By JEFF CLEMETSON | Mission Times Courier
French Cubist painter Georges Braque once said, “Art is a wound turned into light.” In this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, local artisans are trying to hold that ethos for their own art and craft businesses.
For local glass artist Linda Rodenbo Barton, the wounds of the pandemic have brought some light to her business, even as the art shows she normally hosts at her Del Cerro home are cancelled or postponed.
“In the past three weeks, I’ve been selling quite a few of my pieces,” she said. “I think that’s because people don’t have anywhere else to shop and they want something pretty for their home because they’re sitting at home all day — so I have actually done quite well.”
In lieu of the craft fairs and markets she hosts at her home or at local wine shops and the like, Barton now sells most of her glass wind chimes and mobiles through the Facebook group she started called Local Artisan Boutique.
Teri Foster Collins helps with social media posts for the Local Artisan Boutique Facebook page. She said the page features about 30 artists, including herself.
“It’s about women supporting women. So even now if I post something, the other vendors will go on and share it with the people who like their own pages,” she said. “That’s really nice that we all support each other.”
Collins’ own online business is called Succulents & Cement and traditionally involved making decorative pots out of cement and filling them with various succulent plants.
“I’ve been diversifying a little bit. I was in a car accident a year ago and it’s been hard carrying around succulents and cement, ya know?” she said with a chuckle.
Right now, Collins is focusing on making farmhouse beads, which she is calling “celebration beads” for graduations that are personalized with names, school colors and charms.
“Students can wear them or when they get home drape them across their rooms as décor,” she said. “It’s like jewelry for your home.”
Collins said the celebration beads are selling well right now because it is graduation season and normal commencement ceremonies are not being held.
“I have one lady who contacted me and she’s graduating from San Diego State after 13 years of going to school, so she’s pretty disappointed and she wants to buy [the beads] from me for herself,” she said.
Collins, who lives in Allied Gardens and normally works full time in Sorrento Valley, now works from home, which gives her some extra time to work on art projects.
“Before, I would commute and hour and a half to two hours a day to get to and from work,” she said. “Now my commute is only how long it takes me to brush my teeth and make a cup of coffee.”
While she works, she has the news on in the background and hears about the stress that quarantine life is giving most people.
“I don’t feel that because I have this creative outlet,” she said. “I’m happy being home.”
Being home and running an art business entirely online isn’t universally appealing, however.
Jewelry maker Lisa Prus said she misses the personal aspect of doing in-person art shows and markets.
“I really like interacting with the people, both on the seller side and on the customer side,” she said. “So I’m looking for ways to recapture that. It’s not going to be the same but I’m sure we’ll figure out a happy medium while we’re existing in this universe that is an alternate reality.”
While Prus said that she had most recently been doing only in-person shows, the pandemic has forced her to rethink her business model.
“Where I had really ignored a lot of my online presence, I’m trying to beef that up right now and make online events and experiences that people can kind of feel like there’s that personal aspect to it that comes along with going to a show and not just shopping in an online click thing,” she said.
Prus’ own Facebook page called Insomniac Treasures is also featured on the Local Artisans Boutique page and she also has an Etsy shop page and is involved in a new online shop called goimagine.com that donates all its fees after expenses to charities.
“Actually, it just started in April. I’m part of the first batch of people that are selling on that site,” she said.
Selling art online has not been a problem for Diane Slagle, whose Snotnormal anxiety doll creations already had an international following on her Etsy page before the COVID-19 outbreak even began. And there is another reason Slagle doesn’t rely on craft fairs and markets to sell her dolls, which she described as “tongue in cheek” because they are meant to be a calming presence to relieve stress and anxiety and yet a bit “scary looking.”
“My art, it’s not for everyone,” she said. “Because they’re so snarky, and they have little bit of an edge to it and also a little bit political. When things started going politically crazy in recent years, they started selling and now with Covid on top of it, they’ve been selling really well.”
That art can see a boon in these troubled times seems counterintuitive, but Barton encourages other artists to recognize that it does not mean there is a “dead market.”
“You can still make money. People are still interested,” she said. “Mother’s Day is coming up so it is a great time to advertise on social media and if you provide safe pickup and purchase, I think people are going to swing by and get your products.”
Barton also hopes people will be able to swing by the next Local Artisan Boutique event at her home in Del Cerro that has been rescheduled for Sept. 12.
Support the artists
To view or buy art from these local artists, please go online and visit the following:
Local Artisan Boutique – facebook.com/LocalArtisanBoutique/
Linda Rodenbo Barton – facebook.com/linda.r.barton.1
Succulents & Cement – facebook.com/succulentsandcement/
Insomniac Treasures – facebook.com/InsomniacTreasures/
Snotnormal – etsy.com/shop/Snotnormal
— Reach editor Jeff Clemetson at firstname.lastname@example.org.