art swap as a currency

Coming back from a local arts bazaar I remembered I began writing this post months ago and left it as a draft. Time to shake off the dust and publish it:
As a local street art fan I love to meet and network with fellow screenprinters, street artists, painters and designers. I admire their incredible talent and my hobby is to document their progress and sort of “scavenger hunt” their latest work, which is something I’d like to blog about one of these days.

I’ve had the chance to meet a few local artists and once in a while we’ll agree to exchange arts. This is something I encourage and support because art is an amazing currency. It will not enrich my pocket, but it will enrich my mind and motivation, and that’s something worth “paying” for.

I’ve been sort of “collecting” tiny bits of local art, meeting the artists and exchanging ideas. From time to time I’ll also document our art exchanges with photos. Other times I forget and will later curse at myself because I always feel the need to document everything! So I wanted to share some of the lovely things I’ve collected so far! An incomplete list, but awesome nonetheless!

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Oski

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Rey X

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RaVia

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Gabriel Padial

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Halloween fun

I promised to show the finished product of my Halloween costume, inspired by John Carpenter’s movie They Live.

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Definitely a costume worth making because I won first prize at the Halloween costume party!

Now that October is over, it’s time to focus on upcoming events. Next Tuesday is my first bazaar for DIY artists and small businesses. If all goes well, this will become a monthly event for us. A review with photos should be the theme of my next blog post. Wish me luck!

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It’s almost Halloween!!

This month I wanted to do something crazy for Halloween. Usually I recycle my costumes, add stuff to them, mix and match, etc. This time I decided to dress as a movie character from the 80’s (which I won’t mention until I reveal it tomorrow hahah).

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Yes, it’s completely DIY!
I decided to make the mask from scratch because it was impossible to find this character’s face on the internet. I think only one site was selling a mildly expensive one which I wasn’t going to afford, so I followed an online tutorial and bought different materials to create my costume.

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I used paper clay and papier mache for this project. I had to carefully mold and sculpt the muscles and gums.

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I then used paint and gloss to make it as realistic and loyal to the movie as possible. More pics next week!

Happy Halloween!

Punk Bazaar – what, where and why?

What exactly is a “punk” bazaar?

I recently had the opportunity to host events on a monthly basis. One thing I always wanted to do was a gathering of artists to show off each of their skills and/or creations to the public and a way to support eachother. I wanted it to be a way for people, who had no resources or money to promote themselves on a professional level, to build up their business, brand or name. Having my own business I learned that many of the participating brands on big events were either bigshots, had the resources or money to expose themselves to a greater public, had all the necessary paperwork to build a “legal” business, or knew someone who could help them get to these events for free or for lower fees.

In reality, most artists and small brands can’t afford to do this just yet. Some of these events can cost up to $400 per vendor for ONE day. I’ve seen fellow artists sell here and there, on a corner of a tourist area during weekends, through a friend who had the luck of partipicating on a big event, selling to their friends in college or hangout spots, etc.  The organizations who do these events usually have endless waiting lists of people to participate and only choose certain types of businesses depending on what they sell. Many will never get to make it to this list.

So this is how the punk bazaar is born. A free independent and alternative space to go and sell, promote and showcase your talent, completely free and best of all: run by likeminded people without the help of bigshot organizations, designed to support a DIY way of thinking, hence the word “punk”. I wanted to include different kinds of people with different talents and skills, which is why I’m kicking off the first bazaar with cool clothing brands, accesories, band merch, tattoos, magazines, comics, food and live art. Hopefully it’ll give a chance for the audience to appreciate the hard work of those who have it tougher making it in each of their fields rather than the usual trends we are exposed to every day.

Starting November 5th at the Biercade, San Juan Puerto Rico.

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basic 2-color prints

these ones are getting popular. I admit they’re my personal favorites aswell =]
Keep in mind I don’t own the proper equipment for multicolor printing, so these images have been printed with nothing but patience and a good eye *chuckle*

Below are some simple phone pictures of a few 2-color prints I’ve done.

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A quick How-To on selling at craft events & bazaars

I like to read the Etsy forums every now and then; surf through different threads, learn from my fellow etsians and even share my own ideas from time to time. One thing I see quite often are the threads regarding craft fairs, art shows, bazaars, etc.

Many etsians ask for advice on how to deal with being a first-timer at these events. What do I need? How do I handle promotion? etc etc.

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Preparing for events is a lot of work; especially if it’s your first time and you’re completely clueless! My first time was about 2 years ago and yes, I was less than prepared compared to right now.  I have to admit that I’m still nowhere near an expert on this, but I’ve done quite a couple of events and have gathered a few tips which I’ll share with you ❤

In my opinion, the most important part of these events is attracting your niche market. For example, my shop mainly attracts people between the ages of 18 – 30. My clients for the most part are into art, music, anything out of the ordinary, street art such a graffitti, etc. That’s part of my niche market.

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So, when I participate in these events I try to showcase my items in a way that’ll attract my niche market. I place art prints, stickers and promo cards on my table, I hang the coolest shirts right in front of the booth or depending where I’m selling. There was even one time when I hung my totes from a tree. YES! THAT HAPPENED!

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Apart from making your booth niche market-friendly, also pay attention to the possible future “not sure if I’m ready to buy just yet” customers. Many people are hesitant at first; they might see something that catches their eye but will tell you “I’ll come back later”. Others are far from your niche market; they may not even be a fan of your product, yet they’re right there in your booth. Give them a business card. Give them a treat, a freebie, a sample of your product. It all depends on what you sell. I like to give stickers for free sometimes. Some people get so curious over them that they ask to see more of my prints. One sticker can turn into a sale in matter of seconds. So do what you need to do to attract your market!

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Selling beauty products? Soap? Lotions? Give out samples.
Selling candles? Light ’em up! Attract buyers with your awesome scents. 😉

Right after you catch their attention, your next step will be building a network. Make friends with your clients; give them your card. Ask for THEIR card. Who knows? You might need their services in the future. It won’t always be about making sales. In fact, you could end up with a great opportunity on your hands by simply networking instead of pressuring your visitors to buy. I had a woman visit my booth one time who did not want to buy anything from me. Instead, she just asked for my business card because she was the owner of a local pub and wanted some custom shirts made for her employees.

You never know who might show up. Stay friendly!

Make sure your business card includes social networks. It’s not all about phone numbers and emails anymore. Three of the most popular places used for networking are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Join them, update regularly, upload photos, promote your shop, link your accounts for cross-promotion. This means you can update your twitter and have it show up on Facebook aswell. Or upload a photo on Instagram and send it over to twitter, FB, tumblr, or any other network you have linked!

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As you keep working craft fairs and selling events you won’t only be doing business, but also creating a fan base for your shop, and these social platforms will help them keep up to date with you and your products.

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So you have your products, your way of promoting, networking and setting up your booth. Make sure to bring snacks, water, petty cash, a portable card reader if you can, bags (eco-friendly is always a plus), sun lotion if you’re selling outdoors, and HAVE FUN!

DIY

One thing I’ve always appreciated and respected is the Do-It-Yourself culture. I remember being about 14 years old and not being able to afford certain things such as accesories or whatever trendy jewelry I wanted as a kid. Part of my family owned a local arts and crafts store where I worked and grew to love the art of crafting and DIY. As a result I made my own jewelry and accesories; proudly wearing them at school, making them for my close friends, and selling them on eBay using my mom’s account *chuckle*.

Now as an adult I appreciate what I learned then and what I know now!  This is what keeps the mind running and the hands busy, plus there’s always something new to learn. The key is to research and keep an open mind. As a small business owner, the DIY process has helped me expand the shop little by little, learning new ways of promoting and spreading the word, reaching out to my target market and customers, etc.  Once you figure out the best ways to stay resourceful, you can pretty much do anything!

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Many businesses skip this process and would rather let others do that work (which is perfectly okay too!). Many often feel the need to spend huge chunks of money on promotional items, branding, anything they can get their hands on that looks “professional”. Unfortunately in most cases that means one word: E X P E N S I V E. The fact of the matter is, we can do all of that on our own with the right resources and a good amount of motivation and patience.

Being the DIY junkie that I am ( 11 years and counting! ), I look for different ways to promote my business without spending too much money. This includes but not limited to:

  • Promotional flyers
  • Business cards
  • Brand labels
  • Hang Tags
  • Promotional stickers
  • Discount Coupons

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Making everything myself as opposed to ordering from a big company has its perks. I control all the production procedures, I choose my own materials, I make as many items as I want and when I want. Plus, it’s a great satisfaction to see my finished product doing its intended purpose, whether it be to decorate a garment or inform a potential customer.

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I realize that DIY is not for everyone. I get it! People are busy or have better things to do. Some business owners are parents or have other responsibilities which don’t leave time for all that extra work. Others may not be as open or confident enough to brand or promote on their own. And some people think: “Why should I do all the work? That’s what Office Max is for!”. Not hating, though. I love your paper selection, Max ❤

So with that in mind, I leave you with this alternate option to DIY: support your fellow small businesses. Do you realize that, not only big companies can help you in your quest for branding and promoting your business? Many businesses that sell on Etsy (my preferred selling platform) help get you started. There’s a wide variety of shops which make business cards, tags, you name it. And guess what: it’s all handmade by them. So in reality you’re supporting the DIY community without having to DIY 😉

Now on to the good stuff…

Last week I promised to give a lil info on my handmade stickers. Now, there are actually a few ways to make stickers. It’s all about budget and quality. If you want standard-looking stickers you could buy sticker paper from brands like Avery and print them out. You can also buy a small sticker machine from Xyron, which is basically the sticker adhesive with which you’ll make your stickers. You can use normal copy paper or any paper of your choice, print out your design, and then pass the paper through this machine and voila! You got stickers.


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You can also choose to “die-cut” them, which means cutting them in any shape you want. This is achieved by using an X-acto. Handle with care, folks 😉

Now, there’s a more “street” way to make stickers, and it’s definitely the cheapest way. It’s also illegal, so I will refrain from naming a special type of label you can grab from your local…*ahem* office for free, gluing your soon-to-be sticker paper onto the label and peel the back of the label like an average sticker. Or if you’re an artist, draw on it! You didn’t hear this from me, though! Actually this is a common practice between street artists (and fun too!).

Most handmade stickers are not waterproof unless you use vinyl or a better type of paper. I have not tested this yet but laser printers MAY help with this problem. One thing you can do is purchase laminating paper. By laminating your handmade stickers you don’t only make them waterproof, but you can also make them glossy and better looking. Just make sure to laminate the edges aswell so water doesn’t reach the ink.

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Stay crafty, friends!