How do you face your creative fears?

Aisling’s notes: As artists, we all deal with that double-headed demon, fear of failure/success. In this article, musician Bob Baker discusses some options when immobilized by these fears.

How Do You Face Your Creative Fears?

by Bob Baker

Gloria, a subscriber to my “Quick Tips for Creative People” e-zine, recently sent this note:

“Do you have anything on self-discipline and overcoming the fear of failure/success? I feel very enthusiastic when I do things, but the demons of fear just creep up on me. I do not want to repress them any longer; I am fed up with them. But I know it’s easier said than done. SOS: I do not want to be a chained slaved to my fears any longer. Help me help myself!”

Well, I’m flattered that Gloria felt comfortable in turning to me for some advice, but I’m also a bit fearful myself in tackling such a widespread obstacle to success. But I’ll give it a shot.

First, let’s turn to Marsha Sinetar for some perspective. In her book To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love, she writes: “Almost all of us fear our potentials … Generally, fear’s message is that we’re not yet ready to be, do or have what we want. The way out of this dilemma is through a change of mind about ourselves — not simply the gaining of technical skills or textbook knowledge.”

Throughout her book, Sinetar encourages readers to play with their visions of a life that’s true to their purpose. I agree. Using your head for “possibility thinking” is extremely important in gaining confidence and getting mentally prepared for reaching higher levels of success.

But I also belief the best formula for living dreams is a balanced combination of THOUGHTS and ACTIONS. Nothing gives you confidence like having attempting something new that is in line with your creative passion. Whether it’s taking a painting class, going to a theatre audition, writing the first chapter of your novel … each small step builds a stepping stone to the next level.

Taking a closer look at Gloria’s note, I find the solutions to her dilemma woven into her very own words.

She writes: “I feel very enthusiastic when I do things …” She feels best when she is engaged in your passion. As she continues to do more things, her enthusiasm (and belief that she was meant to pursue her path) will grow.

“I do not want to repress (my fears) any longer; I am fed up with them.” Gloria has taken it upon herself to face her fears, not avoid them. By acknowledging her paranoia, she brings it out in the open, where it’s far easier to tame. She’s also grown frustrated with her fears, and discontent can be one of our greatest motivators.

In her book, Marsha Sinetar also says that successful people have “belief systems and self-ideas that support their life’s objectives. Underneath doubts, stronger than fear, lives the thought: ‘I can do this. I will do this. I am doing it!'”

Gloria also writes: “Help me help myself!” This is the most encouraging line in the note. She’s not blaming the world for her ills or laying excuses at the feet of her circumstances. She’s taking on the responsibility of wrestling this demon herself, which makes me realize she is right on track to slay this dragon.

Keep in mind, though, artists never reach a point where their creative lives are void of fear. It will never go away. But with a solid combination of positive thoughts and self-affirming actions, you can keep the little monsters very much under control.

P.S. Be sure to take a closer look at Marsha Sinetar’s two best-selling books: To Build the Life You Want, Create the Work You Love and Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Whose fault is it…?

Aisling’s notes: We’ve all had comments, emails, posts, and even our art misinterpreted… sometimes badly. In this article, musician & business consultant Bob Baker gives insight into what may have gone wrong, and how to prevent it from recurring.

Whose Fault Is It When You Don’t Get the Career Results You Want?

by Bob Baker

Human communication is a crazy thing. You tell somebody something with the intention of getting a certain response … and the person reacts in a completely unpredictable manner, sometimes with disastrous results. Let’s examine this topic and see how we can apply the lessons learned to promoting, selling and enjoying your creative talents.

You’ve had this happen to you at one time or another: You make a funny comment to a friend or family member based on something silly you’ve just been thinking about. Instead of laughter, you get frustration, maybe even a hostile reaction.

“How could they react that way?” you ask. “My intention was to make them laugh or feel good. How dare they misinterpret what I meant to do!” A lot of folks place the blame on the deranged individual who responded so radically.

Now switch to a freelance writer sitting down to write a sales letter she’ll use to drum up work. She knows she’s capable and has won a number of contests and has lots of published clips to show. So she gets to work writing about her qualifications and why editors should call her when they need freelance help.

The letters go out. Weeks pass by. No editors call.

“What’s wrong with these people?” she cries. “I gave them all the reasons I’m a good freelance writer, but none of these jerks is calling me!” She knew what her intention was. Why wasn’t her vision becoming reality?

This writer had made the mistake of not separating INTENT from RESULTS.

Intent is what you WANT or HOPE will happen. Results are WHAT HAPPENS. When it comes to communicating, your intent doesn’t matter. Results are the only thing you should be focusing on.

If you aren’t getting the results you want, do a little research and try a different approach. Even if you think your new brochure is the best thing since Ricky Martin … If it ain’t gettin’ the results you want and need … figure out what’s wrong and change it!

As a creative person, you are very focused on your art. You’re dedicated. Your brain percolates with dozens of ways to approach your current project. You nurture and refine your talent. In other words, you are very focused on … YOU.

That’s great for art … but not for marketing, promoting and selling your talents.

Our writer friend above, like many freelances, might eventually discover that sending letters that pitch specific story ideas get the most response from editors. Some writers I know even list five or six different tailor-made topics — one of which is likely to catch the editor’s eye.

Of course, that would mean the letter would have to focus primarily on the editor and publication receiving it … NOT on the writer herself.

So don’t get too attached to your intent, or get too angry when people don’t react as much and as quickly as you want. The only thing that matters are RESULTS. Focus on them and you may end up getting a lot more of what you want.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

Aisling’s note: We’ve all had times when the deck seems stacked against us. And, we’ve all had times of soaring success when others around us seemed to falter no matter what. (And vice versa.) This article by Bob Baker offers an intriguing alternative view that’s worth trying.

The Ultimate Creative Conspiracy Theory

by Bob BakerWhether it’s the second gunman on the grassy knoll, the alien mystery at Roswell or what really is hidden within the high-security confines of Area 51… conspiracy theories abound. Many of us are amused by the speculation, while hardcore buffs examine every nuance looking for clues to support their version of the story.

If you’ll notice, all of these conspiracy theories involve some type of dastardly deed or cover-up. Someone is out to brainwash us or hide the facts from the public. After all, “the truth is out there,” according to X-Files scripture. I never seem to hear people suspecting, for instance, a conspiracy by furniture salesman to stuff money into the nooks and crannies of the couches they sell. Yet I always find change under the cushions when I clean. Hmm… maybe they’re secretly… Oh, never mind.

There’s another kind of conspiracy conjurer. You know the type. The artist, musician or writer who believes the deck has been stacked against him or that nobody will ever give her a break. “This town is just not artist-friendly,” he/she proclaims. “This sucks. Why bother?”

To listen to these people, you’d think the radio stations, theatre groups, art galleries (or whatever venue applies) were all part of a sick joke, trying to obliterate creative growth. And just like the bigger conspiracy nuts, they find clues and plenty of ammo to support their claims.

“See, that guy never returned my call,” they announce. “I can’t buy a job in this town.” Anything even remotely inconvenient that happens to them lends credence to the devious master plot.

Here’s a fun little game that I challenge you to play. It’s called the Inverse Conspiracy Game. For one entire day, I encourage you to go through the day believing wholeheartedly that there is a conspiracy involving you. Only with this Inverse Conspiracy, the whole world and everyone in it are involved in a conspiracy to help you succeed.

If you’re familiar with the recent Jim Carey movie “The Truman Show,” you know what I mean. In the film, everything that happens to the main character is a preplanned scene — only he has no idea it’s fabricated.

So for one day, imagine that everyone is pitching in on a secret mission to help you. There’s a positive reason behind everything that happens to you. Even seemingly negative events are put into action in order to propel you toward a reward that’s just around the corner. And it’s your job to break the code and figure out exactly how the world intends for you to use what happens to your advantage.

True, this isn’t your father’s conspiracy theory. It will take some brain work to reorient your mental perspective — especially to keep it up for an entire day. But just think how this shift in attitude might alter your progress. You’ll be forced to view everything in a far more constructive light. And when bad things do happen, it will be your mission to find the hidden opportunity (instead of more reasons to stop trying to reach your creative goals).

Give this inverse conspiracy theory a try. You can always go back to looking for evil schemes and cover-ups. In the meantime, you just might discover an alien on a grassy knoll waiting to help you succeed.

Bob Baker is the author of “Unleash the Artist Within,” “Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook” and “Branding Yourself Online.” Get a FREE subscription to Bob’s newsletter, “Quick Tips for Creative People,” featuring inspiration and low-cost, self-promotion ideas for artists, writers, performers and more. Visit www.PromoteYourCreativity.com for details.

Why New Year’s resolutions fail

Survey finds that only 9% of Americans are serious about achieving their goals. 51% don’t have New Year’s Resolutions and of those that do, 79% don’t have a plan to achieve them.

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) December 1, 2004
A survey conducted by the Gail Kasper consulting group, a leading speaking and coaching company, found that Americans aren’t taking their futures very seriously.

Specifically, 51% of those surveyed do not have New Year’s resolutions. To the contrary, 99% of respondents felt they were capable of accomplishing more in their lives.

So the question remains: Why aren’t we doing something about it?

The survey which was complete by a random group of 104 adults over 18 years of age, also asked respondents to identify the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Years Resolutions or goals. The top 3 reasons identified were as follows:

  • Procrastinating 33%
  • Lack of discipline 24%
  • No game plan 19%

Interestingly enough, 10% of individuals felt the biggest issue that prevents them from achieving their New Year’s Resolutions or goals was “doing it alone.”

Supporting these results, participants were also asked if they felt they needed to improve their lives in specific areas such as personal confidence, family relationships, involvement in clubs/organizations, developing supportive friendships, their physical appearance (excluding weight), weight, financial stability, health/working out, career, and education.

99% of respondents felt they needed to improve in more than one area of life while over 90% of respondents felt they needed to improve in 5 or more areas.

The area that required the greatest improvement was developing financial stability, followed by health/working out, and losing weight.

To summarize, the survey indicates that 99% of respondents feel they need to improve their lives, but only 9% are actively doing something about it.

“We do want more and we all know we can do more with our lives, but 91% of us aren’t doing anything about it. We are an instant gratification society and advertisers count on consumer’s need for instant gratification to keep them purchasing.

“Whether it’s the latest technology, a new home or new car, we thrive on adding that next big thing to our own personal inventories.

“The average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn and the average credit card debt per household is over $8500,” said Gail Kasper, time management and motivational strategist.

Want To Do Something About It? “Planning for the future would bring long term positive results and achievement,” continues Kasper. “Initially, you may feel that you are sacrificing because you are not out on a Saturday spending your paycheck and you are now at home learning a new software program, but only your choices have changed.

“You are taking steps to achieve excellence in specific areas of life and this process becomes a personal growth experience – whether it’s learning a new software package, taking an aerobics class, developing your creative mind through reading, joining a club, or taking a college class.

“You will be healthier and your life will be more fulfilled. You will find immediate gratification because you are developing you.”

Gail Kasper, the author of the recently released time management and life strategy audio program, Make a Decision to Win, suggests these 6 simple steps to getting on track and living your New Year’s Resolutions and goals.

1. A support system is essential. When growing up, you have your parents to keep you on track. At work, you have your boss. Eventually you must come to the conclusion that you are accountable for your life.

With 10% of individuals indicating that their #1 reason for not achieving a New Year’s Resolution is that they don’t want to ‘do it alone’ and over 30% indicating that they ‘procrastinate,’ it’s time to develop a support system to keep you on track and hold you accountable.

It may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or family member, or perhaps it’s time to have a “goal planning” party. There are Tupperware parties, make-up parties, botox parties, so how about a “goal planning” party.

19% of individuals don’t “have a game plan” and many times goals don’t get achieved because of our inability to know how to proceed. One brainstorming session where others share their ideas and experiences can propel you to the next level of achievement.

2. Schedule a meeting with yourself. That’s right, schedule a 30 minute meeting… with you! When you decide that you “want” something whether it’s a purchase or a vacation, you are tenacious about it. Isn’t it time to be tenacious about your life? When you meet with yourself, ask yourself this question: where do I want to be 5 years from now? And write down the response. This will give you a clear direction for where you want to go.

3. Have a Daily Planning System. Gene Donohue once said that the difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. So get your electronic organizer, daily planner or other method of choice and write down your goals. Writing them down will make it “important” and give seriousness to the task. It will bring your goals to life.

4. Identify the specific date and time to start tasks. Next to those goals, write down the specific tasks you must do to complete those goals. These specific tasks are placed in your daily planning system.

So if next week, you plan to go to the gym, identify the specific date and time you will go. For each task, identify the date and time you will do that task.

5. Design your value system. A value system is who you are and how you choose to live your life. It’s your standard operating procedure. If you are a caring, hard working, honest with yourself, loyal individual – these values will define the process for how you will move forward with your goals. And these values will define the choices you make with your life.

An individual who is “honest with themselves” will not pretend they are working toward a goal when they’re not. They will admit that they have fallen off track and will get back on. A value system is key. It defines you and the steps you take.

6. Celebrate every accomplishment. We are a negative society. We see what we haven’t accomplished, rather than the steps that we have taken. Any effort or energy you give to what you haven’t accomplished will only slow you down. Celebrate every accomplishment, keep the momentum, and look toward tomorrow.

Action creates results!

Gail Kasper is an internationally renowned motivational strategist. Multi-billion dollar companies, top CEOs, associations, Ivy League universities and professional sports teams have adopted Gail’s ideas, leadership techniques and sales programs to increase performance and achievement. She is the author of the life strategy audio CD program Make a Decision to Win.Gail is the former Mrs. New Jersey America 2002 and has co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America’s TV JobNetwork (airing on CBS and Fox). She currently hosts The Visitor’s Channel. Coupling a business degree with psychology studies Gail is a nationally recognized certified trainer. For more information please visit www.gailkasper.com.

For survey results and holiday tips, please visit: www.gailkasper.com/2005survey

To arrange an interview or appearance with Gail Kasper, please contact: Laine Latimer 503-859-2299 ###

How to pace your art classes

Planning your classes and workshops is always important. However, you should think about pacing as well as actual content. “Pacing” applies to you–your personal style of teaching–but also to your students. In fact, your students should be your first concern.

Divide the day into thirds, at least

I’ve always figured what we’d accomplish in the morning, then what can be done by mid-afternoon, and finally what will wind things down happily as students become tired at the end of the day.

Generally, I do most of my teaching in the morning while students can still absorb a lot of information. Immediately after lunch, I try to tackle questions, and improvise demos if students need a little extra help.

By mid-afternoon, it’s never wise to teach new information. At that point, I’m mostly a cheerleader to keep students from going too far with their work, and prevent them from quitting if the art isn’t turning out as they’d expected.

And, at lengthy events, I also consider where we are in the week.

The pace varies during multi-day events

On the first day, many students are easily distracted and new folks can be anxious about how these classes are run. It can take them until 3 p.m. to unwind enough to start doing what they’ll consider “good” work.

By contrast on the last day, I’ll need to explain things in more detail if it’s a new technique. Students are tired and a bit dazed at that point. And, by three in the afternoon, they’re looking for an excuse to go back to their room and catch a nap.

Permission helps

Especially on that last day, I’ll start my class by saying that nobody needs my permission to leave at any time, especially by mid- afternoon. They can leave for a cigarette, for some munchies, or even for a nap, and return to class later. Or, they can pack up early if they like.

Since I started making that announcement, people are vastly happier and actually tend to stay later. If they know that they can leave if they want to, they relax and aren’t so antsy by three or so.

But, by one or two in the afternoon on the last day, many students have already max’d on what they can learn.

If I am teaching more technique then, I’ll need to demo it at least twice–usually two different ways–with the second demo being very s-l-o-w for those who are truly exhausted, or have “information overload.”

Plan for a variable pace through the day and through the week. It’s better to plan hour-by-hour, than to simply “wing it” with a vague, general plan for the day.

No two teachers will use the same planning methods. Find what works best for you, and allows the most flexibility. When the students go home happy after one of your classes, you’ll feel amply rewarded for the extra preparation time.

Art, energy and originality

This morning, I was looking for a quote by Stuart Wilde, in his slightly-renegade book, “The Trick to Money is Having Some.”

Here’s a section that I particularly like, about making money:

(He calls the mundane/average world, “tick-tock,” since people live by the clock in that world, and it can be metronome dull.)

    In tick-tock people see the marketplace with all its structures and price formats and they feel constrained by that. They see the elements of competition and they feel their financial future is uncertain, which in many cases it is. But that is because, though tick-tock has products and services, for the most it has little energy.Every hamburger joint is exactly like all the rest, as are all gas stations, laundromats, airlines or whatever.In a market where things are imbued with no real energy, all they can sell you is the hardcore product which is often dissatisfying for you feel intuitively that it has no life. It is usually flat and boring and churned out by the millions.

    Once you can infuse your life’s energy with enthusiasm, creativity, and originality, the things you offer the world take on a different tone. Now you are no longer competing with tick-tock and you can charge what you like.

(Later, he qualifies that by explaining that you don’t take unfair advantage of people, of course. You just don’t undervalue what you do, because it’s the energy that you can instill in it that’s valuable.)

As artists, I think that it’s important for us to remember that we’re not competing with J.C. Penney or even Bloomie’s… not unless you’re licensing your art, that is.

Find what brings energy and creativity bubbling up inside you. Do a lot more of that.

Infuse your art & your teaching with that energy. That is what makes you–and what you sell–unique. That’s what people want.

If all they want is to stay warm, they can buy a plain wool blanket at the Army surplus store. That’s practical, but it has no unique energy.

What people need in their lives is not the plain wool blanket. They want the lovely (or wild) quilt that makes them smile every time they look at their bed. That is the quilt that they’ll show to friends, and get compliments about. It’s also the quilt that they’ll draw up to their chins at night, and fall asleep smiling, because it makes them feel good.

Okay, we’re not all fabric artists. But… you get that point, right?

Keep that in mind: We infuse ENERGY in what we make as artists. That’s where the value is.

What art teachers are paid

Many teachers won’t talk about how much they get paid. They don’t want to risk future gigs by revealing the financial side of events. After all, many teachers make more at a four-day event than their students earn in six months.

Some event organizers won’t talk about money, either. They prefer to keep their profit margins a secret.

I got tired of teaching at events that put profits and politics ahead of students’ interests, so I have no hesitation about sharing this “insider” information with you.

Don’t teach just for the money. Your first priority should be your students. But, if you want to earn a living–or supplement your income–with art classes, here’s how to begin and how much you can earn.

Start teaching locally

If you haven’t already read it, start with my article, How to start teaching art.

New teachers should ask the shop (or whatever the venue) what their usual rate is for a new teacher.

Shops usually pay less than events do. In 2004, shops paid me $10 – 30/student for a half-day class. For ten students, that’d be $100 – 300 for three hours’ work. But, when I started, I was often paid a flat fee, like $30 for a two-hour class.

(For $30 per class, total, I taught locally… usually within a two-hour drive of my home.)

Today, it’d cost more to drive that same distance. But, keep in mind that your students are driving, too. Some of them will pay more in gas than the cost of the actual class. Keep your class prices as low as you can.

National art festivals, shows and events

At national events, organizers often tells you up-front what they’re paying (usually between $50 and $150 per student, per day, for full-day classes). In some cases, they ask you to set the rate; then, they add on their administrative charges.

Remember, the biggest single expense for many events is not paying the teachers, but renting the hotel rooms that we teach in.

Hotels give events a price break if a certain number of guest/sleeping rooms are rented by conference goers. However, event organizers can’t count on that when setting student prices.

So, don’t gasp for air when you see your fees doubled or an even higher price that the students pay, so that the organizer can afford hotel classrooms.

    Church centers, camps, hostels, and conference centers are usually vastly less expensive for organizers… though a bit more rustic for students.But, organizers can price their events at 1/3 the price of hotel-based events, and still make a reasonable profit.

    Everyone wins when events are priced within the budget of the average art enthusiast. Those who are willing to accept “summer camp” accommodations–and sometimes ho-hum meals–can still enjoy a fabulous week of inspiration.

No two events will offer the same pay, or the same benefits. If you keep your focus on the sheer joy of sharing art with your students, you’ll almost always go home happy… and so will they.

How I set my prices

When events asked me to set my prices, they were based on several factors.

(A) The going rate. If I priced myself too low, students got the idea that those classes weren’t valuable. If I priced myself too high, I didn’t get enough students. It’s a tricky balance, and always a risk.

(B) My expenses. It cost me more to teach in Washington State than it did to teach in Houston. I checked flight costs, car rentals (if necessary), hotel (sleeping room) fees, and so on.

When you’re new to national events, you may actually lose money the first couple of years, until your student registrations are high enough to cover your expenses.

Yes, I taught at a loss, but–in those days–event organizers weren’t making large profits either.

(C) How eager I was to teach at that location/event.

If it was a great audience and a fun event with no headaches, I’d set my “minimum number of students” figure at the break-even point.

If it was a high-stress venue where I could count on “surprises” that could short-change my students, I was less eager to accept the gig.

    Surprises can be positive or negative.  Once, an event organizer “forgot” about my class. My students and I stood around for nearly half an hour while the staff located a room that we could use. That was unfortunate and extreme, but not unique.Later that year, another event not only gave me a room with huge tables and comfy chairs, the room was beyond amazing. We had an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, so the students could use nature–green and gorgeous outside our windows–as their inspiration. We had a wonderful day!

    No two events–or event organizers–are the same. But, some events will be more personally rewarding than others.

At most events, the opportunity to spend about a week with like-minded artists… Well, it can’t be put into words. It is one of the best experiences in the world.

When things go awry, they’re generally minor; no event is perfect, and most event organizers go out of their way to make up for inevitable “oops” moments.

And, when things go well–as they usually do–each class is rich in ways far beyond the paycheck.

Be sure that you can afford it

I can go on & on about the non-monetary rewards of teaching, but that “bottom line” can be the make-or-break issue for teachers.

You’ll need preparation time before an event, and R&R time after an event. Even when it’s a fabulous event–and most of them are–it’s still stressful.

Whether you travel into jet lag territory, or stay up late each night at journaling parties, you’ll probably go home exhausted… but happy.

I generally figured that it would to take me 3x the amount of time that I was gone, to catch up on sleep and general rest, in addition to the tidal wave of phone calls, emails and snail mail that awaited me when I returned to my studio/office.

The income builds slowly

Don’t expect to make much money the first year. And, even when you’ve been teaching for awhile, remember that the paycheck represents far more work hours than the time you spend in front of a class.

That said, once you reach the point where your full-time income can come from your art…. Well, I’d much rather be a professional in this field than doing almost any other kind of work.

Related link: The Benefits of Teaching One-Day Workshops (at ArtBusiness.com)

History of Paper Dolls – Part Two

Note: This is the second part of a two-part article tracing the history of paper dolls.  Click here to read the first part.

20th century paper dolls

Mary Jane Hader paper doll imageIn the 20th century, other magazines followed this trend, including Ladies’ Home Journal  (Sheila Young’s “Lettie Lane”), Pictorial Review (Grace Drayton’s “Dolly Dingle”), Good Housekeeping (Sheila Young’s “Polly Pratt”), and the famous “Kewpie Dolls” by Rose O’Neill in Woman’s Home Companion.

At right, Little MaryJane, one of the famous Hader paper dolls from Good Housekeeping magazine.

The most popular paper doll of the mid-20th century was probably Betsy McCall, created by Kay Morrissey. However, children also enjoyed paper dolls in many magazines of that era, including Jack and Jill Magazine, and Children’s Playmate.

Since 1962, Barbie paper dolls have become the most popular among American children.

Paper art dolls, and fine art paper dolls

Today’s paper doll designers frequently have backgrounds in fine arts. Many of them work together as part of the Original Paper Doll Artists Guild, based in Kingfield, Maine.

Their collectible paper dolls often feature celebrities and fashions from history, and are intended for both adults and children.

Paper dolls by Aisling
One of my designs for Art Doll Quarterly, Winter 2004 issue.

Paper dolls have been emerging for several years in the paper arts community, too. My own article (and pattern) in the Winter 2004 issue of Art Doll Quarterly is just one among many places to see examples of this emerging art form.

One of my designs is at right. The dolls were printed on vintage pages, and hinged with small, brass round-head paper fasteners.  The hair was tinted wool (designed as doll hair), accented with feathers.  Each doll was hand-colored.

Sometimes called “fine art paper dolls” and also “paper art dolls,” even the name is still evolving.

Today’s paper art dolls are sometimes drawn, painted or printed on paper. However, even more of them are one-of-a-kind, and more mixed media dolls than purely paper dolls.

For example, some artists swap hinged dolls on Artist Trading Cards (ATCs), and participate in exchanges and round robins involving paper art dolls.

This is a very exciting field, mixing a nostalgic love of dolls, with fresh and vibrant creative expressions.

References

(Note: This article was written around 2005.  These links may not be current.)

History of Paper Dolls – Part One

Today’s paper dolls evolved from the development of paper, ceremonial and performance figures, and dressmakers’ fashion dolls.

General history

Paper was invented in China around 105 C.E. by Ts’ai-Lin, a courtier from Lei-yang. Although the word ‘paper’ is derived from ‘papyrus’, this early paper was not a papyrus product.

With paper’s development in nearby China, it should be no surprise that the earliest paper dolls were reported in Japan, in 900 C.E. (or earlier) when a purification ceremony involved placing in a boat a paper figure and a folded kimono-like object.

China was likewise responsible for the Spanish pinata–according to legend–when 13th-century explorer Marco Polo brought the tradition home from his travels in Asia. And, it is possible that the western movement of paper dolls began in China, where puppets were used in shadow shows. These large puppets were often flat and mounted on sticks, to create dramatic shadows on a screen.

Some paper doll historians include the shows created for the upper class in France, where life-sized jumping-jack figures, like marionettes were used to satirize nobility. And, there were other cultures practicing a variety of paper arts–including the German scherenschnitte,–that may have influenced the development of paper dolls.

However, our modern paper dolls trace a more direct history to traditional dolls, not puppets or even paper arts.

Dolls in general date from earliest recorded history. Manufactured dolls trace their European popularity to wooden dolls made in Germany in the 17th century. To meet demand by the early 18th century, German dollmakers were employed throughout Europe.

Modern paper dolls

Paper dolls appeared in Western society in the late 18th century, when French dressmakers’ life-sized dolls were replaced with the “English fashion doll.” These eight-inch tall figures were printed on cardboard (invented by the Chinese about 200 years earlier), and jointed with threads. They came with underclothing as well as several changes of dresses and coiffures. At about three shillings (about $15 in today’s American dollars) for a complete doll and wardrobe–plus an envelope to store her in–dressmakers could afford to own several sets, and distribute these dolls among their favorite customers.

1810 paper doll - little fannyIn 1810, the London firm of S. & J. Fuller & Company printed the first commercially popular paper doll, Little Fanny, with a 15-page book that included seven figures and five hats. Fanny’s head & neck were separate, and fitted into various outfits as the moral tale, The History of Little Fanny: Exemplified in a Series of Figures,was told. (Fuller also published the earliest “peep show” books, which were hinged, tunnel-style books.)

At five to eight shillings for each book, their primary audience included wealthy families. (Today, that’s the equivalent of 9 to 15 pounds, or US$13 – $22.)

The success of Little Fanny was followed two years later in America, when J. Belcher printed a paper doll with a similar moral tale, The History and Adventures of Little Henry.Within ten years, boxed sets of paper dolls were popular playthings for children in Europe and America.

These dolls were often lithographed or hand-tinted, although some were left black-and-white for children to color.

Beginning in the 1830s, celebrity paper dolls featured entertainers such as ballerinas and characters from the P. T. Barnum Circus, as well as British royalty. And, in 1838 when Charles Fenerty made the first paper–newsprint–from wood pulp, the price of paper dropped dramatically. Paper dolls became affordable for more families.

McLoughlin Brothers in the United States–later purchased by Milton Bradley–quickly became one of the largest manufacturers of paper dolls, printing them from engraved wooden blocks. Dottie Dimplewas one of their most successful paper dolls, and McLoughlin was a leader in this field throughout the 19th century.

Several other American companies, including Crosby, Nichols & Company (Boston), Frederick Stokes, and–later–Selchow and Righter, contributed many different styles of paper dolls to meet popular demand.

During the Victorian era, Godey’s Lady’s Book, was the first magazine to publish a paper doll in their November 1859 issue.

This article continues in History of Paper Dolls – Part Two.

When not to teach

In the arts, the rules can be very different from other businesses. Our intense desire to share creativity with others can override common sense. Keep this in mind when teaching. First, decide what you absolutely must have to teach a good class.

Can you teach in a room that’s too hot? Too cold? Overcrowded? So large, you shout yourself hoarse?

Can you teach with construction workers using power tools just three feet away from you? (Once when a pipe sprung a leak, I had to teach a class while emergency repairs were made… right next to me.)

Every teacher has different standards. Decide what yours are before you teach.

What works–and doesn’t–for me

For me, the biggest challenge is starting the day well.

I absolutely, positively must be able to get into the classroom at least 30 minutes before the class starts, to set up last-minute supplies, and collect my thoughts.

I turn on glue guns, review my teaching notes, gear up for a fun, high-energy day, and–above all–get in focus so that I am at my best.

I’ve broken this 30-minute rule just three times. These are my personal ‘horror stories’.

    The first time, the event staff couldn’t find the classroom key. My students and I were locked out until five minutes before class. We were stressed, not sure if we’d get into the room at all. (That wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t my best class, either.)The second time, the event’s shuttle bus driver arbitrarily changed her route and didn’t return for over an hour. (That’s how long I waited, standing next to my boxes of supplies. The event was out in the boonies; there were no taxis.)

    I arrived after the class was supposed to start. My students were very upset… with good reason.

    The third time, the event organizer “forgot” about my class. We had no classroom for most of the first hour, and not enough chairs for the first two hours.

Each time, I tried to pretend that everything was fine. That was a huge mistake.

From those experiences, I’ve learned to say, “This delay was outside my control. I don’t always teach well when I start the day this rattled. If you like, you can ask to be placed in another class that’s more of a ‘sure thing’ for you.”

(I also learned not to teach at that event again!)

But, what would you do if something like this happened to you? What are your basic make-or-break rules for a successful teaching environment? It’s important to decide this ahead of time.

Think in “worst case” terms

I do not want to scare you from teaching. Most of my teaching experiences have been fabulous fun for me and for my students.

These very rare examples of disasters are just to give you an idea of how prepared you should be, to teach a great class.

Will it drive you crazy if your students have a five- or ten-minute walk to the nearest bathroom to wash their paintbrushes or their hands?

If your classroom has thin walls and the students next door are hammering on metal all day, will the noise give you–and your students–migraines?

What if your 20 students need to use glue guns or power tools, and there are only two working electrical outlets in your classroom?

What if the meals are awful, the rooms are cold, and a crew is working on sewage pipes just outside your room… all at the same event?

What if a student has an emotional crisis in the middle of class? (This happens regularly when working on deeply personal art.)

What if you have a ‘heckler’ in your class? What if someone criticizes you–or another student–and won’t stop?

Each of these examples is drawn from my own teaching experiences.  In most cases, I handled the situation gracefully.  In a few others… well, I still wince with regret when I think about them.

Decide what you need to teach, and make that clear

Make sure that everyone’s on the same page. When you agree to teach, clearly state what you require. If you encounter problems, don’t teach until (and unless) things are set right.

That is the most difficult thing for me to say. It may be the most difficult rule for you to stick to. But, you must be prepared. You must always put your students first.

At least 80% of the time, you won’t encounter anything this dramatic. Usually, the “oops” moments involve something minor like a window that won’t open, or not enough paper towels for cleanup.

And, most teaching opportunities are tremendous. By the end of the day, you and your students will have forgotten any minor inconveniences.

I’ll sheepishly admit that it shouldn’t have taken me three bad experiences to learn this lesson: If your minimum, reasonable standards aren’t met, don’t compromise. Don’t start teaching until you can give your students the great class that they’ve expected.

If you’re too inconvenienced, rattled or annoyed to be at your best, give your students the option to switch classes. Or, speak to the event organizer immediately.  Or both.

Learn from my mistakes: Think about your minimum standards, make them clear from the start, and then stick to them.

In general, teaching at shops, shows, and events is so much fun, I’d teach for free. (And now, I often do!)

It’s rare that anything goes terribly awry.

If you’ve planned ahead and are firm about protecting your students’ interests, every class can be fabulous fun for everyone involved.