Thursday, November 22, 2012

Don't wait for permission from someone else 
to begin living your life with purpose and passion. 
Its not up to anyone else to 'let' you do it. 
Its up to you to start living that way now. 
~Cathy McMillan

Well, my cafe will be one year old tomorrow. 
Which I guess means that I have been a 'cafe owner' for one whole year.

Its actually very similar to being a first time mother and how I felt absolutely overwhelmed, exhausted and amazed at just how much work it really was....even finding myself sometimes thinking ......"What the hell have I done?"  

Waking up everyday in a new life with so many decisions to be made, 
so much responsibility,
and constant uncertainty of just how far 
I would be pushed out of my comfort zones each and every day.

This whole experience has taught me so much about myself and about business.

A year ago whenever I was doing some kind of official 'left brained business' task,
I often apologized to whomever I was speaking, warning them that I was 'only an artist'
 before I launched into the discussion or negotiation.
I was certain that I was at a disadvantage because I knew nothing
about business formulas, marketing strategies or profit margin concepts.

Since starting the cafe, I have had to make a LOT of decisions.
I really didn't know what "regular" cafe owners do, so I just made my business decisions the same way I do when I paint...from my intuition and gut.
Sometimes I really needed to step back and think about certain details intellectually
(like I might have to do with colour theory or value rhythms in a painting),
 and so I would do that and then quickly return
to the intuitive process just to make sure it was correct.

Over the past year,
I slowly figured out how to read my intuition for business decisions.
I learned that if a business decision didn't make me want to puke,
 that meant it was probably okay and I should do it,
but if it did, then definitely I should stay away from it.
If I couldn't get a solid decisive feeling about a something one way or the other,
I learned that it just meant that I needed to wait
and so I learned to be really patient,
trusting that eventually I would know exactly what to do.
And inevitably I always do.

So here I am a year later 
looking back over all my intuitive business decisions that have turned out right.

Building a cafe on a caricature artist's small income is one thing,
but then making it to one year,
completely debt free
is apparently a success in the business world
(at least that's what "business" people tell me).

Last week it finally dawned on me,
I have been successful so far
BECAUSE I am an artist, 
not in spite of it. 

So my cafe is now one year old. 
She is finally sleeping through the night, standing up on her own, and getting ready to walk by herself. 
Patterns and routines have settled into place,
 easing some of the daily uncertainty and decision making
and now everything feels like this has been our lifestyle forever.

And the best part of all,
is that I just love spending the majority of my days
in this special little place in the world.
Please come by and help us celebrate one year tomorrow.
All small hot beverages will be only a Loonie!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Basking in the after glow of creative inspiration and friendship....

San Antonio's historic Riverwalk
This past week I attended the International Society of Caricature Artists convention in San Antonio, Texas. What a blast! It was my sixth convention over the past 4 years and each year it just keeps getting better and better. This year 160+ caricature artists came together from all over the world for a week of educational sessions, competitions, creative inspiration and most importantly, friendship. The convention was held at the El Tropicano on the historic San Antonio Riverwalk.
Art Fight 2012
The week always begins with a "Meet and Greet" on Sunday night. This year an "Art Fight" was planned. Artists were chosen by a random draw to come up to one of the three easels and were given a topic and a minute to draw the best thing they could for that subject. The voting was done by clapping until there was one artist left standing. Improv for artists!

The Guest Speaker this year was the talented and accomplished artist John Kascht. He presented 2 wonderful sessions — discussing his lengthy caricature career as well as humorous stories from his life. On the Wednesday evening at the Gold member gala we were treated with the opportunity to watch him work.

Jan Op de Beeck drawing Nick Nolte

Throughout the week there were many informative and educational sessions: Caricature 101 with Matt Zitman, Art Class with Jan Op de Beeck, Digital ipad caricatures with Nolan Harris, Caricature sculpting with Celestia Ward, Corel Painter12 with Jon Casey,  and Zombie Caricatures with Sean Gardner and Nick Mitchell.
 In between the sessions were the competitions....
 the Likeness competition, the Speed competition and the party/event competition.
Party Event Competition. Everyone gets a half hour to draw as many people as they can in their party event style.
Throughout the week everyone gathers in the main hall which is open 24 hours a day for artists to set up their "studio space" and start creating. Everything that goes up on their wall space at the end of the convention to be voted on, must be produced in that room and must be caricatures of the people in the room.
 I opened my cafe right after attending last year's convention in Florida and since I have been playing with latte art at the cafe, I thought it would be fun to do "fake" latte caricatures this year as my entry. 

Photo: Jerry Lara, San Antonio Express-News
 I filled take out coffee cups with upholstery foam, then topped them with gesso. The using acrylics, I painted the caricatures on top as if it was only milk and coffee. 
Me and my "fake" latte caricatures.
I couldn't help laugh at the puzzling looks from others as I prepared them and then just how many people thought it was actually really coffee.

On Friday night we have a fancy banquet and awards ceremony. Its always so wonderful to see everyone all dressed up at the end!

Congratulations to all the winners this year!

When the banquet is over, we all pass out our caricatures to the model to take home.
San Fransisco's Digital Caricature artist Jon Casey
Jessica Du Preez from Orlando, Florida and Canada's own Lar DeSouza
 And then....just like that it is over all too quickly and we are left saying goodbye to dear friends, scattering off home to begin savouring the anticipation for next year 
(which will once again be held in Saint Pete's Beach Florida). 
Only 362 days till Florida baby!!!