Every New Endeavor

deserves a write up!

In these past couple of months I have been attempting to get my proverbial feet wet in venues other than Etsy. Cafepress.com I have been involved in for some time, but hadn’t sold anything until recently. Zazzle.com as you know, I have recently become involved in, and now 1000Markets.com.

1000Markets.com is a growing e commerce site like Etsy, ArtFire and the like, but with a new a different twist. 

As stated in the 1000Markets.com  “About Us” page:

“We are a community of marketplaces, large and small, connecting artisan merchants with the people who love their products.

Our markets are more than just collections of products;
they are full of people and stories. They have voices and

Our merchants are small, independent, artisan businesses
built by people who love their craft. They make and sell
unique products, based on their own vision, personality and
story. Working together, these artisans create marketplace
communities – gathering places where merchants can
exchange ideas, and customers can browse and talk.

Our markets are large and small, broad and narrow. Some
have themes, like food, crafts, or art. Others cultivate a
sense of place around a region. And some exist simply
because the people in them share friendship or common
values. Each market fosters its own one-of-a-kind
community, always unique and interesting.”

After I joined this site, I began doing more searching of Mexican/Dia de los Muertos items and found that there were indeed a number of merchants whose work was dedicated to this theme. I started a thread asking if anyone would be interested in a Market dedicated to the Dia de los Muertos theme and received great response! I contacted the administrative team and they agreed. So, now there is a Day of the Dead Market on the site!

Here is a little about our Day of the Dead Market:

“We are a growing number of diverse artisans who appreciate the Latino culture and express the meaning of the Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos celebration. We are dedicated to bringing you colorful, quality items that hold a fine respect and honor this ever increasingly popular occasion. We view our fellow members of this market as friends and allies. We are continually working toward developing a community of artisans who respect and honor the traditions of the Mexican culture and Dia de los Muertos specifically. We encourage new, colorful, bold, artistic expression in our products.

We understand that the customers looking for Dia de los Muertos items are a unique and diverse group of people. They are looking for that different something to express in a colorful and oft times humorous manner to be reminded of the personal meaning behind this celebration. We are confident that the products listed in our Market are worthy of such expression.”

Here is a sampling of the pieces listed in this market of which I am the manager and quite proud of the artisans represented in the Market. The following are the artists in order as they appear in the photos here:

sinkitty, jtnee, PattyMara, estudiomartita,

and myself – vanfleetstreetdesign.













 I  hope you check out 1000Markets and the unique site they have to offer. Visit us at the Day of the Dead Market on the site! See you there!



Selling on Zazzle.com

So I have a new endeavor at this time. I am currently selling my images on t-shirts, mouse pads, hats, aprons, stickers, coffee mugs, postage stamps, greeting cards, bags, buttons and the like. Although the sales are sporadic, it’s so much fun creating the items!

Zazzle.com allows you to put your images and text on selected items for sale through them. You choose a t shirt style and color, you place the image and text on the shirt, and you choose a percentage you would like to receive from that sale. (All products have a starting price and you decide how much profit you want from each sale.) Watch that you don’t bump that price up too high, then you’ll be stuck wondering why no one is buying!

Here are a few examples of my items for sale on http://zazzle.com/vanfleetstreetdesign  check out my shop there!







Soul Reading

I know I had stated before that the purpose of this blog was to bring information and tips for you the artist, but I just had to tell you about an experience I had yesterday.

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of interacting with Kathy Crabbe on Etsy.com . image

“Kathy is a Soul Reader. She offers psychic, astrological readings along with crystal healing exercises to help guide, transform and align you with your Soul’s true purpose. A Reading by Kathy is considered to be a wake-up call for the Soul and will provide you with a truly enlightening and powerful experience along with amazingly accurate insight and practical advice.”  (from her shop information)

A Soul card reading by Kathy will help you gain clarity and insight about your soul’s mission in life along with the tools necessary to bring about significant energy shifts. Kathy requests past, present and future guidance from the Divine, your ancestors and spirit guides to provide you with detailed answers to all your questions. Kathy works primarily with three magickal decks of her own creation: the lefty oracle cards, the goddess zodiac cards, and the fairy herbal healing cards. She also works with crystal healing exercises, astrological meditations and spoken affirmations.” (from her profile)

I was impressed with her knowledge and presence and decided to purchase a “mini soul reading”. This reading cost twenty cents. That’s right, you read it correctly, twenty cents. It gives you a brief glimpse into what is going on with you at this time. It is created for those who might be skeptics or just beginning an interest in matters spiritual. She “tunes into your energy for about 5 minutes and emails what she “sees”.

Kathy emailed me her impressions. I read them and could relate to practically everything she wrote. I won’t get too detailed about this, but one thing I will mention is this…Kathy reported that an old person named Joe was hanging around. He was affiliated with the railroad and wanted to tell me something. My grandfather’s name was Joe and although this could have been gathered from my profile on Etsy.com, the railroad connection could not. My grandfather was obsessed with all things railroad and dreamt of being an engineer. It was an unfulfilled dream as he worked at the shipyard most of his life. When I mentioned this to Kathy, she told me that she read my profile AFTER she emailed the reading to me.

There were many other connections that Kathy made in this brief but startling reading. I wondered if she could do this in a mini reading, what would a full reading bring? That question had yet to be answered, but if I decide to go on with that, I’ll let you know what comes of it. She has a blog, http://soulreaderblog.blogspot.com/ that will give you even more information about what she does and who she is.image

I highly recommend Kathy. Give it a try, what could it hurt?  luludesign.etsy.com  contact her for a listing for her mini reading…but I highly suggest you just plunge in and get her full reading. Something tells me you won’t be disappointed.

Craft or Art?

Some say crafting is not art and artists won’t fess up to say that they like to craft at times and do!  Well I have a dilemma and am going on record to let you know that my art has taken a new turn.  sold item

Several months ago I purchases a shadow box from a "craft store" yes, a craft store. I painted it and adorned it with a picture of Frida Kahlo, covered the inside of the the shelves with handmade paper and hung it on my wall above my workspace. There it hung for months with all of my calaveras, and trinkets people had given to me over the course of years.
I discovered that my art and the art of many hadn’t been selling on the site to which I belong and sell my pieces. I needed money and thought about that piece. So I did some tweaking to it added some fresh paint and placed it in my shop. It Sold.

There is an ongoing debate about art vs. crafting and it was the topic of a chat I recently participated in. We agreed finally after a LONG discussion that, A crafter does what he/she does because it’s fun and relaxing. An artist does what he/she does, because they have to.
Since my muse has taken leave (it seems like an eternity since she came around to visit), my creativity has taken on a new kind of outlet. No, I am not going to be the next Picasso, Van Gogh or anything like that. I have resigned myself to knowing that no matter what, I HAVE to let the creativity that I hold inside, out. So, my newest turn/twist is painting "nichos".  


What is a nicho? A nicho is an object of Latino folk art. Nichos are made from mixed media and traditionally combine elements from Roman Catholicism, mestizo spirituality, and other cultural items of significance to the owner. Characteristically "nicho" objects have different names throughout the Latino culture, they may be called retablo or by other local names. It is common to see decorative boxes called "nichos" set upon tables and pedestals to display religious icons. These boxes may serve as a religious altar (to mark a significant religious event) or to honor a patron saint or to house calaveras (skeletons) of special significance.
These pieces are wooden boxes with a glass door. They can be used to house your calaveras or your special little pieces. The box door is painted and adorned with pictures in tin frames, skeletons (calaveras) and skulls.  At the bottom of the box door is yet another adornment  The shelves in the box are painted with acrylic paint and the back of each shelf is covered with handmade paper. The sides and back of the box are also painted. Shelves vary in height and length. The back of the box has a hanger with which to hang it on the wall with your other Latino favorites. It also latches on the side to keep your favorite items safe.

The measurements of these nicho are as follows:
8" wide x 12" high x 1.5inches deep.
ALL OF THE NICHOS ARE FOR SALE AT   VanFleetStreetDesign.etsy.com

Silent Sunday

Sugar Skull 

Dia de los Muertos, Sugar Skull by Brett Ward (that’s me)

Wildly Blogging

I am currently reading a few books that I hope will help me in my endeavors online. Three books, you ask? Yep! you read correctly…three books. I find it easier to finish books if I switch back and forth and therefore get more usable information in a shorter amount of time?. I know it sounds really strange, but that’s how my brain works, and all you need to know is what I have gained from reading these helpful books.

“Blog Wild! A guide for small business blogging” by Andy Wibbels is the first book I will quickly summarize. Although this book is mostly geared toward the new blogger, I still had something to learn from Wibbels. His easy to read style makes getting through this book a breeze. It’s a small book and has very short chapters for those of  you who have SHORT attention spans, I would have to include myself in this category. The Chapters are 2 to 8 pages long, so if you don’t have a lot of time, you can get through a couple of chapters in no time.

Blog Wild

Wibbels covers everything from “What is a blog?” to “Promoting your blog” and further. This is a great little book to add to your collection and to the collective memory!

The next book will be featured in my following blog post. Happy reading!

Studio or Workspace?

I need to vent, are you ready to read? Ok, here goes…

How I long for a studio, at least that’s what I think I long for. It’s so romantic thinking about working in a space that’s all my own. Ahhh, the thought of being able to spread out, high ceilings, concrete floors, my favorite wing-back chair sitting across the room waiting for me to sit and view my latest piece. To hang my canvas on the wall and paint away (and not having to worry about getting gesso on the curtains or the carpet), sigh. Do you know what I mean?

Right now I crammed into a 6’ x 10’ space (hmmm as big as a cell in a prison) that houses a desk for my computer, printer, monitor, shipping supplies. Two bookcases full of books about art, photography and the like stand side by side next to my desk, and in front of those sits my electric guitar and its amplifier, that I play when I’m bored or uninspired to paint.

workspace 1

art projects and they like all get done.There is a window (thank goodness!), to the side of the window is my easel. Behind the easel on the other side of the room (so to speak) is my work table which houses EVERYTHING I need to do my work with and a “space” to do it in.  When I’m finished with a painting, or need perspective, I have about 2 feet 10 inches to do it in. Under the work table are boxes of frames for shows, storage bins for my work, other things like jars and cups for cleaning my brushes. Next to my table is a night stand that houses all of my brushes, palette knives, charcoal, conte crayons and pastels. Least I forget that above my work table there is a shelf where I keep paint, sketch books, handmade paper, ACEO paper etc. Behind that is the staircase leading to the basement (that’s why it looks like there isn’t a wall behind my equipment). Across from my space is the kitchen in all its glory. The hub of the house where eating, homework,

workspce 2

Now did you need to know all of that? Yes. Because I am outgrowing my “space”. Some of you might be saying, “Well you’re lucky you have a space, I’m stuck in the living room” or “ I’m stuck on the sofa” or “ I’m stuck in my bedroom” etc. Everything is relative, as they say and I am so stuck in this space. I could, IF I wanted to, make a space in the basement (it has no windows, and it’s not a finished basement and it smells kind of musty and it’s dreary down there) I wouldn’t use it. If I had a studio space out of the house, would I go there? Probably not. I’m the type of person that if it’s not in front of me to stimulate and inspire, then it’s not around at all.

Actually there’s no real solution to this situation, but I wanted to air this for you to think about where you work and if it “cramps” your style. Do you go into your workspace and dread being there because you have no room to move? I thought about down-sizing my materials, but like I said…out of sight…So, all of that being said, for now I am staying in my “space” and will continue to expand and grow out of it and complain, but I have done some of my best work in that cramped space and everything I need is there. What would I do without it?

What’s your space like? Is it inspiring or is it a dreaded cramped space? Let me know what you think and what you have to say about your creative zone. I would love to hear from you!

Leaving Comments on a Blog

So why is that my blog has 191 visits(at the time of this posting) and not nearly that many comments? What draws people to blogs anyway? Do they read the full article and then go on their merry way, or do they really sit and ponder about that which was read?

I’m terrible at leaving comments on blogs. You know, it’s not that the article/post wasn’t interesting, I just forget to do it. Yes, I forget to leave comments, I would say 90% of the time. But don’t you read my blog and forget! (that was supposed to be funny)

Some people feel compelled to leave comments out of respect and acknowledgement. Some leave comments to let the owner know they were there and document their involvement with the blog at hand. Others leave comments that encourage the owner to plug on with these interesting posts, and still others must leave comments to argue their side or make a point.

All that aside, as a blog owner I search for new comments daily. The views increase, but the comments don’t. Maybe you’re too nice and can’t think of anything nice to say? (you should laugh here) or maybe you’re really cranky and just say to hell with it and leave after reading. Whatever the reason you leave comments or not, remember this is a good place to plug your blog, if you are an artist or craftsperson-to leave your advertising for your goods.

I promise to leave comments on blogs I read this week, no matter how I feel, can you make the same promise?

Please leave comments, I would love to hear from you!!!! (really)

Brilliante Award

Brilliante Blog Award

Diane Clancy has given me the Brilliante Blog Award. Thank you so much – it is a wonderful award. Check out  DianeClancy’s great blog if you haven’t. This award is for having a Brilliante Blog and I am thrilled! Thank you.

Here are the rules for the nominees:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you

3) Nominate 7 other blogs

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs

OK – now it is time to make awards to other blogs – choosing only 7 is difficult – there are so many wonderful ones out there!!  Many of those I would ask were chosen at the same time I was … Each of these are different and unique and worth visiting. Here is a small sampling of blogs deserving of this award!!

1) Cathy’s http://www.chaosinacatbox.com

2) Susan Reynold’s http://susanreynolds.blogs.com

4) Todd Windsor http://torchwood-studio.typepad.com

5) Zuda Gay’s http://www.clayinthehands.blogspot.com

6) Lea K’s http://homeartwork.blogspot.com

7) Di Hoyle’s  http://dbhoyleart.blogspot.com/

"Muse, Muse Where Art Thou?"


An inspiration

rides on a barebacked white horse

against the wind,

bearing gift-wrapped kindling

for an unlit fire,

salve for blistering hands.

An inspiration

lies awake at night

pondering the possibility of true love

with an unknown factor

who might change the outcome of the picture


An inspiration sits quietly in blue or red

for a place to live, alms for the poor, a marriage to

a blank canvas,  it never meets.

An inspiration fights at times,

just to stay alive.


I wrote that poem many years ago in response to a friend who  had lost her inspiration and could no longer produce work she was proud to call her own. For whatever reason, her muse left on horseback one day and she was lost.

She told us she felt “vacant” as if part of her moved out without a 30 day notice.  She said she was forced to find another tenant to fill that space or she’d be bankrupt, so she started drinking. Sad as it was, she found a tenant that was far too eager to take up residence in her domicile and eventually forced her to allow a rent to own contract and bought her out in a few years. She was young but no longer had the will to keep going. Her art left her for good that day. A year later, she was found dead in an alley, apparently murdered.

It’s sad that we give up and walk away from the very thing that keeps our spirit alive and free, creativity. We often give up for reasons that seem confusing to others. I, along with countless others just shut down and don’t wait around for the door to open again, a door that will bring in a new and refreshed tenant who will gladly live in that sacred space inside us. What makes the muse move out without notice in the first place?  How do we produce one day and the next find an empty apartment?  Fear has been the basis of my “shutting down”, fear of success, fear of failure. That tag team can creep up on me like the enemy they are and ambush, leaving me tenant free, standing in a vacant room. And then there’s depression.

In her blog ” Case-notes from the Artsy Asylum” Susan Reynolds has posted an article about depression in creative folk, and cites this study: “Arnold Ludwig wondered the same thing. Lucky for us, he didn’t get distracted from Psychology and swept up in clay (you can probably guess who did that).As a result he’s now a professor, and a researcher at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Also an MD – so he’s just the guy to find out more about this.

And he did! In fact, it was a study of 1004 men and women over the span of 10-years. His group was made up of a wide variety of accomplished people in just as wide a variety of professions, including art, music, science, business, politics, and sports.

In the end, he found:

  • between 59 and 77 percent of the artists, writers, and musicians suffered mental illness  especially “mood disorders”
  • compared to just 18 to 29 percent in the less artistic professionals”

There are times when the Muse taps on the window asking to be let in, but we often don’t pay attention to that tapping, and instead go out and buy new locks and install them on the door by feeding our anxiety about not creating. Instead we scramble for something to take its place such as love, sex, alcohol, drugs and depression often fill that space.

Is there hope?  Yes. A friend of mine went to a career counselor to find out what she could do about this lack of inspiration. She was given several tools to try and decided on one that spoke to her. She purchased space for a want ad in the local newspaper. Her ad read something like this:

“WANTED: Muse for hire. Willing to pay any price to get the position filled. Needed for full time (24/7), year round work. No hiring process, no interview. Just show up if interested. Immediate start.”

It was just a small $5.00 ad, but it was something that served two purposes. She was able to realize just how desperate she had become trying to find that muse or at least another muse and how much her ability to create meant to her. Her ad was answered when she read it the next day in the paper. Although her artistic muse had left, another muse answered the call and gave her inspiration to write that ad. The drought ended and she was back at the easel that night. Now I know that was just too simple, but it does happen. Some of us wait for years for that muse to come knocking or calling to rent that apartment. For others, it returns in another form and still others it just never comes back.

If your muse has flown the coup, try bringing it back by venturing into another creative outlet. Think about something you’ve always wanted to try, like throwing a pot on a potter’s wheel or making a necklace out of jump rings or simply take a local art/craft class. Work on a project you’ve put off, read, go buy yourself a new pen or notebook, carve out a work space for yourself and sit there even if  you don’t do anything.  Remember that fear of failure and fear of success? Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” You can make plans for a dinner party, see a movie, paint a room. Rearrange your work space, or go to the local art store and look around. Find another avenue for creativity to seep back into your life. Sometimes I’m frozen and can’t do any of these things, but I have learned to not panic. I write and play my guitar. I write this blog because at the moment the paintbrush and canvas have stopped speaking to me. In order to keep that door ajar, I do something else. Once you stop thinking about the creative block, you open the door for your muse to come back.

Inspiration can come and go at a moment’s notice, or with no notice at all. Thinking outside of the box, utilizing other creative venues can be of greater value than looking to fill that empty apartment with destructive tenants. Think of the price.

“Artists are visited by the Muses, or tormented by their own passions and demons.” (Wes Nisker)

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.” (William Shakespeare)

Please leave a comment on this blog. I would love to hear from you.

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