Creative Insights: Jen Cushman

New Technology is Here!

I’m heading to the summer Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show and Conference in a week and have lined up some really interesting promotional opportunities. Twice a year the crafts industry—manufacturers, buyers (store owners and distributors) designers, publishers and the press—attends to see what is new and exciting in crafts. These shows are the industry version of Paris Fashion Week. Everyone from crafting celebrities to CEOs show up at the four-day event.

If you’re an artist (designer is the industry term) like to me, these shows are the place to network and participate in events that help get your art in front of an important audience. It’s where all your marketing skills that you work on in the solitude of your studio get put into play.

One of the things I get to do at this summer’s show is live streaming online with Charity Wings, a fabulous organization that raises money for non-profits doing important work, as well as hosting a crafting game show called “A Minute to Craft It” where three audience members have 10 minutes to make a project with the supplies at hand for prizes. Also, Collage Artist Claudine Hellmuth and I teamed up to participate in the Crafty Couture display where CHA Designer members will be displaying mixed-media dresses. Neither of us sew, so our plan is to do an onsite art installation and call it a dress. Should be interesting.

But there is one thing I’m doing that is completely new that I’m most excited about. I will be taping my own video elevator pitch with WCK On the Spot which will then get turned into a QR Code. I bet some of you are scratching your heads wondering what a QR Code is.

Well, it’s new technology (brand new to the US, but huge in Japan) where consumers use their smart phones and a QR code reader app they’ve downloaded to instantly access more information on a company, product or person. These funny-looking codes are popping up everywhere. They look like little black-and-white squares filled with square pixilated dots. Another version of them is a QR tag, which is a little square filled with pixilated triangle shapes. QR codes and tags (QR meaning Quick Response) are the latest thing in marketing. Much like social media when it first came on the scene,  smart people in business are wondering how to use this new technology for branding and selling.

In my opinion, the potential for QR codes and tags is huge. One little scan of a smart phone and you’re able to instantly connect with your customer through whatever means you wish. You can offer a giveaway and collect emails to add to your customer database (if they choose to share that information because the power is, as it’s always been, in the hands of the consumer), you can direct them to your website or you can just tell them a little bit about yourself or your product. It’s magic and genius rolled into one, and like any new technology, it’s success or failure depends on how well the human brain behind the QR code is going to harness the technology.

Because I love art and business and technology, I cannot wait to jump on getting my very own QR tag to add to my printed marketing material. Think about it, the most difficult part for many artists is getting their name known. It takes a lot of effort and time to do PR and marketing. Imagine being at a party and you have a chance meeting with someone whom you would like to follow up with later. That person you bumped into may be a collector or someone who knows about art licensing or whatever. You exchange business cards, but yours has a nifty little QR code on it that the person can scan later with his or her smart phone. Your smiling face pops up in video with your 30-second elevator speech, and it’s much more likely that person is going to remember you.

At least that’s what I’m hoping for and why I can’t wait to get on a plane to Chicago. By the time next month’s column rolls around, I’ll have more to share about my QR tag experience.
Jen Cushman is a natural storyteller who found mixed media art a decade ago and never looked back. She is drawn to the imperfect, the funky, the quirky, the artsy and the authentic: be it people or objects or art. She’s also the Director of Education and Marketing for Susan Lenart Kazmer ICE Resin®. To learn more, visit her website www.jencushman.com.


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