I've had a few days to think the CHA experience over. A few days to reflect and filter and here's what I'm still thinking about:
1. I found the show (not the experience, but the actual show) less exciting than CHA-Winter 2009.
At first, I thought it was simply because CHA-Winter 2009 was my first show, and so the second time naturally wasn't as cool as the first time. However, upon some reflection I believe that there are other contributing factors:
- The show was smaller. From what I've heard the summer show is always smaller, though not quite *this* small. I'm not necessarily a "bigger is better" person, but I do think that a huge show does lead to the "kid in the candy factory" feeling. A smaller, more manageable show just feels more like reality.
- Everything is becoming megacorp and the personalities of the lines are disappearing as a result. Every booth had paper, stamps, felt, birds, vintage, etc. It was much harder than usual for me to figure out which company had put out what based on style alone.
- Along the same lines, everything is reminiscent of something else. Lots of "new ideas" are actually old ideas from the sewing world or other crafts. Or ideas that are new to one company, have been in place at another company for some time. In this economy, I believe that companies are less willing to take a risk. So, they're seeing what works and making the safe choices.
2. I noticed a lot more really impressive altered items this time around.
"Altered items" started out as a way to use your scrapbooking supplies and skills to create gifts and home decor. But, it's really starting to move in a strongly artistic direction, in my opinion. I started to notice that many more manufacturers were showing amazing "off the page" ways to use their product. Here are a few of my favorites from the show:
3. Mixed media layouts were few and far between. Definitely some stitching on pages, but very little paint and ink.
Mixed Media is defined as:
A technique involving the use of two or more artistic media, such as ink and pastel or painting and collage, that are combined in a single composition.
Here are two layouts with stitching:
Here are a few painty and inky layouts:
In going through my pictures, I was really shocked by how difficult it was to find mixed media layouts. I suppose it's the nature of the beast, which leads me to...
4. Layouts need to be clean because they really do sell the product.
At more than one booth, we said, "Where is the (insert name of product) from this layout?" And purchased it because of how it looked on the layout.
After CHA-Winter, I talked a bit about how I finally understood the difference between my layouts and manufacturer layouts. And I finally understood why I wasn't getting chosen for any manufacturer design teams. It was a long ramble, but essentially, manufacturer's want their products to be seen as is. Sure, cut out or placed in interesting ways, but definitely front and center. Check out these layouts from the Making Memories booth:
They are all so adorable! They definitely make me want to buy that cute, cute product. They feel clean, simple, easy to re-create. They are totally perfect layouts. The designers have layered and cut things apart, but for the most part, the product is right out of the package without a lot of altering. The genius is in the composition, execution, and choice of products. And your eye goes right to those adorable smiling children in the photos. There is a little bit of stitching on some of the layouts (yay!), but mostly they're traditional papercrafting at its absolute best.
5. On a related note, demos really work too.
For example, one of the things that Ranger does so very well is demos. All their signature artists (Suze, Claudine, and Tim) are really good at taking something that looks complicated and breaking it down so that it's easy. You can't help but walk out with the product.
This is a topic that I've been meditating on for a while. I suppose the reason I like to make little videos for this blog or do step-by-step tutorials is because I enjoy doing that too. Taking something that looks difficult and making it easy.
Everyone wants to be creative. But, so few of us actually feel that we are creative. I don't know how it happens. Too much coloring in the lines, maybe? A demo at a convention, on TV, or on YouTube is an empowering thing. Inspiring too. It's like receiving a key to a puzzle. To quote A Chorus Line: "I can do that!"
6. I can't wait to get my hands on...
Sasafras Lass's chipboard letters:
Painter's Tray, ATC and Photo Display, & Printed Masking Tape from 7gypsies:
Martha Stewart's Corner and Border Punches (though, not necessarily the spider web):
Rock Candy clear crackle paint from Ranger:
Large Misting Mat (not pictured) and Marshmallow Glimmer Mist from Tattered Angels:
It would be easier to list what I don't want from Prima, but I'll try to list what I want...Donna Downey's new fabric album, fabric embellishments, ribbon, um...all the flowers, butterflies, stitched papers...and everything else! So, I'll just show a photo of my favorite flowers from this release:
Hambly's La Romantique paper (I stole the photo below from their blog):
The Indian Summer paper collection from Basic Grey:
Okay, I have to stop or I'm going to end up re-posting *all* the photos from the past few days! There's a lot of great stuff and I'm looking forward to some shopping!
7. I thought I'd end on a personal note. This was my very first show with a manufacturer presenting my projects!
I am more grateful than I can express for the opportunity that Prima has given me. I know that I'm a bit of an oddball scrapbooker. I was so nervous about creating projects for the booth. Should I use paint? Can I use ink? Can I recolor the flowers? What are the rules?
Sharon, the design team coordinator, told me to, "do my thing."
I'm not totally sure that I really did my thing. I think I tried to be a little more conscious of showing off the product. I was definitely thinking, how can I make people see that this is a cool product and more versatile than they realize?
(I need to go sideways for a moment, so bear with me. I promise I'm getting to a point.)
I started this blog as a way to show the people I ran into in daily life, the kind of crafty stuff I did: "You can see it on my blog." Over time, the blog has become a resume, a way to connect with people all around the world, a showplace, an outlet, a driving force behind creating (gotta' have something to show on the blog!), and so much more. I hate to admit it (because I am *so* bad at leaving comments on other people's blogs - I just never know what to say), but I love the comments most of all. They make me feel connected. And after two years of blogging, I find myself with a kind of "chicken and egg" question. Do I create to feel connected? Or do I feel connected because I create?
There was something about seeing my work in the Prima booth. Something about seeing other people see it and photograph it. Something about knowing that they're taking those photos back home and feeling the same inspiration I feel looking at my photos of the show. It's like a connection on a way bigger level. I seem to have lost my ability to communicate. The best way I can describe it is like a food chain. I feel like I've been fed and now I'm feeding others or something like that.
It just felt like being part of something...bigger. A kind of gift being sent out into the crafty universe.
Thoughts? I'd love to hear them....