How to Make Your Competitor’s Art Irrelevant

How to Make Your Competitor’s Art Irrelevant

Today Fiberista, I am going to share with you how to become a better artist without dedicating hours of time honing your craft. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need to spend time honing our craft regardless of where we our in our journey to make art. But there is one toxic habit that will lessen the value of your work, cause unbearable stress, and yes, has the potential to kill your work all together.

That is comparing your work to others.

Fiberista…I have been there. When I started my yarn biz, I was soooo jealous of those already successful. I even wrote a post last week about how I wished so much to be a real live artist. Heck, I was even in a job that wanted me to create designs based on comparisons, to the point of potentially causing copyright infringement. It is human nature to compare your value as an artist against other artists. We would be great artist if there where no competition. Right?

Here’s the thing….it does not have to be this way. There is a way to grow your work, find ease and happiness, and foster good supportive vibes in your art community all at once. Fiberista it is all about one key mindset shift, and these 6 actions that will make your competition irrelevant and free you up to grow your work.

1. Go get this book. I know it is basically a marketing book. But the premise is about finding your path which is exactly what every artist does.

Hands down this book was a game changer for me. In a nutshell rather than fighting against competition (think shark infested red ocean), follow your heart into uncharted territory… blue oceans. For example, how did Cirque Du Soliel set themselves apart from a classic circus? They marketed unique features that set them apart. High end music and set, no animals, top notch athletic performers, international feel.

2. Stop comparing your work to others. If you are comparing your work to someone else’s then they are leading no matter what. Seriously. If they are the bench mark by which you are judging your work then your work will always revolve around their work even if you think your work is better than theirs. The fix? Understand that your ideas are good enough. Put the blinders on and look at your work objectively. As artists, we all have a decerning eye for beauty. Some things we love so much our heart sings. What in your art is working? What is not? Don’t be afraid to try things that might not work, just keep going until you just KNOW it is right.

3. Honor what is unique about you. We are all different. What is your back story? How does it influence you work? Even if you think it is mundane, write it down. Because it is unique, and that in and of itself is great. For example, I grew up in a very vanilla suburb of a very vanilla town in Alabama. My dad was an engineer. My mother was a designer, but did not pursue that career until she was done raising her kids. It is the juxtaposition of my quirkiness to that community that inspired me to move away from my hometown. If your art is your voice in visual form, what you have to say is rooted in where you come from and how that affects your beliefs. Being from the South influences my work. Being single most of my life influences my work. Being an ex GenXer influences my work. None of those things singly makes me unique. But none of those things singly influences my work. Collectively those things are unique and influences my work as such. Does that make sense? So yeah take time to reflect on what makes you you. Like really take time…on a regular basis.

4. Pushing through the emotions that bubble up. Here’s the thing, the times I have found myself crazy jealous of someone’s fiber, it was never really about what they were doing. It was about what I was not doing. What I was not doing was facing my own hurts by blaming someone else’s success. Their success was actually shining a light on my lack of confidence because of these hurts. Hey, I get it. Finding confidence in yourself is not always as easy as it sounds. Issues will bubble up. These too can be related to old hurts from the past. When they bubble up you are being called to work through them. Maybe you have seen them before, often lifetime hurts come up to be healed a little at a time throughout a lifetime. This is also where art heals. Art journal or write about the ugly feelings. Rip the page out and burn it. Diffuse lemon and spruce essential oils to “clean out” the negative feelings from your limbic system. Talk it out with a trusted friend, or mental health professional. Just remember these feelings are not bottomless. Each time you listen to the hard feelings, finding your center again gets easier. These scars become part of your story and make you stronger.

5. Honor everyone’s unique visual language. This is the whole reason I started the Fiber Art Collective Facebook group. It is to honor everyone’s path and unique voice. I will link the collective below. In a nutshell, I have a strict no snark rule. And encourage others to share their work. I am in such awe at the different types of work in there. There are also so many different cultures represented as it is truly an international group. So you see Fiberista, once you find your unique path, you will realize that those whose you thought were your competitors are really your allies. You will be able to see their unique process as well. You may also have the ability to inspire others on their own paths. Creativity can be viral. One word of encouragement can spark confidence in others to keep going. Because everyone deserves to love what they are making. And the key to that is following their heart. Your simple inspiration can be the ripple effect of artists encouraging other artists.

6. Keep going. The thing about using a blue ocean strategy for your art is it opens up the possibility to continue to grow, and improve. It is about a journey with your work as you add life experiences to your influences. Keep working through the hard stuff making your resolve stronger. Keep building community by encouraging others.

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Turning Creative Ebb into Flow in 21 Days

Turning Creative Ebb into Flow in 21 Days

I have to admit, I am so happy to be back on the blog after my post vlogmas hiatus. After taking 3 weeks to recharge and reorganize, I have to admit I am so freaking happy to start a new year. In 2017, I found my creative groove and I don’t think I have ever been so productive when it came to art. I have since kind of fizzled out a little, but lord knows I am ready to be back in that creative space. I came across my art journal from most of last year and holy smokes, I don’t think I have ever made such a wonderful art filled book. Here are two journal flips I did.

Last fall I made my fauxdori, and proceeded to use this collection of journals to track my projects and work. And you know what….my art mojo dried up since then.

Outside of my wall dolls, there was really not much happening. Avoiding the clay studio, Not much in the way of fiber happening either outside of a boring but much needed sweater, and a stash buster blanket. All the essential oils in the world could not break this slump. But I have been doing this long enough to know that creativity ebbs and flows. For the most part it is best to just roll with the waves. But I also think we are not always at the mercy of our slumps. I have written about this so much. (like here, here and here).

So yeah…once again, I am aware of how much my creativity flourishes when I art journal. And for me what that looks like is ONE BOOK. One books that I carry with me always with all my ideas and notes and day to day stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of little notebooks. OMG squared Moleskins, dotted Leuchtterms, even handmade journals. I love love love them all. I have a collection of them. And I have been using two focused goal planners (this and this) to work on my business. I love the idea of bullet journaling, but honestly…as many times as I tried to do a bullet journal…it just does not stick.

What works for me is one book, A5 (5.5″ x 8″), preferably watercolor paper with lots of squared paper sheets I can glue in. Lots of inks, watercolors, ephemera, washi tape, envelopes, and my favorite pens. Just leafing through my old journal brings me back to all the inspirations and creative energy. I have placed it on my drafting table to inspire me further this week. I am grateful for this resource of my own inspirations. And it is not even that I make beautiful master piecing in my journal. It is a collection of doodles, and color and random stuff. But as a whole it becomes a work of art. It is a collection of notes and ideas, even the mundane stuff like my meal plan for the week becomes part of my art, reminding me that inspirations can come from anywhere.

So I suppose it is time for a new art journal challenge. I do this every now and then when I find myself falling off the journaling wagon (and in this case, the art mojo wagon). So, this time, I am going to aim for 21 days. I will post to Instagram and Pinterest. I also will post at least 3 flips on YouTube. Alright! I am gonna give myself 3 days to prepare, so starting Saturday I am doing it.

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I am having one of those days

I am having one of those days…

Paying the bills makes me grumpy… I have a feeling I am missing something major. 

I got turned around 3 times today running errands. And here in Cary that means driving in circles within circles.

I ended up going to 3 different grocery stores because despite having a list, I kept forgetting shit. I was totally cruised by a creepy dude on the gluten free isle.

I came home to find the front door WIIIIIDE open. Luckily no one escaped and everything is intact. But searching my home with the phone ready to connect 911 did not add joy to the grocery errands fiasco. However I am grateful for my relatively crime free neighborhood.

I am having weird glitchy things happening with many of my online tasks today.

So without any visuals. I am letting this be my post for today since my computer fu is pretty iffy at the moment. Off to huff my White Angelica essential oil (I call it my not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys oil) and fondle yarn.

My Creative Emergency Toolkit

My Creative Emergency Toolkit

I have been avoiding my weaving. Really. I have scheduled so many weaving days in the last month and just don’t do them. It is not that I am losing the weaving love…in fact I am really excited about the stuff I have made so far. It is really more like I am feeling a lot of self induced pressure to make something even more awesome. So I just avoid it all.

Here is the crazy thing…I think my new obsession with clay has totally saved my weaving log jam. Here’s how it all went down:

After months of searching for a much more attractive solution to for hanging my wall weavings, I created a series of wall tile headers to sew them onto. Once glazed and fired, I pulled out all my old weavings to match them up to my new tiles. I was surprised to find myself noticing how subtly my work has evolved. I also found so old techniques I am wanting to go back to. But new/old ideas aside… I found it most amazing to realize that my work has progressed without my even noticing it. And it did so because I was not in a place of pressure to innovate innovate innovate. The evolution happened through the steady work of being in the moment of turning my favorite colors and textures, inch by inch, into fabric.

Art is still happening when you work from exactly where you are in the moment of using your visual language doing what you love.

All those daily inspirations happen far easier when you just don’t overthink it… and I am living proof that it is much easier to say than do.

Because this is not the first time I have experience this particular creative log jam, I decided it was time to build an emergency plan to have on hand when this particular creative/motivational block comes up. Here it what mine looks like:

 

Take some self care time to check in and see if there is some underlying issue I am just not seeing. Sometimes it is burnout, sometimes it is another unrelated stress I am avoiding. Sometimes I just am physically not feeling well. Most of the time I am just overthinking it. But it does not hurt to really check in to make sure I am not missing an all together different concern to be addressed. Often it is as simple as taking a walk on my neighborhood greenway. Or even taking a nap.

Using my essential oils. Y’all know I love my oils. My diffuser runs 24/7. I only use Young Living Essential Oils because I love the purity and they work so well for me. My favorite way to use my oils is to help me through this very kind of emotional issue. My go to oils when I am feeling motivationally/creatively blocked are Present Time, Envision, Motivation, and Clarity. I will sometimes add Valor II if I am feeling insecure, and Stress Away if I am fighting some everyday crazy outside of the studio.

Set up my space. When the motivation is iffy, damn straight my space needs to be über inviting with snacks and beverages, a good movie or music, and my favorite tools in place. Sometimes I might add some of my favorite non tool items, like my favorite rocks and crystals, a plant. It is almost like arranging my living room…or better yet creating an sacred space with tiny alters.

Journaling time. It also helps me to flip through my art journal, add a little bit of work even start a new page.

Schedule my studio time. Sometimes I need a day or so to mentally clear time to focus. That studio time does not have to be very long either. Sometimes an hour or two is just fine.

Plan on working on more of the same. This part is huge… when I am feeling overwhelmed, to keep moving with my work, sometimes I just need to take baby steps. AND there is absolutely no shame in making more of what was awesome. Many many  famous artist spent lots of time painting the same thing over and over allowing the tiny innovations to surface naturally as they work. So, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I am going to just pick one simple look to recreate. Keep it simple.

I am even going to make myself a paper reminder to hang on my notes board. My creative block cheat sheet. So, what kinds of things would you put on your creative block emergency plan? Would you use some of the same steps? Do you have some favorite creative self care tips? Leave me some comment love below or share them in the Fiber Art Collective. Not in the Collective? Sign up below.

 

 

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Friday 5: Random Pre-Valentine’s Day Love

Friday 5: Random Pre-Valentine’s Day Love

Alright Fiberistas. it is Friday, and after a LONG hiatus, I am once again bringing you 5 random things rocking my world right now.

No. 1: The Produce Box

I was pretty spoiled by Asheville’s killer network of tailgate markets, and was skeptical that any thing as awesome would even exist outside of my hippie community. Indeed there are some good markets here in The Triangle, but alas getting there on Saturday morning is a bit of a struggle, especially when one of the 2 glass studio slots available is on Saturday morning. Enter The Produce Box. NC farm goods delivered weekly. After their January hiatus, it is on again, and OMG I have missed them so. This week I opted for the bulk bag of jalepeno uglies.

No. 2: Clay stamps

I am literally having to keep myself from showing up in the clay studio everyday to make shit. Seriously, they are open pretty much all the time. But I have business to run, so clay time is my reward for doing my work(hence the increase in my business productivity…). As we learned about the dozens of glazes available to us, I am also learning the magic that is glaze on textured clay. Sweet Jezuz, just set up a cot in the corner of the studio for me. I bought some sweet clay stamps from this gal, and have complied a huge list of all the things I will be making in multiples to test every one of those damn glazes. I will never have to buy Christmas presents ever again.

No. 3: This guy

Since I am in a clay class, this also means I am relearning to throw pots. Right now I suck. Let’s just say, the last time I threw clay  FB, Pinterest or any other social media did not exist (well…except blogs). So, this time around I am in the rabbit hole that is “researching” clay shit. I found this guy via his FB live cast on the Expanded Consciousness FB page. I could watch him throw pots for hours. It doesn’t hurt that he is a cute hippie boy. But what makes his 2 hr FB live videos awesome, he is an open book when it comes to his process. His pots are far from perfect, and he totally owns exactly what they are and where he is in the journey of his work. THAT is what makes his work awesome. THAT is what makes them beautiful. These pots are not cheap. You are not buying his product as much as you are buying his DREAM. His dream is to make art, share his process, inspire others AND live sustainably doing all of this. THAT is what makes me want to sink almost $200 into a crooked mug with gloppy colorful glaze with his fingerprints visible on the footer.

No. 4: This Essential Oil

I am usually all about inspiring oil blends, but these days I am rocking some Young Living Sage Oil. For me sage oil has helped me clear negative energy in the same way one might smudge a room. I spray my pillow at night with a blend of sage, lavender and cedarwood. I full believe it has helped me overcome negative feeling of doubts and inadequacy around my latest weaving ideas. It has also helped me weather all the political turmoil present right now. Find that Sage oil here…(holler if you need help navigating the ordering interface)

No. 5: My Instant Pot

I am not gonna lie, when I bought this thing last November during the Black Friday sale on Amazon, I had no clue what I would make in it. None. I did not realize pressure cooking was even a thing. I will openly admit I was a sheep being led to the slaughter by dozens of friends who were losing their shit over the killer price. So why the hell not.

Fast forward 2 months, and if there was a fire in my house, this is what I am grabbing. Holy crap. I love my instant pot so freaking much. I use it no less than 3 times a week. It has changed the way I cook my great grandmother’s family red beans and rice recipe. I will never use anything else for making spaghetti and meatballs. OMG bone broth that really gels takes 3 hours instead of 48. I am about to ditch my crockpot and maybe my rice cooker, because all I need is instant pot.

 

So what are you rocking for your Friday5? Post it on your blog, leave me a comment below with the link and share on social media using the hashtag #friday5.

 

••• Some of these links are affiliate links. What that means is I get a small commission of any sales generated through this post. This will help me offset the cost of my website. I pinky swear I would never promote anything I was not personally using and loving enough to share with complete enthusiasm.

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Studio Awesome Day 1: Books Books Books and more Books

Woot! Day one.

Coffee in hand.

Young Living Motivation and Clarity essential oils in the diffuser.

And a marathon of HGTV on the TV for background.

I have decided to start with a task that is not too overwhelming, will have a big impact, and is very clearly defined. Shelving and organizing my books (Ok, in my task app this is actually 2 tasks, but it totally make sense to do this all together.) Tackling the books, is going to unhinge the log jam that is my lack of floor space at the moment.

I am not gonna lie, I have a lot of books.

Not only was I a book designer in a former life, I was most recently a designer for a craft book publisher. Lark Books (now called Lark Crafts) was developed as a division of Fiber Arts Magazine back in the 80s. Fiber Art Magazine used to do book reviews, and were sent review copies of just about every fiber related book published in the late 70s, through the 80s. The library of resources for fiber arts was crazy huge. During my time at Lark, they cleared out that resource library, only keeping reference materials that were relevant to the direction the business was growing, and for the most part that did not include advanced fiber crafts like weaving, spinning and complex knitting books. Lark offered us employees the opportunity to grab what we could use, before they donated or tossed the rest.

I loaded my SUV 7 times. So, I now am the owner of a vast library of first edition old skool fiber art reference books. My entire Weaving Beyond the Basics class was written based on many of these old skool methods reworked to use modern equipment and art yarns.

Other books include business guides, art journaling resources, personal journals, essential out reference books, some books just for creative inspiration.

I love my books. And as a book designer I will always have a vast collection.

I am not one to organize by color or size. But I will organize in a way that will make it easy to put a hand on a reference when I need it. I will post the final result(hopefully tomorrow) when It is set up.

A side note about my task list app.

While it may seem like a bit of overkill, I am using an app for my 31 studio awesome tasks. I am setting this project up in a new task/project management app called Asana.

This is kind of a test run for this app. I need something to help manage not just my business tasks, but to also manage art projects. As an art director, project management was key to completing large and small design projects. We would set deadlines on every stage of the concept (brainstorm meetings, research, thumbnails, roughs, comps, style sheets) Making art is not neccessarily about just making something. As a professional artist working through cohesive body of work needs a little planning and a lot of documentation. By being more mindful through the concept stages of art, I can be sure that each piece is in line with the overall vision of the body of work as well as mindfully document new ideas for future series.

Asana also works with teams. So, as my work load grows I am hoping to be able to delegate some of the admin and marketing tasks so I can spend more time doing what I love…making art.

Okay…enough chatting…off to tackle books…will be back tomorrow with progress pix and to talk about the closets and why long term art goals are key to setting up your studio.

 

Joining me in the 31 Day Studio Awesome Challenge?

I am posting progress and info on setting up my studio over the next 31 days. I will not be blitzing my main email list daily…but if you DO want an email notice when daily posts go live, sign up here: