Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Importance of Social Networking

(and other web based marketing tools)

Part 1 of an ongoing series on marketing you!

I’m straddling two worlds.  One has only to look at my LinkedIn profile to see that those two worlds collide rather oddly at times.  The really cool think is that I’m trying out all these concepts that I’ve learned over the last twenty years in a business model (art) that is high risk and which we started in one of the worse recessions since the great depression.  And….what’s cooler than that?  They work!  We are making great progress and we’re ahead of my business plan as we closed our first fiscal year and our first 2 seasons of exhibits.  But that’s another blog post on the business aspect of your art.

I’m the business end of ‘some things looming’ and I get to apply all my life lessons and my OJT (on the job training) business education to a field of endeavor that is, as a rule, weak in the area of business acumen and self-promotion.  STL exists to promote fiber art, to provide a community atmosphere for fiber artists to promote their work and earn some income and to keep the traditional fiber arts alive for the next generation.

Ok... so let’s talk as Joan Rivers used to say.  I’m going to give you some lessons in sales and then I’ll tell you what I’ve been learning.  I’m by no means an expert.  That’s good and bad.  The good part is it means you can do at least what I’ve done.  The bad part is, well, I can only take you so far.  I’m just trying to give you a head start.  A term you can forget but will make you buzz word compliant if you have any friends in sales and marketing is Sales 2.0.  It kind of boils down simplistically to a push vs. pull sales and marketing strategy.   Let’s start with the concept so you don’t start, (“la la I can’t hear you”) tuning me out of this important information.

In the past, sales and marketing had to go out and beat down the door to get your attention.  Most of us hated that approach and put ourselves on the ‘do not call’ list to avoid it.  Current buying trends are 180 degrees different.  Think about this example.  You want to buy a new refrigerator.  What’s the first thing you do?  Google it.  “Best refrigerators in 2011”…. We check out consumer reports on line.  We find forums where people have done some research or rate the refrigerators you are interested in.  It’s easy and we don’t even leave our homes to do it.  By the time we get into the car, if we even need to get into the car to go shopping, we know exactly what it is we want to buy, where to go and buy it and what price we can expect to pay for it.  All the sales work happened between us and the internet browser.  It’s the difference between ‘push’ and ‘pull’.  Old sales approach?  Push.  New sales approach?  Pull.  Buyers pull the information they want.  If you are like me when I first heard this explained, you are nodding yes right now and are a little amazed that you do this without even acknowledging how much your buying habits have changed.

What does that mean?  You don’t just need a web presence, if you are serious about your work, you have to have a web presence.  For people to know about you and want to see your work and participate in what you are doing you need to engage them so they are seeking you.  You want to be interested in ‘pulling’ up information about you.

Over time, I’ll share what we’ve tried and is working so you aren’t over whelmed with too much information.  So step one is a freebie idea.  Get yourself a Fan Page on Facebook.  It’s free.  You can upload your professional information, photos and videos and create events and invite your friends.  Once you invite your friends, you beg them to invite their friends.   If you have a web site or a blog you can put a Facebook button on it and reach out to others.

Shamelessly encourage them to ‘like’ your page.  It costs them nothing and you never know who is reading their posts to you and saying, ‘Hmm…I’d like to know more about that.  Click”  My fan page is a competition for us.  We watch our stats each week and try different things to keep our fans engaged and coming back to see what we are doing.  Instead of playing Farmville, I play Fan Page.  How can I get more people to like my page and more importantly engage with my page.  Facebook fan pages are cost effective in terms of dollars.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that social networking is cheap, however, as the more marketing you do via the net the more time you will invest in keeping it fresh.  If you don’t keep your content fresh, you’ll be ignored.  Writing blogs, keeping up with social networks and your web pages fresh is a time commitment.  It’s well worth it and pays off.  Here’s one small statistic on us.  In one year, STL went from an emailing list of 150 to over 700.  Every week we get a few new Twitter followers.  I don’t even understand Twitter completely (More of that in a future blog).

So here's a challenge: go make your Facebook fan page.  Then invite ‘some things looming’ to ‘like’ you.  We will. And then let me know if this is helpful and a topic you’d like me to continue sharing.  Hit me up with a comment here or….(you guessed it) our Facebook Fan page, some_things_looming.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Featured Artist: Leslie Sudock

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Leslie Sudock

Know when..., Home is..., For Me...

  Artist Statement, March 2011

Needlework of one kind or another has been a part of my life since early childhood:  my grandmother taught me to crochet and sew on her treadle machine in the cellar, and a kind neighbor gave me my first pair of knitting needles to ease me through illness when my parents were away on holiday.  Since then, my hands have been perpetually engaged with making.  Indeed, the collection of afghans, quilts, sweaters and vests stacked in my closets and drawers map my journey through high school (with special permission from teachers and principal), university, graduate and law school; my life as a young mother was charted by caps, booties, mittens, scarves and cardigans. 

Know When...
Know When...(detail)

 I have always been fascinated by the fibers, techniques and structures of knitting:  Scandinavian stranded color work sweaters in 9th grade history class, intricate Aran pullovers in Philosophy seminars, and complex mohair lace vests in Constitutional Law lectures.  So I suppose it was natural enough when – after an extended foray into the three-dimensional world of sock and felted shoes – my work turned sculptural. 

Home is...

Home is...(detail)
  For the past few years my work has included sculptural knitting with wool, copper wire, and bamboo and encaustic wax.  These works usually addressed the nature and politics of religious identity, or more abstruse philosophical and theological inquiry.  However, persistent carpal tunnel inflammation has required that I put down my knitting needles for a time.  Never one to cease rolling, I’ve taken turned to weaving as part of my regular work with neighbors who are homeless, in recovery, or otherwise in transition; my involvement in the formation and continued work of Arts Street Textile Studio: handmade with the homeless in Philadelphia has enabled me to both re-think my work in fiber and address the pressing concerns of my new studio colleagues.

For Me...

For me...(detail)

“Home is …”, “For me …”, and “Know when …” are three of a series of woven and embroidered signs that respond to the art of sign-making carried out by the homeless.  These three signs honor the poetic expression of need of so many on the street, as well as the work of Arts Street Textile Studio (ASTS), whose trademark red house signals the need and desire for safe and secure shelter.   Each of these “cardboard signs” consists of hand-woven “cardboard” canvas and embroidered texts executed with materials donated to ASTS for its outreach work in the studio and local shelters and day programs.  The texts are taken from extant signs carried by the homeless, and they are mounted on the cardboard they are intended to honor.  May they prompt in all of us greater compassion for and action on behalf of our neighbors in need.

Selected Exhibitions:

2010    Arashi Vessel #1, irRESIST,  Some Things Looming, Reading, PA.  Kathryn Pannepacker - ccurator
    MateriĆ©l Witness, Text/Textiles, Some Things Looming, Reading, PA.  Kathryn Pannepacker - curator
2009    MateriĆ©l Witness, Text/Textiles, da Vinci Gallery (Philagrafika Festival), Philadelphia, PA.  Kathryn
Pannepacker – curator
    Kamia Lilit (Lillith Amulet), Seyag ha’Torah (Hedge of Roses), Wimpel:  Wrapped Wishes!, Philadelphia
Museum of Jewish Art, Philadelphia, PA.  Matthew Singer – curator

Leslie Sudock, Fibers


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Featured Artist: Mary Stoudt

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Mary Stoudt

 I create my art quilts looking through a lens informed by decades of experimenting with a wide variety of art media, mainly photography, printmaking, ceramics, weaving, collage, bookmaking, and sculpture, etc.

To begin an art piece I imagine a basic composition in my head concentrating on color and form, and then work intuitively through each piece. As I progress through the quilt, I improvise, perhaps like a jazz musician would.

Sometimes, I give myself quilt assignments such as, "See how big you can make a quilt', or "use wool and cotton together" or "see how many layers you can add to make a quilt. Some of my quilt creations could be put into categories such as color studies, storytelling, or optical illusions.
About the Artist: Since the 70's I have been stitching, weaving, making paper, creating mixed media all to create diverse works some of which have been described by critics as being whimsical and spiritual. In 2003 I started layering fabric in a grid-like fashion. Simply put, I visualize the quilt composition, its colors and forms in my head and then as I move through the process, I improvise the details. For certain pieces, I make an actual size pattern as I move through the process, but I introduce new elements while using the pattern. I love the warmth, the flexibility, the play of color and textures of quilt making.

 Here is a mixed list of my favorite artists and other inspirations:
Paul Klee . Gees Bend Quilters . Pennsylvania Mountains, Fields . Traveling . Andy Goldsworthy . Red Grooms . Blues Music . NY times Sunday paper . Gustav Klimpt . Oiseaux Sisters . Joseph Cornell . Fabric Stores . Frank Gehry . Audrey Flack . Childhood Memories . My family . Hundertwasser . NPR . Goggleworks . Literature

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Featured Artist: Elena Stokes

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Elena Stokes

Monet Matters, 70% merino wool 30% mohair  wet and neddle felted

Artist’s Statement

I am a quilt artist and felt artist.  The quilter in me wants to follow the traditional construction methods of the utilitarian patchwork quilt.  As an artist, I gleefully ignore such restrictions and play with innovative techniques to create contemporary artwork.   Conversely, my felt art employs the traditional, time honored and labor intensive technique of wet felting to create sculptural vessels and wall art.  No machines, no knitting or sewing.  Just wool fibers, water, a little soap and a lot of elbow grease.

While the origins of many techniques used by textile and fiber artists began as utilitarian, such as quilting, weaving and felting, the uses of textiles and fibers in art have undergone a transformation over the years, transcending the domestic arts to folk art, from folk art to fine art.  It is very exciting for me to be a part of an art form that has such deep roots in our culture and history.

Monet Matters, detail
 My need to create and express my inner self has always been central to my life.  I’ve had extensive training and/or degrees in theatre and dance and I’ve taken numerous courses in quilting.  But, in the fine arts, I am self taught.  I use textiles and felt the way other artists use paint.  I am fascinated by the relationships of color and the effects of light and shadow.  As a fiber artist, I’ve gained a deeper sense of freedom of expression which I couldn’t find in the collaborative arts.

I am awed and humbled by the power and beauty of nature.  To see the sun setting on the ocean is such a serene spiritual experience.  The colors of autumn shows us that even late in life we are still beautiful, if not even more so than when we were young.  Seeing the garden coming back to life renews one’s sense of hope and faith.  The view from the top of a mountain puts the world and all our insurmountable problems back into proper perspective.  It is in nature that I feel close to God.  It is in nature that I find my inspiration.

2010                   New Hope Arts Center, PA                           Second Skin, 2010
2009                   New Hope Arts Center, PA                           Second Skin, 2009
2004                    Prallsville Mills, Stockton, NJ                    Autumn Quilts
2004                    Edison, NJ                                                      New Jersey Quilt Convention  -  juried
2002                    Prallsville Mills, Stockton, NJ                    Fall Harvest of Quilts
2001                    Orleans, France                                              Le Automne de Patchwork
1999                    32nd St. Armory, New York City                 Spring Festival of Quilts
1997                    32nd St. Armory, New York City                 Spring Festival of Quilts
1995                    The Puck Building, New York City              Fall Festival of Quilts  -  juried
1993                    John Jay College, New York City                 Quilts in Miniature
1999                    32nd St. Armory, New York City                  1st Place and Best Innovative Award
1998                    Vermont Quilt Festival, Northfield              2nd Place and Judge's Choice Award
1997                    Vermont Quilt Festival, Northfield               3rd Place
2004                    Nova Fine Art, Clinton, NJ                            Black and White
2003                    Gallery Petite, High Bridge, NJ                     Natural Wonders
2003                    GalleryOneMain, High Bridge, NJ                Summertime Hues

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Featured Artist: Kathy Selbst

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Kathy Selbst
Butterflies on a Shoestring
Butterflies, detail
Artist Statement

As a child I enjoyed knitting and machine sewing. By the time I reached high school I made garments to wear. My enjoyment in using my hands carried over to playing the piano & eventually offering piano lessons. I later tried my hand at other crafts becoming skilled in rug braiding, stain glass and gardening. In recent years I finally realized that my greatest fulfillment has been in fiber arts, and I have been an active quilter and weaver incorporating natural dyeing and shibori techniques. The pieces in this exhibit combine my interests of weaving, dyeing and quilting.

Mums for Mommy

Mums, detail

Monday, June 20, 2011

Featured Artist: Mary Schwarzenberger

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Mary Schwarzenberger


 Artist Statement

In her  fiber art Mary tries to create moods with color that soothe or stimulate. To quote Kaffe Fassett, “Why use one shade of red when you can use 17?”. More recently Mary has been exploring diverse techniques to create surface texture, from manipulating fabric with a needle felting machine to couching yarns on the surface. The works she creates are designed to provide comfort and create visual statements. Mary is highly influenced by the beauty of the local flora and fauna and she tries to incorporate natural themes into my work.

Orbs, detail


Juried Shows
2011 The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII Tri-State Quilt Competition
2010 Second Skin - New Hope Arts Center, New Hope PA
2010 Hoffman Challenge - Trunk Show
2009 Pacific International Quilt Festival XVIII - October 2009.
2009 Denver National Quilt Festival IV - April 2009.
2007 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XIV - September 2007.
2007 Hoffman Challenge Trunk Show


Colorama! detail

  Other Shows
Quilts in the Mill, Stockton, NJ. - October 2008
Quilts in the Mill, Stockton, NJ. - October 2006
The State Quilt Guild of NJ. - June 2009
The State Quilt Guild of NJ. - June 2007
The State Quilt Guild of NJ. - June 2006

2011 The Quilt Fest of New Jersey VII Tri-State Quilt Competition
Best Use of Embellishments.

Oceanography III

Oceanography III, detail

The Craft Gallery at The Prallsville Mills, Stockton NJ.
Focus on Fiber Art, 10 Bridge Street - annex. Frenchtown, NJ. www.focusonfiberart.com/



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Featured Artist: Della Reams

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Della Reams


What’s in a Name?
Arabic Calligraphy Knitted into Fabric
by Della Reams

The memory of an exceptionally beautiful fabric I saw in New York many years ago, sienna-colored and printed with gold Arabic calligraphy, was evoked when I arrived to teach in Qatar.  I became enthralled with the idea of weaving such fabrics on a jacquard loom.  My intent was to have students work with me on the designs.  Unfortunately, I don’t know Arabic and I don’t have a jacquard loom.  So, although the ambition was always there, the means weren’t. 

After seeing the Graphic Design Monogram Project results on the walls of VCUQatar, I realized the motifs, which represent a stylized version of each designer’s name in Arabic, were perfect for textile designs. With permission from the students, I decided to recreate them as knitted fabric designs. 


With a black and white printed student design in hand, I adapted each pattern to a grid in the knitting machine design program.  Each stitch represents a large pixel, which was entered by hand.   Some of the designs are large, because the motif is curvy and the pixels are large.  (On a straight grid, it takes more pixels to make a smooth curve than to make a straight line or sharp corner.)  In some cases, I changed the original pattern design to make it more suitable as a fabric repeat.  Then I knitted each design, and in most cases, knitted them again and again to work out kinks in the systems and details of the designs.  After washing, starching and pressing each piece, they were mounted on silk.

The students who contributed to the project in this submission are Aldana Al Kater, Basra Bashir and Muna Al Anssara.

Wearing symbols is already established as a ritual in the Arab world, such as soldiers wearing prayers woven into the fabric closest to their skin, and displaying holy words on one’s automobile.  The custom of asking a noble person for their cast-off clothing, to absorb the powerful spirit, is an example of the energy that is retained in cloth. 
My work is imbued with the energy of health and spirit.  Using symbols of these aspects visually represents the effect of the increased feeling of wellbeing on the wearer or observer.  The next part of this research is to explore the act of using common blessed Arabic sayings knitted into textile designs.  I will let the creative process guide me forward.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Featured Artist: Chris Motley

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Chris Motley


Indecision, side view
I explore texture and form with fiber, using the techniques of knitting and fulling.  The process of knitting can itself be a driving force in my art.  Since hand knitting is a slow process, a design concept can emerge as I knit.  Free from any preconceived notion of typical knitted fabric but armed with a lifetime of technique, a piece can emerge from pushing the boundaries of the stitches and I can explore three dimensions.
Second Thoughts
Second Thoughts, side view
A design will emerge as I am knitting, which is itself a meditative process for me.  Alternatively, I see something or have a concept from the real world or in my head, unrelated to yarn at all, that triggers a curiosity to translate it to fiber.  This is the case with the sculptural projects I am currently pursuing which involve body parts, particularly heads, hands and arms.  I knit intuitively and make a new piece just by starting to knit without pre-planning, a wonderful exploration free of the confines of patterns or garments.

Who's There
Who's There, side view

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Featured Artist: Elaine Hines Millar

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Elaine Hines Millar

Artist Statement

I am a fiber artist with a propensity for strong line and strong color. This is evidenced in my work. Inspiration stems from the world around me, whether it is natural or man-made. Either architecture or a rain forest can equally enthuse me.

In order to make sense of an idea, I often first develop it digitally within the confines of Photoshop or Illustrator, working through focus and balance issues and then trying on various colorings. This provides me with a strong beginning from which to choose the materials I will ultimately use. 

I work in fiber because I am totally tactile and love the various textures that fibers produce. I use a combination of materials, preferring hand dyed cloth and almost always including elements of screen printing.

Artist Biography

Elaine Millar was raised in St Louis, Missouri, where she received a BA degree from The University of Missouri-St Louis and an MBA from Washington University.  She worked in the corporate world for 20 years before seeking an early retirement to pursue other interests.

Her fiber journey began in 1993 and has expanded from traditional quilt making to her present pursuits.

She has been published in the Quilter’s Newsletter and Quilt Japan magazines.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Featured Artist: Maryanne McDevitt

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Maryanne McDevitt

A Little Bit Wise
 I was raised in a background of fiber but didn’t start sewing until I had daughters.  I began weaving in 1973, with a Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers class. In 1974, I spent a year in Edinburgh, Scotland where I studied tapestry weaving at the Edinburgh College of Art.

During another sabbatical year in Paris, I bought a larger floor loom, and scoured Paris yarn shops for weaving materials, then shipped the loom home where it’s still hard at work in my studio.

In my classroom all my students had a chance to learn to weave. As outreach chairmen for PGHS, I bring weaving and spinning demonstrations classrooms, zoos, arboretums, and museums.  As president, I’m always adding new places to share fiber excitement.  No matter what new project I begin, weaving still delights and fascinates me. I am truly caught up in the web of weaving.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Featured Artist: Kachina Martin

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Kachina Martin

Kachina Martin is a fiber artist who teaches art and art history at Muhlenberg High School in Laureldale, PA.  She earned a B.A. in English and French with an Art History minor at Albright College; she received her Master’s in Art History from Temple University.  Kachina has also studied fiber arts at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, the University of the Arts, Touchstone Center for Crafts, and Cannon Hill Studios.

Crocus, detail
In addition to her work as a public educator, Kachina has also lectured at St. Francis University, Albright College, La Salle University, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, and Temple University.

For further information, please visit http://www.howlingruth.com/

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Featured Artist: Pamela MacGregor

During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Pamela MacGregor

Allergen: glass beads, merino wool, plexiglass
71/2" w/ stand - 2010
My life as an artist has taken many turns over the years.  Artist as student, artist as teacher and now retired teacher as felt artist.  Since my retirement, the discovery of felt making has charged me with a new artistic energy. I find the versatility and engineering possibilities for each project both mentally and physically stimulating. It seems at the end of the day there is usually a sweet surprise to discover along with an “ah ha” moment for future felt works, each bringing with it new and unique possibilities.

Allergen (2nd view): glass beads, merino wool, plexiglass
71/2" w/ stand - 2010

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Featured Artist: Michelle Lord

 During the seven weeks of '"Size Matters" we'll focus on individual artists here on our blog. Every week, several artists will be featured. Today, we're pleased to introduce to you: Michelle Lord

Ladies In Waiting
 Michelle Lord lives in Texas and has been making dolls for about 3 years. However, she has been sewing and crafting for as long as she can remember. Michelle loves the creative outlet that dolls and fabric give her, as you can just keep adding layers until you finally get what you want. Fabric is very forgiving and you can do just about anything with it.  

Ladies, detail

Girl in a Box

Girl, detail

Spirits Are Looming

Spirits, Detail