Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The EBAC blog is moving!

We are in the process of moving from Blogger to WordPress, so please remember to change your browser bookmark links to "" or add it if you haven't made it a bookmark!

There is one more post for this month (Sunday Design Tips this upcoming weekend on 10/30), which will appear on WordPress — everything from here on out will be posted directly on WordPress. There may be a slight lag or delay in posts during the switch.

Let us know if you find broken links, something missing, or have any suggestions for things to be added! If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email us at ebacblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Donuts + croquettes,
Mayene Design

Wednesday Item Feature: A sophisticated Halloween choker

Halloween is fast approaching, and if you're not one for costumes and flamboyant decor, here's a more subtle item for those a little bit more quiet but still appreciative of the spooky holiday. Ohmay on Etsy knits a variety of goodies in San Francisco, and I spotted a cute one just in time for this orange-and-black holiday (or, if you'd like, in advance for that Thanksgiving dinner coming up in a month).

More like a toasty brown with dangling copper elements, this choker necklace is fitting for both the more refined Halloween lover or even just a San Francisco Giants fan looking for nice accessories to be worn on a daily basis. If you love Halloween color combinations outside of the holiday, this is a nice treat for your neck anyway. Multiple strands of dainty ribbon are clasped together in the back, with a beautifully knit pendant in front. The knit pendant is also removable and can be used as a brooch for a peacoat or plain little black dress with the addition of a safety pin that you might find laying around your house.

This is an absolute gorgeous find for those looking to buy something for the season and out of the season (fitting for both Halloween and Thanksgiving!), as this is a piece that can be worn beautifully at any time of the year and for many occasions. Looking for unique jewelry for your bridesmaids? A set of these choker necklaces for a bride and her bridal party can happen, and if you would like a different color combination, just send a message to the maker!

Crafted from cotton yarn and antique tone copper findings, this choker necklace is fitting for the older Halloween lover or just a lover of chokers in general. Get your hands on one (or two) and keep your neck cozy while you take your kids trick-or-treating or save its autumnal aura for the Thanksgiving holiday!

Check out ohmay's listing on Etsy now: Hand Knit Choker Necklace - Toasty Brown TieDye Angel Wings!

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why reducing prices may not be the best idea

I met an artist at a design fair this summer who made beautiful miniature figurines encased in glass boxes. Each piece was a scene in a play and staged with obsessive detail. Well worth the $500 price. Maybe not a price that appeals to everyone which is probably why a customer who was browsing her art started backing away slowly after seeing the price tag. The artist stopped her and asked how much she would pay and even suggested a few prices…

"$100, $50…$25??"

$25?!? I thought she was kidding (and so did the customer). But no. She was serious.

As a pricing geek, I asked why she was offering such ridiculous discounts. Her answer was: "I'm just starting out and I just want to put as much of my art in people's homes."

That's a reasonable explanation. I make art and sometimes I've talked to the artist I partner with about ways to get our art into people's homes. We've toyed with the idea of reducing all our prices. The more we've talked the more it's sounded like desperation and insecurity. We stopped and asked ourselves, is price really the problem? What if it's something else?

Are we selling at the right venue?

Are we selling to the right audience?

And most importantly, if some pieces aren't getting any interest, is it because they're duds? (Oh yeah, we make a lot of duds.)

It's important to analyze that kind of stuff before reducing prices because once you do roll back, you send a few signals to your audience:

The most glaring of all is, previous customers who paid full price will feel cheated. Not even Apple fanboys can get over that hurt. Apple initially introduced the first iphone at $500 dollars, then dropped the price by $100 after a few weeks. For the first time, the fanboys blogged in anger. Apple hardly ever apologizes but in this instance, they did. They also returned $100 to everyone who bought at full price.

Another problem is, you're telling customers that they might be bringing a cheap product into their homes. This is a real turn off. To a customer dropping the price may not translate to "We're doing this because we want to get our art into your home." Rather "This isn't as valuable as we imagined."

Another side effect is, customers may start waiting for the price to drop even more. The car companies must have trunk loads of case studies to back this bit. Even video game enthusiasts waited for the Playstation3 price to drop (as always) and it never did, hurting sales.

If price is the problem—and in this tough economy sometimes it is—it may help to TEMPORARILY reduce prices to get stuff into people's homes. But how do you do that without hurting your brand?

All the best marketers I know use one tactic: Give people a GREAT REASON for lowering the price. The best reason is, you are doing for fun versus just to get them buy stuff. And by fun I mean customers have to feel like they've earned the discount.

A manager at new Ikea store in Sweden uploaded pictures of his store and asked his customers to tag their favorite pieces of furniture. The first person to tag an object got to take it home. Customers had fun and the promotion cost him nothing. Except the price of the furniture which he wanted to give away anyway.

Zappos keeps prices high but offers free shipping on sales and returns. We took a page out of the Zappos playbook. We just gave free shipping to a customer in Brazil. It cost us $40 to ship. But we got it into his home. We also said we'll give him another 50% off on his next purchase if he sent us a picture of the objects at his house with 5 friends. He wrote back saying he's throwing a party to gather some friends.

An artist we know offered a customer 50% off a San Francisco themed print if he could answer three questions about the city. The customer got all the answers right. He earned the reduced price only because he aced the quiz. Fun!

Sometimes lowering prices is a good idea but do it in a way that protects your brand. If you're a new artist, that may be a way to get your stuff into people's homes. I'd love to hear what you've tried. Go ahead and share it in the comments.

This is a monthly post of the touchiest of all subjects, pricing! See you again in November. For the October feature, "What's the price of garbage?", I've updated the post with the answer here. Thanks for all your comments!

Posted by Vinit (TheWhiteout)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign: When to use what

If you're planning on doing some basic design or photo work for yourself, it's important to know the differences between the basic Adobe Creative Suite programs. One of the most basic packages Adobe offers is the Creative Suite Design Premium; this includes Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You might want all three, you might only want one. So, how do you know what's good for you?


If you're dealing with photographs, you're most likely going to want to work in Photoshop — the name is the big hint. When you're retouching photos, digitally cleaning up a little dust from your camera lens, brightening photos that came out to dark in an otherwise sunny location, or cropping unnecessary background clutter out of the picture, you'll want to do it all in Photoshop.


Illustrator is a "vector based" program, which means if you're planning on designing something in a vectorized style, such as a logo, or working mainly with type and text, Illustrator would be the best choice. With a few exceptions, think about "illustrating" something in Illustrator — one of the main tools used in Illustrator is the pen tool. It's a daunting tool that cause many users to shy away from the program, but once you start to understand how it works and play around with the pen tool, it's a fun thing to create things with, including shapes and abstract images.


Generally understood to be a good platform to create multi-page documents in (e.g. books), InDesign is a good program where you can combine text and images. While you cannot heavily edit photos in InDesign like you can in Photoshop, if you want to combine photographs and text in flyers, posters, or small books, you can do this easily in InDesign. You'll be able to combine images and text without worrying about accidentally flattening layers (as in Photoshop) or directly affecting your photograph. If you think you have a basic understanding of Photoshop and Illustrator already, InDesign might be a good supplemental tool for you. This is a better alternative to programs such as Powerpoint (which should only be used for presentations, really) and Microsoft Publisher.

Let's not worry about InDesign for now and we'll focus on Photoshop and Illustrator first.


While you can still type and edit text in Photoshop, text may be treated as a rasterized image in Photoshop in your final product, which might cause blurriness or pixelation on the edges of larger display sized text if you're not careful. But, If you think that you'll be doing more photo editing work than designing, then Photoshop will most likely be your answer.

Illustrator can produce sharper images and objects, but cannot edit photos. You can draw and create shapes and images in Illustrator using the pen or shape tools (you can do this in Photoshop as well, but it is much easier in Illustrator). While Illustrator can do limited 3D rendering, its generally best known for its ability to generate 2D (flat) images sharply, also known as vectorized images or objects. For example, pineapples, cucumbers, and oranges!

These are just the basic ideas of each program — you aren't limited to playing with text in Illustrator, as Photoshop can produce some wonderful typographic-centered images as well! Each program has its strengths and weaknesses, and I'll be touching on specific features and tools in future EBAC Design posts.

Have questions? Looking forward to next Sunday's Design Tips and want to know or learn something specific? Comment!

Cheese + butter,
Mayene Design

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Item Feature: Happily hanging skulls

When we think of skulls, we normally think of them in black and white or otherwise pretty monochromatic. Bone color, dark settings, creepy feelings. Erin Crocianni from Oakland (also known as PuffyWoodson on Etsy) steps away from this feeling and presents skulls in a colorful environment, with brightly colored chains.

Erin carefully paints tiny skulls and makes them into beautiful wooden cameo necklaces, adorned with crystal accents. Choose from a purple, red, green, or pink chain to go along with it, and you've got yourself a happy Halloween necklace that your friends or co-workers can hardly accuse you of being morbid for wearing. With the cameo measuring 2" by 3" hanging on a 20" chain, this would accompany a plain black t-shirt (v-neck or crew neck) very well to help this little buddy pop out at viewers without scaring them.

Handcrafted from wood, chain, and gems, give your little daughter a happy take on Halloween if the holiday appeals to her or get two and present your best friend with a pair of these colorful necklaces to wear as symbols of your friendship if you're into that kind of thing. Know someone's birthday is coming up near Halloween? Cheer them up with a sugar skull cameo! Great as a gift, a personal accessory, or even as a decoration to hang on your wall at home by your desk or at work to give your space a little color, this necklace is one to talk about.

Remember, this listing is for one necklace only! Order one and set a bright Halloween trend; the wide grins on these skulls are sure to put a smile on your face!

Check out PuffyWoodson's listing on Etsy now: Sugar Skulls Cameo necklaces 1!

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Choosing fonts for your Etsy banner

Fonts. People get emotional over them and people get overwhelmed by them. There are so many to choose from, so where do you start? Here are a few questions to ask yourself before jumping into pages and pages of font browsing:

1. What kind of shop do I own?
2. Who is my target audience?
3. Will my Etsy banner have large or small text or both?

When trying to decide on a font for your shop, if you don't already have a logo for your "brand" just think in terms of how you want text to display on your Etsy banner. Your shop banner on Etsy is limited to 760 pixels (width) by 100 pixels (height) — that's really not a lot of space, but it is enough to get the job done.
It's ok to have more than one font in your banner (I'd recommend sticking to one or two only), but how do you know if they match or clash? Below are some basic design rules 
when trying to choose "font pairs".

Have two fonts that look alike? Most people either won't care about the difference between Helvetica and Arial or won't even notice if you use them right next to each other or one on top of the other. There is no point in using two separate items that do the same job unless you are intentionally trying to annoy a designer that gets picky about that kind of minor detail (in that case, don't sacrifice your Etsy banner for that and get mixed up in the font mumbo jumbo — you're there to sell your work!)
This rule also includes mixing two fonts that are similar but you can still tell the difference between them — don't, they'll clash. Sibling rivalry is no fun.

There's an easy way to avoid looking for more than one font. Use a typeface. People often mix-up the two terms, so here's some clarification: a typeface is a "family" of fonts, while a font is one set of letters, numbers, and other glyphs or characters (sometimes just referred to as one "weight" of a typeface). For example, Helvetica is a typeface; it may include three (or more) different weights such as Light, Regular, and Bold. However, if you say "Helvetica Bold", then you are referring to a font. When you want to have two different fonts in your Etsy banner — one for your shop name and another for a brief description underneath — it's easy to use two fonts from the same typeface. When you keep your fonts in the same family, it makes the design of your banner look clean and professional. And it makes life simpler.

Serifs are a little "brackets" or "feet" at the ends of the letters (e.g. Garamond is a serif font) and a sans-serif font is one without these little feet and hands (e.g. Helvetica or Gill Sans are sans-serif fonts). If you're going to be matchmaking these two types of fonts, go ahead and experiment.

Keep in mind that there are fonts that work well at bigger sizes, but not so well at smaller sizes. If you're planning on using a script or cursive font for your shop name, and you see that it looks great at a big display size on your banner, don't think that you'll get away with that elegance when writing a small shop description beneath your name in the same font. The readability decreases with size for some fonts, such as scripts or decorative fonts. In these cases, if you're planning on having a brief description in your banner, pair your script font with a serif or sans serif font.

Have questions? Looking forward to next Sunday's Design Tips and want to know or learn something specific? Comment!

Cheese & butter,
Mayene Design

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Deadline, schmedline

How many times have you heard about an event that would be *perfect* for crafty wares, only to find that you missed the application deadline by a day or two, or maybe a week, or maybe even a couple months? Well, I've got a secret for you... it's rarely ever too late.

This was my first year of doing the craft festival circuit. I've heard that, generally speaking, the festival world has been hurt by the economic downfall. As a result, there seem to be more openings (whether this is a result of artisans not being able to afford the fees, or finding the experience to be not as worthwhile is unknown to me...), which means that you, as a crafter, have a bit of leverage.  I've had the luck of being let in to festivals on three occasions whose deadlines were way past. I just found out yesterday that I was able to get into the Celebration of Craftswomen's festival, and I applied 4 months past the deadline!

The thing to do is just send a polite email expressing your interest. You never know! But don't let something as simple as a little deadline be a deterrent.

***Oh, one more thing: many festivals are open to lowering their fee for new or first time vendors. So, if there's an event you're excited about, but nervous about the investment, just ask if they'd be willing to lower the fee a bit.***

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday Item Feature: Glowing spider webs

It's that month for spook and spices, jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pies. In a few weeks, parents will be worrying about cavities and kids will be running around for candies. But here's a find that will warm the hearts of parents and the rooms of kids. Crooked Sister on Etsy offers glowing Halloween-themed paper lanterns without being scary; in fact, these paper lanterns are a nice and affordable decoration for the upcoming holiday.

Dimly lit through hand-poked black cardstock, the image of a spider and its web will provide a faint fascination for kids or adult lovers of Halloween (or spiders in general). Two of the panels on this paper lantern are decorated with this eight-legged creature; let your kids enjoy the sight of a spider without worrying that it'll be crawling up your arm at night or your hand might accidentally sweep through a web in a long untouched corner somewhere.

Measuring about 3" wide by 6" tall when set up, this octagonal pair of lanterns (yes, you get two!) will look best when lit with smaller candles (such as tea lights) inside mason jars. It is advised to use jars since the glass will help disperse the light and will create a more luminescent lantern — plus, it is a much safer way to give this treat a glow without worrying the paper will burn! While the paper lanterns do not come with candles or jars, these are easy to find items (and if you have a jar of pasta sauce sitting around, make some spaghetti, wash out the jar, take off the label, and you got some glass to use).

Check out CrookedSister's listing on Etsy now: Halloween Spider Web Lantern 2 Pack!

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Friday, October 7, 2011

Monthly Positive Dose: Steve Jobs

I did this in honor of Steve Jobs'. The inspiring life he lived. for us "to do what you love and love what you do". Somehow, I couldn't even work knowing that this man who had a remarkable contribution to society passed. If you have this inner desire and an awesome out of this world ideas - continue. You are uniquely made. Check-out

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday Item Feature: Money to burn

In the best way possible do I combine "money" and "burn" in the same phrase. Ever feel the need to just clear out your wallet or a coin purse? Are those loose bills and clinking pieces of metal at the bottom of your bag or in your pockets itching to get out? Instead of spending your spare change on something small, dedicate yourself to putting it away somewhere in your room. If you want something special to put it in, consider a piggy bank. Too cliché? Not this one.

Diana Petty (also known as SouthpawPolymer on Etsy) has created a fiery little piggy bank for you to put those extra dollar bills burning a hole in your pocket. This little one can take the heat — it says, "Keep those monies coming!" Maybe you're kid or little nephew is trying to save up for that toy he's been dying to get; place this on his desk and its red hot "scales" will show him to stay tough and to not touch that money until he's absolutely sure he can afford that new gadget! If you think pink is too cute for you, this is a far step from the common pink or silver oink.

Crafted by layering 175 polymer clay petals on a ceramic piggy bank protects your money with a gradient of rich colors from bright translucent amber to an intense orange and a deep garnet red. Carefully cut and placed by hand, each fiery petal is embossed with tiny stitch details accented with russet red pigment powder. Finally, this little one is finely sanded, decorated with neutral-tone alcohol inks, and drip glazed for a mottled glossy finish, shining with a craving for saving money. Perhaps you'd like to save money for a new BBQ so you can roast a real pig that you've really been craving or glaze some ham for the holidays.

Whatever the purpose — gift, small personal savings, little goals, or even just home decor — Diane's little pig comes tissue wrapped in a lidded gift box tied with fabric ribbon ready to do its job.

Check out SouthpawPolymer's listing on Etsy now: Fireflower Piggy Bank Amber Orange Crimson!

Tune in next week for the Wednesday Item Feature!

Love & donuts,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Where'd Ya Get Your Inspriation From, Huh?

Sometimes I get all blocked up creatively. Stuck. I'll sit and stare at a panel, or a canvas, or my sketchpad and nothing comes. I've learned that rather than try to will the inspiration to come, it's best to step away and turn to the things that get me excited about making art again.

Some of my go to's: Michael Shapcott is just freaking amazing. Here's a video of him doing what he does best:

Perusing Tim Burton's past and present ventures tend to get me excited to pick up clay or my watercolors. I also love Danny Elfman's musical contribution to the website.

Other artist's whose work I love: Audrey Kawasaki: her ethereal and evocative images remind me that having the patience to see a piece through is imperative.
Kris Lewis: reminds me that portraits don't need to be boring...

Other times, taking my pup for a walk is does the trick. I'm fortunate to live in a beautiful area lush with flora and fauna alike. It's amazing what 30 minutes of fresh air, blossoms, and birds will do!

What about you? How do you get the muse to show her face again?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Design tips coming soon!

Hello all! While I write up your weekly Wednesday Item Features, I'll be starting to whip up design-related posts from tutorials to typography tips. Each post will be marked with this image before I begin:
In a couple of weeks, I'll start posting regularly on Sunday nights with your weekly dose of design, including How-To tutorials on your favorite (or most despised) programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Have a question about fonts? Ask away — I will be happy to give suggestions or recommendations or build lists of fonts that may work for types of items or specific target audiences.

If there is anything design-related you would love to see or read more about, please let me know!

Stay tuned for the first EBAC design post!

Cheese + butter,
Mayene Design

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Pictures from our last Team Craft Fair

Last Saturday we got together for a group craft fair at the Phat Beets N. Oakland Farmers market. I snapped these photos in the morning just as everyone was finishing setting up their booths. 
We were 16 strong representing EBAC!