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Playing A Record With A Dollar
A Tale About Failing Successfully
Around late April, I signed up for a 10 x 10 spot to sell my artwork at a local art pop-up. It was an automatic acceptance. Since then, I've been creating art for this local pop-up. Because, as you should know, I didn't actively have anything to present. I barely had branding.
Noted, being an author, soon-to-be streamer once more, and overall random art-and-crafts creator is hard to pin down a particular *look.*
Either way, I applied. I knew it would kick me into the gear. What I didn't plan on, however, was the sheer amount of issues that came with the process. Cue April 30th, the day I started printing some art on 4x6 photo paper, printed some (poorly edited) polaroids of cryptids, and lost my mind printing stickers.
I have a machine called the Cricut Explore Air 2. I purchased it on the best sale I've seen on Walmart's website. For a while, I didn't touch it. I wasn't sure what to make. But, oh, did I find a use for it on April 30th! I had ten sheets of printable vinyl and three stickers I designed in Affinity (because Adobe is too damn expensive).
The designs had been made. I'd placed a border around them in case. I even put in small stickers for my husband's newly modded Game Boy Advance. I sized them down into the 8.5x11 size, according to the rulers on the Cricut Design Space Software. Believing everything looked fine, I went to print.
My first issue popped up. The Design Space software put a large margin around for printing, including indents in the four corners. It pushed what didn't fit onto a second page. After some reworking, I went to print again. It printed, but the quality was questionable at best.
There were large dots that made up the colors. The subtle patterns in the one design became terrible-looking lines. My husband, Zach and I agreed to buy ink for my photo-quality printer that had been shelved. I couldn't find any ink for it prior, so it collected dusk for over a year.
When we picked up the ink, we purchased a set with black and all the colors. It had everything but the photo-black for printing photos. And it was the photo-black that we needed. So, the same night, we journeyed back out. Around $75 later, we both were happy to start printing stickers.
No stickers were made that night.
Instead, Zach graciously printed test page after test page. He replaced printheads and calibrated them. Meanwhile, I held my sanity together and prepped my newsletter. Finally, late that night, the test page colors printed correctly. Zach consoled me.
I had all of Saturday to print my stickers. I may even get more done! I was excited. Neither of us, however, planned on printing stickers into the evening.
My cat sticker needed more of a white border. But it's colors were pristine. My logo sticker required simplification. The green was too dark. My newsletter sticker needed some general retooling. And, for some reason, my husband's stickers were smeared.
Zach reworked his design. A change to purple solved it. I added a white border, simplified my logo, and wrangled the newsletter sticker. I even made a small UFO sticker to use to close bags. Everything was finally looking up. But then the Cricut wouldn't cut through the sticker sheet.
It took all but two of my sticker sheets to fix everything.
Even then, the cat sticker began printing darker than it had. But everything else turned out fine. So I called it a wash. The main reason I even stayed at it was due to Zach's own persistence. I would've walked away at some point to calm myself had it not been for him.
But the speedbumps didn't end there.
Zach's family passed through for a wedding, eliminating nights I could work on my projects. There was a stretch of nearly three weeks I was exceptionally more tired and out of it than usual. And, no, my Crohn's wasn't flaring. Add on top of that some happenstances that kept me in a bad mood. My work wasn't getting done.
My lino cut hasn't seen any progress. Up until recently, I hadn't worked on any of my zines. My website and social presence haven't been prepped to accommodate my artwork. I haven't touched my novels. I don't even have a business card yet.
I did design a Shadow Journal (for Shadow Journaling) a week or so back. This past Saturday, I wrote 8,000 unedited words for the zines. I had a lot of pointers for those with Crohn's. The last 3,000 words were split between a part on body change, colonoscopy prep, and lactose intolerance. Like I said, I had a lot to say.
None of it is near ready for publishing. I also don't have it laid out to print. The art pop-up is on June 10th. I can't say I'm not panicked.
Despite this, I do have three 4x6 prints. I do have three different stickers and some silly Polaroids. I'm not saying this is enough to fill the space. Which, by the way, I don't have anything besides a table and chairs so far.
Honestly, I'm disappointed with where I'm at and daunted by the editing ahead. I'm upset I haven't dedicated more time on it. I'm upset I'm not at the printed and making portion. There's even a part of me that wants to give up.
But did you know you don't need a needle to play a record? You can use something as silly as a dollar bill. This is best done with a newer Euro or Aussie bank note. Yet you can do it with the American dollar.
I'm not joking.
I may not have all the art I want ready, the social presence dolled up, or the fanciest set up. But I can still be successful, even if the process has sucked.
I may be failing, but I'm failing successfully. I'm learning and, by golly, I will still be there. Even if all I have is my three damn stickers and prints.
Because if you can play a record with a dollar, I can surely sell my art.
If you want your works featured in my off-week newsletter (aka next week’s), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up in Substack Chat. You can also suggest other people's work!