Once again: Art is work, not throwaway entertainment. You need to pay for it.

Get a load of this email. I deal with this ALAALALALLALLLL THE TIME.

Your Name: xxxx
Your Email (which I don't intend to share): xxxxxxxx@att.net
Subject: I have a question
Message: Mr Murphy I have a quick question why is Julian van voon soo expensive he is so cute and that one is my most favorite I really wish you could lower it to a more reasonable price because I would willing to buy it Sincerely xxxxxx

Julian
Well.. Expensive is an opinion. Here are the reasons I've priced Julian the way I did:

He's handmade, which means it took me more than just an afternoon and a YouTube tutorial to disassemble the blazer I made him from, reinterpret the parts, trim, shape and cut them, stitch, stuff and close him up. 
He's very complex and detailed, which means it took me probably more time designing him than actually putting him together. 
He's one of a kind in the whole world. 
Add to that, he's kind of a published celebrity and comes with a free copy of the book he stars in, signed by the author.. 

I think he's kind of cheap. 

What kind of price do you think is reasonable?

Thanks for asking, 
John

And to all of you reading.. I realize this is a tough economy. When someone has a spare $150 lying around they’re probably going to use it to feed their family or invest in home repair. I realize few would make such discretionary purchases this day and age. But those people exist and I’m patient.

The email above begs certain questions: What do you make per hour? What do you need to earn to survive? Would you take any less than you think you’re worth? Would you take any less for your time than you need to make your ends meet? My work is valuable to someone out there. It isn’t valuable to everyone, which is why I counsel kids between the rare opportunities my art actually earns me cash.

Making soft sculpture by hand is such detailed and time-consuming work that it is no longer worth my time to create them full time anymore. Opinions like those expressed in the above email confirm for me that I should stick with counseling and pursue loftier artistic pursuits than one-off plush monsters.

I extend my sincerest thanks to the occasional few who get what artists do. There aren’t enough of you to make us want to stick around full time. And like I’ve said before, I’m just going to make what I want to make, when I want to make it. And I’m going to price it how I want. For the nay-sayers who think plush works should be cheap for whatever reason, go ahead and buy a copy of Closet Monsters where Julian’s pattern is taught. Make a Julian yourself and consider what the effort is worth to you.

0 Comments

Man I Festo (I guessto)

I grow, I change, and so do my perceptions. I am 37, a toy designer, a counselor, a bachelor, an artist. I live in Bessemer City, BFE, and I worship Jesus Christ in a church filled with some of the most amazing Republicans you’ve ever met who still don’t believe the planet is getting hotter.

Needless to say, I have been feeling very cut apart from the herd lately, and sometimes I resent that. But I want to take some time to own my particularities and blurt them to all two of the people who read my BLARG! So here we go:

I am middle aged. I am white. I am articulate. I have a short attention span.

I don’t like reading because I can’t stay still that long unless I’m going to sleep.

I like milk chocolate. I think most people who eat dark chocolate say they like it to impress people.

I adore ice cream and I adore my step mother for always stocking the freezer with it whenever she knows I’m visiting. I adore my step mother. It took me a long time to appreciate all she did for our family but now that I do I can’t believe how lucky I am to have her as a parent.

I love stuffed toys. I love to draw. I only like certain music. I cannot stand Radiohead because for more than a decade people insisted I like them ‘cause everybody else did and that means they must be good. I find Radiohead pretentious. I don’t like Wilco. See my reasons for not liking Radiohead but I don’t find Wilco pretentious, only boring. I like music with tight vocal harmony. I enjoyed the novelty of the Spice Girls.

I would rather be a werewolf than a vampire. I would not like to be a zombie.

I don’t like the way sex possesses the general public. I resent the expectation that I should like sex. I hate dating. I enjoy spending time with a best friend, but I loathe the expectations our culture puts on people in a dating relationship. I hate picking up the tab for the woman all the time. I have never been swayed to hasty, impulsive decisions by feminine beauty. I have been swayed to create art because of feminine beauty. I have been moved to tears by feminine beauty. I have been drawn closer to Christ because of feminine beauty. I have become closer to God because of feminine beauty but I have never been manipulated into doing things I didn’t want to do, and I have never been suckered into making a contract with my body because of feminine beauty. I have, though, been manipulated by societal pressures about the view I’m supposed to have about feminine beauty to do numerous, countless things I didn’t want to do. A woman cannot wag her hair, bat her eyes or squash her breasts up against me and think she can have her way with me. I am not that stupid.

I want kids more than I want a wife. I’d rather be an artist than a boyfriend. I’d rather be a father than a husband. I’d rather make art or clean my house than roll around squashing my body up against someone else’s. I’d rather be a Christian than a republican or a democrat. I’d rather work hard than be pleasured.

My art is awesome. I draw well but I could draw better. I sew well but I could sew better. I have amazing ideas but I can be lazy and disorganized. I am ridiculously excited about the future, which is already here in some ways.

I am a Christian. The Holy Spirit activated my soul when I was 14. Jesus is who he says he is. He is real. He is alive. He is eternal. He is God. Christ is my only justification and should be my only motivator, but I am a distracted human and am prone to do things I should not. I am a Christian, and I voted for Obama twice. As an American who values personal freedom, I believe in marriage equality. As a person who remembers having snow days as a kid, I know for a certainty that the world is getting hotter.

I. Hate. Hot. Weather. I hate people who hate winter and fall. I hate people who complain about cold weather after 7 or 8 months of blazing hot. I have less road rage these days.

I want to meet more single people who don’t want to date. I want to have friends who don’t get married and abandon everyone except for other married people (can I get an AMEN?!). I want to show up at a friend’s house with a sixer and chill for an evening over TV and amazing food without being turned away because I’m a third wheel. I love, love, love my friend Meighan for being the ONLY married person alive who has not treated me like I have a communicable disease because I’m pushing 40 and still single, and welcomes me into her home with or without invitation. I love her husband Chris for the same reason (he and I go way back anyway). I love that they’re on the way to my dad’s house. I love that I can stop by at all hours, pick up a trowel and help with the gardening, have my way with the kitchen and crash in any number of spare beds. I miss my other friends who have disappeared into marriage only to ever be discovered again by other married people. I miss my long-time college friends and high school friends who extend an open-door invitation but still need months of advanced planning before I can hang with them ‘cause of all the married couples they’ve already got on their social schedules. I miss my friend Melanie who always invites me to visit her in SC. I miss my friend Amy who wonders why we never get together when we’re only two towns apart. I miss nearby friends who I never see for this or that reason. I miss my friends the Davisons who invite me over frequently. I want to be more bold about inviting people I like and esteem to socialize. I want to do this without freaking out that people will think I’m weird or gay for doing so. I am grateful for my friend Rich who has a kid but still invites me to visit.

I want more time to do the things I love, but I love all the things I’m doing. I want to sleep more and worry less. I want the body of a Greek God.. I want more ice cream. I want more chocolate. I want men to be men without being thuggish, grunting sports fans. I want to make cartoons and movies. I want to be ridiculously rich so I can pay my family’s debts and the debts of hardworking people who can’t get ahead. I want Black History Month to dissolve into utter, total, complete awareness of African American History without needing a special month set aside to forcibly remember. I want artists to get paid what they deserve. I want politicians to work day jobs. I want lazy people to move to their own private island to dry up and die. I want to snuggle without being coerced into sex. I want to adopt children.

I want to sleep ‘cause it’s late. For me. I rise early so I can have time for art. I am so grateful that tomorrow is Friday and the laundry is done.

0 Comments

Wow. Two entries in as many days. I must be having an interview Friday..

Ten years. I’m still wrapping my brain around that. I was 27 years clueless when I started Stupid Creatures. I gotta stop beating myself in the head over all this hindsight business. Time to move forward!!

I hereby solemnly swear I am no longer going to stress myself out over art. I'm going to do what I can in the time that I have, but I will stay consistent creating more pieces. I intend to draw more, and I won't make excuses. I will draw what I can in the time I have every day. Maybe I'll make some merchandise with what I draw, maybe I'll draw just to practice. Maybe I'll join a forum and take drawing prompts every day.

Realistically, I have about 3 hours a day I can work on art. More like 2, now that I think of it. I rise and dress, then I have 2 hours left before I leave for counseling. When I get home, I primarily get ready for the next day, and depending on how long that takes I can squeeze another hour out of art time.

This morning I made a 1-sock creature and didn't get around to stitching its arms or eyes on, or closing its stuffing hole. That much I can bang out tonight without stressing myself out. But scratch that. I’m baking brownies for my kids tomorrow for Valentine’s Day. Sakes alive. If I had been more disciplined with my time this morning I would have probably finished at least the eyes, if not the whole thing.

My goal for artistic endeavors until future notice is to be able to start and finish something in the 2 hour window that I have without letting a project drag into my usual abyss of never-get-finished. I'll work on some more epic, huge pieces once I've conquered using my time wisely and have gained more self-discipline.

These new goals kind of stem from my counseling environment. A healthy mindset often starts with accepting your situation and doing your best with whatever it is you have. Once you've done that, you can aspire to more if that's what you want, but it's useless to want more than you can expect from what you've already got. That only causes crazy stress and makes a person depressed when plans fail.

I figure I've got a good 50 or 60 years left in this life if things go well. That's plenty of time to produce quality work within my means and abilities, and to grow those means to achieve more than I now have.

On my list: My cartoon pitch. I’ve got to get drawing on those characters. Get the stylesheets and set designs nailed down. I’ll likely do that this weekend.

I’ve got to get ready for an interview Friday with a local NBC affiliate, and that involves packing my car with monsters, making sure I’ve got books and business cards, then make some freebies to give the hosts as thank you gifts.

I’ve got to develop a new concept for Land of Nod since they’ve asked me back for another product line.

And just today I’ve been approached by a potential licensee to use my drawings on his products.

Will that 2 hours a day be enough for all this art? It’s going to have to be.

So.. with that, I won’t make any commitments to make a creature a day. Maybe one a week? Gosh.. I’ll be sewing in my coffin. I love it though.


0 Comments

A Decade. Yep. I'm feeling decadenous.

Happy Belated New Year, everyone. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Stupid Creatures™. And I have to tell you, I’m pretty amazed. I have learned a lot in the past decade about the world because of the creatures. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way other’s tick. It’s been really crazy and full of experiences I never thought I’d have. I’ve had huge expectations, some of which have been met, others have not and likely won’t be. But whatever.

Let’s see. When I started making the creatures, I really, really wanted to be famous and popular and approved of and accepted by a particular, edgy, cultural, hipster elite. Instead, I fell in with parents and crafters and quilters. Nothing wrong with that. That crowd is humble, realistic, sincere and more loving than anyone whose attention I might have wanted while I was chasing fame. I mean, my publishers have primarily moms, grandmas and crafters for an audience and they’ve been really welcoming and supportive to me.

My sick pursuit of hipster affirmation gave me unrealistic expectations of the art world. Art is just a business at the end of the day. Willing buyers, willing sellers; a business. Nothing more. I’m glad to have been spared the hipster BS that I so badly desired back then. It isn’t real. It’s just a passing fashion. Most of them don’t have any money to buy one of my pieces anyway.

Let’s see. In my decade with the Stupid Creatures, learned that money doesn’t fall out of the sky. You’ve got to work your whole entire life for it, be born with it, or borrow it and painstakingly pay it back over the course of your entire life. If you want to do anything in the toy world you’ve got to have TONS of money up front, and manufacture scads of content overseas in a sweatshop so Americans can buy it cheaply. Americans will tell you they want your work fair trade, handmade and recycled, but when it comes time to pay for it, they scream and run to wal-mart.

So I’ve been very lucky to have the publishing, the press and the toy contracts that I’ve enjoyed. I’m also very lucky to be a counselor. I’m good at it, I love it. I’m doing something my community needs. Granted, the community needs art more than it realizes, but artists need to eat. Sadly, the vast majority of anyone anywhere do not believe in feeding or paying artists, so many of us wind up in other careers.

My problem, I’ve come to realize, is that at the end of the day, despite my love for monsters and my skills for sculpting and creating, I’m really a character designer. This means my best work isn’t the physical items that I sew and stuff, but their back story, their universe, their history, their relationship to other characters.. To this end, I will be pursuing cartoons and comics in the near future more than more plush sculptures. In fact, I’m helping a friend pitch a cartoon series as we speak. I’m working on the visuals primarily but I’m also helping him flesh out the universe that he created.

In addition to counseling children, I’m designing actual toys and other children’s items for The Land of Nod and I’m learning how the social work and mental health industries function. My whole life is research and I’m grateful for it.

This isn’t a swan song. Stupid Creatures is sticking around. But moving forward things will get a lot more serious. No more expending myself to force the art world and the consumer world to regard soft sculpture as legitimate art. No more starving at craft shows while the dowdy judgmental throngs peek and glare at price tags, or make the excuse that they don’t have any kids to shop for. I’m going to make what I want to make, how I want to make it. And I’ll work my hardest for those who support me the most. I’ll put my energy where the support is, and I’ll stop wasting myself on stuff that drains me unnecessarily.

Watch for me on various cartoon channels. That’s where I want to be next.



0 Comments