Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Whimsical Contemporary Folk Art by Robin + Leaving "Conventional" Art Gig to Etsy Success

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Have you stumbled upon an art piece that seizes your heart with the bittersweet pain of nostalgia? This was my soul's reaction to the witty whimsy of Robin's crafts in Raw Bone Studio. The deliberate handmade appeal, iconic indie imagery and saturated hues took me right back to my early days of crafting and selling creations in a similar (albeit, far less sophisticated) style. Robots, Mexican sugar skulls, horror, and kitsch...what's not to love? Luckily, Robin agreed to answer some questions about her successful transition from professional artist to Etsy craftswoman!

1. Thanks for agreeing to this interview Robin, please tell us a little about yourself!

Thanks for inviting me! I live in southern California with my husband and teenage son. I’ve been a maker of things my whole life; from troll doll clothes to pop-art jewelry to my current embroidered felt pieces. In college, I studied graphic design and started my career as an advertising art director.



2. Did taking former training in graphic design and art direction clash with your self-taught designing ways?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I mostly work in 2D because that is what I was taught. 3D remains daunting. Sometimes I wish I could just dive-in and explore more like a true untrained folk artist, but that little voice is always whispering “but will it sell?”. On the other hand, I love the creative process of making something that is potentially marketable. Graphic Design taught me to refine ideas through trial and error, and it remains a thrilling process. 

3. How did you start a career in art direction? What were some pros and cons?

I went to art school because I loved making things. But I didn’t think I could make a living making things. My art school also had classes in Graphic Design and Art Direction so I went that route. I learned how to work hard and solve problems creatively, which is a huge pro. The con was brainwashing people into consuming things they didn’t need or want. My last ad was to sell non-fat yogurt to 12-year-old girls. That’s why I quit.


4. Oh, that's truly insidious. I applaud you for taking your integrity and starting your own creative business. You say you're a lifelong scavenger and crafter; I 1000% relate to that, sounds like my childhood! What are a couple of favorite scavenged or thrifted finds?

High five to you soul sista! The best find was a huge box of wool felt for $5, which got me started on the whole embroidery thing. I also found an oil painting of a young boy from the 50’s who looks exactly like my son did at the time. The portrait boy looks around 5 years old and that was my son’s age when I found it. It was eerie and scared my son so much I couldn’t hang it. But now I torture him with it. 

The better to scare your children with! Be good or "portrait you" will take your place! Scaring children is a family tradition going back generations for my family, too.

5. Threading colorful floss through neon felt is my happy place too, I love that graphic hand-crafted look it results. Lucky you the $5 wool felt score! How did Rawbone Studio get its start?

It was that box of wool felt! I started making embroidered sugar skulls for fun, and absolutely loved the process. I had known about Etsy but thought too many people were already selling on that venue. That was back in 2009 and when I searched for “hand embroidered sugar skulls” and nothing came up, I thought maybe I could find a niche for myself. A friend nicknamed me Rawbone (Robin) and I thought that could be a catchy name for branding my sugar skulls. So that’s how it started.


6. What were your biggest challenges starting out, and how did you overcome them?

Pricing is my hardest challenge and I still haven’t mastered it. I hired a consultant who gave me the golden rule of pricing and I still fall short. Here’s the rule: First, come up with an hourly rate you MUST have. How long (to the minute) does it take to make each item? How much (to the penny) is the material cost per item? Take your hourly rate and times it by the minutes/hours it takes to make one item and that becomes your labor cost. Add the labor cost to the materials cost and times that number by three. That should be your wholesale price. Double your wholesale price and that should be your retail price. NO CHEATING! If you can’t sell your item for that price you shouldn’t be making or selling that item or you will lose money. Everyone forgets that they have to pay taxes, rent, insurance, research & development, marketing, production tools, computer, electricity, phone, etc.

"First, come up with an hourly rate you MUST have. How long (to the minute) does it take to make each item? How much (to the penny) is the material cost per item?"

7. Totally agree with all of that. Working out your prices and labor isn't easy, but it's essential to be successful! Was your art directing / graphic design background an asset? Your brand has a very clean, streamlined, consistent playful folkiness that I absolutely love.

Thank you kindly for the compliments. Yes my professional background has been a huge asset, especially with marketing and branding myself. I also learned how to hold myself to a high standard because I was exposed to a lot of critical criticism in a professional environment. That’s important for us makers because our egos often get in the way of believing in ourselves, or thinking we’re too awesome to change. My style is my personality. I love to laugh, I love nostalgia, and I don’t take myself too seriously.


8. What's your advice for anyone else that wants to be successful on Etsy?

Using online venues to sell handmade products means you have to wear a lot of hats and be really good wearing all of them. You have to make something that people want to buy, figure out how to make your items as beautifully and efficiently as possible, update things as needed, and stay in love with the process. You need to write well, photograph like a professional, master social media, and take care of your customers along with thousands of small details every single day. Educate yourself as much as you can about everything to do with all of the above. Use forums wisely and don’t listen to complainers. Plan to work hard and follow through. There are no shortcuts.


9. How about advice for anyone who wants a career in art direction or graphic design?

You have to love, love, love it or it will eat you. Also, the skills you learn will probably benefit you throughout your life.


10. Can you name a few of your top design influences and/or muses?

Artists that move me:
Alexander Calder, Isidro Ferrer, Saul Steinberg, Mari Andrews, Adriana Torres of Miga de Pan, Sophie Digard, Sandra Eterovic, Mano Kellner

Blogs that are eye-opening:

I really appreciate the muse readings, us fellow creators can't get enough inspiration or tips from successful makers! This interview with Robin was a beautiful reminder for me to get back to my crafty roots and to tighten up my new brand. Robin's right, there are no short-cuts, you have to do the un-colorful stuff like calculating your wholesale and retail prices, but the independence of being your own artist (and not being paid to peddle harmful messages!) is worth all the work.

Check out Robin's beautiful wares on Etsy. I'm saving up to place a few orders, so many things I must have in that shop!
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, June 27, 2016

DIY Gemstone Wall Art: Turn A Plastic Shopping Bag into a Large Wall Hanging

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Do you collect random odd free things just because you like the design? A cocktail napkin here, free lighter there? Bottle caps, perhaps? If you're afflicted with magpie-designer-artist-brain you can't help it. On my recent trip to the gorgeous Black Market Minerals in St. Augustine I asked if I could have an extra one of their small plastic shopping bags so I could turn it into art print. (After asking if they had prints of their own to purchase, of course.) I thought I'd share my process for turning the object into a print on the wall for my fellow magpies. Use it for vintage bottle caps or anything else you'd like enlarged.


First I took a picture of my shopping bag and opened it in Photoshop Elements 12. I didn't worry about making sure the lighting was perfect right since I knew I'd use a few quick clicks to fix the white balance and edit away the bag's wrinkles. The image is a massive RAW format photo at 5184 x 3456 pixels because I knew I wanted a large print so the resolution needed to be 300 DPI or higher.



From there I hit "Command + L" and the white dropper icon (highlighted in the pop-up window on the left) and clicked on the white on the bag  in a couple of spots until the background was smooth and solid white.


From there I did a small color tweak and drew lines to fix the white line across top of the design created by the crease in the shopping bag.


I submitted the final file (2856 x 3161 pixels at 600 dpi) to Office Depot for a 16x20 print, the smallest poster size mine had available. It fit perfectly in an old frame I already had. The dark brown didn't work with the thick black outline of the design so I sprayed it with two coats of Krylon Cover Maxx Ultimate Coverage in Black / Matte to make the final result exactly as I'd envisioned it the moment I saw the shopping bag.


The design is my current muse, I love the matt black and white of the print and the retro feel of the design. Try this project for anything you'd love to enlarge, it's so fun to have a gorgeous print that makes an impact on your wall after the press of a camera shutter and a few computer clicks!
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stephanie's Bus Home + Tips for Fulfilling, Creative Living in Nature, On Your Terms

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Who doesn't dream of leaving all their worries (debt, mortgage, excess clutter) behind for the simple life? A life with minimal modern distractions, where your creativity is nurtured by the beauty of the surrounding nature. A life where you're completely in control of your environment; comfortable and cozy? Stephanie (who blogs at Compass & Hatchet) made this life for herself when she converted a school bus into an artsy abode and parked it on an organic farm. She's sharing her experience making her dream bus home and providing some tips on how to follow you dreams like she did.



You make your living as an organic farmer, can you tell us a bit about the farm and Rainshadow Growers Collective?

We started the collective as a way to work together with our neighbours and not compete with all the same produce. We live a ways away from a few of the markets we were attending, so joining forces meant saving on fuel and sharing the burden of driving. The farm where I live goes by the name Fluster Cluck. It's exactly how you would imagine it judging by the name. There is always an abundance of life, people, dogs. It can be crazy sometimes, and difficult to navigate socially, just like living with a big family. But it's absolutely beautiful here. 

What are the biggest pros and cons of working as an organic farmer?

The biggest pro in growing your own organic food, is eating fresh organic food. Feeding your friends and community healthy produce that you know is free of pesticides. I would say that a Con to being a farmer is how much time it takes, and how you can't leave the garden on it's own. It's hard to be a successful farmer and still have a life that is full of lazy weekends and road trips.


You live in a dreamy, envious converted school bus. (Awesomely named "Tusk"!) When and why did you make the decision to do this?

I have always day dreamed about making a home in a bus ( or a van, or a boat, or a... crashed airplane... ) A home inside of a something that wasn't originally intended to be a home is like the ultimate fort, and what really is the greatest aspiration of being an adult? Doing the things you always dreamt of doing when you were a kid, and having no one to tell you no. 

When I moved to the farm, I realized quickly that having roommates wasn't my style. I wanted a place that was all mine. The bus was an obvious answer, a fun project and a child hood dream fort come true. 

Do you live in Tusk year around or is it on/off?

Currently Tusk, is a three season home. It's just too cold in the winter, even with the wood stove, since I haven't altered it at all, besides cosmetically. I could add insulation, do the floors, cover some of the windows, but I love the way it's looks and feels as it is, and it gives me an excuse to spend the winters away.


What was the hardest part about converting Tusk into a home?

I wouldn't say that any part of it was hard, only time consuming or tedious. Like I mentioned I really didn't do too much  to it, besides the cosmetics. The floor was the least fun. Chipping away the linoleum from the plywood. But it turned out to be the most defining feature of my space, so I am really happy I did it. 

How about the easiest part?

The easiest part I suppose was acquiring the bus. I thought it would be difficult to find one in my price range ( which was basically $0 ) but I put the word out and found one almost right away.


What's your favorite thing about Tusk-living?

Waking up in the morning with the sun, how it feels like I am camping most of the time, seeing all the stars at night. Just being closer to nature. That it's not a conventional home satisfies a rebellious need to not "conform". I can make a life that looks how ever I want it to look, and it makes me feel humbled, very fortunate and full of gratitude. 

If I can ask, how much did the bus initially cost, and what does it cost monthly to live in it?

I bought the bus for $1400. I got a really good deal from a friend who was using it for storage. Putting it together I used lots of used materials and end or warped wood from a wood lot near by to keep the cost down. I contribute money towards the farm and property bills monthly to have it parked here.


Any ingenious storage solutions to share for would-be mico home livers?

Baskets and Rubbermade Totes. Best ever. 

You have such a good eye, I love the interior design of Tusk, what was your inspiration for the final look?

I didn't have one solid inspiration for the final look, I just wanted all the things I loved in one space. I actually  don't think there is a final look because I am constantly moving things around, adding and subtracting colours and textiles as they inspire or bore me. I love eclectic collections, lived in spaces, and artist's studios, but I also function best in a space where things are kept tidy and minimal. I pendulum swing between these two moods, and the outcome is my design aesthetic.



Have you taken Tusk on any road trips?

Only the road trip to the farm, before I converted it. She does run, but I would say that Tusk isn't the ideal road trip bus. First off she is too big for one girl and one dog. She is slow, and has air breaks which I don't have a licence to drive. I love that I can take her with me anywhere I move, but I would much prefer to take road trips in my truck.


What are your tips for would be micro home livers?

I guess just be prepared to liberate yourself from possessions. Stuff begins to feel like the enemy when you live in a small space.  Plus it feels really good to let things go.


I completely agree, I love to let things go at every chance! How about tips for making a living as a farmer and/or creative?

Don't give up? It's not easy to step away from 9-5's and feel secure. But it is possible, especially if you decrease cost of living by requiring less and growing your own food.


Thank you so much for sharing your tips and experiences with us Stephanie, you're an inspiration and your bus home is incredible!
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Massive Productivity Improvement #2: 80/20 Rule, Less Doing, More Living

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You want to live more and work less, it's a universal goal. Who doesn't want to more of their energy into family, fun, and self-improvement time-- if only they had the energy left after work ? As a self-employed creative, it's too make your work hours stretch from sunrise to sunset, but that's actually far less productive than having optimized, automated, outsourced work days. Here are some tips I gleaned on the "80/20" rule from Ari Meisel on spending 20% of your energy on work and the remaining 80% on rest, wellness and self-improvement.


1. Align your work with improving yourself and you'll be investing in yourself.

This does double duty with your time and energy. When I wanted to learn how to make delicious gourmet raw vegan food I talked to the owner of a local raw vegan caterer and got a job making it. Later I'd teach the skills learned at a holistic health school where I'd work behind-the-scenes in marketing. I'm always scouring Craigslist and local businesses of my interest for the next work-learning opportunity.

2. Automate & Outsource.

Automate and outsource tasks whenever possible so you can spend more time on the important tasks, not busy work. Review your tasks for the day frequently to determine what else you could automate or delegate.

3. Customize.

Always work at finding more efficient solutions to problems to save time and energy. If you can't find specific money saving tools made (like a slicer that cuts 7 pie pieces at once if you're a baker) have them custom-made.

I use homemade photo backdrops to batch my blog photo-taking.

4. Identify your work biorhythms. 

Working at your peak optimal time increases productivity by 100 to 200 percent! When do you feel most focused and energized to work? For many people it's your first couple of waking hours, whenever it is, work hard doing those hours to maximize productivity.

5. Batch Similar Activities. 

According to Ari and other neurologists, switching from tasks to task is not multi-tasking, multi-tasking doesn't truly exist. (*Upon reading this I look the half-finished projects on my desk from my stubborn refusal to always attempt "multi-tasking" and sigh with resignation.*) Instead, energy is used far more effectively if we complete similar projects together in batches. Again for the baking analogy, this is pouring all your chocolate molds at the same time. If you're a painter, you're prepping multiple canvases with gesso at the same time, like an assembly line worker.

Random Yuko photo-outtakes. As I type this she's sitting on my notes looking at me. She's one of THOSE cats.

6. No Errand Running.

Minimize errand running. Keep a good inventory and have your supplies delivered before you're out, or delegate the task.

7. Set Time Limits.

Figure out what you need to do and make it happen within a limited time frame so you can spend your energy on things other than dragging on that work.

See Also: Massive Productivity Improvement #2: Three Goals Per Week. Three Tasks Per Day.

I love Ari's practical 80/20 and Less Doing/More Living rules. For many of creatives automating, outsourcing, delegating and giving up multi-tasking are particularly difficult tasks, but they're essential for freeing up more energy for self-development and wellness. I'm going to keep using my timer and attempting to stay focused on ONE task at a time, I hope you try some of these tips and free up some "work" energy so you have more "fun' energy, too.
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Thrifters Around The World: Fashionista Kaelyn's Adventures Thrifting in Hong Kong

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It's been a little while since we chatted with another thrifter from an exotic locale, so I was glad to work on one when Kaelyn offered to share her thrifting adventures. Kaelyn, a fashion-lover and thrifter from Malaysia, works and thrifts in Honk Kong. She blogs here at Colorful Buttons.

This shop is from a thrifting adventure Kaelyn had in Seoul, Korea.

Tell us a little bit about yourself please, Kaelyn!
Originally from Malaysia, I have been living and working in Hong Kong for nearly 4 years. I love traveling, looking for ‘treasures’ in flea markets, vintage-shopping and sewing.

When and why did you start thrifting?
I think started when I was studying in the university in Penang, Malaysia. I love to visit ‘Jumbo sales’ or charity sales. If I remember correctly, I bought a Mr. Bean teddy bear and several patterns (circa 1980s) from SPCA charity sale which I volunteered to man a stall. However, when I started working, I did not visit many charity sales. When I was studying part time course in fashion and dressmaking, I met one of my closest friends and she introduced vintage to me upon her return from her studies in Paris. From there onwards, I began to look for thrift stores and flea markets in the city or neighbourhood. [sic]


Few reasons why I love thrifting; price – it’s reasonable and cheap, one of a kind – some items are unique and hard to come by nowadays and playing part to help to save the environment (in a bigger picture).

Where do you live and what's thrifting like in your area?
Currently I am living in Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Sometimes the community organizes flea markets. There are Salvation Army’s thrift stores in different parts of Hong Kong. I checked couple of the thrift stores and these stores sell a variety of items from household items to clothes.


What do you think makes thrifting in Hong Kong different than thrifting in the United States or other places in the world?
Hong Kong is a slightly different market in the sense that majority of the people do not like used items and prefer new items. However there is the minority who does not mind used items and shop at thrift stores and flea markets. I would say foreigners and some local people would shop at thrift stores and flea markets.


Due to high cost of rental, the prices in thrift stores are not very cheap in Hong Kong. In Malaysia, I can find items in a thrift stores within the price of USD0.24 to USD10 but in Hong Kong, the prices are within USD0.10 to USD20.

What are the names for "thrifting" in The Korea Hong Kong? Any special nick names?
I don’t think there is any special nick name besides buying ‘secondhand’ items.


Is there a large thrifting/junking/second-hand shopping culture where you live?
Where I live, I would say it is relatively large because the community organizes flea markets at least twice in a year; one in summer, one in autumn or near Christmas.

Is there a stigma against second-hand shopping in your area?
Not really.

Are there any flea markets near you? What are they like?
Yes but only twice in a year. It is rather small with less than 15 stalls. It is a mixed of stall selling food items, wine, jewelry and stall selling used items from books, CDs, DVDs, bags, shoes to clothes.



Are there many dumpster divers and curb-side hunters in Korea Hong Kong?
I don’t think so.

Is there a large thrift and craft culture where you're at?
In general in Hong Kong, thrift is not a large culture here. Not too sure about craft culture; but I have seen some shops selling DIY project items such as beads, chains, tool for jewelry making etc.

It's the same way where my family is from, my family in Puerto Rico doesn't understand thrifting and the craft culture is very slowly on the rise. What are thrift stores like in your area?
The stores sell a variety of used items such as household items, books, clothes, bags, shoes, accessories etc. Sometimes, there are items donated by some organizations. The items are nicely and tidily placed on shelves.



What are you and the other thrifts usually on the prowl for in the thrifts?
For me mainly clothes, shoes and books, sometimes knick knacks.

Do you have any thrifted collections?
A small collection of vintage purses – tapestry and beaded. Some knickknacks.


Thanks so much for reading out to share your Hong Kong thrifting adventures with us! If anyone else would like to be featured e-mail me.

Where in the world would you like to thrift? Or visit? I'm jealous of the travels I saw in Kaelyn's archives!
For daily updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Eye Attended 2 North Florida Prince Parties and Eye Liked Them. Some Photos 4 U.

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United in fandom, I joined fellow Prince fans at two humid, sultry "Prince Parties" - one was a lush free concert at Hemming Park in downtown Jacksonville, another a beach community gathering. Steamy summer days in North Florida often mean rain, but if the droplets fell we all hoped they'd be Purple. The only rain we heard was the lyrics in the music, and both nights were magical.


At both shows I watched evening turn to night, blissfully listening to amazing Prince covers. The Hemming Park show had different bands perfectly suited to the variety of styles Prince bought to music.


The only solo female singer, a perfect fit for the quivering, pained falsetto in Prince's "The Beautiful Ones."

They hit each note without a hitch; Rock, Funk, R&B, Experimental Psychedelia, Soul Searching Ballads enveloped us, hit our hearts, and made us cheer.


The denouement of each show, of course, was The Song, Purple Rain.

They truly went Crazy for the finale, hit song after another, perfectly blended and culminating in the always crowd-pleasing Purple Rain.

Each time it bought down the house. At Hemming Park they extended the ending, the crowd joined in, some taking the stage to coo the haunting final vocals into the microphone.


It was wonderful to be surrounded by fans, listening to the early birds chat about the little-known facts and trivia. The MC told personal Prince stories between each performance, performers talked about Prince being the muse that inspired their entire careers.


For one night even the trees, like many of the fans in attendance, were purple.


I was disappointed that my mom, the super fan that along with my dad had be hooked on Prince with lifelong listening, couldn't attend the amazing free concert downtown. I dragged her nearly kicking and screaming over an hour away out to The Surf for the second Prince Party.


I didn't realize this fund-raising party would come with several raffles, your normal ticket qualifies and the prizes were amazing. I eyed the "Free beach motel and dinner" stay. Hard. I needed that, somehow I felt like it was already mine.


This time we had a one man show, but an extremely talented one. Prince's music is so funky even acoustic covers were danceable. His trademark with intentionally reductive, minimal compositions (When's Dove Cry is striking and memorable because the base-line-less stark minimalism) make songs like Kiss, Alphabet Street or Cream sound amazing on guitar.


*The Post title a reference to the way Prince wrote Eye, 2, and 4 for those not in the know...

I didn't win the most expensive raffle price, an INCREDIBLE white and purple beach cruiser donated to the cause, but I did win that beach motel and dinner stay at The Surf!


And then my camera ran out of batteries, cutting these amazing vocals short. I wish there were records of every song, everyone did an amazing job.

It was a lucky win because we almost didn't put the other half of our tickets in the raffle bucket. I'm packing up now and getting ready to go out and explore Fernandina Beach and claim our room and grub!

Many of the fans missed an opportunity to see Prince perform live, or maybe find some way to send a note and let him know how much his work touched us. However, I'm grateful I got to see these live shows and join music lovers in both morning and celebration. I keep reading tributes with a common theme, Prince as a person and in his music reminded us that life was short. His lyrics told us to Go Crazy, enjoy it, live it to the fullest. I've been taking that lesson to heart every day since his passing.

Let's Go Crazy (Listen)


Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called "life"

Electric word, life
It means forever and that's a mighty long time
But I'm here to tell you
There's something else
The afterworld

A world of never ending happiness
You can alway see the sun, day, or night

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything'll-Be-Alright
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind, baby

'Cause in this life
Things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life
You're on your own

And if the elevator tries to bring you down
Go Crazy (Punch a higher floor!)
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Need a Creative-Maker Confidence Boost? Accomplishment Creative Exercise To Try

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Creatives are often cursed with scanner-brain and/or mild to severe ADHD. It's how the creative beast works, it needs input, new experiences and stimulation to get going. Do the right thing and feed it and you can easily end up with overwhelm or a lost feeling. How should you proceed? Who am I? What do I want to be when I grow up? These questions can bother us for a lifetime and kill our confidence. The confusing and insecurity comes with a vicious inner critic that tells us we'll never accomplish what we truly dream of in life.


Want to be a wildlife photographer? "You're not good enough for that and will never make it, there's too many photographers in the world, you'll starve to death." The inner critic says. The inner critic may be voices from concerned family, friends, or former bosses. We're taught to be humble and "realistic."

Take the photo above for instance. I desperately want to delete it and feel embarrassed showing a couple of my creative rewards. But looking back on your accomplishments can be a huge confidence booster. And being a full-time creative person is brutal. We need all the confidence we can get.

There's a simple exercise that can help clear up that clutter and help you get your courage back. You ready with a pen to participate? Let's do it, it's easy. 

Do This: Write down every single time you've received an award or felt proud and accomplished in your life.

Think hard on it, and really list every single thing, no matter how banal or minor it seems. Did you win a spelling bee in 2nd grade? Write it. Were you particularly proud of a crayon drawing you worked hard on in kindergarden? Write it.

When I finished my list every accomplishment was related to writing, photography or art. It made me feel less lost, like I really was moving in the right direction. It encouraged me to keep going the route I'm going, to add more to the list into the future. I won't share every example on my list here but here's a particularly funny one I almost forgot about, this list was an entertaining trip down memory lane!:

I was late to school one day, senior year. It was AP World History class. When I arrived at the door I heard something like, "Hey, Vanessa's at the door, hey, everyone, let's..." and there was a suspicious hush over the class. When I cautiously cracked open the door (probably expecting to get chewed out for tardiness) the whole class erupted into applause. They explained the the teacher read a comic I drew on the back of our test on ancient Greece aloud to the class, it was "so funny" most classmates were in tears. I would occasionally answer test questions in comic form. The question was, "How did Greeks help stop wars with the Persians?" and I drew a same sex Persian/Greek wedding with a lecherous Greek and a distressed Persian. Graphic detail. Use your imagination. I nearly forgot about that day. I used to get told I was hilarious regularly by classmates and readers of past websites. It makes me feel good I have that potential in me to be hysterical or even entertaining with writing and comics. Gotta bring it back out!
And another semi-embarrassing one from middle school. Oh the tales I could tell you about the infamy of "the twins"!:
I started middle school after the nuclear fallout my brothers (twins, 5 years older than me) left in their wake. The faculty told us that no one had ever become popular as quickly as my tall, beautiful brothers. A novelty act, two for one! I was "Harold and Ray's sister" and got tired of hearing it. I complained to my mom and she said one day I'd be recognized for being me, "the smart one". In 8th grade I won a city-wide essay contest, my Principle was ecstatic because our D-rated school that sorely needed good PR. My English teacher cried. Soon after I was stopped in the hall by someone and was anticipating the typical "Aren't you Harold and Ray's sister?" comment but instead she asked, "Aren't you the girl who on the computer?" I'd made my mark.
The two stories of seemingly irrelevant school-age accomplishments above make me feel so much lighter and happier. Behind-the-scenes I'm an extremely brutal self-critic and the accomplishment list exercise helped shut out the negative voices. What a reprieve to silence them for once; refreshing as a like a sudden relief from a nagging pain.

Pay special attention to your early school years when you write your list, this is when possibilities seemed endless. These are the years we're more in touch with our true wants and desires, before we're told creative pipe dreams were unrealistic. Look at all you were able to accomplish, and remember you can still do that now. I hope this exercise gives you the confidence to work toward any of your creative aspirations every day.

I hope you try this exercise no matter what, you may be surprised by the results!
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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Retro 1:8 and More Online Vintage Shopping Options: Where do you Hunt for Vintage?

I've taken a long thrifting hiatus, but I feel I'll soon be ready to hunt for vintage for the permanent collection again. Not quite yet, but soon. (Soon!) It's still hard to adjust to hunting for FUN and not for reselling, or not to impulse buy. That's why vintage shopping online (for collectors) is actually a decent option. The prices are right and you can find that particular item you seek without trough the thrift stores. Here are a few options I really like:


Retro 1:8 is run by a longtime reader and reseller pal. Jay's passion for vintage and retro finds and pop culture knowns no bounds and he's rounded up some beautiful collections. You can see him on Etsy as well.

Shop Whurl is a vintage shopping ap with high quality items from the 40s-90s. There's a lot from my favorite eras (60s-70s) and everything is high quality.

Rehab Vintage LA more of a dream source, but I love how they've curated everything. Gorgeous items!

Other Times Vintage Amazing mid century modern furniture. I'll take one of everything, please.

Shark Gravy More mid century modern furniture (I need furniture, can you tell? You should see how empty my house looks...) with a bonus, lots of gorgeous vintage rugs!

Not Made in China Finds Clever name, gorgeous photos. I love pretty much every single item in this shop. Now Vintage has similar photos and objects, I love a lot of the clothes in this shop.

Nostalgic Japan Japanese fabric patterns is a huge muse for me, and this shop is full of vintage pieces! I'll throw in La Kimonoya for amazing vintage kimono goodness!

If you have any vintage shops you love in particular (or want to let me know about your own, whether brick and mortar or online send me an e-mail). Retro 1:8 is a sponsor, but all opinions are my own. Contact me if you're interested in becoming a sponsor or working with me on creative projects.

/Comments Off But I'll be back on Friday. Out all day today for a graduation!
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Monday, June 6, 2016

Black Market Minerals Field Trip in Old Town Orlando, Florida: Gemstones & Retro Fun

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Do you remember the night before field trip day at school? The excitement that the reprieve from school bought, the magic of a blissful day away from the school-dungeon? I thought my field trip days were long over but my reiki and gem elixir classmates arranged a trip for us to Black Market Minerals in Old Town, Orlando, Florida. Complete with goofy neon matching t-shirts! How could I resist such kitschy fun?


Black Market Minerals is a geology or gemstone lover's Shangri La, and if you're lucky enough to vacation in Orlando, Florida or nearby you'd be remiss to leave this out of your itinerary. The prices were incredible, there was loads of gemstone necklaces, bracelets, and accessories in the $1.00 - $1.50 range that I've spent $4.50 - $15.00 locally in Jacksonville, Florida and online!


There were inexpensive rock lamps and a multitude of rocks and gems of all shapes and sizes.


The displays were more eclectic and color-filled than I hoped they would be. 


And yes, I did shamelessly ride along mostly so I could glean inspiration from the shapes and textures.


And take dozens of pictures. All the pictures.


I was tempted by these beautiful selenite wands. Quite a lovely display they had for them, no?


There's something so innately inspiring and relaxing about a display of rocks.


The best thing the store had to offer was the mineral mining bags. You buy a bag of sand, inside the sand are various gemstones. It's only $5.00 for the "small" bag.


Then you take it outside and sift out the minerals in the makeshift stream! 


You can see everyone in our group in our hot pink "rock on" shirts sifting out our minerals. 


We got some beauties.


I was surpsied by the size of the rocks they give you in the $5.00 bag. They're rough cut and low grade, but they're still beautiful and big pieces. 


(Also, dinosaur coin machine? What's not to love?)


I came home with a kawaii good luck maneki neko kitty from an anime shop in Old Town. (Why, yes, Old Town a kitschy attraction based on 1950s retro stuff, full of retro cars and signs, a rock shop, and an anime shop. And dinosaurs. I need to move in. I'll have more photos soon. You'll love it.)


Gorgeous gemstone bracelets at $1.00 each that I don't know if I can wear. They're poke-y! But they're at least  $4.50/each here so I couldn't resist. I got a little amethyst piece to surprise my niece.


And this little bear in a tea cup's from my mom. I liked how weird it was that it said "loneliness"! I love random Engrish and/or tiny teacup anything. And small stuff. But I go on about that in depth elsewhere.

All in all, a lovely if short trip. I will definitely be down to explore it more on the next Orlando Adventure.

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