Hello everyone! Welcome back!
This can be a bit scary because staying small is safe and it is protected – but it is also stagnant and it doesn’t allow you, as a person or as an artist, to grow.
If you’ve done a beautiful job curating your brand and you are getting your message “out there” eloquently and clearly (as we discussed in the 2 previous posts), then opportunities will come to you.
Say yes, in your mind, before you say no.
However, don’t wait around for those amazing opportunities and those “golden emails”. Make things happen on your own! Where do you want your business (and art is business – let’s not forget that in all the meaning and the beauty) to be featured? What are your next steps?
Think about next month. What challenges can you say “yes” to that will help you grow?
How about next year?
Who do you want to work with?
Where do you want your work to be seen?
Who do you need to connect with specifically to make these things happen?
How can you change your marketing just enough to allow for your goals to become reality?
How do you look to your customers and audience?
This may take a little imagination and dreaming on your part – but that’s what we’re best at, right?
Don’t be afraid to ask for growth. Sending an email to a blogger or to an editor may feel scary, but don’t let that stop you. Asking how you can collaborate with a rad brand may make you nervous, but think of the rewards! …And what is the worst that can happen? They say no? Psshhh. No biggy there. You say “no” to things all day long!
Have extra faith in yourself and even more confidence that you are on a good path and that good things will happen. Surround yourself with a fan club that can not only network on your behalf but can cheer you in those inevitable dry spells. Good mentors, encouragers, and friends are also the best people to share your aspirations with. They are honest and loving and can give you highly valuable feedback.
I have two friends, Sarah Eddy & Jordan Brantley (follow them, they’re amazing and highly talented people), that go on a creative getaway one weekend year. They talk, plan, dream, bounce ideas off each other, and in the end, come away from the mini-trip energized and with clearer goals. You see what I mean, they’re brilliant!
What goals are you setting down? I would love to hear about your aspirations!
I have so much faith in the creative community. It is so full of amazingly talented people who are all hard at work, blazing their own bright and exciting paths. It’s invigorating to watch and even more wonderful when you jump in and join them!
I’m so excited to see how we are all going to grow this year!
Yesterday I kicked off an exciting week dedicated to emerging artists with this post (aka, all the things I wish I had learned 5 years ago!).
Before we start talking about branding please get the idea of logos, packaging, and web design out of your head. That is not branding.
A brand is a bundle of emotion and ideas. It is an aesthetic that your product or creation effortlessly embodies. You comprehend it in a glance, it resonates with you, and before you know it, you are aligning yourself with it, bringing it into your home, and raving about it to anyone who will listen. THAT is good branding.
Thinking about branding in this way makes it super appealing to artists and creativies – emotions and aesthetics? that’s what we live for!
The first thing to think about is your portfolio. How does it feel as a whole? Think like your collector. Allow your website visitors and buyers to feel like they are buying work from a refined, well rounded, knowledgeable artist. This takes a little editing and critiquing on your part. Editing out work from your portfolio is one of the most powerful and liberating thing you can do for your brand. Knowing that you can do better isn’t degrading your work – it’s having faith in your abilities. And when you create something you are proud of shout about it loudly (we’ll get into that tomorrow).
Often the artists that excel in the creative world have narrowed down what they create to a general theme or series. – guys, this is totally what I’m talking about! A collection of work that conveys a consistent emotion, aesthetic, and is centered on a theme… that’s branding!
And as I mentioned yesterday. you don’t have to tie yourself to that theme for ever and ever! The beauty of art is that it can evolve and change as needed. In fact, that is what makes it so precious. If you are clearly defining who you are and what you create to your audience, they will be happy to grow and shift with you.
This whole process can feel a little nebulous. To help your thought process, here are a few things to work through:
list a few emotions you think your work invokes.
What does the process feel like to you?
Where do you gain the most inspiration?
What colors speak to you most frequently?
How do you want to be perceived?
What does your ideal collector’s home look like? What are they like?
– now, wrap all of this up into the way you talk about your brand. Your website should include those key words, images, and emotions. Your logo should compliment your work – not detract from it.
Artists need to think about branding far more than we usually do. It can be tricky to narrow down what you create in a concise theme, but the rewards for doing so will astound you.
Need a few examples? Here are some artists are totally rocking their brands:
Check out their websites are you will see a wide variety of artists who are passionate about and clear in their brands.
This is just a small list of the artists that are totally worth admiring. These people are all actively creating show-stopping artwork and their business are actively evolving. What artists do you look up to? What are they doing right? I would LOVE to hear!
Tomorrow we’re going to talk about Sharing your vision boldly & beautifully: marketing. I adore this topic and I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned over the past few years with you!
Dear young creative,
You are incredible. It’s true, everyone is incredible, but you are different, you set yourself apart from the rest. You are creative. You know how to think outside the box. You are inventive, thoughtful, and expressive in ways that make others take note.
But you’re scared. And you know what? that’s ok. Your fear keeps you safe and tells you where your boundaries are. But push them. Push yourself. Grow.
The beautiful thing about being a professional artist (and when I say “artist” I mean almost all creative fields) is that you don’t have to see the finish line. You are creating your own lines as you go. You are free to shift, move, grown, slowdown, change, and evolve as needed. It’s liberating to know that as you follow your passion you can define your own success.
Remember to play to your strengths. Where do you excel? What is your passion? What skills do you posses that will set you up for success?
What are you willing to suffer for?
Please remove from your mind that life as an artist or creative is easy. Producing work of value, putting yourself out there consistently, and satisfying your own standards for excellence will be exhausting and will take more energy than you may imagine – but it will also satisfy and excite you like you would not believe. It will add life to your days and will give you a beautiful and powerful voice.
If you are truly an artist, the work and the hardship will be worth it 100 times over.
I get emails at least twice a week from new or young artist, asking how I got where I am and what they can do to grow. These are the first steps. These are mental shifts I wish I had made 10 years ago.
Over the next three days we are going to delve into setting yourself up for success as an artist. It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be challenging, and most of all, I hope it’s going to be immensely helpful.
- Define who you are and what you create: branding
- Sharing your vision boldly & beautifully: marketing
- Opening yourself up to growth
So be sure to check back to learn all sort of goodness and to meet other totally inspiring artists and creative pros.
Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t really think my mailman loves me at all. In fact it may be the very opposite. Poor guy. Every time I go to the post office I see wide eyes. Usually wide eyes mean “oh my word, look at those cute kids!” or “wow. I totally love your studio” or some such lovely thing. But I somehow, I don’t think that’s quite the vibe I’m picking up at the good ol’ USPS office.
BUT, while I may have heaps of packages and tubes to mail (thank you all, btw, and I love you so much), I DO have the prettiest packages they ever will see.
My thought of a beautiful package is one laden with love and intention – but minimalistic and sweet. …and yes, I’ve totally spent time thinking about this (haven’t you?!) Less is more, but I love to make sure the details included in the packaging make the artwork inside even more special.
I am lucky. The reproductions I create are printed by a local print shop, Dapper Ink (check them out because they are rockin’ amazing), on super fine canvas that is printed in many layers. It’s so flexible and sturdy they can be bent or rolled without any longterm recourse.
Each print is special to me. Each painting captures a bit of my heart and soul. My hope is that every single customer, buyer, and collector feels that intention and love.
See the full collection of prints (and get a pretty package of your own) in my Etsy shop.
(click here to see video if needed)
I am so excited to share this studio news with you. Like, SO, so, so excited. Over the past few days , my studio has been full of giant cameras, sliders, microphones, tripods, lighting… and it has been pretty darn exciting!
Matt Ayers & Sam Windell, two insanely talented videographers and storytellers, devoted their time and creativity to telling my story and I could not be more honored. They are part of the The Traveling Storytellers; a highly skilled creative team.
It can be so hard to see “your story” while you are living within it. The beauty in the every-day happenings becomes quickly muddled by the pressures, stress, disorder, and general hussle of life. When I began thinking about this video, I felt as if I had little to show and even less to say, …and yet, so much that I wanted to convey. Life can feel so humble and mundane at times. But it’s not, is it? It’s life! It’s full and vibrant and, when you stop to notice, it is brimming over with meaningful and beautiful moments.
It was overwhelmingly wonderful to see my day-to-day life from Sam & Matt’s point of view. The way they crafted and wove my story left tears in my eyes and so much joy in my heart.
Seeing this video in it’s completion taught me to focus on the meaningful things in life and to fade out the rest. It reminded me, again, that you must work very, very hard to create something beautiful. And that beauty is incredibly powerful and worth fighting for.
Thank you, Matt & Sam, for telling this little bit of my story.
You’ll be hearing a little more from these guys in a couple of weeks (it’s time someone told their story – doncha think!?) but in the meantime, check out the The Traveling Storytellers. Their work will totally inspire you.
And if you need someone to tell your story, they are totally your guys.
There is so much joy in the creative process: energy, inspiration, passion, — messes…. I mean, really, how can a mess evolve so incredibly quickly? And add to children to the scene and prepare to be amazed. The tiny bits of paper and the splatters of paint – the pieces of food and all the stickers.
Maybe it is because of this revolving, ever shifting mayhem, I place a high priority on order and peace.
There is nothing wrong with a mess – heck, I can’t begin to live without one! Messes show signs of progress and change – they are good and should be welcome! …but there comes a point in the day when you just have to clear your head and clear your space of visual clutter.
Here are a few tips for maintaining visual order in your creative space (even if you have kids in the studio):
1. Think of your supplies less as tools and more as functional-decor. The objects we use to create are often super beautiful and hold a lot of passion and meaning.
2. Buy so many containers - sounds basic, but have many, many containers. More than you expect you will need and in a variety of sizes and shapes.
3. Hiding places. Not all tools are beautiful. Hide the ones that aren’t. Remove ugly and distracting things from view like its your job!
3. Allow your kids to belong in your creative space. Give them places that they can own: like a drawer or a corner of the room.
4. Place a value on order – really. Reward yourself (and your little ones) with something special when you finally restore the space to order.
5. messes are going to happen, kids are going to experiment and create in the sloppiest way imaginable, you’re going to spill paint, and that’s totally ok! Have the right (aka, most efficient) cleaning supplies easily accessible. My current fave is my new fancy-pants Shark steaming mop. Seriously, my floors have never been cleaner (bonus points – my 4 year old is a mopping maven.)
6. Preserve your studio space for only creative objects. This is especially important if you work from home! Keep everything clutter-y, distracting thing outside your studio doors.
7. Rearrange and revive your space as often as you would like. You need a fresh perspective more frequently than you know!
8. For oil paint & wood stain (and pretty much any other grimy, sticky, slimy, staining, nasty stuff that gets allllllll over our hands…) instead of washing with chemicals 100x a day, try a simple sugar scrub with essential oils. It’s magical and it restores your skin.
These are just a few of my personal “studio order” tips.
They are rules I try to live by (and fail in…) every day. It’s hard to remain sane in a full and active creative space – but when it works, when everything is in harmony, busy though it may be, it is the most wonderful place in the world.
That is totally worth fighting for.
I married a good, good man.
Side note: This post is totally off topic – and yet, not really at all.
Creativity takes teamwork. Living life as an artist takes a lot of stamina and effort. - If only it were as easy as it is in my imagination – gracefully pushing white paint around a canvas, always just right – but, it is rarely that easy. And in fact, I don’t truly enjoy the process when it is easy. Creating something of worth – something from within you – takes grit and passion. And it takes back up. A lot of back up.
This is why I am thankful I married a good man. Dan has had his own career with it’s own ups and downs. He is so very busy, and skilled, and has clients that make my head spin; and yet, my priorities are his first priority.
Sometimes I am convinced that Dan is more enthusiastic about my career as an artist than I am. He is willing to make huge personal, emotional, and financial sacrifices and put my needs above his own. He understands that creativity both fills my soul and wears me out. He is my biggest champion and my greatest source of refreshment.
A few months ago, someone stole my big fat camera (which I loved with almost all of my heart). They just took it right out of our car without thinking about the fact that maaaaaybe, just maybe, the person who invested in the camera REALLY needs it – and can’t really afford to replace it on a whim.
I was prepared to get creative, to find another way to photograph my work (I’m an artist after all – working around problems is what we do…). But what do you suppose I was given by my husband out of serious sacrificial love? Mmhmm…
And then, the same thing happened with my iphone. Really people?! Really?
If you know me at all, you probably know that about 80% of my business (outside of painting) is wrapped up in my phone. Emails, shop updates, twitter, blog posts, shipping notifications, instagram… My phone is command central (life with kids doesn’t allow for much cozy time in front of the computer.)
The sickening thing about both of these things is the $$$. It’s kind of crazy. And yet, my partner, the man who is 100% on my side, places a priority in these things because they enable me.
I’m so grateful I have him on my team.
So, thieves, I hear you loud and clear, my man is incredibly supportive. You can steal my valuables, but no matter what you do, you can’t take away the precious support & collaborative encouragement I feel from this man & from a l l the people on my team. He – they – are my real treasures.
While this post is a bit of a narrative, the moral of the story is that there is so much value in cultivating a healthy and caring support structure. Creative people tend to be introverts, and we tend to be problem solvers and are incredibly “self sufficient” (in our minds at least). But the reality is that you are doing a hard thing: your work takes extreme energy and requires so much support. Talk to people close to you about your needs and priorities. Tell them why certain things inspire and enable you – and why others wear you down.
Honesty and transparency allow people to support you – to fill in your gaps.
It’s so beautiful and so necessary.
I am so excited about some news coming out of my studio this week:
A few weeks ago I entered a big art contest held by Minted. + West Elm; submitting 6 landscapes to a fine art challenge and just, really, hoped for the best. …after all, this is kind of too good to be true, and my odds were SO slim (guys, there were so so so many amazing entrees).
…But I wanted this. I wanted it bad. A chance to offer my artwork on Minted.com, in West Elm Stores, and on WestElm.com Ugh… how could I not think about it!?
Eventually my (eternal) wait was over and I found out that I won. I WON! You guys, I won FIRST PLACE! You should have seen my face. I really wanted to dance and yell all at once, but I was on a very professional conference call and didn’t want to miss a thing so I held it together (barely). I felt SO incredibly honored, and thankful, and so excited!
So, what does this mean? Well, there are still things to be done, and no, you can’t see my work online or in stores quite yet, but exciting things are going to be happening over the next few weeks and months and I will keep you in the know. Soon, I am honored to say, you will be able to buy my artwork from both Minted and West Elm!
In the mean time, check out my collection on Minted (not yet for sale). I am beyond honored to be collaborating with such stunning brands who are both so committed to independent artist and designers.
Thank you ALL for supporting and cheering me on. I know I didn’t talk about this contest at all on this blog, but I felt your support and love for my artistic career, and that has enabled me to take these risks and challenge myself to do new and exciting things.
This first place award goes to this painting specifically! xox, “Land of Plenty”
See my full collection on Minted here
This post makes my heart happy on so many levels One: Bonnie Forkner of Going Home To Roost has created the MOST charming and beautiful new line of fabric, Sweet As Honey, and, Two: we get to paint-by-number (and it looks totally legit and, yes, it is still so much fun!)
You know that bare wall in your home? You know the one… it needs something lovely and meaningful: a little pop of color and a dash of fine art charm. And there is nothing more wonderful than creating something with your own hands. So, let’s do both! …and lets make it easy.
The beautiful thing about this DIY is that you really don’t need a lot of artistic skill. Bonnie has designed such lovely fabrics they are like fine art on their own! We are just adding texture and depth with a few well placed brush strokes. Super simple.
- Sweet As Honey fabric (or another design of your choosing – larger patterns work well, as does a variety of color)
- basic stretched canvas (I used 8×10)
- acrylic medium (seals fabric and dries totally clear)
- paint (I used oil, you could use acrylic as well)
1: format the fabric on the canvas – pay attention to the composition
2: stapes, stretch, staple, stretch. Work top to bottom, side to side. Apply a little strong glue when needed.
3: seal with acrylic medium and allow it to dry.
4: Paint! Add texture and don’t worry about covering the entire canvas. Think of the paint more as a highlight or focal point. You are essentially “painting by number” so mix your colors carefully!
5: Enjoy forever!
And while you’re at it, check out these other amazing DIY ideas in this blog-hop featuring Sweet As Honey fabric, including this beautiful quilted pillow by Golden Willow Quilts.
Tomorrow my girl Melissa of Lulu the Baker will be sharing her own Sweet As Honey DIY!