Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


6 Comments

Solopreneur Wednesday: Who Said I Have To Be Passionate About My Work?

The topic of “follow your passion” or “being passionate” about what you do pops up every once in a while in the blogosphere. And in the past couple of weeks the topic has reared its head again.

I start to get a little, um, anxious, when this topic is discussed.

Near as I can tell this latest go-round started some time after the World Domination Summit was held in Oregon. Alyson Stanfield asked if this was good advice on the Deep Thought Thursday segment of her blog. The comments were entertaining to read.

Alyson attended WDS. Cal Newport was a speaker at WDS and he “debunked” the directive to “follow your passion.”  When Alyson said “yay” to Cal’s directive, that too generated many responses.

I did not attend WDS and did not hear Cal Newport’s presentation.

But when I read Alyson’s Deep Thought Thursday post and the accompanying comments, I couldn’t help but feel like there was something “wrong” with me. And I realized it has to do with the word “passion.”

Passion versus Making Meaning

This may be more about semantics than anything but when people talk about getting all “passionate” about what they do, I feel like an odd-ball. I start to doubt myself and ask “Am I really passionate about what I do?”

Something about that word conjures up images of people dedicating themselves to one thing for their entire lives, 24/7. They live, breathe, and eat whatever it is they are passionate about. I look at them and say “Wow. Wish I was like that.”

But I don’t think I am. At least not compared to the image that is in my head.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. But I also like to do other things. I love making my art. I love looking at art. I also love to travel, cook, spend quiet time with my hubby, play with the cats, take long walks, and so on and so forth.

I have many interests and some may rank higher than others at any given time. And I think that is where the whole “passion” thing bothers me.

It seems to conjure up this idea that to be passionate about something means that is the only thing you could be passionate about. That just doesn’t feel right to me. When I’m making my art, I’m focused and enjoying that moment. When I’m traveling, I’m enjoying that moment. When I’m eating a great meal, I’m enjoying that moment.

Instead of being passionate about something, I think I prefer to feel that what I’m doing is meaningful or that I’m at least getting something out of the experience.

And in terms of making art, this has been a biggie for me.

I’ve always had a strong desire to make meaning with my art. This is part of the reason why I got bored with production work. I couldn’t find much meaning in repetitively making wine bottle stoppers, perfume pens, or business card cases.

So I made my Spirit Messengers. These pieces held meaning through symbolism and stories. And I saw how people reacted to them when I brought them to art shows.

Darwin Explores
Amy A. Crawley (2012)

Over time I decided to focus on animal inspired art. It made sense as animals are of great interest to me. I care about their welfare. I donate a portion of sales from my art to a local no-kill animal shelter. But, as I said, it took some time to make this subject matter the focus of my art.

I think the other aspect that makes the “follow your passion” mantra difficult for me is that this art making gig is also my business. Somewhere along the way, when art becomes a business, you learn there are many more things that must be considered if you hope to have some amount of success. It becomes a balancing act to make art and run a business as an artist.

Maybe that’s why some people say “Beware of your hobby turning into business” (or something like that.)

This morning I read Alyson’s most recent blog post on why she doesn’t advise people to follow their passion. She wrote this as a follow-up to her Deep Thought Thursday post, as many people wanted to know her opinion on the discussion.

I really agree with Alyson’s opinion. What do you think?

Advertisements


8 Comments

Solopreneur Wednesday: You Gotta Spend Money to Make Money and Fighting Limiting Beliefs

Do you have limiting beliefs about money?

You know what I did with mine today? I ripped them up , set them on fire, and then drowned them.

Fighting Limiting Beliefs About Money

Last week I revisited the moola making chapter in Jennifer Lee’s book, The Right Brain Business Plan. Though we’re already half way through the year, it’s never a bad time to reassess money making opportunities in your business. Of course, if you’re reassessing where you’re making money, you must give equal time to where you’re spending money.

Ick.

Money is, for many solopreneurs, a double-edged sword. You have to spend money to make money. But sometimes it is hard to spend that money if you don’t know when you’ll make back the money that you just spent.

This was the limiting belief that hit me square in the head last week. It has been following me around for quite a while too.

Limiting beliefs. Quirky little buggers. Especially when it comes to money.

Where do these beliefs come from? Some of them most likely form when we’re kids. We pick up on these beliefs from our parents or other adults in our little kid life. We observe how our parents handle money-both the saving and the spending aspects. We take a little from that time period, form our own ideas as we get older, have a good experience or a bad experience and then the whole mess gets mixed up in a great big cauldron called our mind.

Groovy.

Until it starts to bubble and froth and spews forth at any time while trying to run our small business.

Make a List. Check it Twice. Then chuck it.

I’ve been in business for several years. And my beliefs about money aren’t nearly as overbearing as they were at one time. But there are still some that rest in those dark recesses. And when it comes to looking hard at “the numbers,” guess who pops up?

Right.

Before being able to move forward with setting new money making goals, you need to understand what is holding you back. You may not know why, but at least giving those limiting beliefs a name can help.

Set aside some time to do this task. Get a pad of paper and a pen. I like to put on some instrumental music. But maybe you’d prefer something a bit more head-bangy metallic? Take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself what your limiting beliefs are about money. Ask yourself why the thought of spending money in your business gives you the heebie-jeebies. Ask why the thought of accepting money for your product or service makes you feel light-headed.

And then let ‘er rip. Write it all down. Don’t worry about good grammar or spelling. Just go with the flow. Keep writing until those negative thoughts stop or slow down to a trickle.

(If the thought of writing this down causes your brain to freeze or you draw a complete blank when you look at your sheet of paper, try doodling or making little symbols on the paper. Perhaps single words will start to trickle out and then an avalanche of words and phrases. There is no “right” or “wrong” here. I believe the act of writing can be cathartic. Something about getting your hand moving across the page. But if you prefer to type this out on your computer, that is okay too. Do what works best for you.)

When you’re done with your list, look it over. Read it. Then set it aside.

The Turn Around

Now you don’t want those limiting beliefs to sit there and stare at you. No way. Now you need to turn them around.

Yes, this can be a little tricky because you want to make a negative into a positive. (Don’t worry, no funny math or physics formulas required.) Take another deep breath, look those limiting beliefs in their beady little eyes and flip the words into a positive affirmation.

I mentioned that one of my limiting beliefs is “I’m afraid to spend money because I don’t know when I’ll make back the money that I just spent.”

My turn around for this: “I make more money than I can spend.”

Now, on a clean piece of paper, write down a positive statement for every negative, limiting belief you wrote on that other piece of paper. When you’ve written all your positive affirmations, set that piece of paper aside.

And that sheet of paper with the limiting beliefs? Get rid of it! Shred it, burn it, flush it down the toilet, or put it in the compost bin. Make a fun ritual out of it. Just don’t keep it around for long because you don’t want the negative energy from those limiting beliefs to sit and fester.

A Brand New Day

After you get rid of that negative, limiting belief sheet of paper, make sure you keep your positive affirmations in a spot where you can read them every day. Maybe you read them two or three times a day. Whatever works.

How do you feel?

Will this bring money flowing through your door immediately? Probably not. However, I do believe that great things happen unexpectedly. Putting that positive energy out into the Universe can be a good thing.

You still need to do your work, make your connections, sell your product or service.

But understanding your limiting beliefs and how to turn them around can make this solopreneur gig a lot easier.

______________________________________________________________________________

Leave a comment below and share how you confront limiting beliefs.


2 Comments

Soloprenuer Wednesday: Business Values

So you’re working along at your little business, maybe it’s just a hobby, maybe it’s just a great idea. And someone asks you “why are you doing that?” Or perhaps they say “You want to do what?” (And why is the emphasis always on the last word?)

Have you asked yourself why you’re doing this little business you’ve started?

Dreams and Visions

In my last Soloprenuer Wednesday post, An Introduction, I ended with it by saying I had no idea what I was doing when I sold my jewelry to my first customer. I was stunned that someone wanted to buy my jewelry when I hadn’t planned to sell anything. Guess I was just in the right place at the right time.

So I made up a price on the spot (or shortly thereafter when I brought more pieces for her to look at.) I certainly didn’t know much about how to correctly price a product back then. But I’ll save the pricing discussion for a future post.

After selling a few pieces of jewelry to this person, she asked me if I could make something for a friend. Sure, why not. I can do that. Toss out another price. Isn’t this cool, my ego tells me, you’ve got your first customer who thinks your work is great and you’ll do anything to keep selling stuff to her.

Sure, great, but where is this taking me? Did I really enjoy making all this jewelry?

And what do I do now with all these extra pieces when my first customer tells me that she’s being laid-off and can’t buy my work any more?

My ego was very disappointed.

Having an idea of what I wanted to do with my art might have prepared me a bit better.

Visions and Values

It’s possible that had I mapped out a plan before landing my first customer, it would’ve been quite some time before I sold a piece of anything. It’s possible that if I waited for perfection, I might never sell anything. I’m not saying that what happened in my case is the wrong way to do it. Serendipity has a way of presenting itself whether we’re ready or not. I am suggesting that having an idea or vision about why you want to sell your art (or whatever your product is) can make life a little easier.

How do you do that?

One way to understand why you are jumping into this little business of you’ve started is to think about values-values that are important to you and in a business. This can include any number of things from loyalty to honesty, community to connection, good customer service, hard work to happiness. Look at companies you admire. What values do they promote?

Think about times in your life when you felt fully alive. Who were you being in those moments? What was going on around you? How can you bring those elements into your business?

Make a list of all those values. Are there any themes you notice?

Knowing your core values helps you make better business decisions because those values are honored in the decision making process.

Lessons Learned

Reflecting back on those early days, I think my only value then was to make as much money as possible. However the luster of making money wore off at some point.

Why?

Because I eventually learned that if my values were not reflected in my work, then my work lacked meaning. I got tired of making functional art items. I didn’t enjoy making.

I realized that there was more to running a business than just making money.

It would’ve taken quite a bit for me back then to say “I’m sorry, I’m not selling my art at this time” or to turn down a commission piece. Now I know better because I make those decisions in conjunction with my values.

What values are important to you in running your small business?


1 Comment

Solopreneur Wednesday: An Introduction-How Did I Get Here?

The 5th anniversary of this blog is fast approaching. And there are a number of new subscribers to this blog. So it seemed like a good time to slow down, take a step back and introduce myself to my new readers and re-introduce myself to those who have been following my journey since this blog started.

Who Am I?

If you look over to that column on the right, you can see my picture. That’s me, Amy —->

Nice to meet you.

What do you do for a living & how did you end up doing it?

I’m in my third iteration career-wise. I am a polymer clay mixed media artist. Before working with polymer, I tried paper arts, wood stuff, painting, fabric. None of those really stuck. In 1998, I learned about polymer clay, bought a crafty book and some clay at Michaels and gave it a go. My first piece was a pair of earrings, a bunny & a carrot. I still have those earrings too.

First polymer earrings (scanned image).

But as I said, I’m in my third career. Amy 3.0? Before discovering polymer clay I had always played around with artsy-crafty stuff. I took art classes all through high school but never gave it a thought to make art a career. Let me rephrase that. I had no intention of pursuing art as a career.

Instead I got a degree in Speech-Language Pathology and a minor in Communications from Michigan State University. Then I got my Masters in Speech-Pathology. I worked in the healthcare field for almost nine years. Got laid-off. Went back to school. Got my certificate in Technical Writing. Got laid-off again and began to think about what else I wanted to do with my life.

At that time, in 2002, I thought about the things I might want to do if I wasn’t going to work in cubicle-land. The three things I liked most were gardening, cooking, and making art.

Gardening & landscaping are very physical careers. So I scratched that from the list.

Culinary school required many early hours as you work through the coursework. I’m not a real early-morning person. And I realized I mainly like cooking for family & friends. Scratch culinary school from the list.

That left art.

What are you influences or sources of inspiration?

My art is inspired by nature, animals, the spirit of ancient cultures, and my travels around the world. I’m drawn to texture, movement, color, and faces.

I’ve created work that draws from the Celtic, Egyptian, African, and Asian cultures. Symbolism plays a big part in my art when I create my Spirit Messengers.

Anam Cara (Trio)

More recently I’ve focused the subject of my art on animals, such as my Ornimals: Sculpted Animal Ornaments.

Cat Ornimals 2012 Group Shot (Amy Crawley)

Those who have influenced my art include Laura Balombini, Dayle Doroshow, Gustav Klimt, Joseph Cornell, Alexander McQueen, El Anatsui, Dale Chihuly, Tim Burton, and Cirque du Soleil.

How did your art become a business?

It didn’t become a business by blatant choice. After being laid-off, and thinking I’d like to work more with my art, I started playing around with polymer clay even more. I was at a local hardware store looking at cabinets and wearing a piece of jewelry I made. I was talking to a woman who worked in this department and she asked if I made the jewelry I was wearing. When I told her “yes,” she asked if I sold my jewelry. One thing led to another and my business began. That woman became my first customer.

When I say it wasn’t by blatant choice, I mean that I had thought, someday, it might be fun to sell my art. But it wasn’t my intention when I started making jewelry. I didn’t say “I’m making this to sell it.” Apparently the Universe had other plans for me. Maybe the best way to put it is that my art became a business through the back door. Add a little ego into the process and there you go. I really had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into.

Next: My intent with Solopreneur Wednesday posts is to share what I’ve learned about running a small art business. If you have questions about working as an artist and/or running a small business, please leave your question(s) in the comment section below. We’ll be enjoying the 4th of July holiday next Wednesday so our next post will be in two weeks on Wednesday, July 11.


Leave a comment

Challenges of a Solo-prenuer-Photoshop

As a solo-prenuer artist, that is, an artist who wears all the hats in this business, I spend part of my week creating and producing art. The other part of my week is spent on the business side. This includes

  • maintaining my website
  • writing blog posts
  • writing & submitting teaching proposals
  • writing three e-newsletters
  • marketing my art
  • photographing my art
  • wrangling with Photoshop
  • doing the accounting

and several other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Some have said that an artist should spend at least 50% of her time on the business aspect. I can probably count on one hand the number of artists I know who spend at least half of their time on the business aspect. It isn’t easy because we really want to devote most of our time to the creating and making art.

Speaking of hats: Here is a fun one that I tried on at the local consignment shop.

Blue Church Lady Hat

The Hard Numbers

I’ve gone through several iterations of tracking my time. Coming from the health field where we had to track our hours, I started out tracking my hours each day; start time, stop time; start time, stop time. It was flipping tedious. Okay, I’m being kind. It was anal and it made me feel like I was never being productive enough. How could I be productive when I was fixated on documenting my start & stop times?

Then I tried splitting days in half. Half the day on art, half the day on business. I had learned that morning was my best time for artwork. So I’d start the day making art and then switch to business stuff after lunch. That didn’t work out very well for me. I’m more easily distracted in the afternoon. That meant while I sat at the computer, it was waaaay to easy for me to get distracted with other stuff online.

Finally, I decided to split up my week. Most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to studio time. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for art business tasks. It works most of the time. If you work at home, whether as a small business owner or a telecommuter, you know that life and other obligations have a way of tossing our “best laid plans” out the door. So flexibility is key. And so is not beating the crap out of yourself if your schedule gets trampled.

Today’s Challenge

Do you use Photoshop?

The main reason I wrote this post was to share my current challenge as I work on the business side of, um, the business. I am a bit befuddled by Photoshop. I have Photoshop Elements 6 for my Mac. Earlier this year, I took a wonderful online web design class hosted by Susan Lumoto of DAM. In the class, we learned how to create a website using WordPress templates. Pretty cool stuff, aside from the challenges of working with plug-ins.

I haven’t touched my test site in several weeks. I’m ready to get back to it. My first challenge is to create several images featuring my artwork. Specifically, I want to create a JPG that would include 3 images. The 3 images would have a white border. Then those 3 images would be placed onto a black background of a specific size.

Here is one practice JPEG I created and tried out as the new header for this blog. This gives you an idea of what I’m talking about.

After making the image above, I realized that 3 images is a better number as it allows some room around each image. I don’t like the squishy feeling of the header image.

I’m getting better at making the white border, thanks to my friend Natalie, as you can see here:

Image Before White Border

First White Border Attempt-Splotchy

Improved White Border

Image with White Border on Black Background

So here is my problem. I edit & crop my photos in Aperture first, then open them in PS Elements to add the border and create the background. If I edit the JPEG using the image and/or canvas resizing options, I get something smaller than I desire and lose the white border. If I crop the original image in PS before adding the border, I get something much larger than I want (and crash Photoshop.)

I think I may have to use the re-size options on the original image first, then add the white border, and then move the image to black background.

What do you think? I’d appreciate your suggestions. I feel like I’m making this harder than it needs to be. Of course, that is part of the playing & experimenting. But I seem to be missing something in this process.

Please use the dimensions of the header as an example. The header image is 760 x 190. What size should my images be in order to fit into a header that measures 760 x 190? How would you create a header image with three JPGs inside a black background?

Thanks for your input. And thanks for stopping by.


4 Comments

My ArtFire Studio Featured This Weekend

I’m thrilled to announce that my ArtFire Studio is the featured studio collection this weekend on ArtFire.

You can see 12 items from my ArtFire studio in this collection here.

What’s really cool is this video montage of my collection featured on YouTube.

Many thanks to AndreaDesigns and the ArtFire Crazy Train Guild for this honor.

To view my entire ArtFire Studio, click here.