June 2019 Newsletter

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May In Review

Show prep was the big focus for the month of May. Outside of certificates of authenticity, I didn’t do much printing. I didn’t do much mat board cutting or foam board cutting either. Those three had taken up a lot of my time the couple months leading up to May. Time was instead spent on figuring out how to pack everything, practicing setting up my display, getting my point of sale system set up, etc.

It was exciting to finally get my display set up early in the month. The first time I set it up it took most of a day to get it set up and taken back down. It felt so good to see things come together and see the art displayed. It was also a great feeling knowing that I could finally start applying to shows (since most shows require pictures of my booth to apply). Thankfully the next couple times setting it up and taking it down went much faster.

Unfortunately I missed the flurry of spring shows, but thankfully I was able to get accepted into a show in June, and hopefully I can get a few shows in during the fall when the next flurry happens. More info below on the two shows I have been accepted into thus far.

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Finally, I made a trip up to my parents’ place in NE Oklahoma over Memorial Day weekend. I took an out of the way route on the way there to get some fire hydrant pictures in, and I got the picture above of the Pensacola Dam on Grand Lake while I was up there. It was pretty spectacular to see the water being released from the dam. The other pictures from the trip can be found in my Fresh Off The Card gallery on my website.

Looking Forward To June

The first half of June will be spent getting stuff wrapped up for my first show, which is the Vinita Route 66 Festival in Vinita, OK on June 15. See links in the section below. I keep thinking I’m going to get to a point where there isn’t a lot to do and I can take a little bit of a break, but I keep finding more and more I need to do. Haha.

After the show, hopefully I’ll have some more printing to do to restock sold prints. I’m sure there will be lessons learned from the show as well, and there will be some time spent later in the month figuring out how to make adjustments to hopefully improve the following shows.

And finally, there will likely be some more show applications submitted during the month. I’m sure that will become a fairly consistent occurrence. I will post new shows on my website and Facebook page as I get accepted.

Upcoming Shows

Vinita Route 66 Festival
June 15, 2019
Vinita, OK
Website
Facebook

Joplin Arts Fest
September 20-21, 2019
Joplin, MO
Website
Facebook

May 2019 Newsletter

April In Review

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Inventory, inventory, inventory. That was pretty much the story of my April. There was lots of printing and lots of mat board and foam board cutting. Thankfully April was much less frustrating than March was, and I was able to actually make a lot of progress on getting inventory built up. I didn’t have near as many problems with mat board cutting as I had in March. That helped a lot. And because of that, I was able to get a lot of prints made and not waste a bunch of time on mat board cutting.

The second half of the month I finally got around to ordering art show display items (tent, lights, print display racks, etc.). The last week of the month, I got most of this delivered, and I got all my framed prints back as well. That was really exciting. It really made it feel like I was starting to make some good progress. I’m to the point now, though, where I have my art show stuff scattered all throughout the house. Haha.

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And last, but not least, I was finally able to get out and get some new pictures in April, one of which is shown above. My family went on a camping trip to Sardis Lake mid-month. For the trip down there, I took the “scenic route” and stopped in a few towns along the way to try and get some fire hydrant pictures. I got a few decent pictures, and I was able to get a few more pictures of other things while at the campground. You can see the rest here. It’s always nice to get out with the camera after a while of not using it, and it makes it even better when you can get some good pictures as well.

Looking Forward To May

May is off to a rough start already. Haha. Yesterday after work I was planning on making a couple stops after work that were out of the way of my normal route home. While I was at my first stop, I realized that some severe thunderstorms were headed my way, so I skipped the second stop and headed home. The thunderstorms ended up fizzling out quickly just as they got to OKC, so I could have made the second stop after all. And then I did some digging into a metal print order I placed this past weekend, it looks like it didn’t go through. I was hoping to have the prints back by tomorrow so I could get my tent set up and take pictures with the prints, but it appears that won’t be happening now. Hopefully it’s not a sign of how the month is going to go.

The goals for this month are to get my tent set up and get some pictures so I can start applying to shows. I would like to have a “trial run” show mid-month for family and friends so I can try and work out a few kinks prior to a real show. And I’ll slowly be adding to my inventory in the meantime. It should hopefully be a slower month compared to the last couple, but there is still lots to do. I will be focused a lot more on getting ready for shows as opposed to the inventory side of things.

It should be an exciting month if I can get everything done that I would like. Hopefully I got most of the bad luck out of the way yesterday.

April 2019 Newsletter

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March In Review

March was all about learning, patience, and preparation. The picture above is symbolic of how the month went (keep reading for more details). I don’t think I got my camera out a single time in the month of March. My focus was on getting the business up and running. After getting the business officially registered and set up early in the month, it was off to the races to get everything else set up and start purchasing the tools and supplies I needed. There was all the business stuff (accounting software, business phone, checking account, etc.) and then there was the art stuff (choosing paper, picking sizes, printing, mounting, matting, etc.).

I was more worried about the business stuff being a pain than the art stuff, but ironically the art stuff has given me way more problems and frustration. How hard could it be to print a photo, mount it, and mat it? The Youtube video I watched made it seem so easy. Come to find out, it’s not so easy. The printing part has been pretty straight forward thanks to taking the printing class back in February. However, there were still a couple learning moments over the last month (figuring out how to create custom paper sizes, using roll paper, and adjusting margins when using roll paper).

The mat cutting has caused me the most frustration. I never imagined cutting a mat would be so difficult. You just set the measurements and cut. But it turns out you need to have the blade at the correct depth and you have to correct for over/under cut. There have been a couple instances now where it has taken me 2-3 hours (and a lot of wasted mat board and frustration) to try and correct for over/under cut. If I hadn’t put a good chunk of change into a big mat board cutter and custom mat board wasn’t so expensive, I may have said forget it with cutting my own mat board already. Hopefully I have all the kinks finally worked out.

And then comes the mounting and matting. Once again, just mount the photo using photo corners, apply the mat board adhesive, and then mount the mat board. It looked so simple. However, making sure everything is lined up just right is time consuming. There were a couple of my print sizes where I didn’t leave enough room for the mat board adhesive, so I had to cut some of the border off those prints (and subsequently change how I had those sizes set up to print). And the image/mat board dimensions on my first panoramic prints didn’t work well. And then, to top it all off, I discovered the pen that I was using to sign my luster prints didn’t work very well on my matte prints.

So, as you can tell, there has been a large (and very frustrating at times) learning curve over the last month I wasn’t expecting. There have been some highs (getting my first open edition prints ready for sale), and there have been some lows (trashing all of my first 8 limited edition prints for various reasons after spending hours trying to get them ready, to name one). But with each low has generally come a learning experience. So hopefully, after a month full of learning experiences, I have a lot of the kinks worked out in regards to creating the art. I’m sure there will be a whole host of new learning experiences and kinks to work out once I actually start selling the art, but that’s a little ways down the road, which leads into the next section.

Looking Forward To April

I was hoping to be a lot farther than I currently am headed into April, but between the unforeseen learning curve and some delays in getting some supplies, progress has been slower than I had hoped. I was initially hoping to have a lot of my initial art work finished by the middle of the month, and then start applying to shows and possibly have a “trial run” with some friends and family. That’s not looking very likely at this point. Hopefully now that I have learned a lot over the past month, I can start making faster progress, but unfortantely I’m guessing it’ll probably be late in the month before I’m ready to start applying to shows. As mentioned before, I would like to have a “trial run” with friends and family to try and work out a few things with my booth and selling before I do an actual show, but I’m not sure when I’ll try that at this point. I’ll likely shoot for the last weekend in April, but we’ll see how things go.

Hopefully in April I’ll actually be able to get out and get some new pictures at some point as well. We have a family camping trip planned for later in the month (assuming the weather cooperates), so that should be a good opportunity to get some new pictures. It will probably be much needed by that point.

And the Winners Are…

First off, I want to say a huge thanks to those of you who completed my survey and chose your favorite pictures. It was fun, interesting, and useful to see the results. The survey is still open, so you can still take it if you would like. You won’t be entered to win a gift card at this point, but I would still appreciate the feedback.

Second, to those of you who liked my Facebook page or followed my blog, I look forward to sharing my journey with you. I have no idea how this is going to go or where it will take me, but that’s what makes it exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Hopefully I’ll have some helpful information, good stories, and lessons learned that I can share long the way.

But without further ado, here are the winners of the gift cards:

Survey ($100): Marsha McCorkle
Facebook ($50): Robert Funk
Blog ($50): AHazardDesign

I will be sending you three emails/messages shortly. Congratulations!

It’s Official!

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My business is officially registered in Oklahoma! I have thought about doing this for a long time, and the time has finally come. Really excited, but also kind of daunting thinking of everything I need to do over the next couple months. With all the changes coming I wanted to point out a couple ways you can stay up to date, provide an opportunity to help me out, and have some chances to win a gift card. So continue reading!

Blog

I haven’t posted on the blog in quite a while. I haven’t really had a whole lot going on lately other than doing a bunch of research/learning to get this business going, which is pretty boring. However, with getting the business going, there will likely be more to post going forward, and I plan on posting at least once a month to highlight what has been going on and what’s coming up. So if you want to stay in the loop, I suggest signing up to follow my blog. You can do this using the form that is located at the upper right of my blog. (The form is shown in the picture below for reference.)

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And just for signing up to follow my blog, I’ll enter you to win a $50 gift card of your choice.

Facebook

For more spur of the moment type posts, you can like my Facebook page. This could be pictures of working on my art, eating at a local joint while on a fire hydrant trip, or many other things. Obviously not as in depth posts as on my blog, but you can keep tabs on what I’m up to on a more frequent basis. As with my blog, if you like my Facebook page, I’ll enter you to win a $50 gift card of your choice.

Favorite Photos

Last, but definitely not least, I need your input. I have picked out a set of what I consider to be my best pictures. However, it doesn’t do me much good if I like them and nobody else does. This is where you come in. I have created a survey that you can take to let me know which pictures are your favorites. For the favorite picture questions, you will need to choose your 5 favorites. I’ll use this feedback for determining which pictures I need to focus on first for selling at art shows. Only 100 people can take the survey, and those who complete it will be entered to win a $100 gift card of their choice.


So there you have it. A few more notes regarding these gift card giveaways are listed below. I hope you choose to follow me during this new journey, and I would really appreciate the feedback on the photos. Even though it’s going to be a fast and furious few months, it should be fun and exciting.

  • You can enter into all three gift card giveaways, but you can only win one.
  • I will get in contact with the winners after they are chosen to discuss which gift card they would like.
  • I must be able to purchase the gift cards in Oklahoma City or online.
  • The deadline to enter is 5:00 P.M. CDT March 13.
  • The winners will be chosen using the “randbetween” function in Excel.
  • Multiple entries by the same person in the same drawing (for example, the same person taking the survey 10 times) will disqualify that person. The same person can enter all three different drawings, but not multiple times in the same drawing.

Thoughts on IKEA Cabinets

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In December, I finished up remodeling my kitchen. You can see the before and after pictures in my post I wrote in December. For my cabinets, I used cabinets from IKEA, and since a lot of people seem to be curious about IKEA cabinets, I figured I would write up a post with some of my thoughts on them.

Why I Chose IKEA Cabinets

Price was the biggest driver. I had Lowes and a kitchen design place put together quotes, and if I remember correctly, IKEA was about half the price of either place. If I hadn’t felt comfortable installing the IKEA cabinets, I probably would have gone with one of the other places. But since I felt that my dad and I could get them installed, I decided to save some money and give the IKEA cabinets a shot. Plus, most of the people who wrote reviews online seemed to be really happy with them, and they seemed to look pretty good. However, although we would be saving money, it also meant my dad and I would be putting in a lot more work than we would have by going with one of the other places. But we were ok with that.

Where Is Your Closest IKEA?

This was the biggest con for me when I was debating whether or not to use IKEA cabinets. If we had an IKEA in Oklahoma City, it probably would have been a no brainer. However, the closest IKEA for me is about 3 hours away in Friso, TX. This meant likely making multiple trips to Frisco, and also not being able to make a quick trip to the store to make an exchange if something got damaged in shipping. I ended up making two trips to Frisco: one for a consultation and one for ordering. A couple of my pieces were damaged in shipping (more on this later), so I had to have some replacement pieces shipped. I got them pretty fast, but still had to go through the process of calling the store, getting the pieces figured out, and then waiting on them to arrive. And then once I was finished, I made a trip to the Kansas City IKEA to return a few items (since I was already at my brother’s place over the holidays and only about an hour from the Kansas City IKEA). So just keep in mind: if you don’t have an IKEA close, you may be making several trips back and forth and/or waiting on pieces to arrive.

Putting Together Your Plan

IKEA has an online tool you can use to build your virtual kitchen. It isn’t the easiest tool to figure out, but once I got the hang of it, I really liked it, and it helped a ton in figuring out what I wanted to do. You can go into the store and do this on their computers, but if the associates are busy, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get a lot of help from them. You can set up appointments with associates to help you out, but you have to pay for this. I would highly recommend getting the plan put together yourself if you can. That way you can set up an appointment to essentially have the IKEA associate check your plan and make sure you aren’t missing anything (I was missing cover panels) or let you know if they would recommend something else. This will likely also give them time to get an order list put together. That way, if you are coming back later to place the order, you really just have to give them the order list and they can place the order. If you set up an appointment and have to start from scratch, the associate may not have time to get the order list ready, which isn’t a huge deal, but it would save you a little time when you went in to order.

You could go in and put together your kitchen plan and order at the same time, but in my case, I set up my appointment when IKEA wasn’t doing a kitchen sale, so I waited for them to have a kitchen sale before I placed my order. I have heard that it gets pretty crazy in the cabinet department during the kitchen sales, so I would suggest getting everything lined out before the sale, and then when the sale starts, all you have to do is have an associate place the order.

One suggestion when placing your order: get a template for the handles. You have to install the handles yourself, and the template makes it so much easier to get all the handles right. My IKEA associate suggested this, but if yours doesn’t, make sure you mention it.

Getting Your Cabinets

When I went in for my consultation, the associate told me it would be $59 to ship the cabinets to my place in OKC. That was a no brainer. However, when I went in to place my order, I was told it was going to be $199. I tried to get them to change it to $59, but they wouldn’t. However, $199 still beat having to deal with driving to Frisco, figuring out Uhaul logistics, and then hauling them back. Also during the consultation, the associate told me it generally takes 2-3 weeks to get them when they are shipped. However, when I put my order in, I was able to get them in less than a week, which was a plus. Anyway, you have the option to have them shipped (which was better for me living 3 hours away from the store), or you can pick them up yourself (possibly same day as order), which may be better for you if you live close to the store.

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Cabinet order in my garage after being unloaded. Red arrow points to damaged package.

Once you get them, inventory them to make sure you aren’t missing anything and to make sure nothing is damaged. It’s not particularly fun, but you don’t want to wait several days, and then have IKEA tell you that you’re out of luck since you waited too long to get back with them after receiving the order. In my case, I had a couple boxes that were damaged (see red arrow in picture above), which was a pretty good sign that I needed to check the pieces in the boxes for damage. Each box that had damage had a damaged cabinet panel in it. I also got a hinge pouch that was already open and missing some pieces. If the box didn’t look damaged, I didn’t pull any of the pieces out. I called IKEA the next day and they didn’t have any issues with sending me replacement pieces, which ended up being a whole new cabinet box. Unfortunately, some pieces in the replacement box also got damaged in shipping. This was part of the reason I was a little hesitant to go with IKEA. Luckily, between the contents of the three damaged boxes, we were able to make it work though.

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Cabinets after inventory and organization (cover panels not shown, on opposite wall).

One other suggestion: when you are doing inventory on your order, group items by cabinet. In my order, each cabinet had a number. So when I started doing inventory, I wrote these numbers on small pieces of paper, and then I would group pieces by these numbers. It made it a whole lot easier going forward to keep track of what went with what and where it went in the kitchen. Once again, it takes some extra time, and you have to be careful about not getting pieces mixed up once you start assembling, but I thought it was worth it.

Assembly and Installation

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Assembled cabinet frames.

Assembling the cabinet frames ended up being a lot less time consuming that I thought it would be. Most of them were really quite simple, and once I got the hang of it, it went pretty quick. The only somewhat difficult ones were the corner cabinets. I was able to do all the assembly myself without any big problems. The instructions aren’t the greatest, but I didn’t have much trouble following them. If you will be assembling your cabinets on a hard surface (such as a concrete floor like I did), I would suggest laying something “soft” down on the floor to do the assembly on. I just used the cardboard from the cabinet boxes, and it worked fine.

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Installing the cabinet frames.

After I got the frames assembled, my dad came down and we got them installed. This is where you may have to get a little creative since these really aren’t custom cabinets. Here are a few examples where we had to be creative:

  1. Base cabinets on the right side of the picture above. Since we couldn’t get cabinets with custom depths, we had to bring a couple of the cabinets away from the wall to get them all flush out front. To do this, we cut a 4×4 post to the thickness we needed, mounted the post to the studs, and then mounted the railing to the post. We had to do something similar on the cabinet above the fridge to get it out far enough.
  2. To get the sink centered under the window, we had to put a couple finish panels between the sink cabinet and the corner cabinet.
  3. Our biggest headache: to get some of the upper cabinets level, we had to bring the bottoms out away from the walls, so we had to build some blocks of wood to use as wedges to keep them out from the wall, which wasn’t a big deal. However, this made the finish panels a heck of a lot more difficult and time consuming. The finish panels are made to be used when the cabinets are sitting against the wall as they normally would. We generally just needed to take one measurement (the height), and make one cut. But once we pulled the bottom of the cabinets away from the wall, we couldn’t use the normal finish panels. This meant we had to measure each finish panel, and custom cut it out of one of IKEA’s large (36″x96″) panels, and we ended up having to order an extra one of these panels (once again, we couldn’t just make a quick trip to the store to pick one up). Also, this large panel is thicker than the normal cover panels, so we had to then be careful about where we were sticking the normal cover panels and these custom cover panels to make sure that it didn’t look weird with the different thicknesses. And finally, the large finish panels don’t come with any screws to attach them to the cabinets (whereas the normal finish panels do). So we had to find some cabinet screws that we could use to attach the finish panels. They didn’t match the IKEA screws exactly, but they were close enough that it was fine, although we didn’t like them as much as the IKEA screws that were provided with the normal finish panels.
  4. On the cabinets to the right of the oven (both upper and lower), there is a gap between the cabinet and the wall to the right (can’t see it in the picture above). We had to figure out how to cut and mount a finish panel piece to fill this gap. We didn’t like our first attempt at the bottom piece, and luckily we were able to get it out without tearing anything up. But we eventually figured out a way that looked decent.

If you’re good with DIY, then you should be able to come up with solutions for most of the things like this you come across, but as I said, it may take some thought and creativity.

Finally came the doors, drawers, and hardware. The doors and shelves were all really simple. The drawers were more difficult and time consuming. I was a little careless and actually messed a few of the drawers up, but luckily in a way that I was still able to use them, and it’s actually nearly impossible to tell that I messed them up. And as I mentioned earlier, the template for the door handles was a huge help.

A couple final notes on this:

  1. The dust from cutting the finish panels is horrible. It’s a really fine powder that sticks to everything and gets everywhere. So be prepared for that, and cut these somewhere where you don’t mind getting dusty.
  2. Be careful how you cut the cover panels and take your time. You will likely need to cut them differently depending on the saw. With my table saw, the “finished side” (the side that you would see) needed to be face up. With my circular saw, the “finished side” needed to be face down. Also, take the cuts slow, as this seemed to help make the cut look better. And finally, and probably most important, use a fine tooth blade.

Final Thoughts

If you want a flawless kitchen, I would say IKEA cabinets aren’t for you. They are time consuming, and make a big mess if you have to cut as many finish panels as we did. They aren’t custom, so you may have to be creative to make them work in your kitchen. They also have some metal pieces that you can see on the bottom. The only place these are really visible in my kitchen are above the fridge, but if you bend down and look under the cabinets, you can see them.

However, I’m pretty picky, and I’m really happy with how they turned out. If you don’t mind spending the time on them and are good with DIY, then you should be able to make them work, and I would recommend them. If you aren’t good with DIY, you could probably find someone to install them for you, but at that point, I probably would have gone with Lowes or the kitchen design place.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read the post, and I hope it was helpful for you. If you haven’t read any other reviews/articles/blogs or watched any videos on installing IKEA cabinets, I would suggest you do some more research. You can learn something different from each of the articles/videos. I have placed a few videos below that I found helpful. If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them for you. Just use the contact link at the top of the page, or send an email to brentuphoto@gmail.com.

 

 

(A lot of video to watch, but some good tips in each video.)

The Importance of Maps

Not just a map, but maps. As in more than one.

When my brother and I started doing backpacking trips, I took along a National Geographic topographic map. The National Geographic maps gave us a general idea of where trail intersections should be, which is all we really needed to know. We weren’t doing any off-trail excursions. And luckily we never ran into any instances where we needed any sort of other map.

This past summer I took a navigation course through REI, and learned about the custom USGS quad maps on mytopo.com. With mytopo.com, you can create a map that merges several USGS quad maps into a single map, possibly eliminating the need to carry multiple USGS quad maps. I tried one of these maps out for the first time on our hike this past summer in the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. It was so nice to have the detail of the USGS quad map. I rarely looked at the National Geographic map that we had during that trip. I was definitely glad I had learned about these maps, and they were something I was going to use going forward.

Fast forward a couple months to September. I took my first solo backpacking trip out to the Uinta Mountains in Utah. Just like the trip in Wyoming, I had a custom USGS quad map from mytopo.com and a National geographic map. Once again, I loved having the detail of the USGS quad map, and for most of the trip, that was the only map I really needed. But if you read my trip report post, you know that I ran into some issues on the way back to my car. Some strong winds had kicked up a wildfire and was blowing the smoke across the trail. I knew the fire was relatively close to the trail, and the smoke and ash was thick enough that I didn’t feel comfortable hiking out on my first attempt.

This is where having both the USGS quad map and the National Geographic map was important. With the possibility that I may not be able to hike out the way I had come in due to the wildfire, I knew that I needed to look for other potential ways out. However, due to the zoomed in nature of the USGS map (relative to the National Geographic map), it didn’t show any other trailheads. I could find other trails on this map that went other directions, but I would have no idea if they led to other trailheads. This is when the National Geographic map came in handy. It wasn’t as detailed, but since it showed a larger area, I was able to see other trailheads and map out a secondary way out if it was needed. It definitely wasn’t ideal and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but it at least gave me relief that I had another option.

Thankfully I didn’t have to use that secondary option, but it made me realize the importance of having (at least) two maps: one with detail of the area I’m planning on hiking, and another that shows a broader area just in case something goes wrong and I have to find another route.

And while we are on this topic, I would highly recommend taking a navigation course if you are going to be doing any sort of hiking/backpacking. My brother and I took several trips without either one of us having taken a navigation course. You may be able to get by without those skills, but you never know when you’ll run into a situation when you’ll need those skills, and they could save your life.