Best. Conference. Ever.

Wow, what a summer!  I took a bunch of trips, made a ton of artwork, and worked on growing my business.  It didn’t leave much time for posting (or resting), but after a whole spring of feeling like I was just spinning my wheels, I finally feel like I accomplished something. Luckily for me, summer is just starting here in San Francisco, so I can still enjoy some warmer weather now that I have a little free time.

The highlight of August was of course the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs in Seattle.  Our inaugural year was  more successful that I ever anticipated and it makes me feel both extremely lucky and extremely proud.  I could not have been more thrilled with the skill of our speakers, or the enthusiasm of our attendees.  I met more wonderful new friends than I can even count.  We also had exceedingly delicious food every day, both at the conference and at our meals and happy hours around Seattle.  It makes me really excited to start working on CCE 2011 in San Francisco.  Here are a few highlights:

Cathie Filian, Emmy-nominated host of Creative Juice on HGTV, gave one of the best talks I’ve ever heard about how to create your own business opportunities rather than sitting around and waiting for them.

Craftsanity Live!Podcasting Session with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and Becky Stern

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood interviewed Megan Reardon of Not Martha during a live CraftSanity podcast.  Then Jennifer and Becky Stern from Craftzine/Make magazine showed attendees how to make podcasts of their own!
Taking It To The Next Level: Lauren Venell, Jenny Hart and Andrea Porter

I got to be part of two amazing panels, “Taking it to the Next Level” with Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching (center) and Andrea Porter of Matthew Porter Art (and fellow organizer!, right), and “Valuing Your Work and Getting Paid for it,” with Lisa Congdon, Becky Stern, and Leanne Winslow of Cake Central.  Every single one of these ladies is so. friggin. smart.

Trophy Cupcakes

Speaking of cake, we had (among other amazing goodies) these ridiculous cupcakes from Trophy cupcakes.  Those flavors are Nutella and Salted Caramel, my friends.  WHAT???!!  Yeah, I had, like, eight.  I also had my first poutine in Seattle (I ate it too quickly to take a photo), which is french fries drenched in gravy and cheese.  Oh my stars.  Yum.  All that weekend was yum.

Attendees At CCE

Isn’t the Hugo House gorgeous?  This is in the “cabaret room”.  I love it when creative events are held in inspiring, colorful spaces, rather than in sterile hotel conference rooms.  I also love it when we have three days without major A/V or tech issues.  What a treat!

Last Chance for a Free CCE Ticket!

The free ticket giveaway on design*sponge ends tomorrow at 8AM for the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, so if you want a chance to win, act quickly!  The rules are at the bottom of my latest “biz ladies” article, titled “Maintain Confidence in a Competitive Market,” which is all about keeping it together as a creative professional when everyone else in the world seems younger, skinnier and more talented than you.

If you’d like to remove the element of chance altogether, you can get your ticket at the CCE site, which has day passes and full weekend passes available for extremely reasonable prices.

CCE on Kickstarter!

Hey Folks!  Remember how I told you all about Kickstarter a few weeks ago?  Well, I drank my own Kool-Aid and put up a project to help fund the CCE!  It took a lot of work, including 12 hours just on the video portion, but it was well worth it.  Even if we don’t get funded all the way I’ll still be proud of this proposal.  It’s the first video I’ve ever shot and edited, and though the sound isn’t great (all the footage was shot in crowded and windy outdoor spaces), I thought I handled the background music pretty well. Please go watch it and tell me what you think!  Oh, and if you were to help support our little conference with a tiny donation, I will love you forever.

Do you have any tips or stories to share about a grant, loan application, or other funding proposal you put together?  Please share them in the comments!

Writing an Artist’s Statement

I’ve participated in a few gallery shows over the years, but they’ve all been pretty laid-back.  None of the curators has ever asked me for an artist’s statement or a resume.  This fall, however, I am hoping to participate in a show at the Society for Contemporary Craft.  These folks are the real deal.  They want all the documentation.  I didn’t have an artist’s statement ready, so this week I sat down to write one.

  1. I dreaded doing this.  I am not good at critiquing anyone’s art, and the thought of trying to condense the essence of everything I have ever made into two short paragraphs was daunting, to say the least.  I couldn’t immediately start writing paragraphs, so instead I started with a big, sloppy brainstorm.  Using a few of the prompts on Molly Gordon’s site, I began to scribble out words that I associate with my work.  I had written around 50 terms before my brain naturally started to hone in on the ones that seemed most relevant.  The terms “bright color,” “childhood,” “irresistible,” “immaculate,” and “collect/organize/categorize” were the gems I pulled from the pile.
  2. My next step was to brainstorm a few sentences using the terms I chose.  The sentences were disparate and unconnected at first, and what I wrote was far too detailed.  I was trying to give the most complete picture of my work possible, but then I remembered that that’s not really the point of an artist’s statement.  The point is to tell people who are unfamiliar with your work what your art tries to accomplish, and how you make that happen. You can add some context and personal history to the mix, but that’s really just gravy.  As soon I realized that I didn’t need to list every material I’d ever used, or every art-related thought I’d ever had, my sentences began to cohere.

Before I started working on my artist’s statement, I was liable to describe my work as “eclectic,” and myself as a Jane-of-all-trades.  I had only vague notions about what tied everything together, because I don’t examine my motivations very carefully when I make things.  I just “feel inspired.”  Now that my statement is finished, I no longer wonder why artists are encouraged to write them.  I’ve come to see that I have a unique and coherent style, even when I work with different media or subject matters.  And now I can describe that style confidently in just one or two sentences.  It’s been both empowering and enlightening to write my artist’s statement.  I gained some insight into my process and motivations, and I’m glad to say that I like what I saw.

You can read the full statement on this page in my “About” section.

Note: I also had to write an artist’s resume, which I did by combining the guidelines found at the Artists Foundation and the College Art Association.