My oh my, it has been a long time since we (or I) last talked, hasn’t it?
I cannot lie. I have been using social distancing as an excuse to hide out a little. This year has been rough and, natural introvert that I am, I have been finding my own company very soothing. I relish any time alone I can get. My time in the print studio is so fractured lately, that I have finally started using the lock on the studio door. No more Ms nice guy.
The studio is like a little bubble of peace that is constantly being pressed upon by the outside world. My kids, household chores, social media, and ever present anxiety all work very hard to seep into my workday, and I’m still learning to say no and lay down some boundaries for my work to happen. I know I’m not alone, and that many other parents are feeling this way. I also know it is especially hard for small makers and artisans to keep doing what they do. Many of us work alone, and are having to change the entire way we work and sell in a snap. Artisans often rely heavily on face to face interaction to sell products, and due to the nature of their work, tend to be a little more on the analog side of things. Kudos to all those makers with a second season of canceled events, stumbling along with the flow and learning to market and sell work totally online.
I’m more than a little behind the game due to the choppy nature of my work schedule this year. Illness, my father passing away, and the separation and collective grief of my family has been at the forefront of my life this far. I have also been away from my studio too often to put any real prolonged effort into restructuring my business.
It has been the toughest of years, and yet, weirdly, I still feel optimistic. I have always liked a challenge, and I am quietly planning for a very different Autumn/Winter 2020. I’m beginning to view this as a learning opportunity. A time to work on all those aspects of my job I have struggled with up until now. Now is also a time when I can experiment with my craft more and pick up some new skills. I finally have the extra time.
Here are some positives that I am looking forward to…
Selling better online
Not to put too fine a point on it but I suck at online sales. No matter how well my products sell at shops and markets, no matter how many encouraging comments I get on Insta, I still don’t seem to do well online! Why? Maybe I need to brush up my marketing skills. Up until now, I haven’t really focused on my webshop too much, and relied heavily on face to face sales. It’s time to start researching because, well, there is no other option right now. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Improving My Craft
I see this as the time to try new things. Learn new methods of printing, experiment with my materials. My best creative ideas have always come from when I have been in a state of play. With all my events canceled through the Winter, I can afford to spend a little more time being love with my craft. I have already started making mini blocks and using found objects to print with, and I have some really cool ideas for kids’ sweatshirts in the pipeline!
Enjoying My Space
So I have to stay home, so I can’t sell at markets. I am still lucky enough to have a great space to work in. I can think of worse situations. Honestly, with everything we have been through it will be nice to just throw myself into the Hygge life and just appreciate my surroundings (even through the potential stress of online schooling). My schedule will be more fragmented, but I will also get more time outdoors, and more time with my family. I plan to carve out time in my studio in the evenings, and to strengthen my drawing practice every day.
When I returned from England in February, I felt like throwing the towel in. I was physically and mentally exhausted and, as all my events were canceled, I didn’t see the point in anything I was doing. Enter a close friend of mine, who is a maker. She proposed that I collaborate with her on a mask making project. We started off by cutting up old seconds of my shirts and onesies for masks (fabulous zero waste repurposing). Then I got motivated to start printing lengths of fabrics specifically for makers to use. These collaborations have given me so much happiness and motivation.
I think I will carry on collaborating with other makers. It is a great way to stay in touch with my peers during this time of isolation, a great way to solidify friendships, and it is really opening my eyes up to new methods of working.
I am finding new ways to keep motivated, productive, and happy during this time of isolation. It is not going to be smooth sailing, but I am determined to make the best of things. How are you trying to make the best of your situation? I would love to know!