#sciart find of the day

I just realized “of the day” makes it sound like I do this daily. Yeah, right. I barely manage to …uh nevermind *cough*

So, today’s very cool science art comes from California, where some dude named Mark makes crazy stuff out of metal. He makes some very pretty garden art of a more standard sort, but what caught my eye is this brilliant Stegosaurus:


I’m also mad about his Ammonite sculpture:


Go on and check out his other cool stuff in his Etsy shop, MANmadeMetal.

Vexed gear in the wild

I love when customers send me photos of themselves wearing my designs. It’s probably my favourite part of the business side of what I do (of course the art side is allllll about playing with mud and vector tools). Here are just a few of my favourites :)

You can get the shirts (and other fun gear) in my RedBubble shop and the jewellery in my Etsy shop. And don’t forget to send me a photo! 


Upcoming shows in Toronto

The art and craft show season is almost upon us, and The Vexed Muddler is madly preparing.

September 12th and 13th you can find me at the Queen West Art Crawl at Trinity-Bellwoods Park on Queen West:

On September 26th I’ll be at the Etsy Made In Canada Pop-Up Market at MaRS. This was a fantastic show last year, and I’m very excited to be a part of it once more. As an added bonus, the first 100 customers through the door will get a swag bag stuffed with goodies from the show artisans!

See you in September!

Coming soon to Amazon: The Vexed Muddler!

Amazon will soon be launching its new Handmade Marketplace, and I’ve been invited to open a shop! I’m very excited about this opportunity, but it will mean a few tweaks to my business model, and a different set of priorities for the work I make available on Amazon.  

Ever since they announced this new marketplace I’ve been thinking about how I might manage to sell my scienterrific designs on a platform where the customers demand instant gratification. After all, half the fun of The Vexed Muddler is the one of a kind nature of my products and the ability to completely customize your design. That won’t be possible with Amazon’s tight turnaround times. Don’t worry, though. You’ll still be able to order your custom crazy designs, get your model organism rendered in stunning ceramic, and make totally outlandish requests from my Etsy shop and via Twitter

What I’ll offer on Amazon is a selection of my most popular designs in my personal favourite glaze colours. You’ll still be able to choose your cord material and length from a variety of options, but these will be a little more limited than what I have available for my custom work. Rather than striving to make each piece OOAK, I’ll work in small batches to ensure a reasonable level of consistency. 

Whatever happens, this should prove an interesting journey! 

Banks’ Second Theorem of E-commerce

The excellent and wise Michele Banks (of Artologica fame) has written a fantastic post on one aspect of e-commerce that is so often overlooked by newbies. What it boils down to is engagement, and so many artists just…don’t. They put their work on Etsy (shameless self plug) or RedBubble (also a shameless self-plug) or some other online marketplace and they just figure people will somehow find them and buy their stuff. It doesn’t work like that. Michele’s post brought to mind a dozen similar conversations I’ve had with fellow artists and crafters who are struggling to  market themselves online:

I suggested she start by posting her new shop on her Facebook page. “Well, that’s the thing, I don’t do Facebook.” Twitter? Nope. Instagram? What?

In the grand tradition of using cat memes to make points, here’s a social media guru cat.

When you’re a small independent retailer you can’t afford to spend money on advertising, you don’t have an established brand, and you don’t have a strong enough web presence to dominate search results. When a McDonald’s opens up on your street, they don’t have to advertise – everyone knows it instantly. When a tiny hole-in-the-wall burger joint opens up, they have to get out into the community and MAKE everyone know about them. How do they do that? By engaging with the community:

Well, if you have an online shop, the internet is your neighborhood. Get out there, take a walk every day, and say hello. Read some blogs. Read some tweets. Make some intelligent comments. Then say, “here, have a look at what I’m working on.” Repeat.

It can feel awkward at first to shamelessly plug yourself, and if you’re not used to using social media, there are certainly learning curves associated with those. It takes time and energy to build a following and become a part of the community. But there aren’t a lot of hermits who own successful burger joints, and maybe that should tell you something.

whew, what a week! #CSMRegina2015 wrap-up

Well, the CSM conference is over and done, and what a week it was. The conference organizers did a great job, and everyone was incredibly friendly. It was especially nice to see how excited people were about the art booths! Both Nicole and I had lots of visitors, and many people walked away the happy owner of one of Nicole’s beautiful prints or some of my nerdy ceramic jewellery.





I couldn’t resist picking up one of Nicole’s pieces for myself:

Next year the CSM conference is in Toronto, and I’ve already had a brief conversation with the organizers about setting up an expanded art show, potentially including some installation art as well as art vendor tables. Exciting times ahead for CSM!

Things to do differently next time around:
1. more/better signage – we could have used something to guide people to the art tables. A sign behind us, one at the coffee area, maybe an artsy bacteria trail on the floor?
2. get in on the prize action if possible, or set up a giveaway at the booth. Maybe a good opportunity to sign people up to a mailing list, too!
3. make sure the focus is squarely on microbiology. Very little interest in anything else with this crowd. Bacteria, bacteriophages, and DNA were the big sellers.
4. LOTS more stickers & inexpensive ($5 or less) items.