It was a rough week for me last week when I found out that F+W will no longer hold the CREATE mixed media art retreats in conjunction with Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. (If you haven’t seen the announcement yet, please read to the end where I’ve posted the email to attendees). I’ve been teaching at CREATE since the beginning and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The other instructors are like family to me, and many of my students have become my friends. While we often don’t see each other anywhere other than Facebook, it’s friendship born from the face-to-face interactions from these wonderful retreats.
Trust me, running my part of ICE Resin has taught me a ton first hand about business, even more so than when I was a business reporter. I know that the bottom line drives business and that, at some point, the plug gets pulled on ventures that are not supporting P and L. (Profit/Loss). This knowledge, however, doesn’t make it any less emotional for me. As an artist, I will continue to make art. As an instructor, I’ll continue to teach. As an entrepreneur, I’ll continue to seek out new opportunities to manifest my time and talent into ways that nourish both my soul and my income. However, I can’t deny feeling a little sad for my students. I’ve had the sincere fortune to meet some of the most amazingly talented women (and a few good men) over the years at the CREATE retreats who’ve shared their stories of how important it was for them to find their Tribe while improving their art making skills. What eases the hurt is the knowledge that other retreat organizers will benefit from the loss of the CREATEs. Students are savvy and once they know they’re part of a Tribe, they’ll seek out the other retreats run by individuals, rather than corporations, to fill the gap. I suspect we’ll see more smaller, localized and 3-day weekend retreats begin to surface and cement their place.
I realize there are many ideas floating around about what is happening and why it’s happening and, ultimately, what does it mean for our mixed-media community. I have my opinions, of course. The one thing I do know is that online is not the same as individual or group instruction when it comes to something as personal and hands-on as making art. Online is great for many people. I plan to finally start teaching more online classes myself in the future so it absolutely has its place. Technology harnessed truly is an amazing thing.
Human beings, however, need to look into each other’s eyes. We need touch, we need to be in each other’s energy fields so we can have a physical exchange of creative vibes. I can tell you that there are times when I’m teaching that the happy energy coming from a group of people pursuing their passion is palatable. Sometimes, my room is electric; the charge so intense that I can’t even settle down at the end of the day and go to sleep. I’m not ready to give that up.
Of course, I’ll flow with the changes and see what comes next. I’m still teaching at next year’s To Bead True Blue and also the Bead and Button Show. There are a few venues that I’ve applied for that I’m still waiting to see if my proposals were accepted. I have plans in the works to teach at some studios, which I am totally jazzed about. But I also find myself grateful for a bit of a breather in my schedule now to concentrate on a few important things I’ve been trying to get to — like a better website, more frequent blog posts and even an online store to sell my work.
Onward and upward, my friends. All is well. I just wanted to take a moment to ensure you’ve heard the news.
NOTE: The ideas and opinions above are my own. In the spirit of full disclosure, I write a column for Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine and am a frequent contributor to Interweave publications. I’m also an F+W author. As an independent artist, I’m supportive and grateful of the opportunities I have to work with this amazing media company.
[A Message to CREATE Attendees:
As much as we have all worked together to make our CREATE retreats special for everyone involved (and, we think, with your help we’ve accomplished that), the business-side of these events has fallen short of our requirements. We’ve evaluated increasing prices and cutting costs, but neither will be enough to make a difference to the business, nor will be beneficial to our attendees.
Hence, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the CREATE retreats; as such, we will not be committing to venues to host stand-alone, face-to-face CREATE experiences. Instead, some in-person mixed media classes will be offered at our Creating Keepsakes Conventions while others will be offered online via our expanded craft education website Craft Daily through which we will be adding to the mixed media curriculum on an on-going basis.
Thank you for your support and participation in the CREATE Mixed Media Retreats over the past several years. Your passion and commitment continues to cultivate a robust community of craft enthusiasts for the mixed media art form.
The CREATE Team]