Exposure in Thrillist.com

A Web Of Connections

You never know the connections that might be made from being in a show, exhibition, or getting published. It seems like it is never is a straight line in arriving to that point nor where you may go from there. It is more like a spider web of connections and interconnections. 

Since being included in the fine woodworking exhibition at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, I have all sorts of emails and contacts that have come my direction. One of them was from the executive editor of Thrillist.com. It is an online source for articles covering what's cool and happening in the world of art, entertainment, food, and products. In their own words "Thrillist Sifts Through The Crap...to find the best new spots to eat, drink and shop in your 'hood." 

People travel, and so does the executive editor of Thrillist, who lives in New York City. While visiting his family in Bozeman, MT he stopped in to see the fine woodworking exhibition at the Museum of the Rockies and was impressed enough that he had to give it some exposure in the Thrillist.com website.


I am one of the 6 artists shown in the article for my prairie chandelier. The picture included in the article was an image that shows the inspiration, conception, and final project.

Not long after the article was released, a man from Cleveland contacted me because he recognized the stairwell tower, and could not believe that it provided inspiration for such a fine project. He asked if I had contacted the architect that designed the structure, which I have not, I do not even know who the designer is. There certainly is potential to make more valuable contacts if I pursue this.

The Gold Nugget For Today

Here is the gold nugget for woodworkers that ask me "how do you do it?" This whole situation, including how I got in the exhibition, is the result of a series of connections and interconnections being made. It is the reward for a lot of effort and time invested in the shop building projects and then making connections to show people my work. It takes the ability to recongize an opportunity, and it takes effort to take advantage of it.

I will also admit, that it takes a bit of luck in making just the right connections, but that still does not happen without putting forth the effort.

Prairie Chandelier Inspiration.jpg

What's Good For One Is Good For Us All

I thought it was pretty cool not only to be included in the online article, but the fact that the world of fine woodworking and design got a boost from a main-stream source that is not just focused and centered on woodworking, which is usually the case. It helps to spark interest in the art of fine woodworking and keep it alive.

Check out the article at Thrillist.com, and also see what else they may have that might interest you. Thanks to the guys at Thrillist for giving the craft of fine woodwork & design the exposure! 

Now it's time to get motivated and get moving out to the shop to build something!

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love-Share the Knowledge

Billings PechaKucha...Uhmm...Pe-What-chKa?

Poster By Collaborative Design Architects

What is a PechaKucha?

I was excited to receive an invitation by Collaborative Design Architects to make a presentation at the most recent PechaKucha in Billings.

I am sure you are wondering what this strange word is. First let me explain how it is pronounced: peh-CHAK-cha. This is a Japanese term which loosely translates as "chit chat" (as was shared with me.)

A PechaKucha is an event for creative people to share their work with the public. I use the term "creative people" because using the term "artist" seems to limit interpretation to the traditional painter, sculptor, photographer etc. that we only see in galleries & museums.

The purpose of the PechaKucha is to expose the community to the broad range of talented people that exercise their creativity everyday but are often not seen in galleries.

How does it work?

The presentation is also known as a "PechaKucha 20x20" or some just refer to it as a "20x20." This is because the artist gets to show 20 slides for 20 seconds each for a total presentation of 6 minutes 40 seconds.

The artist has no control over the slide show. I could not pause it, back it up, or fast forward it. This keeps the pace of the show going. I really had to define what was the most important work and message that I wanted to share.

The PK20x20 BeginsThe PK 20x20 Experience

The venue is very relaxed. The public is already having a good time gallery hopping and is very receptive to seeing the artists share their work.

Part of the unique experience is due to the location. The PK 20x20's are not normally held in a gallery but often in a warehouse, bar, or other informal setting. Still, most of the 11 artists seemed to be a bit nervous. This led to comical mistakes & remarks in their presentations but the crowd had a good laugh and the artists seem to loosen up.

I was not nervous at all until I stood up in front of the crowd. Then all of my thoughts fell out on the floor. The slide show started playing and my mouth, separate from my mind, started talking. Many artists had uncomfortable moments of silence in their presentations, but it seemed that my slides were changing faster than they had for the others. I talked non-stop and had to keep up with the ever increasing speed of the slide show.

When my presentation was over I sat down with little memory of what I had said. But after the show I got a lot of compliments on my work and presentation. This proves, once again, that my mouth has a mind of it's own but fortunately it did not embarrass me this time.

PK AudienceThe Value of PK 20x20

 The PK 20x20 is a great venue for sharing your work. Locally it runs concurrent with the Billings Art Walk and the presentations start when the Art Walk ends.

It is an opportunity for sharing and defining your work to the local public. The audience is made up of a lot of people interested in art, other artists, architects, and designers. There is potential that some of these people will be looking for what I provide on future projects and now they know who I am and exactly the type of work I do.

Defining your work to the public is important. There were basically two types of people that approached me afterward. One group was impressed with my work but did not know I existed prior to the show. The other group thought they knew what I did and never bothered to check my website so they really had no clue. Their impression of me was anything from a handyman to trim carpenter but did not realize I was a Designer~Craftsman. So the PK 20x20 was a great opportunity to define who I am and what I offer.

A great follow-up to the show happened a week later when a guy approached me in a local coffee shop. He recognized me from the show and gave some very encouraging words on how impressive my work was and that he had enjoyed my presentation. That was a big boost for me:)

Another great value in participating was the connections made with other artists. I get a great deal of inspiration being around other artists, especially those that work in other disciplines. We often engage in stimulating conversations about the creative process and our projects. I find that exposing myself to other art develops my sense of design and I simply love being in the company of other "Creatives."

One thing that is difficult for many of us to do is to stand in front of a large group of people and be the focus of attention. I felt that it was important that I take the opportunity to not only present my work but to get more experience speaking in public. This certainly has to be one of the best situations to practice public speaking.

Supporting Creativity and Art

A big "THANKS" goes to Collaborative Design Architects in Billings. They started the PechaKucha locally which is actually part of an international program. CDA's goal with the PK 20x20 is to promote public awareness of the creativity & talent in Billings, MT and the surrounding region. 

They have taken it upon themselves to shoulder this program with no other intent than to make the talent known and to support art in the local community. They understand the importance of art and creativity not only in architecture but the role and value it has in everyday life.

Be sure to check out the work at Collaborative Design Architects from Billings.

Also stop by PechaKucha.org and learn more about the program. You can see slide shows by artists from around the world and see if there is a local show that you can participate in. I encourage any artist or craftsman to do so.

Your friend in the shop,

Todd A. Clippinger

"I am not a public speaker but, apparently, my mouth is"

Alison Heath on Woodworking & Marketing

Guys - Meet Alison Heath

If you are interested in woodworking as a business, it is important that you get to know Alison Heath. 

I became aware of Alison Heath through Twitter. I noticed that she was always sharing these great, nutritious bits of information on business and marketing strategies, so I started following her at Twitter and through her blog  "Workbench Marketing." 

Alison Heath - Marketing Super GeniusOne of the things that I found to be a great connector for me to Alison is that she loves furniture and she worked as marketing director for a high-end custom furniture business in the D.C. area. She understands small business and has a special penchant for the craftsman of any medium.

This is important, because what she shares seems more relevant to me and my business. The variety of business books I have read offer great business advice and principles, but there seemed to be a disconnect as to how it helps me, with my business, in my situation. Alison's information seems to be spot-on for me and so other woodworkers may find her information particularly applicable as well.

Another pro woodworker and business owner that follows Alison is Troy Bouffard. Troy puts together the best interviews I have seen anywhere and he has just posted an interview with Alison at his site Birch Hill Woodcrafts. So be sure to check out Troy's interview with Alison to find out about her background and what she is all about.

What I love about Alison is that she "Shares the Love & Shares the Knowledge." Today, Alison is appearing as a guest writer for the ACW and her submission covers woodworking and marketing. 

Woodworking + Marketing = Success

by Alison Heath

There’s more to owning a woodworking business than the woodworking.

Even if you are the best craftsman in the country, with unique designs, speed and efficiency in the shop and the full complement of professional equipment, you still need one crucial thing: CUSTOMERS.

Some folks seem to think that by opening up their doors and saying that they’re a professional woodworker, they will immediately have a backlog six months to three years long like Sam Maloof did. The reality is often different. Sometimes much different. I know woodworkers who haven’t seen a sale in six months, much less a backlog of six months.

That’s not intended to discourage anyone in their dream of becoming a professional furniture-maker. However, in order to be a professional, you need to be a professional businessman and not just a woodworker. And while you’re dreaming of your own woodworking business with the safety net of a nine to five is the time to start thinking about the basics of marketing. It’s not as scary as you may think.

1. Your Name, Professional Woodworker

You need to name your business. The above may have a nice ring to your ears, but what does it say to your customers? First, when a potential customer wants a piece of furniture, I can guarantee you that they won’t be Googling your name. Second, what is a woodworker? Is it a framer? A carpenter? A remodeler? There is nothing magical about the term “woodworker” that tells someone outside the hobby that you sell furniture. Instead, pick a name that says something about what you’d like potential customers to know about your business. Even better if you can come up with a business name that includes common search terms for what you’d like to sell. A business name isn’t there to soothe your vanity. It’s there to promote your business.

2. Start Promoting Now

Here’s the bare minimum you need before you can start a woodworking business in the 21st century:

  • A website
  • Business cards
  • Relationships with other craftsmen in your community (not just woodworkers)

Your road will be easier if you start this now. What this will give you is a website that the search engines will actually see when you’re eventually ready to take the plunge, a bunch of contact information from potential customers that you’ve exchanged information with and a network of like-minded folks who are not necessarily in competition with you to share business tips and tricks with.

3. Don't Freak Out

You can do this. If you’re here reading Todd’s blog, you’re putting yourself in a terrific position for success in the future. But along with building your woodworking skills, work on building your business skills. Learn how to design a website. Learn how to build and maintain long-lasting relationships. Learn how to get your products in front of the right people. Learn how to ask for help.

 Best of luck!

Alison Heath is a marketer focused on bringing marketing basics to small business owners. She blogs daily at Workbench Marketing and can be found on Twitter @furnituregirl.

Alison, thanks for sharing, we really appreciate it. 

Well Guys - That is all for now. If you are interested in business, be sure to check out Alison's blog regularly.

Your friend in the shop, Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love ~ Share the Knowledge