Spring Fever anyone?
Well it's been a super busy month for me with MANY Custom Orders...
but despite getting sidetracked with beautiful weather...a Wedding and few other events...
I'm valiantly trying to get caught up with Listing, Data Entry and Website updates!
About this time every year, I take a "Creative Hiatus" - it's a time when I focus on the things I've been saying I'm going to do, and haven't made time to do, yet. It doesn't always work out the way I originally visualized - but about halfway into my Hiatus - there is always some sort of epiphany...a sudden realization of something important, while I'm seemingly doing something very mundane. Yes, it happened...the epiphany that is...yesterday. And although my Creative Hiatus ~ in terms of getting things done...hasn't really happened yet, my thought process is definitely in high gear!
We are all our own worst critic, aren't we? You know the funny thing here is that I've been designing and selling jewelry since the 1980s...and although I'll admit to being pretty hard on myself...I still give myself credit, where credit is due. And one thing is certain - I've become comfortable in the realization that there will never be enough time to get everything I want to get done - done! Despite that, I've had a tremendous amount of success in not only selling retail/wholesale, but working in the Corporate fields of Accounting and Marketing. Plus, over the years, I've been able to expand my techniques, and what some would call "stepping out of my comfort zone" time and time again. But you know what? At almost 50...I'm comfortable with being me - and I don't feel the need to do "everything" - and I don't feel like I'm in competition with anyone other than myself...so although I'm still very passionate about developing new techniques, teaching, sharing, learning and promoting new products - I've learned along the way, that I need to take time for me - and to stay true to the Artisan inside of me and my own uniqueness. It's so vital to grow your own Uniqueness - so I hope you spend time nuturing that side of you too.
As William Shakespeare said..."Striving to be better, oft we mar what's well" ~ and in the creative industry, many people will either try to do everything, or get so tied up in trying to be like someone else...that they lose site of all that is unique about themselves and their designs. Really think about that...and also think about how much time you spend on your favorite Social sites like Facebook...because along with the good of connections and networking - comes a different set of peer pressure, various "groups", and a constant visual distraction in the form of a scrolling newsfeed 24/7. Add a variety of picture sharing, lovely compliments, along with some innuendos and not so nice comments...well is it any wonder, when you combine these things together, that if you let it...these things can really do a number on your own inspiration process, as well as, put a damper on your creativity and bring productivity to a screeching hault. Plus if you add the pressures of running a business, the challenges associated with online exposure, SEO placement, and publicity - many individuals will find themselves manipulating their creations to "fit" the mainstream, taking shortcuts, and quite possibily finding themselves getting depressed because they didn't accomplish much that day. And because of all these self inflicted pressures, very often these same people will start comparing themselves to others, and lose site of themselves.
So my best advice? Take some precious time for being YOU, trust in your own thoughts, pay attention to your surroundings, and enjoy a portion of the day "unplugged". In this day and age...I think it's vitally important to find a healthy balance between the realities of the e-social sites AND the reality of your day to day living and life and to celebrate and give credit to the unique part of YOU.
Now, don't get me wrong...emulating someone you have a lot of respect for in the industry can be a good thing. We all have "mentors" - those we look up to for their design quality, techniques, and work ethics. My Mentor was from the other side of the tracks...Home Improvement - and he helped me become a much more focused and organized business person. I think it's natural to be influenced and challenge yourself to work harder as an equal...but it's important to do that in your own, unique way (and not as an imitation/copier of said mentor).
Ironically, just this morning I finished reading an article about how so many people in the handmade marketplace (namely Etsy/Artfire) are wondering if it's better to have your own website presence. The article talked about the benefits of each, but targeted Etsy as one of the places to easily research the success of competitors, in an effort to emulate them. Having sold from both venues, my own website, as well as, being a former Power Seller on eBay - I can say each one of them comes with their own sets of benefits and challenges. Unfortunately, while this information overload of statistics can be helpful - it also bring out what the article labeled as "rampant copying of product descriptions". The biggest problem (aside from plagiarizing of course) is that when you copy another person's unique description, Google has a hard time differentiating from content and ownership...and as a result - BOTH items are removed as "duplicate content" and in some cases banned from the search engines. It's a lose-lose situation for all. Do you see the importance of writing UNIQUE copy?
Has this happend to me? You bet. Earlier this year, after noticing drops in my own visits and numbers on Etsy, I did a few searches and found another seller had "borrowed" my description...actually verbatim, word for word. Yes, Screenshots were taken, and the legalities were addressed in a professional manner - but in all honesty, because of the lack of knowledge on SEO...I don't even think the person realized the damage they did not only to me, by copying - but themselves too. But for me in this situation, there was no other choice but to take time and do a total rewrite of hundreds of my product descriptions. Very tiring, but it really brought home the importance of being diligent and dedicated to being UNIQUE in this very small world of creativity.
Time keeps ticking...
so doesn't it make sense that with the time we have...
that we strive to be, as Judy Garland said...
"A first rate version of yourself, instead of somebody else"
Have you heard that old saying? "Good at everything, but Great at nothing"...in the creative world...it's very easy to become proficient at a variety of things - and believe me, there will be times in your life, when you WANT to learn new things just to have a little fun. But when you decide to take your hobby to the next level and make it a business...well, there comes a time when you realize that it might be better for both you and your business - to focus on one thing. No-one is perfect, and no-one can do everything successfully. I for one, am content to remain a hobbyist at some things...and be a professional Artisan in others. Now, I wouldn't trade my time and experience for anything...because those early years of learning many techniques and hobbies, helped me pinpoint what I really wanted to do, helped me expand my career opportunities over the years, and the best thing...allowed me to settle down with the things that I love and am most passionate about...and that is - designing lines of "Wearable ART Jewelry" that incorporates Artisan components (including my own Tiles and Beads). Can I create in other mediums? Absolutely and I do. But because of that time factor, and the need to balance my life in both mind, body, and spirit ~ I take comfort in relying on other Artisans who have honed in on what they love best and purchase their unique components instead of doing it myself. The beauty in being yourself and being confident in what you do, is that you do not feel threatened by others doing similar things. And I'm happy to say...that for me, many of my closest friends do exactly what I do...but in their own unique way! Priceless...and comforting.
So...let me share a little publishing story with you...some of you may have had the honor of being published - or maybe it is one of your hopes, wishes and goals. I have to tell you though - from my perspective with a former career in the creative industry, working alongside manufacturers, educators, the media, doing freelance writing, organizing professional juried festivals...the world of "Publishing" for me personally...is one that took on a life of it's own about a year and half ago. Here are some of my published designs...
Bead Trends and Belle Armoire in 2011
January 2012 Designer Highlight/Bead Trends
February Bead Trends included our new Car Dangler
along with three other designs featuring our ART Tile components
from Amanda Austin and Traci Zeller
Spring Stringing Issue featured our "Quiet as the Night" Bracelet (#2)
April/May 2012 Step by Step Wire featured our ART Tiles
and look for more designs throughout 2012 in:
Stringing, Belle Armoire and Bead Trends
I tell you these things - not to impress you - but to impress upon you that for ME...publishing is more about SHARING my love of designing jewelry, INSPIRING others to create - not because I need the feather in my cap,but because I truly BELIEVE that by sharing...we are actually doing our part to ensure that the CREATIVE process of design is passed down to the next generation and will live on, long after we're gone. So again...publishing is LESS about the Designers and MORE about the TECHNIQUE and PRODUCTS. Plain and simple. For each "Yes" to publishing, there have been a dozen "NO's" - but again for me - the value of my jewelry is based on the heart I put into...and not on whether it's published. Do I get a little tickle belly type of feeling and do a Happy Dance with a published design? Of course! And as a bonus...if it's a design where I've used another Artisan's components...well it's partytime then...because BOTH of us are getting the opportunity to share our love of designs and creating.
So what are my top Three Tips for making a positive impression when submitting to a national magazine?
- Be true to you - submit a UNIQUE, high quality design
- Be professional in your approach and in describing your inspiration and design details
- Be consistent in your work etiquette and meeting deadlines
OK - lastly...are you wondering about my epiphany???
Well, it has to do with this necklace...
This is just a small snippet photo...but it's a pretty cool design featuring this gorgeous one of a kind pendant from Mary Harding, which I complimented with Silk Ribbon and a variety of Vintaj findings and charms. Would it sell, yes - no doubt! But here's a little secret...this one made it through the electronic round of submissions but received a "No" during the physical/in-person round - for the upcoming Fall edition...my necklace just didn't "fit" in with the overall look and vision the magazine had in mind this time around. But remember...I never look at the turn-down's as a reflection on me, my design, or in this case Mary's pendant...and actually if you think about - it's pretty sweet knowing that it came "close". So you see...it's all in your outlook - so if you do submit - keep things in perspective!
Personally, if I look back on all my published designs...most are ones that I created first - simply because I needed to create. I call these designs my "wild children" because they are all unique and inspired by either the focals themselves...or the things in nature, or colors, or other random thoughts. When I'm truly focused on creating...there is no rhyme or reason...no thoughts of designing in order to be published, or creating something simply because it's "trendy". The designs start with a completely blank canvas filled with my own thoughts, and beads that are calling to me.
So getting back to my necklace...I'm not sure what it was...but it was one of those designs that didn't feel quite right for me (possibly because I didn't have enough time before the submission deadline to allow it to "sit and breathe" and see if I wanted to tweek anything). Yesterday, as I sat there objectively thinking the thought process while I was designing it, I remember at some point going against my internal feelings and simply adding more of the trendy satin ribbon. So although it was a beautiful design with all the silk ribbon woven in the chain...today I actually wound up removing the majority of the ribbon and almost immediately felt an overwhelming sense of relief. It was then that my "epiphany" HIT me.
Can you guess what it is?
To ALWAYS be true to me...
go with the flow...
and listen to what my heart is saying!
Have a wonderful day!
If you have any thoughts you'd like to add - please feel free to leave a comment - I love reading them!