Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. // Theodore Roosevelt
It has been an oftly long time since I have felt the urge to write- and while I feel like I probably sound like a broken record, it is true. I feel, that here you should get the thoughts that I desperately want to share not just the dribbles. So this little blog of my work and life will be slow but honest.
Today as I sit on the couch staring out at the water that this lovely city is surrounded by, my brain tugged up at a ball of thoughts and I knew it was time to sit down and get to writing. The past few months of life have been a spill of change. The sort of change that creeps up on you and then in a flurry, leaps in front of your life to shout ‘Now what?!’ as it scatters pieces and plans all across the floor.
Now, at my ripe ol’ age of 26, I can tell you it caused some serious shaking in my boots. The world became a sudden vast flash of unknown and I in a war like fashion, trenches deep, head down, ran against it-willing it to move.
But let me tell you about the trenches, you gotta volunteer to stay. So many times I, in my shaken boots and worried mind have spoken outwardly to others of the vastness of my twenties, of change, and personal growth negatively-throwing myself under the bus. But it is real hard to be a human being when you are busy berating yourself all the time.
In swimming lessons as a child I spent a high majority of the time clinging to the side. The water seemed to go on forever and I was quite sure I was heavier than most rocks. Rocks, to my small scientific findings, always sunk. I being heavier than a rock, was sure to plummet straight to the bottom never to return. But those tanned, muscular teenagers who’s summer job consisted of prying clinging children off the side of the pool, they were in fact water geniuses. The more I struggled and clung, fearing the vast blue liquid, the more I breathed in gulps of water sure to drown.
In this vast summer of water by repeatedly dipping myself into the blue stuff I have come to conclude that: we as humans rarely allow ourselves to be in our unfinished, changing states, enough for ourselves. We are only enough once we have attained what we desire of ourselves- and only for a moment until we desire more. Life is vast and deep and I do not want to cling to the side until someone drags me back out. I want to learn to float.
So in this weather, please fish out that suit of yours, be kind to yourself, unfinished and wonderful and float.
It is the big day! The Round is tonight! Doors open at 7pm, the show starts at 8pm at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center! The last band in tonight’s lineup is Jason Heminger of Sporty Lee! (It should be noted I have no idea what order they will perform, for that you will have to paddle your feet over to the venue come 7pm!) I hope to see some faces I know out there in those seats tonight! I will be the one with the paint and giant rimmed glasses.
Powers / Pollens
I am in the home stretch my friends. The painting is prepped and ready and tomorrow night I will (cross your fingers) complete the giant beautiful thing I have in store for you! Along side me will be Ms. Whitney Lyman of Pollens who’s voice croons in the music video above me. She of course is not the only one involved in this arts collaboration, for a full list of what is happening see my previous post. Last night I dreamt we all stood up on stage side by side and painted, sang and read to rows of empty seats. I woke up quite sad that the room was void of people-because this event is really all for you. I can paint by myself anytime. Tomorrow night, I’d rather paint with you. Come say hello!
Tuesday night, March 11th, doors open at 7pm, show starts at 8pmFremont Abbey Arts Center
Hello dear friends!
I am pleased to announce I will briefly be tied to the lovely voices above. How you may ask? Well, I have accepted an extremely kind offer to participate in an upcoming arts event taking place on March 11th (next Tuesday) called The Round. This event takes place once a month, every month in Seattle at the Fremont Abbey Arts center. This approximately two hour long event, allows you to experience music, poetry and visual art as one. Each month one to two chosen painters each create a piece in front of the audience for the duration of the event. Meanwhile, a hand full of chosen musicians play a set together. The music set is broken for short intermissions of slam poetry from chosen poets. I am humbled to be one of this month’s collaborators and I cannot wait to share what I have cooked up for the event!
I am not the only artist who will be painting on Tuesday, the lovely Charlotte Rodenberg will be painting as well. I am giddy over the musicians playing this event and I cannot wait to see what they do. The above video belongs to Motopony and its haunting tone is stuck in my head on a regular basis. Motopony’s Daniel Blue will be collaborating with Whitney Lyman of Pollens and Jason Heminger of Sporty Lee-music from both these talents I will share with you as the week progresses up to the the Round! The poets are TBA so you will just have to show up and find out!
Doors open at 7pm March 11th, the show starts at 8pm and ends roughly at 10pm. It is all ages and tickets can be purchased in advance for 8$ through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door for 10$. Funds go to help out the featured non-profit, Seattle Against Slavery.
The Fremont Abbey Arts Center is located at:
4272 Fremont Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
Join us Tuesday and be sure to say hello!
Happy snow day Seattle! I could not be more content to work at my computer with the blinds open wide on a sea of white roof tops. There is just something magical about a good ol’ fashioned surprise day of snow. So to honor such a day I thought I would share my favorite illustrative commission of 2013-these two bundles of cheeks and hair!
Painting children is pretty high on my list of favorite activities. There is just something undeniable about their expressions and body language. But painting children as a surprise gift for one of their parents-leaves me all kinds of extra giddy. I am absolutely on team surprise gift. I have the hardest time keeping gifts I buy for people until their appropriate holidays. I love the act of surprising someone with thoughtfulness.
The reaction to this piece was everything I could have hoped for and thought of while I painted away at those little dots. The unveiling was meet with much ooing and ahhing and the oldest little one attempting to touch the reproduction of her face while whispering “wow” quietly to herself. I was nearly skipping my way to the car after. I am so thankful for such an experience and the chance to get to paint those cheeks. But the true cake topper, the reason I claim this one as my favorite of an entire year-it is that tiny quite little wow. I have never felt so close to magical.
In every piece I paint I always have a favorite corner, color or line in the finished product. This being my favorite illustrative piece in 2013 thought it only fitting to leave you with my favorite little corner.
Happy Sunday-Snow day y’all!
The National / I Need My Girl
If you have been wondering where I have been hold up-I’m here, at the computer editing away! Editing is the lesser loved step in painting and printing. Pray I come out on the other side soon. This song has been my work jam. Somehow you can just get so much done while those guitars get to strumming right?
Happy Tuesday y’all!
Happy (rather late) New Years y’all! It is well into week two in the new year and I am already surprised at the quickly passing time. I remember my young self being rather snotty when grown ups would sigh about how fast time flies by. But now I shake my head at that young little thing I used to be. It is moving a mile a minute! 2013 has granted me such growth and hung rather heavy on the labor side to make 2014 a seriously big year for me. Before I dive into what is to come I wanted to give y’all a peek into a few of my favorite projects that made the end of 2013 ever so sweet! The first of which belongs to the cutest newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Hansen.
When I handed this one over to the soon to be bride and groom it felt a little bit like Christmas morning. Never have I worked with clients so excited to get their hands on the box and see the final product inside. It made my heart burst a little. Santa’s got a pretty fabulous job and I am perfectly fine filling in. This little reception pamphlet was a joy to make with all those flowing letters and stippled faces- and the finished product turned out pretty whistle worthy if I do say so myself. Congratulations to the new little Hansen family!
"Please-eee!" I am making the sound commonly heard out of the mouth of a three year old in the middle of Target while Adam stares at me a little hopeless, knowing full well I have found my soap box. He sighs, "I was really leaning towards matching Santa suit onsies this time around but.. sure, matching flannel it is."
It has been two months since I decided to pack up my stuff and he loaded his into boxes. Our small wood floored apartment has seen me feverishly paint my marbled grey over its giant creamy peach in the living room, watched Adam diligently build my crazed furniture ideas and sighed heavily as it waited until one of us showed up to witness the horrific bike rack computer desk debacle of last week (in which we thanked our lucky stars those bikes fell only to nudge that beautiful computer of ours and taught us perhaps one shouldn’t place the two so close together). The little place has been kind to us so far as we have wobbled around in various states of unrest.
The past few months have resembled a bit of a mad dance, full of paint stroked deadlines, unpacking and the brief happy hour I find myself holding a chubby baby boy who’s cheeks rival that of the Gerber babe himself and whom I let nod off in my arms a bit longer than average so that my walk away from his doorstep hours later smells slightly of that sweet new human smell he is fast growing out of. The dance is a balancing act thrown deeply out of proportion, one which I have only just begun to learn not to fumble through.
So to my dear patient little apartment, thank you for letting us fumble, and to the bearded man who I always find curled up on the couch after my longest of days, thank you waiting for me to get home and thank you, for dawning that matching red flannel shirt for which I pleaded in our Christmas card photo. There is less then a week before Christmas and I have vowed to give this mad dance of mine a bit of a nap. You will find me searching for those last few days of quiet, of candy making and the gingerbread cookies I have been promising for weeks.
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.