The past year has also been a big year of growth for Valerie Lynn Designs. In 2016 I participated in a total of 5 shows and scouted out several more which I would like to participate in, in the coming year. My biggest leap however has been in signing on with not one, not two but three retail stores to carry my work. If you are in the Guelph area you can now find my work at Pretty Chic Boutique and the Art Gallery of Guelph. For those of you in the Toronto area you can find me at Made You Look Jewellery in Parkdale on Queen West.
So what do I have in store for the coming year? Well first is getting back into the studio to restock! With three new stores to keep stocked my own inventory is rather depleted so making up new beauties is my first priority. Beyond that as I've mentioned I came across a number of shows I would like to try participating in this year. I would also like to approach one more store once I have some more pieces to show.
I'm really looking forward to what 2017 has to offer and I hope you are too! Time to get my hands dirty!
Some of you have probably noticed that I've stepped up my craft show game this year and I figured I'd share a bit of my love/hate relationship with this important venue for the handcrafted artisan.
Craft shows are kind of the bread and butter for any modern day craft-person. It's the easiest way to get out there and get selling however in my opinion it has it's own pros and cons. Personally craft shows have never been my favourite means of selling. I'm fairly shy and have never seen myself as particularly talented at selling myself or my work. Therefore it shouldn't be that surprising to hear that the thought of standing in a room with a bunch of other amazing artisans trying to convince you to purchase something I created, generally made me cringe.
Craft shows take a lot of time to prepare: creating a display, making up enough inventory, packing, transporting, unpacking, hours on your feet talking to customers followed again by packing, transporting and unpacking. I am truly lucky to have friends and family members who are willing to help me because I don't know how I would be able to manage at a lot of these shows on my own.
Selling in a store or online might provide sales without as much of the hassle but don't offer the same interaction with my audience that craft shows can. Whether a person makes a purchase or not every minute spent looking at what I have created instead of walking past, and every compliment is the biggest boost I could ask for. And that greatest compliment, when someone makes a purchase, is that much better because I get to know why they like the piece and who will be wearing it. That feeling makes all that work feel worth it.
Another major pro from craft shows is the connections you can make. This year I have met so many wonderful artists who were happy to spend lulls in traffic chatting and sharing tips and tricks for the next show. I love seeing all the beautiful things others have created and drawing inspiration for new things I can try in my own work. I also look forward to seeing those friendly faces again when I see them at another show.
So although I know there will still be bad shows along with the good ones and I will be focusing more on getting into stores (I am trying to build a business after all). I won't be hanging up my show hat any time soon. I hope you'll come out and visit me at the next one!
other artists. One of those communities, Jennibellie's Journal Workshops, holds an "art bash" once a year in which people from around the world work on projects together, We chat online and sharing progress pictures of our work throughout the day. I've also held an art party at home where some of my friends joined me to paint and socialize (I'll admit we didn't make a lot of progress on that day as the socializing took over a little!).
In my jewellery sadly I am a little more isolated. Working alone in my tiny studio I can see very clearly how that isolation has affected my motivation and how I work. When I was in college we had an ideal environment. For three years I worked in this lovely bubble of creativity, working, eating and socializing with other jewellery artists. We admired each other's work, shared advice, problem solved and commiserated. It was a beautiful melting pot of inspiration and one I miss dearly. I manage to keep a spark of that atmosphere alive by keeping in touch with those friends I made in school and new friends I meet at shows and galleries. In a way I'm creating my own community to satisfy that need for connection.
If you are an artistic/creative person and you are struggling to create I recommend you find a community to join. Art can often be a very personal thing that you create for yourself but in it's very nature is meant to be shared. I'm finding it's often much better to create with a friend.
like this I often take the inspiration for the final piece from the stone itself. In this instance the lines of colour flowing across the stone filled my head with fused wires, and the tan and gray colours brought to mind gold and silver all of which easily culminated in this primitive yet delicate piece.
Other times it can be as simple as a shape that can catch my fancy. One of my favourite artists, Melissa Peacock, is a wonderful watercolour and mixed media artist. Melissa often uses triangles in her artwork and inspired this new line of wirework I am experimenting with.
A final area of inspiration I'll share with you is one that in some ways is so obvious we don't even realize it is a major source ideas - my own work! Sometimes you come up with an idea so good that it can be explored over and over again. Nothing illustrates that more than my work in wood. All of my wood pieces can be tied back to one piece in particular: my large Cocobolo and Turquoise Neckpiece.
Every piece I have made combining turquoise and cocobolo has been inspired by the beautiful colour pairing I discovered with that first piece back in my final year of college. Looking at another aspect, every wood pendant with raised silver inlay was inspired by the way I left the turquoise and silver only half embedded in the wood.
Inspiration can be found in every aspect of the world around us as long as you are ready and willing to grab hold of it when it taps you on the shoulder! I hope you've enjoyed this little peek into my own journey with some of these pieces and I've been able to grant you a little inspiration as well.
It has been percolating in the back of my mind for quite some time that I would like to connect more with those interested in the ins and outs of what I do as a Jewellery Artist (if there are in fact any of you out there who are interested). So I decided I would make use of the blog feature here on my website and give you a bit of an insight into my adventures as a self employed, self (somewhat) motivated artisan.
This year has had a bit of a slow start for me as my husband Mike and I stared off the year with a lot on our plates. We've been renovating the main floor of our little house which has made things a little crowded and messy to say the least. For pretty much all of February my poor studio was buried under STUFF however I managed to unearth it at the end of the month for a little trip up to Georgian College with my good friend and former classmate Hjoerdis Stockinger to make use of the jewellery studio over the Reading Week holiday. We had a great time and got a lot accomplished before life required us to come back to the real world.
There's just something about that college studio space that gets your creative juices flowing. It's not only the wealth of tools I am not able to have in my own studio but the people and the atmosphere. Being able to look around at what other people are working on and coming up with, bouncing you ideas off of fellow artists. There's nothing else like it and it's been my greatest sorrow to loose as you leave school and start up your own studio.
Back in my home studio I'd like to say that I was able to get right back to business but unfortunately life still intrudes and March proved to be a rather slow month however one thing I did take back from my work holiday back at Georgian is that the ideas for new pieces have been steadily flowing and I plan to make April much more productive!
Thank you very much for listening to me ramble on about my year so far and let me know if you want to hear more! In a few days I think I'll try to tell you a little about where I get some of my inspiration. :)
Valerie Lynn Yamashita
A native of Southern Ontario, Valerie has spent most of her life in pursuit of various forms of artistry including: sewing, knitting, paper craft and photography however it is her passion for jewellery which has ruled the day. This passion has lead to the creation of Valerie Lynn Designs, a business aimed to share Valerie's love of wearable art to the world.