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Kelly: The 101010 Project

For the past two weeks, I’ve been participating in a Collaborative project called 101010 Project: 10 Women, 10 Businesses, 10 Questions. Ten women who own creative businesses each tackled 10 questions regarding our businesses, and each of us hosted a specific question. We had to include a headshot to be included with each post, so I stuck with the goofy one you see here. I’ve had a great time participating and getting to know the other women involved in the project. The questions were very thought-provoking, and our fearless leader, Robin Norgren (who is also a part of our Studio Mothers crew), did a great job pulling all this together. I wanted to share my responses with you, and give you the opportunity to hop around to all the other blogs to see other participant responses (yes, long post, but I hope you’ll read it!). And guess what? There will be two more rounds of this project coming up this summer! Check out the video here and hop on over to the Project 101010 website for all the details.

Collaborations: A good idea ?…My experience with collaborations has been fairly limited, and I’m not sure the experience I did have would be considered a true collaboration, but I’ll share it and let you decide! In 2008, I did a large Fat Book Swap. There were ten women involved and ten themes. The idea was to create 10 cards of each theme (basically the same 4 x 4 card 10 times), meaning we each created 100 total 4 x 4 cards. We then sent everything to the person doing the organizing, the wonderful Roni. I was amazed at how quickly Roni gathered each participant’s work and sent us back out a 100-card package of wonderfulness! I had a special box custom crafted to keep my full set in and enjoy looking back through them often. This collaboration was a challenge for me as I’d just gotten started in mixed media, but it really pushed me to try new things and I found that I really enjoyed the 4 x 4 format. The deadlines pushed me a little bit, but only having to come up with one design for each theme (even though I had to create 10 of each design) helped some. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I learned tons of new techniques, made some great blog friends, and have a beautiful box chock full of 100 pieces of original art to show for it! You can see my entries in the collaboration here. {hosted by Stephanie Samos}

Success in business is defined as… I think this is a very interesting topic, and I think it all depends on your goals and your outlook. For me, my art business is not my main source of income. I have a pretty demanding full-time career in higher education on top of my art. So for me, success in my art business is simply finding the time to put a little bit of me out into the world for others to enjoy. Would I love to be able to “quit the day job” and devote more time to my art? Absolutely, but I know that’s simply not a possible reality at this point in my life. So maybe for me, success in business is defined as knowing what my limitations are (time!) and embracing them rather than fighting them. Fighting them takes an awful lot of energy that could be better spent on enjoying the process instead. {hosted by Nolwenn Petitbois}

The hardest part about pursuing a dream is…I think the hardest part about pursuing a dream, first and foremost, is taking that first step and putting it out there! And then the second hardest part about pursuing that dream is remaining realistic about your situation and what’s doable at whatever point you are in your life. That means accepting that the dream may not happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the next month, or even the next year. But as long as you keep it out there and keep trying, even if it’s just inch by inch, hope springs eternal. That said, I think another aspect of that, which sticks with the reality theme, is accepting when you need to take a step back and reevaluate. One of my dreams is to have a retreat center and offer art retreats. I found the perfect spot a couple years ago…if only I had $1.3 million lying around! So that’s when I had to reevaluate! I’ve still moved forward with facilitating art retreats, but I had to reevaluate and figure out how I could make it happen on a smaller scale, and that’s when Mermaids and Mamas Artful Adventure was born: Purple Cottage Retreats. I still haven’t given up on the big dream, just seeing what I can do in the meantime to get me there. {hosted by Leanne Wargowsky}

The hardest part at year two of your business is…Year two for me was in 2007, so this was before the US economy tanked. My girls were going on two years old and I was traveling to about eight juried arts festivals a year. I can’t say that the hardest part of year two was growing my business. My business itself was actually doing very well. My shows were very successful. Given that, I think that hardest part of that year for me was actually the growth. I was not at the point that I could (or even was willing, frankly) to “give up the day job” for my creative business. I’m very much a people person, and the interaction I have with those I work with in my day job keeps me young. I work with college students all day! The greater challenge for me at that point was the juggle: working full-time, being a wife and a mother to two-year-old twins, AND creating artwork for and running a creative business. To this day, the juggle is still my greatest challenge. I think many creatives at year two might be getting to the point of asking themselves the “Will I be able to quit my day job and devote my time fully to my creative business soon?” question. But I wasn’t at that point. I wasn’t asking that question because I knew that I wasn’t ready for that, mentally or financially. For me, the most important part of year two, year one, year eight, year twenty, year whatever, is simply knowing yourself and what you truly want out of what you are doing. Am I getting to the point at which I’d feel more comfortable walking away from the day job and devoting my “work-time” fully to my creative business? Maybe now, at year seven…maybe. Yet, I’m a very realistic person and know that the changes that would have to take place to make that happen aren’t quite ready to change yet. There are dreams, and I have them, but I also keep a healthy grip on reality. To me, I believe that healthy grip is the most important thing to have when building and growing a creative business. {hosted by Alease Michelle McClenningham}

What color best describes your business?… “I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice in the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns.” Sir Winston Churchill. Did you know that Winston Churchill was also an artist? And his quote sums up my love of color. What color describes my business? Bright, happy colors! The name of my business I think clearly reflects my outlook on life and my love of color. When you think of a “happy shack,” what color do you picture it to be? I certainly don’t think of brown. I think of bright Caribbean blue, with pink porch ceilings and aqua doors. Every room inside this little shack is painted a different color, each just as happy. And in this, my friends, I have truly described for you what my own home looks like to a T. And that love of color is reflected in my work. My jewelry designs are filled with brightly colored handmade glass beads and gemstones, my photography is juicy with saturated color, and my mixed media work is spilling in color as well. I can’t pick a favorite. I love every color on God’s beautiful rainbow. {hosted by Kelly Thiel}

In rapid fire fashion, write down 10 words that describe your business, and share your thoughts on these words…This was the toughest question of the bunch! My 10 words and what they mean to me:

Happy: This was easily the first thought that popped in my head, and not just because of the name of my business. I know that my business is a “business,” but for me, it’s also something that just makes me happy. Perhaps not all parts of it make me happy, some parts are certainly more “work” that others, but the simple act of sitting down and creating something, whether it’s a piece of jewelry, a new book, or a new series of photos, makes me happy.

Scattered: I think this word describes me in general, so it naturally translates to my business. I have a friend in town who is a very talented painter. She works full-time as I do, but she’s able to produce a massive amount of paintings on top of her full-time job. The advice she gave me was to“not be so scattered,” and I know she was referring to the variety of media I work in. I thought about that a lot, but then decided that I was okay with being scattered. I like having the ability to sit down and make jewelry one weekend, go on a photography shoot another weekend, and mess around with artist books the next weekend. It may sound crazy, but it works.

Messy: However, scattered definitely leads to messy. Because I work in so many different media, my studio is crammed full of entirely too many supplies and therefore tends to be pretty messy. My studio space is pretty small, so I have boxes of supplies and shipping materials stashed in various places around the house. Not very organized, I realize, but the best I can do at this point! Oh to have a nice, large, open studio space that would hold all my stuff!

Diverse: See “scattered” above. So I guess the good way to look at“scattered” is that that scatteredness (I think I just made up a word) brings about a diversity of creative work. I participate in our local arts market once a month, rotating between jewelry and photography, and it seems to work well for me. I haven’t started selling my artist books yet; I still get too attached to them.

Crowded: See “messy” above! Sometimes I truly can’t walk around my space.

Relaxing: You would think that all that scattered, messy craziness would be stressful, but most of the time it’s the opposite. When my studio gets to where I can’t find anything, I spend some time cleaning up, getting everything back in its place so I can start creating a new mess all over again. That cleanup process is very relaxing for me, as is the process of creating itself. My job can be pretty high stress and the juggle that is my life can also be pretty stressful at times, so my creative time is a great stress reliever.

Fulfulling: Simply put, I love what I do. I’ve loved creating things, in whatever iteration they’ve taken at the time, since I was a child. Putting little pieces of me out into the world is very fulfilling.

Challenging: The challenge is in the juggle. I’m long past the point where I could have stopped this crazy train. There comes a point in the growth of a business where you realize, no matter how crazy your world is, you can’t turn back now. You’ve invested too much time and effort and money to stop. That’s the challenge. I hit that point about three years ago, so my challenge now is always finding a way to keep all the balls in the air.

Inspirational: When this word popped in my head, I really thought of it in terms of my girls. I’ve realized that I’m not only an inspiration to them as their Mama, but I’m also an inspiration to them as an artist. I’ve learn that they tell all their friends and their teachers about my creative business, and they are so proud of me. I just received an email from one of their teachers wishing me well on my recent knee surgery. I asked my girls if they told their teacher about my surgery and they both said, “Mama! Mrs. Morrison reads your blog!”That’s when I knew they had been bragging on me. Made me smile.

Me: Lastly, just me. I think my business truly reflects me. My personality (I’m typically a pretty happy girl), my love of color, my love of cars (have you SEEN how many photos I’ve taken of cars!?), and my love of just “doing.” But not doing what everyone else is doing. I don’t follow trends. I simply do my own thing. I’m simply me. {hosted by Robin Norgren}

What would you consider the “favorite” mistake of your business?… Sheryl Crow’s “My Favorite Mistake” just popped in my head. Wow, this is a tough question. I think I’ll take a different twist on this. It’s not the mistakes I’ve made that have been those “happy accidents” that pop in my head. It’s the mistakes I’ve made for which I’ve come up with ingenious solutions that come to mind. These usually involve injury. It’s rare that I get through an arts festival without an injury or two. I’m usually traveling by myself, so anyone who has done shows can tell you that setting up and breaking down your booth by yourself is a huge challenge (and many would say a mistake). I am very accident prone, so my favorite mistakes have been the wacky solutions I come up with to tend to my injuries, usually smashed, cut or pinched fingers earned when setting up or breaking down my tent, specifically. I’ve found that in lieu of a bandage, which I never seem to have on hand, a napkin stuffed in my glove box after my last trip to Burger King and a strip of duct tape make a great stand in. Having that ingenuity transfers well to running a creative business. You have to learn to quickly think on your feet and determine how to quickly overcome setbacks. Mistakes become “favorite mistakes” when you view them through a different lens and really think about what you can learn from them. “Who needs band-aids when you have napkins and duct tape?” can easily translate to “Who needs all those extra fancy supplies when I can create wonderful outcomes with what I have on hand?” Food for thought. We all have what we need. We just need to look at another way to use it. {hosted by Sonya MacClough}

The balance question: what does this mean and how it is working for you?…I’ve enjoyed reading everyone else’s response to this question, and it’s further affirmed my belief that there is no such thing as balance. Our days ebb and flow based on what’s currently most important. That desire to work on a new jewelry piece can quickly be pushed aside by a child with a scraped knee, the book that you wanted to work on can be pushed aside by a hug from a sweet little girl who wants to snuggle on the couch for a little while, and those photos you’ve been needing to edit can quickly be sidetracked by the latest dance routine presented to you right next to your desk. Add a full-time job, a very sick cat, and knee surgery to that mix, and balance goes out the window. So for me, some days things just “work.” Other says they just don’t, and that’s okay. I’ve often heard people say that they haven’t been able to work on their art because “life just gets in the way.” I tend to look at the reverse of that. Those everyday “life” moments are the most important parts of our journey. (And my answer here is partly inspired by this post where I talked about the importance of not taking yourself too seriously.) I think when we make the most of those precious moments, the art will come in its time and on its schedule. It’s taken me a while to accept that, and I’m sure it’s a far different type of life balancing act that those who work at their art full-time juggle, but realizing that those everyday moments are the most important piece of any given day has brought me a focus and a peace that was missing. At the end of one of my all-time favorite movies, Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones as Terrance Mann says, “People will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” That’s how I feel about my art and my time to do it and finding that mysterious, non-existent balance. “Time will come, Kelly. Time will most definitely come…” And when it does, I’ll grab it. But for now, I’ll take whatever little snippets I can take while enjoying what’s number one on my list, my family, because Lord knows, the day will soon come when my girls will be teenagers and think they are far too cool to hang out with Mama. {hosted by me!}

 What do you need to STOP DOING in your business?…I learned what I needed to stop doing in my business about two years ago. I think the biggest mistake a creative business owner can make is comparing herself to other creatives. Because none of us is exactly alike, we all bring something a little different to the table. And what we each bring to the table is special in its own way and can’t be compared to anyone else. I love all the Stampington publications… Somerset Studio, Art Journaling, Sew Somerset, etc., but for a while there I have to admit I started seeing the same types of art over and over again. And it really wasn’t the type of art I was attracted to. Was it art that was selling? Maybe it was, as it was certainly art that was getting published. But what I realized was that I had to stop comparing myself to what everyone else was doing and just do what made me happy instead. If a particular style of jewelry was taking off, I learned that it was important to me to NOT follow that trend. I needed to stay true to me. Or if I was seeing a similar theme in so many mixed media pieces, that didn’t mean that that was how I needed to style my work if I really didn’t care for that style. Sure, look to others for inspiration if you feel you must — I certainly do at times — but don’t compare yourself to others. Be true to you. {hosted by Jan Avallena}

Who is your business muse?…Maybe this is a little old-fashioned and corny, but my muses are my children. Though I’ve been a creative person since I was a child myself, it was the birth of my twin girls that really pushed me to move forward to creating a formalized business. When my girls were born, I wanted one of those mother’s bracelets that included your children’s names. I looked online and saw several styles, none of which were less than $100. At that point I said, “I can do this.” While I’d dabbled in all sorts of arts and crafts up to that point, I had never made jewelry, so I headed down to my local bead shop, showed the wonderful ladies there what I wanted to do, and got started. That was just the beginning. As I was growing my jewelry design skills, I discovered the wonderful world of artists blogs, which led me to mixed media and reignited my love of photography. So here I am today, all mixed up creating in a variety of media and loving every minute of it. And even as my girls were that little muse of a kick start to get me moving, they are still what keeps me going. I love to create with them. I love to create for them. I love to see the little sparks in their eyes as they bring their creations to life. And all this comes together with our annual Mermaids and Mamas Artful Adventure, this year in its third year. My girls and I gather together with other mamas and daughters and spend a weekend in a fun little camp making art. It’s a wonderful thing! You can read more about it here. {hosted by Jean Simrose}

If you have gotten this far, thanks so much for sticking with me! You deserve an award! I hope you’ve enjoying rambling through this project with me.

[Cross posted from Artful Happiness]

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