Steven and I returned from our vacation and we found lots of ITTY BITTY packages waiting for me (in a big box)! I will slowly be taking photos and scans and uploading these entries later this week. Next the collages will be swapped and packaged up. My goal for mailing out is around August 19th – I will let you know!
While we were away, I had some time to think about creative swaps and how I really need to manage them more efficiently. I have come up with a plan . . . and I know some of the changes will not please everyone, so I’m apologizing in advance. Any changes I am making are a direct result of the time it takes me to manage the swaps, and I am making these changes so that I can continue to host them. I believe the changes ahead will help streamline registration, encourage serious, committed participants to sign up, save time, and provide a small compensation for the large amount of work involved, reversing any negative feelings I had!
#1: Signing up for a creative swap
Instead of sending an email to see if there is space available in a proposed swap, registration for swaps in the future will be held on the creative swaps blog. If a paypal button for the swap is visible -there is room for you in that swap! When the swap is full, the buttons will be removed, and registration will be closed. In order to register for a creative swap in the future, you will need to pre-pay any fees for the swap via paypal. If you do not use paypal at this time, note that you DO NOT need a paypal account in order to use this service. After clicking on the paypal button you will be given the choice to log in to your paypal account or use the service without a paypal account. More information about paypal here.
This new registration system will save a lot of time and make postage fees readily available for mailing the swap, without having to bill anyone or send email reminders for payment. I won't need to keep track of payments from each participant as I do now, because everyone will pay the fees when they sign up for the swap. I won't have to deal with participants forgetting to pay when sending (I have done this myself, so don’t feel bad!) as payments will be made in advance.
An important note: Swap registration fees will not be refundable. If you do not complete the swap, you will lose any swap fees you have paid. Making refunds would be a time consuming process and my goal is to streamline this whole process while having committed participants who follow through with the swap, sign up.
How it works: When I receive notification from paypal that you have registered for a swap, I will email you with any additional information about the swap that was not included in the announcement on the blog. Therefore, it is extremely important that you notify me by email after registering IF you use a *different email address* just for paypal. Please email me from the account where you wish any swap information and correspondence mailed to and I will send you all the particulars–thank you!
#2 Swap fees
In the future, I will charge both for shipping your swaps to you and for handling your swaps –meaning all the work of handling the swap pieces. It will not be very much, but I will be adding a few dollars to the shipping charge and it will be payable in advance to participate in the swap. The handling charge will cover recording and organizing the pieces as they come in, scanning, photographing, editing the images, uploading, describing/blogging, email correspondence, swapping, packaging, labeling & mailing. I think you will notice when I announce the 2 new swaps next week, that I will not make this cost-prohibitive. I am sorry if the cost increase means you cannot participate, but I have decided I must receive a small compensation for the work involved if I am going to be able to continue hosting swaps in the manner that I do.
#3 Sharing your swap artwork
I will continue limiting myself to sharing 1-3 pieces of artwork per participant for each swap but will also include links to blogs, websites or photo accounts when the participant has uploaded swap art there to share. The responsibility for alerting me to these resources belongs to the swap participant. I would suggest sending me an email with the direct link when you upload to your own websites, as it is easier and more accurate for me to copy & paste the link from your email when adding it to your post on the swaps blog. On the same vein, I truly love receiving personal notes from you with your swap pieces, but any directions about how you created your pieces are best sent via email for accuracy. Thank you!
All that said, hosting creative swaps is a very rewarding job I have given myself ; ^ ) . . . . but, I was beginning to have difficulty balancing the demands of the swaps with the other important parts of my life. My time is now divided between my home & family, teaching classes both online and in person in my studio, writing multiple blogs & websites and participating in different art exchanges. Also, to help with expenses at home I have started creating art specifically for sale. Quite a few pieces have sold locally (yay!) and I hope to add pieces to an online shop before to long – creative lenna etsy. But if this does not produce enough income for us on a regular basis I am still considering adding regular part-time work to the mix. I do thrive on being busy, but definitely had to re-think the way I was running creative swaps. The changes I have outlined will be put in place for the next two swaps coming up, and we will see how it all flies. Comments to the blog about this announcement (bottom of this post) or your personal emails to me are most welcome.
One last note in this long missive – I have truly enjoyed all the work and creative beauty that my swap participants have come up with here on creative swaps for the past year and a half and I also have been quite touched with your generosity in creating extra pieces of swap art for me. Thank you very much for enriching my creative & personal life! I will be back before too long with lots of Itty Bittys and a number of Row House swaps too.
Yours sincerely, Lenna