Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Like a child with a sweet tooth...

Like a child with a sweet tooth drooling on a jar of rainbow candies, I am drawn to craft shows, which seem to promise fortunes with eye-candy products. As a visual artist, I tend to think that I can make almost everything and anything that are on display at an art & design storefront. This dangerous and overly pretentiousness has been an ongoing bitter sweet problem because (1)- I can never buy a product that wows me, and (2)- I always waste time & money by attempting to re/make it. Regardless, I don't think I can ever get my tongue off the sweetness of crafting, because it gives me a tremendous JOY making things for the sake of just making. Plus, I get to hang out with good friends who share similar passion for pop-up storefront, and when weather permits, it can be quite magical.

LittlEmotions with Nayoun, Toronto 2011

Chez-Toi with Lan, Toronto 2013
I've lived most of my life caught in between two cultures (this needs another serious post dedicated to it), and now I realized that since MFA, I've drifted in another betweeness, that of fine & craft art. I believe it was perhaps my denial for the 'real world' right after a master program that made me to daydream by crafting. My first 'product' was ZingZing, the Crying Pillow that cries for you and with you. Perhaps I needed to cry facing the reality, but my intention was, really, to give hope to others in need. (and... also to make some money by selling them).

This tear shaped plush is very gentle with blushing cheeks and squinted dark eyes.
ZingZing carries a tissue in his back-pocket for your tears of joy and sorrow.
(you can add letters, pictures, anything else you want in it!)
First craft show with Zing Zing family, Montreal 2009
In 2009, I gave myself a new name, Zihhy, as a craftsperson who creates fun objects with fabric. (Well, actually Zihhy came to world in late 90's as I attempted to di/spell my Korean name.) My first Etsy store ( opened following my first craft show where I sold half of my Zing Zing inventory. The Etsy store was tricky. I didn't know the importance of product renews, variety, refreshing uploads, and self-promotions. My lack of business skill totally made my remaining Zing Zings cry in the storage.

The Zing Zings evolved as I continued to show them in Toronto. In an attempt to raise the price, I replaced the tissue paper in the back-pocket with a handkerchief. Although I was confident that the $5 jack-up would make the product more valuable and desirable, I learned a lesson by coming back home with all my stock of Zing Zings, which were desired by so many potential customers who walked away after reading the price tag. 
I cuddle with you when you cry watching a sad movie, catch a cold, or even when you have a broken heart.
Craft show is a business. You need to problem solve, come up with new ideas, and must have a line of products in different range of prices. Hence, the birth of mini-Zing Zings at a lovely price of $12!! And can you tell? The funky bunny heads are actually from the unused blossom petals from my artwork 'Once Upon Camellia Blossoms'! With limited storage space, I really had to get rid of my Zing Zing army, so their price was lowered by $10, and they were pretty much all sold out.

Perhaps I should've done this full-time, without guilt, then I now would probably be the 'mother' of factory-made Zing Zings, exporting overseas and making good profit. (hmmm.. maybe it's not too late..?) Juggling with time in writing applications, making work, showing at exhibitions, energy-draining part-time job, house chores, and bla bla bla, I continued to drift in the wonder of craft art, yet this time I decided to make 'functional artworks'.

The birth of 'Tick-Tock Canvas', Toronto 2013
I usually paint when I'm out of inspiration. Past few years, I've enjoyed painting on small gallery wrapped canvas, which usually ended up as gifts for my loving ones. As a visual artist, I thrive in creating work that connects to the general public. Turning a painting into a functional decor item seemed to be a natural way to appraoch and appeal to customers. When I decided to sell these as my next 'it' item at craft shows, I started painting for the sake of decor with a mind that it will be an inspirational source for people on daily basis. (Who doesn't look at a wall clock at least once a day?) My problem rose when I started really having fun in creating them, (the painting that is) and was hesitating to drill a hole in the middle to insert the clock mechanism. They were already good as is, more valuable, (who pays $150-200 for a wall clock?!) and it was just painful to 'ruin' a perfectly good painting.
But I managed to do it. And most of them really were painted with the placement of clock-hands in mind, so they worked well as finished products. I also used sweep movement mechanism that tick-tocks in silent because I believe a painting should only talk/scream/whisper visually...

Some of the early designs of the 'Tick-Tock Canvas' ©2013 JMinStudio
Zing Zing (ZZ-005) ©2009 Zihhy
Oh! I should not forget my infamous 'fortune-cookie-card-kits' and 'finger-spelling-drawings' when talking about my guilty pleasures. But it's getting late, and they deserve their own full page dedicated to them only, so hopefully I keep updating this blog to one day write about them in full.

With the start of this blog, I hope I finally get to distinguish my two lives, and keep producing whether it is escapism, distraction, or guilty pleasure. Who knows, this current & ongoing struggle might just be a long process for a much bigger project in near future.

In the end, life is like a jar of candies (or a box of chocolate!), you never know what you're gonna get. I just gotta pick it up and suck it, till I find out.