Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Art-A-Whirl 2014 // DancingFork Studio // Lauren Strom Art To Make You Happy // Farewell casketArts

Art-A-Whirl is the huge, amazing, art crawl
in which every studio across Nordeast Minneapolis
opens their door and welcomes visitors with:
Sweet Treats
Punch {in many forms}
Hugs {that's how we do it at casketArts}

I want to see you in my studio:
casketArts Studio 314
681 17th Ave NE
Minneapolis MN 55413
because this is my last Art-A-Whirl in this studio.
I'm going to need your hugs and support as we say goodbye
to the love of my career for the last three years.
It's a wonderful, creative space in which I haven't been able to spend time lately.
And so I bid farewell to my space.
Won't you help me?
If you don't mind, I'll price some paintings
so that you may take them home
instead of into a dark storage closet at my house.
They need light and love, just like us.

See you soon,

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Society6 Shop SALE!

HEY GUESS WHAT! Everything in my shop is $5 OFF and FREE SHIPPING when you click this link: Check it out! It's only good through Sunday March 9th!


Big Changes

Hello Folks!  As you know I'm living a billion miles from my studio.  It's been fun coming down once a month to visit and show new art but when the baby comes in June I'm not going to be able to commit to that schedule anymore.  Since I have to live in lumberjack country, MN for the next three years I'm going to let the lease go on studio 314 after Art-A-Whirl this year.  Mostly because opening a studio once a month will mean trucking an infant and 3 year-old 200 miles and I don't want to do that on my own.

You will be able to buy my art from my etsy shop laurenstrom.com and make custom orders by emailing me laurenshelley.strom@gmail.com.  While I won't be able to work in Minneapolis I will most definitely continue to work. You can always find out what I'm up to by checking my events page.  I will be upping my craft show game as well so I'm sure we'll be visiting soon over tables of my new brightly colored art to make you, and me, happy.

I will continue to have my art available at local shops which currently includes:
St. Paul:

If your up in my neck of the woods you can shop Shannon's Art & Soul in Bemidji too!

Love you all! Thank you for following and supporting me all!
xoxo, Lauren

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How To: Work Around a Toddler

I'm not an expert.
I just do it everyday.

For me, the key to working around a toddler is to make him as tired as possible so that he takes the longest nap possible.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays my guy goes to preschool for 2.5 hours each morning.
For the last 6 weeks on Tuesday afternoons he has taken a swimming class.
Still, this winter has almost killed us.
It's too cold and school is canceled and we can't go outside (and I don't WANT to go outside) or today, almost immediately he got sent home from school because of a rash on his face.  I mean, how stupid.  The rash has been there for a week.  I've thought about it and considered it and researched it online.  It healed in one area and spread to another which according to online research (yikes) meant it would eventually clear up and could last 2 weeks to a month.  I could have taken him yesterday which would have interfered with nothing.  But of course I didn't.

When a teacher says take him to the doc you go.
And we didn't have a doc in lumberjack country, so I didn't even know WHERE to go.
But I asked.
And we went.
And we saw a medical professional.
And she said he needed anti-biotics.
SO we fill the prescription, which took FOREVER since he hadn't needed meds since we moved to lumberjack country.
And Sweets fell asleep on the way home which always ruins nap time.  So not only did I miss work since he wasn't in school, my laptop punched me in the forehead as I was exiting the car and everything was falling apart...


Morgan Walsh tweeted at me and said she loved the painting I created with her quote on it
And she wants to BUY IT.
And she wants me to make cards with the image on them.
She's seriously amazing.  I was inspired by her when she appeared on the podcast Totally Mommy.

If you're an artist mama you could get some serious support from the Totally Mommy podcast.
I laugh with them, and cry with them, and feel fulfilled by the moms.
Most of the moms are artists, as in actors or comedians, but there are so many things that cross over to my life.

And now, as I sit and type, sweets IS napping, I posted four new things on etsy and two of them (custom orders) already sold.  No matter what, the best feeling as an artist is for someone to buy your work.

Thank you Morgan Walsh for turning my day around.

And as for working around a toddler, when all goes into chaos and your laptop punches you in the head while you're getting out of the car, hold on.  Your sunshine is just behind a cloud.  Also write to me (@dancingfork) and I'll send you some love.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to prepare for an art/craft show.

This isn't your average How-To.
I'm not even sure it's the best way to go about preparing.
But I always prepare.
So now I'll share my process:

1. Decide what art I'd like to pack in the car and haul across the country/city/what-have-you.  This is generally decided at the point that I apply for the show since I have to submit a description of the art I plan to sell.  Make a list.

2. Draw up a booth containing all the elements necessary to display the art you'd like to show/sell.  This will include tables and displays that I already own as well as things that I don't currently own but that I might need to acquire in order to participate.  In the upcoming show there are prizes for best booth.  So I'm going to go above and beyond in booth decoration.  If I can create something amazing.  I'm having trouble brainstorming amazing.

3.  If there's a display option that makes maximum sense and I therefore cannot live/show without it I will acquire this piece.  For my show in two weeks I've decided I need a 4 foot folding table.  Before I buy one I'm going to check around to see if I can borrow one.

4. Inventory what I have and what I need to paint or print.  I make lots of lists because I can't keep track of everything in my head.  Lists calm me.  Also checking things off of lists is extremely rewarding in a career where no one checks your work or gives you raises.

5. Paint.  It's a simple step and I use as much art that I already have as I can.  However, I always like to present something new and I usually need new mini canvas paintings.  This show is no different.  I'm planning to paint 40 new mini canvases.

6. Touch-up existing paintings.  Travel has wear-and-tear on canvases.  Before each show it's important to make sure each painting looks as good as the day I finished it.  Then I carefully re-wrap and package them to keep them safe until the show.

7. Pack art and display in carry-friendly packages.  Ikea bags are a HUGE asset.

8. When all the lists have been checked and everything is ready it's time to pack the car like a Tetris game.  Especially when you drive a Prius, like I do.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Etsy Shop Sample - Free Art until Friday MIDNIGHT - HURRY

Spend $50 get one piece of free art from my NEW YEAR NEW ART SALE section.  I'm clearing space for new art inventory and the old stuff needs YOU!  For every $50 you get to choose another piece of art.  If you spend $150 you may choose 4 piece FREE.  Go!  Sale ends January 31 at MIDNIGHT.

Fine Art as a Small Business

We fine artists are walking a fine line.  (So fine!)  A line between being taken seriously by the art community and making money from the general public.  It's so tricky and here's why: Artists make art because it's our passion.  We create what we were meant to create to add to the thought process and conversation of our public.  It is our job to comment and reflect the society we live in; not to pander or grovel or change based on criticism.  We are who we are and we need not apologize.  The more authentic we are the more respect we generate.

Respect is all we can hope for in the art community.  It's the highest honor.  Respect.  It's simple and beautiful like great art.

The key is you have to be out in the public.  Visible.  Coffee shops, then art shows, then local galleries, then represented by galleries, then national shows.  If that's your path.  If that's your passion.  If you're serious and real.  Right?  This is my gut feeling.

Crafters, and I mean ABSOLUTELY no disrespect, have a job to generate business, traffic, and money.  They sell the products that you find in the big box stores with the added benefit of buying it from the person who makes it.  They are my number one favorite category of business.  I LOVE to buy from the person who made the goods.  And I love to buy from artists.  But while almost every person has very limited wall space, one can buy unlimited amounts of clothing, jewelry, knitted wears, kids toys, and such.  In fact some of these items wear out and you HAVE to buy more.  Guess what happens if art wears out - TROUBLE.  It really, really shouldn't wear out.

As a small business I'm failing.  I make a small profit every year but I'm hardly supporting my family.  I'd like to create what the crafters have - steady, reliable income in quantities that make a difference in my monthly budget.  But how?  HOW?  I want to reach people via social media but I don't want to give away my work.  I feel it devalues it.  How much are "likes" worth anyway?  While at the same time I can only create and store so much product.  Over the past 5 years I've learned a lot.  The larger the painting the slower it sells to the point that I can't paint large scale.  And yet, the galleries need large scale.  The money is in the large scale work.  But the sales are in the small scale.  What to do?

It's a trap.  I'm in my head too much.  I create art because I'm drawn to make my thoughts visible.  There's no other way for me.  This is it.  I must be authentically me and make the art only I can make.
My path is this:
1. Studio
2. Create babies and create art around their lives:
     a. sell at craft shows and art crawls and local boutiques
     b. occasional gallery shows
     c. sell online through etsy, society6, and eventually my personal website.
     d. build my brand slowly through social media using my art, process, and personality.  Not gimmicks.
3. Back to Studio
4. Major Gallery Shows after babies are not babies and are in school

If you have any not-gimmicky ways to generate income from the art you already make I'd love to hear them.  I know artists who are killing it on commissions each month.  They do well because they stick to what they do best and people are drawn to their authenticity.  My love to you.  Please share your secrets.  We are all in this together.

Lastly, I can't help but speak my truth that in then end, as it was in the beginning, it is not my job to make money but rather to create a social commentary.  I make the world a little better one tiny, happy painting at a time.  Really that's not so bad.  It just doesn't buy groceries.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Art Show Rejection

It's always the "NOs" that hit us the hardest, isn't it?  Maybe it's just me; but I doubt that.  This week I got my first rejection in a while.  It came during a week when I had planned and planned to paint but due to the cold weather my son couldn't go to school.

He only goes to pre-school 2 days a week for 3 hours each so canceling them was a major blow to my painting time but more importantly to my sanity.  And then I got a rejection letter.  BIG BUMMER!

I've heard, and I think it's true, that 1 out of every 20 applications is accepted.  So for every 19 rejections you get ONE confirmation.  Recently I'd been told yes a lot.  Yes to this craft show, yes to the next art show.  I even have a gallery show coming up at the Children's Theater, WHAT?!?!  But it STILL stung that I got this "NO."

So I've been thinking, why do the no's pack a bigger punch?

I've decided it's because they go against one's sense-of-self.  A "YES" confirms what you thought about yourself.  "I am a good artist and people should see my work."  A "NO", while generally because something went wrong with your application or perhaps too many artists applied in the same medium, says "There's something wrong with you.  You did this.  You made this happen.  Now reevaluate yourself and be better."  When in reality you don't know why you were told "NO" and you never will.

So, Dear Self, Dear Reader, take a small step back, look over your application and if something jumps out at you make a note not to do that again.  If nothing jumps out: dust yourself off, get yourself a hug, and apply for the next event.  Because 18 rejections later you're going to get some really good news.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

First Ever Artist/Mother Blog Post - So this is a blog now.

I've decided this year to use this blog for the first time as a blog.  I'm going to write about the things I'm going through, the things I'm excited about, the things I'm working on.  Well, that last part isn't new, I have shared the things I work on, haven't I?  But the rest is new for me.  I'm going to expose a bit of the ugly side of being an artist and a mother simultaneously (with out a nanny, or a babysitter, ever) in order to be a little more real and a little more connected to you, the people kind enough to read what I write on here.

So, while we're at it how about a formal introduction?  Perhaps in the past we've met in person but now my dear things have changed.  For starters I'm 18 weeks pregnant.  A teeny tiny person is kicking my insides as I write this. I think it's comforting.

Secondly, I'm living 3.5 hours north of my Northeast Minneapolis art studio.  That's just a few million blocks out of the NE Arts District.  "What?! Why?!" You might ask, as I do occasionally.  Well, my bill paying, family supporting husband needed to take a job in this location to round-out his therapy career and take care of some outstanding student-loans.  (In this circumstance outstanding means both not fully paid as well as rather large).  And guess what else?!  I will be living like this for another 3.5 years.  Away from my beloved studio, artist pals, and the arts district.  In the woods where I grew up. I never in a million years dreamt I'd return to the middle-of-nowhere-lumberjack-country to raise a family, but here we are now.

However, I still have my beloved studio (#314 Casket Arts Building 681 17th Ave NE Mpls 55413) and I'm still opening my doors on Casket Arts First Thursday Open Studio days as well as Art-A-Whirl and Cache at CasketArts.  For now.  When the baby comes I will likely limit which Thursdays I'm willing to drive down and open up.  I mean, you don't all come to all of them do you.  And how many people are shopping for art the first week in July?  Anyone? No one?  That's what I thought.  So, we'll revisit the First Thursday topic again, okay?

Now to round me out as an individual I'll share that I've been married for 9 years.  I have a 15 year-old step daughter and a 2.5 year old son, plus that tiny human currently living in my uterus.  I went to school for 4 years to earn a BA in Visual Art from the wildly wonderful Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.  Wait a second, why don't I live there?  I forget.

Since I plan to converse with you regularly I think I can wrap up this gab session with my goals for the year:
1. Improve sales in my etsy shop. (currently having a MEGA SALE: spend $50, choose FREE ART).
2. Develop more print sales.
3. Work very hard until June, then have a baby and relax.
4. Make lino cut prints.
5. Focus more attention on the frames and expand the illustrations offered framed.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Sale Continues

I made a few graphics for my New Year New Art Sale so I thought I'd share another.
The FREE ART in this sale is worth $20-$150.  You get to choose one piece of FREE ART for every $50 you spend.  It's an AMAZING savings.
Go! Shop!


Friday, January 10, 2014

New Year New Art SALE

I'm cleaning house in my etsy shop.  In order to clear space for new work I'm giving away a piece of art with every $50 you spend.  Now here's the good news: YOU GET TO PICK YOUR FREE ART from the New Year New Art section.  Sale starts at MIDNIGHT and runs through January 31.  Now here's the really good news: the free art is expensive art.  It's the good stuff.  Please check it out! 

Here's how the sale works:
Add $50 of regularly priced art, then choose one piece of art from
the New Year New Art section;
for every $50 in your cart you get to choose another piece from
the New Year New Art section.
$50 = 1 free piece
$100 = 2 free pieces
$150 = 3 free pieces
you get the picture.