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.

Where RedBubble Manufactures Products

One of the things I really like about RedBubble.com is that my orders, because I'm in the US, are made and shipped from the US. If you're in Europe, most products will be made there as well, etc etc. 

They've even been transparent enough about the process to break it down. Here are a few examples. You can go to this page to see the full list of where everything is made, based on where it is being shipped to. Not only does this get products to clients faster and cheaper - it means that the quality is generally higher. That's good for everyone.





Art Software Resources - Paid and Free

Just a quick update since several people have asked for the list. Here are the art resources I use most for the majority of my work. Keep in mind, I use a Mac so with other platforms, your results might vary. 
 
This is PhotoPea which does a great job, to a point. The larger the photo, the slower it gets.

Paid/Desktop Apps/Software - available for desktop and tablets:

  • Adobe Photoshop and Design, now available on subscription plans which is helpful if you're on a budget: https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/plans.html  I still use this for some of the short cuts I've developed, but more and more, I'm using Affinity Photo and Designer more.
  • Affinity Photo and Designer: I'm using Serif's Affinity products more lately as they offer the flexibility of GIMP and the robust offerings of Photoshop, for less money. A new product, Publisher, is available for pre-order and I'm getting curious about that one.  https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/store/

Free Web-based Apps Online:


The Infinite Tango RedBubble Store is Roaring to Life

First, thank you to everyone who has been sending me their feedback, ideas, suggestions and critiques - you are all amazing and I love you!

Golden Age Tango Orchestras on Tango Banner


As of this morning, I have almost 100 designs in the shop (!), with each design on anywhere from 10-40 products each! On RedBubble, my shop is now one of the largest focused on Argentine Tango, and I still have over 30 designs waiting to be finalized and uploaded.

There are several new design categories:
  • Educational(-ish) word art designs that list works by tango orchestra or period.
  • Tango/Milonga humor category called #milongaexcuses
  • Traditional Art pieces (that have been remastered to better render on RedBubble's products)
  • Tango Quotes
  • Geometric designs - usually commissioned works to match specific shoes, clothes or accessories, or to be personalized.

"I'm sorry I missed your cabeceo. That was just my RBF. *Resting Bitch Face #milongaexcuses


New items:

Los Dos Angeles - Vargas and D'Agostino stickers in black music note and red heart.

  • Combo sticker packs - more than one sticker design available on a single sheet. Since I had several designs that I liked, but maybe wouldn't be appropriate for a t-shirt because of color or size limitations, I worked those designs into stickers and added them into combinations. Remember with combo sticker sheets, that the individual stickers will be smaller - so pick out the larger sheet if you need them to be big.
  • Shower curtains and bath mats are coming! Throw blankets are already here! Who wouldn't want a blue D'Arienzo throw blanket with a bandoneon on it, I ask you? 

Juan D'Arienzo blue throw with some of D'Arienzo's greatest hits on a black bandoneon background.

What's coming
  • More orchestras - I'll never run out of these but they can be time consuming to create as each "design" actually has 3-6 different variations to fit on each product. 
  • Products for dancers in other areas. Since tango dancers often dance more than just tango, I'm going to creating some designs for dance generalists, and dances that are also popular with tango dancers - blues, salsa and swing for example.
  • More "spilling the tango tea" as the kids say. More milonga humor and fun, colorful, lighter-hearted designs. #milongaexcuses

Cabeceo with cat like laser focus!


Paying it forward

So many people have helped me find resources in free art tools, advice, design ideas etc., that I'm going to post what I've learned on this blog. There are so many free, easy to use, web based tools you can use that if you have any ideas for something to put on a sticker or a t-shirt etc., there's no excuse not to try out Print on Demand sites. RedBubble is extremely easy to use - especially once you have the tools in place.  Look for updates on this blog and on my Infinite Tango blog (and of course the RedBubble journal as well) for tips, resources and guides.

New Plans for Tango Product Lines

The plan is coming together! Well, mostly. Thanks to feedback and requests from tango friends from all over the world, I have a pretty solid plan of action for my tango designs on the Infinitetango RedBubble Store.



There are, at this time, 3 departments in the shop:

1. Custom Designs - these are designs, usually geometric or abstract, to match specific shoes, apparel or other requests. These are mostly geometric patterns created from color picking directly from the image of the shoe or garment, and then creating patterns with the exactly colors for the best possible match.

2. Tango Quotes - both famous and a bit more obscure. I have a huge library of quotes in Scrivener that I've been trying to decide what to do with. Once I realized that the tango quotes are my most popular posts on my Instagram page, I knew what to do!

3. Digital Artwork - Most of these are created from pictures of my trip to Buenos Aires. Some are from local milongas though, as well.

I'm developing all three lines simultaneously as I'm inspired, have time or have requests. I am getting a little bit overloaded with commissions, so turnaround time on custom requests is about 2 weeks right now. I appreciate everyone's patience with this!


Leaning into the Sharp Points

First, thank you readers and friends for such swift feedback on my previous posts! Your emails mean the world to me! Some of you already know what lit a fire under me to get this latest RedBubble project going, but for those who don't, please read on . . .

So let's back up . . .

The last 7 months have been devastating financially. My husband was very ill and in the hospital for a week. Our furnace/air conditioning units failed and cost twice what we were quoted 2 years ago. The ceiling of our garage caved in (and because it wasn't storm related, but poor workmanship, insurance wouldn't pay anything.) We've had to gut our house so that nearly everything in it can be bleached or boiled, to help protect my husband from future infections.

That's the just the big (and human-related) stuff. If this were a TV show, it would be some kind of dark comedy. The crazy thing is, the hospital bills that usually bury us, got paid by the insurance company. Miracle of miracles. But it's been literally everything else that has piled up. All the home care, all the broken appliances. I still have a leaky sink, a broken bathroom fan and and various other small things that will have to wait until I can figure out how to fix them myself.

Aside from the human challenges, both of our Shibas have had their own problems. Kuma lost an eye to glaucoma. His surgery was two weeks ago. Now he looks very much like one of those over-loved teddy bears that's missing his button eye. Just as he was healing (last week), Vixen got sick from something we've yet to identify. She's currently in a veterinary hospital while they try to figure out why she can't eat. They're tube feeding her to build up her strength. Tonight will be her third night away from us.

Any two or maybe even three of these things together, we could have weathered, at least eventually. All of this together is more than we can cope with.

It's time, as Pema Chödrön wrote, to lean in to the sharp points. It's time to turn toward the storm and get busy.

That's how I settled on finally getting this RedBubble print-on-demand shop off the ground. I had the artwork - I just had to clean it all up for upload and printing. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the design work and that's actually been helping me cope with the stress. But the biggest thing I need is a second income - from home, so I can work around all the cleaning, the dog care, the infection control protocols . . .   the everything our lives are right now.

We planned for these things - we just didn't plan for them to happen all at the same time - or with such severity. So all of this is just to say thank you to those of you reading who've already reached out, and a request to share my store with anyone you think might be interested.

One last thing.

I wrote and deleted this line 3 times. This is my fourth try to get it down without berating myself and deleting it again:

If you would like to donate to Vixen and Kuma's bills, you can donate through PAYPAL at my email address: INFINITETANGO(at)GMAIL.COM. (Using "at" instead of "@" to slow down the bots from grabbing my email address.) 

It is just under $1,000 a night for all that they are doing for her while they try to figure out what happened to her. Even if she had a miraculous turnaround tomorrow, she would probably need one more night there.

Vixen on the left before she went to the vet hospital, and Kuma trying to get some rays while in his "cone of shame."


Thank you again for reading this far, for sharing this post, for sharing my store, if you feel the desire to, and for the well-wishes you've sent thus far. It is so very much appreciated.

Abrazos and warm, happy dances to you all.

--M

As Requested - Tango Sheet Music Shoe Bags

So a couple of dancers requested lyrics or sheet music on shoe bags and accessories and I thought what a great idea! Here are the first few. Let me know in comments message via blogger, what tangos I should look for in the public domain to apply next!

So far I've done Arrabalero, Milonga para un armonica and 2 La Cumparsita's (the red one was commissioned.)  The bags can be found HERE.



New Designs for Coordinated Tango Accessories and Clothes



One of my favorite things about designing custom shoes for Mr. Tango Shoes customers, was being able to tailor the patterns to clothes dancers enjoyed wearing to milongas. What an easy way to set your look apart!

I stopped designing shoes because it was so time and labor intensive, but I really missed doing design work. So now I've turned it around and I'm on RedBubble, designing clothes and accessories that match dancers' shoes instead. I wish I'd found this site ages ago! The tough part right now is not designing an entire wardrobe of accessories for myself!

So save me from myself and give me some ideas of what you'd like to see. I'm already perusing the latest, greatest shoe models hitting the stores here and in Buenos Aires - as well as taking a peek at Pantone's upcoming color features. In my store, Infinite Tango on RedBubble, also look for my artwork making its way onto tote bags, t-shirts and even scarves!

While I haven't been able to check every product, the I have found that the tote bags, zip bags and t-shirts are made in the US. I'm waiting to hear back on the place of manufacture for the other products. So far the quality, especially compared to most print-on-demand sites, is very good!

Update on where things are manufactured, from the website:

"Each of the 3rd party printers in our global network manufactures specific products and services particular parts of the world. We ensure your goodies will be printed in the most convenient location for your delivery address, ensuring fast and affordable shipping services!"

So in short, it depends on where you have your ordered delivered. 

I'm back in the Tango Design Business!



Have you ever had trouble picking out your shoe bag from everyone else’s in the milonga? Are your shoe bags too small to store everything you need? I've applied my tango shoe design experience to other accessories to solve those problems!

Normal shoe bags measure about 13"-15" long, and 10"-12" wide. They also tend to be the logo and design of the shoe company, which means your bag could look exactly like a lot of other bags under the milonga tables. Or worse, the bag is black! Not only does it look like other bags – but it’s hard to see in the milonga (especially in the US where milonga lighting is particularly low.)

RedBubble bags measure 19.5" tall, and 15" wide. They’re thicker than most shoe bags that come with the shoes, and they can be designed to coordinate with your shoes, your favorite tango outfit - whatever! Every pair of shoes has its matching shoe bag – so much easier to pick out in your closet and at the milonga!

For an additional fee, I can personalize the bag, or other accessories with your name, your favorite tango song title, or whatever you choose.

About RedBubble’s drawstring bags:

- Made from very sturdy, 100% polyester woven fabric
- Wide, soft drawcord that’s easy on your shoulders
- Durable quality metal grommets
- Long-lasting printed design on both front and back

Plus, you not only get a shoe bag that matches, but zip studio bags, tote bags, for some designs even scarves or leggings, that all coordinate with the design.

RedBubble doesn’t let creators set prices exactly, but we can set margins. So I’ll be very transparent about markups according to the amount of work and personalization each bag requires.

- For designs that are already in the store, my margin is lower than the default – only 10%.
- Designs that I create to match a pair of shoes or outfit etc., to be sold in the store generally (which means it will be available for purchase by others), 20%.
- Designs that include personalization – like name, community etc., 25%.
- Designs that will be created and sold exclusively to one person and not listed again, 30%.

Please see my RedBubble Infinite Tango Store for more information and pictures!

While you're there, be sure to check out my tango artwork on a variety of accessories, like the tote bags pictured below.