Tuesday, October 18, 2011

definitely not alike

Ok I finished the marathon and they really are NOT alike.

But I will say this. At several times during the race I did think "This is hard", and "Ouch", and "Can I really keep going?". Which coincidentally is similar to my sentiments on many occasions as an artist/illustrator/designer. Yes, the three thoughts have crossed my mind many times during the often difficult career path I have chosen.

So, if you are considering either running a marathon OR launching your art career, just know you will find it difficult, sometimes it will hurt and you will question whether you can keep going down that path.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How running a marathon is NOT like being an artist

Ok so I am about to run my first marathon. I started thinking about all the training and time spent for the darn thing. I also was thinking 'Dang, I need to post on my blog'. Naturally the two seemed meant to go together. And, it seemed that I could really tie the whole, running a marathon IS LIKE an art career together. But then it occurred to me, they are NOT alike.

The most obvious difference is that with a marathon, you train a very specific way. Oh there are a lot of degrees of training, but everyone agrees, run, and run a long run once a week. But for art there is no tried and true way to 'make it', or train for it. Seriously. You can buy books, read blogs, but really half of making it is luck. No one wants to admit that but seriously you can make the most beautiful thing ever, but unless the right person sees it at the right time, and other people are in the mood for buying, you won't sell it.

Secondly, with a marathon you have a goal, 26.2 miles. All you have to do is run that distance and voila you've made it. But with art, there is no real goal. It is nebulous, it moves around, it is elusive and can completely make a 180 on you before you know it. Some ambiguous goal like 'success' is so hard to define that really, seems pointless. Realistically you can only hope to make art, and sell what you can, if that is what you want. But the goal line will move, whereas 26.2 miles will always be just that, 26.2 miles.

You don't have to carbo load for art. Oh sure it sounds like fun, and if you are in the mood you could even justify it "I am so busy with ideas that I need to fuel up so I can create all of them". But really, we see through that. No, carbo loading is NOT necessary for making art.

No special clothes or gear are required for making art. I suppose if you are a welder, or depending on your medium you may need a few things, but most of us can get by with non-high-tech gear.

You don't lose your toenails doing your art. Unless you drop that giant coffee mug on your toe on the way to your office/workspace.

Ah ha, I do have a similarity though. Discipline. Yes you need discipline for both. If you don't dedicate the time to each endeavor, and follow through you won't get where you want to go. So there, in that instance Yes, running a marathon and making art is similar.

Feel free to stretch after a quick warm-up when you are done reading this. However, the ice bath will not be necessary.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the value of blogging

Ok, so I had coffee today with the amazing architect Ted Argo. Well...during coffee Ted mentioned that I have not blogged in three months. Which sadly is very true. Here's the scoop.

1) Kids are home from summer, which means juggling work and being a mom. Less time for the projects that do NOT have a dollar amount associated with them.
2) I just don't know that Blogging does much for me. Really. I have NOT gotten a single project via blogging. I have gotten comments, and yes have enjoyed sharing creative experiences, but has it generated money? No. Does it need to? Well, it would be nice.

With that said, I just don't know whether Blogging, and Twitter really have a lot of value for a small creative business person. Sure I show up in Google Alerts, and yes a few people read the posts and the Tweets, but... ultimately as a business person aren't we supposed to spend our marketing outreach efforts to garner MORE work? And if that is so, and IF most of my work is via word of mouth, then I think we creatives should spend more time drinking coffee and talking to the people who share our names. Why bother Tweeting to 'MarigoldLover' on Twitter when they will NEVER send me any work. Doesn't it make more sense as a small creative professional to call up your connection at that agency and see if they want to visit, check in and generally stay on their radar?

So, is their a value to Twitter and Blogging for us creatives? I don't know, you tell me.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

sold out, now what

Ok the good news is that my wine glass pattern sold out at Joann's across the country. Now what?

So the obvious is that they should reorder. But the not so obvious is how do I recreate that success? Sort of stressful to ponder. Fear of success, no, fear of failure, yes, maybe. I want to make sure I deliver the goods.

Time to bring it on home.

Monday, May 2, 2011

preparing a submission

Years ago I had a request from Disney to submit my portfolio for consideration on a print project. Specifically they said they had selected me and 4 other artists and asked if I had any 'underwater' work. I found out it was for Finding Nemo. Long story short I did NOT have underwater work so spent the weekend trying to put some together. When the weekend was done and I was getting my artwork boxed up, I made sure to include the new work.

I did NOT get selected. Heartbroken (thinking this was my lucky big break) I told myself I was boycotting that movie. Of course I saw the movie and have gone to Disneyland since and seen every darn Disney animation since. But I learned a valuable lesson that weekend. Just because someone wants to see a subject matter that you don't have, does NOT mean you need to create something just for them. Why? Because I was in such a hurry to just give them what I thought they wanted, that I was NOT true to my art, and sent something that did not measure up to my standard. In retrospect, I believe that was my portfolio downfall. I created two additions that were not as thoughtful, were not as well executed because I thought I had to.

The reason I bring this up is that last week I had an inquiring potential licensor. I did end up creating some new work to submit today. However I used my very serious editorial eye and did NOT submit several pieces even though they were the right subject matter. The work wasn't good enough. Lesson learned that I want to only submit work that I feel is my best work. Now, if they do not choose me I won't feel like I screwed up, I will know in my heart it just wasn't the right fit for them, right now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

plans and progress

Last week was a very busy week for me. I had the great fortune to meet Susan Effenberger a talented artist who juggles a day job creating graphics for a local TV station and creating wonderful work that she sells on Etsy under the name Lemon Bird Studio. I also met with Cory Huff who has a great site for artists called the Abundant Artist.

What I got from these two meetings was the reminder that A) I am not alone in my quest, and B) there are a lot of resources for us if we just go looking. Susan reminded me that whatever angst I feel about trudging the artist's life, there is someone else out there who is or has felt the same way. Cory helped me get energized to keep digging, keep looking for answers, and above all else, not give up. Granted it is never easy, and nothing worth achieving is ever going to be easy (or everyone would do it as they say). But at least I have life that I can look back on and know that I really did try to make my life my own.

To top off my week of good findings, I got an email from Robert Kaufman fabrics saying that my wine fabric is selling well. That may be the highest compliment I have had the pleasure of receiving. So here I am on a rainy Monday, and rather then be disappointed that I have such a long way to go on my journey, I am excited to say that I am looking forward to tomorrow, whether it rains or not. I have plans to make, progress to show, and people to meet.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting back on the horse

I have been busy. Which is a good thing as a freelancer. But...the downside is I haven't been promoting my licensing. That means no new deals.

I need to get back on the horse.

Today I finished a new piece and on Thursday I meet with a friend who is a genius marketing gal. I am hoping to rope her into the licensing scheme and see if together we can launch a new and improved 'design house'. I think that putting two people together may be more successful than one person (with a family) juggling freelance and licensing. Let's face it, it is hard enough being mom, then putting on the self-employed hat to scrounge up consistent work to pay bills, then work on promoting licensing art.

No more tomorrow. Today. I hereby promise to the universe that I will get my butt back in gear and keep pushing through on licensing my art. Even if I am busy with paying work....

Friday, March 4, 2011

success as an artist

Since I was 9 years old I knew I wanted to be an artist. I knew, I just knew. I didn't know how I would be an artist, or what I would do but I knew that is what I wanted.

I am 45. I feel like I have spent my lifetime striving for this thing I call success. I don't feel successful. I don't. My husband is my reality meter and he tells me I am flat out crazy. I do pay my bills through my creative skills and talents. However to me, it isn't enough. I have fabric with my art on it for sale nationwide in a major retailer, but in my head that isn't enough. I wonder, 'Why don't I have more than one print for sale?'. And this is it, this is that insatiable need for more. My measurement for success is always one step beyond where I am. So the question is, do I keep raising the bar on myself? When I started my freelance business I just wanted to work from home if I could. That was 8 years ago. Then three years ago I wanted to start licensing my artwork. Now I have art on switchplates, socks and fabric. But that isn't enough, now I want my artwork on MORE products, I want to see it in more stores.

I am an artist. But am I successful? I suppose it is all in how you define it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

crisis and continue

I don't really know where I am going with this post. I will start by saying I lost a dear friend last week, exactly a week from today. She was 47. She leaves her 13 yr old son and her husband behind. My heart has been heavy and my mind muddled for the last week. She was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer on Dec. 29th and we knew she had a slim chance if any for a long term survival. She left us quickly after a short 7 weeks.

Her passing has me thinking about many things in my own life. Reflecting on what I have, what I want, where am I going, what is important. Yet those moments of clarity seem to exist only briefly. Mostly I just feel lost, not sure of my own value. Questioning my own abilities and worth. Kind of weird, but that is where I find myself these days.

Do I start drawing? Do I try to paint? It seems what always came easily and with determination and grit, is misplaced right now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In the stores!

Finally, after many months of anticipation my fabric that JoAnn's licensed was in stores. And yes, I bought 4 yards. I feel the project has come full circle, from sketch book to submission, to license, to production. Whew.

Nice to see that my efforts paid off.

Monday, January 17, 2011

why we don't stop

Last week my 13 year old son had an school audition for the spring musical Annie. He signed up two weeks prior. The night before the audition he was looking for the song online. I asked him what he was doing. When he explained the audition was 'tomorrow' and needed to learn the song, I was livid. Now I am not the get mad, yelling type of mom. I usually keep my cool even under the most annoying and rebellious of situations. But this really ticked me off. I took the usual tack of how did he expect to get a part if he was just learning the song the night before. I decided to let that sit with him, and let him practice but warned him he was to audition for his dad and myself before dinner.

Dinner comes. Dinner goes. Time to audition for mom and dad. He begins to sing, makes it through the song. My husband begins to critique. His criticism wasn't harsh, but he was honest and pointed. My son gave some lame excuses, and pushed back on why he thought he was 'trying' and we didn't get it. Deep breath.

Ok, now, do you think that an artist mom who has spent 20 years struggling and paying dues is going to listen to even the tiniest bit of whining? No. No, my son didn't realize that sympathy was the last thing on my mind. Without boring you with the details it will suffice to say that he got the lecture of lectures on what 'trying' really means. I told him he would practice until he went to bed, he would audition tomorrow and he would do the best job he can. There is no half-way. Two hours later he sang for us again, and low and behold it sounded 'alright'. Not great, but decent. The next day he auditioned, and two days later he was given the role of President Roosevelt and will sing 'Tomorrow' with Annie.

The point to be taken from this is simple. In any endeavor you work towards, you owe it to yourself to give it your very best. As an artist who is constantly fighting to be seen, fighting to sell that piece of art, fighting to keep creating when any reasonable soul would question why, I realize that the reason we don't stop is because we most certainly have failed if we don't fight though it. I know when I go to sleep, I will have tried, really tried, and any successes I achieve I own completely.

Never give up, never stop trying.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Ok I don't know about any of you, but finding the motivation to create new work in the middle of winter is really hard sometimes. Here in the Pacific NW, it is grey, grey and more grey. Which for me can be very tiring when I want to think about color, and spring, and life that is not, grey.

How to get motivated. I would love suggestions, but for now this is my tactic. First I try to do a little digging online for some fun artists that are inspiring. Often it just takes a few searches to see something beautiful that jump starts my brain. Second, I go for a walk or run. Something to get the blood moving. Yes even when it is pouring rain a walk can really help. Third, the library. I love the library. If I start poking around the books on gardening, art, home decor it can really get me thinking about new imagery. Fourth, the book store or a cool shop full of fun stuff. Seeing what is out there can give me the spark I need to go down my own path. And finally, I peruse old sketchbooks to find doodles that need a chance to come to life.

Currently I am in the 'idea' phase and just need a hot cup of tea and a sharp pencil to get going. Of course one brisk walk wouldn't hurt to help me move this along. Perhaps that break in the rain is trying to tell me something.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

live your truth

So I spend a lot of time laboring over my art and myself as an artist. Recently I completed a piece that may never get purchased, or licensed by anyone. But I had to finish it. Why? Let me tell you.

When I went to college it seemed the main difference between the 'illustrators/designers' and the 'fine artists', was that the fine artists painted or drew for themselves. If someone liked it, great. The commercial artists (as we were called back in the day), created art for MONEY. And we were looked down upon, go figure. Now, as a grown-up I personally think many fine artists are just as commercial as I am. However there are those rogue artists who whine and paint in their somber moods and never care if anyone likes their work. Oh, and the happy go lucky artists who do their art for pure pleasure.

Ok, that was the groundwork. Why did I finish that piece that will likely NOT net me any money when I am a professed illustrator and commercial artist? Because I still have a bit of that fine artist in me who sometimes just needs to get the art out. Even when I know it is just for me and the sake of doing it.

Want to see it? Ok, here is my fun pattern 'Ode to the humble cut of meat diagram'. Personally I think this pattern is awesome I would so totally LOVE an apron made from it.