Entries Tagged as: business

Recycled Envelopes and Weekend Links

August 16th, 2008, Comments (11)

When my bff gave me a handmade journal made of magazine pages for my birthday, it reminded me so much of our snail mail correspondence when we were in college (which seems like a lifetime ago! yikes!), that it made me want to make magazine envelopes again. Back when my bff headed off to college and I was a still stuck in high school as a senior, she started sending me letters wrapped in magazine pages, with the colorful magazine page acting as the envelope. At the time, they were a cheap and creative way to send mail. But with going green being so big right now, they're also a great way of re-cycling. I don't know about you, but I love snail mail. Why not get creative and surprise a friend with a handwritten note, wrapped in used wrapping paper, catalog pages, contact paper, paper you've drawn or stamped a pattern onto, wallpaper, or magazine pages? You'll have fun putting it together and your recipient will love getting something so fabulous in the mail.

Above are some of the letters my bff sent me. I pulled down a box of old letters from my closet to look at them. I often wonder whether I should be keeping all these old notes and letters, but I do enjoy reading through them every few years. In one of the letters above, the bff wrote to me about a boy she met at a party who asked her to go home with him, but she said, "no way" because he was way too old for her and she wrote, "He's 26! Scary!" Haha!! Can you remember a time when 26 was old? Oh my. Good stuff. I only wish I could read the letters I was sending on the other end. It would be fun to have both sides of the story.

If you want to make some magazine envelopes for yourself, simply find some magazines with some fun images, tear out a page and fold the page around the letter so that the front contains an image that pleases you. Or if it makes it easier, you can use an envelope template. There are free templates that you can download online or you can take an envelope that you like, take it apart carefully and use it as the template for an envelope. You can trace the taken apart envelope on top of a magazine page and then cut it out to make a unique envelope of your very own.

So, what else have I got to share with you. Well, some links of course!

  • First off, many thanks to Meredith Cutler, a fellow boston artist and writer for Artscope Magazine, who spotted my "Subway Stories" pieces on etsy and posted about them on her blog! Meredith has her own fabulous shops on etsy, here and here. I love these mixed-media earrings she's created!
  • Claudine Hellmuth has a video posted on her blog with a very cool faux batik technique using her new line of paints and mediums.
  • Hanna sent along a link to this great article by Jill Badonsky about two of my favorite things, yoga and creativity. I liked this quote, "The key is practice for both yoga and creativity without concern for perfection. Practice just naturally turns into excellence but if we think too much at the beginning of either yoga or creativity, neither may happen." and this one, "Often we pay more attention to the discomfort in our bodies, our creative process, and our lives than to the bliss. When you are in a yoga pose, focus on what feels good about it."
  • The multi-talented Jennifer Lee has an an article, "10 Tips for the Creative Entrepreneur," on the Ladies Who Launch site. It's sure to be interest to you all you creative business folks out there!

I hope you have a wonderfully creative weekend!

What’s Up? The Sky.

August 5th, 2008, Comments (8)

I've been having some issues with my internet connection and haven't been at home much over the past few days, but I am alive! I'm helping out with some teenager-supervising/dog-watching/house-sitting at my old job which has been fun. I got to catch up with both the kids I used to care for as a nanny. One is nearly a senior in college and the other is about the be a freshman in college. Eep! When I met them they were just 10 and 13. Catching up with the two of them has been fun and I enjoy the doggy company too. I wouldn't want to go back, but these short bursts are nice on occasion. I've been all sorts of busy, making plans for our honeymoon, which is next month, oh my! We were given a travel agent gift certificate as a wedding gift and trying to use it over the last two months has been a nightmare. Normally, we'd just do our own travel planning and in the end, we had so much trouble with the agent not getting back to us, that after two months of back and forth, we complained and ended up just going through them for booking our hotel on one of the islands (which I did all the research for myself.) Oy. It sounded like a nice idea, having someone help us pick out the best location and activities for our needs, but it ended up being a major hassle. So, yeah, we'll never do that again.

Now that the headache of dealing with the travel agents is mostly over, we get to focus on the fun stuff, like taking a tour of the areas where LOST (the t.v. show) is filmed. We're both super excited about that. I was trying to find out which of the two companies that offer a tour would be better and came upon this youtube video (above), "top ten signs you're obsessed with LOST."  The first one made me laugh so loud that my cat, Sadie jumped in the air.

Stopping home today, I was pleased to see several copies of the summer issue of Calyx, a journal of women's art and literature, which has 3 pieces of my art in it (two of which are above, Dreaming of the Seven Sisters and Lighthouse, and the third, not shown, is Memory Cycles.) The journal is lovely and I'm so happy to be a part of it. I've been pouring over some of the poems and enjoying them. It's interesting, what I like (and sometimes dislike, if I'm feeling fidgety) about poetry is the way that it requires you to be in the present moment. You can't skim over a poem, at least not if you want to get anything out of it. The way regular prose is written, we can zoom over the words because the structure and language is predictable. We usually know what's coming. With a poem, the turns of phrase are unexpected, the tempo is musical, you need to slow down and take it in, in order to understand what the author is trying to get across. Sometimes, if done well, a poem can express things that are very difficult to say any other way. Much like artwork.

In other news, the latest issue of the fantabulous Mankind Mag is now available (for free to view or download or for a small fee to purchase a paper copy). It's a great issue, all about...hair! Which reminds me, I need a haircut. But really, do check it out. I loved reading excerpts from Erin's "autohairography" and if at some point in your past you ever curled your bangs, I bet you will too. Oh, and I've got a little ad in there featuring my favorite whale art!

Wishing you a tubular Tueday! O dear, the hair issue, totally brought back all my goofy expressions from the 80's/early 90's. I used to begin all my cleverly folded notes (in square, triangle or rectangle shape) with the title of this post. Oh the memories. Heh.

Home of the Brave

July 12th, 2008, Comments (8)

Above is a work in progress, another in the series of "Subway Stories" pieces. This one happens to be a commissioned piece. Commissioned pieces always take longer than I expect that they will and I think this is partly out of fear. I'm afraid the buyer will be disappointed. Once I get started and do the piece, I always feel better and so far the folks who have purchased commissioned pieces from me have been happy. Yet, the same fear pops up each time, albeit less and less each time. This time wasn't too bad. But getting over the hump of fear was my small act of bravery for the day, as I've quietly started doing Jessie's Be Brave project. My brave act of the day is mentioning that I'm doing it here (because in sharing that I am in fact doing it, makes it quite clear to myself that I'm really doing it!)

Bebrave_2 Last year when Jessie started the Be Brave project, I was in the midst of wedding planning craziness (I got married in the same month that it started) and felt like it was too much to take on, but I really and truly admired what Jessie and others who joined her were doing and I could readily see the benefits of doing something brave each day. In the past year, I've had this in my mind, trying to do at least one small act, no matter how minuscule, that scared me.  Doing this gave me such a great feeling of accomplishment. The idea also fit in well with my word for the year, "now," as in the time is now, there's only now, do it now.

This month, when I saw Olivia re-visiting the project it re-sparked my interest and then when I saw Jessie re-newing her commitment to it, I decided that the time is now! Jessie is going to start later in the month, which I considered doing, but she also encourages any one interested, to make their own rules and make it work for them. So for me, this project will be my reminder to push my boundaries and perceived limitations, to be brave and bold. I give myself permission to make my daily act as small as I'd like or as big as I'd like. And I may take some days off of thinking about it (maybe weekends?) I will talk about my brave acts where I feel it's appropriate and some I will keep to myself. I'm shooting for a month (I started on the 10th) and then I'll decide where I want to go from there.

I've had some really fun synchronicities over the past few days and other things to share, but the porch is calling me and so it's time to kick my feet up with a good book which just happens to be titled, Synchronicity by Carl Jung. Have a wonderfully creative weekend!

p.s. Did you know Project Runway starts up again next week?? Yay!

Juggling Acts

July 1st, 2008, Comments (10)

I had a lovely weekend in NYC (mainly in Queens) with the hubster's family and friends. Back at home, my introverted self is quite tuckered out and I've been whacked around by a nasty migraine. But I had a great day before the migraine attack. I went into Boston to drop off some more prints along with a bunch of originals at Oak. I shopped around in the store a bit and picked out a couple cute barrettes. Then since I had some extra time on the meter, I walked around for a bit and checked out the new Apple store. It's very pretty. I'm glad I don't have to drive down there everyday, but it wasn't too bad today. I found a kick-ass parking spot on my first try and didn't hit any traffic. Hooray for summer! Ack, it's July! I can hardly believe it! I've got a birthday coming up this month and a wedding to travel to and I'm hoping it will be a creative and fun-filled summer.

Before leaving for New York, I put some paint into a moleskine and smushed the pages together to make some inkblot art. I've done this before and enjoyed the results, but this particular journal is part of a sketchbook exchange that Jim put together. I've never done one of these before, but I think it will be very cool to see what everyone does. My first inkblot (really a paintblot, the paint is the orange and purple) suggested the form of swirly ponytails, which led to this image of a circus act, which I made into a poster of sorts. My sketchbooks tend to be kind of random, so who knows what will be next.

In my regular sketchbook, I'm filling page after page with images. I've got a painting idea (that I dreamed about) that involves a tattoo and I'm trying to figure out tattoo design. I know it's circular, but the rest is a mystery. I've got a commission that needs working on, some business to take care of, some art that wants to be created, and loads of cleaning that needs to get done. Such is the juggling act of life! It's a good juggling act though.

I know there were other things that I wanted to mention, but that's all I've got at the moment!


June 25th, 2008, Comments (9)

Last night, my sister took me to a Red Sox game. It was so stormy all afternoon and there was lightning shooting across the sky on my way into Boston. But after a slight delay to clean up the field, the game went on and it turned out to be a beautiful night. The game went amazingly quick and the end was particularly exciting with a great turnout (Sox won 5-4). I especially enjoyed the crowd's energy and singing along with the Fenway favorites such as "Sweet Caroline." They stopped playing the song part way through because the game was starting up again, but the crowd kept singing the song. Fenway has such a great atmosphere. And check out the gorgeous sunset we got too! I'm a bit zonked today from all the jumping around in the stands, but I'm glad that it's not storming again. I love a good thunderstorm, but I prefer the sunshine during the day. I love summer.

I'm feeling so full of summer-joy and gratitude today. Besides the fabulous Sox game last night, some things that are making me happy:

One of a Kind

June 5th, 2008, Comments (10)


This afternoon, I dropped off a whole bunch of art at Oak, a new store in Boston. It's in such a great location, on Gloucester Street right off Newbury Street (prime time shopping area.) I got to meet Keara, the owner, at the shop and she was super sweet. I love the way she had her shop set up, it had a very cool vibe to it, lots of great stuff with out being stuffy, if you know what I mean. I knew the store was all about handmade crafts, but I didn't realize the name, Oak, came from their theme of "one of a kind" items. Too cool! At any rate, if you're in the area, I'd definitely recommend checking it out. It was a gloomy day today in Boston, but the weekend is supposed to be beautiful. I bet it'd be great for doing some shopping and people watching in the Back Bay neighborhood. If you can't get to the shop, Keara has some of the store's items for sale online too. Check it out here.

After the trip into town and watching my brother overnight last night, I'm zonked and have a headache. Business has been great this week and I'm thrilled about that. I'll be able to relax and have some extra spending cash for thrifting this weekend!

Lots of links to share, where to begin?

- My friend, Jennifer, has put together an e-book all about creating a right-brained business plan. This sounds incredibly appealing to me and I think it would synthesize well with I'd Rather Be in the Studio and The Boss of You, a book that I'm reading. Great work, Jen. It looks awesome!

- Another friend, Melba has been working away on her own self-published book, Creating in the Midst which you can pick up here. Melba is planning to lead a group through the 12 week process this summer. Congrats, Melba on all your hard work coming to fruition!

- And even more congrats are due! The sweet and talented, Jes has her beautiful jewelry and writing in a magazine and two books this year. I'm so excited for her! Yay, Jes!

- With all this business talk, it feels relevant to mention the slow economy and its effect on artists and craftspeople. I've felt some effect, but I'm not really a big enough business at this point to be taking a major hit. It doesn't have to be all negative though. A downturn in the economy can mean a time to explore other avenues or beef up your business in other ways. I enjoyed reading this article from craft:boom (cool site, by the way!) about running your craft business when times are lean. I think it applies to any small business. And after you read that, check out the rest of the site for interviews with inspiring business women like Amy Butler.

- Speaking of Amy Butler, Holly at Decor8 is hosting a mood board contest with the opportunity to win great Amy Butler related prizes. Check out all the details here. Even if you don't participate, check in after the due date to see all the amazing creations people put together!

- Check out this interview with the ever inspiring Christine Mason Miller at art and letter webzine. And if you need some more inspiration after that, go visit Christine's other site, Sparkletopia.

Holy guacamole! I didn't realize I had built up so many links  to share. I could keep going, but my big orange cat is telling me to stop typing by laying across my arms. Hehe.

Memories and Other Business

June 4th, 2008, Comments (7)


Tonight I'm staying at my mom's and watching my youngest brother. It was weird driving back through the town I grew up in (my parents live in different, but close by towns now.) It sent me through a fast wave of memories: playing in that playground, first dates, the bar in next town, the woods that I trekked through so many times that I knew them like a second language. It was a weird sense of nostalgia along with a feeling of having moved on. Back at the house, little brother showed off his drumming skills, which I could hear quite well from the basement, where he played, to the kitchen where I cooked up some dinner.

Last night I had a friend over for dinner and wine and we sat out on the porch with the hubster and chatted about weddings (mine, eight months ago now and I'm just getting around to picking the pictures for our album) and hers coming up in two months, old roommates, family, and life in general. It was lovely, but by the end of the night I was completely spent. This week is turning out to be fairly busy, one thing after another, and an exciting getaway weekend to visit a couple gal pals coming up. Life is good.

I forgot to bring my camera out here with me, so for now I've shared a picture of "Memory Cycles", which is on sale for the month of June. You can buy the original or prints right here. And while you're there, sign up for the newsletter and you'll be eligible to win a free print every month!

While I'm on the subject of business, I've started to delve into The Boss of You (great so far) and it has me thinking a lot about the direction of my art which is feeling a bit all over the place and unfocused at the moment. Or rather, it's not my art that is this way, but me. Doing the exercises in the book, and writing out my vision has been helpful, but I'm a bit unsure about where to direct my energies. So the book has me thinking and lots of questions are bubbling up: Should I focus my energy on one area? Do I need a niche? What would it be? Along with all this, I'm still working on the book on creativity that I began during the winter. It's been changing form slightly which has me writing a lot and re-thinking, but I've not yet developed how I want it to come together. It's progressing though.

Tomorrow I drop off some work at Oak in Boston and I'm very excited to see this new space. I've felt oddly nervous about dropping off my artwork there. Actually, whenever I drop off my work somewhere, I have this feeling of wanting to drop it and run for the hills. Need to take a breath and get past my introverted ways for things like this. Goodness, this is part of the reason I love blogging. Such a great thing for all the introverts of the world. But I really do need to find some way of networking/socializing with other creative types that feels good for me. Some kind of small support group for other women business owners would be fabulous. That might be a fabulous way to get some focus. I'll put the intention to find this group out there and see what comes.

Update: Forgot to mention, the authors of The Boss of You have a blog. And today they provided a link to the Trans-Canadian Etsy Team blog where they're hosting a giveaway of the book (for residents of Canada and the U.S. only.) Sweet deal!

Re-Thinking Success

May 30th, 2008, Comments (17)


It's all too easy to focus on the rejections in life and forget the successes. Why is that? Are we afraid of being considered a show off, too big for our britches, self-absorbed, annoyingly happy? It's funny the ways our egos will bring us down by saying things like: the higher you go the harder you'll fall, who do you think you are? It Reminds me of this wonderful quote:

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

I do think it's important to share when we're struggling sometimes, if only to release it and move on, I think it's equally important to share when we're soaring. In the past, I might have felt jealous when I read about the success of others, but I've learned along the way, that there truly is enough success out there for everyone. So here are my thoughts about re-thinking success. I'd love to hear yours!

How to Re-Think Success

Define it
: What does success mean? It's different for everyone and so it's important to define it for yourself. Keep a list of successes small and large that you want to attain in your life and check back on them periodically to see where you're at. Most importantly, when you do check something off that list, celebrate it! I know that I forget to do this quite often. I'll brush one success off as no big thing, automatically thinking on the next thing I haven't accomplished yet. But it's important to revel in your successes, no matter how small.

Re-Focus: At the end of the day, instead of focusing on what you didn't do, focus on what you did accomplish. Write it down! There's something oddly satisfying about writing your "already done" list. Instead of knocking yourself down for the things you didn't check off your to-do list and feeling crappy about it (and yourself), you can instead feel great about what you did do. It's so much easier to continue forward when you're focusing on your accomplishments. Beating yourself up, tends to lead to a vicious cycle of feeling bad, procrastinating, and then feeling worse. Don't go there. Feel great about what you do and keep growing!

Live it
: You know that expression, "Fake it til you make it"? There is something to it. Acting as if you've already attained your goals is a powerful way to move into them. This falls into the "Law of Attraction" category I suppose. I haven't read "The Secret", but I've read about the topic of attraction in other places, like Martha Beck's Steering by Starlight and I've had my own experiences of it along the way. My feelings about it are a little hard to put words to, but what I have grasped is that when you can imagine that feeling you'd have if whatever goal or success you want has come true and then live in that frame of mind, wonderful things can happen. When you act from a place of love and success, success comes to you. When you act from a place of lack and desperation, that's what comes.

Celebrate it: It's wonderful to not only celebrate your own success, but also the success of others. When your friends have success, join them in celebrating. The good mojo and inspiration will soak into your skin and light you up. My friend Jessie is rocking and rolling with her new business and I'm so thrilled for her. And as a side benefit, her success gets me so excited about my own work!

Do it
: There's something quite powerful about doing what you love. It shows. It inspires other people. Just by doing it, whatever it is, you are a success. There's a wonderful sense of accomplishment and self-respect that comes from working on those projects big and small that make you glow with joy. Celebrate that joy. Celebrate the success that you are. Let your own light shine.

In the interest of sharing success, one of my greatest joys is hearing from someone who has felt some sort of connection to my art. That happened yesterday when I sold a print of Betwixt and Between (above) from my etsy store and I got a super sweet message from the buyer about how she'd found my art and what it meant to her. What a wonderful treat that is. (And a good reminder to let sellers of art or other goods know why you purchased their products. It means a lot!)

Weekend Shares

May 25th, 2008, Comments (5)


I've got some new art in my shop. You can check out the "New Art" page where I put new pieces on occasion. One of the new pieces up for sale is Leap, which I'm offering as a print. I love the whimsy behind this piece and it also seems t o fit in nicely with my Risk theme thanks to my dream lynx.

In the morning I was up at the crack o' dawn for a furntiture delivery. I was talking to the hubster about the new furnishings on the phone (he's celebrating a friend's b-day out of town), I told him how our cat, Sadie, was flipping out about the new furniture. I told him I couldn't figure out why she hid under the new chairs, rolled around on the trunk/coffee table and posed herself in all sorts of ridiculous positions on the rug. The hubster told me he was going back to bed and suggested I do the same, but I was too hyped up. That's when the hubster pointed out that Sadie was probably hyped up the same way I was about the new furniture. Hehe. I suppose, I'm not much different than my crazy cat some days. I'll take some pics when everything is set up. We're still trying to unload our dining room table and the lead I had fell through. Once the table moves out, we'll be able to arrange the new furniture as we like it.

In the afternoon, I took a trip to the mall to pick up a bridal shower gift. The mall was nutty. After I found the gift, I was perusing the shoes at Macy's when this little girl crouched down by one of the shoe mirrors and started screaming at the top of her lungs over and over again. No idea where her parents were or what she was screaming about, but wow, that kid had some lungs! I was happy to scoot out of there and enjoy a lovely ride home with the windows open. Mmm.

Now for some inspiration:

  • A man who took a polaroid every day for 18 years of his life, til the day he died. The story was written about on mental_floss. The man behind the pictures was James Livingston. You can read more about him here. Found via Design for Mankind. I love how these polaroids are such simple moments in time, pieces of the every day. It's a very touching collection.
  • The super talented and sweet, Jessie has opened up a new etsy shop for her blooming animal art business, Stray Dog Arts. Her paintings are incredible and truly capture the personalities of the dogs she paints. On the etsy shop she's offering, gift certificates for commissioned pieces, originals, prints, and cards.
  • I went back to the Container Store today to pick up another storage bin made of newspaper. I have one at home already and they're super cool looking, fit perfectly on my bookshelf, and they're eco-friendly!

I’d Rather Be in the Studio

May 23rd, 2008, Comments (8)

The lovely and talented Tammy Vitale is hosting Alyson Stanfield today on her blog book tour for, I'd Rather Be in the Studio!: The Artist's No Excuse Guide to Self Promotion. Besides writing, Alyson is also an artist consultant, workshop leader, and writes at the Art Biz Blog.

As part of the blog book tour, Alyson is answering a question at each stop. Tammy's question was about how to write an article about your art for a magazine. Check out Alyson's answers here.

I took an online class with Alyson Stanfield last summer around art marketing and I'm still in touch with some of my classmates! It was very helpful in getting me to think about how I talk about my art and how I promote myself. I still have quite a bit to learn when it comes to self promotion, so I'm sure the book would be a big help! Actually, it was Alyson's advice that recently inspired me to re-do my banner to include my name in it.