Sunday, January 01, 2012

(sorry this took so long to finish writing but i have a feeling you will understand once you read this,and if you have forgotten part 1 and 2 they are still below)

The Quirky Art Cafe
part 3

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” Zig Ziglar

So, I decided to have a real cafe in my studio.

But to be perfectly honest, I really wanted someone else to do it for me.

When I got home from Spain in May, I dove quickly into the things for the cafe that I knew I could do...rearranging the studio to make room for a coffee counter, cleaning things out, visualizing, finding the perfect counter and making it "look and feel" the way it would best look like a cafe but then came the hard part....

All the legal shit.

Coincidentally, I met a woman at an Art Walk in July who apparently was a coffee shop set up consultant and I was THRILLED. We met a couple times and she validated all the ideas I had with her expertise and knowledge (basically affirming for me that this could really happen), which I really needed at that point.

Then she disappeared.

I tried to get a hold of her but she wouldn't get back to me.

Eventually, I learned in September, that due to serious family issues, she was no longer available to help me and I was left completely on my own once again....

So, after a lot of feeling sorry for myself, one day I just thought "Oh fuck it!" and I finally went to the official places I needed to go, talked to all the official people I needed to talk to and found out all the official things I needed to do. And once I learned what I needed to do....

I honestly wanted to just give up.

But the problem was, I had already "done" it. The cafe was already built, rearranged, sinks in and ready with espresso machine....so I couldn't give up now. A good friend wrote to me at that point..."Hmmm maybe you should have looked into all this BEFORE you actually made it into a cafe." And for a moment, I thought the same... I thought "Oh, I am SO stupid for not having looked into all this BEFORE I did everything.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that IF I had asked what I needed to do first, I would NEVER have gone and done it. I know that I would have given up way before I ever started. The ONLY thing that pushed me through to the end of this was the fact that it was already done.

But it was so hard for me.

All along I kept thinking "I am just an artist, I can't do all this stuff." I felt so far out of my comfort zone, that most days I seriously woke up feeling nauseous about what had to be done that day.

But....I just made myself do what I needed to do, one small uncomfortable step at a time.

And every day, when I would get completely overwhelmed, by fear, money concerns or whatever, I would just go sit in my studio, and reassure myself that this WAS the RIGHT thing to do. I just knew that people would love to come in and enjoy my space with me.

So then, the next day I would get up the courage to go do one more uncomfortable thing...

(like measure every square inch of the lot and the building complex, convert it to metric and then draw up three different site plans TO SCALE for instance....)

It took so much longer than I thought it would. I didn't have the money to go out and hire people to do things like site plans for me or figure out what stock structure (with incorporating) to have, I had to do it all myself.

And now that I am on the other side of it, I am glad for that. I have learned so much and I really did it! I really accomplished something that I honestly didn't think I could do.

I also realized that I needed to get used to the idea of owning/running a cafe on top of my art career as much as I needed to to get all the permits for it. And starting things from scratch meant there were thousands of decisions to make. I had worked in cafes before (the only job I have ever had except for being an artist), but in all those situations, the decisions were already made for me and I just did my job. Here, I had to decide everything....what hours to be open, how I would make all the hot beverages, how the cash register would be programmed, what kind of food would be served...etc. Plus, along with all of this, I still had to maintain my full time art career at the same time- drawing caricatures at events, doing commission work, teaching classes and workshops as well as keeping up with the all the family life responsibilities at home.

One great coincidental thing was that I was able to get the cafe ready right before my trip to another caricature convention in Florida, where I got to spend time with my amazing, caring, talented caricature artist friends, which by that time I REALLY needed.

I opened 3 days after I got home from Florida.

By the time I opened November 23rd, I was really ready....in every way. I no longer panicked about the time commitment of being there 5 days a week from 8-5 or how I would manage responsibilities with my drawing commitments or my family along with it. I just knew that it would all fall into place and it really has.

It was a CRAZY, CRAZY month in December....I was open full time at the cafe 5 days a week, I had a grand opening, 17 caricature event gigs, many commission pieces to do for Christmas and an altered book workshop at Victoria School of the Arts.

But I made it...
and I love my little cafe/art studio even more than I did before....
and honestly, I really didn't know that was possible.

I am thrilled with the response and the feedback I have received from people....

  • I love meeting longtime residents from the neighbourhood and hearing their stories of how long they have lived here, other special little details of their lives and just how they have LONGED for a cafe in the neighbourhood for years.
  • I love that I have regulars who come, sit and chat about what's going on in their day so far, and inquire about mine.
  • I love that I have an after school rush of kids and parents, popping in from the toboggan hill or skating rink across the street for a hot chocolate or chai latte.
  • I love that I can work on my drawings or paintings when its quiet at the cafe and how even when people come in, how interested they are in what I am working on.
and most of all,
I love hearing how much people feel at home
in my little art corner of the world.

So here we are on the threshold of 2012.....Happy New Year Everyone!

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster

4 comments:

Tad Barney said...

I think that so-called friend who said ."Hmmm maybe you should have looked into all this BEFORE you actually made it into a cafe." should have been a little more supportive...

So glad you followed your heart.

Caricature Girl said...

I don't think there has ever been anyone that has been MORE supportive in the past 2 and a half years since I rented the studio than that friend. :)
I think he was just purely stating the obvious.

LarsER Arts said...

I have over 21 years food service experience and 18 years as a Caricature artist. I am working as a chef in a retirement home in Seminole, Fl. I have always wanted to do my art full time, and I think you have created a great way to do just that. The traveling cafes are becoming a big thing down here and I am thinking of starting one of those with a partner who can run thr food and beverage end and me Handel the art. I would like to offer any help you need...you go girl!

Caricature Girl said...

thanks Lars!