A highly social recluse

That’s me. The post title is how my friend Carl once described me. It just goes to show he knows me well. I may be a bit of an oddity for being adept at both, equally. While I would be perfectly content to hide myself away in the woods in my folding studio, I find that being an entrepreneur demands I leave Greenville (from time to time) and go be amongst people.

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Obviously the 19 days I spend each year at ArtPrize is a good example of the “highly social” part. It takes me a day or two to get used to both being around so many people again and talking constantly all day long.

But now I’m also being paid to talk in other ways! It’s part of the many revenue streams now available to me as a working artist if I’m willing to get in my car, drive to a place I’ve never been before, and give a public speaking presentation or demonstration.
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For instance, I was recently hired by the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa to come be an entertainer at a party they were hosting for their guests for Chinese New Year. They set me up in a corner of the ballroom and I folded for two hours, giving away each model to a guest after asking their favorite color and if they would prefer a crane or a butterfly.

Because Traverse City is over 2 hours away from Greenville, and because I am no longer able to drive at night due to my photophobia triggering migraines (bright oncoming headlights give me headaches), I stayed overnight at the hotel as a guest. So not my usual kind of Saturday night!

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Just two days later I was back in my car to drive to Allendale for the first time. I was invited (as a working artist) to come give a one hour presentation about my 2017 ArtPrize titled “Acceptance.” The entry focused on my maternal family’s experience in a WWII Japanese American internment camp, my father’s experience as an MIA POW during the Korean War and how they overcame all of the racism and injustice they endured to be the loving people who raised me. They all chose love over hate. A timely message given the country’s current struggle to define who we are.

I met Connie Dang, the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Grand Valley State University at the Varnum Law party where I was folding and giving away Tinygamis last September. Since then she has helped me in many other ways such as making introductions and giving me guidance as I launch Tinygami. I am most grateful to her for all of the time and guidance she has given to me.

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Four days after visiting GVSU I attended my first session of “Break it Down | Make it Better” in Grand Rapids. I can best describe it as a mini, one day conference for artists, curators, and creatives. Basically anyone working within arts.

A collaborative endeavor by the city of Grand Rapids, Avenue for the Arts based in Grand Rapids, Creative Many based in Detroit, and ArtPrize the day consisted of a keynote presentation followed by three sessions with multiple tracks each attendee could choose from.

A light breakfast spread was set out upon arrival at 8:30 and lunch was served with vegetarian, vegan, and carnivorous options. I learned a lot that day, met many people, and took one step closer towards the local art community here in West Michigan.

Early Bird registration was $20. Day of was $45. It was definitely time (and money) well spent.

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In two weeks I’ll be back in Lowell on March 10th (2018) for the monthly origami folding club meetup that I host once a month. You can learn more about it on our Facebook Group or the Tinygami website. Come out and join us if you ever have the interest and the time!

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I am a fulltime origami artist

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So much has changed in the past 9 months since I last posted. For one thing the studio is done. Almost. Just a few touches that will wait until spring when I can do some staining outside, or at the very least with the windows open. For now I’ve been working away creating Tinygamis each day, hosting the folding club each month, and trying to figure out how to transition from creating a business to running one that has now made the leap from a “someday” goal to happening now!

Earlier this month a video was released online that appears to have been the tipping point that I have been working towards, not just the past few years since arriving in Michigan, but really all the way back to the mid 90’s when I first became self employed.

My journey on the road of self-employment has gone through several iterations beginning first with the couture custom bridal accessories I created as “The Flirty Bride,” followed by years of custom web design and development for small business owners, before veering down my current path of miniature origami art. All of it has been part of a process in which I learned so much about being an entrepreneur and myself. For starters I learned there was so much I needed to learn. I also discovered I am far more tenacious than I ever would have given myself credit for all those years ago.

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This video by 60 Second Docs sums up where the journey has led me. A path of self discovery and finding the place where I belong. You can view it at the following links:

Facebook: https://facebook.com/60SecondDocs/videos/1900135243632631/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bes1SP5HVRu/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/60SecDocs/status/959456396205998080
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqaAfkm6X1A

A huge thank you to 60 Second Docs and their production team. I am very grateful that you were interested to produce this piece about my art and that you so perfectly encapsulated both who I am and why I fold.

Thank you also to all of you who left kind comments on the videos and sent me messages via every social media platform I have an account on and through my website! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply to each message personally but will do my best to catch up when things calm down a bit 🙂

Thank you also to everyone who has placed an order via my Etsy shop, hired me to speak or do demonstration folding, and to everyone who has shown interest in allowing me to share my work and/or story with them. It’s all (and everything) I ever hoped this business could become.