Monday, March 28, 2011

Art Biz Mama: Amy Friend

I am so happy to be back with a new Art Biz Mama interview! This one is with the lovely Amy Friend of Cypress Sun Jewelry. It has so many lovely nuggets of inspiration. I know you are going to love it. I did! Enjoy!
First, let me say a huge “Thank You” for taking the time to answer these questions. I know how busy you are so it really means a lot to all of us that you took the time to be here today!

I’m absolutely honored. I can’t tell you how inspired I’ve
been by the stories of creative mamas. I’ve learned something from each one, and have been reminded that I can do this wild and crazy thing.

Could you please share a bit about you, your family and your business?
I’m Amy, a gypsy hearted girl with a passion for creating soulful, feminine jewelry. I live near Austin, Texas with my husband and (almost) 3 year old son, Z.
Cypress Sun Jewelry came to be right before Z was born, but I’ve been drawn to beads, wire and oddities since I was the tiny girl that transformed her grandmother’s rosary one morning in the pew. I’m fascinated by the little details in life, the intricate ways that people have adorned themselves throughout time, and a good, earth-shaking thunderstorm.

I read on your website that you started your business just 10 days before your son was born! What led you to that decision?

I think I might have panicked, and thought it wouldn’t happen
if I didn’t do it before Z was born! I was also more inspired than ever before to make that jump from 8-5 to a creative business.

How has having children affected your business and creativity?

Soon after I started the business and opened an Etsy shop, everything stopped.

Z was born. This precious child didn’t sleep (not for more than one hour -ever!), I had postpartum depression....It wasn’t the joy I had expected. But this experience was also the catalyst to discovering and creating joy.

A year after Z’s birth, I began to laugh again, and find strength in my creativity. Who knew that putting on a necklace would give me the spark to get going? I wanted to give that inspiration to others, both literally and figuratively. To honor my passion and live it.

Whether or not someone buys, or even likes the jewelry I create, I know I contribute a little more beauty and happiness to the world each day. And when someone does find my jewelry to be their thing, the happiness just goes further.

Having a child is, in my experience, the ultimate meditation. The present moment is all that matters, over and over again. You can survive it, or sink into it fully.

This simple concept has made all the difference for me. I don’t know if I would have gotten here without having an amazing child who reminds me every day to see this world so vividly.

Would you please share what a “typical day” is like for you?

Gratitude, exercise, priorities, work & play. Repeat, repeat, repeat...

There is an interlude of morning where anxiety or excitement seem to compete for prominence in my day. Starting the day off with a simple meditation of gratitude followed by exercise gets me on the higher track, and opens the door to amazing possibilities.

The rest of the day is broken into flexible increments of play, clean up, and work. I’ve found that I can usually work for 30 minutes while Z plays somewhat independently, especially if that 30 minutes will be followed by an active game of hide-n-seek or painting.

Occasionally, I can work for a couple of hours straight in the morning, and then spend the afternoon with him. Sometimes I can’t work at all! If Z naps (he has, by the way, learned to do this thing called sleep!), I work on jewelry and listen (via the ever entertaining Natural Reader) to the blogs posts, and other online articles that help shape my life and business.

Evenings go by so quickly. Sometimes there is time to finish something - a necklace, a blog post - after Z goes to bed. I always try to reflect on my plans for the day, and create a basic plan for the next. Some sense of completion at the end of the day, and focus for the next morning are two things that help me sleep better.

One technique that helps me a lot is note taking throughout the day. I carry a plain jane spiral with me almost everywhere, and jot down thoughts for blog posts, ideas sparked from online information, sketches, appointments, and anything else I need to do/remember. 

At the end of the day, all this information gets organized (in a calendar, etc.) or discarded (crossed, but not torn out). I could do all this on my (not so smart) phone, but somehow it just works better, and I’m more expressive with pen on paper. A side benefit is that Z gets to doodle too.

How many hours do you give to your business each week? Are you working during the days/evenings/weekends?

I work at least 40 hours a week in divided time throughout the week, and typically on weekends as well.

Are you running your business alone or do you have help?

Z helps me chase the beads that have fallen to the floor...does that count? I also happen to have a creative and supportive soul mate in my life. Without him...well, let’s just say that he tops the gratitude list each day.

Do you have a separate studio space in your home?

In the home that we plan to build - yes! For now, I have a corner of a bedroom. This actually works out really well. I can hear and see Z from this space, so I probably get more work done with this arrangement than I would if I had my own studio space.

Many of the Art Biz Mama's have said that really there isn't any balance when you are a mom and have a creative biz.  Do you feel you have a healthy balance between your work life and your family life? Is it all intertwined for you?

Absolutely intertwined. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. I’m finally living and breathing something that is exciting to me.

With that said, I have to admit that this balancing act has been really challenging for me. I used to be a workaholic perfectionist, and now I’mforced into recovering from that personality! 

When I read about other creative individuals being able to sit with an idea or a project from beginning to end, or spend all day in the studio, I’m apologetically jealous. But I’m also aware that I am often more productive and efficient in smaller amounts of time than I used to be.

Having a child just may have been the push I was needing to get going on my jewelry business after all.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us today? Any words of wisdom for other artists/moms out there who wish to create a business out of their art?

Don’t compare yourself to others. You have no idea how many years (or $$$) the rock star creatives have put into their businesses, how many people have helped them design their websites, or how many tears they have cried along the way.

Seek and maintain positive relationships with other creatives that will cheer you on, offer heartfelt advice, and get excited about the journey with you.

Let the negative people and thoughts go.

Keep your focus on connection rather than competition.

Stay centered in your dream, and take at least one tiny step each day in the direction of living it.

Get as much sleep as you can.

Celebrate something in terms of living creatively each day.

Tune into supportive, encouraging sites (such as Dana’s beautiful space) where you can leave feeling inspired and intrigued.

When it’s all too much, unplug, walk outside, feel your feet on the grass, snow...searing pavement, and reconnect to what is real. I’m right there with you.

Keep going!

Cypress Sun Jewelry

To connect with Amy click on the above link.

Thank you Amy! It was so great to learn a bit more about you and your business!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Weekend! I realize it is almost over but it has taken me two days to finish this post. Lately my head + hands + heart have been involved up to my eyeballs in websites, business books, photos, blogs, fonts, colors, etc.. I am FINALLY getting my website up and running. What an experience! On one hand I wish I could hand it off to someone but on the other I am glad I have been learning/doing. I have to admit I am really enjoying the process now.  I feel like it really can be pretty creative.

Things have clicked a bit for me (yes, with the website). And NOW I feel ready to begin. To begin to create surface designs + paintings to submit for licensing (I have already started, and have quite a bit done). To create paintings for sale. To go for those dreams that keep coming. It almost feels like this is my fork in the road. The one where I can turn one way and head down the right path. I can't say that the path will be straight or smooth or fast but really what can we ever say that about? The point is that it just feels right.

I think sometimes as artists we are afraid to say that "Yup, I want and quite frankly, need to create financial streams with my art." Yup, quite frankly I do. There is that bit of "Who do you think you are?" + all that other blah, blah, blah that comes up.

For me to get here, I had to be faced with a different alternative. One that doesn't feel "right". Would it be easier to go that path? Maybe in the short term. Certainly not the long term.

So with the available amount of time and energy I have I will chose to follow the path that feels right.  Wish me luck! :)
In other news...
A new Art Biz Mama interview is coming on Monday and it is a really great one! :)

And to tie into being a mama and artist here is a recent and really great interview with one of my favorites, Kelly Rae Roberts. She talks to Rice Freeman Zachery on balancing it all. Her career, her art, her family. Enjoy!

Amy from Elemental is giving away $50 gift certificate to her shop. Click here to find out more!

Recently I won a year membership to The Thriving Artist Project.  !
I will share an interview with the founder soon. I have already learned SO much!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! The crocuses have popped up here in NY! The temp may be at freezing but I am hopeful!


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Waiting for Spring

Where flowers bloom so does hope. - Lady Bird Johnson

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."
-  Claude Monet

There are always flowers for those who want to see them. ~ Henri Matisse

"There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
- Anais Nin     
"Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world."-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Spring is just a couple of weeks away here but today my heart really needs to see some beautiful blooms.
Here are many more lovely flower quotes.

Friday, March 04, 2011

 Hi friends. I just wanted to share that I have 4 paper floral wreaths left and they are now selling for just 25.00 (down from 50.00)! Click here to find out more! Thank you to everyone who has been so kind with your lovely comments on the wreaths. They really are a labor of  love and I am not going to be making anymore for quite some time.

Still working on painting. The bottom pick is me trying to do an acrylic transfer as per Beatriz Milhazes.
It should be a fun weekend. What are you up to?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

My Creative Space

I realize that is all I am showing lately. This isn't a painting for Get Your Paint On (which is just about over). I am a couple of paintings behind on the course. This was just a little quick one that isn't quite done.

AcrylaGouache on paper
Go here to see more creative spaces.