In the nonprofit world where I used to work, funders were always asking for “success stories,” examples of how their support was making a direct impact. While those kinds of stories could be hard to come by, in my current life as an artist and writer, I hear them all the time.
One reason I like to do fairs is to market-test new designs before I offer them widely to stores. Another reason is for the chance to talk directly with my customers. So let's say for a moment that you are a billionaire philanthropist and patron of the arts. These recent stories collected from my customers will serve as my year-end report to you.
• People have given the above painting of a jacaranda tree in bloom as a sympathy card, as an anniversary card, and to friends going through chemotherapy. A few weeks ago, a woman told me she had had a fight with her sister. She first called to apologize, and then sent her this card:
through sun and cloud
I hold you
in my heart
• At a holiday fair last month, a burly guy in a skydiving sweatshirt bought seven of my cards, all for his wife, who loves my art. He explained that whenever he goes out of town, he leaves her one card for every night he’ll be gone.
• Every year, two women friends who live far apart buy the same calendar so they can share the same image each month. For 2014, they chose my “Poetry & Honey” calendar.
• A 93-year-old woman who is housebound ordered ten of my calendars as thank you gifts for all the people who bring her meals and otherwise help her.
• A beekeeper in Hawaii received one of my handmade bee books for Christmas, and loved it so much she is ordering honeybee-themed prints and books for her honey store on the Big Island.
• A father sent his daughter off to college on the East Coast with this framed seashell print for her dorm room, to remind her to stay true to herself:
the song of your heart
• An artist sent my “river flow” card to a family member who was going through a difficult but necessary divorce, and it was just the right message:
While I pass tedious January days counting up inventory and wrestling with year-end accounting, it’s stories like these that sustain me. The running thread is that my work is helping people to find joy and meaning in their day-to-day lives, and, through sun and cloud, to deepen their bonds with the people they love.
To you, my customers and friends, thanks for your support and for sharing your stories. And please keep them coming! You may not be in a position to give out six-figure grants, but you are surely rich in stories, and in spirit.
Makino Studios News
New Art Featured: Eleven of my haiga (haiku art pieces) are appearing online for the first time in a web-based gallery on Haigaonline. (At the bottom left, click "online gallery," then click "Annette Makino.") I would love to know if you'd like to see any of these as cards, not necessarily with the same words.
New Store: The sparkling Holly Yashi Store in Arcata, CA now carries my cards, prints and handmade bee books. If you’re in town, you can also watch them making their beautiful jewelry.
Unfortunate Events Update: I appreciate all the sympathy and suggestions in response to my last post, A series of unfortunate events. I’m glad to report that the bizarre streak of misfortunes ended just before I wrote that account!