Thursday, December 26, 2019

Crafting Season Is Over

Wow! What a whirlwind of a year! From October to November is when most of my attention is focused on crafting inventory for the Christmas craft shows. The funny thing with craft shows is that you never know what kind of audience you will get. Last year I sold out of my Grinchy ornaments, but didn't sell any etched glass. This year, the etched glass plates and wine glasses practically flew off the table and the ornaments just hung there looking cute.

But, now that the Holiday Craft Show Season is over, the presents unwrapped, and the eggnog poured. I spent some quality time with my family and friends, and now its time to focus on the new year.

Time to set goals, and make those New Years resolutions. My design and production schedule is in my desk planner and I am filling up my first quarter quickly. (I use Google Calendar for reminders and such, but nothing beats a big colorful planner to keep all your goals, notes and ideas. Not to mention washi tape, gel pens and STICKERS!) I love the personalizable - is that even a word? - planners at Zazzle. I didn't design any this year, but there are so many artists who did and so many styles to choose from.

I have some great designs in the works for Valentine Day, and St. Patrick's Day and I will be relieving them in a few weeks. Also there are some exciting things in the works for McCarron Art & Design this year. Stay tuned. So, follow me on  any of my Social Media platforms. you won't want to miss these.

Until then, Happy NEW YEAR 2020!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Start an Online Business as a Solopreneur

Just because I am a "Graphic Designer", most people assume that I make, code, and design websites...This is simply not true. Back when computer screens were green, before Photoshop, Wordpress, or any Social Media Sites, Graphic Designers physically created advertising, mostly for print, using Exacto blades, and rubylith. They measured with RULERS. They didn't CODE anything. There was no complicated computer science involved.

So, when I started my online journey in 2008, I had no idea what hex colors, or css or html was. Sure, now, I can probably tell you the definition, and change a few simple lines of code -- IF I REALLY HAD TO, and -- IF SOMEONE WALKED ME STEP BY STEP, but, that's not what I do.

Web Design Plan Thumbnails
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash
These days an online presence is so easy.

In addition to my website, I blog, I'm on Social Media, I run an Etsy shop, and several Zazzle stores. But I don't own these! These companies allow me to promote my designs on their pages, but they could decide at any moment and for whatever reason to close my store/shop/pages.

I also do not have control over my customer list. A perfect example of this is, the other day I thought, "Wouldn't it be great if I could email the customers who bought my Dog Photo Mug on Zazzle, and let them know about my World's Best Dog Mom tee-shirt I just finished." NOPE! Zazzle doesn't allow that.

Etsy allows a little more freedom with customer correspondence, but, I am responsible for designing, making, packing, shipping the products, and all customer service.

My website, www.Aruba-Sunsets.com, allows me true freedom to manage my business. I monetize the way I feel is best, and have even built an email list of readers that I control.

I felt compelled to write this post today after a crafter friend of mine wanted to break away from Etsy and looked seriously hurt and confused when I turned down the $500 she offered me to design her website (from scratch, using one of those "free" hosting sites.)

Uuugh! I hate those things. Sure they say they are free, but after you add your own domain, email add-on, security, a customizable template, SEO, social media buttons... the list goes on and on... those "free" websites will cost you a fortune. AND there is no guarantee that you will even have purchased the right tools to create a successful business. I know. I've seen it happen more than once to friends.

I know that web designers charge 10x more than that, but it wasn't about the money. I told her, that, even if she had offered to pay "real" web designer wages, and I actually knew how to code a website from scratch, I would never use anything else besides SBI.

She said, "But, YOUR travel website is doing so well!"

She is not the only one who thinks my mad design skills include computer coding! Ugh!

*Shouting in my very best Dr. Leonard McCoy voice* "Damit Jim, I'm an ARTIST, not a Web Designer!"

I explained that I built it using all the tools offered in Solo Build It. Any technical stuff I needed, was learned along the way and was explained simply and easily, even I could understand it. Everything else my business needed to thrive was provided, including, research/brainstorming tools, modern RESPONSIVE deigns, and the most important ingredient --The step by step Action Guide!

10 Key Components for Your Business Success 👍 | Start an Online Business, Part 5

To start an online business successfully, you have to be ahead of your competition. What makes you stronger than the rest? The POWER OF ONE 👉 https://tools.sitesell.com Solo Build It! members consistently outperform their competition. What's the secret behind their online business success? They get everything they need, all in one place and for one affordable price.


This video above is part 5 of a series called The Whole Story about starting an online business using Solo Build It. In less than 8 minutes you will know the 10 key ingredients that have enabled solopreneurs like me to build financially stable online businesses with Solo Build It!

You can watch the other parts to Start an Online Business with Solo Build It (SBI) video series here.

I hope that if any of you have a hankering to own your own website, you don't waste time with those "free" sites that charge "additional fees" for every necessary add-on needed to run a business, or those who sell you their hosting services with little to no instruction or help. Do your research. You'll see that SBI is the easiest, most complete, best, and ONLY way to go!

I hope you found this information useful.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Hook Around Earbuds Using SUGRU

They say that Necessity is the Mother of INVENTION. This post is about a hack that I don't even know will work. But, I thought I would document what I did and why, just in case it does turn out great and becomes the next "Million $ Idea". I did it first!  😁

The Problem

I have a nice set of ear buds that came with my Galaxy S9+. They are apparently meant to be worn with the cord over the ear and behind...at least that is what I was told, and they do fit in the ear better worn that way. But, there is nothing holding the cord over the ear.
Cell Phone Over the Ear Cord
Maybe its just me, but pushing ear buds tight into my ear canal actually starts to hurt my head if worn for long period of time. But that is the only way these seem to stay in place, and even that doesn't keep them there. 

My favorite hook on earphones
I have a favorite pair of cheap Sony earphones that I absolutely love. They don't go deep into the ear, and they have a plastic hook that loops over the ear to keep them on. BUT, they are listen-only, not the kind with a mic for phone calls. 

 💡*LIGHT-BULB goes on over Kim's head*💡

"Make hooks for the phone ear buds that will hold them in place!"

The Solution

That's a great idea, now how do I do it? After mulling this over for a day or two, I remembered a really cool product called Sugru, that starts out as putty and turns to rubber when it dries. I used it a few years back to secure my loose charger wires from braking, and a few other things. 

What if I wrapped the ear bud cord in Sugru and molded hooks??? 

I ordered an 8-Pack of Sugru in their new mixed colors last week and it arrived today. Each packet is a little smaller than a business card, and holds .17 oz of single use putty. I was pretty sure that each side would take the whole packet, so instead of having two different colored hooks, I mixed the yellow and green together, for a cool marbled effect before splitting it into equal parts. 

The putty is highly malleable, with the consistency of bread dough. I rolled the putty into a snake about 3 inches long and pushed the cord into it from the bud. I folded the edges over the cord and smoothed out the seam. 

Then, using my Sony head phones as a guide, I formed a hook shape. I also flattened the cord just a little bit.

*If you are trying this project, keep in mind that it has to sit for at least 24-without being disturbed. I used a sheet of copy paper on top of a large hard cover book as my work space. I could then pick up and move the whole thing to a safe place, out of reach from the cats and dog.*

This is what it looked like BEFORE the Sugru is dry.


24 Hours Later...

These are the final results. They don't look much different than the photos above, but they feel VERY different. They are rigid and firm, and keep their shape when they are picked up.



They stay on my ears much better.

What Would I Have Changed?


I might have made the snake rolls a little thinner. I was worried about working fast in order to finish before it set. So, I didn't rake the time to make them "pretty". I mean, they are cute, but you can see finger nail marks, and areas where the seam was not completely concealed. However, the truth is, it took about 4 hours before they started to noticeably set. So I could have spent some time cleaning up the edges.

But, all in all, I love them. They work great, and I love the pop of color it gives. I will be doing this project with my future pairs of ear buds.

Thanks for crafting with me!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I Am Because We Are

I am a freelance artist. I know my craft... painting, drawing, design... But, when it comes to building my business brand, like most newbie entrepreneurs, I had to learn social media skills, marketing, sales funnels, email promotions and a whole slue of other things to get my business online. In the process of learning, I have had to weed through all the B.S. to find the real nitty-gritty. I have made my share of mistakes, trusting the wrong "Guru", or by wasting time on programs that don't work.

It is so easy to get discouraged, and even jaded by those those stories of "experts", selling their "Easy-to-follow, money-making systems" with their web pages plastered in all their luxuries... the new Bentley, the huge fancy mansion, the new exotic vacation... whatever.

The point of that rant is this... even though we can be overwhelmed by the bad-ugly on our business journey, every now and again we come across truly inspiring stories of those who are making a difference in the world.

One of those stories is UBUNTU Life. I only read about them recently from Zazzle, the online site where I sell my prints. They just partnered with Ubantu, and will be making the world’s first customizable African Espadrilles. But that is not what makes this company special. It is their core value that makes them shine.

Ubuntu is a South African word that means ‘I am because we are’. It is all about interconnectedness and meaningful relationships. All of the "Afridrilles" shoes are handmade-to-order by Kenya mothers, many of whom have special needs children.

Ubantu is empowering women by helping them achieve financial independence. They teach women valuable skills, and provide meaningful jobs with above-market wages with health benefits to help them support their families. They are creating sustainable change that is improving lives of special needs children and braking the cycle of poverty and bringing these kids life-changing care and education. Ubuntu-made products support social impact programs in Kenya creating a positive shift from the stigma surrounding disabilities and health in the region.

And just like that, my faith in humanity is restored.

I invite you to visit their store and read more about this wonderful organization.

Photo Credit zazzle.com/heart


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Why I Don't Promote Famous Artwork

As you might know, I am a painter AND a graphic designer. I originally had separate stores; one for my fine art prints on canvas, poster paper, or even wood, glass or metal, and one where my designs could be applied to mugs, hats, tee shirts, etc. This year, I decided to simplify my all artwork into one store under my McCarron Art & Design store brand.

In the process of this, I also showcase a collection of some of my favorite watercolor pieces from other artists on the Zazzle platform. Since that collection was published a few weeks ago, I have gotten asked several times: Why don't you have famous artist's paintings in your favorites collection?
Duh! They are already FAMOUS. They don't need my help. No, but seriously, I don't condone the reproduction of famous artworks in my Zazzle store because...
  1. Most pieces from famous artists are copyrighted and can not be reproduced without permission. Printing these famous works on any item - t-shirt, mug or canvas - is a copyright infringement with serious consequences. Jail-time and fines aside, I strongly believe in giving artists credit for his or her hard work. 
  2. Since most of these famous artists are dead, if I was to get permission to print their work, any copyright royalties would go to the museum or whomever BOUGHT the copyright... Not the ARTIST. Dead artists don't need money. Which brings me to number...
  3. I wholeheartedly believe in supporting artists. I shop at local craft shows whenever possible and I seek out handmade items. When I find pieces that I love, I follow the makers online via social media and any online stores. I support the beauty they bring to life.
So, there you have it. Three reasons why I don't promote famous artwork, and why I totally love to promote UNFAMOUS artists.



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

This is going to be a quick post, just to say "Happy St. Paddy's Day!"
I know that many think that after all the hectic art shows and craft markets before Christmas, a crafter gets to slow down for a few months....
NOPE!
Like most artists, I have a few ways to keep the bills paid during the "SLOW" part of the year.
I design wedding invitations for my website, Aruba-Sunsets.com, which I also write all the content for, sell advertising, and promote products for. There have been some resent changes to internet security that required updates to all 100+ pages. Thank goodness my hosting company takes care of that behind the scenes, but it did interfere with many of my affiliate links, which took a while to correct.
But, more to the point, as a designer, I have been creating Valentine's Day prints and funny St. Patrick's Day T-shirt graphics and phone cases using the cozy, warm 2019 Color of the Year, Living Coral. You can find all these things in my store. 
Believe it or not, this week, many makers suggest that it is time to start designing for Father's Day! I will be designing for things that you and I would give to Dad as gifts. ie. golf balls, flasks, shot glasses, beer glasses, ties, playing cards, coffee mugs... you know...
Hope all of you have a fun, safe St. Patrick's Day, and I will talk to you soon. If you need to reach me before then, click the "Contact Me" Page, and send me a line.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

How to Create a Gallery Wall

Being an artist means I have lots of paintings that deserve attention. Living in a condo means that I have to use my wall space efficiently to showcase my favorite pieces, and to do that, I created a Gallery Wall above our sofa. 



When I designed my Gallery Wall, I didn't have this handy dandy article to show me how to do it correctly. I have also sold a some of my original paintings that were hanging here, and have not decided what should be hung to replace them. So, my wall is not quite as balanced as it could be.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Middle of the Craft Season Madness

PHEW! I have hardly had a minute to my self lately... let alone, write a post. But, I had to take a few minutes and step away from the crafting madness to update you on what has been happening.

On September 8th, McCarron Art & Design crafts were represented at the Appalachian Renaissance Faire in Piney Flats, TN. That day was a balmy 92 degrees! Not the best weather to be wearing a polyester faux period outfit. I felt really bad for those jousters in full armor and the die-hard performers wearing authentic leather and wool clothing. Next year, it is scheduled for October when North East Tennessee starts to get a little cooler.

On September 22, I had a table at the first annual Gypsy Carnival at Spiritual Awakenings in Johnson City, TN. What a fun event! There were craft vendors with lovely, magical wares, fortune tellers of various kinds, belly dancers, story tellers, and a Mabon Ritual to end the evening.

On October 20th, I shared a booth at with Heather, the owner of Generations Emporium, at the Camp Placid Fall Festival in Blountville, TN. In spite of the weather being rainy and cold, there was a good crowd (although we were told, not as good as last year.) It seemed the food vendors did really well. The booth for the couple who grew, picked, and canned their own pickles, beets, and salsa was constantly busy. I had to try some and ...they were REALLY GOOD pickles!

November 3rd, Heather and I again shared a table at the Goblin Market hosted by the Hawk and Hawthorn in Barnardsville, NC. Like the Gypsy Carnival, this was mostly a Spiritual/pagan/wiccan themed event. Vendors here sold teas, essential oil mixes, Goddess items, altar tools, crystals, prayer candles. The kids loved my colorful little Worry Dolls. My Rune sets did really well, as well as Scott's Holiday Spray essential oil mix spray. I also sold one of my newest products... Samhain Ritual, Recipes and Journal Pages.  This is part of my Magical Planner Series showcasing the 8 Wicca holidays, and a monthly-weekly planner calendar with holidays and moon phases. (Coming soon.) If you would like to be notified when the new pages and planner pages are available, you can subscribe here.

Coming up this weekend is the Made Around Here Market in Jonesborough TN. This is a two day event Friday, October 9th - Saturday, October 10th. Admission is $1 hundreds of beautifully handcrafted gifts and Christmas decor from local and regional artisans and crafters. Items will include holiday and fall decor, woodcarvings, handbags, jewelry, books, local photography, quilted items, aprons and clothing, among other unique items. McCarron Art & Design will be showcasing Holiday Etched Glassware, and cute Christmas Ornaments. My ornaments are listed on WackyWimsical.com although I have not had a chance to post all of my glass etched items yet.

I will be donating some of my items to the Newcomers Charity Auction on November 15th. There will be tons of interesting items available, especially if you are looking for unique holiday gifts or yummy gourmet baked goods.

Saturday November 24th is the Shop Local Willow Tree Craft Show from 10:00 - 3:00 at the Willow Tree Coffee Shop & Music Room in Johnson City, TN.

December 1st, 11:00 - 6:00 I will be at the Yule Craft Market at the Sevierville Civic Center, hosted by Pagan Pride of East Tennessee.

On December 8th, our 2018 Craft Season Tour comes to an end with the Samadhi's Annual Art and Craft Fair form 11:00 - 4:00 Samadhi's Healing Arts Center in Johnson City, TN.

Then I will be taking some time off to spend Yule, Christmas and New Years with my loved ones.

I hope to see you at one of the upcoming craft fairs, but if you missed out, you can find most of my hand made items on WackyWhimsical.com. If you don't see what you need, contact me.

Light and Love, Y'all!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Halloween Themed Craft Shows 2018

Two craft fairs into the 2018 season. So far, McCarron Art & Design has appeared at the Appalachian Renaissance Faire, and the Gypsy Carnival (Hosted by Spiritual Awakenings). In the next 2 weeks, I will be restocking my inventory...and by that I mean crafting my butt off!

I will be teaming up with Generations Emporium at the South Central Ruritan Craft Fair on Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 9 AM – 3 PM. This will be the last chance to get my Halloween themed crafts until next year.



The Halloween graphic prints will be available online at McCarron Art & Design on Zazzle





and my Etsy Shop (Wacky Whimsical) while supplies last.

Starting November 3rd, 2018, the Halloween Season officially makes way for the Christmas/Winter Holiday Season with lots of fun holiday ornaments and handmade holiday cards.






Hope to see you soon. Until then, keep on crafting!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Crafting Madness 2018 BEGINS!

It seems that September 1st is when all the crafts shows and local fairs pop up. I love doing local craft shows. I always encourage people to buy local, and support local artists! So, of course, Labor Day Weekend, I am here in my studio, crafting up a storm.

I have glass runes drying on trays until baking and curing. I printed and assembled all the booklets that are sold with them. Die-cut custom packaging, and updated my Etsy store with some my latest  design prints.  I will be uploading some fine art prints for sale there shortly as well.

I had a store on Etsy long before my McCarron Art & Design was established... look for me at WackyWhimsical.com which was my original brand until I expanded to McCarron Art & Design.

While merging the two is on my list of things to do, it will have to wait. The crafting madness is upon me.

You can find me an my designs at:



There will be more added as we get further into autumn! I will keep you posted.



Friday, August 3, 2018

The Desktop Publisher Graphic Designer

Recently, in a discussion with a fellow graphic designer, he complained about a potential client who had contacted him, looking for a "Desktop Publisher". The client had stated that the project required someone competent in design, layout, and and desktop publishing skills using InDesign. My designer friend had taken offence at the term "Desktop Publisher". It diminishes the complexity of everything that goes into a publication and minimizes the work we do as Graphic Designers. (His attitude was clear to the client, and he ultimately didn't get the contract.)

I completely agree that as trained graphic designers, our work is usually much more refined and and professionally put together that a "Desktop Publisher". I'm a graphic designer who's focus is on print, design, layout. I have a keen understanding of color coordination, and typography and composition.

Circa 1960; unnamed artist, making camera ready art for layout and paste up.
THIS is what Desktop Publishing was BEFORE computers.
Quark was the program of choice when I was in school and even then, in its infancy. I witnessed the dawn of the desktop publishing era. I saw T-squares, French Curves, and non-photo-blue pencils go the way of the dodo bird. I could create intricate layer masks with rubylith and an exacto blades that took hours of meticulous cutting... the computer could do it in a fraction of that time.

In the early 90's, many homes had a computer and everyone and their brother thought they could design business cards, letterhead, brochures, presentations, etc with a few clicks of a keyboard ... and then when they ultimately failed, a real designer, like myself, was called in to fix the mess. 

So, I understand my friends agitation at the term. However, InDesign IS called a "Desktop Publishing" program. So, we can not blame non-creative people to understand that there is SO MUCH MORE to "Desktop Publishing" than understanding a computer program.

My advice to GRAPHIC DESIGNERS seeking jobs or projects: When a potential employer or client asks them about their DESKTOP PUBLISHING skills... Don't bristle, turn red, and emit steam from your ears...Explain to the hiring manager why your creative training as a Graphic Designer is so much more valuable to them and their company. Tell them that knowing how to use a program like InDesign is only a tiny fraction of what goes into designing a spectacular catalog, book, or brochure. Remember that, before computers...before there were Graphic Designers and Desktop Publishers, there were Print Designers and Layout Artists. Titles will continue to change, but the objective is the same.... Create stunning designs with images, typology and style!

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