To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My New Store is Open

I worked on my new store in the Ashland Artisan Emporium today from opening time at 11 to almost 3 (with half an hour off for lunch). I promised you a blow-by-blow, so here's what it looked like when I got there, if you recall from last week.

Daniel lent me his Montero, which has a big cargo space, and fortunately, I was able to pull up onto the sidewalk in front of the Emporium to unload. A passing True Gentleman offered to carry in the bookcase and the toy chest, and I thanked him profusely as I amassed a heap of stuff just inside the front door. Then I parked the car and came back to tote everything back to my space, about 70' from the front door.
Here's what I brought:
  • toy box
  • bookcase
  • a small folding table
  • two painted cardboard display boxes for prints and unmatted artwork
  • two boxes of autographed books
  • a box of large framed art
  • a box of prints to put in display box
  • a box containing a bird mobile
  • step ladder
  • printouts of my booth plan and proposed arrangements
  • tool caddy containing pliers, scissors, velcro, tape, pegboard hooks, tape measure, paper punch, pen, tags, etc.

It all looked really confusing and imposing at first, so I unpacked the boxes of books into the bookcase to get started, then hung the mobile from a stout wire protruding from a pegboard hole and wired to a pegboard attachment. This mobile gives the booth some movement while being airy enough to not block the view. The birds are computer printouts of a painting I did, glued to black foam board and cut out closely, then hung on brass rods with fishline.

My first casualty was a hanger on the back of a large, heavy painting. The nail head was apparently smaller than the hanger hole, and it pulled out, leaving the hanger attached on only one side. So I unhung the promo piece which had supports UNDER it, and used the hangers for that to support the painting instead.

That left the promo without a hanger, but figured out that I could unhinge one side of the upper two bulldog clamps and hang the piece from that (see the image at left).

I wanted to hang the book display boxes with the attached books/magazines next to their paintings, but the magazine containing one illustration was fragile so I had encased it in a plastic sleeve. At first I had hung it beside its picture, but that put it above eye level and the plastic sleeve glared from the overhead lights (see the glare in the image at right). Putting it below its picture resolved that problem.

Finally I had the main wall tweaked, and worked on the two side walls, putting up a display of prints for sale on one wall and non-illustration personal art on the other.

BTW, regarding business cards, I didn't put any out because I am pretty well booked up and don't really want to solicit work at the moment.

Here's the final result. I had brought the little table to work on, and also had the idea that I MIGHT use it for something, depending on how it looked. I really like it there in the center, even though it isn't doing much.

And it hadn't occurred to me until I was standing there, exhausted, just looking at everything, that if I put the bookcase and toybox/print containers in the corners at 45 degree angles, the booth would look much more welcoming and inviting, sort of like open arms.

So there it is. I think I'll redo the banner later and NOT laminate it. It won't be as sturdy, but it won't glare from the overhead lights, either, which would be better.

I have to go back tomorrow to fix the broken hanger on the picture, and I also think I'll take some Blu-Tack, which is a kind of sticky clay stuff to press under pictures that aren't hanging straight. By tomorrow they should be hanging as crooked as they plan to, and I can straighten them.

I am elated that I managed to pull this thing off without forgetting something major ~ or even minor! This has to be a "first" for me!

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, the Ashland Artisans Emporium is at 1670 Ashland Street, Ashland, Oregon, the main drag coming into town off the freeway. I'm in booth 116, and I hope you will stop by. I won't be there, most likely, but feel free to browse and see first hand how it turned out.

I hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions I might be able to answer, feel absolutely free to comment below and ask! I'm always happy to answer questions.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Working on My Display Booth

Last blog entry I was showing you how to make little hooks to hang small items on a pegboard. To show you how they look (and to give myself a working model of a pegboard panel), I punched some holes in the edge of a piece of cardboard with my paper punch, at 1" intervals and hung a couple of the prints in the plastic sleeves I had mentioned.

The horizontal sleeve was punched through the edge of the sleeve (the first image above). For the vertical print (second image), I attached a folded over piece of transparent tape, then punched through that double thickness (the third image at left is a close-up of that detail).

I went to a party yesterday afternoon and happened to meet a couple of other people who also have booths in the Artisan Emporium ~ it was just chance, not planned. It's really great to get a chance to jam with other people and match your burning questions to their experienced answers:
"Do you worry about theft?"
"No, the front counter is right next to the door, and nothing has disappeared yet."
"I know everything has to be tagged, but how do you attach a tag to a book?"
"Not to worry, just lightly write the info [booth number, item description & price] inside the cover"

After the last blog, Christine asked about using business cards. That's a good question, because business cards can encourage return business.

Unfortunately, if you have a pretty card, some people will take it just because it's pretty. So that has to be taken into account since there is some expense involved. For a booth like this, with lots of visitors, you might want to create a relatively plain card which would only be picked up by people seriously interested in your items.

There are a number of other things to consider, too: whether you want repeat business AND do your business cards have the right information on them to allow them to do that? How much did they cost, and since a lot of people might just carry them away and never respond with more business for you, can you absorb the cost if they disappear quickly? Do you want to put them out there just for the taking, or should you attach them to your item? In the image above, I have glued a business card onto the back of a framed picture. This avoids the problem of people walking off with cards they don't really expect to respond to, and it also keeps your card with the item. It's one good solution to the problem

I've also seen people punch a hole in a corner of the card and attach it to the item with a string. This is good for large item, but it can overwhelm something small.

In my book Illustrating Nature, Right-brain Art in a Left-brain World, I suggest a way to make a small card holder you can attach to a display to make your cards readily available. Click on the image to see this page out of the book. You should be able to print it out to get the usable pattern if you'd like to make one. There is a lot of other good information like that in the book, in addition to illustrating instructions, in case you're interested.

Today I've been making sure everything I plan to display is labeled with either a tag or a written notation (those would be inside book covers, since I'm also selling autographed books in the booth). My biggest problem was visualizing the space so I could plan what and how much stuff to put in it. Even the photos I took of the booth weren't quite sufficient ~ I needed something tactile ~ I needed to do a pre-run.

So I got out my measuring tape and measured off an eight foot section of my living room floor, then outlined it with string. I laid out EVERYTHING I planned to put on that space, then climbed up onto the kitchen stool to look it over. Here was my first layout, (I tinkered with it after this photo, so things will look a little bit different, but not much). The banner was a trial version, slightly thinner than the final version, which is now hanging in the booth. With all the pieces in place, I could see what worked and how well.

I also laid out the four-foot side panels, but nearly had a disaster when Jesse discovered my little pre-run and went into one of his commando routines....executing a rip-snorting whackity snatch maneuver which left everything scattered hither and thither. I had to lock him out in the chilly yard for half an hour until I had "re-hung" that wall, photographed it, then laid out and photographed the opposite side. Poor baby!

So, the left panel is on the left here (the one showing Jesse making his evil plans) and the right panel is on the right. I was going to just hang prints on the right side, but after laying this out and looking at it for awhile, I decided to hang only a couple of prints, place the box of prints directly below them so people can paw through them, and use the rest of the space on that wall to hang some more matted originals. You can see how actually laying out the materials on a fake wall can be helpful. I will print these photos out to take with me when I go to set up the space.

So it's moving along. I emailed the newspaper and told the reporter that I will be setting up my booth this week, and she says they may do an article about it. That would be G.O.O.D!!!

Okay, back to work. My studio is an absolute impassable wreck. In the photo here you can see the rolling bookcase I painted green. Setting on the top shelf is one of the boxes for unmatted art and prints.

In the foreground is a toy chest I got at a big box store for $34. It was a floor model, already assembled. They had just quit carrying that model, so they sold it to me for the same price I'd have paid if I planned to spend an hour putting it together myself! Deal! Oh yeah, the reason for the toy box is to put extra pieces of everything in, so if I go and there is an empty space on the wall where something has sold, I'll fish something out of the toy box to put in its place. On it I will put the two identical green-painted boxes of prints/art.

On the rolling office chair is the piece of cardboard with the pegboard holes punched in it. Every surface is covered. I have to dance a dainty minuet to go from one place to the next. Yikes.

By the way, below is the diagram I made way back in the beginning to start thinking about the project. The middle panel is how I thought the booth might look from the front (well, it doesn't, but it got my brain moving). The left and right panels show what those panels might like if you were standing inside looking first to one side, then to the other.

In it, you can see how I plan to place the boxes for prints and unmatted art on the toy chest, and put the books in the bookcase. I think I'll also get a supply of picture mats which I can sell from a box on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. On the middle shelf I will put a couple of standing messages about copyright and other stuff. I may want to add another piece of furniture to hold other items. I dunno.

So... Next, I need to finish scoping out the contents of what I want to put on that right wall then start getting everything together. Tomorrow or the next day will be the big event, loading it all into Daniel's Montero (I could only get about half of it in my car, I'll bet) to take to the Artisans Emporium for setup.

When I go to set it up, everything could change as it comes together. Even having set it up on my living room floor, it might look better some other way when I get to the real thing. I'll try to remember to take lots of photos so you can see how it transpires.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Pegboards and Hooks

I've never been really fond of pegboard, but in terms of creating a base that will support just about anything, it is probably the most practical all-around foundation for the widest variety of uses.

Let's assume you are considering creating/designing/setting up your own pegboard booth, and I'll give you my thoughts about it in this and the next few blogs.

Pegboard is a thin masonite-type of board with holes punched through it on a one-inch grid. I've added a quick little sketch of a picture hung on pegboard with a pegboard hook, just to make sure we're on the same page here.

In former times, the holes were small, about 1/8", and hooks fit in firmly. But now they make them with a larger hole, about 1/4" in diameter. So if you plan to use old hooks from that can in the basement, you will find that they flop around in the hole a bit. In some cases, this won't matter, but you should be aware of the potential problem. I've seen large hooks that fit the holes, but they're not appropriate for most arty uses in a small booth (they're better for hanging up heavy tools). Smaller-wire hooks are still sold, and in the package are included ugly black plastic straps to hold them in place. The emphasis here is on UGLY. So avoid using them if possible (why don't they make them white, a much more common color for pegboard?).

The hooks cost between 20¢ and 25¢ each, and sell in packages of 8, so if you have lots of things to hang it can be a considerable outlay. Try to find old ones lying about in tin cans in a handyman's dusty workshop since most people at some point thought they'd get organized ~ then didn't. Those old hooks are still lying about. Also check garage sales.

I've been making some of my own hooks because a huge hook holding up a tiny picture looks ludicrous. Last night while watching TV, I busied myself with pliers and wire and created sixteen small wire hooks for the prints-in-sleeves I plan to hang. Here are some sketches of the wire and how to bend it. My first two or three were a bit clunky, but soon I improved my skills and they got nice and smooth. You can take advantage of my experiences here to make your own tidy little hooks.

The prints I want to hang are in sleeves about ¾" bigger than the print, so I'm going to use a paper punch to cut a tidy round hole exactly in the center of the sleeve edge (off-center will make the print hang crooked), so each can hang in its sleeve, ready to purchase. This should look a whole lot neater (and totally cheaper) than if I were to use the big ready-made hooks. And yes, I know the manufacturers make a lot of different hook shapes and sizes, including a smallish hook much like this one I've made, but I priced buying, say, 20 of these online. At 22¢ each, the price for 20 is $4.40. That's not too bad, but when you add in shipping, the price more than doubles, so it's not cost effective. Unless you're lucky, you won't live anywhere near a store that carries a selection (and has the particular ones you want!).

I also need to hang the book displays from the pegboard, showing an example of the book next to the art which illustrates it (I've painted all the boxes a light green using a flat water-based indoor paint). Hanging the boxes isn't hard if you think ahead.

I'll use the big hooks here since they'll be out of sight behind the book. The hook has to be able to punch through the display box, so use the hook itself to determine how far the hole should be from the edge. Punch the hole with an ice pick or some other sharp object that will give you a hole about the same size as the wire of the hook.

Then using a ruler to make sure you get the hooks the right distance apart to fit into the 1" grid on the board, punch the holes in the correct spots. The image at right shows one of the hooks inserted.

Here's what the book display looks like before and after the book is attached. You could use this technique for attaching any sort of container to a pegboard panel.

Attaching the labels is an interesting project, too. Since I like the looks of brass fasteners (and since they're reusable and hold things remarkably well), I use them to attach labels to anything I can punch them through. They work really well for attaching things to the lightweight foam board, too.

I posted instructions for making a box like this here. It's at the bottom of the blog entry.

More about labels, foam board, and brass fasteners next time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Slight Interruption

I thought for sure I'd be finished with the Amazon Sketch/Journal Tutorial now. I would have been, too, except that something else came up that couldn't be put off: my number came up for a sales space at the newly opened Ashland Artisan Emporium, in Ashland, Oregon, about ten miles down the road.

If you've been following my blog, you'll know I have been trying to find homes for my closets-full of book and magazine illustrations from the last few decades, so I had put my name in a couple of months ago with no idea when, in the natural turn of events, an empty booth would come up: 8' x 4' in a bright, airy mini-mall.

So I was working along on the Amazon Tutorial ~ I have the first draft finished except for the last two pages, now ~ then I had to stop to get the booth up and running.

Frustrating, yes, but exciting in the other direction, as I figure out all the twists and turns involved in getting my unique setup set up. I've been slugging away at the plan in off moments here and there for the last month in anticipation, taking minor breaks from the tutorial lest I get moribund and turn to stone at my computer (NOT recommended!).

The second image is the space, looking at it from about ten feet before you get there. You can see how bright and spacious the aisles are, and to be honest, the quality of this artisan mall is FAR above any other I've seen (they can be pretty darned tacky, if not actually trashy).

The third image is my first appearance, flung up day before yesterday as a kind of "place holder." Because as soon as I got the word, I rushed in with what I'd prepared ~ a laminated banner that reads "The Art, Illustration and Books of Irene Brady" (hey, there's no room for modesty in a sales booth), a "Coming Soon!" sign, and a matted and sequestered-under-an-acrylic-sheet article that appeared in December in a local magazine (the magazine is called "Joy" and the section I was under is called "Soul" which leaves me a bit speechless. My!)

But it's a nice article, and if anyone stops to see who will be in the new space, they can get introduced in advance.

My studio is a shambles, filled with framed artwork I've been pulling out of cupboards, tables covered with items in preparation, etc. I'll be using a lot of the inventory I prepared for the December Art Show and Sale. For that, I didn't mat or frame anything that didn't already have a mat or frame, offering them in clear display sleeves (these are sometimes called "bags" in the industry). But for the booth I think I'll want to have everything framed or at least matted, so pieces that already have frames or mats will go up first.

Since the unique thing about much of the art in my cupboards is that they are illustrations either for books I have written or for books written by others, I will be displaying the open books so that people can leaf through to compare the original illustration on the wall with the printed illustration in the book. I'm using the same setup to hold the book that I created for the art show, but now they're painted a light green and will hang on the pegboard wall near the book (click on the image of the open book for a close-up) -- so a lot of things have had to happen to make that work.

Actually, I've decided to blog in some detail on the setting up for the sale booth since a lot of people expressed interest about the preparation for the Art Sale and Show in December. It will help me organize my mind, as well, so it's good for us all.

But that's going to have to wait a day or two, until I start the setting up. It's being a fascinating process for me, and I hope you find it interesting, too ~ maybe it will give you an idea of how you could do it if an opportunity arises for you to set up a booth some time in the future.

So, this is a kind of place marker. Stay tuned, as I'll be making regular entries for the next couple of days (and THEN I will get the Amazon Sketch/Journal Tutorial up online ready for download! YES!)

Here's a grab-bag of other entries...

Related Posts with Thumbnails