Monday, May 18, 2015

Swizz Beatz, The Dean Collection & Thoughts About Treating Your Business Like A Business

 My latest Instagram crush is a surprising and welcomed find --- Swizz Beatz, and his latest venture with the Dean Collection. I can't say I knew anything about him, although I'm definitely familiar with his work (DMX was a staple in my Discman growing up) but what I'm really fascinated with is his fabulous contemporary art collection. Ok, so I know Kehinde Wiley (his painting featured above, a whopping 8'5" x 25' piece!) is probably the most famous contemporary artist of the last 10 years but what I'm really excited about is SB's interest in up-and-coming artists. As much as I enjoy Andy Warhol's faces and Damien Hirst's dot paintings, it's refreshing to find someone seeking out new, sometimes little-heard-of artists, purchasing their work, and adding fuel to their hype. 

Tryptic by Maya Hayuk, part of the Dean Collection

Not to mention I think he has pretty fabulous taste.

After finding his Insta feed, I pursued the internet looking for more information about SB. I got a charge after reading this interview with him and it started a chain of thoughts about how I approach my own artwork and looking at the business side of it. 

It's been over a year since I decided to prioritize my art life and now I'm starting to feel the need to really establish it as a business, as much in my own head as anything.  Until now, I guess I was just doing it to see what could happen and now that I've figured out what I'm doing, established myself a bit, and gotten some feedback, I feel ready to take things further. I've gotten to a point where what was started as a hobby, has now become something more, I want it to be more, so I need to reframe some of my intentions towards where I want to go with all of it.

Works by Saner Edgar, part of the Dean Collection

For one thing, I need to stop underselling myself NOW. You can only short-change yourself for so long before you become thoroughly sick of it. I'm setting prices and sticking to them -- I still want to be accessible to all kinds of people so that means making art within a variety of price ranges, not adjusting prices to what you think the crowd can afford. Or feeling bad about valuing your art at a certain price point. If you don't value it, can you expect other people to? 

Another one is making sure I show up in my studio like it's a job. Frequently, my studio time can get bumped to the wayside, especially since it is at my home and I could run to the grocery real quick to get food for dinner, or I could start that load of laundry -- NO -- I need to create working hours and stick to them. It's amazing what you can come up with when you're surround by all your tools and materials, even if you don't feel all-together inspired. My biggest hurdle right now is making as much as I can. My smaller pieces (like the houses and toothbrushes) have proven to sell when I make that means I need to keep making them. Like Swizz said he learned from Peter Max, art is like manufacturing your own currency.

Even this blog, it started as something that I only wanted to do as it pleased me, allowing it to be an organic expression. If my art is a business, then I need to make it a priority to share what I'm making regularly here, and my other social media outlets. This blog has become so much more for me over the past couple years. Not just a place to share but a place to process my journey, to document my learning curves, and help express myself through writing. When I first started blogging, I hated writing anything -- I felt like I sounded so dumb -- and would just post pictures. Now I have the confidence to verbalize in ways that I was too shy to do before. And the greatest thing is, when I meet people in person, I know how to verbalize to them what I'm doing because I've taken the time to do it here. Seriously.

BUT anyways, really excited to see a guy like Swizz Beats buying art instead of cars and I am interested to watch where he goes with The Dean Collection. I don't know if I have the gumption to go back to school for business like he is doing but I will do my best to put my business hat on more frequently. It's almost kinda fun sometimes, I mean not knitting fun but a girl's gotta give her hands a break sometime :)

Got any Instagram crushes you wanna share?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Sprang Update

New shipment of yarn arrives = I've got some big plans in the works! I'm starting to buy multiple balls in my fave colors in anticipation of larger projects.

Until then, why don't I share what I've been up to these past couplea months! I haven't been getting as much done as I would like due to now working a part-time job but it's just a matter of time before I rebalance.

I'm starting to explore the differences between hand and machine knitting. These 2 guys are the same toothbrush design, same yarn, same number of rows cast-on, but the left is done on the machine and the right is done by hand. It makes me realize what a loose hand-knitter I am! Doing intarsia color-work on the machine, you can't help but have a tight tension and I'm really enjoying it because it adds a sharpness to the design. Not to mention it now means I can pack in more detail into a smaller space. 

My tiny houses have gone super tiny now with the tight gauge. This guy measures 1.5" x 2.25". Can't wait to start designing these house more intricately, especially since this house is too tiny for any of my tiny frames, hehe.

These toothbrushes tho, I think I might prefer the look of the hand-knit here. See how varied the 2 brushes are from each other? The machine would add a uniformity that I believe would take away from the character of the design. This piece recently sold to a buddy of mine who reached out via Instagram, I appreciate his support! Eventually I would like to put a series of pieces up for sale online, until then, it's been individuals who reach out to me that I'm selling to for now. Still figuring out outlets for my work. 

If you are EVER interested in purchasing something you see here or on any of my web platforms (website, Instagram, Facebook) PLEASE CONTACT ME! If you love it, I want to get it to you!!

I'm now an official member of the Triangle Machine Knitters Guild based out of Raleigh :) they hosted a 5-day spring Knit-In at a local nature preserve that was a great opportunity for me to be in a room-full of experienced machine-knitters. That taught me some many little things about my machine -- like how do I adjust the volume? Is my frame set up right? It was great. Not only are they talented but fun company as well.

Got some knit inspiration off the TV the other day -- I couldn't figure out how they were knitting and purling with the same yarn but getting 2 different colors. When I brought my sketchbook in to the Knit-In, I was instantly taught about plating. Plating is where you carry 2 yarns as you knit, where one color is carried in front and the other in the back. This way the purl side will be a different color than the knit side.

Not only did I learn what plating was, but I learned I could do it on my machine! Mine came with a plating yarn feeder that can hold the yarns front and back.

Here is my first sample with the plating yarn feeder. I love the way that the contrasting yarns create a flecked sort of look. This swatch is way too stiff because I used 2 fingering weight yarns. To create a really nice fabric, I need 2 yarns that when combined, make a standard fingering weight.

Here is a piece I got done during the Knit-In. Can you tell what it says? I'll give you a hint: the dark lines are the shadows of the letters. I originally knit this design at home, and had my fair share of trials-and-errors...

...the biggest lesson being 1) I can't watch TV and machine-knit like the way I can by hand, and 2) understanding how to correctly flip my design so that it comes out the right way. See, when you knit by machine, you face the purl-side of the fabric (aka, the back-side) so you can't really see the finished side until you cast-off and remove it from the machine. After knitting my writing backwards not once, not twice but 
3 times (that's where the not-watching-TV lesson was learned), 
I finally realized what I was doing wrong. I would flip my pattern in the computer and then read the chart top-down, which would flip the pattern again. Flipping twice means backwards letters for me.

After maintaining my zen and dutifully ripping back, I finally got it right. Alas, even then I came to the decision that this bit of cryptic text might be too cryptic. So I decided to knit it one more time (the green one above) and loosen the tension (allowing more space between the letters) and shortening the letters overall. It's still tricky to read but no one said understanding art was easy!! Also framing it properly and being able to stand back from it helps :)

Did you guess what it says yet? TURD ON A LOG, duhhhh!!!! It's a phrase I use often when I feel like I'm not getting anything done, or I've watched too much TV and not done the laundry. I have no idea where it came from but it has become a part of my regular, nonsense lingo.

Ok, so maybe understanding art can be easy too.

This is another quick study I did at the Knit-In. Here I was inputing single motifs (one bird or one flower) and then using the machine's computing abilities to repeat and flip them as I desired. For me, this is where this software makes sense. I wouldn't want to input a large design like "Turn On A Log", especially if I know I only want to knit it once. I would rather input small motifs and have fun repeating them in various ways.

I've got some big plans for the next few months, focusing on my goal of scaling up. Now if all these friends of mine would quit being so happy and getting married then I would have more time to knit!!

Stay tuned...