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Signs and Lights and Balloons Oh My!

By | Adventure, Blog, Business, Cowgirls, Gallery, Inspiration, Marketing, Sales, Studio, The Southwest | No Comments

Time flies when you’re trying to do a lot of stuff!

After 4 months of song and dance, paperwork and payments, business licensing and relicensing, our signs are finally up and legit just in time for the busy season to come to a slow creeping crawl!

IMG_7173Of course things have not quite fizzled out yet!  Since I last wrote I made a trip to Utah, to visit my one out of neighborhood gallery.  Maran of Gallery Mar in Park City is such a lovely woman and so enthusiastic about my work, I could not have been luckier in finding my first gallery representation outside of friendships in Taos!  I wish I had taken a picture with her, but alas, all i did was get some silly photos of me with  my work in her gallery.  I was also able to drop off a new sculpture for her space and sell one to a dear friend who lives out there as well.Gallery Mar Girls

We got back just in time for the Taos Fall Arts Festival and entered a couple of cowgirls into the Taos Open.  The 10 day event was kicked off with Thursday night music on the Plaza and a Friday night massive art on the streets event called the PASEO bringing in projection, sound, performance, robotics, and installation artists from all over the world to grace our small town with the latest in technological and interpretive pieces.

PASEO, interactive moving layered light, a piece by Filipa Valente, Portuguese architect/interactive artist based in LA

PASEO, interactive moving layered light, a piece by Filipa Valente, Portuguese architect/interactive artist based in LA

Things did not stop there with a week full of poetry readings, gallery openings, and music!

I accomplished two big firsts recently, The Taos Fall Arts Festival, and just this past weekend, we made a trip to Albuquerque for my very first Balloon Fiesta!  While it was disappointedly rained out on Friday night for the special shapes balloon glow, where the balloons are tethered but light up in spectacular display, we were still able to check out the amazing chainsaw carving competition and see some remarkable craftsmanship and creativity, and thanks to the line of carnival booths, we also shared a donut burger!

The following morning we attended the mass ascension.  We drove in to the park at dusk while it was still mostly dark and the dawn patrol flickered in the night like massive fireflies lighting on and off as the first light of the morning slowly broke over Sandia Mountain.  By the time we were on the field among the balloons, they were filling and growing up all around us and taking off here and there into the sky!  The special shapes were my favorite, but each balloon’s lift off was cause for a crowd celebration.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland shrunk down among puffball mushrooms of every shape and color!IMG_7580

 

Making on the Verge

By | Blog, Business, Gallery, Making, Marketing, Sales, Starving Artist, Studio | No Comments

Starting off slow and steady, I wonder if I can run this race?

Summer is in full swing here in Taos, and businesses pick up this time of year with tourism and locals getting out to the shops for gifts and souvenirs.  With paperwork for our storefront signage still in limbo, foot traffic to my little studio and viewing space is mostly few and far between, but every now and again someone pops by to pick up a little something.

My online sales are mostly non-existent, but it’s a great way to share what you do with anyone you meet who is interested.

“Here’s my business card, take a look at my website,”I might say, “Oh and if you’re in town, you can see my sculptures in a few galleries here and in Park City, UT! Have a nice day!”

Work Table

 

 

 

So what does it take to make a living as a clay artist?

I rent a room in an old elementary school now community center in NM for my studio space

I rent a room in an old elementary school now community center in NM for my studio space

Honestly, I have no idea, because I’m not doing that yet, but I speculate and come up with theories every day.  I suppose there are many ways really, but being a potter and clay sculptor I rely quite a bit on the bread and butter sales of the very accessible functional objects; cups, mugs, bowls; affordable, portable, intimate.  As one who is easily intrigued by the allure of other mediums, I paint and print and sew and sculpt when the spirit moves me as well.  You could say I have multiple small bodies of work and sketches and watercolors could all be offered for sale at an accessible price too.

Many people I know and meet often want to support me in small doses and I am more than happy to oblige!  I love experimenting and exploring visually and feel gratitude and connection to those who respond positively to what I come up with.

For years I worked in a restaurant to support all my habits and desires to play with visual mediums.  I was always told to “up sell” our customers, try to get them to buy the more expensive steak, or wine, or add an appetizer or dessert.  Knowing my own budget and designs for eating out, I simply wanted the customer to have just what they wanted.  Nothing more, but also nothing less.  I was happy to let them know exactly what their options were, but I’m not pushy nor a great saleswoman perhaps to a fault.  I like think my guests appreciated that.

I worked at a lovely restaurant that accommodated everyone from the locals and regulars to the out of town guests, from visitors looking for a quick inexpensive meal to lavish 6 course dinners with multiple rounds of wine, cocktails, and aperitifs.  I met with warm and positive reception to my service and hope to carry that into the business of making and selling artwork.

But without people requiring a meal of handmade pottery multiple times a day relying on regulars or drop-ins can’t be the only way to make a buck.  So far I’ve placed my work in a few locations about town and online.  I price relative to my peers and with respect to my costs and time.  I gig as often as possible, trying not to have a committed schedule anywhere other than my studio, catering, housesitting, petsitting, and sitting a gallery.  I peddle my wares plugging my websites on social media, blogging here, and making donations to various causes.

Thanks to my donations of 12 bicycle bowls to the Empty Bowls event here in Taos, a guest sought me out at my studio just the other day to purchase some mugs as well!

Advice to aspiring clayers that don’t want to go the academic route, and simply want to make a living creating and share their craft: put yourself out there however you can.  I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way!

Laura’s Studio

By | Blog, Business, Gallery, Marketing, Sales, Studio | No Comments
The outlaws

The outlaws

I have been living and working in Taos, New Mexico for almost 10 years and for most of that time I worked in restaurants and did odd jobs to support making art, traveling, and my humble but comfortable lifestyle.  Thanks to falling in love and having the support of a partner this past year has been an amazing journey into starting my own business and stepping away from restaurants for the time being.

The community center in Arroyo Seco, New Mexico just north of Taos rents out rooms for small businesses, many of us being artists and makers of some kind.  Renting out the space for many years to make work when ever I was able was a great way to keep my hands in clay.  We have long since set up the hallway between our spaces as a make shift gallery to display our work during open studio events and for when people just drop in.  We are finally in the process of putting up signs to transform the abandoned appearance of our building into a more inviting space.  Most people know me simply as Laura, so when it came to putting up signage and coming up with a name, I went with simple and straightforward.  If you are looking for me I hope to have my sign up sometime late this summer.  Just look for “Laura’s Studio” at the “Community Center Studios.”

The building hosts a small collection of talented painters, a photographer, a clay artist (me!), a dance and movement studio, and an amazing furnishings and interior designer/upholsterer.  Almost everyone in the building is more than one kind of maker or artist, myself included!   It’s worth stopping by when you make a trip into Arroyo Seco!

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Just a photoshopped idea of what it will look like with our signs.

Our photoshopped image of our building with signs.

Gallery Sitting

By | Blog, Business, Gallery, Marketing, Sales, Starving Artist | No Comments

It’s my regular Thursday shift at the Logan Wannamaker Gallery positioned right on the main street in downtown Taos.  Less than a block from the stop light that backs up traffic every few minutes filling this small space with the exhaust from idling cars.   My regular shift is Thursdays and it’s been pretty quiet, so if you are out there and reading this and you’re in the neighborhood, please come and visit me!  If you’re not in the neighborhood but want to make the trip I’m here! Come have a chat and let me tempt you with all the beautiful pieces that fill the shelves!

The gallery is a lovely space with newly installed wood floors, old oil can pedestals, the ceramic makings of a variety of local potters, beautiful abstract paintings, and of course a few Clay Cowgirl sculptures!

As I am venturing into working full time as a maker, I wonder how to build a business where I can make a successful living.  Where once galleries and other spaces that sold your work on consignment might have split the sales 70/30 with the artist and the gallery, now almost everywhere I have found does a 50/50 split on consigned work to cover their over head and whatnot.  Maybe I should open a gallery?  When you don’t have the means to do that of course you build an Etsy store so that you don’t have to give away half of your retail value… and then build a website where people can buy direct as well… and exciting news for me too is putting signage on the store frontage of my studio working space hoping to solicit direct sales that way too.  I have work in a wide range of prices including simple functional pieces to elaborate large sculptural work.  Still making a living as a new artist is slow in what is supposed to be the start of our busy season.

So what else can a sculptor do to build business, contacts, exposure, and sales?  My computer genius friend advises me to blog regularly here on my Clay Cowgirls website.  Link to my Facebook page and raise my visibility on social media and google.  Use words like sculpture, pottery, clay, cowgirls, wood firing, and other tag words that will get my site to show up higher on a search.  Use Pinterest and Instagram and Tweet and Tag and Categorize.  It’s all over my head, but I’m making the effort.  I think I’ve pinned a few things and finally opened an Instagram account.  Maybe after all of the time on the internet I’ll find time to get back in the studio and put my hands in clay!

Check out my shop here at www.claycowgirls.com, see some of my pottery at BrZart on Etsy, or come by one of the galleries that represent my work here in Taos at the Logan Wannamaker Gallery on the main drag in downtown, Substance of Taos women’s clothing on Doña Luz just behind the plaza, or Rottenstone Pottery in Arroyo Seco, and Gallery Mar in Park City, UT, oh yeah and be sure to like Clay Cowgirls on Facebook too!

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