Summertime has arrived in North Florida! I've learned now that I will only experience two seasons here--summer and winter (it does get below freezing). So with our increasingly frequent trips to the beach and pool, I have summer on my mind. Summer Treats, Summer Fun, and Summer Digital Papers are all now available individually or as a discounted bundle in the shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CitrusandMint
I've recently stumbled upon the work of Dinara Mirtalipova. Absolute gorgeousness! She is a self-taught illustrator like me, but with way more personal style and confidence. (If you've missed out on the explanation for the "stealing" series, read this post first).
From her I'm going to steal:
This was me yesterday. After some surprisingly soothing back rubs from my four year old, I feel asleep on the playroom floor for who knows how long. 20 minutes? An hour? Probably not the best mom move, but it did give me energy to finish a new clip art set! Handmade with Love is now available in the shop. It's definitely one of my most favorite kits that I've created! Click on the kit to go to the shop or click on the clip art shop in the sidebar. Have a marvelous weekend!
“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me ... is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
(Thank you Gina for sending me this quote! You can find the original interview HERE.)
Emily Henderson is the second designer on my artist family tree (read about that HERE). Even though she is not an illustrator, she is everything I want to be as a blogger and designer. She is hilarious, candid, and not afraid to try new ideas even if they are mistakes (and later tell everyone). She definitely has a sense of style and confidence as a designer. Plus she's the style guru for Target. I mean, c'mon. Can I be your best friend?
From her I'm going to steal:
Examples: (as always, click on the images to find the source)
“Mommy, I need to draw.”
“We can’t draw right now because we are driving home from preschool. You can draw when we get home in a few minutes.”
“I caaaaannn’t wait that long.”
This is a conversation I had with my 4 year old daughter last week. Even though I snickered at her ridiculous remark, I later realized that she put into words exactly what I feel as a creative—I must create, or die. That will sound like a strong statement to non-creatives, like my husband, but it is true! I can’t explain why I have that feeling, I just know it’s there. Which leads me to a creative crisis…
1. I need to draw/design/create
2. I’m a mother of young kids and my time is limited
How do I balance this? When I spend time with Citrus and Mint, I feel guilty like I am neglecting my most important role as wife and mother. But when I don’t spend time with Citrus and Mint, I feel unfulfilled. I got permission to share some excerpts from the letter that my friend Whitney wrote to me. It was so relieving to hear that someone else has struggled with the same issues.
"When I picture myself as a loving mother who provides for her children and also sets boundaries to claim some things for herself- to say "these are the things that fulfill me"- I see a much more balanced version of myself. Sometimes our culture sets an expectation that we be consumed by our motherhood. I've found a lot more breathing room and peace by accepting that I am a mother, yes, but not only a mother. I am a person, an artist, a being who needs to be challenged, to continue learning. When I allow myself to accept these things and release the guilt that I'm not spending every waking moment focused on my children I feel happier, more balanced, I feel like a better mother. I am giving myself permission to pursue dreams and I think that's a powerful example to children. If I existed only for them, what a skewed view of the world they would have, and what a limiting role I would leave for them to inherit."
(Whitney, please grant me some of your eloquence in writing)
I haven't answered the balance question yet. I believe that the answer will be different to each person, which makes it harder to figure out. But I have made an important step in the right direction--I recognize and accept that being a creator is part of who I am and that is okay. I cannot and should not suppress it.
In the first part of his book, Steal Like an Artist, Kleon recommends starting your own inspirational family tree. Just as your person is made up the genes of those who came before you in your family tree, choose the artists and people who you want to make up your artwork. Then research who those artists say inspires their work and add those people to your family tree, and so on and so forth. Pretty soon you'll have a large network of inspiration to "steal" from. This idea isn't just for artists or designers, it's for anyone. I'm going to do this activity as a series here on the blog, as a way to journal it and hopefully inspire others as well.
In December I was walking around Anthropologie grasping for any kind of Christmas present inspiration for my sister and mom. Gosh was Christmas 2014 an uninspiring time. Anyways, a bright red book caught my eye. It was a large compilation of M. Sasek's books about countries around the world call This is the World. I resisted the urge to buy it right then (I was looking for presents for other people) but still bought it off Amazon as soon as I got home. It's a beautiful book. You probably already know that I love illustrating buildings, and there are only a few artists like M. Sasek who draw architecture with such style!
From him I'm going to steal:
A few months ago I wrote to my pen pal and long time friend, Whitney, about some struggles I was having as an artist. She owns her own photography business and also has two young kids with her at home. Lately I've overwhelmed, confused, and insecure about my direction as a designer. My letter to her centered around two questions: how to I balance business and life, and how do I create a style that is only mine? I addition to her return letter filled with wise advice (I'll work on getting permission to quote it), it seems like answers have been coming from everywhere:
1. That same week, the famous designer Rachael Taylor (who runs surface design class that is way too $$$ for me to take but I would love to), announced a free 5 part series on "Developing your Signature Style". The videos are only free for three more days so check them out while you can!
2. A few weeks after that, Design Sponge wrote an article titled 50 Shades of Grey: Copying and Credit in the Design World which brought up many important issues about trends, influence, and copying. I feel like I need to have a book club discussion about it.
3. I found and read Steal Like an Artist in an hour. The premise is that you are a collaboration of all you take in. All good artists steal from their heroes. I particularly loved the quote, "fake it 'til you make it" because it gave validation to exactly what I feel like I'm doing every day.
4. That same day I rushed to the library with both kids in tow to check out Kleon's other book, Show Your Work! This book was even better, if that's possible. He shows how you should give freely to the world and the world will give back. These are books that I'm going to reread every couple of months--they are that good. Every page is quotable.
It was amazing that I found these things at the same time I needed them. I am not alone in asking these questions! That thought is very comforting because I assumed that these were questions that amateurs or untrained artists asked. It seems like there isn't one right answer, and lots of grey area. I figured that I would do my thinking and research on the blog so that I could possibly help other creators out there who wonder the same things.
As part of this process, I seek your opinion and advice. I want to hear from other creators. What do you struggle with? What resources have you found that help?
Sorry if it looks like I've been absent, I'm in the process of renovating the entire print shop and designing several new clip art sets. I wanted to let y'all know that I've started a Citrus and Mint instagram account that you can follow to get news and sneak peeks into the behind the scenes process. Instagram seems to be the only social media outlet that I actually use regularly, so I thought a shop account would be the best way to keep everyone updated. You can click on the instagram button in the sidebar, or you can find me at @citrusandmintdesigns. I'll be back soon with lots of new products!
2014 went out with a bang so I'm a little behind in sharing my Christmas card with you. However I did want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! This morning my daughter woke up at her usual early morning hour, despite staying up way past her normal bedtime last night, so I had some time to sit down and write some business goals for 2015. I've never really done that, maybe because I've always treated Citrus and Mint as a hobby. I think that this year my goal is to have a better balance between business and hobby. I also want to focus more on developing my own style and experiment with full page illustration. My overall goal for life is to BE PRESENT. I feel like I spend too much time pondering and worrying about a million things at once instead of focusing on just what I am doing at the moment.
I'd love to hear from y'all. What are your creative goals for the new year? Are you planning on learning a new skill? What kind of things would you like to see from Citrus and Mint this year?
Here's to a focused 2015!