Trade shows and gift markets share similarities, but each is unique. Many vendors travel from one to the next each season. They know each other as coworkers and are on familiar terms with the organizers in different towns and venues. I always learn a lot from talking with these more experienced vendors, and I haven’t met one yet who wasn’t willing to share helpful information.
Because of my daily editorial cartoon deadlines, I can’t be away all the time going from market to market selling my prints, stickers and other licensed products. That’s not an issue for me, as I don’t want a life on the road.
I’m content working at home alone, getting up early each day, drawing cartoons, painting my whimsical wildlife, and doing all the other stuff that supports my self-employed artist lifestyle. But the occasional market weekend is good for me and my business.
As I wrote recently, I applied for the Banff Christmas Market at Warner Stables and was accepted for two of the three weekends. The first was this past weekend; I’ve got another December 1-3. Not having the middle weekend meant tearing everything down Sunday evening so I can set it all up again in two weeks, but it’s good experience and an opportunity to tweak my setup. I’m putting a positive spin on it, dammit!
Without boring you with a play-by-play, this first weekend was a good market. The event is well organized, I was happy with my booth placement, and it’s a venue with a lot of warm seasonal character. Of the several tents and buildings with vendors, mine was in Evergreen Hall, which is normally a horse barn/stable, so my own lighting was a necessity. Thankfully, I now have a good mix of lights and was able to feature my work well, though I had to add an upright LED lamp to shine on my print flip bins. It was effective.
You’ll have to forgive the blown-out sections of these photos where my phone camera overcompensated for the low light/spotlights.
Though a strong Chinook wind blew through the valley all four days, the weather was ideal for this time of year. I don’t miss living in Banff as Canmore is better suited to our lifestyle, but I enjoyed the old neighbourhood scenery for a few days.
The vendors around me were friendly and fun to talk with, and since my booth for the next weekend is right beside the one I just vacated, I look forward to seeing these folks again soon.
The crowd was a good mix of tourists and locals alike, and it was fun introducing them to my funny-looking animals. Quite a few subscribed to A Wilder View, and several others told me they already follow my work and like getting my emails.
Several people recognized the art from other places, having either seen or purchased it from The Calgary Zoo, Discovery Wildlife Park, Stonewaters, Art Country Canada and Branches Marketplace. Others have bought my licensed products elsewhere.
One of the things I love about this valley is how friendly and accommodating it is to dogs. I’m a sucker for a four-legged fuzzy face, and many brought their furry family members with them. I was happy to meet them all, including this wide-eyed pup.
Of course, my whole reason for attending the market was to sell my work, and sales were very good. Over three days, more than 7000 people came through the venue. Though it came and went in waves, it was a steady stream of people, likely because they admit 100 an hour via timed ticket sales. Once you’re in, however, you can stay as long as you like.
Every event has hiccups, but the organizers were friendly and approachable and handled any minor issues I encountered or heard about well. I’ll apply for this event again next year and hope to get all three weekends.
For now, I’ve counted and reorganized my stock and hardware, ready to set up again next Thursday for the third and final weekend of the market. I sold out of a couple of prints and one coaster design, but I still have plenty of stock and a large variety of available images. I know Saturday sold out quickly for this past weekend, so if you plan to attend, get your tickets early.
This will be my first year as a vendor at the Banff Christmas Market at the Warner Stables, and I’m busy getting everything ready. Shonna and I checked out this event last year, and it quickly became clear it would be a good fit for me and my whimsical wildlife.
When they opened applications in February, I applied for all three weekends. It’s a popular market, and they’re selective, but I’ve been living in this valley for nearly 30 years, over 20 as a cartoonist and whimsical wildlife painter, so I didn’t have to sell the local artist angle. However, that only gets me so far, as this area is filled with skilled and talented creative types.
With only one building offering power for lighting, it limited my placement options. For these reasons, I tempered my expectations but was delighted to be accepted for the first and third weekends. It means tearing my booth down after the first weekend and setting up again two weeks later, but I’m happy to pay my dues this first year and hope for all three weekends next year.
So even though the market is three weekends, the dates you see above, I won’t be there for the middle one.
I keep extensive inventory and sales records for each event, which helps me order for the next time. I did several Mountain Made Markets in Canmore for the past couple of years, which were worth it. Unfortunately, this year, the Town of Canmore limited the indoor space for vendors to the point that it seemed like an afterthought to the outdoor portion of the markets.
As I’ve mentioned before, my commitments to daily editorial cartooning and other work make it not worth investing in a tent and materials for the limited number of outdoor markets I can consider. I would have loved to be a part of an upcoming Mountain Made Market at the Canmore Rec Centre, but it conflicts with one of the Banff Christmas Market weekends.
So far this year, the only show I’ve done has been the Calgary Expo in April. As this upcoming event is new to me, I don’t know what to expect for sales, so I must play the speculation game. I’ve ordered what I think I’ll need, hoping I don’t run out while trying to avoid ordering too much, as the next opportunity to sell the stock won’t be until the Calgary Expo in April. Incidentally, early bird pricing for next year’s Expo is available until November 9th. You can buy those tickets here.
Banff and Canmore are different towns but part of the same Bow Valley community. With just a twenty-minute drive between them, many people live in one town and work in the other, and some city commutes are much longer than that.
It’ll be nice to come home each night rather than stay in a hotel, as I do for the Expo. It also means I can replenish my stock each day rather than stuff a whole three-day weekend’s worth of product into my booth at the beginning. They also have a setup day on Thursday, so there is no early morning time crunch for setup on the first day, and I can take extra time to nitpick the details.
The show has a rustic and cozy Christmas feel, with over 100 vendors. On both weekends, my booth will be in the main stable, Evergreen Hall. They also have the North Pole Pavilion and Candy Cane Lane vendor tents. There are photos with Santa, pony rides, live music, and some outdoor vendors.
You can even enjoy a fireside holiday drink at the Fire Lounge and bar. While it’s hard to find a bad view in Banff, the scenery surrounding Warner Stables is stunning, so here’s hoping for clear skies and pleasant weather.
My assigned space is a little smaller than Expo but larger than what I’ve had at the Canmore Markets. I’ve mapped out my booth setup in advance, but surprises always require on-site adjustments. I’m in a different space for the two weekends, which means some minor layout alterations but nothing complicated. I’m pleased with where they put me for both weekends.
Like Expo, this is a paid admission show, so if you plan on checking it out, you’ll have to buy tickets online in advance and choose an arrival time slot. They admit 100 guests every 20 minutes. Once you’re there, you can stay until closing, of course, but staggering the arrival times helps ensure it doesn’t get overcrowded and maintains a comfortable feel.
I’m looking forward to introducing my work to a new audience, especially since it’s been months since my last event. I’ll have my usual variety of products, including stickers, magnets, coasters, puzzles, and calendars, along with poster, canvas, and metal prints in various sizes, provided everything I’ve ordered arrives on time. Fingers crossed.
For more information, scheduling, and to buy tickets, check out the Banff Christmas Market website. I’ll be there next week from opening on Friday, November 17th to Sunday, November 19th, and again two weeks later from Friday, December 1st to Sunday, December 3rd.
My Wacom Cintiq 24HD display is colour-calibrated, and I’ve been working with Art Ink Print, my printer in Victoria, for several years, so I no longer need to proof new images. Through trial and error and long experience, I know how to format and tweak my images ahead of time. When they arrive, I’m always impressed.
These three new pieces, Blizzard Bear,Long Neck Buds and Winter Tiger, were no exception. While I enjoy working on all my paintings and feel some connection to each, I have my favourites, which often sneak up on me. Some are for sentimental reasons, like my first Grizzly Bear, as that painting led me to the work I enjoy most and launched a whole new phase of my art career.
Others, like my Coyote, Ostrich and almost every painting of Berkley the bear, are because of the personal stories that go with them. And some grow on me over time, paintings I like fine when I create them, but each time I see them in a new print order, I realize how much I’ve grown to love them. That was the case with my first Polar Bear painting, so much so that I printed an 18” X24” canvas of it for myself, and it hangs over my desk. While opening these new prints earlier this week, it was clear that the Winter Tiger is an instant member of that group. I love this painting. I showed the print to Shonna and said, “Damn, I’m getting good.”
Yes, that sounds incredibly arrogant, but it really means that I worked hard on that one to achieve more detail in the fur and snow, which shows in the print. Like most artists, I’m hypercritical of my work, so when I love a print, that’s saying something. I suspect that one might end up as a big canvas print in my office, too. I’m definitely printing it on canvas for the Banff Christmas Markets.
To think, I almost didn’t paint another tiger because my Smiling Tiger is already one of my Top 2 bestsellers. The Otter is the other one. Ironically, neither of those is among my favourites, proving that I can only create the art and put it out into the world. Others decide if any become popular. Yesterday afternoon, I delivered two custom canvas prints to a client in Calgary, then an order of vinyl stickers and prints to the Calgary Zoo. As it was the end of the day, I made the delivery but didn’t have time to take new photos. These new prints were in that zoo order, along with a restock of several others. They’re now available in my online store. And if you’re looking for more than a couple, it’s FREE SHIPPING in Canada on orders over $80. There is no website/signature stamp on the actual print and I personally sign each one.
Self-employed creatives will often use pre-orders to launch new products or ventures. Some will also use services like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to fund them.
Planning a project in this way allows the artist to first determine if there is sufficient interest; if so, a pre-order allows an independent artist to pay for it. They often come with incentives for people to pledge their early support. They get better pricing and bonuses for early adoption in exchange for delayed delivery.
Earlier this year, I surveyed subscribers to A Wilder View on which images they’d like to see on puzzles. The response was excellent, and my first puzzle pre-order sales gave me the capital to produce excellent quality products. Once delivered, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and I was pleased with the experience and result.
Last week, I asked a few questions to gauge interest in another pre-order featuring two new designs for 1000-piece puzzles.
I got four comments.
While I appreciated that handful of answers, it wasn’t the response I had hoped for, though it certainly delivered the necessary information. The paintings I chose for the next puzzles either aren’t what people want, or this is the wrong time to launch this project.
Carrying inventory of any kind requires an initial expense. Prints, stickers, magnets, and coasters are worth the investment because they’re proven sellers. But some products, like puzzles, require a much more substantial cash outlay to produce them. I’m hobbled by a significant minimum order from the puzzle manufacturer, so without enough initial interest, they’ll sit on a shelf for months, waiting for the next opportunity to sell them. And that money would be better saved or spent on other products.
So, I’m not going to produce any new puzzles this year. Instead, I will play the long game and submit the images to puzzle companies for their consideration or try again for a pre-order early in the new year.
I don’t consider this a setback, simply an idea that didn’t pan out right now. There have been several in my long career as a self-employed artist, and no doubt more to come. Trying it out is the only way to know if something will work.
If it doesn’t, you just try something else.In the meantime, I have updated my store with 41 available prints, 11 high-quality vinyl stickers and some of those original puzzle designs, but not many. While I may produce the same puzzle designs again, it won’t be this year. Only a limited quantity remains, so if you’re after a 504-piece puzzle of the Sea Turtle, Grizzly on Grass, Parrot or Otter, don’t miss out before they’re gone.
The shipping cost is the same whether you buy one or several of the prints or puzzles. Stickers are free shipping in Canada. And as a bonus, every order in the store over $80 qualifies for free shipping in Canada.
I’ll have another fully rendered new painting to share with you soon, but while you wait, here’s another recent piece I drew for the bear book.
This cool cat began as a design I pitched for a puzzle license that didn’t work out. But since I liked the idea, I decided to paint it anyway. It was challenging, and I spent a lot of time on the detail. I’m pleased with the finished piece.
While I could start shopping around a couple of designs to puzzle companies for their consideration, it can take up to a year for a licensing design to go from an initial agreement to a product on the shelf. So, if I want new puzzles for the upcoming holiday season, I must produce them myself.
In February, I applied to be a vendor at the upcoming Banff Christmas Market and was accepted for two of the three weekends. It’s a competitive show for admissions, and difficult to get a spot, so I’m happy I made the cut. Both are three-day events, and I’ll be there November 17-19 and December 1-3.
With a 10’x10’ booth inside the stable, I’ve got to start preparing my prints and products well in advance. If I go ahead with puzzles, I’ll have to order them in the next couple of weeks.
Since the pre-order for my first puzzles earlier this year went so well, I plan to do that again if there’s enough interest. I only have a few of each of those initial puzzles left, and though I might produce those designs again later, I want to try some new ones.
Although that puzzle license didn’t work out, I got some great advice about puzzle design, and I’m grateful for the experience.
This new Winter Tiger will make a nice addition to my available prints and other products, but I’ll need to change the design to make it a better fit for a puzzle. A closer crop on the face, contrasting shades of blue in the snow and much less background overall will make for a better puzzle experience. For most puzzlers, a design is better when there aren’t large areas of the same colour/texture.
This tiger has a lot of different contrasts and patterns in the fur and face, which is why I chose it for a puzzle in the first place. Shonna proposed adding some shaped snowflakes in the sky and snow to create landmarks and break up any monotony in those areas. While I’m still messing with it, here’s the idea of what a puzzle would look like featuring this painting. This is NOT a final version.
These next puzzles will also be 1000 pieces since many have asked for those. My recent Long Neck Buds painting was created with a puzzle in mind, so that’s another one I’m considering for this next launch.
I had thought about painting some lighter green foliage in the darker areas of my T-Rex painting, but I’ve learned that people prefer horizontal puzzles to vertical ones, which removes that fierce-looking dinosaur from consideration. It also means I’m less likely to consider other vertical options.
I’m still mulling all this over, so I’d like to ask you to answer these questions… Would you like to see the Winter Tiger and Long Neck Buds as 1000-piece puzzles?
Would you buy them in a pre-order?
Are there other paintings I’ve done that you’d like me to consider for puzzles?
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments and feel free to offer any other thoughts you have on the matter.
While the warm weather is here, I try to be on the bike at least once a day, which means any excuse for an errand is welcome. One loaf of bread? Sure, I’ll pick that up, but I’ll take the long route and turn it into an hour ride. Even though we’ve had our e-bikes for about a year now, I turn off the pedal assist most of the time to get some daily exercise, which turns it into a regular, but heavier, fat bike. But the assist/throttle is handy when starting from a traffic light or biking up a steep hill with groceries on board.
While biking along the Bow River trail in town today, I got a call from a woman visiting from Edmonton, asking where in Canmore she could find my work. I told her prints were available at Art Country Canada on Main Street, and she said she was right near there. She confessed that her 10-year-old daughter was smitten with my animals as they had seen them and bought the Smiling Tiger at the Calgary Zoo on Wednesday.
While I can’t usually drop everything to go downtown to the gallery, I was already out and about and only a few minutes away, so she was pleased when I offered to meet them there. I showed them the canvases and available prints, explained a bit about the work and was happy to answer their questions about digital painting.
They left with another print of my Two Wolves painting (now on reorder) and four of Pacific Music & Art’s art cards.
I’m grateful that anybody buys my work, especially those who’ve done so for years, but it felt good to express that appreciation in person to somebody who has just discovered it. Of course, I suggested they subscribe to A Wilder View to keep up with new work and behind the scenes stuff. So if you’re reading this, Sandy and Julianna, it was nice to meet you and thanks again for supporting local Alberta art.
This ‘Long Neck Buds’ piece has been a lot of fun so far. With the left (and final) giraffe finished, I’d love to print this image right now as a double-width layout on metal, maybe 20”x40” or even 30”x60” and hang it in my office. It’s refreshing to do something different, especially with so many available options from this painting.
While I can print anything for a custom order, I wouldn’t stock the above painting layout as a poster print. The wider format makes for a larger framing investment for my customers, and keeping unique dimension prints in inventory would be difficult.
With the characters done, I still have several hours of work to build the trees and sky for the rest of the scene.
The leaves will be a challenge because acacia trees are their preferred food, and those have a specific look to them with long thorns among the leaves.
I have a few ideas on how best to do it, including creating a new brush for the task, but with no deadline, I have time to experiment.
If you’ve followed my work for a long time (hey, thank you!), you’ll know how much I look forward to the Calgary Expo each year. This year, it’s happening from April 27th to 30th. With the Wednesday setup day, that’s a five day event for me.
Like everything else, the pandemic knocked the event on its ass, but they’ve recovered well. Last year’s Expo had some hiccups, but once it got started, I had a great time. People were thrilled to be out and about again.
It was also my best year of sales, which certainly didn’t hurt.
I received my booth assignment last week. For my eighth year as a Calgary Expo vendor, I’ll be in Hall C, Booth 522. While still in the Retail section, it’ll be my first year outside of the main hall.
In my first few years, I had a Small Press table. That’s when Artist Alley and retailers were all in the same area. But the show kept getting bigger. So they eventually eliminated Small Press and moved Artist Alley to a different building. That year, I upgraded to a full-size booth to remain in the Retail section.
People have often asked me why I’m not in Artist Alley. It’s a section at most Comic-Cons where new artists can afford to book a table at a big event to sell their prints and other items. But that section hosts many established artists and comic art guests, too.
Despite the higher cost, I stayed in the retail section for several reasons.
First, I wanted lights in my booth; power was not an option in Artist Alley. I don’t know if that has changed, but you can’t rely on any venue to have consistent and bright overhead lighting. I put a lot of work into my art’s detail, colour and printing, and I want direct lighting to showcase that. Power is an added fee, but well worth it.
The second reason I wanted to stay in the retail section was that the booth space and aisles are bigger. Artist Alley is packed tight with vendor tables, not booths. I like having an open area in my booth where people can step out of the crowded aisles. They can look at the art, flip through the prints, and ask questions without being bumped and jostled.
I redesigned my booth last year and it worked so well for me, that I’m making no changes, except that I have invested in new lighting this year. As there was a pillar behind me, rather than another booth, I was able to expand a couple of feet. But I’ve got vendors right up against me on both sides this year, so I’ll have to stick to my 10’x10’ footprint.
I was initially disappointed that I’m not in the main hall this year, but to be fair, I don’t yet know if it matters. I booked a single corner booth and with this year’s new layout, it seems the main room only has six available. Every other corner is either a double or quadruple booth. It does say on the rebooking application that Single corner booths are not guaranteed.
Last year, there were noticeable gaps where more retail booths could have fit. This year, there are more retailers in the main hall, many with double booths.
Hall C was an open area Community and Family zone in 2022. This year, the same area houses 73 new retail booths, including mine.
It’s a much bigger show.
If I weren’t selling my artwork there, I’d still attend the Calgary Expo because it’s a lot of fun. People from all walks of life can be themselves in this festival atmosphere. Families attend this event together, and I honestly don’t know who enjoys it more, the adults or the kids.
Aside from the much smaller version I attended in 2021, it’s been ten years since I’ve been able to walk the show or enjoy the events, talks, and displays. I might get a half hour each day before the show opens to quickly wander the booths, but it’s not enough. I didn’t even make it to the Big Four building last year to check out Artist Alley.
So, when I got my booth assignment, I emailed people I know who come to the Expo every year and are more familiar with the different areas. These two couples are among my favourite supporters and collectors, the people I love seeing each year at this event. They’ve also become friends and generously stop by the booth several times to chat and watch my booth if I need a quick bathroom break.
I asked them what they thought of my new location. Both replied that the Main Stage in that hall is busy all day with panels and talks, and there’s likely to be plenty of regular traffic with the new addition of so many booths.
I went into last year’s event with low expectations. With the pandemic winding down but still active, I didn’t know if people would even attend a crowded indoor venue. But they did, some in masks, most without, though I know several people who tested positive for COVID immediately after Expo.
I had considered emailing the organizers asking for a booth in the main hall should anybody cancel, but I decided not to give in to fear. The bottom line is that I have no idea if it will be better or worse than my previous spots. It might be a prime location. Each year, I’m fortunate to know more people familiar with my work. Rather than rely on their stumbling across my booth, they actively seek me out. So I can always count on seeing my regular customers.
As for the prep, this has been my easiest year. I keep a detailed spreadsheet of sales records from each event. I know which prints, magnets, coasters, and stickers sell best and how many I need to order each year. Of course, I bring extra in case I have an exceptional year, and any new prints are always a gamble as I don’t yet know which will be popular. The Calgary Expo is a great proving ground for the latest paintings.
Everything I’ve ordered has arrived, and I’ve been busy signing and packaging prints, but I have a lot of experience with this show, so it’s low-stress this year.
Many of my subscribers are Expo veterans, and I look forward to seeing you all again. Even if you don’t add to your collections this year, please stop by and say Hello. You’re the main reason I enjoy this show.
I’ll have another update soon, including a feature on the brand-new prints I’m launching at this year’s Expo.
Keeping a blog is handy when I write a year-end wrap-up because I don’t have to remember what happened. So here are some of the standouts from this year.
While on a cabin trip last year, my buddy Darrel suggested my work might lend itself well to vinyl stickers people put on vehicle windows. So, I designed a few, sourced a production company, and realized he was onto something.
The ten designs have done well with regular re-orders at the Calgary Zoo, Discovery Wildlife Park, and Stonewaters in Canmore. They were also popular at Calgary Expo and the Mountain Made Markets. This week, I reordered a bunch and added two new designs. In the upcoming year, I’ll be working to get these into more stores.
The NFT boom goes bust
Earlier this year, I thought there might be a market selling NFTs of some of my paintings. I read a lot of information, entertained offers from online galleries, and eventually signed with one. They were professional and good to work with, but then the entire crypto art market fell apart.
Thankfully, I lost no money on the experiment. I never bought any cryptocurrency or paid for my own NFT minting. The time I lost was an educational experience, and I have no regrets. You will never have any success without risk. Kevin Kelly once said, “If you’re not falling down occasionally, you’re just coasting.”
Will NFTs come back into favour? I doubt it.
Cartoon Commendation I don’t usually enter editorial cartoon contests, but I made an exception this year for the World Press Freedom Competition. I’d already drawn the cartoon above that fit the theme, and the top three prizes included a financial award. Though I hadn’t expected much, I won 2nd place and the prize money paid for most of my new guitar.
The Rocky Mountain Outlook is our local weekly paper. I’ve been their cartoonist since it began in 2001, and I’ve never missed an issue. National awards matter to weekly papers as they lend credibility to the publication, especially when soliciting advertisers who pay for it. The Outlook enters my work into the Canadian Community Newspaper Awards each year.The CCNAs didn’t happen last year because of the pandemic, so they awarded two years at once this time. For Best Local Cartoon, I won First, Second and Third for 2020 and Second and Third for 2021 in their circulation category.
Given there are fewer local papers each year and even fewer local cartoonists, I wonder if the multiple awards say more about the lack of competition than the quality of my work. Regardless, the recognition is still welcome.The problem with local cartoons is that you kind of have to live here to understand most of them. So the ones I’ve shared here are a random selection of local and national topics. Between the five or six syndicated editorial cartoons I create each week, plus the local cartoon for The Outlook, I drew 313 editorial cartoons this year.Calgary Expo and the Mountain Made Markets
I know artists who do the gift and market circuit all year long. For some, it’s their entire living, and they do well. Others try it for a few years, don’t make any money, and move on to something else. It can be a real grind.
More than once, I’ve considered getting a bigger vehicle, a tent and the display and booth hardware I would need to do the fair and market circuit in the warmer months and the holiday shows in November and December.
But with daily editorial cartoon deadlines, long days away and travelling each week are next to impossible. I enjoy working in my office every day and have no desire to spend a lot of my time driving and staying in hotels.
The one big show I look forward to each year is the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo at the end of April, five long days, including a full day for setup. So when the full event reemerged from its two-year pandemic hiatus, I was excited to return.
Not only was 2022 my best year of sales to date, but it was also great fun. I’m already looking forward to the 2023 event, though I’m tempering my expectations with a possible looming recession. Then again, I didn’t think this year would be good, and I was happily proven wrong.
There were several Mountain Made Markets this year, with weekend events every month from May to December. Held indoors at the Canmore Civic Centre, it’s an easy setup close to home, so it’s worth my time.
Each market was profitable, and I enjoyed introducing new people to my work, meeting subscribers in person and visiting with customers, vendors and friends. Significant changes are coming for that event this year. Whether good or bad remains to be seen, but I hope to do more of them in 2023.
If you’ve ever bought a face mask, magnet, coaster, or calendar from me, those come from Pacific Music & Art, just a handful of the many items they sell. I often hear from people who’ve bought a trivet in Banff, a coffee mug in Alaska, or an art card in Washington.
Licensing allows me to spend my time painting and still reach new markets and audiences. I signed a few new deals this year with Art Licensing International agency, a company that has represented my work for several years. Agencies might have many more contacts, but they take a big chunk of the royalties, so it’s a double-edged sword. I prefer to find most licenses on my own.
Sometimes companies cold call me. When Diamond Art Club contacted me about licensing my work, I had barely heard of diamond art kits.
Though there was a lead time of many months, the Otter kit finally launched this summer and sold out in days. Producing these kits involves more than simply printing the image on an item, so it took a few months for them to restock that first piece, but it’s again available on their site.
More diamond art kit designs are coming in 2023, but I’m not allowed to share which ones yet.
I signed a new contract last week for ten of my images with an overseas company for another product, but that, too, will be something I can’t share until the middle of next year. Licensing usually involves quite a bit of time between signing contracts and actual production, so it’s work now that pays later.
Come to think of it, that’s a good way of looking at commercial art in general. Every piece I paint is an investment in future revenue.
As I wrote about my latest commission earlier this week, here’s the link if you’d like to see and read about the pet portraits I painted this year.
Every year, I begin with great plans and expectations, but things go off the rails or new opportunities show up, and the whole year becomes a series of course corrections. All I can do for delayed projects important to me is try again.
I tend to slip into a fall melancholy or winter depression most years. When it happens, I often throw my efforts into a personal project, usually painting a portrait of a screen character. I’ve painted several portraits of people, and many result in great stories to go with them. Here’s the John Dutton character painting I did last year.I realized earlier this month that I wouldn’t get to one this year, even though I had already chosen someone to paint. While disappointed, not having the time was likely due to the work I put into the markets, something I hadn’t done in previous years. However, my latest commission of Luna almost felt like a personal piece because I so enjoyed that painting.
I still had down days this fall, especially with our brutally cold November and December. But September and October were beautiful and right before the weather turned, I had a great cabin trip with my buddy, Darrel.
So the seasonal depression wasn’t as dark as it has been in recent years, and for that, I’m grateful.
On a sunny June day in Calgary, a woman ran a red light and wrote off Shonna’s car. While we had no immediately apparent injuries, we’ve been sharing one vehicle ever since and likely will until sometime in the middle of next year. Unfortunately, everything we can find, used or new, is overpriced, and we’ve heard many stories of fraudulent car dealers adding extra fees and playing bait-and-switch games. As if the near criminal behaviour of our own insurance company wasn’t bad enough.
But we bought Pedego Element e-bikes and love them. Canmore is easier to get around by bike than car, and it has become a necessity since they brought in paid parking. So we were both disappointed when winter arrived with a vengeance in November, and we had to put them away. While we had planned to get studded tires and ride the bikes all winter, as many around here do, 20″ studded fat tires are just one more item on the long list of global supply problems.
We had a wonderful vacation in August, glamping and kayaking for a week off northern Vancouver Island, a 25th-anniversary trip we had postponed at the beginning of the pandemic. It was one of the best adventures we’ve ever had.
I bought a silent acoustic guitar this year and began to play music again. It’s always within arm’s reach of my desk, and I’ve been playing it almost every day, sometimes for ten minutes, but most often for an hour or more. With regular practice, I’m a better musician now than I’ve ever been, and it’s a lot of fun, especially bringing it on a couple of cabin trips.Best of all, there is no chance I will ever play guitar for a living. It’s a purely creative escape with no responsibility to pay my bills.
Including the two commissions, I completed nine full-resolution production pieces this year. I wanted to paint more.
Best I can figure, preparing for and attending the additional Mountain Made Markets this year ate up a lot of time and energy, especially on weekends when I do a lot of my painting. I still had to create the same number of editorial cartoons each week but sacrificed painting time. That’s valuable information to have when considering future markets and shows. While those might give me more opportunities to sell the work, they steal from time creating it.
I’ve put together another video to share this year’s painted work. Most of these are finished paintings, with a few works in progress.
Hundreds of new people subscribed to A Wilder View in 2022. My sincere thanks to you who’ve been with me for years and those who just joined the ride. Whatever challenges you face in the coming year, I hope the occasional funny-looking animal in your inbox gives you a smile and makes life a little bit easier, if only for a moment or two.
I’ve painted over 100 animals since 2009, and I can’t keep them all in stock. Even five of each is a lot of inventory. So whenever I bring in new ones, I’ve got to retire some. Some paintings seem to be perpetual best sellers, while others have their day in the sun for a few years and then wane in popularity.
To ensure a reasonable price from my supplier, I have to order prints in volume. So when a print plays out its best days, it’s no longer worth ordering a large amount. That’s a good indication it’s time to let it go and give a new one a chance.
Today, I’m retiring three prints. The Bald Eagle, Black Bear and Grizzly have been removed from the store. They’re still popular on other items through my various licenses, but not as much as prints in my online store. I get attached to these paintings as each has a story and takes many hours to paint. This round of retirees is especially bittersweet as this Grizzly was the first animal I painted in my whimsical wildlife style, the bear that started it all. But I’m always painting new grizzly bears and black bears, so there’s no shortage of that subject.
As much as I like my Bald Eagle painting, I’ve taken many excellent references at The Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, Alberta in recent years, and I’m looking to paint a new one.
With a new print order just arrived, the Beaver and Two Wolves are back in stock, so if you’ve been waiting for those, thanks for your patience. Of course, no new order would be complete without some first-issue prints. My latest paintings, Snow Queen and Duckling, are now available in the store! I love seeing the first prints of a new painting; these were no exception. There’s just something about a print that makes the work complete. .
All prints are 11″ x14″ with a white border, and it’s easy to find an off-the-shelf frame as it’s a standard size. In addition, each is hand-signed and comes with a backer board and artist bio in a cellophane sleeve.
If you have any questions about the available prints or vinyl stickers, feel free to drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to answer. Otherwise, take a browse through the available paintings and see if there’s one that catches your eye. And a reminder that all images (even the retired ones) are available via custom order, as canvas or metal prints.