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What is Creativity? Makers Summit Recap part 2

March 20, 2015

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Yesterday I shared the wonderful thoughts of Nathan Bond of Rifle Paper Co. (which you can read here), and today I am SO excited to introduce you to two of the most wonderful women I have talked with in a long, long time.  These ladies are creating such good work and are so powerfully true to their ideas and vision.  I walked away feeling so inspired by their spirit and words…  you’ll see what I mean:


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Jeni started her first ice cream company many years ago.  The company failed for a variety of reasons, but that did not dissuade her from pursuing her passion (the art of flavor and quality).  She regrouped and relaunched her dream as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream which has spread across the nation and into many hearts — and good heavens, it is splendid ice cream!!

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I loved listening to Jeni talk about creativity.  While our creative outlets look quite different (paint / milk + sugar) our thought processes and love are very similar.


creativity is:

– thinking inside the box – not outside.  Creativity only works when there are problems to solve & parameters to work within.

– active

– remembering and learning from practice/failure/success

– not radical. focus on a small group of well executed ideas that will add up to something grand

– brave.  instincts should be listened to

– moving forward

– not a lone genius.  Creative success is built on the successes and failures of many.

– made of 99 failures & 1 success

– seemingly impossible.  But do not be afraid of someone else’s brick wall.  Their limitations are not yours.

– love.  it’s about following your passion and making that love contagious

– impatient

– not personal.  when you fail, move on.  don’t dwell in failures and ignore those who do. also, don’t cling to your successes.

– imagination

– work

– building your own world and enjoying its pros and cons.
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Rachel Faucette runs a hugely popular blog, Handmade Charlotte, has collaborations with pretty much every large brand you can imagine, and works with companies (like, you know, Martha Stewart, HP…).  But, also, she is generous and kind.


She gave us some very tangible steps to take if we’re serious about pursuing this thing.  So helpful.

– Be awesome

– Be generous

– Share your brand unapologetically

– Set attainable and yet lofty goals for yourself

– Put things on the calendar and actually do them

– Invest in your social media presence and following

– Make asks: ask for 1-3 things each day

– Create advocates out of your followers

– Be your biggest fan

– Always say thank you – because, as we all know, you do not get here by yourself.


The inspiration in the space during this whole event was completely palpable.  I would highly recommend attending The Makers Summit next year.  If you feel like your brand is off to the right start but you know there are places if could grow or develop – then this is the place for you.  This awesome event (and a few others) are put on by the Indie Craft Parade in Greenville, SC.

Photography by Jivan Davé

Why I Fight for Beauty (my journey from the 3rd world to the studio)

March 19, 2015

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We will be known by the problems we solve.


I grew up in the Middle East and in North Africa.  Beautiful, beautiful places, rich with history, but depressed with poverty and unrest.  My mom bought extra baby food each week for the homeless mother who came to our door often, starving, asking for food for her little one. We talked with the old man without legs but with kind eyes as he held out his little tin cup, asking for pennies. I played soccer with the street boys (well, really, they played circles around me and I watched in amazement). I was dressed up in magnificent wedding attire and was invited to be part of the most spectacular wedding ceremony – because I was an American. I have seen lepers, met with elderly people in the lowliest of living places, been a part of a society that is, in many ways (but not all) so very, very different from the one I live in today.


While I am mixing colors on my palette in a lovely studio, I know there are people praying for just a scrap of food. I have gone through many moments of guilt with this thought in my head.  Why do I do this work?  Why is this of any value?


The undercurrent of this sentence, “we will be known by the problems we solve” reminds me to continually notice the things that need to change in the world, in my community, and in my own life, and to work hard to better all of the failing parts.


My tools of creativity and beauty-making are not a waste and they are not silly or frivolous. They are literally a picture of hope and grace. Every human needs beauty. We need to see that life is worth improving. Working to make those truths sink deeply into my heart, and sharing them boldly, is the most valuable thing I can personally do with my abilities during this chapter of my life.


While my work often speaks my messages for me, sometimes I need to look away from the canvas and pour some of that beauty tangibly into the lives of others.


It means that sometimes, even though my calling is to communicate the messages of grace, hope, and beauty through my art, it is more important for me to put down my brushes and make someone a meal, or spend time getting dirty with my little girls, or giving my hard earned money to someone who needs it more acutely than I do.


It means that the beauty that flows through the paints on my palette can be used to not only lift someone’s mind and soul, but (because this is my job) very physically bless someone else in a tangible way.


That is powerful.


That dispels the lingering guilt that seeps into my mind whispering false thoughts about my work being only for the upper-crust of society; so very 1st world.


Beauty acts like water through the social classes. It is not bound by race, rank, or education.  It cannot be caged by the haves and the have-nots.  Beauty if free because it is somehow bigger than us.  Beauty represents resolution.  The chaotic and distressed things in the world have been put in order for our eyes to see or our ears to hear and something in our souls understands that this is good.  This is right.


Never stop pursuing beauty.


Prettiness and trends will fade away, but connecting with that thing that makes your heart sing – that is beautiful.


Fight for that. Fight to share that.

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If you are interested in getting immersed in this idea, and are looking for an outlet to truly help people, may I recommend checking out the Plywood People.  They’re changing the way communities relate and are working hard to bring hope and change to the many social needs right here in America.

Makers Summit Recap: Rifle Paper Co. reminds us to focus on making good things.

March 19, 2015

16226471973_09099ae452_o ms416658834088_7b5475058a_b A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in a beautiful space, sipping good coffee, talking with some of the most creative people, and allowing all the good words and vibes swirling around my head to talk over and fill my mind with goodness. …this is what the Makers Summit does to people!


I had the honor of speaking on a panel along with some of my most wonderful friends and fellow entrepreneurs, but the conference was so much more than a speaking gig for me.  It was a time of deep connection – both with others and with my own ideas & dreams.


I was quite excited to hear from (and meet) Nathan Bond. You just cannot top the finesse and intentionality in the Rifle Paper Co. brand!  Anna & Nathan Bond have been a long-time inspiration for me and it was so good to see that the beautiful company is backed up with such lovely and generous people.


Also Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Ice Cream (literally the best ice cream on earth) poured down words of encouragement and inspiration. This lady is a true artist who cares so much about the quality of her product (obv) and the beauty of a good brand.


Rachel Faucette of Handmade Charlotte is not only the funniest person in the room, but also one of the hardest working, most experienced, and encouraging people I know.   This lady is a champion and I’m happy to shout her praises!


But now, enough gushing. I have some true goodness for you guys.   These were my personal favorite takeaways from the weekend – the moments that make me want to shout “Amen!   Preach!” …but of course I did not. I remained (mostly) calm (kind of).


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From Nathan, I was reminded that you define your own success. You decide what is healthy, beautiful, and right for you. The best marketing strategy is to create the best product possible.


(In fact, I would say creating good work is the key to success.)


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– That being said, you’re never going to be ready. Fear of failure will hold you back if you let it. You can and you will learn everything you need to, but don’t wait for that moment to come. You are better and your stronger because of your challenges.


– Understand how pricing works. Of course, there are clear-cut pricing guidelines, but don’t underestimate the value of a well-designed and beautifully made product. It has an esteemed value that has been earned on own merit. Price accordingly.


Imitation is a steep handicap, not a healthy business crunch and definitely not a smart move.  Collaboration should happen when both parties can grow, mutually benefit, and come up with new and beautiful things because of each other.


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Ahh.  I clapped so freaking loud after this talk — and my head hurt a tiny bit from nodding so much (yep, I was that girl).  But I can’t help it.  After reading this, I’m sure you understand…


Tomorrow I will share Jeni’s thoughts on creativity + Rachel’s tips for growth.


Check out the speakers work and goodness here: Nathan Bond; Rifle Paper Co. Jeni Bauer; Jeni’s Ice Cream  Rachel Faucette; Handmade Charlotte  And many many more listed on the Makers Summit website.
The Makers Summit is dreamed up, created, crafted, loved, cared for, fought for, put on, and produced, by the Indie Craft Parade.  And I thank them for it.

Instagram Class for Artists & Makers

March 12, 2015

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Hey guys!

 

Most of you probably know that I LOVE sharing my work and process over social media – and especially Instagram.

It has become one of my very favorite ways to bring my community into my studio, allow them to see the beautiful behind-the-scenes moments that I love dearly.  It has also become a powerful tool to grow my business.

 

My Story: In Jan 2014, I had 800 IG followers and posted a hodgepodge of images.  I began to think very editorially about my Instagram feed, posting photos that showcased the vision I had for my artwork and business.  Changing my mindset, understanding my goals, and focusing my aesthetic on Instagram led to 13,000 new followers in 12 months and resulted in thousands and thousands of dollars in artwork sales directly from my IG audience, many new friendships, collaborations with several large brands and designers, and, most importantly, a lot of personal clarity as to what my brand represents and what I create.

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I was getting many requests from other artists and makers for an Instagram class, and I am happy to now offer one!

If you’re interested in joining one of these classes, sign up here: http://emilyjeffords.com/creative-coaching/instagram-for-artists-creatives

Hour-long classes happen live, over Google Hangout once a month $40

My goal is for you to come away from this hour long class feeling refreshed, full of ideas, and with a clear direction.  Marketing your skills, artwork, and creativity can feel effortless and organic and Instagram is my personal favorite way to do that.

 

Tuesday, March 17th at 8:30 pm (eastern time)
Saturday, April 25th at 12:00 pm (eastern time)

 

I would love for you to join us!

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Living Creatively without Fear (part 1)

March 11, 2015
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I get asked pretty frequently about how I can post my work and my process so publicly online – how I can welcome people into my studio to paint along with me, and share all my marketing tips, packaging supply lists, favorite art materials, unique painting techniques…  really, I try to share anything and everything I can.

 

I do this, not to create clones of myself, and not to foolishly expose my work to copycats and thieves. I share because I am passionate & passion is pretty hard to stifle.
I share because for every one scoundrel there are 1,000 artists who are growing, trying new things, and are in desperate need of support.  If I can shine a tiny ray of hope, encouragement, or clarity into the sometimes-murky creative world, then the blessings far outweigh the risks.

 

The way I see it, living in fear of betrayal also equals alienation.

 

I am not afraid of being copied because the copier does not have my ideas or vision – and I put a lot of value in those two aspects of the creative process.
Copiers also do not have my hands.  My hands are trained and taught to move in a certain way.  And my hands will move differently than yours in the same way that your voice sounds different from mine.  I put a lot of faith in my hands.

 

Betrayal and being treated unjustly is concerning, but is not something to fear.  However, I am afraid of losing the beauty of community.  I am afraid that the walls of secrecy and fear we place around our work are harming not only those who are learning but ourselves.

 

Be cautious.  Know how to spot a scoundrel, but be generous to your community.  They will be the ones who support and nurture you when you need to grow and learn.  We all have wisdom.  Let’s share it!

 

(This is just the first post in a series of living the creative life without fear.  Stay tuned for more!)
Photos from my Instagram feed: www.Instagram.com/Emily_Jeffords
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#30EJPaintings are complete! Woohoo!

March 2, 2015

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Hello!

If you have been following my Instagram feed over the past few weeks then you’ve seen the process, behind the scenes, and even a few sneak peeks of this project.  I took some time to paint several new paintings, to try new things, and to be willing to practice.  The beautiful thing about practicing is there is no audience.  It’s just me and my brushes, trying new things.  Sometimes practice feels effortless and exciting, sometimes it is ugly and tricky, but it is always helpful.
I worked on 34 paintings, finishing 30 of them.
27 of those will be available
 on my website at noon today (eastern time)!

Please check out the collection below!  
Thank you all for your support and for cheering me on during this challenge!  I hope you enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed creating them!

Emily

30EJp1 30EJp2 30EJp3 30EJp4 30EJp5

New Prints coming to Emily Jeffords Shop!

February 9, 2015

Fine art print artwork by Emily Jeffords Landscape Painting

Hey!

It’s always exciting when I get to launch a new collection of fine art prints!  There are so many, many moments of effort, love, hard work, and thought put into each painting before it becomes a print, then working with the printer to make something truly special and of high quality is another round of passion and effort….

I love every moment and I’m SO honored that my artwork is living in people’s homes, adding a little more beauty and grace to their lives.

That is so special.

This collection is a long time in coming.  Thank you for all the emails requesting these prints!  You made my choice quite easy with your outpouring of love and affirmation!  Thank you all.  The prints that are currently in my shop will still be available as well.

The collection will launch tomorrow afternoon at 7:00 am (eastern time) in my print shop and in my Etsy shop.  And because Valentines day is fast approaching and I really like you guys, please use this 20% off coupon at checkout!  “LoveSomeArt”

http://www.EmilyJeffords.com/print

And now, enjoy checking out the new additions to my fine art print collection.


prints1prints3Fine art print artwork by Emily Jeffords Landscape Painting

Creative Consultations

January 19, 2015

Emily Jeffords Creative ConsultationHello everyone!

Last year I began doing these great one-on-one creative coaching sessions with artists all over the world – they were AMAZING and I cannot believe how creative and passionate these people are!  We get to talk about all aspects of creative business: creating good work, conveying your message and story with your collectors and audience, and marketing your work without getting weird or sleazy.  I always walk away from these conversations so inspired and refreshed, and have been so blessed to help and mentor many others through them.

I just opened my schedule back up for these one-on-one conversations AND also added small group chats!

If you’re thinking about growing your creative business or fine art career but have questions about growth, social media, or really anything, I would be honored to talk with you.

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One-on-one conversations are wonderful if you have specific questions or would like me to look over your business individually.  I’ll offer helpful and hopeful feedback as thoughtfully as I can.  We talk about ways to share your individual passion and work with your audience and how to connect with your market online via social media.  sign up here

Emily Jeffords Creative ConsultationThe small-group conversations (limited to 12 people) happen online through a video chat and will be focused on the topic of Branding and Social Media for Creatives.   The first one is scheduled for March 17th and I would LOVE to talk with you!  Every class member will have a voice and will be able to ask individual questions, share ideas, and network with the other creatives.    Sign up here


Everyone I talk with (one-on-one or in a group) will be given a booklet full of my personal branding and passion-sharing philosophy and guidelines – complete with a section focusing on social media tips and a nice resource list.

I’m an open book and I share my successes and failures candidly.  My hope is that you will learn from my struggles and that we would all walk away from these talks feeling nurtured and encouraged!

Talk soon!

Emily Jeffords signiture

Photos by the talented Paige French

10 things that being an artist taught me last year

January 6, 2015

emily_jeffords-web-cip_0125 2014Last year around this time I wrote a list of 10 things that being an artist taught me in 2013, and many of those things ring so true today too. Things like, “Your fingers can create more than you think they can” and “A creative community is incredibly beautiful and worth cultivating…”

This year, I feel like I’m building on these things and adding a few more to the list as well.
Such as:

  • Ask for the things you would like. Dreams require a little boldness and a lot of follow through.
  • Practice the habits that help your creativity.
  • When you feel trapped by the expectations that are put on your work (by yourself or others) change it up – pronto.
  • Rest. Creativity has a hard time working in a tired mind.
  • The first thing you have to do is pick up the brush. Then, make as many mistakes as you wish. Every stroke is just practice.
  • Fight for those moments of quiet concentration
  • While 9 out of 10 days will be totally un-glamorous, and some tasks are dreadful altogether, every moment is worthwhile and wonderful because you’re working for your passion.
  • Passion = something you are willing to suffer for.
  • Finding beauty is a habit; a mentality of curiosity and joy.
  • Sharing beauty and a refreshed perspective with others is endlessly fulfilling.

It was a full and challenging year full of countless beautiful moments and so, so many paintings!!!   I cannot WAIT to see what this year holds in store for us!

Challenges, Rest & A Painting-A-Day.

January 5, 2015
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Happy New year everyone!!

We are back from an extended Christmas vacation and I’m so very ready to get back in the studio today!!  This time away has made me ache for those quiet moments of concentration and the thrill of finishing a painting.  I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions.  A year is usually a bit to long for my attention span…  but I do love a good short term challenge; something that takes a bit of effort, and is super helpful in training my body/mind to do something well, but has a relatively short timespan.  Basically, I’m a good sprinter.

I love seeing something difficult in front of me and somehow (sometimes foolishly) knowing that I can overcome it.  And, when I succeed, well, that’s the very best.  You know what I mean.
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But, lets be honest, you should only be in the struggle of The Challenge for spurts of time.  You have to surround these struggles with sweet, sweet moments of rest, followed by long stretches of the gentle progress found in “normal life”.

If I’ve lean red anything over the past year it’s that keeping these three energies in balance is so important to my creativity & energy.

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I’ve been enjoying my rest for the past few days.  This holiday break has been full of relaxation, delicious food, focusing on loved ones & my little girls, and just resting. These days came after the very busiest months of my entire life and this rest is so, so sweet.

But now, I’m feeling revived and my hands are itching to get busy.

At first, I planned on doing a painting-a-day in January.  But that was before thinking through how many days we will be gone in January and how many commissions I already have on the books.  SO, my revised (and hopefully more realistic plan) is to complete 30 paintings by the end of February.

I’m not trying to sell these paintings during the process and my only goal is to strengthen my own creative muscles.  I feel like I have been painting for others for a few months now, and it’s time to claim back a bit for myself.  So, while I still have a few commissions this month and at least 3 trips planned, the rest of the days are allll mine!!

In order to practice a few things for some up-coming projects I’ll be painting mostly landscapes.   But, I am going to challenge myself with my color pallet refinement, bending a little more into abstraction, and may even through in a few other subject matter.  We’ll see!

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I’ve done enough of these painting-a-day challenges to know that not every painting will work.  I’m sure I’ll want to hide terrible paintings in my closest forever… But that is what progress is all about.  Practice!  Knowing which pieces are successful and which can be done better.  Why do I expect my hands to wield a brush with the finesse of a concert violinist without first putting in the practice?

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That’s what this mini-challege is about for me.  And after these paintings I’m sure I will need to rest and refresh my soul again…  But I will be also have gained so many new insights into my process and refined my motor skills just a tad more.

I’m going to be sharing the process super openly on Instagram and my Facebook page via the hashtag: #30EJPaintings

So, if you need me, I’ll be in my studio!

xox,
Emily Jeffords signiture

PS. If you’re interested in joining a painting-a-day group there is one happening this month!  There are hundreds of artists participating; all sharing support and cheering each other on. Check out & join the group here: http://30paintingsin30days.weebly.com/


Photography by Chris Isham

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