Sunday, 9 December 2012

I can breathe again ...

Thank you all so much for the good luck wishes and the lovely comments. They made my day. I am so glad to be part of this community of artsy souls who encourage eachother and sympathize with all the struggles one encounters when trying to make a living out of making art.

About the market: what shall I say ... I'm left with a kind of dubious feeling about it all. Maybe my expectations were too high. The last few weeks, whenever I was in our local shopping mall, I couldn't find a parking spot because of the huge crowds of people running around like maniacs with shopping carts piled high with presents and their hands full of shoppingbags. I've never seen it this crazy before. It bothers me a bit because for me Christmas isn't about presents at all. Christmas for me is about family and spending time together. But, well, seeing as they are this crazy about buying presents and spending all that money, I (maybe naively) figured there would be loads of people at the market with pockets full of money eager to buy everything we all so lovingly and caringly made ...

Hmmmm ....

It wasn't like that at all. I'm not gonna say there were no people. I'm not even going to say they didn't buy anything. They did, but it was less than I expected, both the number of people and the number of sales. Talking to some of the other stall holders that had done this same market before (for me it was the first time), they agreed it was a bit slow, there weren't as many people as last year, and there was a lot of ooh-ing and aah-ing but not so much buying.

And that saddens me a little. In the afternoon, when it was especially slow, I walked around the market to look at the stalls of the other people, and it was so clear that they had all put their heart and their soul into everything they created. So much attention to detail, little loving touches, everything beautifully packed and wrapped for Christmas, reasonable prices, thoughtful presentation. And still .... People seem to prefer buying their presents in the big commercial stores. Presents that are not unique at all, that you can find in every shopping mall in every town. One in a dozen so to speak.

It's a bit disheartening. All the hours of work, all the stress, all the hassle. It makes me wonder whether it's worth it. Don't get me wrong, I did sell some boxes, some small paintings, some cards, some magnets, and I'm really grateful to the people who bought them from me. And we had a real community sense between all the stall holders. But still. I'm not sure I'm prepared to do it again. Because, let's face it, the first thing you want to do is sell your stuff. The community sense is great and all, but at the end of the day you don't want to drag everything home again. You want to have an empty stall and pockets full of money.

I think it's the big dilemma for every artist.  I need to make art, not for the money but because it makes me feel good and I have this urge inside me that makes me want to create, need to create. It makes me happy. When I can't create I have an emptiness in my life that can't be filled with anything else. And I would love to be able to do it all day and every day. But I also need to live. And what better way than to be able to live from what you love doing? Alas, experiences like this make me wonder whether it'll ever be possible.

I don't want to sound negative. I earned back the money I paid for the stall, and some more on top of it, which is more than some of the other stall holders could say. So I shouldn't complain. I met some really nice people and got the feeling I was part of a big family, which felt great. But I couldn't help feeling a bit deflated when I went home.

But when I got home, I found a parcel on the table. Addressed to me, from the USA. Gina, who had won my print in my 100 followers give-away, had sent me a surprise packet to thank me for the print. It was so completely unexpected and such a nice gesture that I got tears in my eyes when I opened it and found her little note and the 2 lovely ornaments she made. Thank you Gina, you saved my day! These little ornaments are going to get a very special place in our home!

Because of the limited amount of time I had in the last week, I haven't been able to show you some other happy mail I received this week. A few weeks ago I was looking at Aimee's blog, and I saw a print that looked as if it was made for me. I knew I had to have it. She even had a sale on in her Etsy-shop at that moment, and offered a second smaller print as a present if you bought one. So I didn't have to think about this at all. And on Thursday I got it in my mailbox. Here's the print that immediately spoke to me:

And here's the one that I chose to accompany it (and it was very hard to choose, so many beautiful things in that shop...):

Isn't it gorgeous!? Thanks again Aimee, for making this art!

And I'm not even finished yet! I realize this post is getting way too long, but I really need to mention 3 more people. Last night I finally had time to read my mail again, and one mail was from Viola, who had bought my calendar and received it this week. She wrote that it would make her wall smile all next year. How lovely is that! Thank you Viola, for buying my calendar and loving it. It makes it all so worth it.

And today I got a mail from Chrissy. She's a local artist who also had a stall at the market yesterday and who was in love with one of my small paintings. She went home with it and wrote me to tell me she was so inspired by that painting that she felt a strong urge to paint when she got home. She finished two paintings that same night and wrote a blogpost about it! You can find it here. Go check it out, she makes beautiful things. I'm very happy to have a lovely print and a card from her as well. Thanks Chrissy, I'm so glad my painting inspired you to make these beautiful works.

And last but not least, Sandra was a stall holder at that same market too! I finally had a chance to see her amazing dolls with my own eyes. She bought my doodle-box, and did an art swap: one of my small paintings for one of her small dolls.  I LOVE it!  It's made of recycled materials and so cute.

I especially love the flowers on her dress, and the bonnet on her head (made from a beer crown). Thank you, Sandra, too, for making these sweet little things and brightening up people's lives.

So I can end this post with a positive note. The most important thing is to do what your heart tells you to do. If you feel the need to create, by all means: CREATE! If you can only touch one person with something you made with your heart, it's all worth it. And the bills? Well, I'll figure out a way to pay them while still keep on doing what I love to do. But for now, I'm going to relax in the knowledge that I have enough stock to last for a while,  and take time to play again and just enjoy. And now I'm finally ending this very long post with a saying I found on Carol's blog:

Let's all do this, shall we? Thanks for visiting! ♥ ♥ ♥ you all!


  1. Such a heartfelt, honest, thoughtful post. I often think, lately, that when we are doing what we feel we are meant to do, then why is it so difficult to keep doing it? For me it is also teaching. The new standards and evaluations and testing, testing, testing, make me question whether I still feel that I was meant to always be a teacher. But then, I really love teaching children, so I should let the dumb manmade rules roll off of me if they don't help students. So, what I mean to say here is that maybe if we keep being brave and honest with ourselves, it won't always be so darned hard?! Your art is beautiful and meaningful and true...and so are you.

  2. Heel erg jammer dat je verkoop een beetje is tegengevallen. Ik begrijp uit je verhaal dat je meer had verwacht omdat mensen nu zoveel geld uitgeven aan kado's voor de kerst. Maar je hebt het vast niet voor niets gedaan; misschien dat mensen je kunst de volgende keer herkennen en gaan waarderen en de beste reklame is ook mond-tot-mond reklame, dus alle dingen die je hebt verkocht, daar wordt nog over gepraat. Nu kun je op je gemakje aan een Etsyshop gaan werken.
    Wat een mooie print heb je gekocht bij Aimee; echt helemaal in jouw stijl! Enne.... ik vind hem ook mooi hoor! Het poppetje van Sandra vind ik wel een beetje eng :-) maar knap gedaan van allerlei wegwerpmateriaal.
    Bedankt voor je mooie verhaal!

  3. Sorry to read that the market was a little disappointing......on the positive side you connected with some very talented ladies....

  4. I really feel for you Denthe but keep going you win some and you lose some. It will come it just takes time. Een dikke knuffel voor je.

  5. Ohhh, I know exactly how you feel. In fact, there's probably a lot of people who've felt the same after a market event.
    It's really hard NOT to have high expectations, especially after getting such wonderful encouragement and support in the lead up to a market and putting in so much darn hard work!
    One time, I got home from a market and I felt so, so sad because of all the things youve outlined in your post.
    Hubby said to me, "Don't get too disheartened, you've made some really great connections with people today and who knows where that will lead. See it as an investment in yurself and don't give up".
    I really let this sink in and now with markets, I try not to have any expectations except within myself - I set myself goals to lovingly connect with people and I put my heart a d soul into that. That's my only job for the day! And if I sell well, that's a bonus.
    It's hard, but there WILL be a market with bumper sales and there WILL be ones that aren't so great. That's just how it is.
    I hope you don't give them up - I feel so blessed that I can look at your beautiful artwork every day and I mightn't have even come across your work unless I saw you there at the market!
    Lots of love,

  6. Beautiful... heartfelt... and honest post Denthe... and one I can relate to so well... We had two handmade markets here on the weekend... same venue... but different stall holders on each day... the quality... the inspiration... the presentation... and reasonable prices... everything... and it would be the same for your market too was beautiful... you COULD feel the love... my friend Jen and I went both days... did some shopping and took business cards... because the ones I didn't buy from on the weekend... I know I will in the future... from their online shops... we chose not to have a stall this time... and it was lovely to be on the other side of the table this time... markets can be hit and miss... but I would love to think that we all could do what we love and make a living from it... that would be the ultimate... and I love that you inspired Chrissy too.. this Christmas... I am trying to buy handmade... support artists... and that will be my mantra for every gift giving occasion... and so I LOVE the words from Carol... that's the message we all need to be putting out is all a learning experience... your gorgeous work inspires us... and like you... I feel so blessed to have the support of the amazing online community... love your swap with Sandra... and your other beautiful treasures...

    Jenny ♥

  7. I wish we had Christmas markets which had the same high standard as your work Denthe. I love these markets and enjoy buying from them but this year the standard of work has really gone down but the prices had gone up tremendously, so ended up with nothing. There were a lot of empty bags that day.

    Am sure one day you will be able to earn a living from your artwork Denthe it just may take a bit more time than you thought. Hugs Annette x

  8. WoW.. my face got warm just now and I feel as a sort of tomato ;)
    thank you for linking to me! :)

    I'm so sorry that there was not a bigger buing enthusiasm at the market.. I guess this is the way most people are.. feeling the safety by buying at bigger or smaller shoppingmarkets.. I don't know why.. Pepole seem to fool themselves, by thinking products are better at known shopping marktes, which to me is not always true.. I'm getting happy when looking at each mont of your beautiful work/the calendar! :)

    I tried once to sell aloe vera juice, as an independent distrubutor, but people got so skeptical, except those people I most knew, but even they too.. So I gave up.. still today I'm drinking the same aloe vera, I do not sell it, I gave it up, but I can still sell if I want, but now I only by to myself, and my boyfriend too, because we know it's good for the helath.

    Same with art work I think. But- go on, be strong! because it might take a time to get known.. When someone is very known, they can paint a line, (Picasso for instance) and people go crazy about it, want to buy it for what ever it will cost!! haha!
    But, this really makes me involved and I forget I'm writing just a public comment and not a private mail - haha! well....


    Just to say that I would prefer your lovely calendar to any calendar in the shopping market.

    Keep up your lovely work! :)

  9. I can relate to your post - a couple years back a girlfriend and I did two different craft fairs in one year. You need to have a certain amount of product to even attract potential customers and not have an "empty" booth. I had sold several of my soldered necklaces the first day and spent that night working hard to restock to not sell a single one the next day. I still have stock from that year in the house - I mostly just give it all away as gifts - one day I'll have to try to set up an Etsy shop -
    Don't ever stop creating though - you are super talented and have so much to share. Thanks for relating your experience.

  10. I love your work and have been waiting for you to have your market. Will you be putting your unsold boxes in your online shop? I would love to buy one.

    1. Thnx! Everything I have on my website ( is for sale, problem is that I don't have an online shop yet. Almost all of my boxes are now for sale in the Collective Store in Wynnum. If you can't go by there, please contact me and I'll get them for you.

  11. So often I see such crap marketed in stores and I think how the heck did these people get this garbage reproduced when there are so many glorious artists that should be licensed!!It baffles me! I have a few local artist friends who feel much like you when they do markets! Now that you have the boxes maybe you could sell them to stores locally!!They are's hard to know what people are thinking....maybe they are buying only necessities! I am way more practical than I have been in the past!! Forge on my friend, you have a quality product, the more exposure it gets the more likely it is to sell!!
    Good luck and carry on!!

    Hugs and thanks for sharing your heart so authentically!!

  12. I am sorry to hear that the market wasn´t as good as expected..
    but this is normal I think.
    I don´t sell anything. I make only cards for a friend with a shop. She uses my cards when she sells vouchers .. this was my idea for her as she opened her Organic Food Store in the last summer cause I wanted to support her.
    In the meantime my cards are so popular with her costumers, that she sometimes sells my cards without voucher from the shop...
    and she wanted to give me money for that ..but I rejected that- so she gives me natural products from her shop.

    I don´t have to live by my artwork...
    and I am very happy about this fact, cause I think the people aren´t really ready to appreciate what we do!

    maybe next year it will be a hit when you're doing it again ... dom´t be sad!

  13. Your story is such a familiar one and it's the reason why I don't do many shows... it is so hard to put all that time and effort into the preparation, only to have a disappointing return. I think shoppers just get overwhelmed at those shows, especially at the holidays -- so many booths and wonderful things to see. Take heart! Your work is beautiful, and probably would do better in upscale gift shops where people have more time to linger and look at those gorgeous boxes.

    I am so happy your Artsyville prints arrived so quickly!! xo

  14. I'm glad you covered your fees and had some beyond that, but I'm sad that it wasn't everything you expected. I've experienced that myself. I do love to buy art and crafts from individual sellers, but I can only do it sometimes. I think it's difficult sometimes to by art for most people as gifts unless you know them really, really well. Most of the time when I buy art, it's for me (I know I'll love it ;)). You received some wonderful and sweet things in the mail, I know sometimes a package can make my day too! You created such lovely and beautiful art for the show, I am confident that it will sell at some time for certain!

  15. I so understand your frustration. At least you had happy mail to cheer you up. :) I'm all for handmade unless it's kindle. Lol! I'm making handmade gifts this year as well.

  16. So sad that people are so enthralled by mass produced gift items that they don't even realize what jewels they are missing in the unique gifts of artists at the fair! Your boxes and paintings are beautiful. I'm happy for you that you did make enough to cover the cost of the stall. I understand how you feel having to pack up all the things and bring them back home. I've been there. Your art is gorgeous. Don't get discouraged. The right people will eventually come around. At least you made some new contacts at the fair that might lead to something.

  17. Its so much EASIER buying the mass marketed stuff for holidays and special easiier i mean you KNOW the person you are buying for probably wants that Kindle or Xbox game or some such buy art is such a personal thing REALLY have to know the person your buying for...I think one of your other commenters mentioned that and i have to agree.Buying something handmade is not a SAFE you know the recipient will love and alot of people are just not willing to take that chance. But do not give up! I think you may have better luck at other venues... Christmas when expectations are so high may not be a good one.... It is sad that things are this way.....If it were up to me I'd have a totally handmade Christmas but to think most people will come around to that way of thinking is just looking thru rose colored glasses...But i still wear you?? lol! Hugs! deb


Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love hearing your thoughts about my work. Because I am getting too many spammer comments, l have to use Captcha, sorry. Hope this is not a problem for you !