New Platforms and Updated Word Art Designs

Now that I've reached the 150 designs mark (can you believe it?!) on RedBubble.com, I decided to spread out to other platforms that have different products and styles to put designs on. Society6 and Zazzle are my 2 new storefronts - though they are very limited at the moment.



I also added this design, "Backwards and in High Heels", referring to Ginger Rogers doing everything that Fred Astaire did, but "backwards, and in high heels" dance quote.

Also, thanks to the feedback I received from clients and connections, I've redone several of the Word Art designs to be bolder and easier to read on smaller screens (and at a distance.) Many of the designs used fonts that were to narrow or fine to show up well, so they've been reworked and resubmitted with your recommended changes. Thank you Sara, Tim and Erik for all the feedback!

The Return of the Roaring Twenties!

Finally a trend I'm truly excited about! The return of the '20s next January!

I love Art Deco, (though Art Nouveau will always be my first love.) My great-grandmother, who I was lucky to have until I was twenty, was a flapper and told me about the slang, the attitude - and the dancing! So in honor of all that I learned from her, and the return of the "Roaring 20's", I've created a new set of designs on RedBubble.

Flapper Slang, Speakeasy sign, Tango sign in Art Deco design, and La Guardia Nueva!


I'm still looking at the product and design offerings with a tanguera's eye though - milonga themed decor, clothes that work for dancing, and of course a celebration of 1920's tango - La Guardia Nueva! I'll have more designs coming over the next week - so keep checking if the Jazz Age and Art Deco are 'the bees knees' for you too! 




Review: The War of Art



A few people have asked me how I suddenly got up the ambition to get my art store going and how I've been so productive. It's really down to one book: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, by Steven Pressfield.

No fewer than 8 people recommended that book to me, probably more but I don't remember. I think I knew it would be a kick in the ass. I wasn't sure I was ready for it. It took me ages to get around to it. Now I'm the one recommending it to every writer and creative who will listen to me (who hasn't already read it.)

It's a fast read. Pressfield doesn't waste your time, doesn't insult your intelligence and doesn't pull punches. It's what you need to read to get off your ass and do the work (to borrow the title of another one of his books.) I finished it in a few days and then started over and read it again.

How you think of your work, and how you think of yourself doing that work, are crucial to your success. There are so many ways we sabotage ourselves before we've even begun - before we've even put pen or brush to paper. He addresses the biggest mental blocks that keep us from our work, and from succeeding in our creative endeavors. And he does it in a frank, occasionally brutally honest, way.

You know what? Stop reading this review and just go read the book. It won't take long. Stop stalling - the work is calling.

“Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

Things Tango Teachers Say - Tango Class Bingo

At the request of another dancer, I finally created the "Things Tango Teachers Say" Word Art on RedBubble.com.  Here's the graphic - below, the explanation.





Some of this is tongue-in-cheek and highlights the conflicting instruction we get as Argentine Tango students. But some of it, particularly "Just walk naturally", are particularly frustrating bits of advice.

I often heard "Just walk naturally," directed at followers, from male instructors (to both male and female students.)  The more I heard it, the more irritated I got. I don't know how much time instructors spend their day walking backwards - particularly in 3-4" high heels, but there's nothing natural about it. We can learn to do it - and do it very well, but we're not structurally built to spend our time doing it. It's not at all natural - in heels or otherwise.

*/Begin rant

In all honesty, and speaking as a personal trainer for dancers, it's just lazy phrasing. "Naturally" has no objective meaning.  Do you mean relax? Do you mean breathe? Say what you mean specifically and leave out short-cut phrases that don't mean anything to students - especially newer students.

A few of my other favorites in the "not very helpful" category:

 - Be grounded.
 - Walk like a cat.
 - Feel the floor.
 - Feel the music.
 - You're too heavy.
 - You're too light.

If you want your students to really change what they're doing and understand what you're asking, be specific. Say what you mean in a way that is actionable for the student. I had a friend I used to see in festival classes all the time and she would call it "Tango Class Bingo".  Don't play tango class bingo with your students, for the sake of their engagement and learning. Figure out what you really need your students to change and tell them something specific and useful.

*/end rant.

UPDATE:

I actually found the infamous Tango Class Bingo card. :)



Some of the boxes are "gimmes" of course, for the normal, common things said in class. Most of the "trouble phrases", like "Walk Naturally" or "Engage Your Core", would be fine if combined with an explanation with some specifics. It's just when they're used in the absence of any sort of actionable advice that they become problematic.  And then of course it's always fun to hear contradictory instruction in the same class. I had one instructor who said heel first at the beginning of class, but by the end was saying toe first. The leaders were obviously quite confused.


Back to my First Love - Tango Shoes! Well, sort of . . .

People who know me in tango know that at one time I designed custom tango shoes for clients. I worked with MrTangoshoes.com shoes out of Colombia to make shoes that matched clothes, shoes for hard to fit feet, custom sizing, custom materials - the works. I loved designing for clients - but I hated having an inventory to carry around to milongas and practicas to sell enough volume to keep afloat. In the end, I gave up the business to concentrate on my main (non-tango) job and personal training.

As I've written in the past few posts, I'm designing again - this time accessories instead of shoes. I take commissions for custom work as I'm able and keep a steady supply of new designs hitting my RedBubble virtual shelves. It's the best of both worlds - I get to design to my heart's content, but not have to worry about an inventory to lug around.

Lately though, I've really, really been missing the shoes. So I decided to do some shoe-themed designed to make myself feel better.  These are so much - now to keep my own mitts off my merchandise and try to save a little money. I'm always my biggest customer.  :)

Have I mentioned I love shoes?



Variations of the designs on the large drawstring, heavy-duty shoe bags.


The original designs.