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.

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