Wednesday 15 February 2017

Australia and New Zealand back on the map, please

This morning I had a notification from Etsy that they are about to launch a new selling platform called “Etsy Studio”. Its designed specifically for sellers of craft supplies and tutorials. As a seller of patterns I had a look at the 23 minute promotional video.

This blog post isn’t about my opinions of Etsy Studio. I want to make a more expansive point about how political leadership of a nation can set a tone within international relations that is so resonant it trickles right down to the grassroots of radicalising the little insignificant blog of a female artist in Australia.

About 3.30 seconds into the video Etsy showed a map of the world, presumably to underline how inclusive and world wide their platform is. I had to do a double take and call my husband to confirm I wasn’t (not) seeing things. The whole continent of Australia doesn’t appear on the map, including New Zealand. I was born in New Zealand and lived there till I was 26, my son was born there and I still have a lot of family there, including my father. New Zealand is a small country with a population of barely 4 million.

Australia is an island continent. I find it astounding how a huge organisation like Etsy can present this “map of the world” and nobody notices Australia/NZ are missing. How can I have confidence in an organisation like that? How can I have confidence that America likes and respects Australia when President Trump had a phone call with our Prime Minister in which he responded in ways that were crass, impatient, dismissive and cut short the conversation which was supposed to be an hour after 20 minutes. To his advisors (Bannon and somebody else) across the other side of the presidential desk he described this as the “worst” phone call he’d had with a world leader. A few days later White House spokesman Sean Spicer was trying to justify things and referred to our Prime Minister as Mr Trumble, twice….It is Mr Turnbull. It makes for a very unconvincing apology when you can’t remember the right name of the person you are trying to be sorry to.

President Trump wants to ban people of 7 countries to be able to enter the USA. I live in a very small community of less than 1000 people where we have a fantastic doctor who is Syrian. His sister lives in the USA and is married to an American. I met her when she visited her brother here in Murrurundi last year. She wouldn’t be able to leave America now for fear of the possibility of not being able to get back in again. Nor can her brother visit America because despite being a permanent resident of Australia, and an important and respected member of our town, he has a Syrian passport. He and his sister were born in Syria and their parents still lived in Aleppo until a couple of years ago (our doctor moved them to safety in another middle eastern country as they are aged in their 70s. They did not want to leave to live in either Australia or America)

So this is a story about how the attitudes and decisions of the people at the pinnacle of political power ripple down to effect all citizens of the global village. I think a month ago I would have interpreted Etsys blunder as just the dumb mistake of some underling…..but with the climate in international relations going all topsy turvy and with the way President Trump is playing out his declaration “America First”, you really have to wonder if that implies the rest of the nations the world are going to be allocated, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc, etc……according to how President Trump and his cronies rate them.

Monday 13 February 2017

to model or not...?

This morning Annette posted a comment on my last blog about the release the Two Pegs pattern and I started writing a response to her, then realised it was an interesting question and wanted to share this with my other blog readers...and I welcome opinions anyone else has to offer

this is Annettes comment
I love the new dress pattern. It is going on my wishlist for when I finish up a few of my works in progress. It would be great to see the dress modelled by someone :-)

This is my response - which I want to open to all who might want to give feedback

I've numbered some of my points if people want to address specific statements

Hi Annette,
thanks for your positive response. I often feel ambivalent about showing garments on real models, I wax and wane about some of the pros and cons, such as....
1) personally I seldom select a pattern based on seeing it worn by someone else. This means I'm likely extrapolating my own behaviour onto what I think others would do.

2) I'm only an amateur photographer and a one woman enterprise - so lack confidence in how well I can do the pictures.

Due to my extremely insular personality (ASD - Aspergers) I have huge anxieties about approaching any woman and asking her to model. On a philosophical level I think this should be paid work too, not a personal favour.

I couldn't afford to have pictures done by a professional photographer and that involves other tangential issues such as hiring/paying models, studio or other locations/props, copyright releases et al...

Can't help but be aware in this business many independent design companies who are profitable do use professional photographers, studios and models and one of my problems with it is wondering how "realistic" these pictures are. On beautiful, slender, tall women, posing with perfect lighting (is that dress pinned in at the back? is that collar starched rigid to sit like that...?)...are you really getting what you see? I know on a philosophical level that the advertising industry relies on trying to sell us dreams and aspirations. It would be absurdly counterproductive that they ever showed an unattractive view of the product to be marketed.

3) This last point is the one I will probably get some feedback on....!!! Please be gentle with me!

The majority of tiny independent pattern businesses rely on a model of using a stable of pattern testers who trial the pattern and instructions before they get published. When the designer releases the pattern there is the fantastic benefit of having a group of people who will endorse the design, blog about and provide pictures of themselves modelling the garment.

This is a fantastic model and virtually all small independent designers I know of use it. There are big Facebook groups who have been set up to support the model and provide groups of willing volunteers.

REVELATION....I don't get my patterns tested using this model. I am the only one who sews all the samples, checks, double checks and triple checks the instructions. Consequently, I don't have access to photos that tester groups provide.

Three years ago when I started out I did get my first 3 patterns tested in a group I set up. Regrettably I found the whole process enormously stressful. I don't do interactions with people (I'm crying with stress just writing this, because I know few will understand)

I get crippled with anxiety, I will spend hours, days, weeks consumed with nausea and gut aches because I can't figure out what people mean. I become paranoid, paralysed and catatonic with fear.

Why would I want to put myself in that place? That is why 2 years ago I decided to take the risk of just doing it all by myself. Fortunately I have only had feedback twice about minor issues with pattern instructions. Distaste for interacting with people is a downside of Aspergers, but extreme, obsessive dedication to detail is an upside.

It would be interesting to hear what others think, but please don't be disparaging to me in regard to the way my head works!

.....If anyone wants to volunteer to coordinate and handle a tester group for me I will mint you a medal, or at least barter such services in exchange for art?