Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Chain Interview Continues...Part 2

When I left you last time, Hollie Mion had answered a question from Lindly Haunani about her collection of polymer clay work, and how she went about building that collection. Now it is Hollie's turn to ask a question...

Question to Maggie Maggio, from Hollie Mion: I have long enjoyed your color tutorials. My first exposure was when you and Lindly would generously share your knowledge and ideas at the Shrine Mont Retreats back in the mid 90's. How did you get started with it, and where did you obtain your knowledge of color theory?

I'd like to say that I have always been interested in color theory but that's not the truth. I've always been interested in color mixing. The teacher of my first high school art class taught color theory by giving us a batik assignment with only four pots of dye – red, yellow, blue and black. That experience was pivotal for me. I tore up a cotton bed sheet and made close to 1000 color swatches using different combinations and different strengths of three dye colors - a pink red, golden yellow and bright blue.
The first thing I did when I found polymer clay was to buy one each of all the primary colors and start mixing them together. Soon I started documenting the mixes. Then I started teaching how to mix colors. But it wasn't until I began writing color articles for the PolyInforMer in the mid-90's that I brushed off my college textbooks and looked at color theory again. I relearned all the traditional theory just so I could share it in those articles. That's when I found out how little I knew, and how much of the theory just didn't make sense to me. I decided to start testing color theory and soon discovered that polymer clay is the perfect medium for color exploration.
So how did I obtain my knowledge of color theory? By playing with the clay. By reading color books and then experimenting in the studio. By teaching and then finding out that theory is not the same as reality. By observing nature. By talking with other colorphiles. By researching for the book that Lindly and I are writing, and by writing the blog. Color is so complex that I learn something new all the time. It's a bit of an obsession. I just want to know! Recently my daughter called me a "color detective" because I am always trying to uncover the facts about color. I love the searching. And that's the truth. -Maggie Maggio
Question from Maggie Maggio to Cynthia Tinapple: Interest in polymer clay is growing all over the world. The National Polymer Clay Guild just changed its name to the International Polymer Clay Association and your blog, Polymer Clay Daily, plays a huge role in connecting the global polymer clay community. What are some ways we can reach out and network with our fellow polymer enthusiasts in other countries?

I've been surprised that 40% of the PCDaily audience comes from beyond the US borders. I'll attach a list of the countries in the order of their participation.
What can we do to increase and improve that participation?
U.S. bloggers may want to be careful of their use of idioms so that readers who are translating can better understand the content. Putting a translation widget prominently on your blog will make it easier for your international guests as well.
Remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Make those pictures good and self-explanatory.
More video tutorials, webinars, other online video meetings, virtual guilds will be in our future. Beyond that, face-to-face in classes and conferences will continue to cement our bonds to each other and spread techniques around the globe.
The barriers to cross-country sales will become less problematic. Already, online galleries like Etsy and Dawanda have helped promote the exchange of polymer clay art to a wider international market.

Extend your reach...comment on foreign blogs, join the European guild, link to foreign sites that you like. The best part of this is that when you're stuck in a rut, there's no cheaper travel or richer source of new ideas than crossing a border online. -Cynthia Tinapple
Question from Cynthia Tinapple, for Laura Timmins: You've been making your living at polymer clay for a few years. What suggestions do you have for integrating the accountant and the artist in you? How do you keep your left brain and right brain in such good balance?

Like most artists, I MUST make art. It's not optional. No external motivation is needed. It's easy. The business side of things is a whole different story. Previously, I had to fit my art making around my day job. Once I made the commitment to combine the two activities (earning money and making art) I found that I had many more hours every week for making art. I still feel that the business of selling my artwork interrupts what I really want to be doing, but the trade off is absolutely worth it. Keeping the perspective firmly in mind that what I've done is trade working for an employer to earn a living, for working on marketing my art to earn a living, keeps me motivated to do what can feel like drudgery at times.
But staying motivated is only part of the equation for me. There are so many possible business directions to take that it's very easy to get side tracked, especially when I'd rather be thinking about other things! I use two methods to help keep myself focused; goal setting and discipline. I set my business goals in outline form. My top level goal for the business side of things is obvious: Earn Income. I then detail specifically how I plan to accomplish that goal for the coming year. Category headings are things like Art Shows (applications, displays, fee deadlines, ordering supplies), Website (photography, maintenance), Galleries (new contacts to follow up, special shows that will need artwork, reminders when to check on stock at each), etc. I also include all the tasks involved for each heading and deadlines for each task to help keep me from becoming distracted from the goals I have set. I revise my outline every few months. With a detailed outline of my goals in place I have a concrete way to evaluate whether or not to pursue any new opportunities that present themselves.
Discipline is harder for me than organizing, which probably means it is the more important of the two. I try to set a work schedule and stick to it (which only works some of the time). The first thing I do each day is check my outline. If there are looming deadlines I work on those first, usually and hour or two each day but sometimes more. I reward myself for getting those business tasks done by making art for the rest of the day. - Laura Timmins
What I love about the questions and answers is how often they are directed at something that the person is truly passionate about. That passion and interest comes across in their answers. Plus I am getting lots of good information to think about in my own approach to blogging and managing my business. I love Maggie's story about her high school art class. Didn't you?

Stay tuned for the next installment....


Christine Damm said...

It's interesting to see how other artists organize their "art business" and what they do to stay focused. The logical thing seems to be getting the "important" stuff out of the way in the morning and then work on art. But I find when I do that, that all my energy has gone to doing the menial tasks and I have a diluted approach to the art which is begging to cut loose. So when I wake up with ideas that are just clamoring for attention, I just go with that and do the other things later in the afternoon. I find I have to be more responsive to the art because that is more ephemeral-- the post office will always be there.

Judy said...

Christine, I think we are of a similar mind!