Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wow--You Have Such a Nice Package! By Karen McGovern

So I have the sense of humor of a 12-year old boy.

In writing the past few posts this month, I have found myself thinking of the many things we all do as artists, especially artists trying to make a living MAKING ART, to give our clients a truly wonderful experience when buying our work.  We pour so much of ourselves into our designs. Mary Jane Dodd exemplifies this like no other artist I have come across in a long time.  Her works are filled to overflowing with intent, each piece a tiny universe of meaning and consciousness that she fearlessly shares in her soulful writings that accompany each piece. Oh, and the work is GORGEOUS as well.  I secretly may hate her.  Each of us strives to create from the heart, our works a sometimes intimate, personal glimpse into our hearts and minds.  

Sigh....Mary, you KILL ME.
Then we wrap it in newspaper and Scotch tape, stuff it in a padded envelope and off it goes to its new home.

Wait, what???

Packaging.  The Achilles heel of many a working artist.  For me, this is a HUGE PROBLEM.  I really do pour a lot of myself into my designs, especially the mixed media designs that include an original short story or poem.  Days--sometimes weeks--go into the creative process, and the end results are a multi-dimensional representations of a dream, a fantasy, an idea that just couldn't wait to be born. AFTER ALL THAT YOU WANT ME TO COME UP WITH SOME STUPENDOUS WAY TO PACKAGE IT?  I'm exhausted just thinking about it. 

Yet, I know how important this is and I HATE KNOWING HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS.  I have never had the privilege of purchasing one of Mary's designs.  I imagine if I did, it would arrive in a vessel created from spiders silk, organically dyed with fairy tears and tied together with thread hand-spun from the hair of a unicorn's mane.  AND I WOULD WEEP FROM THE BEAUTY OF IT.  You may think I am making fun of her or any artist that takes the time to create packaging as artful as the designs they carry, but I am not.  I am simply SOAKED IN JEALOUSY that they are able to do this.

For me, packaging is simply a means to an end.  It's just not high on my priority list.  I tell myself it's because I'm all about recycling and not creating waste, but we all know it's because I'm somewhat lazy and my brain just doesn't pump out ideas when it comes to this.  I am forever digging through my stash of recycled boxes and bags, all of which have had long, hard lives prior to me slapping a label on them and sending them off.  For a while I tried, I really did, to create thoughtful packaging.  I have a dear friend who gave me some spectacular heavy handmade paper infused with flower petals and leaves.  I created envelopes from the paper to fit whatever design I was shipping and yes, each was lovely and each NEARLY KILLED ME TO MAKE BECAUSE I HATED EVERY SINGLE SECOND IT TOOK TO MAKE THEM.  That's when it hit me.  Here I was, sending off a design I created with joy and intent, now soaked in anger because I was forcing myself to make something to accompany it that I simply didn't have the creative energy for and resented deeply.  KARMA MUCH?  So, I embrace that I am not good at fancy packaging and have moved on.

You don't have to stress over packaging, and you SHOULDN'T.  Find a simple packaging technique and stick with it.  Here's what I do.  I buy basic, solid color Kraft boxes whenever I see them in a variety of sizes.  I also splurge on Bali cloth bags whenever they are on sale.  I buy cool stickers and pretty yarns.  I have a stash of this at all times.  I also have a variety of stamps because I etch a lot.  So--plain Kraft boxes get a stamp or a sticker, and are tied with pretty yarn.  The bags are good to go as is. GENIUS!  AND, you can buy beautiful hand crafted gift boxes online, you know.  ETSY THAT STUFF.  Now, the actual shipping box may be a tattered mess, but I will tape it up like a little box mummy and it will arrive safely, and I hope that the quality of the works inside more than make up for the less than Martha Stewart exterior.

Simple.....I like it!
So, forgive me, and yourself, for not hand crafting all our packaging.  Simplicity is often best, keeps us sane, and is very effective.  Besides, it is a BITCH to find good quality unicorn hair these days.


Anonymous said...

Since I am saving my stash of unicorn hair I use book pages to wrap my products, and some pretty paper left over from the inserts of my folded book art double recycling and looking creative. :)

Anonymous said...

Since I am saving my stash of unicorn hair I use book pages to wrap my products, and some pretty paper left over from the inserts of my folded book art double recycling and looking creative. :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Ahaha! Unicorn hair! I have had the distinct pleasure of purchasing something from Miss Maire, and it was packaged most thoughtfully, just as you would expect. Last summer I bought myself some very pricey (yet-oh-so-worth-it) handmade sterling silver PMC beads from an artist that I admire. They arrived wrapped in torn pieces of paper towel. To say it was a let-down is an understatement. I still love them, and they are sitting in a place of honor until I can come up with a design that does them justice. I know that the packaging to some is just a means to an end, but it really doesn't have to be as fancy as unicorn hair! I, too, use kraft pillow boxes. I always use real ribbon. This year I started tying on a little copper key along with some bright colored tags as thank yous and some with scratch offs for discounts. It doesn't take that much more time. I also always hand write a note, even if it is just a small tag. That makes it personal and lets my clients know that they are special to me. I like your simple and yet effective packaging ideas and encourage everyone to give it a shot! Enjoy the day. Erin

Shel said...

I recently donated a pretty expensive and labor intense piece for a charity event and when I brought the packaged necklace to the drop off, the woman mentioned that my packaging 'Could be a bit nicer, you know,...considering it's going to some high-rollers'. (ugh - that hurt!!) This piece was in a traditional black box, business card to match across the top, and closed with a silver stretchy-cord and looked pretty, sleek and rather high-end if you ask me, but obviously it's just a matter of taste. So, I'm w/you - it shouldn't stress me out, or break my creative flow or energy and since I'm fresh outta Unicorn Hair, a sleek-look will have to do for me! :-) Great post!!

Alicia said...

Ah, that's what it was - unicorn hair!! I was missing it and my packages were looking so incredibly bland... now I know - where do I get some?!
LOL - you simply made my day, I just re-used one of the packages sent to me (with ingredients) to send out a design :)
Love your sense of humour :)

Shaiha said...

I am always in awe of the folks that do the pretty packaging but I am all about the kraft boxes as well as a sticker with my name on it.

mairedodd said...

karen, another great post - inspiring thought & attentiveness to craft as well as just being a joy to read (always - i am secretly jealous of that!) packaging is agony. time and cost are an issue - with competition the way it is, can you really afford to mark up your item because of packaging? not likely. i have been wondering if it might be smart to have an option in the shop for 'nicer' packaging with a small fee. say, if it's being sent out as a gift. like you, recycling and waste are issues for me. i cannot stand the thought of more anything going into a landfill. my business cards serve as the earring cards. i too reuse my shipping bags - it's mentioned in my shop policies to not be offended if the envelope looks reused - because it most assuredly is. i have made stitched up bags with threads i treasure. i've made envelopes from beautiful papers like you. right now, i sometimes use my yogi tea boxes. the inside of them has a beautiful printed pattern and so i turn them into a simple envelope/box. i had so many of them accumulating and felt it would be earth friendly to reuse them. i use the shredded brown paper that comes with gift baskets and such. i have been thinking it would be nice to add a simple shell to the tied threads. but i feel your pain. you wonder if it is enough - what it reflects. i think about, in truth, the myriad ways we have to artfully package everything - ourselves included - in social media. the time and effort it takes when what you love the most is sitting at the bench or wherever you work and simply being able to make from the deep place (this includes the use of the left brain. i think when people write about creativity they think its all just divine flow through your hands. and sometimes it feels like it, but there are logistics to work out as well). i like your packaging ideas. i love simplicity. the key, i think, is to not have it leave your hands 'cold'. and the way you are doing it, it certainly doesn't.

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