Thursday, October 22, 2015

Tweet Tweet!

What's that? *tweet tweet*...yes, I'm a cheeseball. I want to share with you a really exciting announcement: I have joined an artist collective and am working with some incredibly talented ladies from all over the world. We will be traveling to NYC in the spring and have loads of work to do in the interim. Here's announcing the Finch & Foxglove! More news to come, please stay tuned...

 Finch & Foxglove

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Owning Who I Am

I've recently rediscovered Lisa Congdon and found her take on self-identity incredibly helpful and freeing. Most recently I listened to her on this Being Boss podcast. The most powerful takeaway from this was the acknowledgement that I do hide portions of myself, and I have tried to groom my online persona to present a perfect package - and that that might actually be putting a wall up between me and the world with which I seek to connect. The suggestion that we share our stories through our art and creations and our blogs and social media is both intriguing and a challenge. I've decided to incorporate it delicately (as possible) into this blog, as a toe-in-the-water step. 

I've freelanced as a web designer and illustrator for almost four years, and before that, I always did side creative projects and sales while putting in a 40-hour workweek. One of several personal realizations in this process of growth has been the importance of emotional intelligence while handling the stresses and multitude of various tasks that come with being a freelancer. Taxes is the least of it, honestly! Handling billing, communications, planning, scheduling, and the unavoidable challenges that pop up along the way, while balancing inspiration, self-doubt, and will and does make you stronger. 

I discovered Lilla Rogers last year by accident when an old classmate was in the running for her Global Talent Search. My big 2015 New Years resolution was to push myself creatively and professionally during this year. I felt in a rut, that I hadn't scouted any new work and really just survived on existing clients and referrals. While I know the kind of work I'd like to make, I have a harder time identifying my dream clients; so I realized that was a weak spot in my strategy and resolution. As I read about Lilla's courses, I realized her Bootcamp and MATS classes might be almost exactly what I was seeking. I initially signed up for just the Bootcamp. The first month I was trying to find my sealegs. Month two, I was swimming. I wanted more, and so signed up for MATS A and B, two five-week intensives that would happen in March and October. With hindsight, I can see this was one of the best decisions I've made as a creative professional. I'm now about to start week 3 in the Home Decor course that Lilla is offering this summer along with Margo Tantau. It Has Changed My Life. Not only am I meeting creatives from around the world, but I am seeing the ceiling rise with every challenge. I'd worked in uninspiring and unchallenging positions just trying to survive for so long, I'd lost sight of myself in the larger scheme of dreams, aspirations and definitive goals. I am rewriting my personal goal list as I go, because I'm seeing the potential for so much more from life. 

I'll share with you the first two collections I've made for the Home Decor course. My goal coming out of this course and as I look to the fall of 2015 is to grow my list of desired clients, put together personal promos, and reinvigorate my online shops with the newest work in my portfolio. Longer-term goals are to build long-term relationships with clients, licensing patterns and illustrations, and possibly finding an agent. 

Week 1: Metal | Birds

Week 2: Fabric | Flowers

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Junebugging Out

Life has been an intense ride lately. At the end of May, an old friend passed away after a disturbingly brief battle with pancreatic cancer. As death will do, it's both made me morose and horrified, and made me determined to live life. While I have absorbed the loss of a friend my age to cancer, he was 38 like me, I've made it a point to tune in, fight the stresses of life while maintaining patience, clarity and a positive outlook. As a single mother who is raising my son while working a freelance career, stress is like one of my daily meals; it just is there all the time.

I have high hopes that my career will grow, that I'll find new projects to devote my time and energy to, and that my creative process will continue to build. I've enjoyed thoroughly the courses I've taken so far this year, they're rigorous and very inspiring, and I've found myself challenged and excited. I suck at business. I rock at my work. I have to learn business, and I've come to terms with the reality that I do suck at pricing my work / marketing myself / sourcing clients. It's a recipe for failure. I certainly do not want to fail. I've been a freelancer since my son was born (2011), and am amazed I've made it this long. So my goal for the rest of 2015 is to continue to build my creative collections, to kick ass in the two courses I have yet to take this year and the freelance work I have, and to continue to spend focused time with my son - not dwelling on whether this client will go elsewhere or that project will wrap up and nothing will be on my plate.

Here is a fabric pattern design and illustration I have for sale in my Spoonflower store:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A New Passion

Whew! The month of April, 2015 was a big one for me - busiest month in recent memory, favorite project yet in Lilla Roger's Bootcamp that I am now halfway through, and changes at every turn. It's been an exhausting few weeks, but an incredible month for growth and inspiration! And I feel a new passion growing - Lettering! I first tried my hand at lettering in one of the MATS-A assignments, which was a children's book cover (shared a couple posts back), but this most recent assignment was a large (20"x30") poster design with lettering and illustration. Honestly? I could have spent twice as much time on it if I'd had the time to spend, and still been enthralled with the process. And as soon as I turned the project in, I was on to a personal lettering project. I think I've re-watched the skillshare courses I discovered 3-4 times each.

One of the most wonderful takeaways from the Skillshare lettering classes was the process of setting up a project - strangely, after 4 years of art school and 20 years of professional work, I had never encountered such a helpful process: the gathering of materials, the association, the many thumbnail sketches - not a rigid process but more of a roadmap. This has really helped me, as my creative process can tend to resemble a whirling dervish / Tasmanian devil mating ritual. As I finalized this poster project, which was a promotional poster for The Global Art Gathering in Brighton, I noticed how much the process impacted the final piece - and while this project was somewhat daunting in that it involves not only the class gallery, but it is actually a live contest with a winner (and a bunch of non-winners), I realized as I clicked "submit" that I don't care. I am overwhelmingly thrilled with my final piece; I printed it as large as I'm able with my home printer, so it's hanging 13"x19" in my workspace and it is gorgeous. It's one of my favorite poster designs yet. And I have my roadmap, which has already proven to help me in my various freelance projects, from a corporate white paper layout and design, to a just-for-fun lettering and illustration that I'll be sharing here soon.

Here, then, is my final poster design:

onelittleprintshop poster design

Friday, April 3, 2015

That Makes Sense...

One of the repeated messages in the Lilla Rogers courses I'm taking is to make things you love; share your joy. The point is to make things you like making, to invite paid work in that same vein. It's so obvious and makes so much sense, but it seems to escape many of us! I had this presented to me as a real-life example when I posted an updated version of one of my favorite pieces from class for sale on Etsy and was contacted by someone who loved it and wanted a customized version for herself. My manifesto brought in some paid work! I love the realization I'm having, because it means that work instantly becomes more fun! I loved making the original manifesto, and guess what? I loved making the commissioned one too! I'm so thankful that I decided to sign up for these courses this year; it's changing my 2015, but it's also changing my perspective on what is possible in life, and how much I can push my creative career and boundaries.

The horizon has gotten bigger and broader. What more could one want from a class?

I'll share below my manifesto from Lilla Rogers' bootcamp: 

if you love it, check it out on Etsy

Here's the one I made for the fitness business owner on Etsy:

I hope to make more, they're wonderfully fun and allow a playfulness that I adore.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

No, you didn't already do this.

Have you ever found yourself tasked with a project that you feel you've already done? An assignment that you think, 'this is old hat! I can do this'...but then when you start working on it, you feel like a complete greenhorn? Perspective is funny like that - one minute you're an expert, the next, an absolute beginner. I try to keep in mind the work I've done to get to today, so I don't totally lose my footing, but I think there is something wonderful about finding your novice-self even on a project you have the tools to tackle. Why? Well...the learner perspective allows you to learn new lessons. If every project was in the vein of your expertise, where's the fun in that?

This week I've found myself learning a great deal as I tackle a fast-turnaround on a book cover illustration. The story is an old one, but my take on it is new, different and a bit silly. Seeking my joy, finding my humor, allowing for failure on my creative journey.

New adventure in hand-lettering...

 Dancing Billy sketches...

A little workspace snapshot:

Adding color...

And below is the first mock-up! I'll follow up at the end of the week with my completed book cover.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Time and the Creative Process

Sometimes when you're learning a lesson, it will knock and knock and then finally you'll open the door and see it standing there. This lesson for me has been the realization that time spent doing what you love is a gift to yourself, and a gift that gives back. I began scratching at the surface of this lesson when I was working on the series of children's books I did with a friend (seen here), because I began to feel this tug at myself - when I would hurry through an illustration, I wanted MORE. I wanted to go back and spend more time with each drawing. Now, when I review the three books, I see that with each one, I allowed myself more time on each illustration and it shows. I experienced this same tug when I began taking Lilla Roger's bootcamp. I wanted to spend more time with each piece. I realized in a true lightbulb moment that the majority of my work over the years has been production-based. When you work in production, even creative production, there is someone pushing you to produce as much as possible, as quickly as possible. That doesn't mean they want sloppy work, but it does mean they want a FAST turnaround. As I allow myself to re-connect with the creative me, the girl who went to Art School back in the 1990's, I am rediscovering my processes, my creativity, my thoughtfulness and my joy. And truly, this is not something to be rushed. I am not a slow worker by any means, but working at a production-pace on passionate projects simply doesn't work.

I now can recognize that the survivalist in me has done well to adapt to a production-paced work in order to keep paying my bills, taking care of my responsibilities, and making ends meet as a solo parent who survives on an unpredictable freelance workload - but that at the same time, the next step in my career is very clearly to give myself time to create, develop and refine my creative processes.