Labor Day Painting Sale & Life Update

Labor Day Sale!-2

This may be the longest it’s ever been since my last update. I’ve been trying to plan better and be more consistent in my business and in life but, as they often do, unforeseen obstacles have gotten in the way.

I guess it’s finally time to admit that our relocation has been more of a nightmare than an adventure. I tried to be optimistic and make the best of it, and I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed certain aspects of life in this area, but “normal moving stress” and obnoxious neighbors gave way to a series of disappointments, specifically a lack of business and personal connections, and finally what I consider betrayal from our friends/Joe’s business partner who we followed here.

This is probably not the place to go into detail, so suffice it to say that they behaved with incredible selfishness and unprofessionalism and, intentionally or not, did a lot of damage to our lives and the gym. And in the end, they weren’t the ones to stick around and deal with it. It’s hard to explain in such vague terms without sounding like I’m being petty, but I’ don’t want to start drama, I just feel the need to share what’s been going on in order to move forward.

It didn’t help that I was, and still am, trying to manage recurring major depression with basically no support system. I think the hardest part was losing faith in myself and other people, because the red flags were all there. We knew better. But whether out of goodwill or desperation, we gave the benefit of the doubt anyway. Either way, it’s shocking to be treated like nothing more than a means to an end by people who said they cared. At least I’ve learned that my instincts are usually right, if I would just listen to them.

As all of this was coming to an end, Joe found out with about a month’s notice that he’d be deploying for the fourth time. We knew this was a possibility and I was honestly never sold on living here, so my backup plan was – surprise! – temporarily moving to Asheville, where I hope the plentiful art, good food, nice people, and beautiful mountains will remind me what it feels like to enjoy life.

You may remember I’ve tried this before, and maybe I’m being stupid, but logistically it’s more realistic this time. We’re just renting and we want to move closer to town anyway, so in between, I’ll put most of our stuff in storage and find a small place for me and the cats.

My online inventory may change a bit as I try to take advantage of local shows, galleries, and other activities, but I plan to keep my shop running and updated. Maybe I’ll even blog and make YouTube videos again! Either way, I’m sure there will be plenty of inspiration for new projects.

So on that note, I’m participating in Etsy’s Labor Day sale with 30% off all paintings in My Shop, including minis, magnets, and ornaments, to try to reduce some of my larger/more damageable stock before I have to pack it. It runs from the August 30th to September 3rd with a preview today.

If you’ve read this far, I want you to know that even though I’ve fallen behind with certain things, it has meant the world to me to have my business and its growing support network to focus on through these struggles. I may have largely gone without friends or opportunities in person, but at least there’s the Internet, right? So thank you guys and I hope you’ll stick with me and see what’s next in the coming months!

On Selling Fan Creations

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Some of you may be familiar with items in my shop inspired by movies like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Up, and How to Train Your Dragon. You’ve probably also heard a lot of opinions about copyright infringement.

I’m writing this because I was contacted by Etsy regarding a complaint about one of my items. I can’t share specifics but in the interest of protecting my business, it looks like I will have to stop selling the item, and probably all such items just in case. I know some of you will be disappointed and others will think less of me for doing it in the first place, so I’d like to share my thoughts on this issue (disclaimer: I have no legal expertise).

A lot of people seem to look at fan-made merchandise as a way for unimaginative people to profit from others’ ideas. To me, if you’re taking an idea and turning it into something different, then it’s a way for people with various types of creative skills to work together to benefit everyone – more options for the fans, free advertising for the original creator, and yes, more income for us crafters.

I do respect the right of any artist to decide what happens with their own designs. But at the same time, part of art is sharing ideas, and every idea comes from somewhere. There is a difference between stealing and being inspired. Even nature-themed designs are copying something, just not something we’re going to fight over.

Maybe in the beginning I was trolling for ideas. Now I have a whole shop full of my own stuff – two in fact – but I still know my work has been inspired by things along the way, and I still don’t get to decide what’s actually popular.

I just wish there was a better way to make fan crafts legitimately. I would happily get licensed and pay fees if it were realistic for an independent artist to do so. Maybe someday we will have some better options.

In the meantime, I’m sorry to part with these items and the happy customers who purchase them, but I hope it will be an opportunity for me to focus on my other designs and for them to be noticed on their own.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments!

Halloween Couple Costume – LOTR: Aragorn & Arwen

I’m going to be doing a series of late holiday blog posts (now that I’ve recovered enough from the actual holidays to write about them, haha). I’ll probably space them out between other posts, but I have some recipes and ideas to share that I hope you can use later this year. 

So first, Halloween. This time Joe made my nerd girl dreams come true and agreed to dress up as Aragorn and Arwen from my favorite movie series, Lord of the Rings.

I had a dress I’d made in high school (as well as a purchased necklace, brooch, sword, action figures – don’t judge me) so all I really had to do for my costume was resize it – shown below with the dotted lines – and find some pointy ears. Ok I didn’t have to get pointy ears but they were awesome.  

 
My husband ended up wearing a shirt and pants he already had, along with a simple vest and boot toppers I sewed, a wig from Amazon (actually a biblical wig), and, my favorite part, the arm bands I also made, again shown below.

   

The armbands were inspired by some really legit looking leather ones that I can’t seem to find now, but I made these out of craft foam.   
Here’s us in our finished costumes. It is both exciting and disappointing going to a party as your favorite thing when you put more effort into the details than most people would ever notice. 

  

Just for fun, here are our pumpkins (each carved on both sides). 

  

Hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween! 

Rearranging Etsy Shops / Reintroducing Art Jewelry

There’s nothing like starting your day with new orders in both of your Etsy shops. Admittedly, this basically never happens for me, but today was a good day.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little update on what I’m doing with those two Etsy shops. It’s probably annoying how often I change things, but I’m still figuring out what works and I don’t want anyone to be confused in the meantime.

I’ve always sold jewelry in my first shop, PasticheAccessories, albeit with changing styles and mediums over the years, and recently ornaments and cake toppers to supplement seasonal sales. Since I opened my second shop, NoelleLewisArt, I have been using it to separate out my paintings.

But I’ve realized I have at least two different styles of jewelry – the stuff that’s fun and popular like my movie and fitness themed items, and the stuff that’s artsy and time consuming such as my landscape cane pieces. 

I want to allow the one to shine without discontinuing the other, so I’m experimenting with moving some of what I’m calling “art jewelry” over to my fine art shop. This will allow me to have more appropriate branding and pricing, and maybe give me a foot in the door for selling more paintings. Meanwhile, my jewelry shop can remain more or less as it is. 

I will also be offering some items discounted sets as the holidays approach – for example, $5 off when you buy a matching necklace and earrings – and possibly a free shipping coupon in case someone orders from both shops and I can combine shipping. This came up today with an international order, which of course is not cheap to ship. 

So let me know if you have any thoughts on this change, as a customer or as a fellow seller! And here’s a peek of the newest collection being posted in my art shop – I’m also working on a sunflower version!

 

Poppy Fields Mixed Media Painting
  
Poppy Fields Mini Mixed Media Painting
  
Poppy Fields Necklace, Earrings, and Barrette
 

Yerdle – A New Way To Reuse

 

Some Yerdle packages ready to go.
 
I recently stumbled upon a Facebook add for an app called Yerdle. I don’t remember what the post said, but it intrigued me enough for me to check it out. A week or so later, it’s basically my new favorite thing.

Yerdle aims to reduce consumption and waste by allowing people to give away their old stuff in exchange for fake dollars, or “Yerdle dollars,” with which they can purchase other items. You do have to pay shipping, so it’s a little more cost-effective if you can find multiple items from one person and ask them to bundle, which most don’t mind doing.

I’ve only gotten a couple items so far. The first giver, for whatever reason, didn’t ship, but Yerdle promptly refunded me. The second was friendly about bundling and shipped me an adorable dress and top, packaged well and in great condition. 

What I really love though, is having a way to get rid of my ill-fitting or unwanted clothes, and especially my old Etsy stock, knowing people actually want them. I’ve made a lot of items that I never managed to sell, and was shocked at how quickly they got snatched up.

The negatives for me are that it can take a lot of sifting to find what you want, prices can be wildly inconsistent between givers, and their chosen shipping service, UPS, is much less convenient for me to use than the postal service.

But you can use “wishes” to be notified when something you want is listed. Pricing, of course, is up to the giver, though there is a guideline of one Yerdle dollar to one US dollar. And if you become a pro member – 25 gives and a decent feedback rating – you can ship however you want. 

Honestly I would be pretty happy with the service just for the knowledge that my stuff is going somewhere. But if I can get some nice, practically free things for myself? Even better. 

So if you have some time and some potentially desirable clutter, and you like bargain shopping, check out yerdle.com or the Yerdle app! And no, they’re not compensating me, I just think it’s pretty great! 

A Letter of Regret From Your Anxious and Depressed Friend

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Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

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My Art on Etsy

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Above: greeting cards made from two of my original butterfly paintings.

I mentioned how I’m doing some experimenting with my business this year to see what works best. I have a new website, which this blog is now part of, that displays my art and connects my various web presences. I also tried putting my jewelry shop on another selling platform, but so far I think there’s a reason I’ve stuck with Etsy all this time – it’s what works for me.

That said, I’m trying a different kind of branching out – another Etsy shop! You might be thinking by now that I’m either desperate or have no idea what I’m doing. And you might be somewhat correct, haha. But my jewelry shop is doing pretty well and I want to give my art its own spotlight.

I really enjoy making and selling jewelry – it’s by far my favorite of all the jobs I’ve had. But I’m also really passionate about things like painting. I have been doing both for a long time and I enjoy them in different ways, but I don’t think throwing them together in one shop puts either one in their best light. Of course some people have multiple shops and some people successfully have shops with multiple types of items, so we will see.

My new shop features my original paintings, and I am working on doing prints and greeting cards for some more affordable options. So please head to noellelewisart.etsy.com, and if you use coupon code “WELCOME” at checkout, you can get free shipping on your first order!

Thanks for reading and feel free to share with friends.