Back in May, I asked if you had any burning craft-related questions. Today the discussion is on the time and money spent on artistic expression...based on questions posed by Anupuma Choudary, Tone-Lill and Helen Tilbury.
It is definitely hard to strike a balance between time and money. Having some guidelines for yourself can help...
1. Buy local where possible.
I am lucky to have scrapbooking and craft supplies stores locally. They might not offer really good deals but they allow me to buy what I need. And to replenish them when the supplies run out.
It does limit the quantity I can ideally own....but it forces me to buy what I really LOVE instead of what I like.
I don't spend a lot of time surfing the web to find the "best deals". I rarely buy online unless there's free shipping OR if it's a tool I can't get locally. I try to buy stuff I can't get locally when I travel.
2. Stop buying the pre-made embellishments.
Unless they are on offer and are too cheap to pass up like 50cent embellishments [Hello Kaisercraft outlet store! *LOL*].
Part of the artistic expression is doing it yourself so ready-made embellishments are sort of like cheating right? [Okay, they are pricey for me locally and I don't like my projects to be matchy matchy].
That said, whenever I get them for free [winning a challenge, RAK or design team stuff], I'm like, "Yay! What a time-saver!"
3. Look beyond a craft store for supplies.
Cast your net a little wider for creative ways to stretch your cash...
Hardware store. Kitchen supplies. Stationery store. They are way cheaper and add more character to your projects. And of course, upcycle where possible.
4. Don't skimp on essentials.
If there's anything to spend good money on, it's tools.
You don't need every fancy tool there is in the market. Do your research, ask friends and buy tools that would suit your crafting style. For instance, if you are technologically challenged, maybe use a conventional die-cutting machine instead of a digital cutting machine. Trust me. The white elephant takes up a lot of space and just sits there, mocking at you.
5. Decide on quality versus quantity.
You don't NEED every single colour. Not cardstock. Not ink. Not ribbon. Not anything. You are an artist...you can improvise! I like to buy neutrals.
Buy the quantity you need, not because it's cheaper to buy more. Unless it's a staple. Because you will get bored with an item and it's only cheap if you use the item, not if it sits there and collects dust.
Always go for the best quality you are willing to spend. Artist-grade acrylics are pricey but the pigments are so rich, you end up using less. And the smaller packaging helps with the storage issue as well.
6. Organize and re-organize your supplies regularly.
As an artist honing your craft, you will evolve. And so will the way you use supplies. Storing them the way you use them saves you time from searching for what you need and leaves the precious time for creating art!
7. Work on multiple projects at a time.
Working on several projects at a time saves you time from taking out your supplies and cleanup.
Layouts: I tend to create 5 - 6 backgrounds at a time. Since they tend to be mixed media, I can quickly work on another while one is drying.
Cards/tags: I rarely use new sheets of patterned paper or supplies for these...just with the scraps left over from layouts.
Altered projects: Same as layouts...I work on several at a time because mediums take time to dry. I have about 5 - 6 projects in varying different stages. When I get stuck on one, I work on another. When I have less time to craft, I choose a project that is 3/4 done and try to "make it work!".
I try to do the best possible work given the time and supply constraint. It's okay to shoot for an A instead of an A+ all the time. The average is still an A right? *winks*
Weekdays: I craft for about 2 hours in the evenings 3 days a week before bedtime...I sleep at 10pm. I consider organizing my supplies as crafting too...*winks* 6 hours
I wake up at about 5am to reply emails, work on online DT commitments and comment on blogs till about 7am. 10 hours
Saturday: Housework in the morning. The niece and nephews come over at lunchtime. They would play with their toys until they get bored....then they come to my room to see what "entertainment" I have for them. We would usually watch a DVD movie [I get 2 hours of fussy-cutting time]...the two older boys have tablets to play with when the 2 younger ones nap for 3 hours [apparently I own a magical bed...]. Then if the weather permits, we would go to the playground or visit the fish farm and then come back home for dinner. 5 hours
Sunday: Craft till 6pm unless there's some family outing. Get projects photographed before the sun sets. Edit photos. If possible, get Monday's blog post pre-scheduled. 8 hours
Monday morning: Get rest of the week's posts pre-scheduled. My blog posts are generally very short. Return comments left over the weekend.
9. Use a calendar and plan your schedule.
I use Google calendar. It syncs with my phone so I don't miss any deadlines.
I only aim to post on weekdays even though I can definitely do quick projects and post over the weekends too. Instead, I keep them as "spare" projects for times when I don't have time to craft. And I also want my regular commenters to "rest" over the weekend.
I usually get my DT work done by the end of the prior month so I get a chance to play with online challenges if I can. If I have to travel, I have to "work harder" to get more projects done. For instance, I went on a 2-week vacation with my family back in March. I started working on my March projects in January.
It does seem like it's a lot of work but once you establish a workable routine, you become very efficient.
10. Accept that you can't be everywhere and do everything.
Can I do more? Sure...but it would mean less sleep and less of a social/family life. As much as I want people to see my work and grow my following, there are limits to what I can and what I am willing to do. I still want to have a social life! *winks*
I don't post my work on galleries except for DT work because it would mean I need to leave comments on galleries too. Likewise I don't post a lot on Facebook too. The blog post links are automated. If I do post, it's because I'm waiting for someone who's late or I'm travelling and get excited over free wifi access! *LOL* I created a Facebook Fan Page only because I can pre-schedule posts for up to 6 months in advance and it's a way to share with online friends who have fallen off the blogging bandwagon.
I turn off almost all notifications on social media sites so I minimize the number of emails I get. You know how overwhelming emails can get.
These days, I hardly submit to calls that require "never-been-seen" projects unless it's a specific request by a publication. It takes a lot of time and effort to create specifically for a call. And it also takes time to pack and ship projects. That said, I'm hoping to be in every major publication at least once though...*winks*
P/s: If this post has been informative for you, please share it with your friends. Thanks! :)