Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Them Duggars got nothin' on me

Me, just after climbing the Knob, before I got stung by a humongous ground wasp. The swim test in that lake earlier in the week nearly killed me.

I thought I might call this post "17 kids and counting". It's been harder for me to avoid the large family reality shows lately. They show up everywhere I look. Kate Gosselin and the plus Eight were even in the hall outside The Golden Gallery as they passed by on their way to Caravan Beads. They were on a day trip whilst they were vacationing on nearby Bald Head Island.

Who's to say what I would be doing right now if they had seen the signs for my customizable characters, a la Mot and Dot. Up to my neck in orders?

Well, I have my own big brood a'comin'. An "insta-brood", you might say. On Sunday, I will head into the wilderness with 17 kids for a week long camping experience. I say wilderness. There are trees. And we are sleeping outside. In tents.

It's actually gonna be fun, and I am really looking forward to it. I have known most of these kids for about 6 years. Some I don't know at all, and some I know just a little. Fortunately, I have been to this camp before, so I know my way around. I know where the best plumbed bathrooms are, and a locking shower facility. I'm not sure I could handle 17 kids without that.

I also will have help from 4 other dads. That's fun, too. The hanging out with other dads part. And it spreads around the responsibility for keeping 17 kids alive and out of trouble.

Last year, on this same trip, I was really tested by this one kid. He's a bit of button-pusher, and has a knack for engaging in the most disruptive activity possible at the worst possible time. It's a gift, a talent, no doubt. Of course, every time this kid makes me say I am never gonna do this again, I get some glimpse into why he might behave the way he does. What kind of baggage he has. So I tell myself I will do better next time.

Although, I am up against a genius here. But I do have back-up. Maybe one of our various parenting styles will get through to the kid. I think he just wants to belong, but he mistakes making himself the center of attention for belonging. His antics got so bad last year, that the rest of the group would not let him ride in the passenger van on the way home. He rode with me in our mini-van, and my son, who gave up his chance to ride in the passenger van so that the kid would not have to ride by himself.

I tried talking to the kid on the ride home, but he's pretty good at staying just out of reach. Your questions get vague answers, and you can tell he is not really considering your questions before answering. Getting kicked off the passenger van really affected him, but I could tell he really did not understand that his behavior was making other kids not want to be around him.

Here's hoping that he has grown up some this year, that he feels more a part of things, and that I can do a better job remembering why he might be so hard to handle.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Jewelry Findings Are Back

After a wait that was way too long, Golden Supply Co. on Etsy is an active shop again. It has been very interesting running a supply shop, because the business model is different than from my Etsy art shop. I have learned a lot, and I have made plenty of mistakes.

Buying someone else's product to sell is a very different animal from producing your own product. You can't always control what you have on hand to sell, it takes longer to correct your errors in inventory control, and you don't always have answers to customer's questions.

But...It's well worth it in the end. The whole supply store idea sprung out of the Resin Tutorial Video I did last year. I wanted to share something I was doing with others, to help others experience the creative process.

I soon found out that the findings were not easily available yet online, so I felt a responsibility to make them available. I don't think I fully thought through what taking on that responsibility would entail. So, my plans and systems for the supply store weren't always adequate to deal with everything a supply store makes you deal with.

Hopefully, our re-examination of how we run the supply store has fixed a lot of the problems we encountered over our first year. 2 days ago was the first anniversary of opening the store, by the way. We are striving to offer a significantly reduced turn-around time, and more items in stock. We will be stocking some new items I am very excited about soon.

The video recently reached 100,000 views for the first part. About half those folks that watched the first part continued with the second part. Can't expect to retain everyone for the whole length of a 23 minute video :). We now make our videos shorter if the process allows it.

Thanks to everyone who has watched the video, and to all who have been so patient with us as we went through the growning pains of Golden Supply Co. We look forward to supplying you in the future.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tell us again where you've been...

It's a little funny that, right after starting my series on some people's perception of artists as directionless slackers and on the new wave of business-savvy artists, I would become so slack with maintaining my blog.

I have been staying busy with the transition from the tiny, cramped house (that allowed us to afford to follow my dream of being a working artist) to our new home. I know this house is the space that will allow me to expand the business so that we can get my art out to more people, but I did not anticipate it would take several months to really get settled and get my various Etsy shops back up and running.

Over on the Golden Supply Co. side of things, I have been struggling to get caught up with orders and inventory. I'm pleased to say that I am getting close. The GSC Etsy store, which has been on vacation so I could catch up, is about to re-open. We have had to implement a better inventory control system (many mistakes were made). Hopefully, that system will help us stay better stocked and less likely to sell items we think we have but don't.

Over on, I have stayed busy filling orders from my makeshift office. Our garage, which will be the world headquarters of all things John W. Golden, has been filled to the rafters with the contents of our 2 storage units since we finally cleared those out a few months ago. This weekend, we had the first of several yard sales to start shedding a lot of those contents. I can almost see the space where the desks will go. Maybe in a few weeks.

There are some exciting things brewing concerning my art. A few new opportunities are developing which should mean more exposure for my art. I'll let you know about those as the opportunities are realized.

At home, we are dealing with one loose tooth (not mine), whose owner is reluctant to let anybody get it out, a change from kid-size hangers to grown-up hangers for the kid who sold off all his Pokemon cards at the yard sale, and a little less getting into everything by our youngest. My wife is finally getting to unpack all the art and such that went into boxes during our stay in the little house. I've built a fence, did some minor organization of tools and such in the garage, but mostly I have been shipping packages.

I always try to look for lessons in life's situations, and lately the situations have been pretty pleasant, and I admit that I don't pay as much attention to the lessons when things are going smoothly. The worst problem I have had lately is that my back went out yesterday morning (first time that it has done that). That laid me out for the day (I got off easy I'm told), which happened to be the day of the yard sale. I was carrying (with the help of a friend) my fiberglass darkroom sink out into the yard on the chance that it might catch the eye of someone who still maintains a film darkroom.

We got about halfway to the street when suddenly I felt a sharp pain about 2/3 up my back. I could not hold my arms up, and could only get relief from the pain by bending over with my hands on my knees. Any attempt to straighten up brought the pain back. It felt as if something were pushing down on my shoulders and creating the pain right on my spine. I slouched into the house and spent most of the day laying on icepacks. A couple of times, I was able to stand up straight, and I was able to get myself to the ibuprofen and the bathroom if needed, but it was a quite a struggle.

This morning I did not think I would be able to get out of the bed. Most of last night, I was barely able to to roll on to my side or on to my back due to the pain. I managed to get up though and with a lot of heat packs, was able to get moving and get some work done today. It still hurts, but it's manageable. I don't like to take painkillers or muscle relaxers, so it's grin and bear it.

I have had lower back pain since college. I used to have to lower 300lb. boxes of Arches watercolor paper by hand off the back of a semi when I worked for Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in its first few years of existence. That plus some pretty bad posture while sitting, and a rear-end car collison in 2002 left me with chronic sciatic problems. Many times over the years, I had cursed my lower back pain, and a few times I have been sidelined from it, but the pain yesterday was far worse than any I have felt before. I almost felt like I could not breathe when standing.

Here's the thing though - if not for those years of living with back pain, I think yesterday's pain would have dropped me to my knees. I would probably still be flat on my back, and I would probably be whacked out of my mind on painkillers. And as a working artist, I can't afford that. All those years of pain helped prepare me for the worst physical pain I have felt in my life. And it helped me to get going again.

Oh, wait a minute... there's a lesson in that.