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Sunday, July 14, 2013

The truth.
I do what I love for a living. I get to travel to places I never thought I would go, meet people I never thought I would get to meet, and do things I only ever thought were some distant chance for me to do. It's awesome - I really do understand the phrase "living the dream", and feel extremely fortunate, because I truly am.

I realized the other day that, for people who do not work for themselves, the basic day to day of what self-employed artists do is probably a mystery. I've talked to enough people to know that it's a widespread belief that my life is spent in a fantastical, booze-fueled creative trance, broken up by long bouts of daydreaming, navel-gazing, and schmoozing with other artists.

So the next time you wonder of your favorite artist, "why don't they make more work?", or "why do they only have occasional sales?", or "why is artwork so expensive?", or "why don't they answer my email/facebook comment/tweet?", this may shed some light.

In an average week, these are the things that need to be done - they have little to nothing to do with actually sitting down and making work, yet they are absolutely part of my job.

• answering/drafting business emails (projects, clients, galleries)
• sourcing new supplies
• ordering supplies
• driving around to purchase local supplies
• tracking finances (receipts, subscriptions, materials costs)
• daily promotion (facebook, blog, instagram, twitter, forum, website)
• graphic design for hang tags, web images, packaging, etc
• preparing materials (dyeing fabric, conditioning clay, painting eyes)
• product photography
• digital photo editing
• studio maintenance and cleaning
• travel planning

After I do all of those things (and after actually sculpting, painting, sewing, and finishing work), I can attend to "everyday maintenance", like doing the dishes, cleaning my apartment/studio, running errands, paying bills, and clipping my toenails.

Now, my goal in this is not to say "waaa, poor me, I work so hard!". Because I love my job. I am a happier person now than I ever was when I was making $30k+ more, working for someone else. My goal is simply to point out that, despite the carefully curated glimpses that artists give us into their daily lives, their lives are vastly more mundane, more complicated, and more stressful than you may assume, because they have to do everything themselves. My job = my life. My business name is MY name. I live, cook, sleep, and bathe in my studio. I work around the clock. I have a hard time letting go to socialize, because when I am not working here, I feel extremely guilty that I am taking time away from my art.

I feel so very fortunate that I am able to make my life work this way, and that I am able to bring a sense of joy and wonder into the lives of others - which is something I truly love to do. But it does come with certain kinds of sacrifice. But if you ask any artist who is carving their own path in the rock - it's really difficult, but worth it entirely, to be the author of your own employment.

It's not for everyone, and sometimes, I'm frankly surprised that it's something I can handle. But I don't want to do it any other way. I am always humbled that folks will spend the energy to find me and follow my art, and wait so patiently for the few works that take so long for me to create. I'll never take it for granted, and it's something that pushes me onward, when little else will.

- Amanda
The sale for this month will be tomorrow, April 30th, at 3pm Eastern Standard Time.

The shop is here (items will not show up until it opens tomorrow): DUST BUNNIES SHOP

 I apologize that this will not be a huge sale - I have a bunch of new stuff in the works but it won't be released until a sale in the very new future. I will have stickers, keychains, printed pendants, and postcard sets (these are all unlimited edition items and will be available every month). The limited (one of a kind handmade) items for this month are:

 
Celery
$465
approx. 9" tall
Hand sculpted and painted face, porcelain teeth, glass eyes. Fabric, stuffed with cotton, sawdust, and ground English walnut shells. Adorned with vintage lace and keys. 


 
   


Shagbark
$485 Approx. 9" tall
Hand sculpted and painted face, porcelain teeth, glass eyes. Shaggy synthetic fur fabric, stuffed with cotton, sawdust, and ground English walnut shells. Adorned with vintage lace and keys.




Thaddeus
$465
Approx. 9" tall
Hand sculpted and painted face, porcelain teeth, glass eyes. Fabric, stuffed with cotton, sawdust, and ground English walnut shells. Adorned with vintage lace and keys.

All original works of art are signed, and because of their totally handmade nature, will be the only ones of their kind. All prices are in U.S. Dollars.

The shop will open at 3pm SHARP on April 30th, 2013. Limit one original doll per customer. I cannot hold dolls, if payment is not received in 24 hours after order is placed, the piece will go back in the store.

Please read my shop's terms and conditions before shopping tomorrow. Good luck!
Filmmaker Ashley Brook from WOSU Public Media interviewed me last summer, and put together a wonderful little segment about my work for their Columbus-based arts program, ArtZine.  Thank you so much!


So, for the past year or more, I've been wanting to have some kind of umbrella name that encompasses my artistic universe. Mostly because, when asked what my "guys are called", I'd like to have an answer other than "I don't know?"...

I did hours upon hours of freewriting, brainstorming, bouncing ideas off friends. Things got kind of close, but never really felt right. Then, unexpectedly, one did feel right. And it was one of the simplest answers.


Dust Bunnies. True, some are goats, some are bees, and some are unidentified creatures, but in the end...really, they're all "bunnies" to me. That's been what I've always called them, regardless of their specific animal anatomy.

So there you have it. I am creator and caretaker for the kingdom of Dust Bunnies :)
Well, I don't suppose there's any harm in blogging about an awesome and major event that is already over...I was so busy and life was very full during the entire time leading up to it, that I just completely spaced on blogging. My brain is a bit sieve-like when it gets overwhelmed.

Early last month, my two-person show with fellow cute-critter artist Chris Ryniak opened at Stranger Factory tin Albuquerque. It was called "Migration".

Chris and I have been friends for a long time - we worked together at the same company for a number of years, and after I left to pursue my own interests, we kept in touch. Both of us have been through really significant life events (relationships ending, new jobs, moving to new places) in the past few years, so we wanted our show to reflect that.

This is probably one of the most autobiographical shows I've ever done, but it probably isn't obviously so. I don't tend to be an artist that "says" things with my art. I create what I find appealing or beautiful, and explore aesthetic sensibilities that I love with my work. Textures, colors, and sort of idyllic representations of anachronistic ideals are mostly what I "say" with my artwork.  This show was different though...the idea of moving, traveling, migrating. Many of my pieces dealt with the idea of place, and of belongings.  What you decide to take with you when leaving - not just physically, but emotionally and mentally, too. Curating and purging, and what you discover is important for you to take with you on your journey. Not all trips are happy ones, unfortunately, and and a lot of my creatures served as markers of time and events, memories, ghosts of emotional pasts, and feelings that one has to decide whether to take with them, or leave behind.

"Leif"
On the non-introspective side, it was a really fun show to work on. We came up with a color palette and overall aesthetic idea and both stuck to it, making the show really cohesive visually. It was also the largest single body of work I have ever created - between the two of us we had over 90 pieces in the gallery, and every last one found a home. Things like that are what make my heart full, as an artist. It makes me so happy to know that what I make is bringing joy to collectors, as well as those who see the work and like it.

Visiting friends in New Mexico when the show opened was a well-deserved refueling for the spirit. I had put so many months of work and energy into the show - on top of the emotional energies already drained by current events in my life - it was such a welcome recharge. So many people flew out from different places to visit and see the show in person, and purchase pieces, I was flattered and humbled.

The last few weeks have been kind of a slow ramping back up period....after huge shows there tends to be this sort of post-partum depression that happens - the studio is empty, the resources are depleted, there is nothing left to promote. But I'm moving into some new rhythms and directions now, with a lot of projects and one more huge show on the way for 2013. It's time to look toward new horizons and breathe in the air of new lands. My own migration is not yet complete.

 To see all the pieces from the show, click here.
Doppelgängers
Well, I suppose I should address this.

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten a really large number of emails and messages about various places on the internet where versions of my artwork are popping up, obviously not made by me.

Some are "inspired by" my work, some are "homage" to my work, and some are blatantly attempts to re-create my work. I thought there might be some confusion about the difference between things that make artists feel flattered, and things that make them annoyed/take legal action, so I decided to create a handy guide, below.



"Hey! I really like this artist's work, and I think they are awesome! I'm an artist too!  Would it be okay if I --

 ...make one too?  Yes! Go get artsy!
...learn from that artist's work and hone my own skills? Yes! That's a great way to improve!
....take a picture of it and put it on the internet, crediting the idea's originator? Yes! Get excited!
....give it to my mom/boss/uncle/boyfriend?  Yes! People love creative gifts!

It doesn't work that way.

 Would it be okay if I...

...sell it?  No!
...even if I credit the idea's originator?  No!
...even if I only sell one of them? No!
...but I put the idea-owner's name on there, that makes it okay, right? NO!!!

Just because I say "Walt Disney thought this idea up" on my website, doesn't mean that I can legally (or ethically) make my own Mickey Mouse dolls and sell them. Even if they're good. Even if people LOVE them. Even if I just do it once. It's still wrong. It wasn't my idea, therefore, it's not my property to sell.

Good ideas are HARD. For every good idea, you probably have to discard a lot of bad ones. Sometimes the best way to know an idea is a good one, is to see how easily other people pick up on it and decide to do it too. It's flattering, but not really in a way that feels good.

If you're good enough to re-create someone else's efforts, you're probably good enough to come up with your own ideas. There is room for all of us. Let's all be creative together, but not by being willing to take money out of the pockets of someone you claim to respect, because you can't be bothered to come up with your own creative solutions.
Been a while since my last post, but I've been busy! Half legitimate work-busy, and the other half dealing with some messy life stuff that slowed me down a lot, but I'm ramping my productivity back up again, and going to be setting some new stuff in motion. I want to do a re-cap of my last show experience, but I'll have to save it until after the weekend. Here are some things to look forward to soon: 1) New webshop coming soon! I changed over to Shopify, and will be offering small merchandise all the time (prints, pendants, buttons, etc.), as well as editions, originals, and limited special things every month! 2) For those that don't follow yet, I'm really active on Instagram, so if you've got yourself a fancy phone, you can find me under "AmandaLouiseSpayd" (creative, I know) 3) Cool surprise little video coming in a couple weeks 4) Working on a new plush edition to be released (barring any production snags) early summer. Okay, that's all for now, but more to come soon :)
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