When two seemingly unrelated events occur simultaneously we must pay strict attention.

Or something like that. I guess it's time to re-watch Twin Peaks. But I've already digressed. I came to this meeting to make a confession:

Hi, my name is Susan and I'm addicted to blogging.

(all together now . . . "Hi, Susan.")

The other night my husband said something that I've been afraid of hearing for some time. He said it kindly enough, but now it's out there and there's not a thing in the world for me to do but stare at it.

He said, "Remember that blogging doesn't make money."

Ouch. Point taken.

I've been trying to do a few new things this year (like blogging), hoping to spice things up in the world of Small Works and decide where I want things to go next. Unfortunately, I didn't realize when I started that I probably couldn't be a responsible social blogger.

Which was dumb since because of my addictive tendencies, I can't really do anything responsibly.

And he's right -- the financial landscape has changed a little this year for everyone, including us, and it would definitely behoove me to
work more and write about working less.

After the Chicago show in December we talked about a lot of possibilities. I'd been wanting to figure out a way to make my work more accessible to a wider audience by introducing something at a lower price point. But --

I don't really have any interest in producing hundreds of ornaments at this time in my career. Done that.

Two vintage Susan M. Hinckley booth shots, ca. late 1990's

from the North Shore Folk Art Show, Evanston, IL.
You can see I used to make a little (well, a lot) of everything.

I'd been wanting to be a little edgier, more provocative in some of my work. But it's hard to take a lot of risks when the piece you're working on requires a month of work and you've got a few whopping booth fees sitting out there.

And I'd been wanting to generate some income that wasn't quite so labor intensive, to help get us over the last college-tuition hump we're struggling with.

(Let me insert here that I have no plans to discontinue what I'm doing -- I'm just looking for new ways to stretch in addition to creating my wool works.)

So as we continued our conversation at Baltimore,

This is how most of our conversations go, except when Russ occasionally comes out with something like "blogging doesn't make money."

I found it very kind and quite reassuring when The Universe reached out and gave me its blessing! It went like this:

I've been planning for some time to paint a booth sign and had been mulling over ideas for what it should say, possible images, etc. And it occurred to me that I really liked the idea of "Conversation Pieces."

In fact, I told Russ that I like to think of my work as "conversation pieces" and that I wish I had started calling them that from the beginning, instead of "small works in wool", as it would be difficult to change now.

After all, a lot of my work centers around pieces of conversation,

interactions between characters

or between the viewer and the idea that the piece is trying to communicate.

So we were talking for a minute about how difficult a change that would be to make, what it would entail, was it a good idea, etc. when two women came into the booth.

We stopped talking to resume booth duty. After the women had looked for a few minutes, one of them turned to me and said, "These are conversation pieces. I mean, these pieces of work truly inspire conversation. It's totally cool!"


Thanks for the vote of confidence, Universe.

After a little more discussion, I've decided that my new work will be Conversation Pieces (by Small Works in Wool). Because it's going to be a lot more about the interaction and the idea and less about the process and craftsmanship.

And I think my new booth sign will say "Conversation Pieces" because it's really one of the nicest compliments on my work I've ever received. If I knew who she was, I'd thank her personally.

And if I get the less labor-intensive line up and running and it goes well, that could both generate income and free up some additional time

for things like . . . blogging, right?

Maybe I could even get a computer in my studio?!


Karen said...

Susan I love both your art work and your writing. Have you thought about doing a book? I've got 2 kids in college too so buying your wonderful art work is not in the picture at the moment, but I would gladly snatch up a book of your work.

Marjorie said...

Conversation Pieces is perfect, I love it! And while blogging doesn't generate money directly, it is a way, perhaps, of reaching an audience that might otherwise not be aware of your work. It's also a way of keeping a journal and of clarifying your thoughts as you're writing those posts. Or perusing your magazines for just the perfect image for a post is a form of research that can help your design work. Hubby's not seeing all of the intrisic benefits here.

Anonymous said...

truly i think that you could logically transition to the "conversation pieces" front name, because it really does distill the magical appeal of your art. it seems a natural evolution for the path your work has taken.

on the blogging issue, i respectfully disagree with your lovely husband, and not just because your blog is a favorite of mine. it's surprising how artist blogs create connections that lead to new contacts and new opportunities, $$$ opportunities included. there are many blogger/artists who now have books, greeting cards, fabrics, craft patterns, licensed products, gallery representation, etc because they made an impression/connection via blogging. it's another way to promote yourself as an artist, but on a human-to-human rather than solely art/product basis.

not to be sexist, but maybe the blogging connection thing is more appealing & effective among women artists, because of the way women vs men communicate generally.

just my 2+ cents worth. looking forward to seeing your new work under any name! --luanne

VO said...

Have you seen Crazy Aunt Purl's blog? crazyauntpurl.com. She DID get a book deal out of her blogging. She still works a reallife job but she has a book. And a following.

Your blog IS entertaining, full of fab eyecandy that makes you think (yes, conversation pieces!) even if sometimes the conversation is in my own head.

Many of my friends don't *get* art, especially handmade art. So it's hard for me to have a group of people who understand and will converse with me about it.

An online blog (redundant I know) is a perfect way to get that community following and while I can't afford to buy one of your pieces (danged budget) watching you grow (especially with a pot on your head) is worth $ to me.

april said...

love, love, love conversation pieces idea. and you must listen to the universe as we don't want any bad kharma going around, now do we?

susan m hinckley said...

Thank you friends, one and all for your encouragement!

Russ did roll his eyes when I told him about doing this post because he was afraid "Susan nation" would rise up and revolt against him. I assured him that "Susan nation" -- all 5 of you -- are nothing but kind and forgiving (but I am going to make him read your comments!)

Anonymous said...

Right on, Susan..I love it!

Pam said...

Coversation pieces is a great idea - love your work!

Flannery said...

I love the vintage booth shots but how long did it take to set those up and how large did your vehicle have to be? As an art fair assistant, that looks like a nightmare! People will boo me for this I am sure....

susan m hinckley said...

Flannery -- My booths were perhaps the most ridiculous thing in the world requiring hours of work, reinventing the wheel about every 10 minutes, tears, yelling, all the fun you can imagine and see reflected in the shots. We shipped the work (we could fly free then and had 75% discount with FedEx) and always had damage and breakage -- that was the first problem -- then we drove in all sorts of bad weather from Seattle (the second problem) and I really had no clue what I was doing to begin with (the biggest problem!) Thanks for noticing. . .

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