Yesterday I took a breather from the nonstop rollercoaster I’ve been on since the semester began. I’ve been planning the Annenberg Innovation Lab’s Think & Do event on The New Creators + Makers, which is going up in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday next week; planning my trip to New York City immediately afterward for the 2015 Future of Storytelling summit; multiple consulting projects for lab partners; and, of course, my coursework for the Ph.D. in Media Arts and Practices that I’ve started over at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts – which includes a big transmedia theory + practice project that I’m sketching out for my eventual thesis. Much more to say on all of these, of course, but the topic of this post is what I did on my “day off”. It’s been a nonstop rush for weeks, and I needed a break.
So I opened an Etsy store. You know, like you do.
To be more specific, my wife Laura and I opened an Etsy store, The Mystery Barn Trading Company. The idea of Mystery Barn has been kicking around in my head for a while: back in November of 2013, I wrote the following little scenario:
Out in the middle of the woods, there sits an old barn. It is a beautiful thing, but also an odd thing. Instead of red with white trim, as most barns want to be, this barn is black. Its knotted boards are weathered and worn and easily over a century old, but they are still as coldly black as night itself. Which is, perhaps, doubly odd, because night is when the barn comes alive.
If you were to foolishly wander into those woods late at night, you might catch a glint of light from somewhere deep in the trees. If you followed it, you might find the barn, its doors tightly locked and its windows clouded over by the passage of time but still glowing with weird light from within. There might be strange music. You might hear laughter. You might even make out the whirring and clanking and banging of strange tools and devices and contraptions, clattering away at all improper hours.
If your timing is perfect, and your fortunes are just right (or, perhaps, just wrong), the door might crack open, and you might be invited inside.
Mystery Barn is kind of an offshoot of The Dreamsbay Company (my consulting practice). Whereas Dreamsbay was inspired by IDEO and Disney and big creative industry companies, Mystery Barn was inspired by smaller pop-up shops and indie artists. It brings a little more Ohio and Bainbridge Island to our lives in Los Angeles, serves as a prototype for the kind of studio Laura and I want to stand up someday, and lets us start selling our own creative works.
Laura and I had been planning to launch something where Laura could sell her paintings online, and given our love for Halloween, we thought we’d kick things off with a series of small, 6×6 paintings of little ghosts doing fun stuff, with a few other seasonal images thrown in for good measure. Laura developed a method where she takes pages salvaged from a book, sticks them to a wood board, and then uses that as the base “canvas” for a painting. I did the original pencil designs for the ghost characters and most of this original debut collection, which Laura then adapted into the paintings.
There’s more where this came from, which we’ll add to the store as they’re ready. The plan is to keep releasing new creations through The Mystery Barn Trading Co. as we go, including another possible line of creations at Christmastime and some more surprises. We hit 100 likes for the Mystery Barn Trading Co. Facebook page within a few hours, and we’ve been having fun taking our first steps into joining the New Creators + Makers ourselves. Stay tuned!