Friends, it’s a mad house over here. I am not sure where September went and I swear yesterday it was August. Although my cold has vacated my body, the state of my house is currently mid-eruption. Things lay around needing to be packed, moved, cleaned or put away. The big ol’ moving truck comes Saturday and I cannot wait to be rid of this moving business! Am I the only one who has a desperate time attempting to think while sitting in ground zero of the moving eruption?! Oh how I dream of my organized desk again, of painting away with a record playing and a cup of tea to cradle..
As I snap back to reality and before the volcano really starts flowing around here, I owe y’all part two of my follow up thoughts on the School House Craft conference and I intend to deliver as promised.
Here I go once again professing my love of school. This time around it’s value of a school’s community. Now really before your eyes gloss over- School forces you to get out there in the world and rub elbows with other folks. If your lucky and kind, you find a few elbows you actually like. The people attached to such elbows push you, support you and generally make you better. After college the consensus seems to be that finding your tribe gets infinitely harder. My current twenty something college graduate status allows me to tell you this consensus can hold some weight. But harder doesn’t mean impossible and it shouldn’t lead to giving up.
My experience in art school, conference related and otherwise has led me to realize that with passion comes self doubt. I have had the pleasure to work with some truly jaw dropping talented people and found that each one of them has a sliver of wallflower. When it comes to business and to art it is hard to balance in human nature. This past week while dropping a wee one at school, I watched the backpack toting tot race across the playground yelling her friends’ names, arms swinging, cheeks pink from the hurry of it all. A smile cracked across my face this sight. I thought, ‘I love just how easily she loves them all’. As we grow up and into ourselves we have a tough time cracking our shells. We take our passion and run away with it. It is easier to shut yourself off from others and stand in the back waiting for someone to notice your genius. I raise my hand to admit that I, am horribly wallflowerish at first. I usually stand at the back and watch the games take place for a very long time before I jump in. But what this past conference has shown me, and what I have gained from the presence of the small children I see regularly is, that kindness and a willingness to happily jump in is beyond rewarding.
Everybody has a little wallflower in them. But the more I see the more I know that every truly successful creative person is also the kindest one in the room. I have come to realize that while finding your tribe can be hard- it is out there. Inspiration, support and love can only be found if you live them yourself. So please, go out there and spread your genius with kindness. Attend things, meet people, and learn a thing or two. You will never gain any of it standing against the wall. Stick your toes in. You’ll be glad you did.
A big thank you to all the people involved in the School House fall conference. This wallflower learned a lot.
Pushin’ Against a Stone // Valerie June
I have been listening to this girl on repeat this week as I get over my sickness, get back to work and prep to move. This one tells it right.
Hello friends. It has been a while. This past week has been a bit of a whirl wind as I have painted like a wild woman, worked freelance and attempted to cross off some of the items I need done stat because, oh right you haven’t heard, I am moving into a brand new apartment come October first! My body must be feeling the weight of this laundry list because as I write this I am nursing a cold. Even in this crazy haze of things I reminded that little over a week ago I spent two days at the School House Craft fall conference and some serious sharing is owed!
In those two days I learned a brain combustible amount. It took me a serious amount of time this week just to absorb it all! I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to go fill my brain with knowledge and meet some truly fabulous people. While I cannot impart the same brain bursting amount of knowledge/small business revelation to you over the internet-I can share with you the two major lessons I walked away with. The first of which starts with the following:
I have never been the type of person to quit or doubt my decisions. From a young age my tenacity and diligence were evident. When I set out to do something, it happened. My dear mother has the age lines from those formative teenage year decisions of mine to prove it (sorry mama). So let me tell you, it is some serious business to admit that I, after day one of the conference came home exhausted, sat down with a full brain and thought, ‘It would be so much easier to stay home tomorrow..’
Doubt is natural and easy, especially in the beginning of your career, especially as a creative. Creatives spend so much of their time in their heads that of course, that party of one is likely to beat itself up every once in a while. Ask any creative, doubt just comes with the territory. It is what we do with our doubt that matters. Up until last weekend I wouldn’t say I felt any doubt towards myself or my abilities. But that tiny comment to myself after day one of the conference got me to thinking, ‘Why am I suddenly feeling a wave of doubt? Why do I need it to be easy?’
Now with another day of class under my belt and a week to mull it over, I think I am ready to answer those questions. The two days I spent at the Schoolhouse Craft conference led me to realize there were more steps to my business’ growth than I ever realized. It wasn’t the knowledge that scared me-in fact the knowledge and conference left me feeling empowered. Nor have I ever doubted my product or my choice of business. I believe in what I have chosen to do. No no, I realized that my enemy and doubt have always ridden in with the clock, on the back of my persistence and diligence. I came home that day suddenly feeling my goals were not being achieved fast enough. The positive knowledge and experience of the weekend were overshadowed by my drive turning inward to devalue and lash myself for not being farther along. Knocking myself down left me feeling slightly less confident than I had before and it seemed for a brief moment, easier to stay at home and hide, denying the the good I had learned.
Never had I stopped to think that too much diligence and persistence could lead to anything damaging. For me, past experience and a bit of natural human wiring had proved that continually pushing myself led to the results I wanted. But here, in my business it seems my mindset needed a change. I have come to realize one must play the long game.
It is natural to stare down the business mountain and quake in your boots, feeling small when faced with the enormity of the task. But it is you who define your business victories. It is you who belittles your progress when people ask you how your business is going and you respond with lack luster answers. Allow yourself to find the strength in what you are doing today so it can get you to where you want to be tomorrow. Nothing good was ever built on frustration and doubt. Persistence in all things is good-pestering yourself and devaluing your achievements is not. Being in competition with yourself will point you straight to unhappiness, no matter what you achieve down the line. Try not to beat yourself up so much when life throws you a curve ball and causes your timeline change -say because you are moving or sick (ahem…*blushes and nods). You are not a corporate machine, you are a small, handmade business-celebrate who you are and what you stand for on a regular basis. It takes courage to become the person and business you want to be. Lastly, if none of that sunk in, at least leave with this, my favorite words from the conference, spoken by the very knowledgeable Marlo Miyashiro-
Happy learning friends! Be on the lookout for part two later this week!
FRIDAY JAMS: Hold On / Tom Waits
Today’s jam is for the memory of my grandmother, my father whom I love a little extra this week as he remembers his mama and for the welcomed grey skies rolling back on into the Seattle skyline.
This upcoming weekend I am attending School House Craft's Fall Conference. I loved school with a passion, the organization, the packed lunch, the sharpened pencils. When I was little my aunt would take me to get a hot chocolate and treat before she dropped me off for my first day. That little cup of warm, chocolate turned milk always felt like the magic ticket as I walked into school. As I got older I continued the tradition myself, up to the last possible days. The first day of every semester in college you could find me sipping the stuff, the magic of school in a little cup. If you are attending the conference, be sure to find me. I would love to meet and chat. I'll be the one with the steaming hot chocolate, a little nervous but, oftly excited to be there.
The anticipation for the conference this weekend has me thinking back to this time last year, when I began my journey into creative small business. After graduating from Western Washington University with my BFA, I spent the next year of my life figuring out how I wanted to apply my creative voice into my adulthood. The decision to work as a freelance illustrator and open my own paper goods shop came into concrete view last August. (To dive into the journey to that decision read this Go Mighty post I wrote as part of the wonderful Scratch to Success class I took earlier this year.) Since this definitive choice to leap down the rabbit hole I have taken myself to school as often as possible.
Five years of art school left me knowledgeable about everything from how to make prints through stone lithography to Picasso’s long assorted history. But that knowledge could not help as doe eyed, I stared down the prospect of the giant mountain that is ‘business’. If you are anything like me, a planner, maker of lists, lover of color coding everywhere, you answer this hole in knowledge by transforming into the ultimate researcher. I went to talks, events, read countless blogs, took online classes and began quite the collection of creative business books. I was a sponge. Now a year later, I have concluded one never truly stops learning. There is no definitive end grasp of the full knowledge. Business and creatives grow and change all the time. Instead I believe the important part is making the choice to continually dive in for more knowing full well school will never be out of session.
The choice to continually investigate my own business has made me a better artist, a better business lady and possibly a stronger individual than I was a year ago. So as I continue my dive down the rabbit hole this weekend, I thought I would prepare by sharing a few of my favorite creative business startup books that stand in my bulging collection! -Just in case you are chewing on jumping down the creative business rabbit hole after me.
It should be noted that you do not need every single book on this list. There are places in many of these text where information overlaps. But on the flip side, each one of these books have allowed me to learn something I did not come across in the others. Read them and see which ones work for you.
1. The Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guide written by the Graphic Artists Guild: This book has taught me more practical, technical knowledge about the business of being an artist then my art practices class in college ever did, and it is all stored in this large, re-readable package. It is genius and therefore is the only book on this list I truly suggest every practicing artist should own.
2. Craft Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco: Craft Inc. is a solid book about all overarching needs when setting up and/or moving your creative business to the next level. It is a fabulous choice for a true cover to cover read with highlighter and bookmark in tow.
3. Jump Trust Repeat an e-book by Jessica Swift: This was the first book that I read when I began thinking about opening a creative small business and I am glad it was. Swift weaves practical business knowledge in as she tells her personal journey through her first years of being a creative small business owner. This depiction of business made mine seem attainable to start. The book is full of encouragement as well as pointing readers towards helpful companies and products to use.
4. Start Your Own Business: The Only Startup Book You’ll Ever Need written by the staff of Entrepreneur Media Inc.:
This book is no light reading and should not be read page for page. Instead, when you reach a problem or a step in the business process that you do not understand, crack this book open and read what you need. This book doesn’t bend to the creative side of creative small business. It is all business and when you need it, you’ll be glad it is.
5. The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin: This book, much like Craft Inc. is a book one should read with a highlighter and bookmark in hand. As you read take what you want from it and leave what you don’t. Chapin focuses on the community and social aspects of a creative small business. She helps readers understand how to set up a interactive business model which is critical in today’s marketplace.
6. Creative, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho: If you plan to do any creative freelance work in your business this book is an excellent starting block. It focuses on the fundamentals of freelance: hours/pay, copyrights, contracts and forms. It is a perfect way to start off freelance research because it is simple and well organized. Pair this book with the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook and you will be on your way to understanding how to tackle freelance work.
Happy reading you scholars. Hope to see you at school this weekend!
This past weekend my lower half rarely moved. It camped out in front of my prized vintage drawing table while my top half moved rapidly. Paint to paper, brush to water, stop, stare, squint, repeat. I am moving through the stack of drawings I so carefully thought of and penned to paper this summer. These lovely things will make their debut with the opening of my paper good shop late fall/early winter.
But back to the scene we left-the painting, the squinting, the repeating, it is the thing that has made the most sense to me since wee elementary school. For me, art has always equaled language, and love. While polishing off Where’d You Go Bernadette the other night I came across the most spot on passage:
"My heart started racing, not the bad kind of heart racing, like, I’m going to die. But the good kind of heart racing, like, Hello, can I help you with something? If not, please step aside because I’m about to kick the shit out of life." -Where’d You Go, Bernadette
I laughed out loud for a few minutes after reading and then hastily underlined the words. The whirling, the paint to paper, even the squinting and staring-it’s my racing. Bernadette that crafty woman was absolutely right. You’ve got to find that moment of heart racing madness and follow it with speed, arms flailing and heart open through the rest of your life. She is my kind of woman that Bernadette. I might follow her anywhere, Antarctica included.
Every summer I try to escape to the coast at least once. My chance came a week and a half ago. My entire extended family packed up their various cars and trickled down to Oregon through out the week. We stopped in Portland to eat at Broder (pictured above), stuff ourselves full of ice cream at the Salt & Straw (not pictured but equally delicious), and then carried on to the ocean.
There is something to be said about a few days with nothing to do but sit in the sand, listening to the ocean with the people you adore. Summer is always the busiest few months of the year for me. I have a hard to leaving that mental list of things to do alone. The busier I get, the longer and louder that mental list seems to become. But plopping myself down by the ocean always seems to quiet that list for a while. In Seattle the first few signs of Fall are popping up. As I move into endless days of painting, printing and shop creating; I will savor these small ocean filled memories. Here is to the end of summer, the beginning of pumpkins and a few days at the beach well spent.
Life lately according to my iphone: (going clockwise)
July and early August are made for chasing light. Summer is fleeting here in the pacific northwest. We soak up all the light we can get. These are favorite fleeting moments from the past month. (1) There is nothing like the smell of campfire, a good s’more and the sunset through the leaves mid-July. (2) This boy of mine turned 27 two weeks ago and with the new age came the need for glasses. The symptoms of aging happily celebrated at Ba Bar with noodles and moscow mules. (3) This time of year I crave a good cactus. In Seattle the best place to get your cactus fix is at Volunteer Park Conservatory. There is nothing like a glass house full of plants in the height of summer. (4) There is nothing more essential to summer than an afternoon spent laying on couch reading library books. In the dead of winter this is what I will crave. (5) We went raspberry picking and ate almost as many as we picked. What we brought home I made into jam. I used this recipe. It has been a favorite of mine for years. (6) Last but certainly not least I watched these two get married last weekend. My heart swelled two times its normal size.
I hope you have been soaking in that same sun I have. Happy August y’all.
Teresa & the likes of her Instagram
I Don’t Be Found // The Tallest Man On Earth
I am off on my first bout from home this summer, to the beach, to Oregon with the ones I love. Here’s to leaving for a few days, for a little adventure- coast driving music, in case you find yourself on the road.
Creative Block- a plague of stillness, the inability to accomplish anything of note; a period in which all ideas end up on the floor if they even launch from the brain at all. This unfortunate plague seems to happen exactly when you least desire it to. But it does happen-to everyone.
A month ago I had a serious case of the dreaded thing. It lasted a long two weeks and I was, needless to say, miserable. Today, as I can successfully see it in the rear view mirror, I share my tips to breaking out of that funky stress which plagues the creative juices of us all:
Artists, teachers, bus drivers, mamas, all run on our own concocted forms of passion. It’s the reason we all get up in the morning- the possibility of the day’s creation. Yet we somehow tend to forget that our passion needs some feeding. The moment this is remember it always seems too late. The creative juices have been left to fend for themselves for so long that now they simply seem to have run dry. Do not freak out. I repeat- do not freak out. You’ve come down with a case of the ever elusive, creative block. Acceptance is the first step to the cure. If you are anything like me, you will fight this step at all costs; attempting to plow forward as if nothing is standing in your way. Yes, mountains can be moved by force… right?
If it isn’t working, then walk away.
Creativity can be all consuming. Let your ideas rest for a little while, literally get up and walk away from them, occupy your brain with something else. Find yourself a body of water, walk around it. Feed your passion-spend the day in the art museum, or go watch live music. Creation blossoms out of experience. So on the worst days, please remember to leave your desk and get out there in the world. Your paper will be exactly where you left it when you return. Figure out what you find relaxing and make yourself a creative emergency kit. These lovely suggestions sit in mine:
1. Smith Tea: I am a serious tea drinker and Smith Teamakers currently rules my cupboard. There is nothing like a little Lord Bergamont to focus or soothe.
2. Practice: 642 Things to Draw is a simple book. I use it daily as a coloring book of sorts, absent minded doodles made for the joy of drawing. I leave all expectations of my drawings behind and take a moment to remember why I love to create. Practice your joy daily. It makes a difference.
3. Text Hunt: When I am struggling to find my ideas I collect inspiration. For me that means text and vintage hunting in Seattle’s vintage stores and in the big old books in the library. Collect your inspiration, surround yourself with it.
4. Theo: Another thing I am serious about- chocolate, dark chocolate to be exact. If you, like me, are serious about chocolate buy yourself Theo’s chocolate. I always keep a bar around for a rainy day.
5. Revel: For those times when things really aren’t going well I find a good meal can fix just about anything. Revel and its ramen are my favorite place/thing to eat in Seattle. Food feeds the soul.
6. The Secret Garden: Lastly, there is nothing like a story to relax the body and awaken the mind. My current read is Where’d You Go Bernadette and my favorite place to loose myself to books is hands down The Secret Garden in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Most of all, remember to just hang in there friends. The creative are never left to wander forever.
Here’s to the creative juice, and getting out there in the world. Now go buy a chocolate bar-you most definitely deserve it.
SUNDAY JAMS // Birmingham / Shovels & Rope
This here is my current summer jam. I like to crank it in the car and sing real loud. I highly recommend it.
Happy Sunday y’all.
The majority of my current waking hours are spent in the company of children or at my drawing table, brush in hand. This, along with some rather exciting upcoming illustration commissions, have led me straight to the children’s book section of almost every store, library, and household visited. (Some might suggest I am going pro when it comes to the read a-loud.) As you would imagine, I found a few favorites. These five are my current favorite stories and some seriously inspiring illustrators. These are the kind of books that I, the adult, buy for myself and set on the shelf next to Where the Wild Things Are for inspiration. These books are also the ones I am presented with when little ones request books read on repeat. These are absolutely kid tested, illustrator approved and here is why:
1. The Dot, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds—This story is an all time favorite. It explains art/expression in such a magnificently complete way with only a few words and a whole lot of heart. This one is my go to gift for children.
2. An Awesome Book, written and illustrated by Dallas Clayton—Once in a while you find a book that seems to be written and illustrated by an inner child and a parent in equal measure-the result of which is always some kind of magical. This book is one of those rare occasions/authors, the result of which can best be described as rainbows, high fives and dreaming big.
3. The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers—This recently published book, jumped on the favorites list after only a few pages. It is clever and if that weren’t enough, the story is rooted in a playful, child-like sense of wonder. Daywalt’s words and Jeffers’ pictures are the stuff of childhood dreams.
4. Stuck, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers- Jeffers is definitely ruling my current favorites list, and rightly so, these next two Jeffers picks are written with just my kind of voice-playful yet logical. While the situations Jeffers puts his characters in are comical, they also succeed in truly crafting a picture of the childhood experience. Stuck, short and simple in plot, paints a hilariously accurate picture of child problem solving and reasoning that will make you smile.
5. This Moose Belongs to Me, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers-- The best thing about each book on this list has to be the fact you can tell the illustrations were done by hand. In This Moose Belongs to Me, Jeffers takes his illustrations to yet another level by adding a contrasting painting style in the background, which ultimately works widely to his favor. This book tells the story of a little boy’s “claimed” pet moose and his struggle to let the moose go his own way. The book is a dead pan accurate depiction of what it is like for an eldest child to suddenly gain a sibling. If Jeffers wrote the book with that in mind I do not know, read it for yourself and see if you agree!
Life lately has looked a bit like this: (going clockwise)
Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays! Can you tell? (1) Sparklers are always a bit of magic. (2) Yours truly getting a little bit festive on the outfit this year. (3) Red, white and blue-Adam the day before the 4th. Somebody is ready… (4) My choice outfit and drink as of late- iced lattes and flower pants are this years summer staples. (5) Eight ideas drawn, plotted & sit ready for painting on my desk. Three more will join them this week and soon all you will see from me is a flurry of color. I cannot wait to share them in their finished forms & make them available for the keeping through my shop opening late this fall! (6) My dearest friend and her man visit from Massachusetts this week! I could not be more pleased they are around. Last night’s oysters at The Walrus & the Carpenter prove Seattle’s summers are something else. If you haven’t been, you should move that way on the double. It is one of my favorite Seattle eats.
There is so much on the horizon that I cannot wait to share. Here is to hoping your summer is looking just as wonderful!
Teresa & the likes of her Instagram
(Yours truly, nineteen years ago upon my first realization that birthdays could be accompanied by crafting and cookies.)
This past week has been full of celebration. It started off right with my dear father’s birthday on Monday. I followed him up by turning 25 on Tuesday. Today of course, is Father’s Day, and tomorrow is my lovely mother’s birthday! Keep up with that? I barely did. The celebrating has reached an all time high and I am not complaining. I have always been a big advocate of birthdays. I spent much of my childhood and fair amount of my adulthood making some what elaborate plans for birthdays, mine and otherwise. I am often frowned upon for ridiculousness and have received many a high eyebrow for being over the top.
Now perhaps it’s because I am older and wiser than I was a week ago, or perhaps I stumbled upon this realization due to a weeks worth of repetitive sugar highs-but I officially shake my head of such frowns and eyebrow motions! It is rare that we allow ourselves to express our love for one another with such passionate fever as we do on the day they were born. So my goal for this 25th year of my life is to live a few more days like they were birthdays. Maybe it’s the sugar talking, or maybe its my brain on stationary hyper drive but, either way I think I’m right. The world could do with a few more random acts of love and celebration and this year I plan on handing them out like candy-(or with candy!)
*speaking of celebrating, that new website I promised is close to celebration status! While it was meant to see the light of the world wide web this week, it has experienced some new site glitching that my web designer has been patiently tending to- while I on the other hand, impatiently bite my nails in anticipation! But in the end, if the site is better for you, I will wait as long as needed! Luckily the wait is only a day or two and then we will celebrate its arrival together! Until then my friends!
This past week I have channeled Rocky. Just the mention of his name and that theme song cued up. (You hear it now don’t you? As you should.) You could find me humming it underneath my breath, pep talking myself up, “ya, girl you are so close to the top of those stairs”. When I visited Philadelphia years ago, I was shocked to realize the run from the fountain to the top of the stairs is so much longer than it looks like on screen! But the older, wiser me can now tell you, that is the way it always is. The top stair moments take longer and commonly end up to be far larger tasks than they appear in their shiny dream state.
I have learned so much over the past few months and I am proud to say those learned months will pay off next week as my brand new freelance illustrator website will go live! I am immensely proud of all the work I have created for this portfolio. I cannot wait to move further down the road to sharing it with you as I debut my paper goods shop in the months to follow!
I can see the top of those stairs y’all. Can I say it enough? You can find me in a grey track suit, jogging in place, waiting for that moment. Until then, a preview will have to do. This is one of my favorite shots, can you guess why?