Several of my Krystalline Kweens have graced the pages of Almost Real Things’ 13th issue all about Identity. Come out and celebrate the issue release with me and grab your copy!
About the Issue & Release Party
What is Almost Real Things?
Almost Real Things (A. R. T.) is a local non-profit quarterly mini art-zine, providing a free platform online and in print for creatives of all kinds to showcase their craft.
What’s the Issue?
Issue 13 was focuses on identity and explores the relationship between creativity and the self. It navigates through a few of the many layers of this concept — identity fluidity, perception, how art relates to the artists, anonymity — while giving contributors a platform to express who they are.
Last November, I did an eight-part portrait series featuring women who have inspired and supported me throughout various points in my life, as well as a self-portrait.
Based on cards from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, I selected four major arcana cards to illuminate and explore the individual identities of my mother, sister, childhood best friend, and myself. Additionally, my four minor arcana queens were matched with the identities of female entrepreneurs who’ve inspired me. My self-portrait and a couple of the minor arcana cards were featured in this issue of Almost Real Things.
As a portrayal of myself and those closest to me, identity is heavily reflected throughout this series. I have a plan for future series, expanding into an entire fully-inclusive deck at some point, with each card focused on unique personalities of people from all walks of life.
We Got Issues Celebration: 13 “Identity” & 14 “Vivid”
Where: Soma Vida 2324 E Cesar Chavez St Austin, TX 78702
When: Friday, June 21, 2019 — 6pm-10pm Happy summer solstice!— Please, come say hi, but keep in mind that I will also be working. Don’t forget to wear your sunscreen.
Cover: General Admission — Free Supporter (2 drink tickets) — $10 VIP (Unlimited drinks & welcome gift including: flamingo koozie, stickers & selection of magazine issues) — $20
Info: All ages outdoor event. Limited metered street parking and garage parking available in area.
The CraftHER Market was a great success and such a wonderful way to start out my 32nd year!
It was such a busy, busy day and and it all kind of feels like a blur (with so many wonderful faces of friends, new and old, spattered throughout). I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what an amazing experience it all was.
Additionally, I wanted to show some gratitude to the people who helped me make this day a reality, share my learning experience, and shout out some of the other makers I met through the process.
My Spring CraftHER Market Experience
To start out, here’s a small collection of photos of my set-up at the market, followed by a little video of my booth. We were stuck behind the booth so I didn’t get many photos at this event.
The whole experience really did take a village. Yes, I did many, many hours of solo prep work in the months prior to the pop-up: from pressing buttons to decoupaging matchboxes to making my own signage holders and designing table signage. But there were a few women I wanted to call out specifically for everything they did to help me make this market a positive, successful experience.
As a small business owner, I think it’s important to mention that, even though they are my friends, none of these women were helping me for free, because I strongly believe in fair payment for an individual’s advice, services, and time. And it doesn’t make me any less grateful for everything they did to assist nor does it make them any less worthy of a shout out.
I had the best booth help in the world thanks to my sister, Jesseca.
Honestly and a million times over, this market would not have been as much of a success without her help.
From having a large enough vehicle to transport everything to helping me set up the displays to single-handedly running the register on her iPad, she was everything (and more) that I could have hoped for from a booth partner. She even kept on me about putting customer’s items in the nice little bags I got with an issue of Almost Real Things, featuring my Krystalline Kweens series. She communicated awesomely with me the whole time and was so friendly to all of the visitors to my booth!
She’s also an artist! She does digital illustration under the pseudonym Third Eye Monsters. Please go check her Threadless shop and follow her on Instagram.
My display looked amazing with thanks to my super skilled friend, Amber.
When I got word that I’d be doing this market, I knew I needed to elevate my display game, literally (like in the sense of getting my merch higher up off of my table). After a little research into what I wanted, I commissioned my friend Amber Draper, owner and operator of Draper Construction, to build me some custom collapsible display options.
She was super dependable and reliably flexible when I asked if I could get the displays a little early. Additionally, she got it done, even though she came down with pneumonia. That’s a tough babe! The wood working on the display pieces was absolutely beautiful and the designs were unique and efficiently designed.
If you’re local to Austin, I highly recommend her work. She can do a wide variety of construction contracting, so get at her for your home improvement needs.
I had a great merch selection thanks to my friend, Panda.
While she’s been my artistic muse a couple of times, the motivation and inspiration she brings me from a practical retail standpoint is beyond reproach. Back in November, she brought me to a local Austin gift store to point out suggestions of practical, useful things I could do with my own art, like matchboxes. She enabled me to make buttons with my illustrations, by allowing me a trial use of her button maker so I could gauge the return before making the investment. It was so worth it and I’m buying it off her.
One of the biggest keys to my success with this market was the variety of differently priced merch I had at my table. The buttons were one of my highest selling items the day of the market, which I wouldn’t have had if Panda hadn’t offered me the means of self-production.
Some day she’ll be a famous nail artist, so you should follow Hexcellent Hands to keep tabs on her journey.
I have to give thanks to the team at Boss Babes ATX, especially Natalia Rocafuerte, for the entire amazing experience.
You know when you are trying to break into a new social group or trying to make friends at work and you’re worried that maybe you’re not cool enough? I’ll admit, I often get a little intimidated and worried about being accepted into creative groups around the Austin area.
This was my second time applying for the market, so I was a little self-conscious about reaching out, even after I got in. But I know not putting myself out there, wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I contacted Boss Babes ATX to volunteer interest and openness to CraftHER-related blog interviews or social media take overs, when I had noticed a few other makers being featured.
In response, Natalia was warm, friendly, and receptive to future volunteering, though they’d already locked down their pre-market content calendar. However, less than a week later they came through with the amazing opportunity to appear alongside them on CBS-Austin’s We Are Austin segment. If you missed it, you can watch that below!
Natalia Rocafuerte does some really cool audio-visual work. They’re also a DJ and they do work with various organizations, like Boss Babes ATX and Chulita Vinyl Club, to help foster communities for female-presenting and non-binary creatives and people of color.
Always Love a Good Learning Experience
This section is part reminders to myself, part a communication of my creative goals to my readers, and part advice and solutions for anyone interested in doing pop-up shops in the future.
I need to do a Drag Race Legends series.
Several people walked up to my booth, excited to see that I had RuPaul’s Drag Race illustrations, only to be let down after asking if I had portraits of Katya, Alaska, or Bianca. I definitely took notes every time someone asked for a queen I didn’t have to do a Legends series in the near future.
I still need to get through season 11, but keep an eye out for a Legends series after that. ;D
Never give up and keep on growing.
As I mentioned previously, this is the second time I have applied to this market. After my first rejection, I was discouraged and felt a little bitter. But I got over it and I continued working on building up my brand and my content. I am happy that I kept growing, kept making, and kept trying because my hard work paid off.
If this is a market you dream of participating in, keep working at your creations, diversify your merchandise, and solidify your messaging. Know that sometimes recognition comes slow, but don’t give up on your creative dreams. With continued effort, your work and creative brand will grow, mature, and will inevitably get where you want. Just keep growing!
No one knows you’re interested unless you speak up.
I was super glad I set my self-consciousness and rejection sensitive dysphoria aside, in order to reach out and express interest in market-related PR opportunities. I had never had a particular goal or bucket list item to be on TV, but it was an experience I will never forget. It almost felt like a dream, but it did happen, and it happened because I showed interest.
When I asked, I knew there was a good chance that they had already created all of their feature content. Setting my expectations with that in mind, I knew it didn’t hurt to ask; just in case. Additionally, there was no way for them to know I’d be interested, unless I asked. I am so glad I did because it opened up the opportunity of a lifetime. Don’t be entitled, just be excited for potential!
Display racks with feet should have proper markings.
People kept tripping over the stands on my art display racks. This wasn’t a great experience for anyone and disrupted the flow of traffic to and from my table. I’m sorry if you were one of these people.
To solve this, I’ll be wrapping my stand feet in bright yellow tape so, hopefully, they are more visible. I’m also looking into different configurations for my display racks where I don’t need to use the feet, at all. If anyone has any suggestions, leave them in the comments below!
6’x6′ is not as big as you think it might be.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesseca and I were stuck behind the table the entire day. Of course, I had an idea in my head about how I wanted things set up. When Jess offered a suggestion about the layout that would keep us from being stuck behind the table, I was stubborn because of ~*~My CrEaTiVe ViSiOn~*~. In retrospect, she was definitely right. While completely necessary, it’s always humbling to admit to yourself, especially to your younger sister, that your creative vision is maybe dumb and inefficient.
Another great piece of advice, that I regret not taking, was to set up my entire display in the measured space prior to the day of the market. This advice was given to me by my grandmother (a legend in the Florida craft show scene) and suggested by several of the market organizers prior to the pop-up. Note to self: It doesn’t matter how many times you do this, don’t get cocky about it.
Huge thanks to those that came out to celebrate this big day with me
I am so grateful for these friends who took time out of their Sunday to come see my work and wish me a happy birthday. It was really fun to see so many familiar faces at this event. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING OUT!
Per usual, I’ve listed these angels out below, with links to their businesses, projects, and portfolios, as applicable. (Please let me know if you have a project you want me to link.)
As always, I like to give a shout out to some of the other creators I meet at and in the process of preparing for these events. I like to lift up other makers, especially those who are nice to my awkward self.
I was excited to work the market with this vendor, because the owner, Sarah Kerver, and I once worked together in the creative department at Golfsmith. It was neat to see one of my old coworkers at a market, where we are both now creatively supporting ourselves independently.
She and her daughter had some absolutely delicious CBD popsicles available at the market. They have a ton of pop-up shops coming up, so check them out for your CBD needs.
I met this awesome illustrator at the CraftHER Market vendor meet-up. She has such a gorgeous illustration style and features so many different body types throughout her portraits.
Chef J-Rodi with 3 Small Plates Catering
Chef J-Rodi exudes a bright and friendly energy that is completely contagious. I met her at the vendor meet-up, where her cheerful attitude calmed my networking nerves.
At the market, I got the chance to try her Caprese panini and limon tea cakes, both of which were absolutely delicious. Check her out next time you need a caterer.
I’ve featured Allie on my blog before because she was my display neighbor at the Chocolate and Art Show. It was fun reconnecting with her and seeing how each of our illustration businesses had evolved since September.
The compassionate babe on the right (in the picture below) does some amazing work with animal-friendly lash artistry, including extensions, tinting, lifts, and facial waxing. And she was real sweet to me at the networking event!
Jewelry by Hamaila
Her booth mate spent a bit of time talking to us at my booth, so I went and checked her out as the market was ending. Hamaila had some elegantly minimalist 3D geometric jewelry.
This mega-ambitious multi-business owner, Mélissa Peng, came by my booth to tell us about the grants for women creatives in Texas she was sponsoring on her site. I will definitely be applying for one of them, because it never hurts to try.
If you are a female creative entrepreneur, most especially a woman of color, you should go check out and apply for the grants. As stated previously, no one knows you’re interested unless you tell them.
I was born in and lived the first 10 years of my life in New Orleans, on the Westbank in Harvey. Aside from one family trip back when I was 13, I hadn’t made it back since then. This year the wedding of my good friend from before we moved gave me the perfect excuse to reconnect with my roots.
My Adventures in New Orleans
New Orleans was not only my birthplace, but it was the place where I first became inspired by and bewitched with art. Some of my earliest memories of the city involve watching people paint, draw, and perform in the Quarter and being amazed by the massive float installations being constructed at Mardi Gras World.
The arts and culture played such a huge part in me becoming who I am today. I took a bunch of photos on my trip, got so inspired, and, as I stated when I did my post on the trip to Washington DC, I’m writing this so I can remember the inspiration I felt being there and an easier way to browse my photos.
Seeing everyone’s Mardi Gras posts inspired me to take a little time to reflect on my trip and share some of my moments with you.
Sharing my Sights
Here’s a collection of some of the photos I captured during my visit and stories about where I went.
On my first full day there, I wanted to go see some things before I had to start getting ready for my friend’s wedding. Off the top of my head, I could really only think of going to the French Quarter.
Luckily, I was staying with native WestBanker and my best friend in kindergarten, Jamie and her hubby, Neil. They were quick to warn me how the traffic may cause issues with my restricted time-frame, then Neil suggested we go Magazine Street and I am so glad he did!
This was on my map of potential things to check out, but with minor understanding of what was there, it was basically a back-burner quest. With Neil & Jamie’s referral and encouragement, I got a chance to see browse this awesome little street, full of art studios, curio shops, and antiques galore.
Local Artist Lift-Up
Simon of New Orleans
I distinctly remember the bold aesthetic of his signs all over the Quarter when I was growing up here. It was so cool to meet the man behind the signage in his alley studio! Simon was incredibly sweet and friendly. Upon my telling him that I had moved away in ’97, he gave me a “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” magnet.
This gallery was a beautiful space and Becky Fos’s work shows an amazing use of color and palette knife techniques. Really gorgeous work!
This was probably my favorite store on the street. Super fun, colorful, and full of handmade items from local artists and artisans. I picked up a Mad Darling candle and a terrarium necklace by Faerie Things at this shop, and passed up on some really cool body glitter by Elektra Cosmetics.
Additionally, they told us that upstairs they feature a body-positive, female-empowerment, LGBTQIA-friendly sex shop.
The terrarium necklace pictured in my photo gallery was made by this local New Orleans artist featured at Miette.
Mad Darling Candles
I picked up one of these Eau de Laveau candles at Miette and it smells absolutely amazing. My home office space is smelling like roses & cloves and I feel fancy af.
Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World
This was on the top of my list of things to check out, as well as the #1 thing I recommend to people going to visit New Orleans. I came here a handful of times as a child and it’s one of the memories that has stuck with me so vividly years later.
The fact that I am older and have had some professional experience building photo props out of styrofoam and airbrushing made this visit all the more cool. Really, if you are ever in the city, check this place out. It is so neat and everything is so big.
French Quarter & Jackson Square
I went to the French Quarter and Jackson Square a couple of different days. The first was to scope things out, network with whatever artists I could, and do a little shopping and touristy stuff.
The second day that I went was a mission to cross “do some art in the French Quarter” off my bucket list. It was a rainy day, but luckily I was allowed to post up under the cover of the Gazebo Cafe in a pretty high traffic area. I got to meet some new people and even sold a few buttons. It was a wonderful full circle moment for me.
LOCAL ARTIST LIFT-UP
This artist I met in Jackson Square actually had an opposite story from mine: born and raised in Texas (even lived in Austin for a time) and now lives in New Orleans. She had so many cool and colorful designs and I picked up one of her little alien drawings for my sister!
Jenelle Leigh Campion
This Jackson Square artist had a bunch of zen little skelly bois that had a really neat minimalist design. Loved her sharp contrasts, use of patterns, and incorporation of yoga moves and esoteric symbolism.
I met David, who goes by the name Zombieboy, in one of the shops in along Decateur. He does a lot of cool, dark photography and back-lit spooky scenery paintings, but I ended up getting a wire-wrapped coffin nail necklace he made as a gift for my partner.
He packaged it in a bag of cleansing herbs and told me about how Death passes over wearers of the coffin nail, because he thinks they are already dead.
This lovely lady is Neil’s cousin (if I recall correctly), who also does portraiture drag queen art and sells some really cute bath bombs and jewelry in Jackson Square and at pop-up markets around town.
Foods and Cool Dudes
A huge part of what made this homecoming so wonderful was the open arms and loving support of all my old friends there. As stated previously, I stayed with my long lost best friend from kindergarten, Jamie, and her super sweet hubby, Neil.
I had the privilege of seeing my old friend Lauren (@laurenvallehair) tie the knot with her beloved Patrick. All with the added bonus of seeing all of her family and meeting her funny little girl Audrey.
Also, I grabbed brunch with my old neighbor friend Erica and her momma and got to meet her silly little baby girl Ansley.
Things Learned & Memories Recaptured
Another neat thing was that Jamie and Neil live in the neighborhood that I grew up in, like a block from our old house. I took the morning of my last full day there walking around the places I grew up playing in.
A few memories and learnings
Justin Wilson — I used to watch so much of this guy’s cooking show on PBS. I had completely forgotten about it until I caught his red suspenders in a DJ Rhett video Jamie & Neil put on.
A Seal at the Playground — I thought I remembered a seal at the playground when I was little, but there was only the elephant (which I also remembered).
Heavy Cream in Grits — I learned about this at Jamie’s cousins house and it is so good.
A linguistic experience
There are similarities between the New Orleans dialect and Northeastern dialect, except they use an ‘uh’ sound instead of an ‘ah’ sound, e.g. fuh-evuh vs. fo-ah-evah.
Mashing a bunch of words together into one word is part of the Westbank dialect, which pops up from time-to-time in my own speech patterns when I am not paying attention.
Couillon — A dumbass. I don’t think jean shorts and shrimp boots are a requirement, but they are often tied to the couillon aesthetic.
Flapaié — The craps… I think. I can’t find anything with the appropriate spelling. Ended up being a running (har har) joke the entire trip.
Chaw! & Gaw! — General exclamatory phrase that can mean anything from Yeah! to Golly!/Gosh!
Podna — A good friend, similar to how the term “partner” is used in westerns.
Thanks for reading about my pilgrimage home!
What’re your favorite sights or spots in New Orleans? Did you learn about anything new? Did you even read this whole thing? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!
If you liked it enough to want to know when I am posting more rambling blog posts, I have an email list! Also, I’ll keep you in the loop about upcoming events and shows.
Check it out.
« Laissez le bon temps rouler ! » If you ever get the chance to visit New Orleans, go do it! It’s a really awesome city and everyone is really open and friendly.
I spent five days there and still had so many things left on my list that I wanted to do, but the time I spent there was full and awesome.
Being my second time applying to the event, you can imagine my excitement on being accepted into the Spring 2019 CraftHER Market. It really feels like all the work I have done since November to help mature my art brand, generate more content, and build a wider audience has really paid off.
Just another wonderful reminder that if I keep trying, evolving, and working hard to follow my illustration dreams, things do start coming together eventually. Also, something to keep in mind if you are pursuing some creative dreams: sometimes you just need a little extra maturation time, so don’t give up!
It’ll be happening on my birthday and I would love to see your smiling face there!
About the Market
For a quick introduction, check out this KEYE/CBS We Are Austin segment I had the privilege of doing with Natalia Rocafuerte of Boss Babes ATX, on April 9th. This was so exciting and I am so happy to have had this opportunity.
What is the CraftHER Market?
CraftHER Market is a bi-annual pop-up market, put on by #bossbabesatx, showcasing the talent of women and non-binary makers throughout Texas.
Open to the public, this community event features entrepreneurial panels, opportunities to support local nonprofits, and family-friendly activities. Additionally, over 125 vendors, reflecting a myriad of women and nonbinary artists and creative entrepreneurs, gather to exhibit their craft and sell their wares.
Event organizers #bossbabesatx is a nonprofit centered around sustaining communities that care about gender equality and supporting local, creative businesses.
CraftHER Market, Spring 2019
Where: Fair Market 1100 East 5th Street Austin, TX 78702
When: Sunday, April 14, 2019 — 11am-5pm It’s on my 32nd birthday! — Please, come say hi to me, but keep in mind that I will also be working.
Info: Family-friendly, dog-friendly, and people-friendly event. Limited metered street parking and garage parking available in area.