Time Management – Timing Life

So now that I am gainfully employed, time management has again become a priority in my life. If I am to continue to write and draw for my blogs and newsletter, I’m going to have to tighten my schedule! I don’t, however, foresee any difficulty doing so.

My life and I have changed so much in the last year that events that caused stress in my life previously no longer exist. This makes it easier to manage my time. It doesn’t seem to be as straight forward as simply being attuned to a time piece. For me, the success of managing my time depends on the activities I’m scheduling.

For instance, I no longer spend time commuting in rush hour traffic. I don’t commute at all because I have the best office imaginable at home. This allows me to relax or run around outside during breaks with Daisy, or prepare healthy, diabetic meals for breakfast and lunch.

I spend 8-9 hours Monday through Friday working at something I enjoy and do well and write and draw for my blogs and newsletter before, after and on the weekends. I now spend most of my time in an environment of choice, and one which I’ve spent my ‘unemployed’ summer discovering through the very blogs I now cherish.

Does this schedule or flavor of time management work for anyone but me? I can say with some certainty that it won’t…but that’s the point! I’ve spent time investigating and learning as much about what I enjoy and need (including my family)  and have designed my life around what I value and what I know is good for me. Just because I’ve reached this point later rather than sooner in my life doesn’t mean anyone of any age should be afraid to pursue what they love and do well.

Believe me, an unexpected benefit of participating in activities you enjoy – ‘working’ and ‘playing’ – just might be effortless time management.

The Open Window – Perseverance Pays Off!

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me in the last 5 months since loosing my job that ‘when one door closes, another opens’ I’d be a very rich person! There have been many times when I might have given up in total frustration. If I could have talked my husband into ‘falling off the grid’ I might have done it. Except for one thing…I had made a commitment to my family, my art and writing.

I started my first blog, http://WendyFallonBlog.wordpress.com, to give me something constructive to do and to practice my art and writing. I was surprised to find that being unemployed was causing me to feel guilty, a definite lack of self-worth, and all-around depressed! Unemployment began to lower my self-esteem, even though I knew I was a uniquely creative individual (as is everyone!)

But with encouragement from my husband, I was able push myself into submitting resumes daily, and continued to post my drawings and writing. I began to take some pride in what I was and still am, creating and my efforts have led to a second blog, http://makeartbehappy.worpress.com , website, e-books and articles.

All of this, done consistently, has created an online presence and ‘platform’ for my writing and art skills. I firmly believe these activities have also kept me positive enough to recognize unexpected opportunities. When a writer friend and previous co-worker emailed and told me someone we’d both worked with (over 7 years ago) needed a technical writer, I told her I was interested. That was three months ago.

Today I received a phone call offering me work as an Information Developer for a software company, working from my home office and at a very nice wage. Needless to say, I’ve accepted! YIPPEE!!!!!

Staying in the game, networking, showcasing my skills and NOT GIVING UP has paid off more than I ever expected – and if I can do it, you can too!

Internet Marketing for Non-Technical Artists

What kind of online marketing tools are there for artists? Depending on what kind of artist you are will determine what you need to effectively share your creativity. There are so many new methods of posting to the Internet, how do you know which will be the most effective? A few of my favorite marketing tools for artists and writers include dedicated websites, portfolio pages, blogs, social media, e-newletters and email. Here are a few real-life examples.

Websites & Social Media

One of my friends, www.LaurieFagen.com is a jazz singer, award-winning writer and fiber artist. She is also the owner and editor of a large, community newspaper. And yes, she does promote herself once in a while in print. But one of the most effective methods I’ve seen her use is social media. She appears on my www.Facebook.com  wall a couple of times a month letting everyone know where she will be performing next. This, in combination with a website created with www.WordPress.org software that includes samples of her music, effectively keeps her busy with singing gigs. Both tools are relatively easy for her to update herself. 

Portfolio Pages

I met Debbie Jennings when she arrived at our Art on Boston Gallery as a jewelry designer. Since then, she has sold her design business, pursued another of her dreams and has become a successful actress. Her method of self-promotion is a collection of effective portfolio pages at http://debbiejennings.biz . Well-designed, easy to read with simple and intuitive navigation, her portfolio successfully portrays her talent.

Blogs

A photographer friend, Dale Kesel, has been blogging lately about his latest projects. With a website on which to share his photography, you can follow his http://keselphotography.com/blog/ where he shares photography ideas and his current book photo shoots. Dale is also a member of a couple of http://www.Meetup.com groups which allow him to meet with and converse with others who are interested in his work.

E-Newsletters

E-Newletters are also a popular method of reaching out to your audience or market. I subscribe to several that impart writing tips and some just because I love the way they look! One of the best designed e-newletters and one of my favorites is from life coach and speaker Andrea Beaulieu at http://www.yourauthenticvoice.com. Visually attractive, easily read, and informative, her e-newsletter is inspirational and draws visitors back to her website.

Email

If you can only do one thing to market your creativity, I recommend building your email list. There are several providers that will not only give you the capability of sending out hundreds of emails without being considered spam, but templates for e-newsletters, buttons and boxes for opt-in subscriptions, and direct purchase buttons. The most popular seems to be http://www.AWeber.com, although my favorite and less expensive choice is http://www.YMLP.com (Your Mailing List Provider).

The Internet has truly made us a global economy, and anyone who owns and runs a business should be aware of it. It’s not just big business who can now afford to take advantage of new technology. Artists, writers, singers and performers can now be a part of the global market place with a computer and a connection to the web.

Marketing Your Art Online

Note: Etsy.com is a global website, as is Goole, and Paypal. The remaining references are specific to the US. In other parts of the world there are online providers that offer the same services, but are not listed here.

There are several ways to market the results of your creativity online. With a dash of Shameless Self Promotion and very little money you can take advantage of the best marketing tools the web has to offer.

One of the very first tools you will need is a medium to good digital camera. The better your photos of your artwork, the better chance you have of selling it.

If you are an artist and you make a physical product, for instance pottery, baby wear, stationary, collage, art books, etc, http://www.Etsy.com is one of the best community websites for hand made items out there. It provides you with an easy-to-design, navigate and update web page. You are charged $0.20 for each item you upload to your store. What makes Etsy so attractive is your ability to use http://www.paypal.com merchant services, http://www.USPS.gov shipping, and Google Shopping (although there was an announcement from Google recently stating that this will no longer be a free service) in combination with the Etsy platform.

One of the best sites I’ve seen for visual art forms is http://fineartamerica.com. This community site provides artists and photographers with print fulfillment, exhibit and portfolio pages, branded web stores, the ability to sell prints on http://www.Facebook.com and http://www.Amazon.com, create e-newsletters , and a variety of other marketing tools. FineArtAmerica has a subscription fee of $30.00 per year.

You can also set up your own website with your own domain name. The advantage to this is your patrons may find it easier to remember yourdomain.com, rather than yourdomain.fineartamerica.com, or yourdomain.etsy.com. However, there are ways of getting around this by having your domain registrar (example: GoDaddy.com, the provider you purchased your domain name from) forward all searches for yourdomain.com to your site.

There are a few things you need to purchase if you decide to establish your own site:

  • A domain name – This is your unique address on the web. It can be your own name, or the name of your business. It should be easy for your patrons to remember. You can sometimes purchase your domain name from your hosting provider to make things easier on yourself, although they may charge a premium price for this convenience. http://www.GoDaddy.com has always been my favorite, but there lots of other domain registrars and web hosts out there. Registering a domain name typically costs around $10.00 per year, give or take a few dollars.
  • A space on the web for exhibiting your work, and possibly for selling your art from. This is your ‘real estate’ on the web and is provided by a web host. Hosting can run from $5.00 and up per month and is usually charged in yearly chunks.
  • If you decide to use your online space to sell from, you will need to be able to process credit cards. These are called merchant services, and I highly recommend using them. They will protect you from insufficient checks, or sending your product out before you receive payment for it. http://www.paypal.com is a popular choice for this service, although Google has also established a service for this.

If you decide to use a community website with all the marketing tools built into it, you won’t need to purchase a domain name, hosting or merchant services. Overall, community sites will cost you less and may be easier to maintain and update. They may also bring with them an excellent reputation. Etsy, for instance, is known as one of the best online providers of hand crafted gifts.

Part III: Using Marketing Tools Effectively

Remember, the more your art is seen, the better chance you have of selling it! The web has leveled the playing field into a global market. You CAN do this!

Making Money From Art – Taboo?

Part I of The Business of Selling Your Art

In some circles, you aren’t an ‘authentic’ artist unless your motivation springs from your passion for making art, not because you must also make money to survive. If ‘making art’ also applies to any activity that you love and do well, and are passionate about, the money should magically come to you as a natural result, right?

This has always been a source of confusion and discomfort among artists. Making your art is a right-brain activity while making money requires left-brain business skills. This makes it difficult for most artists to also have great business sense.

So how do you make a living by making art? Here are a few suggestions, all requiring some left-brain education. You can hire someone to handle your business and promotional activities, or if you are like me and don’t have the money, you can learn to do it yourself.

  • Market your art online (website, online portfolio)
  • Teach classes (paid classes, tutorials)
  • Distribute your art through brick & mortar (galleries, museums, shops, or any business who will provide exhibit space)
  • Partner with a group for exhibition and promotion (art associations)
  • Entering competitions (challenges, awards)
  • Free publicity (news releases, written articles)

 Whether you sell, teach or exhibit your art, you must learn about marketing. And it turns out marketing may take more time and effort than the creation of your art.

The good news is you can make money from your art. The newest technology trends like online art communities and expanded online merchant services are making it easier than ever. And don’t ever forget, all of these methods contribute to the best marketing strategy of all:

  • Word of mouth!

Part II: Marketing Your Art Online

Persevere! Don’t let a lack of knowledge discourage you. You CAN learn to sell your art!

Shameless Self Promotion – A Lesson in Self-Confidence

In this age of overwhelming competition for jobs, money and attention it is indeed the ‘squeaky wheel that gets the grease!’

In my ongoing pursuit to support myself with what I love and do well – art and writing – I’ve come up against something I know nothing about, that is totally outside my comfort zone and that I have had to thoroughly educate myself about: marketing!

I have often written that in order to get the job, the income or the attention or to sell a product or service you must first ‘sell’ yourself. In other words you need to have the self-confidence to believe that what you produce and offer for sale is of the utmost value to society. And not only do you have to convince your potential buyers that the product is something they want and/or need, you also have to convince them that you know what you’re talking about.

That being said, I have discovered you must be absolutely confident (or appear to be) of your product in order to write marketing content. It is truly amazing how much more work it takes to market and sell a product than to design and produce it! This leads me to my own Shameless Self Promotion.

I have written and published three e-publications:

Make Art, Be Happy – How to Live Well by Increasing Creativity & Improving Your Life, a 120-page e-book about finding what you love and do well, creative step-by-step exercises to help you think outside the box, along with suggestions for inspiration and motivation.

Beginning Drawing for Adults Who Think They Can’t, a 20-page e-tutorial that includes all the basics for learning to hand-draw, and why it might be the perfect exercise for accessing your source of intuition and imagination.

25 Ways to Build Creative Self-Confidence, an inspirational e-book designed to spark your creative thinking.

My marketing efforts to date include:

  • Designing and launching my website where these publications can be found, http://www.FromCubicleToStudio.com,
  • Starting an email list
  • Placing 50 or so free classified ads online
  • Writing and submitting a series of 4 informative articles to online e-zines

But I fear this is just the first step, a drop in the bucket, and certainly not a ‘squeak’ to be heard above all the other online noise clamoring to be heard. There are so many additional marketing methods I haven’t tried!

Hence, you have just read my own Shameless Self Promotion.

 Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself, in what you love to do and do well!

Comical Error Abounds!

Well, as you all know, I ‘are’ a writer….and can’t spell! I’ve just launched my new website, www.fromcubicletostudio.com, but purchased the incorrectly spelled domain name of fromcubicaltostudio.com! This has been corrected, but may take 24 hours or so to show up online. I’ll let you all know when it tests successfully! At this point, I have to laugh at myself. WF

Five Ways to Use Crayons to Spark Your Creativity

With school starting again recently I am reminded of the beginning of my own children’s school year when they were young. I have always associated the beginning of school with new shoes, backpacks, pens and pencils, but most of all brand new boxes of Crayola® Crayons.

I love new boxes of crayons with the tip of each crayon smooth and used, but most of all I love the colors. Like Life Savers® or clothing, you could choose your favorite color which somehow further defined you as a person.

Here are some ways crayons can become a part of your creative explorations:

1. The following project was one I enjoyed while studying art in high school. You will need one sheet of watercolor paper, an inexpensive set of school-age watercolors, brush, water, and at least 3 colors of crayons. Cover the entire sheet of watercolor paper with a wash of watercolor. It can be a single color or a mix of colors. Allow it to dry. Take one crayon color and gently apply a light layer over the dry watercolor. Repeat with the remaining colors, layering the next color over the last. Build up the layers of crayon until the surface of your sheet is shiny. Take a toothpick and scratch a design through the layers of crayons. Your scratching can be through to the watercolor underneath or partially through the wax layers to expose the different crayon colors. 

2. Reverse the use of materials by taking a clean sheet of watercolor paper, and complete a pencil drawing on it. Outline your drawing with solid lines of crayon. Add washes of watercolor over the crayons for a stained glass effect. The wax in the crayons will repel the watercolor and remain bright and solid. 

3. Take old crayons and sort by color. Melt a collection of broken pieces of a single color (or shades of the same color) in a double boiler (or in an empty veggie can in a pot of a couple of inches of boiling water). Pour each color into the bottom of its own small wax carton (milk) for custom squares of new crayons. Mix colors into the same container to achieve a rainbow effect when coloring. 

4. Buy a package of colorful letter envelopes and a pad of medium-weigh card stock. Create your own thank you cards or notes of inspiration by writing your messages in different crayon colors.

5. Try using crayons on a variety of textured papers for a pebbly effect, or use crayons to capture rubbings from grave stones, or dried leaves.

So many colors! Simply going to the store and pausing in the stationary aisle to look at a new box of crayons makes me want to be in Kindergarten again!

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Looking for inspiration and motivation to spark creative thinking, a creative life or even career? You can now purchase or receive free E-Books, E-Tutorials, and Inspirational E-Booklets at www.FromCubicletoStudio.com. I have authored and published 3 publications with plans for additional offerings: 

  • Make Art, Be Happy – How to Live Well by Increasing Creativity & Improving Your Life
  • Beginning Drawing for Adults Who Think They Can’t
  • 25 Ways to Build Creative Self-Confidence (FREE with registration, and/or the purchase of one of the above publications)

Staying Focused, One Day at a Time

Invest in your mental and physical health and nurture your creative thought through meditation and/or prayer.

I spend several early mornings a week sitting outside seeking inspiration for my writing and drawing. Sometimes I find it, but sometimes I don’t.

Often my thoughts are jumpy and unfocused, swirling in a mish-mash of incomplete sentences, single words, images, and emotions. Thoughts pass into and out of my mind too fast to pin down or make real sense of; certainly too fast and unformed to capture in ink on paper – especially if I’ve had more than 1 or 2 cups of coffee!

These days my ideas seem to appear out of a swirl of random thoughts. Once I’ve isolated a thought it grows organically; aging like wine or cheese or soft leather into something I can build a complete sentence or paragraph around.

On the days my mind won’t settle or focus, I meditate. Others I know practice prayer and listening.

There are as many meditation techniques as there are people willing to teach them. All successful techniques have the same results; physical and emotional well-being and a clear mind. Ten minutes of deep, slow breathing, muscle-by-muscle relaxation, and imaging or prayer empties my mind of distractions and random thoughts, while exercising my right-brain. It’s also been shown to possibly increase serotonin production, which may help alleviate depression, insomnia and migraines. What comes into focus is usually what I’m seeking.

In our hectic society of mind-numbing media and frenetic multi-tasking we all can benefit regular intervals of peace and quiet!

Living Well Creatively With Less

I’m attempting to live well with less money.

In this pursuit, I’ve discovered two subjects so far that I personally need to explore and thought others might need as well:

•         Creating Change for the better in my life.

•         Leveraging what I already know and have into more.

More what…money, time, health, love or (fill in the blank)? How do we think more creatively to come up with our personal solutions?

My belief, as an artist, is to exercise my creative source, the creative tool we are all given in this life – my right-brain. By adding activities into my daily routine that consistently require I use right- or whole brain resources, I find it easier to come up with seemingly unprecedented ideas for living creatively and providing solutions to our dilemmas.

My Current life situation has many of the same challenges others are facing:

•         Loss of income – I recently lost my job, and my husband and I are living frugally on his paycheck alone.

•         Loss of our home – We lost our house to foreclosure last year.

•         Loss of retirement – We’ve been living on it.

•         Loss of or an increase in the cost of, healthcare benefits – ever-increasing.

We’ve slowly been able to find ways to live well emotionally and financially in spite of these personal crises by living and thinking creatively:

•         Re-considering our life experience, education and goals.

•         Figuring out what is most important for our happiness and peace of mind.

•         Finding creative ways to save money without depriving ourselves of necessary or favorite items.

•         Considering options outside our previous comfort zone.

•         Learning new things to increase options and self-confidence.

I will be writing more in the future about accomplishing change and living well.

Don’t ever lose hope!