Archive for the 'Buyer’s Market Of American Craft' Category


goodbye kitty

goodbye_kitty1Just uploaded another batch of nine spankin’ new Fobots to the website.  Only nine, you say?  What a slacker!  No, I haven’t been watching soap operas and eating bon bons, I’ve been making Fobots to fill BMAC orders.  Some of the galleries we’re working with created a “wish list” of Fobots to fill their orders, and I like to give them a selection to choose from.  And until they’ve chosen, available new bots don’t hit the website. 

But every once in a while, some junk comes along that just screams to be assembled.  “Goodbye Kitty” here started several months ago with just the whiskers/drawer pull.  But then the soap tin showed up a few weeks ago and said “Hey!  Grab that pressure gauge and get to work!”  I don’t want to make a lot of animal bots–too cutsey–but there’s nothing cute about this guy.  At least not in a “Hello Kitty” kind of way.


Amy’s law of artistic attraction

Now that the flurry of frenzied post-BMAC activity has reached manageable levels, it’s time to re-visit a topic that’s very near and dear to my heart.


And now we’re back to BMAC, ’cause that’s what I’m talking about.   The last day of the show is a bit slow–OK, really slow–and that’s the day all the artists trade with each other and buy each other’s floor samples.  Oh, man, if I’d known, I’d have brought a buttload of cash and done all my Christmas shopping.  And then I’d put it all someplace safe, forget where, and rediscover it years later.  I’m like that.  As it is, I did buy a few necklaces and a really well-crafted wooden box, and no, I’m not including pictures because some of you will be getting them for Christmas.  Maybe.  If I can find them.

Several artists asked if we wanted to trade art.  I always declined, because a) we just didn’t have much inventory left at that point, and b) we just didn’t have any room in the Jeep for anything more than we came with.  Seriously–when we went out for Chinese food on the way home that evening, I rejected the offer to box up the leftovers, because I didn’t know where we’d put them.  I can hear you asking “Well, if you sold so many robots, why didn’t you have lots of room going back?”  Silly reader, almost everything we sold came home with us, to be shipped to galleries later.  God, I hate shipping…

ldrumm20friendshipbowldrumle947bigBut we did enthusiastically agree to two trades.  The first was with an artist I’ve been an enormous fan of for years, Leandra Drumm.  If you’ve been to our house, half of the switchplates in it are her creations.  I’ve always felt an artistic kinship with this woman’s design sensibility.  And after meeting her, I felt like I’d known her all my life.  Her work just resonates with me.  And now, she has her designs on etched glass bowls and glasses, too.  Oh, happy day, when she asked if I wanted to trade.  When I finish a custom robot for her, I get to go shopping from her catalog.  This is going to be tough.  I may have to make her several robots…

img31183445fe590a51c2The second artist I’m trading with is Lynn Latimer, who creates fused glass pieces.  When Lynn and her husband Michael stopped by our booth one morning, before the show started, we just hit it off.  I didn’t know what her work was like, but I  should have known I’d love it.  Amy’s new Law of Artistic Attraction states that the more one likes the work of a fellow artist, the more one inevitably ends up liking them.  And vice versa.  It’s uncanny–any time I started salivating over a piece of art, one that really grabbed me and said TAKE ME HOME, I’d meet the artist and wish we lived nearby so we could pal around and share ideas.  And margaritas.  Lynn’s fused glass panels “are made of multiple layers of translucent colored glass that are cut from sheets, composed, and fused together in a special glass kiln.  Layering is used to build both a rich and subtle pattern of color where the pieces cross over and under one another and an intricate rhythm of line and pattern”.  I love them because the colors are so subtle–an adjective not usually applied to glass.  This isn’t the one we’re getting–I couldn’t find a picture of ours–but it’s round and beautiful and going on our dining room table. 

I’m contractually obligated to exhibit at next year’s BMAC.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’m going to have all of this year’s orders finished by then.  But even if I have to show up with one Fobot and an order book, I’m going.  And I’ll be shopping.


Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be licensing artists

snobot-bThe following is a letter I just posted to one of my Yahoo groups–“The Art of Licensing” to be specific (note: if you’re a professional illustrator who wants to get into licensing, JOIN THIS GROUP!).  Those of you who know me know how much I loathe typing, so I’m posting the note again here ’cause I hate to see so many keystrokes go to waste.

Hi, everyone–


I feel like I need to apologize or explain my absence from this board this last year.  Truth is, my heart just isn’t in it anymore.  And by “it”, I mean art and licensing, not the group!


When I first started out as an illustrator, waaaaaay back in 1982, I, like many illustrators, went to work for a big company–in this case, Hallmark, and then Current.  The money and benefits were great, and if you could stomach the politics, it was a good way to make a living.  Then, in the late 80’s, it seems like all the employers woke up and said “Hey!  If we make all the artists work freelance, we can pay them half as much and skip the benefits”.  And that was OK–I got to work at home, the politics were (mostly) a thing of the past, and the money was still pretty good.  Art directors would call me up and describe what they needed from me, I’d do it, and they’d send me a check.


Now, whenever I speak with an art director, she seems to be doing the job of six former coworkers, has no time to plan anything, and is one flat tire away from a complete nervous breakdown.  This past year I’ve had, for the first time in my career, clients go bankrupt, fail to pay me, and cancel jobs already contracted.  Sure, licensing is great if you hit it big, but frankly, I’m sick and tired of doing tons of work on spec, and hoping that someone picks it.  And then paying about what they would have paid for a freelance work-for-hire piece.  Plus, I absolutely SUCK at marketing myself.  I’d rather chew glass than cold call a potential buyer.


Yeah, I should probably look into getting an agent.  If I can find anyone that’s OK with me not creating any new work for a while.  I’ve started a new business–see — and I’m soooo much happier now.  Just got back from the Buyers’ Market show in Philadelphia (that’s a show like Surtex but where craftsmen sell their work wholesale to galleries) and have more orders than I can fill.  Some contacts from CHA are already starting to work out, and I’ll follow through on them, but after that, I’m out.


Speaking of Buyers Market and CHA–it was a real eye-opener how inexpensive they were and how lovely, helpful and accommodating the staff were compared to Surtex.  I just gotta groan every time I read a new message about Surtex.  They remind me of that routine Lily Tomlin used to do as Ernestine, the phone operator–“We don’t care.  We don’t have to.  We’re the Phone Company”.  Small wonder they’ve lost over half of their exhibitors.


Thanks for letting me ramble.  I’ve been wanting to get this off my chest for a while.  I will miss seeing you at Surtex this year.  If there’s one good thing that came out of all of this, it’s the many wonderful friendships that have developed with other artists over the years.  Best of luck, and I hope you all make it really big this year.






No pictures, please.

I just wanted everyone who’s been following our epic adventure to know that we have arrived home safely and are trying to catch up on sleep.  Move-out at the Philadelphia Convention Center yesterday was every bit as crazy as we’d been warned it would be.  1200 exhibitors, who had arrived over the course of two days, all attempting to tear down their booths and flee the building AT THE SAME TIME.  Were it not for the help of our friends, the lovely Margie King and the patient (and lovely) Bob Fronzoni, we might still be there.  As it was, we started at 3, hauled everything in two trips to a nearby parking garage and were on the road by 5:30.  Thank God it was President’s Day.  Made it home around 1am, and returned the rental by 9am.

And that’s why there are no pictures with this post.  The bags under my eyes will be the last ones I unpack.


Kicking more bot.

bmac-022I really hate to brag.

Many of the craftsmen here have been complaining that the show has been pretty slow.  Which is a shame, because most of the work here is simply spectacular.  I mean really–I may never go to a craft fair as a consumer again, ’cause I’ve been to Philly, and I’ve seen the best.  All under one ENORMOUS roof.

So like I said, I don’t want to brag,  but of the 98 Fobots in our inventory, we have 25 left now, with a day and a half left of the show.  Not to mention orders for bots not yet born, and tons of leads on future sales.  So yeah, we’re pretty happy.  In fact, I’d have to say that this has been the best Valentine’s day I can remember; flowers from my sweetie (that’s him on the right—official title—“Cheap Robotics Officer”), good sales, wonderful feedback, dinner with dear friends Margie and Bob, and then a walk in a beautiful, fluffy light snow after dinner.  Life is good.


We kicked bot!

bmac-018I think today flew by faster than any trade show day I’ve ever experienced.  Trade show days–standing in a booth for hours, praying people will like you–are like dog years.  One day usually seems like a week.

I’d been warned that the first day would probably be pretty slow for new exhibitors.  Buyers generally visit artists that they’ve previously worked with first, before going on to new ones like us.  Makes sense.

Fifteen minutes after the show opened, we’d written our first order for 8 Fobots.  Now, I’m not going to say that the whole show was like that, but when they closed the doors at 6pm, we’d written six orders for a total of 38 bots.  Not bad, when you consider that we only have about 98 in stock.  Plus, lots of people were taking brochures and saying they’d be back tomorrow, and we already have several orders for bots similar to ones we’ve sold, or custom orders.

Check out the lab coat.  Phil has one too–we were going for the mad scientist look.  They get lots of comments.  Do not check out the bags under my eyes–I was up until 2 last night with last minute preparations, then up at 7.

I am going to sleep soooooooo well tonight.


before and after

bmac-010bmac-008 Won’t bore you with the details of how we drove around downtown Philly in rush hour traffic for an hour trying to find the convention center loading dock amid a rat’s nest of one-way streets and dead ends. Or how I got so worried that we’d completely miss our move-in time and the 40 minutes we had to unload that I had to take half a Xanax to calm down. Or how I feel like my whole career has come down to the next four days.

No, we’re going to focus on the positive stuff. Namely, that the booth came together spectacularly. Here’s what it looked like when we (finally) got most of the stuff moved in, and then, several sweaty hours later. That table you see on the left has the base packed full of extra bots, and the columns are stuffed with tools and packing materials. The lights aren’t focused yet, but they look freakin’ amazing! And already we’ve had people saying that we’ve got the coolest booth and the coolest product in the show. So–it looks like we’ve got a date with destiny. And he’s ordered the lobster…


Buyer’s Market of American Craft–Part 1

bmac-002Hi, kids! We’re here in Philadelphia! Well, not Philadelphia exactly. We’re 15 minutes away in Runnemede, NJ, where the hotels are cheap and the parking is free.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Stayed up until 4am with final preparations for the show, then up at 8 to pick up the rental car. That’s it in the picture. Now look closely because the next time I post, hopefully tomorrow (maybe later, depending on how good the post set-up cocktail party is), you are going to see a picture of our booth and say to yourself “WOW! how did they fit all THAT in a Jeep Liberty?”

Good question. I’m still not sure. Phil is a god. Suffice it to say that there are Fobots stuffed into every conceivable nook and cranny of that vehicle. The glove compartment has a Fobot or two in it. I’m kidding about the glove compartment, but not by much. This car is packed so tight, you could slam on the breaks and NOTHING WOULD MOVE. Which we put to the test during rush hour traffic in DC. Note to self–do NOT drive through Washington DC between 4 and 7. Ever.

But we’ve arrived safely, and the adrenalin rush that has been sustaining me for the last week has started to wear off, aided by a bottle of really good tequila. I really must crash now. Stay tuned–more updates to come.

October 2021

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