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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Others




Let's talk about the others. I've always had a love hate relationship with them. There was a time when I stalked newsstands, waiting anxiously for the next issue to hit the shelves. I'd buy them all, devouring the eye candy and inspiration. I lived for those magazines. But then, slowly, it would creep in. You know what I'm talking about - the doubt, the disappointment, maybe even a hint of depression. "I'm not good enough." "Everyone else is so talented." "How come my work never looks that good?" Instead of being inspired to go make something, I felt like giving up. And that was after I had been published in those very same magazines!

Now it’s blogs and even Facebook. The others are there, too, happily showing off all they have accomplished this week, today, or even in the last 5 minutes. Not only are they doing the artwork, but they have time to connect with everyone else and post their latest in charming and witty prose. Here I am busting my #@s to keep up with everything I have to do day in and day out. I’m lucky if I have time for a quick glance on FB. I haven’t read a blog or posted to my own in a while and... hmmm, I finally sent off the latest art collaborative piece – 2 months after receiving it!

Do I sound envious, jealous? Yes, but more than anything I’m upset with myself for being such a slacker. Yep, even "successful" artists are plagued by the same doubts and insecurities you are.

I started writing this article on my way to the (wonderful) Creative Connection Event. Imagine how shocked (and relieved) I felt to hear that one of the very same women I admire (and envy), Melody Ross, founder of The Brave Girls Club, feels exactly the same way. She was on the Women Entrepreneurs breakfast panel Saturday morning. Melody shared this very same thought with us, “Why can’t I do all that?” She said she was busy watching what everyone else was doing and paying more attention to her page Likes and blog comments than to her family. Once Melody realized that she could be, and should be, in control of how she felt, she decided to go cold-turkey - no Facebook for 90 days. She discovered that the Likes that she had been so closely monitoring were now coming from her heart. She began to Like her life again.

Years ago, when I recognized that I was comparing myself to the others rather than getting busy doing the work, I went cold-turkey on the magazines. I stopped subscribing to and buying them. It was easy for me to give up reading all but the occasional blog because, well, I never had time in the first place. I like to remain connected and see what my friends and fellow artists are up to so you’ll still find me on Facebook, but only in 5 minute nuggets of time. No dwelling in other-land. The minute, the very second, I begin to feel my mood and confidence sink – OFF I go. I’ve got better things to do.

What I have come to realize is that we feel bad and down on ourselves when we are sitting on the sidelines and not doing the things we want to do, the things we love. When we’re on the outside looking in, it’s not the others we’re upset with, it’s ourselves. We are letting ourselves down, disappointing our best self, the one that wants to be doing fabulous things.

One solution is to distance yourself from the things or people that make you feel bad, but it’s way better to join them in the fun. Not so you can get online and share everything you are doing. You can do that, too, but the important thing is, DOING will stop you from letting the others make you feel bad. Don’t be on the sidelines – play in the game!



3 Ways to Get in the Game::



1. Find out exactly what is keeping you from doing what you love. Dwelling on what the others are doing is really a form of resistance, avoidance and procrastination. If you can pinpoint the reason(s) why you are not in the studio creating, then you can take the necessary actions to overcome them.



2. Just START. You don’t need a plan. Action breeds action which breeds art. Throw paint on a background. Stitch random patterns on some fabric. Grab a photo and write a story around it. The secret is to just begin.

3. Know your limits and set aside a specific time to gather inspiration. Looking at other art is fun and inspiring up to a point. Use the magazines, blogs and Facebook like the tools that they are, not the crutches that they have become. 


Want to use this article on your website or in your own ezine?
No problem! But here is what you MUST include:
Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit  www.ArtistSuccess.com.


Thank you Lesley for your transparency. I think we have all felt this way at one time or another.
~Follow Your Creative BLISS~
Sharon

Friday, September 16, 2011

Meet Avalon Rose Design

Catherine Haugland

I love hearing an entrepreneur’s story. The journeys that start with an idea and end up successful businesses are always fascinating and each is different. I haven’t shared my story with many, so I’m very happy to have been asked to share it with you.
My journey is a strange one in that it really didn’t start with an idea or an inspiration, it started with necessity and grew because of perseverance. I fell into what I do accidentally, and I didn’t really figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up until I was 30. It’s almost as if website design found me, and not the other way around. Thank goodness it did, because not only do I run a successful business now, but I absolutely love what I do.
My formal education and employment history have nothing to do with website design. To make a long story short, I started out as an English major in college, but then worked for years as a factory laborer, went to cosmetology school, opened up my own small salon, became a mother, opened up an in-home daycare, and switched my salon schedule to nights and weekends. Life was insanely busy, but at the time I needed to do everything and anything I could to help put food on the table. I just did what I had to do.
Now I had two small businesses, two small children, and for some crazy reason I dreamed up another venture. I started selling handmade children’s clothing on eBay as Avalon Rose Boutique. It was recommended to me that I use auction templates in my listings, so I figured out how to make my own, and discovered that I loved creating my own graphics and writing code. Soon people were asking me more questions about the templates than the product I was selling. It didn’t take long and I wasn’t selling clothing anymore, but auction templates exclusively. My business name switched to Avalon Rose Design, and everything started growing from there.
Due to the initial moderate success of Avalon Rose Design, I was able to close up shop in my salon in order to focus more on my new business and newfound passion. I worked diligently to teach myself as much as I could, and the time came when I was comfortable enough to start offering website design as a service. I think the first year I only sold about three website designs, but I kept at it and continued selling designs on eBay. Eventually, as more and more of my longtime clients decided to leave eBay to start their own online store, the website design side of my business started booming.
All of a sudden I was an accidental website designer. Even though I got my start on eBay, I eventually discontinued my store there in order to focus on my own website instead. Over 6 years after my first eBay sale, I’ve designed hundreds of websites, print ads, t-shirts, logos, and some of my digital art was published in Somerset’s Digital Studio magazine. I love what I do, and I am so very thankful for that.
My advice to anyone looking to start their own dream business is to just stick with it. If you’re passionate about it and work hard people will notice. Learn as much as you can about your business or craft whether it’s self-education or taking a class, it’s an important step in the process. There are going to be bumps along the way, don’t expect to be an immediate success, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and it will be worth it in the end.

Avalon Rose Design www.theavalonrose.com


~Follow Your Creative BLISS~ 
Sharon

Meet DesignHer Brands

Melissa Bolton
I'm Melissa Bolton, owner of Designher Brands.  I specialize in helping women owned, web based business start-ups through effective copywriting and marketing.  I am also able to freshen up an existing business.  Whether you need a hand to hold through the beginning or are ready for a make over, I'm here to help.  I've been in marketign and sales for over twenty years and pride myself on my powers of persuasion and efficient use of language. I started my web-based business, Designher Brands, because I am passionate about helping women in small businesses succeed.  I offer creative and affordable solutions to get your business ahead of the curve.
With hundreds of thousands of new web businesses cropping up every day, you need to find a way to stand out in the crowd.  Effective copywriting and creative marketing does just that. I offer a wide array of services designed to suit the needs of almost every aspiring entrepreneur.  I've helped everyone from brick and mortar stores looking to break into the ever growing online marketplace to stay home moms looking to earn some extra income.  No matter what challenges you face, we can design a package to suit your needs AND your budget. 

I have a strong sales and marketing background.  My first foray into the working world came at age 22 as a cosmetics counter manager at the mall.  Through innovative channels and creative marketing, I was able to increase business 200% within the first six months.  Nine months after being promoted to manager of the Clinique counter, we achieved $1,000,000 in sales.  The first time in the counter's history.  Dan Brestle, CEO of the Estee Lauder company even flew in to take us out to celebrate! 

After figuring out that I had a talent for sales and marketing, I graduated from the world of retail to the world of finance.  I worked as a stock broker from 1994-2002.  My career as a broker spanned from a financial advisor to a Branch Manager and Vice-President.  I worked with everything from stocks to annuities to mutual funds to commodities to futures and options and more.  After my daughter was born, I decided to trade in the corporate world for motherhood.  As a stay home mom, I quickly found myself needing a creative outlet.  I began Adored Before in late 2002 and still run the successful business today. 

My business has been through many changes over the years, but one thing has remained consistent.  Adaption.  To run a successful small business you need to be able to adapt to the inevitable changes in the economy, market demand, styles and much more.  Sometimes you need to make some changes to maintain interest.  Making changes while maintaining your established brand is not as easy as you might think.  I can help with unique marketing and creativity that brings fresh and rejuvenated content to your website.

Having an identity crisis?  Whether you don't know what to say or are having trouble getting your message across, it’s time to talk.  Let me help you to expose yourself and your business in the most impressive and favorable light.   Your time is better spent running your business.  Leave the rest to me. 




~Follow Your Creative BLISS~
Sharon

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hillary Black, Pitch Your Product Panelist


I am proud to welcome Hillary Black back to 
"Launch Your Creativity"
  Hillary Black brings an impressive set of credentials to the Beckett Media Lifestyle Group. Prior to becoming Editor of Victorian Homes, Black served as Photo/Style
Editor and Executive Editor of sister publications Romantic Homes and Cottages & Bungalows. A vintage home and d├ęcor enthusiast, Black is co-contributor to the Clarkson Potter title Vintage Vavoom:Romantic Decorating with One-of-a-Kind Finds. Aside from her passion for the print medium, Black is a singer/songwriter and part of the acoustic duo, StuccoRainbow.

~Follow Your Creative BLISS~ 
Sharon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Italian Girl in Georgia shares her Dreams

Suzanne MacCrone, "Italian Girl in Georgia"

As a young girl, my parents always encouraged my creativity. From a
very early age, I would enter art contests that the community sponsored
and submit my creations to the county fair. When I was about eight years
old growing up near the beach in California and playing in the creeks, I
found smooth river rocks which I painted. Always wanting to do
something creative with my hands and also a little entrepreneurial, I sold
these painted rocks as paper weights to people on the beach and at the
annual Fourth of July parade in our village.

When I learned to sew in the seventh grade and got a Singer sewing
machine {the one I still use to this day}, I stayed up late at night sewing
new clothes ~ changing the patterns, using scraps of fabric for extras, like
Annie Hall-style neckties, vests, and belts. In the morning I had a new
outfit to wear to school.

Then I started college the practical side of me led me to focus my studies
in the sciences, for I had always wanted to enter the medical field and
become a doctor. After three years of science labs at UC Berkeley I
realized that this was not my calling and took my first studio architecture
course. I could not have been happier in any other major. It was a
perfect blend ~ the artistic side combined with the technical side of
architecture and design. I graduated with a major in architecture two
years later.

Soon after graduating from college, I set my sites on graduate school and
began pursuing graduate studies in interior and architectural design in
Italy. This is where my love of interior design and photography blossomed.
After returning to the States I earned my Masters of Fine Arts degree in
interior design, focusing on the re-use of old buildings while taking classes
in fabric design; paper making and bookbinding; the history of Twentieth
Century photography; and furniture design. 

As a graduate student I taught color and materials; architectural drawing; and furniture design. It was also about this time shortly before, during, and after graduate
school that I began painting again and partnered with my mother
creating a small business of hand painted stationery and gift items, as well
as painted decorative accessories for the home and garden. For nearly
fifteen years I hand painted everything in our collection as we
participated in national trade shows. I was fortunate to also have some of
my art, design, and photography licensed on a wide range of products
including home goods, fine art prints, and stationery.

However, over time my creativity was getting lost and the painting had
become production. I became weary and uninspired and had little time
to create anything new or pursue any other adventures in the arts.
Traveling to gift shows around the country gave me a fabulous
opportunity to travel throughout the United States and other countries. All
the while I kept my camera close by and began making new art with this
medium. This became my new creative outlet.

When I moved to Georgia to marry my husband it was time for me to
resign from my position at my painting table. I no longer wanted to be a
production painter. My new project was the restoration of an old house ~
the former home of my husband’s grandparents that was now ours. I was
embraced with a house that was in great need of some tender loving
care and a lot of restoration.

I am fortunate to have the privilege of being able to work from my
beautiful home {at times with my son by my side coloring, drawing and
painting on his own and my bunny Gucci hopping around my feet} and
also have the opportunity to interact and work in person with my clients in
the field.

Now I balance both my interior design work with all the fun stuff that keeps
my mind awake {sometimes too much so in the middle of the night}. I
have the luxury of enjoying the process of design and making or painting
something knowing that I will have to do it hundreds of times again. It’s
the process of the design, the creation of something new, useful, and
beautiful that inspires me. Once I have made it I want to move on to
another idea or project.

I’m not sure what I enjoy most ~ creating a three dimensional space using
my interior design and architectural skills such as a restaurant where the
guests become part of “my” stage or…photography where I can capture
a moment in time and create a memory…or creating a one of a kind
piece of art that someone can cherish or…sewing and designing an
entire collection that organically evolves as each individual piece is
made.

I believe that I thrive on it all and could not nor would not want to live life
without some form of art or creativity as an integral part of my everyday
life. When you are a creative person, there are no boundaries.

Last year I was asked on two separate occasions by two different people
who left comments on my blog, “Who is my muse?” I think of this question
often, although I have never answered it directly. Perhaps it’s as simple as
the beauty of my everyday life; my son whose curiosity and interest in the
littlest things enchant me; the encouragement of my husband and family;
and my love of creativity and design.


If you would like to contact Suzanne or view her beautiful photography here are the links:



~Follow Your Creative BLISS~
Sharon