share information, tell stories. Be more than just ads for products. Give people reasons to interact with your content.

I feel like 2017 is going to be a year of new beginnings. A time to learn new things, try new things, and leave behind old habits that don’t work for us anymore. Despite anything that last year may have thrown at us, we are still here, and that means we have new opportunities to make something great. Thanks for reading!

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