January 30, 2010

Charlie wins!

Thank you so much to everyone who sent me Etsy banners, I really appreciate your efforts and your taking time out of your busy days to help me out. You guys are awesome! WE HAVE A WINNER THOUGH! My friend Charlie, who has skills I never knew he had, came up with this and I love it so much I put it up immediately!

So thanks again everyone, again, your efforts are greatly appreciated, but I think I’m good for now. :o)

Posted at 5:14 pm in: Art , Etsy
January 29, 2010

ACEOs are UP!

I just wanted to let you all know that my first batch of 8 ACEOs are now up on Etsy! FINALLY! Take a look!

Etsy: Your place to buy & sell all things handmade
SunnyCrittenden.etsy.com
Posted at 10:02 pm in: Art , Etsy
January 28, 2010

I’m on drugs!

And now for something completely different, I give you the musical stylings of my best friend, Alexandria Gillespie:

And now onto other things…

Blake & I had a pretty wicked fight last night where he called me a “bigot” due to a misunderstanding about whether or not I accepted people who identify as gender neutral as valid (I do) and we were up until about 3am talking about it. There are 2 things you never ever call me, ever: 1. A “cunt”, unless you’re being playful and 2. A bigot because I accept everyone for whoever or whatever they are or say they are. I am very much a live and let live kinda person and it killed me last night that the person in the world who knows me best and loves me the most would call me such a thing when they should know me better than to think that was true in any capacity.

But everything’s okay now and the misunderstanding has been cleared up.

Yesterday was a pretty rough day emotionally between that situation, thinking earlier in the day that Blake was mad at me and ignoring me for reasons I couldn’t fathom and because I watched the series finale of Six Feet Under which utterly destroyed me for most of the afternoon. Not to mention the fact that I’m not the most emotionally stable person these days and I’ve been “bleeding brown” for the last week & a half despite only being halfway through my last month of birth control pills. (For those not in the know, I take them for 3 months non-stop, without a period, then have a period and repeat because of my endometriosis. The last month and the period following it is always brutal and requires lots and lots of drugs.)

I think when I see my shrink on the 8th, I’m going to ask her to up my medication because clearly I’m not stable right now. The normal dose for my mood stabilizer is 4 pills a day (I forget the mg dosage) and I currently take 3. I’m thinking I should probably be at 4. I’m also going to ask her for a new anti-anxiety medication because the clonazepam doesn’t seem to be cutting it these days. I usually take 2 before I go to sleep to curb “racing thoughts” and I can take it during the day if I’m having anxiety, but lately I’ve been having to take 3 or 4 just to get to sleep and some days I need to take 2 of them, plus Ativan (lorazepam) to keep my anxiety somewhat under control. I’ve heard good things about Xanax so maybe she’ll put me on that. She’s no doubt going to ask me what I think is causing the anxiety and I honest to god have no idea. I mean, normally I’m good at pinpointing things like that, but this is just coming straight out of left field. Yeah, I’m really stressed out about Wes’ birthday party, but I’ve been at that level of stress before and I’ve never had a problem with keeping things under control with the medications available to me. So I dunno.

And I haven’t been depressed, necessarily, but sad and unmotivated. Kinda numb and neutral. I have two paintings I should be working on right now, one that’s been in the works for over a year now, and while they sit on my coffee table waiting to be completed, I don’t seem to have the drive right now to work on them.

And Etsy…holy shit, Etsy. At the suggestion of my internet buddy, Ashley, whose grandmother sells aprons on Etsy and has for quite some time, I spent most of this week in the Etsy forums (and chat) talking to people and learning as much as I can and really, selling on Etsy has about as many tricks and rules as selling on eBay, which is a site I completely hate. Now, I’m not going to abandon Etsy, I still think it’s the best venue for my work at this time, but the suggestions as far as getting sales are VAST and there’s a lot more marketing involved than I’d previously anticipated. Naively, I figured I’d just list stuff and walk away, but oh ho ho, that is so not how Etsy works.

First, there’s the renewing game. With how Etsy’s search results work, which they’re actually in the process of tweaking but that’s kind of besides the point, it’s easy for your items to get buried if they haven’t been recently put up so what people do is they “renew” items, which pretty much means relisting them again so they show up at the top of the search results and stay on the main page and thus, more visible, longer. This of course costs $0.20, the same as listing an item to begin with. Most people, or at least the successful ones, renew several items per day, every single day. This week I’ve been doing that myself with mixed results, yes my hearts and views have gone up, but no sales have come from it.

Everyone on Etsy says to be patient, some people go 6 months to a year before making their first sale. That’s not exactly encouraging, but at least I know it’s not just me or what I’m selling. In fact a lot of the threads in the Etsy forums are about how sales are down for just about everyone due to the economy taking a giant shit.

But back to promotion. So Etsy gives you a couple of tools for promoting your shop. One is the “Etsy mini”, which you can see in my shop here on my site because I added it the other day. You can add this to various blogs and websites etc. but really, the only venue I have for this item is here on my site. The other tool they give you is a Facebook app that adds a tab to your profile or fan page (another reason to go the fan page route rather than a group) that basically shows your entire shop. It’s actually pretty cool and you can see it in action on my fan page. (I added it to my personal profile as well.) But that’s really the only tools Etsy gives you for promoting your shop.

Advice from other people though, well, there’s plenty. Some suggest that your personal avatar (your user icon) should be a picture of something you sell because if you post in the forums and they like the item in your avatar, they’re more likely to visit your shop. And buyers DO read the forums apparently. On the same token however, if they don’t like the item in your avatar, they may pass your shop over. That’s why I’ve chosen to stick with the picture of myself that I’ve had on Etsy since I opened my account a few years ago. Well that and Etsy won’t seem to let me change it. Using a picture of yourself, especially an interesting one, was also recommended in several threads.

Other  buts of advice were to make sure your spelling and grammar are impeccable, which I absolutely agree with, and to make your shop announcement interesting but not too long. Honestly, mine is probably too long. The other bit of advice to do with this was to make sure you fill out your shop’s policies in full and be as clear (and as entertaining) as possible. Also, filling out your personal profile is something you want to do as well because apparently people actually read those. (I haven’t really filled mine out yet, but I plan on it.) Some people suggested that in your personal profile or in the first section of your shop policies, you discuss your creative process and how each item is made. I still have to do that too, but as some people pointed out after that piece of advice popped up in the forums, you don’t want to give away too much because that can lead to copycats.

Then comes other forms of marketing that you do off-site. The main gist of most of these promotional topics was that you shouldn’t rely on Etsy’s current market to make your sales, you should concentrate on bringing outside people from your world into your Etsy shop and there are literally a million ways to do this. One suggestion, which I’d already planned on, was to register a domain name and have it point to your Etsy shop so people can find you easier and your Googlability goes up. Another suggestion was to create bookmarks or postcards or other small items with the url to your shop and give a stack of whatever those items are to your family, friends and co-workers to hand out for you. Most people can do this with whatever kind of printer they have at home. I don’t have a printer (well, not one that really works anyway) so this isn’t an option for me yet, but it’s something that I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to.

More suggestions came in the form of advertising on the internet, like with Facebook ads and advertising on blogs. That’s too rich for my blood, so I’m not going to do that, but apparently it works. One woman said that she makes postcard-sized business cards with her Etsy shop’s url on them and she goes to Barnes & Noble once a month to insert these cards into all of the craft magazines. She swears this works. (I’m skeptical, but it’s still an interesting idea.)

There is just this whole world of Etsy that I never knew existed until I started reading the forums and while a lot of it is really just good common sense marketing, there are levels to it I’d  never even considered, like advertising outside of the internet or playing the “renewing” game. My brain is pretty fried from absorbing all of this information, but I’m determined to put some of it into practice over the weekend, especially simple things like coming up with a wicked bio for my personal profile page.

Oh and more things to consider is your “relevancy”, which is part of Etsy’s new, experimental search system. LIke, for your titles, you should say what the thing is and then what it’s called. For example my titles for items were originally just what I called them, like “just like honey”, but after readong more about it, I changed them to “Original Painting – just like honey” because people search for original paintings, they don’t search for “just like honey”. And then there’s also your tags, which you have two sets of. One is categorical as far as what your item is and one is based on the materials used in the item. There’s like, a whole science to using tags, which I understand due to using tags and metatags for search engine optimization on websites, but when my mom starts selling on Etsy, I may have to help her with that.

And Etsy even has RULES on tags. For example, you can’t tag something “valentines day” because it would make a nice Valentine’s Day gift, you can only tag it with that if it’s something Valentine’s related like a heart-shaped soap or a hand-made V-Day card. There’s even a similar rule pertaining to tagging your items by colour, which admittedly I don’t fully understand but I’ll look into it more when I start selling my ACEOs by colour.

Isn’t all this shit crazy though? I mean, who knew Etsy was this complicated? I certainly didn’t. I gotta say, my inner ad geek is kinda loving it though and I can’t wait to have a little bit of capital to spend on things like advertising.

And speaking of Etsy, I still need a banner! E-mail me your 760 x 100 px submissions by February 20th and if I like yours enough to use it, I’ll PayPal you $20! Sunny@SunnyCrittenden.com!

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind this week. Blake’s going to be here any minute with our lunch, so I better wrap this up, but chances are I’ll write more later because my brain’s been all over the place and I have shit to say!

January 24, 2010

The Muse Wants What the Muse Wants

I’m an idiot. I just gave Blake (more or less) my last $25 cash and asked him to go to Curry’s on his lunch break tomorrow to pick me up a pack of three 12×12 inch canvases. I have ideas in my head that I think would be a waste on either of the 8×8 inch canvases I have sitting in my canvas cupboard and I’m going to do those ideas even though I know my bigger paintings aren’t selling right now and that smaller ones or the ACEOs I’m currently ignoring probably would. I can’t help it though, I have ideas and those ideas tell me what to do more than the other way around. As the title says, the Muse wants what the Muse wants and she wants 12×12 inch canvases.

Blake’s also currently helping me with a painting I started to do in the summer but never finished because it involves some code I don’t know how to write. The background’s completely finished for that one and the girl would be too, except I don’t know how long the code’s going to end up being so I don’t know how big to make her. She’s going to be in the same vein as “Binary Ballerina” though and guess what else? There’s MARABOU involved.

So creatively, that’s what I’m up to these days. Or will be as of tomorrow while I finish the final  season of Six Feet Under.

I also have a proposition for some of you. I know that some of the people on my Live Journal friends list are graphic designers and that’s what I happen to need. I don’t have much money to offer, but I do have $20 in my PayPal for anyone who designs me a nice banner that I can use on my Etsy shop. What I have up there right now is just something fast and dumb I threw together just so I’d have something up there and technically the fonts I used aren’t kosher as far as commercial use so I need to put something else up. My problem is that when I installed CS3, all of my paintbrushes stopped working, so I can’t even make a banner like the one on my site. Ideally what I would want is something that shows the kind of artwork I do, but really that’s all I know. Feel free to use pictures of my paintings or whatnot and if you don’t go that route then the pink I use on my site is #FF6699 and the blue is #99CCCC. The banner needs to be 760 x 100 px and I guess the way we’ll do this is, if you’re interested, just e-mail me your banners (Sunny@SunnyCrittenden.com) by say….February 20th and I’ll pick the one I like the best and send whoever made it $20 via PayPal. I realize it’s not a whole lot of money but it’s all I’ve got to offer. :o/ Anyway, I thank you all in advance for helping me out, I really appreciate it.

Speaking of Etsy, last weekend I made my very first sale! I was so excited to see the e-mail, you have no idea. I ended up selling both of the Bitch Barometers I had left, meaning that they’re now all gone, never to be created again! Those things were such a bitch to paint, let me tell ya, and I made 25 of them over 6 YEARS AGO and I just finally sold the last two this weekend. I’m so glad to have them out of my house! And thank you very much to the person who bought them!

My paintings on Etsy are getting a hell of a lot of views, but so far no purchases. That’s okay though, I didn’t really expect them to go flying off the shelves and putting them on Etsy was just an easier process than putting them on my site. As I explained at the time, I have an audience and my audience has seen all of my paintings, if someone in my audience was going to purchase one of them, it would have happened by now and hey, now that they’re on Etsy, I’ll be widening my audience while still enabling my current audience to purchase them if they so choose. Plus, it hasn’t even been a month yet since I added the first ones, so there’s plenty of time to see what happens.

Anyway, I was going to write more but I just remembered something I was supposed to do like, yesterday, that I haven’t even started yet so maybe I’ll post more later, after I’m finished this thing I’m supposed to be doing. Stupid obligations!

Posted at 6:49 pm in: Advertising , Art , Etsy , Sunnyland , winter
January 23, 2010

OMG!

Blake just got back from checking the mail. Did one of you get me a gift subscription for BUST magazine? For reals? I FUCKING LOVE YOU, WHOEVER YOU ARE! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! <3 <3 <3

Posted at 1:06 pm in: Feminism , Misc. , Sunnyland
January 13, 2010

Video of Paintings

Now that I have a new video camera, I decided to make a new little video of some of my recent paintings to show how sparkly they are, something that doesn’t really show up in photographs and is really frustrating. I’m going to add a link to this video on my Etsy store so hopefully people will get a better idea of what it is I do. Anyway, here’s the video. (I’m not embedding it because full-sized, it covers up my right column and I think it should be seen full-sized.)

Posted at 1:41 pm in: Art , Creativity , videos , winter
January 11, 2010

just like honey


“just like honey” is finally finished and I just listed it for sale on Etsy!
There are more pics over there, so go check it out. :o)

Also finished is the painting I was working on for Ashley’s baby shower, although there were some technical difficulties after varnishing…the girl’s petticoat? It should actually be purple with flowers, but for some reason the varnish turned it more reddish. This has happened to me once before (pink paper turning orange) so some papers, I guess, just turn different colours when the varnish is added. There’s nothing I can really do about it and thankfully the colours have never been so far off that it looked bad, it just doesn’t look as good as it originally did.

Anyway, I’m tired today so without further ado, here’s the pics of Ashley’s painting:

Anyway, realistically I don’t think I’ll be going to the baby shower, but as I think I said in my previous post on the subject, I doubt Ashley will care.

That’s really all I have to say today. As I said, I’m really tired. For some reason I decided to get up at like, 6:30am and I’m just dead on my feet right now considering I didn’t go t o bed until around 1am. :o/

Posted at 12:01 pm in: Art , Ashley , Creativity

Madison is gross and funny.

Posted at 8:17 am in: Blake , Family , Kids , Madison , videos , youtube
January 6, 2010

Busy Little Bee

I don’t know what’s been up my ass lately but I’ve been super productive over the last 4 or 5 days. My bee girl painting is almost finished and so is the one I’m doing for Ashley for her baby shower. All I’ve been doing is drawing/painting and watching Six Feet Under starting from the first season (I’m now on season 3). Today I’ll continue to work on both paintings and watching Six Feet Under and then I’ll watch the Leafs game and repeat.

An artist once told me that in order to produce work in more volume, I should stop watching TV and I thought that was insane advice because I paint while I watch TV. Or more to the point, I paint while I listen to the TV, looking up when i need to, but mostly just listening to it while I concentrate on whatever’s on my desk. The very odd time I’ll paint while listening to music, but that’s pretty rare and usually only happens when there’s nothing on TV or I’ve seen all of the good movies on The Movie Network On Demand that month. And even then, I’m more likely to put in a DVD of a movie I’ve seen a thousand times than to paint while listening to music. Music is for writing. TV is for painting.

Perhaps predictably because I never finish anything, the story I was writing last month has been put on the back burner.  I was going strong on it, got 10 pages down easily and then Xmas happened and I just kinda lost steam. I fully intend to go back to it, but probably not until the spring when painting urges start slowing down.

The ACEOs/ATCs…I haven’t really been working on them. The ones I posted a while back are still sitting on my desk without arms (because I really really fucking hate doing arms, I cannot say this enough!) but as soon as I’m finished the two paintings I’m working on right now, I’ll go back to them. I mean, I have to, I have no money for more canvases so unless I want to paint on wood (which I don’t), ACEOs it is. A lot of people have been asking me about them and when they’ll be ready and the fact of the matter is, I’m going to finish all 60 of them before any of them go up for sale. Because I’m working on them all by colour, I don’t want to release them for sale as I make them because say I release the ones I’ll have finished in a couple of weeks. Those ones are purple and gold. So someone buys a purple one and then 2 months later I put the pink and turquoise ones up for sale and the person who bought the purple one thinks “dammit! I like those better!” and regrets their purchase. I don’t want that, so that’s why I won’t be putting them all up for sale until they’re all finished. Or at least that’s the plan at this very moment. I’m glad to hear that there’s interest in them though, that makes me very happy. Sometimes when I’m painting I get into negative self-talk and think “why the fuck am I even doing this? No one’s going to like it, not enough to buy it blah blah blah” but I don’t with the ACEOs because I know people want them. So that’s a good thing.

Anyway, onto what I’m working on now. My bee girl is almost finished (she needs arms), or at least I thought she was. When I was drawing her, I made her slightly smaller than 8 inches tall to give me headroom for her antennae on a 12 inch tall canvas. Well, I needed less headroom than originally anticipated, so now there’s all this space above her head that I need to fill with something. Warning: Shitty picture…

She needs words. I just don’t know which words. The idea to paint her came from the “No Rain” video by Blind Melon, so “No Rain” is the obvious choice here, but truthfully I don’t think she’s  grungy enough for that. The girl in the “No Rain” video was an outcast, with nerdy glasses and a plump body. This bee girl is obviously a little more glamourous. (After she’s varnished, she’s going to have a fluffy black tulle tutu.) I think if I were to see this painting when I was out somewhere with the words “No Rain” on it, I’d probably laugh at it for trying to hard. So that’s out. Also out is a play on words (unless it’s very clever) on the word “bee”, like “Bee Yourself” and stuff like that, but I’m not opposed to bee references in general like, “It’s good to be Queen” (although I think that’s too long and doesn’t fit with this painting). So if anyone has any suggestions for this one, I’m all ears because I’ve been looking at it since last night trying to think of something and I’m at a loss. Later today I’m going to look up bee facts on Wikipedia to see if anything pops out, but if anyone thinks of something in the meantime, shout it out! Just try to keep it to 3 or 4 words, if possible. (And thank you in advance!)

The painting I’m doing for Ashley’s baby shower is pretty straight forward, just a pretty girl on a REALLY REALLY sparkly background. (And I mean REALLY REALLY sparkly, I kinda went nuts with the glitter on hers.) Her background is crackled white paint over metallic purple paint, with light purple, light yellow, champagne gold and metallic purple splatters and light purple sparkles over top because the baby’s room is being done in all purples and yellows, apparently. I asked Ashley to send me samples of the paint she bought for the baby’s room, which she did, and I matched the samples to my paint pretty much perfectly, she’s going to love it.

The girl for the painting is basically Ashley herself in a fancy dress:

That pic (and the bee girl pic) is kinda crap because I took it outside thinking the white light from the grey day would make for better pictures, but it didn’t and I didn’t really realize it until I’d already uploaded the pics. Her eyes are a metallic light blue which is essentially the same shade as Ashley’s eyes and Ashley’s hair is long, straight and dark brown and she wears it in pretty much that style every time I see her. I’m assuming, since her boyfriend also has dark hair (but I don’t know what colour eyes) that the baby will have dark hair too. They’re both Italian and everyone in their families has dark hair, so I figure that one’s a given.

If I have time before the shower (and money) I’m going to make a trip to Michael’s to see if I can’t find metal words for the girl to be holding. I’m pretty sure Making Memories makes a set that includes the word “family”, which would work, but I’d really much prefer “daughter”. If I can’t do that then the girl will just be clasping her hands in front.

The baby shower is on the 24th and is in downtown Toronto. I told everyone I’m going and Judy’s excited for me to come, but in all honesty, there’s a very good chance I won’t go. Being in a hall with about 50 strangers with weird food 2 hours away from home for a baby shower is not my idea of fun at all. I’m gonna need so many drugs to pull this off that I just don’t even know if I’ll be able to. Judy really wants me there though, so I’m going to try my best to make it. (Ashley probably won’t care either way, as long as I send a gift. That’s just how Ashley is.)

Anyway, I think it’s time for me to make my eggs, start watching more Six Feet Under and get back to work on these paintings. I hope you’re all having a wonderful day!

PS. Buttercup‘s got lots of interesting stuff in store for January, you should check it out!

January 3, 2010

An Evening With Wayne

Last night we invited Wayne over to drink beer and play Guitar Hero, which he had never played before. Hilarity ensued.

(Don’t even ask me what he was doing with his tongue, I have no idea. o_O)

Wayne discussing the finer points of his “Third Degree” hot sauce:

Wayne….doing I don’t even know what, but at the end I took a drink, he made me laugh and I subsequently spit it out all over the dog who was at my feet so that’s when I put the video camera away:

I’m sure gonna miss that fucker when they move. :o/

Posted at 10:13 pm in: Alex , Blake , Friends , Ronny , videos , Wayne

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