Monday, December 28, 2009


Dec. 3rd was the one year anniversary of the day I was laid off, thrown out of the car and onto the road less traveled. The day came and went quietly. I mentioned it to a few folks in passing and they weren't sure whether to congratulate or console me. I wasn't sure either. It's hard to tell how I feel. Life has changed a lot. I was in a melancholy mood as I went about my business that day: picking up the 'Share the Road' skull from Redux at the close of the Muertos show, then over to Fantasma to hang 3 new Calaveras and collect payment for the one that had just sold, then home to list a few more on Etsy.

THIS is my new life, my new JOB. Business is slow, but that's true almost everywhere. I miss a regular paycheck, but at least some money is trickling in. How long do I give myself to make this thing work? How long will el Hueso induldge me? How long does it take to build an Artist? Time's not up yet.

I have spent these last few weeks reflecting on the course of the past year and where it has lead me. It has been a humbling exercise to outline the year's small accomplishments, but as I look at it as a whole, I see that they do add up to something. . . the beginning of something.
The following is my First Year in Review. . .

  • 12-03-08 Laid off from almost 9 yrs @ Precision Images.
  • 12-17-08 Opened an Etsy Shop
  • Spent the better part of the month in a shell-shocked state of panic.
  • 01-14-09 Started this Blog.
  • Obama Inaugurated. Change is in the air. Hope is Alive.
  • Short visit with family in Santa Fe.
  • Trip to Folk Art Museum knocks my socks off!
  • Work on creating Studio Space in basement begins.
  • Applied for SEA program. (Self Employment Assistance)
  • Registered 'BoneWerx' business name.
  • Met Bridget Benton, my advisor from the Small Business Development Center.
  • Conducted extensive Market Research/Soul Searching to create Business Plan.
  • Attended Portland screening of 'Handmade Nation'
  • Applied to be in 2 upcoming Craft Fairs.
  • Completed and Submitted Business Plan to the OR Employment Department.
  • Formed 'Inspirational Partnership' with Julie LaRoche. -Vowed to meet regularly to make and discuss art together.
  • Studio set up complete. -Christened it with a small group of supportive friends and champagne.
  • Created 'Garden Bots' to sell as Garden Art at Craft Fairs.
  • Alberta Art Hop -My First Big Event! Thousands of people strolling the street. Got great feedback but only sold 3 Calaveras. -Met Tim Combs, who made similar recycled Garden 'Bots'
  • Backed out of Vancouver Recycled Arts Festival -just not ready yet.
  • Treasure hunting, scavenging, scrapping continues in passionate scramble for new materials.
  • Gallery visits and art openings in an attempt to tap in to creative community.
  • School lets OUT. . . My art lets up.
  • Unemployment Insurance runs out.
  • Apply for and am eligible for UI extension, but unable to continue in Self Employment Assistance Program.
  • Discovered freshly opened Fantasma: an Altar Space -contacted owner about showing/selling my Calaveras there.
  • Spent the better part of Summer as FULL TIME Mama!
  • Continued to meet with Julie and do art with our kids.
  • Booked as Featured Artist and altar builder at Fantasma for the month of October!
  • My First 'Last Thursday' gig on Alberta. -Great fun, but didn't sell anything.
  • Met Linda Rand -a like minded Muertos Artist.
  • Back to School. . .Back to Work!
  • Flurry of activity to make up for lost time!
  • Created new series of Roller Derby inspired paintings.
  • Participated in 'Skating with Scissors' Bazaar with Kelly Akin. -Didn't sell a thing!
  • Attended 'Craft fair 101' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Cathy Pitters & Torie Nguyen!
  • Calavera Show at Fantasma + Altar to Ruby in shop window on Alberta!
  • Sold 9 Calaveras.
  • Attended 'Etsy Basics' through the DIY Lounge. -Met Christine Claringbold 
  • Started setting up my Etsy Shop and listing my work for sale.
  • 1st commissioned Calavera -for bridal shower gift/Day of the Dead themed wedding.
  • Show comes down at Fantasma, but Jess agrees to show/sell my Calaveras on a regular basis.
  • Created 'Share the Road' Calavera for group Muertos show at Redux.
  • Attended Opening for show with Julie & Mike -Our first adult night out all year!
  • Lewis Holiday Bazaar -sold 8 Calaveras and 2 Garden Bots
  • 1st Sale on Etsy
  • Minor mention of 'Share the Road' on Bike leads to nearly 400 hits on my blog!


  • Joint show with Julie LaRoche at First Cup Coffee House.
  • Sold 3 paintings!
  • sold Calavera at Fantasma.
  • 2nd sale on Etsy.
  • 2nd commission.

It may not look like much and it certainly doesn't add up to much monetarily, but it feels like I may be on to something. There are a lot of other people doing it; doing what I want to do and doing it well, so I know it's possible -not just to survive, but to THRIVE at it! Everyday I am encouraged by the astounding talent that surrounds me! Portland certainly feels like the right place to be right now. It's an exciting time of reinvention. The economic downturn has forced people to be more creative and driven us to take more chances about how we make a living. As restaurants are shutting down, food carts are springing up. As shops are closing, Etsy is exploding! We are refocusing our priorities about what we do, what we buy, where we buy it, what we make, how we make it, what we eat and how we live! Though I'm still a little bitter about the way it happened, I'm still thankful that I got the 'Wake Up Call'. Everything means so much more to me now on so many levels. Less wasted time, less wasted energy, less wasted money, (less money!). I am learning a lot; mostly that I have a lot more still to learn! And a lot more still to do!!

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement. 
-Alfred Adler


  1. Alea,

    You are already so successful, even without the monetary reward. Good going!


  2. Very impressive Alea - you stuck with what energizes you and followed your heart. I'm really inspired by your path and not at ALL surprised that you are finding success. Keep it up!

  3. You are having a very full year of being yourself. I am very proud of you and I am certain that your business will continue to expand and progress....
    If you are coming to NM how about a meeting with the buyer at the Folk Art Museum shop? I know she will love your product and your energy!

  4. Alea - Congratulations on listing out your accomplishments! This is Wonderful!! -Bridget

  5. Alea- What a journey. Thanks for sharing and for being so honest. I'm glad you are seizing this moment to follow your dreams!


  6. Alea,

    I think what you have done is pretty amazing. I know first hand how hard it can be to put yourself out into the world and call yourself an artist. Keep on doing what you are doing. Obliviously the universe is responding to what you are putting out there.