Saturday, August 25, 2012

On Globalization Of The Artistic Community And The Return Of The Renaissance Human

This post came by after a whole lot of thinking, and while there might be other, better researched articles on the subject, never the less,I wanted to ponder about our modern world of how social media effects arts, the positive and the negative effects of it, from a very subjective perspective of course. No eternal truths here, Dear Reader, just some random, very un-linear thinking...

Let me start with my personal account how the internet changed my art. Years ago, I used to paint murals. It was never a full time thing for me, but I had some well paying jobs here and there, and people learned about who I was and what I did because they saw my work at their local pizzeria, flower shop, barber shop,or their friend got a mural from me, and they liked it and wanted something similar for themselves. I did not advertise and none of my business was based on any online activity of mine. I suppose many other entrepreneurs  still do business the same way today. If you provide a valuable service for your locals, this is the best method for getting more of their  business. Honest hard work, good ethics will do it .

Then I have moved from New York to Colorado, to Boulder to be exact. A town I did not know anyone in, a town teaming with students including art students where I have not seen a single mural in any businesses.
Well, by this time I kind of had enough of mural painting anyways: there is always someone watching behind your back, making sure the cerulean of the sky is just right for their kitchen. Meanwhile,I picked up beading on the way, and I felt that this was a logical continuation of my artistic pursuits, and it was delightful to be able to make art at home with no one criticizing my work while I was at it. My plan was to sell it online, and soon enough I learned about Etsy, and it seemed so easy. Make it, put the same amount of love and good craftsmanship into it, that I would do with everything, and it will sell.

Right????

Well, of course it took years to translate my innate artistic talents from painting into bead embroidery, anything worth doing is only worth doing well ,and talent is zilch without practice.
 So add a couple thousand hours of practice, persistence, patience,falling on my face numerous times, large slices of humble pie and some great moments of beady ecstasy, and the understanding that there is always something to be learned and I am but a dwarf standing  on the shoulder of giants, add all that, and you get to where I feel like I am at the moment.  I make things that people like ( thank you, thank you), things that people buy (awesome), and I still have a full time retail job that sometimes sucks the life out of me. Sometimes it can be rewarding. It is quite tiresome though, and physically demanding.

I have my Etsy store, and I have learned that if my pictures are not right, my products won't sell. I had a point and shoot ittsy bittsy Fuji digital camera, it did the job, but just so, and I have outgrown it. Now keep in mind, that my bead habit pays for itself, but not much more. Which is fine by me, I did not expect to hit the jackpot here, but have no illusions Dear Reader, Yours Truly is not rolling in dough .

In order for me, to sell more product, I had to learn about Search Engine Optimization, and I needed a new camera.  I am still not entirely successful with the SEO stuff, the website I started to build, I never finished yet. There is only so much I can do with having to work 40-45 hours a week, plus commuting, plus taking care of my small family. Stuff we all do, but if I want to get better at beading, if I want to be recognized as an artist, I need to put in full time effort not only at work, where I am the most productive sales person, but with my artwork too.

I got a new camera, and I got a small studio setup, and I got Photoshop and I got a book about how to use all of these things new to me, because I certainly can not afford a professional studio photographer and an IT person, right?

Considering that I never touched a computer till I was 20, that's no small feat.

I joined Facebook, and all the sudden people I only admired from afar, started looking at my work, and soon enough, Steven Weiss of the Beadsmith Company ( May his whiskers never grow grey) found me and put me into his company's album of "Movers and Shakers", US edition.
I thought that was just about the grandest thing ever. Then he invited me to be part of his Battle of the Beadsmith, a global event with 80 participants from all over the world.
This is such a unique event in so many ways: The people in it would never ever be able to get together under the same roof, we are from all over the world, different from one another more then you can imagine, yet united by the love for all things beady...

Here I am, on the verge of a new age, as far as beading and many other forms of art are concerned:
It is clear to me that we entered a new era, very much like the Renaissance, when being a successful artist means something more then what we got used to.

In today's global artistic community, making beautiful, well made and well loved work is not enough, unless you have a different source of income or you are independently wealthy.
If you want to make a living, or just want to be able to participate in this rebirth of arts, the newfound appreciation of all things handmade and well crafted, you have to be a Polymath.
A person who is an expert in a significant number of different subject areas.

You can not just make beautiful jewelry. Unless you are blessed with local buyers or wealth to hire your personal entourage, you are not going to make any money selling , neither will you meet with like minded individuals to help you on the way online, if you have computer phobia.

Is this a good thing? Well, it has it's good and bad aspects. To me, as a person who would not qualify as middle class and has to work an awful lot, I feel like this new system , like any other system is so much easier if one has money. So yes, socioeconomic status in the beading world is definitely relevant.
I do have an inquisitive mind that just wants to assimilate all knowledge around me ( resistance is futile), and a willingness to spend my profits on new equipment that seems like a good investment in my beading future, and this new way of networking made it possible for me to gain a wider audience.

Does this sound like everyone has a fair chance at being known for their outstanding work? Definitely no. I have an insane drive, and even though I consider beading as my second job, I don't mind spending all my free time doing it, or doing things related to it. It is worth it for me, because I found my bliss,and now I understand that doing what I love to do has a lot to do with learning about 10 different things I might not love to do as much. But I do recognize that I am privileged because my family supports my pursuits ( that is Paul and Sammy, Butters and Moony could not care less), and I am young enough where the technology does not scare the  living daylight out of me, and at least I know I have a chance to meet the right people, so to me , this artistic globalization works.

How do you feel about it? I am insanely curious to see if anyone even read through of all this. Send me you comments .
Beaders of the World, Unite!


41 comments:

  1. great post! I completely relate! I only started using a computer at 28 :-) and beading at 39 :-) Our little beading community is wonderful and I'm so glad to be a part of it AND I'm a huge fan of your work!!! :-)

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    1. Thank You Triz. I have been a big fan of yours forever too!

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  2. I read your whole blog post and did not find it boring. In fact I found it very interesting with a lot of truth. Best of luck and Bead happy!

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  3. I agree 100%! I love that the Internet brings people together from all over the world - and, although it is sometimes strange to realize that I have friends, colleagues, mentors, teachers and students whom I will never see in person, we all work together, share our joys and sorrows, and form a very real (albeit virtual) community. I am so grateful to be living in this time!

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    1. Thank You Cynthia! That's just it, most of us will never meet, yet there is this connection that makes it all very real. I have made it a quest of mine to try to meet as many bead buddies as I can. Anyone coming to Boulder any time soon? My couch is yours couch:)))

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  4. I really enjoyed getting to learn just a little more about you! And those are all very relevant thoughts about what certainly seems to be a Renaissance in art through social media. It's a great world of so many possibilities, but it's a challenge to navigate. Bead On!

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    1. Thank You Chris! The possibilities are endless and hopefully we can overcome the challenges. We'll justh elp each other through the speed bumps.

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  5. Hi Kinga,
    This is a wonderful commentary and I am amazed at your artistic range. I have come further since I started my blog a little over a year ago and yours was one of the first blogs I started to follow. I have learn much through you just by your blog posts and facebook posts. I so much enjoyed being a part of your challenges. Which being apart of your challenges and others gave me the will to host my own challenge A Time To Stitch. It is a challenge that gives those that want to join in two different stitches to make a piece from. It is open to all stitchers even those that do not stitch, but have always wanted to try. Also though I do not have a online store my selling of my pieces have picked up just from people seeing them on my blog and on facebook. I agree with you that to become good at your craft you must practice by making piece after piece and try new techniques every once in a while to keep the monotony down. This is a must for me because I get bored easily. I have been following the Battle of the Beadsmith and I am totally in awe of all the talented bead weavers and embroiders. I want to be that good one day. I wish you all the best in all of your future endeavors Kinga.
    Your friend,
    Therese

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    1. Thank you Therese! You have been my most supportive blog buddy, and I am so happy to see that you did not even give up on me while I got busy with other things. The blog challenges have been so much fun, I think I ought to do another one sometime soon. OK. After my vacation in early October I think I shall post one.

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  6. Kinga - you have some great insights and observations here. I have been doing bead art for 20 years, so I really pre-date the digital age in the arts. In the 1990's I was able, by traveling to many, many shows and teaching workshops, to gain some recognition for my beadwork. It was a wonderful experience, but the shows expenses were huge (so huge that profit was mostly in the form of cash flow to finance the next show) and the traveling exhausting. I think this new world of social media and ability to reach an international audience is fabulous. I am of a generation that struggles to keep up with technology - and I have had to teach myself many things. But really, I have had to learn new things all the time since I began this art journey. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to run a little art business in a great big world and it even turns a small (but real) profit.
    Keep at it. Work at your passion. You need to have dreams and the dreams need work to be realized.
    Sharri Moroshok

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    1. Thank You Sharri! you made me realize that in the past too, you needed different skills to be successful at selling your work, they were just not IT related. But booking shows, dealing with state taxes and all that,traveling with your goods and everything you were doing when you did those shows already made you a Polymath way before I started thinking about any of this. I will keep at what I do and I shall keep n learning. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  7. I have beaded all my life for my own pleasure as well as to sell or give away. Social networking is new to me too. It's been a real learning experience with no computer skills in the beginning. I still don't have an Etsy site, just sell when I am commissioned on line. Since I am equally entranced with mosaics now, I spend as much time on it as beading. I find they work together and influence each other. I am compelled to cut glass into bead sized pieces or use beads in my mosaic art. The important thing is as it has always been--to create! It's wonderful if it is appreciated, but Art is its own reward to me. I am inspired by all I see on line and I dream my new ideas every night. It's an evolution, a solution to the absorption of input that barrages us. It's perplexing to those who don't understand the need to make Art. But on line, I can finally make contact with those who do understand.

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    1. Thank You Floy! Beaded mosaics and mosaic beadwork sounds like a combo made in heaven. Thanks for you input!

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  8. Kinga, I am over 50 - and I can relate to nearly every single thing you are saying. While I am not a technophobe, I don't seem to assimilate the needed information as readily as my chosen art form.
    This is simply a real frustration for me, as hrough the years, I have come to recognize the single most valuable artistic gift I possess: the ability to recognize and comprehensively understand the technical properties and methods of almost every craft I ever was exposed to - and then adapt those to my chosen medium.
    I recognize that is a somewhat unbelievable claim - but I swear - the key to life is looking for the similes in *everything.*
    So anyway, my mind goes helpless over some of the info I need for the net - yet I have to wear those hats. You are right on when you say talent is not enough. But unless you have it along with the drive and the fortitude, no amount of SEO study will help you.
    I am considered to be economically middle class - due to my husband's income. And yes, the 'real'job takes far more of my energy than I would like. But actually, if you look around, many people *are* making a reasonable amount of money with their art - but not until they get the pieces put together - which can mean finding a niche to fill. It is tough - but it can be done. I think the key is treating and thinking about your art practice as a JOB - one that you happen to enjoy greatly.
    Thanks for this great post, and for reading *my* novel, too! LOL

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    1. Thank You Perri! I can relate to your situation because I see everything in patterns. As soon as I look at anything , I will try to take it apart (in my head only) and reverse engineer it. I have to figure out how things work. And of course computers are a bit different and so it's harder to learn. I can't just look at it and see the underlining patterns that govern it's existence. Like I can do with any creative activity I ever participated in. It's a challenge, and one must keep a balance where art, and learning about your chosen field of art still comes first, but then you put in the effort for the other skill sets too that might make you more successful. Thank you. It was great to read your comment, because I think we learn the same way.

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  9. Yep...you say a lot of totally right on stuff. You have to wear many hats to make a decent living or any living at all with what we do. And the main thing to being successful, in my humble opinion, is a constant need to learn, to improve. My Graphic Design background helps me a lot but boy! do I wish I'd taken more photography classes.
    As for the internet I couldn't make a living (a small one, I'm not rolling in dough either) without it and I am absolutely amazed that I have a worldwide clientele.

    Oh...and I was 30 before I ever touched a computer....I just thank the stars I have a natural aptitude for it.

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  10. I read every word of your post, Kinga, and found it very interesting. My training (many years ago) was in computer programming so that part is not so daunting. Sales and social media have been much more challenging for me; I still have difficulty engaging for any length of time with my Facebook page, Twitter, etc. It hasn't 'clicked' for my there yet.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. It is very encouraging to hear how others deal with these things.

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    1. Thank You Luella! So you are coming at this from the other side, where you have all the training you need for the technology, yet social media is still new to you. Very interesting! I don't have Twitter yet. And there is so much to learn about all this stuff. Thank You for your input!

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  11. It´s never boring for me reading what you have to say, Kinga! Remember I consider you to be wise... ;-)
    Infact some of your thoughts have come to me, too, during the past 10 month - which is exactly the period of time that changed my artistical life the most! Last year in August I would not have dreamed about knowing you!! (Gosh, what a cheerless time... ;-) Or getting in contact with all those other amazing bead freaks out there...
    I have had the dream of my own little shop since I started to think...but I never had any chance to realize it. I didn´t have the needed bureaucracy skills and I never had enough money to meet the risks... When I found out about etsy I suddenly got the chance! And I got a global clientele right away - that was an absolutely overwhelming experience!!
    Luckily I always was surrounded with computer experts...that´s why I actually don´t need to know EVERYthing by myself. ;-))
    But of course I learned a lot in the past 20 years that I deal with naturally today.
    Internet for me is something exclusively positive!
    There are so many possibilities we still don´t know today - so let´s talk again after the next 20 years...! ;-)
    My concern about it is: let´s take care that it will always remain a place for boundless and free communication!! Unfortunately there are frightening tendencies I don´t appreciate at all...!

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    1. Thank You Kris! I am so happy to know you too, you are one crazy bead lady after my own heart! Yupp, I know about what you meant about the frightening tendencies... I don't think that shall come to pass. Information will not be controlled.

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  12. Thank you so much for this post! I can agree almost for 100%!

    Excerpts:
    - I was almost 40, when I touched a computer for the first time, but now, 15 years later, I'm actually living on-line :)
    - Most of my income comes via internet (not for my art though)

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  13. Wonderful post, Kinga! You make so many good points about that place where individual talent meets the world stage. Thanks to the internet, our world is growing smaller in some ways all the time, and as artists and as people, this will change us irrevocably. Here's to embracing progress and the way it will shape both our art and our future!

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  14. Your insane curiosity should be proud. Right on target Kinga. I worked in quilting before finding Beading by accident. But quilting and beading are parallel in a wish to be successful , both financially and physically, but understanding that practical economics prevails. I work a full time job as well. I was blessed enough to be electronic savvy and love where electronic media has taken me. I view daily the Titans of this industry, I have met some of the most wonderful souls through Facebook and this media keeps me stimulated to create each day. Bead On!

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  15. Oh my goodness! So much to ponder and so food to know I don't even know where to begin! Thank you!!!!!

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  16. I've had a similar journey, and without the internet I would probably not be a bead artist to the extent I am now. Probably, I'd be slogging along, reinventing the wheel and trying too hard to sell my work in local small galleries. I'm incredibly lucky to be married to a computer geek who understands my computer phobia and has patiently taught me to use the internet to great advantage.

    I, too, was blessed by Steven's attention and as a result have "met" some of my beading heroes, and made some fabulous long-distance friends.

    Thanks for putting all that thought into this post. It's made me think and recognize all the work that goes into what we do - the fun and not-so-fun stuff.

    Bead on, Sister! :)

    Kate

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  17. Thank You Everyone for your comments! It seems like this post hit home with all of us, and we all have feelings about it, mostly very positive, since this new way for reaching out to other artists and opportunities to be able to represent ourselves to a global market online is such a revolutionary concept with amazing opportunities for all of us. It also seems like that bead artists come to beading from all other areas of artistic life. We are one amazing group. Battle on with the technology to be able to put your amazing works out there for the world to see:)))

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  18. A great post Kinga.
    I want so badly to make money from what I create, I am sad that beadwork still doesn't seem to have the recognition it deserves as it is a skill which takes practice and patience. I work part time in a jewellery shop/gallery and there is not a single piece of bead work in there, it just seems over looked, it makes me sad and I worry what my future holds as a maker. I am studying a degree in silversmithing this is heavily biased towards metal jewellery which I do love also. I want so much to find a way of combining the two skills, but it alludes me at the moment, perhaps as I go through the degree programme this will become more apparent to me.
    Being only 30 I am a child of the digital age so the internet does not bother me, infact I'd find it difficult to be without it now. My skills could never have flourished without the kind words of fellow beaders on Blogger, Flickr, Facebook and Forums, I would never have got my work published in a book without some one posting the call for entries on their Blog, and the array of inspiration at the entry in a search engine, it is truly wonderful, and I am so happy every day that I have finally found the thing I was meant to do in life. x

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  19. Kinga, I am 40 and, although my illuminated primary school teacher (God bless his soul, he died last year) decided to give free computer classes to his pupils back in the early 80s, after that I didn't touch a PC until I was 24, when I attended a computer course in preparation for the writing of my BA dissertation. I admit I fell in love with the "monster" at once and, though my University degree has nothing to do with I.T., now computers have become my full-time job (I work as tech support at an insurance company) and I can't imagine my (beading) life without a computer and the Internet. The Internet gave me first of all the possibility of buying specific tools that I can't find here in Italy, not even online (E-Z bobbins are an example, or a proper beading loom); secondly, it is now giving me endless source of inspiration thanks to social networks and blogs. Particularly now that I'm on an early maternity leave and therefore I'm on my own almost all day, the beading community online has giving me some relief from my loneliness. I am not selling online but, having a blog, I decided to improve my photography skills all the same and bought a book about photography for the Internet (though not a new camera, I haven't still outgrown this one!).

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  20. Kinga, whilst reading your post I could relate how similar my own path and attitudes are to this journey. Same thoughts about using the camera, using the internet, sucking up all information I could get my hands/ears/eyes to learn from, same realisations about earning a living from my passion, same thrills at being seen by this incredibly "small" beading family, same feeling I have "won" already when included in Battle of the Beadsmith, same, same, same. I ask myself why give up an easy, well paid part time job that enables me to live comfortably to do something that takes heaps of work, sometimes never ending, with less remuneration ??? Am I crazy ??? No I found my passion and I love this beady family I shall probably never get to meet.

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  21. Great post Kinga! I don't know what I might add to the pile of comments already here, except to say, YES!!! You are right. Thank you for being thoughtful and for sharing. I wonder some days if the internet is beginning to suck up some of my beading time, which, like you, I treasure and scrimp for. But the payoff of like-minded friendship, suppport and inspiration is thus far worth it. But I think there might be a fine line to walk. Like, right now, I GOTTA go and bead! Hugs to you, my talented friend!

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  22. Wow - some food for thought definitely. I've been beading since I was a kid and began using the computer and internet later than my children started (in my late 20's). Getting used to the online market is hard for me because there are so many other beaders out there doing the same thing. My sales success comes from good old fashioned craft bazaars. When people are able to see the actual size, colors and feel, they are more willing to buy my things. I don't have a fancy studio or camera, so I am not really even set up for online success. If I sell a few things here and there I'm happy tho. I will never quit making things, even if they don't ever sell. Right now I'm gearing up for making some gift items for the holidays. The internet has allowed me to expand my skills - You Tube is a blessing for learning new techniques. I also love seeing beadwork from around the world - it inspires me to be creative in my own way. So I suppose I'm in love-hate relationship with selling beadwork on the internet - being able to order more beads from Ebay and Fire Mtn tips the scales totally to love tho!

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  23. Kinga,

    Your story makes so much sense in terms of your work -it explains loads about your sense of design etc. I was interested by the socio-economic comment. Probably for most arts they have rarely made a living for the artist whilst alive and it is the assign that drives them and makes their work special - but if finance restricts who can take art then that's a real issue. Art's of every kind are so important in enriching our lives and in extending our experiences and understandings. Where would we be without? Also. Can't hel but feel hope that humans will always find creative ways to express themselves. What I see and a very interested non-professional artist, is an awesome and totally enlivening pool of talent from around the world that indicates the awesome ability of dope to create beauty.

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  24. Hi Kinga,

    This explains so much about your beadwork and the painterly qualities of it. Your passion is what turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. I was interested by your comment about socio-economic status. I suppose few artists have made money on their work but were none the less driven to produce. If this is becoming open only to those with enough income then this is a real worry. However the artist will out and they tend to be driven to find some outlet. As an interested bystander who has lived with artists what I see in the beading community is an awe inspiring set of beautiful artworks that say something about human ability to produce beauty and that is a fantastic counter to our ability to destroy. There are works from all over the globe that are breathtaking in their celebration of the human condition and skill. Having been looking at cave paintings today one can see the links and the persistence for this need to express ourselves in creative and fabulous ways. Long may it continue. All power to your elbow ( or stitching fingers) Kinga.

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  25. Sorry about the double post Kinga - didn't understand the French web connection message when the first attempt disappeared -lol Linda x

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  26. What I take from your post is that you find the internet useful for networking and to do that you have had to learn a whole bunch of new skills and have invested lots of time and effort into honing your craft.

    You deserve every bit of admiration you receive, but cash would also be gratefully received! It does kinda blow that even though you are finding sucsess, it doesn't translate into you receiving a sufficient financial reward. I would resent that.

    I try not to see beading as a rich person's sport, because that is just too depressing! Hell yeh it can be very costly and the cost/benefit analysis doesn't bear thinking about!

    The moments of satisfaction and joy it provides is what keeps most people at it I suspect.

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  27. I totally agree - learning about networking via the computer is an almost must if one want's to succeed in the skill/craft as an entrepreneur. I really enjoyed hearing about your background in murals. I've always wondered just how many artists out there have started in one medium and gradually moved to another. Learning different aspects of the art itself as well as the SEO, etc. of running a shop can definitely keep a person busy, but it's fun at the same time! :-)

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