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I met a buyer at Loutet Farm not long ago, who was looking for a full size print of “Ladybugs.” She had a friend, she said, who was crazy about them. The art was to be her birthday gift at the end of August.

The ladybugs were only the second poster I made. I remember struggling with different types of adhesives, thinking that I had to get clever with spray glues. That never panned out, and today, as I finished my new series of birds, I found myself reaching for plain, ordinary Scotch tape. You know, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Back to the ladybugs. I was thrilled to get this poster printed up, as I have been moving towards more art sales recently. Cards are still selling nicely with retailers and at markets, but I’ve been profiling the prints more and more, with pleasing results.

So when this photo came in today, with the comment that D—- was “blown away,” I was pretty startled, too. It’s easy to become nonchalant about your early work, especially in today’s world. You’re expected to have your every move documented, every work in progress visible on a social media feed before it’s even gone to press… there’s little time for private contemplation, with everyone gazing at their phones, Instagramming and WhastApping their every move. For an artist – by nature an introvert who thrives on solitude – this is bewildering.

With that in mind, I’m going to put the last period on this little essay, hit “publish” and take a moment to simply appreciate these happy little bugs. Ten are regular, ordinary folk and two, my two, my people, are mavericks, rogues, escape artists. They think outside their box and they vote with their feet. Godspeed, little bugs. I wish you well in your journeys


Community Love

10:00am Saturday morning found me at Loutet Farm in North Vancouver  – this time with my lovely associate, Alex.  The farm – home to the Edible Garden Project – hosts these farm markets once a month throughout the summer.

I approached the day with trepidation, having heard that it was going to be 30 degrees. But thanks to the market hosts, we spent the day in the shade of a fabulous ten-foot square tent, enjoying the occasional breeze.  And needless to say, the fresh vegetables, baked goods, candles and handmade chopping blocks were all first-class. I felt privileged to be sharing my work with these artisans and farmers.

The market was small – no more than six stalls – which made for a great atmosphere. Shoppers and stallholders greeted each other with hugs and first names, while we had a blast meeting our neighbours (and eating their wares — chocolate chip oatmeal cookies and mouthwatering Syrian pastries. You HAVE to try these!). Even better, I got a great education about Eid from the neighbours. Colours, themes, images… all wonderful inspiration for a new design for cards celebrating Muslim holidays (this made my day, by the way; on top of the sales, the fabulous weather and a morning hanging with my pal, the prospect of creating more art for the community just about makes my heart sing!).

Business was hectic, so we didn’t have time to pause for photos at the beginning; here’s one of our later customers, choosing designs with her wee granddaughter. It just tickles me to see elders handing over the reins to the little ones.

As you’d expect, tractors, flowers, butterflies and vegetables were hits. In fact, we sold so much that I’ll need to schedule another print run in time for the next market. I’m also excited to be bringing more framed squares, giclée prints and home wares to my stall.

Come on down on July 29 and give your local artisans and farmers some love!

REMINDER: All Nifty Scissors customers are invited to enter a draw for a FREE dinner-under-the stars, in beautiful Edgemont Village. The food will be home-grown (and copious!) and the company spectacular. The chickens will be noisy but respectful 🙂

See you soon!

Shula & Alex

FARM DATES: 10:00am-12:00pm
July 29
August 26
September 23
October 28

Working the room

So… this happened

Showing my work at the National Stationery Show was an incredible experience. I’m still digging my way out of the business cards while trying to keep up with obligations to local retailers. All of this is happening in the midst of some extremely hot weather. So glad we could step into the creek at Heywood Park after the afternoon’s deliveries 🙂


Who’s your mama?

Artist with eponymous scissors.

When you’re looking for the perfect Mothers’ Day card, you can’t move without tripping over the colour pink, big red hearts and a whack of flowers (I just did a Google image search, so I’m not making this up, I promise! I reached a count of 42 before finding a card that didn’t meet one of these criteria, at least).

That’s why none of the cards recommended by Nifty Scissors include any blooms and if there are hearts on ’em, they are carried by pigs and monkeys. Oh, and robots. Nothing says “thank you, mom,” like a lovestruck robot, in my view.

So if you’re roaming through my nifty catalogue this weekend and need a card in a hurry, North Van peeps are welcome to pick up the goods from HQ (Lynn Valley). I’m also pleased to announce that we now have an upper Edgemont location, which promises “cards for literally any location.” Thank you, Alexandra!

Come on over and enjoy your Facebook Mom Group discount!

Is someone pulling at your pants while you read this? Scan my handy dandy QR code and keep reading on the go!


Show Time!

Air Time

On Tuesday, May 2, I stopped by my favourite radio station, Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM to update Strong & Sharp on my show news. It’s always a pleasure to talk about my art on the air, even if it only feels slightly less absurd than doing a jigsaw puzzle on a radio show 🙂

This time, my colleagues surprised me with Facebook Live, which was a hoot. While the camera captured our conversation and allowed me to show off my hand-made work, we talked about how my company got its name, why the National Stationery Show is so important, and – well, inevitably – scissors.

I love radio with a passion. Listening to it, writing for it, making it. This visit was particularly special. Not only has the station played host to my guerrilla art shows over the last two years, the staff have been tremendously supportive of my art. Minelle Mahtani’s searching questions (Sense of Place) have helped me to refine my artist’s statement; our conversations were a great opportunity to speak about my work, with an audience.

So I am writing this with gratitude and a growing sense of excitement, as I write my last to-do list. After that I’ll be ironing, packing and homeschool mom-ing for the last few days. Next stop: New York City.

Listen to my segment here.
Pictured: The original art of Marine Life. This piece generated the content of items AP013 and AP014 on page 5 of my catalogue.

Nifty News!

Following the adjudication of over 300 entries, Nifty Scissors has been selected for Best in Show, at the National Stationery Show in New York! This means that my work will showcased in a special display outside the show floor. It will also be eligible for one of five new product awards.

While I simmer quietly, trying to keep the grin off my face (in public, anyway!) here is an excerpt from my contest entry.

Nifty Scissors designs have been described as vibrant and whimsical. That they are, for sure. They’re also a little weird, which my friends will tell you makes them a perfect match for the woman wielding the scissors. I’ll admit, my outlook is a little quirky. Pigs fly, robots fall in love and owls celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah on the same card. Birthdays are welcomed with awkwardly shaped gifts and babies with purple monkeys. I even have a card that recognizes the most pressing conundrum in men’s grooming today: Hipster or Hassid?

Nifty Scissors celebrates all that is intelligent, heartfelt, brilliant, tender, ludicrous, loving, peculiar and downright silly.

Why? Because LIFE.


Nifty Scissors

Life Lessons

It’s May – which means it’s almost showtime! In between checking copy and finalizing designs, I’ll be on Roundhouse Radio (98.3FM)  tomorrow morning at 8:35am, talking about the National Stationery Show. I’m excited to be on Strong and Sharp,  sharing what it’s like to go from craft market to international trade show in one year…

This time last May, I was getting ready to attend the show as an observer. It was exciting but relatively low-key. There was a lot of walking and collecting catalogues, and many friendly conversations (and hummus!). Twelve months later, the view is very different. With a stand, a catalogue and a bunch of new designs, I am extremely focused. I hope to come back with completed order forms and a clear idea of how the year will shape up.

It’s been a steep learning curve, for sure. Being a homeschooling mom doesn’t leave a lot of time for professional development, but I’ve had some wonderful advice. My first conversation with Lloyd of Manny Stone Design – who’ll be supplying my stand materials – was extremely informative, as was the webinar I attended, courtesy of the National Stationery Show. Rob Fortier‘s invaluable session was offered free to exhibitors, and gave me just what I needed to get started – a focused to-do list, which has been my road map ever since. I hold myself to a very high (punishing) standard, so it can be hard to stop worrying about whether or not I’ll match up in my new industry. Will I be doing this “right”? How far should I – or anyone –  follow contemporary fashions? Where is the line between startling originality and art that’s just plain weird? How will I know if I’ve crossed it?

But as the day gets closer and the to-do list gets shorter,  it’s important to rest on one’s laurels a little. This means taking a moment to listen to yourself as you talk to printers, graphic designers and even the new buyer who contacted you only this morning, from New Zealand (hurray!).

So even if, on the outside, you feel as though you’re just doing the same old thing – educating and raising children, running a home, cutting and gluing little pieces of paper together – change is definitely afoot. It’s just a matter of time before you recognize that you are a well-educated design professional as well as all those other things.

Until now, I have been most concerned with what it’ll be like to stand before my peers in the industry, wondering how my portfolio will shape up. But with the portfolio almost done, it’s time to turn my focus back to my other life’s work — the children, and their education. Sales apart, I want them to understand what this trip to New York is about. Why I haven’t stopped pursuing this business, what I want it to do for the family, and what it can teach us all about the balance between idealism and pragmatism.  We’re in this together. I can’t wait to see where we end up!