This summer we're launching 28 to Make! It's a 28-day challenge to express yourself creatively through a series of an amazing set of short classes. From drawing to lettering, music to poetry, there are projects anyone can make. In honor of our launch, we asked team members of Creative Live - “What Inspires You to Create?”Read More
"I started to merchandise my work and hoping people will remember to help the elderly to walk their late chapters in dignity and comfort knowing they are not abandoned or unwanted. I hope people remember to take care of their own parents like how they used to take care of them. It's our responsibility and duties to do all these, it's not even something we should be complimented for, as it's basic and fundamental." - Michell LieRead More
"Right now, I am working on a new body of work for my solo exhibition at Eckhaus Gallery in Kutztown, PA. Funny story: I used to be a student director at the gallery when I was getting my BFA, and it feels like a full circle to now exhibit there. I feel really free to push the subject of interiors. I am also excited to connect with a few of my former professors and mentors. It's a little bittersweet, because I am also celebrating my 29th birthday around the same time, and it feels like a new chapter is about to open." - Ekaterina PopovaRead More
"A couple of approaches have and are continuing to help me. First, take the time to listen to your own heart in whatever way is appropriate to you and your circumstances. This may be prayer, mediation, or other centering practices. It may be simply getting outside and going for a walk. Second, take any change one step at a time. Even if you are at a point in your life where you are experiencing a lot of change at once, there is still only so much that can accomplished in one day. So be patient with yourself and any others who have a part in helping you. Third, if the change is especially serious or extensive, do what you can to find people who can be of emotional and spiritual support to you and have your best interests at heart. Depending on your outlook or your needs, this can be a work colleague, friend, family member, a member of the clergy or your faith community, or a therapist. We need not go through change alone." - Hilda KleimanRead More
"In Brazil, at least before I left to study in Germany, I was not doing any kind of illustration/art/paintings. My daily routine consisted of University, German/French classes and swimming. It was basically it, but University in Brazil was so intense I rarely had free time. Germany was a complete different reality: even if the school was hard, there was always some way to get free time and enjoy life. I also got to know people from all over the world, and to do small trips around Europe. This was the time when I really started drawing and painting again, because there was so much things I wanted to "catalog", and this started evolving into a real career in illustration." - Jackie DiedamRead More
"Today is the last day of my 100 Days but I’m determined to continue First and foremost, I am committed to living a life filled with Wonder, for to me that is at the core of a life well lived. I am also increasingly committed to finding a way to share this way with others. My perspective may have shifted, but the world still feels broken and so many of us are searching for a beacon. I believe that Wonder is the way." - Emily Gaines DemskyRead More
"One morning I woke up and immediately thought: today I’m going to take some game changing action. I wanted to do something to connect with more people through my art. I had no idea what it would be and I didn’t necessarily set about to figure it out. But right before bed I had the idea. I started by doing a giveaway of a mini print that I created. I mailed 25 prints to followers of mine that indicated that they wished to receive one. I later decided to offer the mini prints as a monthly subscription. I loved the idea of being able to connect monthly with a group of people with whom my art resonated. Together with the print I mail a series of images of the process of the print’s making and a small text that explains my thinking around each piece. I’ve made some new friends and reconnected with old friends through the process. It’s given a new meaning to what I do." - Ellen Von WiegandRead More
"I've asked a few friends I've met online to share a bit about their experiences with the galleries that represent them. They are all very talented women that can paint anything; people, animals, abstracts, you name it! I hope other creatives will find this as useful as I have." - Holly YoungRead More
"One of my most important mantras, one I repeat daily is simply, "Begin Today". Often the hardest thing is taking that first step, but over time small steps in one direction can create big change. There is a quote by Karen Lamb that resonates so much: "A year from now you will wish you had started today." Applying this to our art practices we see how small changes built up over time will take your work in the direction that you want it to go. Through our book and classes we want to give women the tools that they need to make their work shine. The time is now!" - Faith Evans-SillsRead More
Heather had the great idea to do a COTFA Hashtag challenge last year, and we had so much fun learning about you guys! We cannot express how much we appreciate and love this community, although I think it's obvious. Otherwise we wouldn't spend our free time doing this if it wasn't so special! That being said, we'd love to meet more of you (especially the new faces) and do this again!
We hope you will participate in our 2nd Annual COTFA Hashtag Challenge! It starts Monday, May 8 through Friday, May 12th.
Each day we'll ask you to share a photo or video (or stories!) related to the hashtag for that day. You'll share your interpretation or answer to the question, tag @carveouttimeforart and the day's hashtag so we can find you!
We then encourage you to search out others to learn more about each other, deepen connections, and give support. We hope you'll find new friends to follow!
Here are the prompts below. Hint: click on the hashtag links to see examples from last year.
Monday 5/8: #COTFAIntroductions
- This is to kick off our our hashtag challenge week. Share a picture of yourself and tell us a little about you! What do you create? Do you have a day job? Are you a parent, a student, a retiree? What else are you interested in? Have you done anything fun and exciting?
Tuesday 5/9: #TaDa_Tuesday
- What are you working on? This doesn't have to be a large scale completed work. What's mid process, what's in your sketchbook? Share it!
Wednesday 5/10: #HowICOTFA
- Tell us how you find time to create and carve out time for art. What has helped you the most?
Thursday 5/11: #ShowUsYourSpace
- Where do you create? We'd love to see where the magic happens. Studios, dining rooms, couches..Marissa has a rickety table and a shelf in her childhood bedroom right now...
Friday 5/12: #CreativePinkieSwear
- Have something you've been putting off but would really like to accomplish? Share it here! And we can hold each other accountable.
Follow us on Instagram @carveouttimeforart where we frequently re-post and share work from friends in our community we find via #carveouttimeforart hashtags!
"My favorite thing about this project is the effect it has had on my two youngest daughters. Sophie was 2 1/2 and Addie was 6 months old when Brad died. They were so little they don’t remember the outpouring of love. We no longer live near any of our Air Force friends. With the exception of family, everyone the girls know did not get the opportunity to know their Daddy. So my hope for this day was first and foremost – these little girls. Helping them feel loved on this worst of all days. " - Jennifer Funk, proud wife of Major Brad FunkRead More
"I believe we all have the instrinsic ability and desire to create. Most people who aren't acting on this urge crave permission and direction. "Creating Personal Mandalas" is an art instructional and so much more. Exercise after exercise walks the participant back to their authentic voice through creative expression." -Cassia CoggerRead More
written by Jenny Brown
I decided early on that becoming a full time artist was my goal in life. I was 19 and a painting student Bennington College, where the life of an artist was presented to me as almost a beautiful dream: a messy loft in New York City, ramen noodles for dinner, and the sudden discovery by a Chelsea gallery that would solidify my place in the art world... and would allow me to spend my life painting and traveling and in general just be cool.
I got an internship at Art in General gallery in 1994 (I was 20 years old), and I got my chance to live that fantasy. I slept on a couch in an apartment in Soho with people I barely knew, existed on pita bread and coffee for sustenance, and did embarrassing things like load all of the slides in the carousel backwards for a presentation at the gallery without realizing it. I was hungry and tired.
And I loved every minute of it.
After graduating from college the harsh truth set in: I wasn't from a wealthy family or have a trust fund to fall back on, so I need to make money- not only to live, but to pay back the $30,000 I had to borrow to go to art school. I worked as a barista, a teacher, a waitress, a telemarketer, a medical secretary, and pretty much everything in between. I was broke but happy, and carved out time to make art between jobs in my bedroom. But I was tired- not only physically, but tired of people asking me when I would get a real job, tired of nervous calls from my family asking me what the heck I was doing, tired everyone asking me when I would get married and have children. Around that time I had the very good fortunate to get to live and travel in Europe for two years. One night I was in Paris at a party and I told another guest, who was French, that I was an artist. Their face immediately lit up, and they proceeded to ask me all about my work and life like it was a CAREER. It had never happened to me before.
And it was all the motivation I needed to keep going.
My work progressed. I had always loved working with collage material and it finally started to make sense in my work. I applied to grad school year after year and was rejected. When I finally got into the School of Visual Arts in New York, I thought it was all coming together (btw it took me NINE years to get into grad school). I figured I'd get a an MFA which would lead to a great teaching job, which would lead to financial security... which would lead to me getting to just make art.
But it didn't work that way at all.
I moved to NYC and immediately went into a downward spiral. The relationship I was in at the time came to a dramatic end. I found myself in New York with nowhere to live and and it too late in the school year to quit. I had to borrow $50,000 to live and pay for school, work 4 part time jobs, and was almost laughed out of my classes for showing an interest in "paper ephemera." I got sadder and more tired. I abused alcohol to almost a life threatening degree (which was thankfully a short lived phase). I felt I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I was now EIGHTY thousand dollars in debt with no plum spot in a gallery, or really much to show from my time at school but a piece of paper.
But something kept me going.
I wanted to survive and make art.
I moved back to Boston to be by friends and figure out my next move. By then I had discovered that no one really cared that I had an MFA or had lived in New York. Unable to find any decent paying job in the art field, I took an office job that had nothing to do with art. Art was relegated to nights and weekends. Other artists I knew told me I was a sell out for taking a job in the corporate world. People in the corporate world didn’t take me seriously because they assumed I was a flake and not committed to my day job (and therefore never seriously considered me for solid, fulfilling roles). I felt like I couldn’t win. But I kept showing up. Slowly but surely, I had a little money in my pocket and the confidence to keep working on my collages. And slowly they got better. Life was quiet and studious.
A few years later I met my husband and moved to Providence, RI with him. Not only did my husband truly believe in my work, in Providence I found artists and friends and galleries did too. I got out of my comfort zone and started sharing my work on social media, and found another incredible community of artists and colleagues online, many whom I now call real life friends. I made the whole hearted decision to make my flowered-sea-creature-alien collages and be just happy with having the chance to make them.
Right now, I am proud to say I work with 5 different art vendors and galleries. Some months, I make great money on my art and make almost as much as I do at my day job. Sometimes I go for months without even selling a print. And people still feel really inclined to share their feelings about my lifestyle, whether it be too corporate or too artsy in their view.
I think the real point of this story is to tell people that being an artist is really about committing to a whole life of art: the uncertainties, the doubt, the financial stress, the sudden successes. Someone recently said to me, “isn’t it WEIRD to really want to be an artist but spend all day in an office?” Another said, “don’t you wish you had never gone to school and didn’t have any loans so you could do whatever you want?” I honestly believe that all of these experiences, even the painful ones have taught me that I am TRULY committed to being an artist. Because some of the experiences really are painful. And yet I keep going towards my goal.
I am proud to live a life of non-conformity, complete with all the criticisms that come with it. I see people everyday who are unhappy and anxious and feel stuck and sometimes even tell me they wish they had been brave enough to pursue what they love, rather than be behind a desk all day. I hope they find the courage to take a step in that direction of what they love, even if it’s a little one.
I can’t promise them it will be easy, but I can 100% promise them it is worth it.
*for more see more of Jenny Browns work visit here website : http://www.jennybrownart.com/
This years Makers Summit is fast approaching and I wanted to pass along some information for you guy before the tickets are all gone!!
My goal last year was to invest in myself and my art as a business. I decided to really put my money where my mouth is and it paid off. (no pun intended) The first commitment I made was to attend Makers Summit. It was the jumping off point for the rest of my year.
The summit includes amazing speakers, this year's line up can be found here. It was super inspiring to hear successful makers speak about where the came from, how they found success and what they would do differently. (I've applies a lot of this over the past year.) There is ample opportunity to "mingle". Great coffee and snack breaks and out of this world craft parties in the evenings. I got to meet some of my favorite Instagram crushes in person, and some became good friends.
Once of my favorite parts of the weekend were the break-a-way groups where smaller numbers of attendees get together to discuss a topic and share advice. There are also workshop that you can choose from to help further your business, social media presence and productivity.
The summit is so well organized and the speakers are crazy inspiring. You are surrounded by amazing fellow creatives and get the chance to make some lasting connections. Run, don't walk to be a part of this year's festivities!! You can get your tickets
Click here for tons of fun pictures from last year's event.
If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer. - Heather
"We all want to sell more art. Through social media. Through art galleries. Through art crawls and festivals. Through friends (and friends of friends). But if we’re honest, it’s difficult to perpetually juggle selling art with making art, not to mention continuing to prioritize relationships with our families and friends. The struggle to balance is why we love this blog so much - because it celebrates even squeezing in 5 minutes to create art.
I’m right there with you. But not only do I understand, I also know the flip side. The side that wants to BUY your art.
I’m a certified interior design and an artist, so I know what it’s like to try to find an audience to buy your art. But I also know what it’s like to scour Etsy, to hunt and hunt for the perfect piece to put in your client’s home before getting frustrated because you feel like there is this treasure trove of artists that you just can’t seem to tap into.
My goal is to give you 6 ways to build real relationships with designers, inviting them to join your “fan club” and put your work in their clients’ homes." - Mary Jo MajorRead More
"I love painting my large scale paintings on canvas and I am lucky in that I have clients who have the space and budget to buy and collect these pieces. I am passionate however to not make my art elitist. When I had set up a studio in Singapore I held open days about once per month, it was a relaxed friendly space and people loved being able to visit an artists studio see work in progress. Lots of people asked if I would be doing smaller artworks of the Singapore Landmarks range of paintings I was working on and so my idea to create a limited edition prints collection was born. The prints are an affordable option and are a huge success with the expat community in Singapore as well as the locals who like my contemporary approach to their amazing landmark architecture. The prints are bought as gifts and leaving presents and I send them all over the world now not just to Singapore. I really do like the fact that my art is collected by a diverse group of people and budget is not a barrier. My prints and paintings have now found homes around the globe from New Zealand to New York and I am absolutely thrilled by this. The French Embassy collects my work as do other VIPS in Singapore." - Clare HaxbyRead More
"One neat thing is that consultants have opportunities to place art from artists at all levels-from emerging to established. Access to projects you would never have the opportunity to work on otherwise. Continuous rep-ing of your work at essentially no cost to you. Working with creative, hard working people who will advocate for you and your work and cheer on your success. Opportunities for creative collaborations and challenges that keep you growing and developing techniques. While its probably not for everyone, its a great revenue stream for lots of folks!" - Emily MannRead More
Grace Gulley of CYL Collective and Sam Shaw from Makers Movement are two women who generously and enthusiastically highlight the talents of others and have built supportive and empowering communities. We thought it would be fun to focus on them for once. We wanted to learn more about why they started their respective communities, and how their new collaboration,The Handmade Pop Up came to be.
Heather and I are thankful to them, because we regard COTFA as a small part of this greater creative community that Grace and Sam have helped shape. In many ways, it's thanks to their efforts that there is room for us to do our own thing, and we are thankful for their influence and inspiration. Outside of COTFA in our own practices, Heather is a member of CYL Collective and I was honored to have a published essay in Makers Magazine. Thank you so much ladies! We cannot wait to see what unfolds in the future for you, and I know we would love to meet you in real life one day, preferably in an exotic locale with umbrella drinks!
Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Sam and Grace, you have both created huge positive creative communities through your individual work with CYL Collective and Maker’s Movement. We know how much work goes on behind the scenes and we applaud you for all you do. Anyone can have a great idea, but you both have taken it upon yourselves to execute these ideas and grow your communities in such organic ways. Can you share with us how you came up with your respective ideas, why you decided to execute these ideas, and why it is so important to you?
Grace: Oh boy, do you want the long answer or the short answer! My initial intent in starting CYL was to create a place where female creatives didn’t have to feel alone. And when I say females, I include myself, because I was very literally alone in a new state far from friends and family. When I snatched up the Instagram real estate in January 2015, I was floundering in my own creativity. I had dabbled, in near everything, but none of it hit that level of fulfillment I wanted. So fast forward about three months, and what started with (ever-so-slightly-selfish) motives was beginning to change me and my life path. CYL was gaining traction and others were seeing its true potential. I was realizing the value in what I was creating! And I saw that there were countless others like me, that wanted to feel inspired and connected, and in turn offer their support.
That’s when I decided that I was going to put everything I had into CYL. Never before had things in my life felt so right, and never before did I believe in something I was doing as much as this. Watching others connect and lift one another up makes all the insane behind-the-scenes hours totally worth it. Knowing that true kindness exists has softened me and motivated me to continue fostering this community.
Sam: It all began very organically! When I started Maker’s Movement back in December 2014, I was heavily into making things, and had been since I was young. I enjoyed exploring different mediums, which lead me through a lot of creative ‘phases’: sewing, painting, macrame, metalsmithing, lino stamps, candle making, and the list goes on… I started to connect with a lot of inspiring artists and makers on Instagram, relating over little things like the excitement of packaging orders to the struggle of being a one-woman show. It began from a simple thought that came knocking: it would be really cool to be able to support all these amazing and talented creatives who are out there doing their thing. I didn’t dwell on over-thinking or planning, which is huge, because those are two things I tend to do a lot. I did think for a couple days on a name. Some of the initial ideas on my list are definitely LOL-worthy when I look back at them! I wanted the makers to be at the heart of it all. Maker’s Movement popped into my head (it was available on IG.. SCORE!), and so it began.
The community continued to grow on Instagram, but I was ambitious to offer more. About a year in, another simple thought came knocking: it would be really cool to round up the amazing creative accomplishments of the community and put it in print. At first I was thinking low key, maybe hit up the library printers with some nice thick paper stock and a stapler to create a zine… But when the submissions started to roll in, I knew I had to do more. I connected with an amazing local print house, taught myself InDesign, and spent many many many late nights hunched over the computer. When Issue 1: Mother Nature hit the community in January, the response blew me away. It wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure, but people felt the passion and loved seeing familiar names and their IG friends in print. Partially crazy, primarily moved by passion, I decided that Maker’s Magazine would carry on as a bi-annual print publication. My journey with Maker’s Movement and all the wonderful artists and makers I have met along the way has given me a sense of place and purpose like never before. When people reach out to share their story, or return with enthusiasm and gratitude over being featured in print, it makes the endless hustle worthwhile; it’s why I started and it’s what keeps me going day after day.
Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective teaming up for The Handmade Pop-Up is a match made in heaven, and we're so excited to watch what unfolds. How did this collaboration come about, and what are you hoping this will do for the makers and creatives you're supporting?
We’re so excited to watch this idea unfold too!!!
Since the founding of Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective, we have been finding different ways to collaborate and bridge together our communities. We exist on a lot of the same values of community and handmade, so collaboration has come easy for us. We’ve run a few loop giveaways together, and last holiday season we joined forces to host a giant Secret Santa Swap. Since the holidays are such an important time for handmade and small businesses to thrive, we thought it would be a great idea to host something even bigger and better than last year! Since Sam is based in Toronto and Grace is in LA, we knew it needed to be online. So we both put our thinking caps on.
The idea hit us back in May. A pop-up event would be ideal, but it wouldn’t work for us or our international communities. We’ve seen a lot of online shops curate handmade goods, but never a weekend pop-up online. So we merged the two ideas together and decided to take the weekend market feel and turn it global... and The Handmade Pop-Up was born!
We hope this online pop-up will help provide exposure and boost sales for participating vendors during the busy holiday season. It’ll be a great opportunity for makers to connect with one another, and to offer them an opportunity to reach shoppers they may not have reached otherwise. Collectively our audience with CYL and Maker’s Movement is expansive, and we really want to lend that to support our communities this season. We’ll be sharing gift guides and resources to promote our vendors and to offer a curated shopping experience for buyers. Finding unique gift ideas isn’t always easy, so we’re here to gather up an awesome collection of quality handmade goods to help make holiday shopping a breeze!
What advice would you give for people looking to get more involved with your respective communities if they don't know where to start? Maybe they're starting out, are shy, new to their craft, etc..
A great and simple place to start is ENGAGE. Hop onto the @cylcollective & @makersmovement feed and scope out some of the features. If you feel a pull to certain pieces, take a moment to comment and follow the maker. Communication and connection is at the heart of community. We promise people are innately nice (especially within our respective communities), so say hi, introduce yourself!
If makers are interested in applying to be a vendor for The Handmade Pop-Up, applications are open internationally until SEPTEMBER 15th, midnight EST. For the full scoop: www.thehandmadepopup.com
If you’re looking to participate in other ways, both Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective offer opportunities to get involved:
Maker’s Movement: Submit to be featured on the IG feed (a free but curated process), pitch a blog idea, submit a design to the Patch Project, hit us with your own collab idea, or contribute a piece to Maker’s Magazine. We’re currently recruiting for Issue 3: The Blues and I’m so excited about this theme! We’ll push beyond the colour to explore the historical, musical, emotional and visual world of the blues.
Scope all you need to know about these opportunities on our website: www.makersmovement.ca > JOIN tab.
Or just drop us a line to say what’s up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CYL Collective: Just like Maker’s Movement, features on the Instagram feed will always be free! Or if you want something a little more involved, throw a blog post idea at me. (Nudge, nudge I tend to promote blog posts on the IG feed. More bang for your buck!) I also am preparing to launch a free Facebook group. And if you really want the full CYL experience, memberships are an option! I only open enrollment a few times a year, but you are free to learn more about it on my website, www.cylcommunity.com. Info on getting featured, the FB group and blog submittals is all available on the site as well.
I also love hearing from you all, so feel free to shoot me an email: email@example.com.
Do you have any exciting personal projects or news that you're working on in your free time? Do you even have free time? We'd love to hear.
Grace: Free time… hmmm.. I think I’ve heard of that! No, seriously though that would have been my answer about four or five months ago! I’ve learned (the hard way) that personal time is absolutely necessary! So much so, that I’ve decided I need to set a better example because I want to place importance on this within the CYL community.
ANYWAY… yep, tons of things happening outside of CYL that I’m excited about! For my side hustle (Lark + Arrow / @larkandarrow) I’m preparing to do my first gallery show. It’s going to be weird to read this later and see that, since I’m still in disbelief. But super excited for that! I’m also pushing myself to get a little weird with rope and push beyond my comfort zone.
And outside of my side hustle, like I mentioned I’m focusing pretty hard on relishing my free time and treating myself with care and love. Aka, I’m justifying monthly massages, long outdoor lunches and twice-monthly ‘something news’. ;)
Sam: I love Grace’s response and could definitely spend more time indulging in practices of self-care and love. Things are a bit routine for me at the moment. I spend days at my 9-5 (marketing at an environmental engineering firm), evenings and weekends with Maker’s Movement, and most of my spare time outdoors - walking, hiking, wandering. Amidst it all, I am always daydreaming about new personal projects. It’s kinda funny, I’ve been so invested in supporting handmade that I kind of stopped making. The inspiration and ideas never stopped, but I tend to give them too much space and not enough time that they flutter away before I can turn them into something more than just an idea. Lately, I’ve been enjoying finding tiny ways to carve out time for art, even if it’s not in the capacity it once was. Right now that looks like little doodles that help me work through small thoughts and bigger life changes. I haven’t shared them with anyone (except my better half), because I quite like it being my own space at the moment… It’s still early and I don’t want to scare them away!
Any idea what’s next for CYL Collective and Maker’s Movement?
Sam: Big things are coming in the next couple years. I’m not sure what exactly it’ll look like just yet, but I’ve got preliminary plans to take Maker’s Movement on the road next year (coffee meets, park hangs, pop-ups, collab events to come), and a physical space at the end of the road sounds pretty sweet to me… ;)
Grace: You are opening a flood gate with this one! Since I was little, if there’s been one constant in my life, it’s that I’ve wanted to travel. CYL seems to be creating the perfect opportunity for that. The community is spread out all over the world, and I would love to take this show on the road! (Hi, Sam! Maker’s Movement and CYL worldwide tour 2018? HAHA.) (Sam: YES, ALL OF THE YES. HERE WE COME WORLD!)
I also am working on a few ideas for publication and am hoping that these ideas will offer further exposure for the ladies of CYL. And if I can pull it off, I’d love to create an annual CYL ‘inspirational retreat’.
"Every place I visit leaves its fingerprint on my work. Chile left shades of earth; blackened caldera, blood red pumice and white glacial structures in my paintings. Morocco introduced pinks, reinforced my love of blues (did you know there is a specific shade of blue named after the Majorelle garden in Marrakech?) and encouraged a more playful/pattern-ful application of strokes. Living in Berlin taught me lines; breathing and architectural. Barcelona taught me rhythm, and fostered my first steps into abstraction as I sat alone in a garden. Other adventures have introduced new forms and ideas to explore out, or simply encouraged me to venture down unfamiliar paths with unfamiliar tools. I never book a place to make specific work, as there’s no telling what inspiration will take hold." - Ellen ShermanRead More
I've driven approximately 500 hours for my dayjob commute over the past year as I mention frequently. You can imagine that I'm always on the lookout for new podcasts to enjoy as a way to trick myself into enjoying a task I abhor (sitting in traffic) into something fun for myself. I was so happy to discover Creative Pep Talk by Andy J. Miller a few months ago. One episode in, I could tell that Andy's podcast is special. He cares so much about helping others, and I'd go so far to call what he does a vocation. You can't help but feel "all the feels" when you listen to his enthusiasm, and I was literally brought to tears during his 100th episode listening to all of the people's lives he's impacted around the world. So thank you so much for sharing with us today, and for all you do Andy. Equally important -- thank you to your lovely wife Sophie and your family who support you in this mission! We truly appreciate it!
Hi Andy! We're so happy to have you sharing with us today. Would you tell us briefly about yourself for those who are not familiar with you?
Howdy everybody! Name is Andy J. Miller, some people call me Dr. Pizza but that’s another story ;). I’m a full time Illustrator, Podcaster, Speaker, Content Strategist & Pizza Eater (no one actually pays me to eat pizza… yet... but they say dress for the job you want, not the job you have, so…) I’m probably best known as the creator of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast, although some might remember me from my Indie Rock Coloring Book from back in ’09. My illustration clients include folks like Nickelodeon, Converse, Oreo and The Boston Globe.
I’m also a father of 3 beautiful babies and husband to a Brit from Northern England. I live and work in Columbus, OH and I love long baths, just sitting there ‘thinking’, watching Fraggle Rock with my kids* and listening to Boyz II Men.
*my kids don’t actually like Fraggle Rock but they’ll take what they can get when it comes to TV time.
I discovered your podcast through your interview with Lisa Congdon and immediately subscribed. My favorite thing about Creative Pep Talk is your enthusiasm for sharing what you've learned, and your empathy to help others not feel alone. Will you tell us how the spark of an idea to start a podcast turned into what it has become? Why is the podcast and helping others so important to you?
I grew the podcast the same way I do anything: sweat and creativity on a shoestring or non existent budget. I like to come up with ideas that cost no money or real risk, then see if they can prove themselves and pay for themselves purely on the back of my ideas.
Back in 2010 I started listening to business and marketing podcasts. I instantly knew the creative world needed this info, but it took me 4 years to figure out how to make it palatable to the creative audience.
In 2014 I started recording little podcast episodes on my iPhone. No $ investment, just time and creativity. It grew slowly. The numbers weren’t fantastic (6 months into it, like 500 listens an episode), but the anecdotal feedback and immensely enthusiastic response from the listeners I did have, was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, so I kept going. I.e. the quality of the response made up for the lack of quantity of listeners.
Since then, I’ve slowly continued my obsessive process of tweaking the format. Little by little, adding interviews, getting better and better at how I prepare and craft the monologues and we’ve grown to 6-10k listens per episode and around 50k total listens a month.
I care so much about helping creative people thrive. I have a few reasons:
1. I struggled super super hard early in my career, which gave me lots of compassion.
2. My mom is a creative person that has struggled her whole life and it’s caused a lot of fallout in every area of her life.
3. I feel spiritually called to the work. Back in 09, before I had any success of my own, I had a sort of vision to move back to the USA (I was in the UK at the time) and help creative people in their careers. Weird I know. SO it’s all a bit cosmic to me!
You've interviewed so many amazing artists and illustrators. Can you tell us three common threads you've seen emerge from interviewing so many people?
A. Plot Twist - Biggest common thread. In your creative journey, you spend the first leg, 5-10 years learning how to ‘talk’ AKA learning the surface level craft of what you think you want to do. You ‘get good’ as famous illustrator CF Payne would say. The entire time you’re learning how to talk, you think you know what you want to say. However by the time you’re actually ready to ‘say’ something, you’re world takes a crazy turn. I see this ALL the time. Like me learning to be a visual communicator all through my 20s only to find out I make a bigger splash as a verbal communicator with words rather than pictures! People like Lisa Congdon who spends early years as a teacher, only to find that she uses this voice to go on to teach and connect with creatives through her blog instead. I call it your plot twist, I wrote an article on Design Sponge about it.
B. Personal Brand Strategy - The greats may play it casual cool about their careers on the surface, but most of the people on top did not get their by accident. Most of the folks I talk to are brilliant at marketing themselves, but do it in a very pure and human way. I get that the idea of ‘personal brand’ gets pretty icky pretty quickly, BUT the truth is, it’s a term that very accurately describes what’s working for the people on top. I’d say maybe more than anything, this is why they are where they are.
C. Passion - In the book Freakonomics, they say that finding what you love gives you this unfair advantage over the competition: to you the work is play. So the practice, the hustle, the sacrifice that’s necessary to be great, doesn’t often feel like practice, hustle and sacrifice. All of the folks at the top of their game are kind of obsessed with what they do. They watch less TV, they are less social, they prioritize these things. They rest on a schedule, they spend time only with those most important to them, and otherwise they make tons and tons of stuff. This is why it’s so so so important to continue to dig, for years even, until you find what lights you up in a supernatural way.
If you could tell our Carve Out Time for Art community one reason why they should check out your podcast, what would that be?
This is the motivational podcast that will make you feel hopeful about your creative endeavors AND give you the tools to use that hope to ACT. I am totally unashamed of the ‘pep talk’ idea. I want you to leave each episode feeling insanely enthusiastic about your art career, but not blindly. This is not empty motivation. I want you to feel hopeful because I encouraged you AND gave you REAL tools you need to succeed. I want to motivate you not to just make you feel good, but because when you have hope, you are more likely to ACT! If you don’t think you stand a chance, you won’t put in the time. CPT's purpose is to make you confident that your efforts will pay off, and this confidence translates to intentional investment in your future.