Viva Vendors!

And now for some more fascinating things that I noticed, while working as a vendor at an outdoor market…

Booth blindness

This is a serious condition that affects many people at fairs and festivals

Booth blindness is when a person does not even realize that your booth exists, because they are busy looking at/thinking about the booth next to yours. Sure, they may actually love your work if they noticed it, but at the moment, the much slicker, brightly colored tent next door is blinding them. This can be fought with good branding and marketing weapons.
(not to be confused with vendor fear, which is when a person purposely avoids eye contact, because he/she is terrified that you will put the hard sale on them). 


No matter how many variations of a t- shirt you make, you can be sure that people will always want something slightly different. Every one loves custom made things, and I’m not complaining. Working from commissions can be fun.

The surprise sale

This happens when you least expect it, and brightens up your day. In my case, a man wandered up to my tent, sweating off a bike trail, and asked me where he was. He was completely lost and disoriented, but went ahead and bought a set of prints before pedaling off into the sunset!

Vendor comradeship

Stinking heat, hours of standing on sore feet, long periods of time where nothing happens, overcrowded public restrooms, these are the things that can really bring people together. At some point during a fair, vendors become buddies and it’s a beautiful thing.

Market Switcheroo

You learn a lot at fairs.
Apparently I’ve been targeting the wrong crowd. The t shirts and vests that I was marketing towards tweens and teens work great for curvy women, because the prints wrap around the body in a flattering way. Hmmm.
Also, apparently people under the age of fifteen LOVE my work. Unfortunately they don’t have much personal disposable income. Still, I’m flattered.

The Unexpected, Awesomeness of Friends

So many of my friends just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, this weekend to lend me some support. I am still reeling from the pleasant surprise.

Fully armed with these observations, I feel ready for my next vendor-experience.

Ballston arts and crafts market here i come!

The Aftermath

Well my first proper experience as a vendor at a fair is over, and I thought I’d share the rich and pungent experience with you. Why pungent? You ask. Well it was hot, blindingly hot and sticky, and with stickiness comes pungency. Even though I kept slathering myself with sunscreen, I’m now a few shades darker than I was pre-weekend.

There are a couple of baffling things about being an oudoor vendor. The first is figuring out how to behave. Here are some questions that were  running through my head, that I may need a psychologist to help me with…

Should I stand out in front of my booth, or will that scare people away. Should I sit in the back and act uninterested, or will it seem as though I’m skulking and grim.
Exactly how much smiling  is considered scary?
How can I prevent myself from looking slightly psychotic after a day of standing in the sun smiling at people I don’t know?
Is there such a thing as being too approachable (especially with little children, who generally want to come home with me?)
How do I politely turn away people asking whether I can copy a strange  design onto a shirt, without looking guilty?

Am I really as pungent as I think I am? 

I guess time and experience will equip me with the answers.
I’ll write about the other baffling things I noticed in my next post.

The Verdict

All in all, I had a good time. It was a very validating experience (some people actually want to buy my work. Yes they do!) and I feel even more motivated than ever to carry on doing what I’m doing.

Thank you to all those people who supported me and my fledgling tent. Now for some photos:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s all in the details

As the fine fair of Viva Vienna draws close, I am at my favorite stage of work. The finishing up stage.

There is a reason why I kept getting stylist jobs in London. I love pulling bits and bobs together to create a cohesive look, presentation is a big deal to me, and now I actually have my own brand to focus on.

With very little time left, I can really only do a few things, but I managed to mono-print tags for the tee-shirts, and print up some freebie bookmarks to give away as well. I’m also planning on printing some decorative hangings to festoon my booth with.

Super D sewed some labels onto the shirts, so that I could write Noctiluna on them, and put little heart patches on some of the kids’ shirts in unexpected places.
And, of course, I printed tee-shirts for myself and the kids to wear at the fair. No better advertisement for the shirts, than grinning kids with cotton candy on their faces!
There is so much that I want to do, that I won’t have time for. An example: I really wanted to print a little Noctiluna tree onto fabric and sew it onto the sleeve of each shirt as well.
Oh well, maybe at the next fair!

Tags with wash instructions!
Noctiluna labels
heart patch

Facing my Retail Fears

When I was at college, I would spend my vacations in London working at the Joss Graham Gallery, a truly fascinating shop that sold exotic textiles and artefacts from all over the world. I loved the bohemian, Aladdin’s cave atmosphere of the shop, and really enjoyed working there, and learning about all the things they sold. But as Joss could attest to you, I never really, actually sold anything.

I was a terrible salesperson, Always over-apologetic, under-confident and terrified of seeming too pushy, but Joss was just too nice to kick me out. I did paint a nice kolam ( street decoration) outside the store, so all was not lost.

Hopefully I will do a better job this weekend (well I must have matured a little since then!)

This weekend, The Viva Vienna fair rolls into town, and the good people of Vienna, VA will be out in the sunshine enjoying the happy family affair with rides, and performances, and vendors……………….yes vendors.
You know me, always willing to step out of my comfort zone for a bit of personal growth.  I was feeling rather bold when I registered myself as a vendor, and now I will drag myself trembling to the fair and face my latest challenge – selling my own work.

Wish me luck!

The Yin and Yang of the Mommy-Artist

The Six Year old and the Tent

I used the plastic lid from my son’s box of trucks as a plate for inking my roller yesterday. It’s been that sort of week.

Two birthdays, one ear infection, Walk To School Week, and around 50 shirts to iron and label for the fair. I’m running on a cocktail of tea and pure adrenaline now.

After taking a few days off to take care of my sick toddler, I jumped back into my work with a fierce urgency yesterday. I have a LOT to do before the fair.

I’ll be totally honest, when I found out that the toddler was sick I felt a sense of dismay about his timing, but my mommy senses kicked in quickly. Work just wasn’t as important as making him feel better.
Funnily enough, instead of feeling frustrated about not getting any work done, I really relished the time snuggling with His Grumpiness, wiping his snotty nose and cuddling him through his tantrums. I guess that is what is meant about finding balance in your life.

I mix business and my home life all the time, I just can’t separate them. That is the only way I can get things done (see my bizarre shopping list below! ).
Life makes so much more sense when you can find your own sense of balance through all the chaos. This can mean different things to different people. To me it means shifting tasks around so that I can stop to smell the roses with my loved ones when I need to, and keep (almost) sane.

Yesterday, I managed to mono-print tags for all of the shirts, frame all of my recent prints, and screen print onto some cute fabric that I found. I also picked up supplies at a couple of craft stores, foraged through my closet for hangers for the t-shirts ( now all my clothes are stuffed onto a shelf), and write part of this blog post.
But… I also managed to go for a bike ride, pick up new pyjamas for the kids, and take them to the park.

Now it is the weekend, I plan to try putting up my tent for the fair, and take photos of my shirts. But you can be sure that there will also be dance classes, grocery shopping and a birthday play-date. Now for that shopping list…

Fabric pens
Black ink
Pyjamas for kids
vinyl printing sheet
Diaper rash cream


Making a creative connection

What a great morning.

I just had a pow-wow with a good buddy and local designer, who runs a ‘kitchen table’ business like me, making fabulous T-shirts for kids, in the middle of mayhem.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there is nothing like a good critique. My work suffers when I spend too much time on my own, and I start talking to myself in a maniacal way.
Art School is a pretty singular experience, where the air is always thick with creativity, and everywhere you look, you feel inspired. Most of us find it difficult to replicate that atmosphere after leaving, and working from home is the polar opposite of being in a studio buzzing with energy (although the heating and well stocked fridge is always a bonus).

Me and Super-D (which is what I have decided to call her on this blog) came up with millions of groovy ideas for our work, drank a lot of tea, and told some pretty terrible jokes. The result: I have a bright orange burst of energy radiating from me, and a dry mouth from talking too much.

We have decided to have weekly crafting sessions, which I am so very excited about, and collaborate on a piece or two…or more.

If you like hand crafted clothes for kids, check out her work at .

Strike a pose kids!

The T-shirts are coming along nicely.


It has been a steep learning curve, but the nice thing about screen printing is that you get pretty fast results. I have been taking an ‘intuitive’ approach to my printing: just going with the flow, printing a bit, standing back to look at the results, then adding something else. If I make a mistake, I try to work it into the design (I do tend to make a lot of mistakes –  which is actually why I adopted the ‘intuitive’ approach in the first place!).  🙂

Sometimes, this works, sometimes this doesn’t, but I want each shirt to be unique, and look hand crafted rather than mass-produced.

Now I’m thinking about selling them them.
A scary idea for me. I generally enjoy making things, but the marketing and sales stuff is something I haven’t been very good at so far.

This morning I was thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to have pictures of real kids wearing the t-shirts on my website?” I already have an image in my head of happy kids running around in a sunny field,  hair messy, knees muddy, goofy grins on their faces,wearing my shirts. It all sounds very dreamy and picturesque, but I know it is going to be difficult to do.

First of all, I need kids. I know I could get my 6 year old to do this: she is a natural poser, and loves the limelight, the toddler, however, would be more difficult to convince, I see bribery in my future. Maybe I could rope in a few of their friends (and their parents) to take part?

Secondly, I will need to take good photos. I’m what you call an ‘idiot savant’ when it comes to photography. I’ve taken some good photos in the past, but I have no idea how I did it. My knowledge of photography is rudimentary. Hmmm. Maybe, I need to rethink this idea…

I do like challenges, so I will probably give it a go. Maybe I will end up with a completely different outcome than expected.

I’ll post them here when I’m done!

Domesticity and the artist

Pictures of my house being slowly overtaken by printing madness.  It has been a productive day so far.

dining table
living room



The T-shirts are coming along nicely, but I fear the house may be swallowed up in the process. The upside?? I’ve become much better at doing the dishes on time, now that I need the sink to wash my screens.

I would do the laundry, but I’m test washing t-shirts in the washer. It’s just as well tomorrow is the weekend!

Juggler extraordinaire

I have made no bones about the fact that this blog is all about juggling.
Juggling ideas, juggling roles, keeping all those balls up in the air at the same time and not losing your balance. 

Take today for example. I dropped the kids off at school, came back and made these prints:


 I quite like them. I think I’ll call them ‘Flock 1 and Flock 2’.

Now I’m off to bake my daughter a birthday cake, and wrap her presents…then I’ll print up some T-shirts for the Art fairs…then I’ll make some business cards. Then the kids get home and have a play-date with some friends, and so on, and so forth…you get the picture. “Monkey-toasting” My daughter calls it. So much more fun than multitasking

The fantastic website

Now I have just discovered a fantastic website that speaks to a lot of my interests, that I want to share with you…

If you are interested in creativity, kids, art, education, or all of the above (like me!) have a look at this great site.
It allows kids to build up an online portfolio of work, be part of an online community, and much, much more.
cool. I hope you enjoy it!


A story about confidence or ‘The Ambassador of Artistan’

This morning, after dropping my son off at day care, I decided to pick up my groceries before getting to work. There is an old man at the grocery store, who is particularly fond of my kids and always stops to say hello to me.

“Hello” said the man looking at me in a concerned way.
“Hello” I said, growing uncomfortably conscious of the fact that I did not have time to comb my hair or wash my face this morning.

“Are you ok?”

“Oh yes, I’m just a bit tired” – I felt I needed to explain my strange appearance and shifty attitude.

Then it happened:

The man snorted a laugh and said “You? Tired!?” In a way that would imply that I had no reason to be tired (maybe he thinks I drop the kids off at school and then have tea parties all day). I balked at this. 
I could have just ignored the comment and carried on with my day, but I felt that I needed to defend myself.

“I work, you know!” I blurted out.

He looked surprised “Really? What do you do?”

What do I do?

In the past when people asked me this question my voice would lower a bit, and I’d mumble “well, I’m  sort of an artist and a teacher, I’m not really teaching much right now……mumble, mumble, mumble.” My eyes would lower a bit, and I would want to curl up into a ball.

My husband, who is my main champion and life-coach said to me “Be bold. Look them in the eye and say “I run my own business”.  He said “be proud of what you do, you do amazing things”.

So I looked him in the eye and boldly stated ” I run my own business!”

“Where do you run it from?”


Another derisive snort escaped from the man’s lips. “What do you do?”

“I’m an artist, I make things and sell them at fairs. I also teach classes. I hope to start selling in boutiques and………” I trailed off. He wasn’t listening anymore.

This happens every now and then. I guess it happens to most people who work in the Arts, but it is happening less and less. Our jobs may not seem like hard work, or sound important to some people, but they just don’t know any better. That’s why I got into teaching.
I guess it is our job to educate them about that.

The Ambassador 

So comrades, stay strong and confident and become an ambassador for what you do.
I have invited the old man for tea, so that he can see what I do for a living. Let the educating begin!