Bill Bubenik, the simpleton behind West Park Creative, has been making letterpress stationery for years. His line of sweetly offensive letterpress greeting cards say what you really want to, but probably couldn’t get away with. Like “So… 29 again, huh?” But somehow, when it’s on a card, all bets are off and you can say whatever you want.
We’re glad to have become friends over the last year or so with Bill, and one of the reasons is that he’s really open to having conversations about being in the craft business, and lets us soapbox from time to time when we’re passionate about something. Much of Bill’s work is done in his home studio on a large and very heavy press. So when asked about doing demos for Craft Monster he jokingly said “I probably can’t bring my press…”
I probably can’t bring my press…
I totally get that a lot of us make things that it’s just not practical to take on site and do a demo with. I think that when we think “Demonstration”, we tend to picture a field trip to the crayon factory where we get to see the whole process, smell the hot wax, and feel the fresh paper wrapped around newborn crayons. What we fail to realize is that watching crayons being made on Mr Rogers Neighborhood while coloring on the floor was just as magical an experience as being there, because it was a connection to something in our everyday lives with something that was much bigger than us.
Craft Monster is built around demo artists. There are a couple of reasons for this. 1.It allows us as local, handmade artists to distance ourselves from handmade-like chain stores such as target and urban outfitters. Telling our individual maker stories and making real connections with the public underlines how special the handmade movement is. People really DO want to buy into that. 2. Seeing how things are made is awesome. I hear complaints from artists all the time along the lines of “If only they knew how long this took…” or “people don’t even know what electroplating is…!” This is our opportunity as makers to educate the public. At worst, it’ll help them develop a better understanding of the work we do. At best they’ll buy something, and the story will inspire another generation of crafters.
Sometimes we need to be told that what we do is magic, even if it’s not magic to us, and that what an audience wants to see is simpler than what they think.
So how do we do a demo without bringing our whole studio with us? It doesn’t even have to be complicated. A handout flier with information or a video on a loop showing you working, alongside some examples of your finished product (which you can sell) is a great place to start. Combine that with a super stripped down version of your craft that relates to people in their everyday lives and you have a real winner of an experience that could stick with everyone that stops by.
If I were doing a demo as a letterpress artist for example, I’d probably show a video of my actual studio press in action and bring along some simple lino blocks to do rubbings, or simple wooden spoon prints. It’s simple, informative, and will give people a reason to remember me.