Good morning! Thanks for your patience and understanding during my little blogging break. Here’s where my heart is at after taking time to breathe and think…
I have followed all sorts of tips and tricks to “build a better blog”. I’ve read every article, followed every how-to that’s out there, and taken e-courses and workshops. But here’s the thing – I’ve gotten so caught up in trying to be a successful blogger that I’m not actually creating anything myself! My own art and creative adventures have come second to simply sourcing content to share here – and the kicker is that top of that, this sweet ‘lil blog isn’t all that successful anyway. This whole process of trying to “create a successful blog for my audience” has been incredibly frustrating – and it’s not working, because it’s not true to me. I feel that blogging should be an outpouring of my ideas, inspiration, and creativity…and right now, it’s taking all of my ideas, inspiration, and creativity just to keep up with what I “should” be doing as a successful blogger. And dude, it’s totally draining.
There’s a fear mentality that is communicated to bloggers: You really must post 5 days a week or you don’t exist online! You really must leave a bazillion comments on other blogs to be part of the blogging community! You really must create content carefully targeted to your audience! You really must guest post to get noticed! You really must do x, y, and z to be a success! My response to the “you really must” attitude communicated to bloggers is this, as written by the fabulous Tina Fey in her book, Bossypants: “When people say, ‘You really, really must do something’, it means you don’t really have to. No one ever says, ‘You really, really must deliver the baby during labour’. When it’s true, it doesn’t need to be said.”
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. And what I’ve realized over the last two weeks is this: I don’t want to build a successful blog. I want to build a successful career as an artist – an artist who just happens to have a really great blog too.
Recently I watched an awesome video by my one of my sassy business mentors, Marie Forleo, on differentiating between fear and intuition. I’ve been wrestling with what I “really must” be doing with my blog, and what I feel in my heart. I don’t often share videos here, but Marie rocks pretty hard and I genuinely feel that this is awesomely valuable information:
Did you watch the video? Keeping on my current blogging path definitely left me feeling contracted. And despite the fact that my new plan for this blog doesn’t involve any of the things that bloggers “really must” do, just the thought of making changes leaves me feeling so expansive and free that I have no doubt that this is what my heart and intuition is telling me.
So what’s the new plan?
+ To post when inspired. To share what is genuinely inspiring me. To share what makes my heart flutter and my creative juices flow.
+ To post when creating. To make more time for art in my life. (This. Is. Huge!) To share the creative process.
+ To post when educating. To share experiences as a freelancer and as an artist. To share the ups and downs.
Short, sweet, simple, and rings true to me. I don’t think that there’s anything better than that. And even though I’ll no longer be doing what I “really must” on my blog (*gasp!*), hopefully you’ll stick around for the journey with me. xo
Artists can’t help but be inspired by the world and words they see around them – but what is the difference between being inspired, and blatantly using someone else’s ideas as your own? As an artist whose work is based on the inspiring words and quotes of others (you can see some of my collage art with quotes here), I’ve been curious about the ethics of using someone else’s ideas and words in my creative work. I asked mixed media maven Mae Chevrettefor her thoughts on the ethics of using quotes from others in her artwork:
” Ethically, I believe it to be sound as long as the new work is not taking away from the original work in any way and not harming the creative originality, ideas or profit of the original creator. One part of this which is very, very important is giving credit where it is due – to me, the creative credit is just as important as any monetary credit would ever be, so I make sure to always credit the creator and in some cases gain permission if at all possible (as with a new piece I’m working on which quotes a pro surfer – awesome dude who I was even more inspired by after getting a hold of him!). I have seen takes on my work and words that made me very appreciative and humble, and also blatant copies that made me very upset. Additionally, it is obvious when a work is made as an homage to an original work, and obvious when it is made as a cheap copy or desperate attempt at originality. I think in their hearts most people can look at a work and know which is which, and that makes a huge difference in whether it is acceptable or not.”
What are your thoughts on using quotes or ideas from others in artwork?Have you ever struggled with defining the line between inspiration and imitation? I’ve love to hear your thoughts on this controversial topic on Twitter. Let’s chat!
For me, the hardest part of an art project is getting started. (Can I get an “amen!” from all the perfectionists out there?) When doing collage art, I get the most stuck at the beginning, figuring out where to start with the background. After all, the background is what an entire art piece rests on – and while it can’t be too plain and uninteresting, it also can’t be too busy that the text and images layered on top aren’t readable. So how do you choose background papers for a collage? For me, the real answer is “I just choose what feels good!”. Which is a supremely unhelpful answer, I know. But if I analyze what makes me feel good, here’s what I look for when starting a collage:
Look for backgrounds that will allow you highlight the focus of your piece. For me, the quote is always the focus. If the letters are going to get lost against the background, then the piece as whole won’t work.
Look for interesting textures, patterns, and colors. Visual interest is important! I love the richly layered look of collage art, and finding neat background materials that jive together in a pleasing way pretty much rocks my world.
Look in unexpected places for background images. I found this vintage map of New York in my old car that was passed down from my grandma – it had been in the glove box for years. Old dressmaker patterns have beautiful graphic designs, and are transparent enough to allow layers to show through. Vintage books have beautiful illustrations and gorgeous pages of text. Wallpaper samples can be bursting with pattern and texture, ranging from bold to subtle. A printed paper placemat from a kitchsy diner has retro appeal. Keep your eyes open – you really can find great art supplies in places you’d never expect.
One last thought when starting a piece of art…
Trust your gut. Trust that you know what you like. Trust that you know what feels good to you. Trust in the experiment. Trust in your awesome creativity.
To see more of my art (finshed art! Not just backgrounds!) you can visit my Etsy shop.
PS. If you’re selling your collage art, choose images that won’t get you into trouble! Your own photography, messy painted textures, layered grocery receipts, and vintage book pages all make beautiful backgrounds. If you are using someone else’s images (such as scrapbook paper), make sure you’re altering it to make it yours. (More on the topic of copyright and fair use in collage art later!)