Lance T. Miller, My Fairy Con Father.

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I went to an Origins Board Game Convention in Ohio with my husband last week.

My husband is working on a board game and hopes to one day have it
published. It was a trip to support his dream and passion.

I brought my balloons just because it is my passion. I spent a lot of time at the hotel with my daughter and they really kept me feeling right at home.

I ended up going to a couple seminars there at the convention. I went to Publicity 101 and I went to a seminar called Entrepreneurship for Artists.

Artist, Lance T. Miller was the seminar speaker for the latter seminar. He is a multi-award winning fantasy artist and playing card designer. Check out this pic of his steam punk cards he designed below. His Facebook.

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(Photo Taken by Kris D’amico)

There were 7 of us there to listen to him. He asked everyone what kind of art they did. I showed him a picture of my balloon Dalek costume I made and he was very impressed and he had never before met a balloon sculptor.

His seminar was very motivational. He talked about his personal failures and his personal successes.

The biggest two things that he strove to drive home was that he sees so many artists
sell themselves short and not to do that and that it is very important to find a
mentor.

He is quite a character and personable and though he is just a
year older than me, he felt a million more times adult and worldly. He has done
a lot more and seen a lot more than me.

He saw me as needing to do bigger things and projects and to think bigger for myself. I was quite flattered and scared to hear that, lol.

He changed my mind on my time.
I thought that since I am a home-maker, my balloon making time wasn’t worth as
much as other people.

He really stressed and made clear that artwork is
work. Our time has value. Our work has value.

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After his seminar, I told him that his life story fit the Phoenix theme perfectly and I showed him a picture of Andre Nolle’s Phoenix that I made and that I would make him one.

He loved it and said, “I tell you what, you make it and tell me how much it is and decide how much your time is worth and I will pay it. I want to make sure you learned something from this seminar.”.

I forgot what all was said exactly but I started wavering and I got to
make the joke, “Fool! You’ve learned absolutely nothing from my one hour class!”
That is a Simpson’s reference, specifically the C.E.Doh episode from season 14.

He just encouraged me again and let me know
where he would be in the vendors room during the con.

I worked on the Phoenix for 3 hours that night. Which was a huge improvement from the first time I made it, I was a lot longer last time. I had to do everything from memory as I didn’t have wifi in the hotel room and so I couldn’t watch Andre’s Tutorial. I had one picture to go by in my iPod. I had only made it once before. I managed to remember!

I brought it down to Lance the next day and before I left, my husband said that I should charge $150.

Could my time really be worth 50 an hour for special orders I thought to
myself?

I guessed that I should give it a shot. It was tricky because if
I charged too low, I felt that Lance would feel that I really didn’t learn
anything and would be disappointed and I didn’t want charge too much though and upset him and be a jerk. I also have no idea how much balloon artists charge for things like this so that puts an added level of difficulty.

I figured that he is so frank and assertive that he would let me know if I was
being insane. He has that magical combination of being very frank and assertive but personable, likable and relaxed at the same time.

When I got to his booth with the Phoenix and he asked me
how much, and how many hours, I easily said three hours but I was so shy and
scared and barely got the 150 out of my mouth. I kind of stuttered for a minute too,lol.

He said, “Patricia, this is how you do this, you say Lance, it took me three hours, my time is 50 an hour, so that will be 150 dollars.

He then gave me 150 dollars in cash. I was dumbfounded.

People were going crazy over the balloon.

I came back later to get pictures and thank him again and he talked about how my balloon helped cause people to stop at his booth and that people were really loving it.

He then stressed how getting people to come to your booth and stop to talk and therefore look at your product is worth something. The balloon was helping with that, that made the balloon extra valuable. That makes my art really worth something. This is causing excitement and making wowing memories for people. Don’t sell myself short.

I got lots of encouragement from he and his lovely wife, Amber,
both. I showed them both pictures from my Ipod of things I had made. They loved everything.

He took the Phoenix and took me around the con and introduced me
to people and people stopped us every five steps it seemed to get pictures of
the balloon.

He asked people how much they would pay for the balloon and
it went everywhere from 40 to 100 dollars and all in between. He told me that
prices for regular folks would be a different price point then say a business or
big establishment. He really wanted me to go bigger though and not be afraid to
do it. Believe in my worth and don’t be afraid to show others that worth.

Whenever someone would wow, he would say, “Here is the woman who made it!”
and he would make sure I was in all the pics taken with he and the balloon.

He felt like a Fairy Con Father and really made me feel like a somebody,
like a Balloonerella, lol.

It just about made me cry.

He and his wife really believe in me and they want me to go far and really believe that I can.

It solidified to me that I should take this art and talent I have
as seriously as I can and that I should do everything in my power to go to the
World Balloon Convention next year. If I am making a Dalek balloon costume at 4 months experience, imagine what I will do next year and especially if I could go to workshops and learn all kinds of advanced techniques?

My husband said that it is really expensive for us and that we both would have to work extra hard but that we will try.

I am not even going to let it be an option that I won’t go. I don’t care if I would have to sleep in my car instead of a hotel. I have to go to this.

I would get to go to all kinds of workshops at this convention and seminars about business and balloons and maybe I will find a mentor.

I have goals for myself and I want to grow and keep moving up
with this skill and I am determined. I want to do huge displays and projects like Addi Somekh and Larry Moss. That is where I want to head and go!

Lance’s purchase is going towards that trip.

Lance is an amazing artist and person. He and his wife both.

It is nice to have cheerleader’s in life. Where would we be without the cheerleaders in our lives?

Cicero said that “Without confidence, we are twice defeated in the race of life.”

Randy Pausch said,“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who you are not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

Thank you Lance and Amber, I really appreciate that I have this experience to look back on whenever I get downtrodden or nervous, I know that this experience with you guys will help keep me going. I do find permission to seek success from seeing your success, and I did feel liberated just as Marianne’s quote said. Lance made it over the wall and I really believe that I can too. 🙂

 

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7 responses »

  1. What a great post! Yeah, balloons are a
    Tough thing to put a price on. So many factors! On the up side it is usually for a special event and it should truly be considered art. On the other hand, it is simply balloons and can and will deflate or pop within a week tops. Here is my trick. When it comes to big stuff like the Phoenix, the trick is to do the design several times until it only takes you half or a quarter of the time it used to. This is how I was
    Able to bring f
    Giant Spider-man balloons to
    Birthdays for FREE as a booking bonus. The Phoenix is worth $100 in my opinion on the open market and if you made several of them for an event you could get them down to $80 each I am sure. I have made this Phoenix as well, as you know, and unless you find people who can appreciate its true value ( apparently in this case you DID with the $150) you have to get it as low as possible while still making a good profit and it being worth your time. I will happily bodyslam whoever said $40 ha ha. I am really shocked he gave you $150!! He either has a lot of extra money or he saw how special you were. I am going to have to go with the latter, hahaha! 🙂 anyway congrats and I glad you had fun. Is that you in that blue top by the way???? If so, Va-Va-Va-VOOOOOOOM!!!! :-p

  2. Wow Patricia, what can I say? I am humbled by the picture you have painted here of our time during the convention. I didn’t feel I was doing anything more than what you deserved to understand as someone looking to turn art into a business. You have an amazing talent especially if you’re just getting started. I was highly impressed, not only with your skill, but your willingness to listen to advice and feedback and getting to see so many people praise your work and the smile that it caused on your face was worth it all. I can’t wait to see where you are 5 years from now, and I believe that you are well on your way already. Understanding and communicating your value is one of the hardest obstacles any artist will face, and you’ve got a great head start now. Go forth and create your path my dear, just remember, at some point during your career you’ll encounter a young upstart with promise. Then it will be your turn to pay it forward. 😉

    Aside from the World Balloon Convention, you can and absolutely should, get a booth at Origins for next year. So many people loved what they saw from you and I even saw someone walking around with a cat that you had made and they talked about it with me for about 15 minutes. You make a lasting impression on people Patricia, and many people would love to have you here next year.

    I will say that sadly, the Phoenix could not make the ride home with us, but it was passed onto a gentleman with a young daughter at home that was unable to attend the convention. I sent it home with him as a gift for her, and I’m certain that young lady will enjoy every opportunity to play with the phoenix and create some cool memories.

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