Sunday, September 6, 2015

Updated: I am RAW (and need your help to stay that way!)

Back in May I received an interesting message on Etsy.  It was from Josh, the Assistant Director of Milwaukee showcases for RAW: Natural Born Artists, an indie arts organization for artists, by artists.  He went on to compliment me on my jewelry (which is always nice!) and told me a bit about their showcases, which take place in over 60 locations all over the world.  I'm going to use his words here - much better than trying to paraphrase:
We focus on spotlighting underground and emerging talent to the public. Every other month we hand-select and showcase 40 local artists in film, fashion, music, visual art, photography, accessories, performing art, hair & makeup as well as DJs etc.
Our showcases typically are attended by 500-800 people, and we always invite press and media, art galleries, and other art industry professionals to give artists optimum opportunity to expand your client base, sell your work, and get your name out there, as well as network with like minded, passionate artists.
RAW's mission is to provide artists with tools, resources and exposure. We exist to give independent artists a platform and voice!

There was more to the message, but this is the gist of what RAW is and does.  The showcases always have a fashion show, bands, and more.  To say the least, I was very curious.  Anyone who tries to make a living in the arts knows how hard it is to find the right venue, and this one sounded different than anything else I've seen before.

I responded to Josh, and we discussed some particulars about the shows themselves and the next one they were planning in June.  Unfortunately, it was right after the Bead&Button Show, and I knew I would be in no shape to be in that showcase or even to attend it.  (I'm always wiped out for a few weeks after B&B!)

At some point my discussions shifted to Sarah Raeke, the Showcase Director for Boston and Milwaukee.  She answered my very plentiful questions with long and involved answers.  I truly got the feeling that she cares for artists, whether or not they commit to doing a showcase.

I looked at the pictures they posted on flickr for Milwaukee's June showcase.  They all looked so young.  I'm firmly in my mid-40s and possibly getting a little stodgy.  I didn't know if I'd belong.  I expressed this concern to Sarah, and she knocked it down.  I shouldn't worry about it, she said.  They include artists of all ages.

Another hesitation I had is that I would have to sell tickets to the showcase, since it's an event more than an art fair - there's the fashion show I mentioned, music, and other entertainment.  I'm more willing to plunk down my own money than others' money, especially on something I've never been to before.

Sarah came to the rescue again.  She said she'd put my name down on the guest list for August, and I could see it for myself.  August turned out to be almost as busy as June, but I went anyway.

The Milwaukee showcases are held at The Rave Hall, where concerts and other events are held.  It was a little dark, a bit loud, a lot hot, and... FUN.  The atmosphere was kind of electric - art and artists everywhere you look.  If you're interested in seeing pictures of this event, here's the album on flickr, but I'm going to link to a few specific pictures. Up on a stage was a "bird woman" (I hope that term doesn't offend her) in a large birdcage, and on the floor to the right were paintings of her (cage included).  Some near-naked woman was up there, too, getting painted.  It might have been this one, but I'm not sure.  The booths (which you can see starting at this page) had jewelry, art, photography, bags, clothes, and more (like this).

I chatted with a few jewelry vendors and one artist to see what they thought about the show.  The first jewelry vendor was Moonchild Designs (check out her Facebook page).  She was very enthusiastic about the show and told me this was her last one before moving to Colorado.  Her pieces were beautiful, and so was her display.  The second jewelry vendor was Maria of MWstyle (check out her Etsy shop), and she had more than just very pretty jewelry!  I liked her hand-painted bags!  She told me she was doing very well, and I could see that she kept busy.

The artist I talked to was Jo of Joywise Arts (check out her website).  While I loved her art (and bought a card of her Olbrich Spring Blooms print!), I will admit that my primary reason for talking to her was because she was older.  It seemed that everyone was young, and, again, I was nervous I wouldn't fit in.  She assured me that I would.

One of the other things that happens at a RAW showcase is that head shots of the artists are taken.  They're posted on flickr, and the artists can use them in their own promotional materials and such going forward.  Remember the whole old and stodgy thing I mentioned above?  Well, I think I'm even more nervous about the head shots than selling tickets.  Sarah said I could opt out, but when I confessed to Jo that I wasn't keen on getting my picture taken, she assured me that the photographer was excellent and knew just how to pose a person for a good picture.  Considering how her picture turned out, I think I might be okay.  One of the head shots in the flickr album just took my breath away.  Check this one out.  It is just stunning.  I know I won't take as good a picture as that one, but I won't shy away from the photographer.

Sarah said I should look her up during the showcase, but I had no idea what she looked like.  The "ticket taker" in the front gave me a description: colorful dress, long sandy-brown hair, about 5'7"... I said, "Um, okay..." and while she was checking a few people in I took a look around.  "Is that her?" I pointed to someone who matched that description, and she said it was.  Whew!  Fortunately I didn't have to wander around the place staring at all the women until I found her.

I introduced myself, and she gave me her undivided attention for as long as I needed her.  She laughed at my jokes ("Everyone is young and hip, and I'm old and need a new hip." - the arthritis has been really bad lately!), and she answered still more questions I had.  We talked about how hot it was, and I said that I thought colder was better than hot, "because you can always put on clothes but can't really strip ... wait a minute... I did see a naked woman getting painted a little while ago.  Never mind!"  We both said we hoped that it would be cooler in the venue in October.

Sarah was friendly, kind, and warm (and not just because of the temperature).  Now, I'm not just saying all this because I'm sending her a link to the blog.  I'm saying this because it was Sarah who (unknowingly) pushed me off of the fence.  If I hadn't have talked with her, I'd probably still be dithering.

When I apologized for interrupting her conversation when I walked up, she said it was okay, as her artists were the most important thing for her.  For some reason, that made me feel like I belonged.  I don't really see myself as an artist - it seems that most of my time is spent marketing and doing all the business aspects of having a business.  But after grappling with it a few days, I decided I am an artist.  I've flirted with that thought before, but now it has firmly taken hold because I have been handpicked to be among other handpicked artists, and I will showcase my art at the "Merge" showcase on October 15th.

I am RAW

Updated with new start time!

Just writing about my experiences has me excited and ready to go.  I can't wait to see what other artists will be there and what the energy will be like.  I can't wait to meet people (artists and attendees) and perhaps collaborate with them in the future (as it is, I've been staring at the card I bought from Jo, trying to figure out how I could make jewelry to evoke the same feel as her piece).  I just can't wait.  I've been thinking about my space and what I can do with it, especially with the petrified wood chunks I posted about a while ago.  I'm planning what pieces I will bring and what I might want to make beforehand.

Here's where the second part of the blog title comes in.  You were waiting for it, weren't you?

I need your help to meet my commitment of selling 20 tickets at $15 each.  Yes, I know the event is on a Thursday night and starts at 7:00p.  (Moved up from the original time of 8:00p.)  If you're in the Milwaukee area at all, I'd like to encourage you to come, even if it's for just an hour.  If you want to stay longer, well, you should have enough notice to take the next day off of work and have a three-day weekend!  MERGE is sure to be as interesting and exciting as the August showcase, with the extra added benefit of me being there!  What more do you need?  :)

Wait, you may not know me at all, so my being there isn't going to be much of an incentive, is it?  I'm going to be flinging this post far and wide, and I'm hoping that there will be a lot of you who don't know me.  Please check out my RAW artist page to read about me and to see some of my jewelry.  I can't control the picture collage on that page - it does what it wants every time the page is loaded.  You can click on a picture to see the whole image and scroll through the rest of them.

Or... you could visit my webpage and its gallery.  That should give you an idea of what I do and what I might bring.  The home page of my website has a calendar of my events, so you can follow me around like I was the Grateful Dead.  I do finished piece shows, like this RAW showcase, but I also do bead shows where I sell kits and tutorials of my designs.  If you make jewelry, please check me out at those shows, too!  More will be added soon - my calendar is filling up!

So, what about those who do know me but who can't attend the event?  Why would you want to purchase a ticket or three?  You know I have an answer for that.  :)  I need your support.  Keeping a small business afloat is tough.  I am expanding (I'm going to have a table in the Artisan Pavilion at the Bead&Button Show next year!), and I need to earn money so I can pay for table costs, make jewelry and kits, and keep designing (so I can make more jewelry and kits).  The opportunities available through the RAW organization are too good to pass up, and I'm hoping they will lead to more opportunities down the road.

But, near or far, purchasing a ticket will not be one-sided.  To show my appreciation, I would like to give you something for supporting me.  If you buy one ticket, I'll send (or give if you come to the showcase) one of my "SDN15 - Dino-spine" pendants (which goes with the bracelet shown above):

It is double-sided (the other side of this one is purple), so you have options!  I love jewelry with options.  It'll come on a simple chain, around 18-20", depending on what I have available.  If you have a particular hankering for a color, let me know, and I'll see what I have in stock.  Otherwise, please let me choose for you.  It'll be more fun that way!

If you buy two tickets, I'll also send you a pair of earrings to match one of the pendant's sides.  They'll look something like this:

Purchase three tickets, and I'll send along another pair of earrings to match the other side of the pendant.

If I'm mailing your items to you, it may need to wait until after the showcase.  I have another show just four days before this one, and I'm going to be pretty busy getting ready for both shows!

Exciting alternative!  If you'd prefer to make my designs yourself, for each ticket you purchase, I'll e-mail you PDFs of designs you choose that add up to $20 from my Tutorials and Kits shop pages.  Yes, that's right - you'll get more than your money's worth in PDF tutorials for each ticket you buy.  For example, you could learn how to make every piece of jewelry shown in this blog post (bracelet, pendant, and earrings) and still have credit left over for another design or two (see my SDN15 page - the "SDN15 - Basics" PDF tutorial is $6, and the "SDN15 - Dino-spine bracelet and pendant" PDF tutorial is $7.  You could get the "SDN15 - Intertwined Pyramids" PDF tutorial, too!).  On top of all that, you can still attend the showcase!  Do not order through my website - just send me your list after you buy a ticket, and I'll e-mail them to you.

Now that you're interested, how can you buy tickets?  There are a number of ways: through my RAW artist page, through Paypal's Send money to friends and family page, by sending me a check, or by handing me cash.  There is a charge for using a credit card through Paypal on the RAW website, but I believe that there is no charge for using a debit card through that "Send money" link above.

Any of the above ways will get you on the attendees list for the showcase.  If you do it through the RAW website, please forward your receipt to (after you delete any financial details) so I can add you to my gift list as well.  No matter which method you prefer, include a note about which perk you'd like - jewelry or PDFs (and your list of PDFs).

I've created an event on my Creative Pursuits Facebook page, so if you're going, please join the event here.  If there are any changes or updates to the event, I'll be posting them there.

I need to sell at least 20 tickets at $15 apiece by October 8th.  Well, 18 tickets.  My mom has promised to buy two, and that was even before I said I'd be giving jewelry away.  So... 18 tickets.  That's very doable, isn't it?  Update:  My mother and stepfather bought four tickets, so now I only need to sell 16.  Thanks, Mom and John!  Second update:  I now have sold seven tickets.  That means I need to sell 13 more.  Now that the show is opening an hour earlier (at 7:00p instead of 8:00p), I'm hoping that means that more of you can come.

Thank you all for getting down this far.  I know this has been rather long.  I've been working on it all afternoon, so I feel your pain.  :)  I'd also like to thank you in advance for your support.  If you've read this far, then I hope to be receiving your ticket order soon.  Don't delay so I can sleep well at night!  (No comments from the peanut gallery - I know I don't sleep well, but this might help.  We won't know unless you help me out!  Who knows?  This could be my cure for insomnia!)

Again, thank you.  And for those of you still reading.  I have an extra special treat for you:

A rare picture of Pixel and Clinchfield cuddling, taken by my husband while I was slaving away on this blog post.