I’ve been dying to sit down all week to continue our discussion, “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do“, about how to find your calling as a creative type. I’m so pleased to know that you’re following along because I’m confident that you’ll walk away inspired no matter where you stand on your current path. Thank you for making time to read this.
I’m a believer in the power of many voices, which is why I’ve gathered opinions from artists, designers, bloggers, and other creative types over the past week, voices I find motivating and genuine, people I respect and look to as good examples because let’s face it, good examples are not always as easy to find as bad ones. What To Do… offers ideas and tips on how to find your calling from people who applied their own advice and found success. I’m sure their personal experiences will be of value and perhaps one of their voices will connect with you on a personal level and if so, I encourage you to comment and get involved in the discussion because your comments are as important as the blog posts themselves.
Before we get started I’d like to make a few things clear…
This series isn’t about bashing corporate America or to say that working for others in general isn’t a good choice. Often you can find your calling within corporate America and be quite happy there. Just because someone left their job to work for themselves doesn’t make them better or more enlightened than the person who decided to stay in their job. Even when you are your own boss you work for others. A freelance writer has obligations to their editors. An artist to their vendors. A designer to their clients. And when it comes to corporate America let’s face it, if larger companies didn’t exist here in America then smaller ones couldn’t function the same because we’re all part of a larger wheel, one economics class will teach you all you need to know about that. The canvas you buy to paint was born in a factory. I’m willing to bet that your paints came from a large corporate supplier as well. Those brushes too. We ultimately rely on the large and the small as a society. It’s not depressing, it’s just how things work.
I don’t believe that everyone needs to leave their job to pursue their own business. In fact I think that the freelance bubble will eventually burst just as the dot com era ended. Many who currently leave good jobs to freelance will not find success for one reason or another. In time the market in their new field will become saturated because the current, “there’s enough for everyone” mentality will ultimately, and unfortunately, prove flawed. Look at how graphic designers and even writers and photographers are starting to struggle due to all the newcomers soaking up current and potential clients. Some markets can only take so much. I didn’t see this a year ago but it’s crystal clear to me now that I have a few years of freelancing under my belt. There is enough if you are pursuing something as a hobby though so if you find you can’t earn a living doing what you love it doesn’t mean to throw away your passion. Make time to pursue it alongside of your day job.
I’m not a therapist nor am I a career counselor. Neither are any of the friends that I’ve invited to join us with their thoughts. This series is simply meant to encourage you and get those wheels turning, nothing more.
What To Do… is meant to encourage and support everyone, especially if you’re looking to find your calling. Only you can decide whether or not to turn your passion into profits or to pursue them as a hobby to balance and fulfill you. I don’t encourage anyone to tell the boss to stick it and run off with passion to join the circus or be the next big thing in the design world. That choice can only be made by you. Just promise me that you won’t become a bearded lady or a clown because I’ve always been quite afraid of both. :)
It’s smart to explore all the options before taking the leap and to hear how others found success doing what they love for a living. It’s a delicate balance. One point to ponder is that perhaps you’re a great painter but if you were to quit your job to become one full-time you may fall flat. Sometimes the moment money mixes with something we love we can lose our passion, of course it depends on personality type. The stress of earning a living can negatively impact our work or how we view the very thing we once found comfort and joy in. Now when we sit down to paint, we’re not thinking of translating our feelings and ideas onto a canvas for the sheer fun of it, instead we may paint in a certain way using the more popular motifs for instance, to gain recognition and customers, to earn more money, or to see how our competition may react. For this reason and more, you have to consider all things before you embark on a career that involves earning a living from doing what you love.
So with that, let’s start with our first guest to speak on the topic… Stay tuned.
(image from ez at creature comforts gussied up by holly becker)
Bon Bon Atelier is a darling little business owned by creative sisters Betsy Blodgett and Emily Blodgett-Panos in Kansas City, MO with both a retail storefront and a web shop for the rest of us. Their store looks so charming, doesn’t it? Nice store, ladies. I love seeing young women in business for themselves like this, it inspires me all the more to someday open a shop of my own.
Bon Bon Atelier carries a varied mix of everything from Andrea Yates ceramics to Sheila Blodgett decoupage furniture and doors, wallets by Loop, and Japanese Decole and those iBride trays that are slowly taking over the world right now. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve seen them on!
And Bon Bon Atelier isn’t just a shop ‘n go establishment, these ladies genuinely care about their community of creatives. If you live in Kansas City, they host a monthly get together on the 2nd Wednesday called the Bon Bon Sewing Circle. They set up sewing machines and also stations with glue guns and such for those who do not sew. The goal is to get together and share ideas, gain inspiration, and hopefully finish a project. I love this idea and hope to see mini events like these spread to other cities because we all need a little support and motivation without having to drop a ton of cash on formal classes. Classes are great, but not so much if you’re on a budget and not really in need of learning anything, you just want to be around other creative types for an evening to sew and tell. Ha! Sew and Tell. That would be a cute name for a sewing group wouldn’t it?
Are there are stores in your local area that have small business events, networking events, or free (or really cheap) classes that you’ve attended? How did they benefit you (or not)?
(images from bon bon atelier)
With a shop called All Things Original it must be quite a challenge to curate, as the name alone gives hope that you will not only be exposed to designs not seen already a thousand times over, but that everything is handmade by the maker and very, very special. All Things Original does a fantastic job at living up to it’s name…
As I click through their gorgeous product offerings, I’m reminded of how much exists out there that we still have yet to discover and it excites me because I think many worry that all this instant gratification on the web will leave us high and dry at some point with nothing left to blog about. Many readers ask me about this and my reply is always the same, I think we’ll always have plenty of new designs to be exposed to as long as these designers are supported and products are being purchased. Schools are releasing thousands of design-hungry motivated grads each year so as long as they have a place to show their work and others pushing them along to succeed, we’ll continue to have designs to drool for. In addition to the grads, we see growing numbers of men and women who may have missed their earlier calling in the arts to pursue an unrelated field only to return to art and design later in life. The massive following that the indie craft culture has right now is exciting and though I believe it will continue to gain popularity, I think that at some point it will level out a little and growth won’t be quite as aggressive as it is now. But despite all that, there is enough to go around so don’t worry. The well isn’t drying up anytime soon!
The curated collection of wares found over at All Things Original exposes us to some amazing work from homewares to furniture all from independent British designers. Ceramics by Hanna Melin, lighting by Rose Cobb, and Jo Heckett ceramics are a few of my favorites all shown above. Thanks Beverly for writing in about your unique shop!
(images from all things original)
One thing I’d love to do this summer when I spend it abroad in Germany is to meet with artist and designer Sandra Monat of Herzenart and chat with her about her work. She’s only a few hours away by train from where I’ll be based, so perhaps I can arrange a visit… If I have time. There is so much work for me to do there this year — my head is spinning! I still cannot figure out so many things about furnishing a German apartment. It’s such a new, exciting, sometimes frustrating experience because here I know all the shops to hit for what I need and have my favorite eBay sellers and Craigslist standing by, and know where all the area flea markets are, and rely on places like Target, Anthropologie, Homegoods, the Boston Design Center, and most of the online shops I frequent (who won’t ship to Germany). Living in two parts of the world is completely new to me but I hope it will force me to learn more about my new country and Europe in general when it comes to the best places to find what I need to furnish an apartment from scratch. Currently sitting in my flat over there is our television and some of my design books, a few boxes of clothing, and china passed down to us from oma.
If you live in Germany and can suggest any online stores that would be lovely. Now on to Sandra because it’s not nice of me to talk about myself here in a post about lovely Ms. Monat now is it?
I’ve been watching this German artist since early ’06 (mentioned here), and I’m encouraged by the progress she’s made and the international exposure she now receives and for good reason, her handmade art toys are unique and extremely well made. One of many things that excite me about blogging is that after a few years at it, you start to notice change more — either some who fade away and move on to other goals or those like Sandra who experience steady growth and become successful small business owners through patience and a constant keeping at it. Much like the storybook most of us were raised reading, The Tortoise and the Hare, don’t you think?
(images from sandra monat)