A.V. Perkins, Avdoeswhat.com, and David Pyle, Pyle Creative Studio, will be co-emcees during this year’s Creativation+ virtual event. AFCI sat down with Perkins and Pyle to learn about their backgrounds in the industry, event tips and what attendees can expect to take away, plus helpful advice to those in the industry.
Could you spend a minute or two telling readers about yourself, background and how you got started in the industry?
A.V. Perkins (AP): I am a DIY expert and influencer, and I am also a digital host for QVC. I’m the creator of Avdoeswhat.com, a DIY and lifestyle blog. How I got started is, well, years ago I worked in the film industry doing props and set decorating. So that is where a lot of my craftiness kind of got honed. After facing loss in my life I just decided to create a blog just for me to navigate life. It’s been eight years of me figuring out life and it has been an amazing journey because I feel life is better when you do it yourself.
David Pyle (DP): I’ve been involved in the arts all my life; my first degree was in painting and drawing. From there, I went back to school and I did some undergraduate work in organic chem. And that intersection opened doors for me in the art materials industry. I worked a number of years for a retailer and then started a retail store. Then I left that group and started my own business in marketing consulting, market development and communication and had lots of training within the creative products industry. So, I did a lot of sessions for what was then HIA and CHA, which are the predecessors to AFCI, and also NAMTA. Then I became the director of marketing and the brand director for ColArt in North America, which is one of the largest manufacturers of art materials in the world. Then I moved into media and publishing, and now I’m doing some video work talking about that intersection between art and science and building resources for educators.
I’m a huge believer in the value of putting art into any kind of education because that’s how, specifically for young people, you make connections. That’s how you learn how to make context and meaning. If you’re not viewing things through an artistic lens, then almost by definition you’re viewing things in a very linear and analytical way. The arts are what help you figure out how to make creative connections. And it’s with those connections where you make the biggest opportunities, whether it’s in business or science or art. That can be so powerful.
Have you attended Creativation in the past? What are you most looking forward to, not only being a co-emcee during a virtual event, but taking the Creativation event to a virtual platform? What are you most excited about?
AP: Well, I attended Creativation last year; it was my first year and I was a speaker. Seeing the drastic change from last year to this year…it’s interesting for lack of better words. But being an em-cee this year is exciting because you’re navigating a whole new space—you’re making the lemonade out of lemons, because if we weren’t doing virtual, we wouldn’t have Creativation+.
DP: I’m excited about the fact that this is truly proving to be an opportunity for people to dialogue and network. Certainly, I don’t want to dismiss the power of delivering great education programs, because I know there are a lot of those on the slate! Also, I’m excited for the opportunity for people to engage in a three-dimensional way with vendors.
I love shows because they give you a chance to connect with people in the industry in a way that you can’t any other way. When I first started looking at virtual events and this opportunity and the chance to work with you guys on this arose, I think I had lots of the same reservations that others have. You know, we’re all sitting in front of our computers all the time and it’s tough to make those kinds of connections and have those kinds of dialogues. But in fact, I think this platform will help facilitate some of that. So it’s not going to be the same where you can sit at the bar and chat with everybody and ask what their favorite part of the show was, but this does open doors and it really facilitates connections, networking and dialogue in a way that I haven’t anticipated. So I’m really excited about that. I always love connecting with people and this is a great chance to do that.
Why do you think attending Creativation+ is beneficial for people in the industry? What are you hoping attendees will take away from the event?
AP: Well, I think Creativation+ is really important for networking and for people who are putting their products out there and who need to meet consumers, buyers and influencers so that their products can sell. And also, the people who are consumers, buyers and influencers need to know exactly how the product works or how they’re intended to work. That relationship always needs to be maintained and Creativation+ is the perfect platform to maintain relationships with so many people. I definitely think [Creativation] needs to continue because that relationship is so important in this DIY and crafting space. Especially now because everyone wants to craft. People who are new to crafting are pouring themselves into “our” industry because it’s self-care! They’re coming onboard to what we’ve already known and it’s great—better late than never! Because of COVID-19 and quarantine, they need avenues to express themselves, so we need to be there for them as an industry because they’re ready to craft.
DP: I think the most important thing for manufacturers and for retailers, no matter how large or how small, is that they come away with a strong sense that there is a viable and exciting future coming out of the pandemic. You know, the new normal won’t be the same as the old normal and there are so many things that have become part of our daily lives, such as meetings on Zoom. So things aren’t going to be exactly the same as they were before, but I think by virtue of that, we’ve actually learned that there’s some real opportunities. The things that we’ve learned about how people engage with content online, the different channels and platforms that you can use for that in ways that really do facilitate authentic engagement I think really is teaching us lessons about how can that translate into a retail environment.
I think there are lots of opportunities that we didn’t fully understand before, and the silver lining to this is that the pandemic has helped point the way toward some successful things we can do that I’m not sure we would’ve uncovered had it not been for this. I hope that we would all come out of this event with a sense of refreshed and renewed optimism and with a belief that there are good things ahead, and we can make them happen.
What’s something you’ve done or do during quarantine to keep yourself inspired or motivated?
AP: I always love creating with my hands, but when I need a jolt of inspiration, I do things that I don’t normally do creatively. So, during quarantine I purchased an iPad because I’ve always liked to doodle, but I wanted to get more into digital illustration. I started taking online classes and now I doodle every day. So it’s very therapeutic for me versus other things I do, like tutorials.
I have a Mac computer, an iPad and an Android phone. When I purchased [my iPad], the app Clubhouse came around. I started using my iPad for it because I can’t use my Android phone…and that was an amazing experience because I created the Crafter Party, which is the first and largest craft club on the app. And I’m going to be discussing craft and social media during the Birds of a Feather networking session at Creativation+. It started because I wanted to practice digital illustration, that led me to get an iPad, the iPad let me go on Clubhouse, Clubhouse allowed me to create this crafting group where we doodle every day and now I’m going to be talking about growing clubs on Clubhouse at Creativation+, so it’s full circle! It’s been a snowball effect.
DP: There are two things—I love new ideas. There’s this kind of magic click that happens for me when I find that intersection, whether it’s between art and science or about the consumers I’m working with or a new way to engage with others. It’s almost like a drug for me. It’s so much fun when that lightbulb goes off. I’m in constant search of that lightbulb. Whether that’s in painting, or doing business, or some of the STEAM videos I’m doing now, I’m looking for the creative click.
For all of these years, the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning to do this work is that I believe, heart and soul, that you can’t make art and you can’t do creative stuff like knitting, or weaving, or jewelry making, or quilting—you can’t do that without learning something about yourself. And more importantly, you learn something about who you are and what you can become. And that’s a really noble thing to be a part of. I feel like every day that I’m helping to fuel that, then that’s a good thing.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone just getting started in the industry or what is a piece of advice you’ve received that you’ve found helpful?
AP: Two things: First, put yourself out there. There are so many crafters and artists who have been conditioned to be “starving artists,” right? You don’t have to starve! We can thrive, we can be thriving artists. If you’re making something for public consumption, go full throttle and put yourself out there so you can get opportunities. If people don’t know what you’re interested in, they can’t assist you.
My second thing is to try something new, like I mentioned with the snowball effect and digital illustration. You have to be fearless to try things new and put yourself out there.
DP: The first question I’m going to answer is what is some of the best advice I ever got. And we’ll go all the way back to my first NAMTA that I attended in 1986. The first night I attended, there was a cocktail hour…funny how things seem to happen at cocktail hours! I started talking to a man and I asked him what advice he would give my partner and me who were opening a store. And he said, ‘You know, always come to these shows. Never miss a show. And every chance that you get, you should go up to as many people as you can and ask them what was the best thing that happened for you this year and what was the biggest challenge?’ And I took that with me. That has proven so valuable, just being able to develop relationships and follow up with people by saying, ‘What was it you did this year that kicked butt and how did you get through some of the challenges you encountered?’ I’ve learned so much that way.
And the other piece of advice that I can give is, the old saying in marketing is to know your audience. That is more important and more true than ever. There are so many competing interests and things that can take your consumers’ attention away. So you need to know as much as you possibly can about your customer and then really get good at learning what it is that’s going to turn them on, what’s going to bring them back, what’s going to foster return visits. The good part of that is that there are more tools about that now. Knowing your customer is an old fashioned piece of advice, but it is more important than ever.
What tips would you give to someone attending Creativation+?
AP: Connect with people! There are going to be speakers: there are a lot of education connections. The ones that are interesting to you, reach out to them immediately. Don’t wait and don’t just consume. Consume what we are offering, but then apply the knowledge you receive and reach out to speakers, vendors and people who you feel like you’re really connecting with and what they’re saying.
Is there anything else you’d like to add or that you’re most looking forward to?
AP: I’m looking forward to the education workshops and hearing what some of my crafting homies have to say!
DP: Change always equals opportunity. Being in the midst of the pandemic, things that we really thought could potentially be existential and damaging in an existential way for our businesses have in fact turned into very real and very exciting opportunities. And again, it sounds trite that in every challenge there’s an opportunity, but it is so true. And this is a great time to explore that.
Learn more about Creativation+ and register now to unlock your all-access pass to the reimagined virtual experience — including networking, business seminars, and more!
A.V. Perkins is a DIY expert and creator of Avdoeswhat.com. What began as a traditional Do-It-Yourself blog has grown into a lifestyle platform that includes crafts, upcycled furniture, tasty recipes and pop culture. Her goal is to help thrifty millennials realize “Life is better when you Do-It-Yourself!” With appearances in HGTV, Huffington Post, Ebony and BuzzFeed, A.V. is determined to change the face of DIY.
David has been delivering successful marketing campaigns in the creative products community for over 35 years. He cut his teeth working with Meininger Art Materials in 1982. He formed CreativEnergy in 1992, a marketing services company serving retailers and major brands across the community, including NAMTA, ColArt, Strathmore, and more. In 1999, he joined ColArt Americas, serving in a number of roles including Director of Marketing for Winsor + Newton and then Brand Director for Liquitex. Over the last 15 years, he worked as a publisher for some of the largest media brands in art-making and crafting categories, including The Artist's Magazine, American Artist, Watercolor Artist, Love of Quilting, McCall’s Quilting, Beadwork, Interweave Knits and more. In 2020, he launched a new marketing services group called Pyle Creative Studio.