"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: email@example.com.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
To get out of my darkest moments I would paint and draw, the creative trance really can do wonders and for a few hours at a time I would forget my life. Posting daily on Instagram held me accountable, and of course my advertising brain was still fully functioning and after people started offering to buy my artwork - this idea starting building. It was true, the better my feed looked, the more money people would offer.Read More
"Being an artist keeps me in constant conversation with the world around me. A ceaseless observer. I now go out of my way to share the things I notice, colors, shapes, patterns, light, with my children as I encourage them to slow down and pay attention to their surrounding environment as well.
This ceaseless observation extends to my internal world as well and as a mother I am often questioning how I can become a better person in all realms in order to serve my children and ultimately myself.
As my daughter has gotten older she sometimes questions my choices and I constantly try to explain that my hope is that her seeing me pursue my passions regardless of societal expectations will allow her to do the same as she finds herself in similar situations. I hope that my son is able to find the same lessons as he matures." - Cassia CoggerRead More
"Funny thing, life doesn’t stop for The 100 Day Project. Nope, it doesn’t. There were many days I had to dig very deep to create a project worthy of sharing. Throughout The 100 Day Project, I’ve been one of the primary caregivers for my sweet Momma G, who’s in her final life chapter. Diagnosed with terminal breast cancer weeks before the project started and given months to live, I wanted to put the project on the back burner, to put LIFE off until next year, to use it as an easy out. She wouldn’t hear of it! So, in the midst of nursing visits, doctor’s appointments , hospice appointments, needles, and a lot of hand holding and tears, I chose to channel my sadness and grief into this project. Many pieces were created in my studio. Others sketched out while I watched her sleep. The connection between nature, life, death, my art, has never been more evident to me then now." - Lisa McLindenRead More
Transitions are a normal part of life. Although I am sure we can admit that change isn't easy, it can leave us feeling uncomfortable especially if we are facing the unknown. What has been the most significant transition in your life so far?
Transitions are inevitable. I can think of many that have happened. One that really stands out and seemed really scary at the time was when I initially changed "careers" from teacher to hairstylist. I wasn't married with a second income. Had massive amounts of student loans, and was making a big choice based on a strong intuition. Completely unnerving, and life changing. Thankfully my intuition didn't steer me in the wrong direction. The great thing about getting older is you start to see patterns in the underlying meaning behind choices you make over time. Each choice I've made was a choice that would bring me closer to being able to live an artist life. So each transition has been somewhat significant to me, because it keeps bringing me closer to what I am here to discover for this life of mine.
On the flip side I feel like some transition tend to happen organically and naturally as well. Have there been times that you have found yourself at point B wondering how you got there?
Oh my goodness yes. I would have to say the transition from the timid tiny little part of me that started to listen to my intuition of making painting a full time priority and being terrified to put myself out there, to actually doing both of those things. There were a few years of major discomfort since both transitions (changing careers, and taking charge of what I feel called to do) happened back to back. But I think each step prepares you for the next. And the second transition of putting my art into the world, happened over two years, so organically, that when I look back, I'm proud, and totally surprised it happened and that people have responded to it at all!
A fun fact that we both share is our career as hair stylist juxtaposed with our artistic practice. I came to my career as a stylist in a-round-about way. What lead you on that path? How did that transition effect your art?
This is kind of a long answer. I came to be a hairstylist because I was at a crossroads in my previous career. I studied Elementary education and fine art in college. After I graduated I ended up getting a job as a preschool director for the same university I went to school at. I loved the creativity of designing curriculum and taught mostly Montessori to about 30, 3-5 year olds. There were so many things I loved about what I was doing, but three things happened. One thing was that, for some reason, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was supposed to move towards something else. Secondly, 2008 and the bad economy. I wasn't able to survive on the smaller income that I was given, and the school couldn't afford to pay me a standard teacher salary. Thirdly, I would have to go back to school to get my Masters in Education if I wanted to keep my teachers license in WA. So I started searching. Looking for doors to open. Pursuing my art career seemed way to muddy to navigate at the time, so I kept painting on the side, but ignored that voice of putting my work out. One thing I always put money away for was, getting my hair done. Even if I had to eat Ramen for the month, hair was "important"! (Maybe a tad vain and irresponsible, but led me where I am now). Whenever I got my hair done at the salon I went to, I always noticed how happy all he stylists were. I was also drawn to its creativity and design element. I started asking my hairstylist questions about the career as a whole. Not only was she one of the owners of the salon but a good friend of mine. As soon as I started asking questions about being a hairstylist, she immediately kept saying, "Do it! Do it!" So... I went back to school and, did it. Now I work at that same salon!
You are currently going through a big transition, building a house, working in a studio space outside your home. Do you feel a bit in limbo at the moment?
I absolutely feel in limbo at the moment! It seems like I'm just at the beginning of finding some sort of momentum in my heart's desire, and I can't fully lean into it. Juggling many important aspects of life all at once. Even though It's mostly all good things, doesn't mean it's easy. But the definition of limbo (for me) implies, that it's temporary. And in the grand scheme of life, this limbo is a gift. There's too much pain in most of the world, that the discomfort of limbo is nothing in comparison.
Do you have any advice on navigating your way through life's transitions? Is there a trick that you have found to make that in between time more manageable and less scary?
Keeping a bigger perspective is the only way to get through. I am extremely stubborn about finding silver linings. Going down the rabbit hole of feeling bad for myself or negative for too long is not an option. Don't get me wrong... I don't ignore the bad thoughts. I just don't let them take up room in my mind for too long. Guided meditation, prayer, painting and spending time with loved ones that listen, make a big difference also. I am 100% aware that having the opportunity to pursue my passion is not something to take for granted either, and I am extremely thankful that I can. As Elizabeth Gilbert coins in her book "Big Magic", I am willing to eat the "Shit Sandwich" in order to do what I've committed and vowed to do. And that attitude can get you a long way when road blocks arise in your artist journey.
My Bringing Up Baby series focuses on my day to day life right now with my three-year-old daughter. I'm doing it as a 100 day project (one black monochromatic watercolor painting each day) and am almost halfway through. I've been wanting to chronicle this particular time in our lives because it feels like such a brief moment; a moment that I want to always remember and that my daughter will love looking back on. It's my version of a journal. So many tiny things happen in our days right now, some hilarious, some heartwarming, some sad, and some that are completely unique to us and our relationship. For me, it started out as just that: painting scenes and stories that I thought were completely us and no one else, but I've found out, through comments on my series, that a lot of my story is actually a universal one. I love that. I love feeling connected to other mothers in that way.
I do one painting a day, which often seems like a lot, coupled with my other freelance work, but I so look forward to painting it each day. This series has so much meaning to me personally and so far has taught me so much about who I am as a mother and who I want to be. And in an artistic sense, working this quickly, with such a strict deadline each day, has taught me how to trust myself so much more, how to work within very limited boundaries, and how to very simply tell a story.
Brooke Smart is an illustrator based in Sandy, Utah, where she spends her days gathering ideas for stories and her nights telling those stories with her pen and paintbrush, inspired by her daughter, the wildest and most creative three-year-old in the world. She earned a BFA in Illustration from Brigham Young University in 2007.
Brooke recently won an honorable mention in the 2016 SCBWI Portfolio Showcase in NYC. She is currently working on her first picture book.
Creative Spaces is an ongoing series which asks artists to name three things they love about the spaces where they make their art. The spaces are as unique as the artists themselves, and we hope you'll be inspired and encouraged by seeing how they make things happen.Read More
"No, I have no regrets. I started painting when it was time for me to do that. It wasn’t until I came to the Hudson Valley and saw what I saw that I was moved to pick up a brush. Creative pursuits can’t be forced. It’s time to make art when you feel the need to create and that can happen at any time. I always remember that Grandma Moses, one of my favorites, didn’t start painting until she was 79." - Natalie Wargin, ArtistRead More
"I collect rocks from nearly everywhere I've been, it's always fun to hold another part of the planet in your hand." - Ellen ShermanRead More
"I love the idea that these cards could bring people together, especially these days when being glued to a screen is the norm. I hope these cards inspire a future game night, and even an appreciation for a beautiful art object you can hold in your hands." - Sarah FeroneRead More
"I've got two kids under the age of three, a husband who works from home, and a house where it seems there is always something needing to be cleaned/folded/organized. So, for me to be able to create, I have to get out of the house." - Siobhan VivianRead More
- 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?
- 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!
- Tell us how you find time to create and carve out time for art. What has helped you the most?
- 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 5/13: #CreativePinkieSwear
- Have something you've been putting off but would really like to accomplish? Share it here! And we can hold each other accountable.