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According to "Run Keeper" I have not done anything since April 8th and its right.  I tend to be one of those all or nothing people and exercising has defiantly followed that trend.  I was jogging 3 mi/day six days a week but when things start getting overwhelming or I can't fit anything else into the day, its the first thing to go.  I started panicking about how much there was to do in order to get ready for Surtex and then got caught up in the flood, coincidentally I hadn't done a single blog post since then either.

I have never liked exercise, even when I was at my fitness peak.  Its always been a chore.  All I see are posts from people about their love for running or yoga or whatever, 5 mi, 10 mi, half and full marathon runners.  It can't be that bad, but for me it really is!  The thought of strapping on shoes to go somewhere to sweat and basically ensure I don't get back to my work for at least an hour puts me in a tissy.  I know I need to, and I know its good for my body and mind and probably my over anxious nature, but I assure you it is the LAST possible thing I want to be doing.  So after a week or so of thinking about it again, I finally put my jogging attire on rather than clothes when I got up to take S to camp.

"Today's the day" I thought, I'll get back into this routine, get back to eating better, feeling better.  I got my ear buds and phone and water bottle and finally got on the treadmill.  Treadmill, you say?  Yes, its been the only thing I can keep up effectively.  I like graphs and charts and input devices.  I like that I can know how long I jogged or how far and how many calories.  It takes me a solid 3-4 months to loose a single pound so I need SOMETHING to track!  I started it up, started walking and the belt was skipping or sticking or whatever it was doing.  CRAP.  What to do, what to do?

Normally, I suppose that would mean you put it off for another day, but "today's the day" and I had already posted that lovely photo of my shoes stating it as such!  Couldn't back out now so I went, oh my gosh, OUTSIDE!  There is a reason I am an indoor jogger.  I don't get beeped at or rained on or keep pace with the recycling truck.  I didn't even know what to do with a house key, or my phone and there was defiantly not going to be water on this journey (as you can tell, I'm pampered when I work out).  Half way in, I got a call from work, so spent the next half briskly walking while talking to a perspective new hire.  I know multi tasking is not recommended when you work out but at this point I'm sure my face was florescent red anyway.  

In any case.  I made it home, wet and tired, with nothing concrete to show except for some sandy shoes.  The precious three hours I had at home without my daughter have been filled by some sort of exertion, a shower and this blog post, but I know myself too well and I always can draw up the energy to push myself to do art at night,  not so much for the exercise.  I will never be one of those people who will love to work out or do themed runs on my weekends.  It is hard for me and it takes me away from the work I want to do, but I know it has to be done.  So today, I started, as I have so many times before and I hope beyond hope, Joe can fix what ever is broken on that darn treadmill!


The Great Juggling Act

Every day I am more than one thing at any given time.  I am a mom, a design assistant and office manager, an optician, a business owner, a wife, a homemaker, and an artist.  I manage the schedules of not only myself but those of my daughter and an interior designer including all the moving parts that come into play.  I am incredibly fortunate to have all these bits and pieces be somewhat flexible.  I am able to run to pick up my daughter from camp in the middle of the work day or work on an assignment while I am home with her for the summer but the downside is that I'm constantly two people, never getting to focus on one thing.  This also means I'm bringing my daughter to my day job and setting her up with crafts and my ipad for the afternoon.  It means dragging my giant bag of art supplies to work at an ity bity table, to fit painting for a deadline while I take her to lessons and sports.  It means having her practice violin next to me at the computer while I layout submissions.  Most of all, it means staying up every night to work while my family sleeps, foregoing my own rest to fit my dream job in.  I used to cook more, clean more, work on home projects.  I used to hang out and watch tv at night or make dinners that used more than 3 ingredients, but these are sacrifices that you need to make when changing directions and careers.

I have wonderful parents who enable me to work by watching my daughter.  A husband who works to provide us with insurance.  A daughter who is one of those incredible children who can sit and focus on a single activity for hours at a time.  All of these things allow me to do what I am doing and I am grateful.  I have been performing this self imposed juggling act for almost three years now and even though it is difficult I have kept myself motivated.  The thing that brings it all down is when I am told I am not doing enough.  I'm not a good enough mother or wife.  I need to be at work more or find more hours.  I need to get brand new art in overnight or when I'm lucky, two days.  I am doing the best that I can but sometimes it isn't enough.

The truth is, my art business, the thing I have always dreamed of doing, is going well.  Work is coming in, money is coming in, I can see the possibility of this becoming my full time income and it's so exiting.  But as the workload increases in that area, and despite the attempts to reduce my involvement in others, I'm not there yet.  I have never asked anyone to support me while I followed my dream, never asked that a single bill be paid, or dropped any of the things I had been responsible for before I began.  What I do ask is for a little understanding rather than being told that I take on too much.  I agree that it is a choice that I have too much on my plate but the only thing which is remotely optional is my art career and I just don't see that as a choice anymore.

It is hard for those around me to watch these changes.  On the surface, of course everyone wants me to do well and make this switch, but the reality of what that means is much harder to support.  No one likes it when you change; when the way they are used to having you isn't the same.  Its hard for me too, but I have the motivation of my goals to keep me going.  I wish I had a clear answer as to when things will get easier, when it will be time to put something down, but I don't.  What I can see is that I'm so much further than I was at this time last year and that's a good thing.  So the great juggling act continues as it does for so many artist/mother/business owners out there! I know I'm in some good company!  




Some Girls Save for Shoes, I Save for Ad Space

More Surtex prep underway!  It it utterly unbelievable to me just how much there is to do for this show.  This is my second year and somehow its been more overwhelming than last year!  Is it because I simply discovered more things to do?  Or is it because I've made the same things more complicated?  Sometimes I think its just the anxiety of wanting to do everything better, one-up myself if you will.  I just designed my ads for this year which was difficult because I was actually happy with the ad I did last year.  I think I'm still adjusting to this whole licensing world where you need to be new all the time.  In illustration, my portfolio seemed to be relevant for longer, now I feel like I should have a whole new one for this show.  In truth, I am adding to core collections I premiered last year but I'm still left wondering if I've done enough.

I tried to use some of the same elements and feel from my last year's ad but changed up the imagery.  I'm going to need to do this as well with my post cards that I will give away but I haven't tackled that one yet!   When I exhibited last year my budget was very limited and although not a whole lot has changed, I have a bit more of an idea of the true costs of exhibiting, so I planned to increase my advertising budget for this year. 

I learned pretty quickly, however, there is no way to increase your budget slowly.  I will be doubling my spending this year by adding a second publication and will increase it by another 60% as I plan to add a third next year.  Its enough to make your head spin but as I look around I see artists consistently advertising in at least 4-5 publications, and they do it every year.  Does all this advertising pay off?  I can't say I have any hard evidence to that effect but I look to others in the industry, veterans and newbies, and my feeling is that is IS worth it. 

Luckily the rates seem to be pretty consistent so it is something you can plan for.  Some girls save their pennies for shoes, I just happen to save them for ad space!  I am a saver not a spender but this is one area I don't feel guilty about spending on.  I just decided to take a third ad out (which is yet to be designed!) because of a unexpected last minute offer.  Is it a stretch?  Absolutely!  But I figure I will just need to work an extra day or two and cut back on something else to make it work.  I don't believe in spending money that you don't have in hand, especially when entering into a new field.  There is nothing more stressful than putting these things on credit cards and then "HAVING" to make them pay off.  I do feel, with no hesitation, that I am truly pursuing what my intended path has always been, so investing in the things that will help me in that journey is money well spent. 

It's kind of ironic that I roll my eyes at the price of jeans, something I might wear everyday and then drop $500 on something as intangible as ad space;  I suppose it all comes down to priorities.  We choose how we spend our money as well as our time and what is important, is that at the end of the day, neither feels wasted.  I'm thrilled to have a number of non-Surtex projects off my plate this week so I can really concentrate on the things I have left (booth design, mailers, press kits, portfolio, new collections, etc.)  A very full few weeks are ahead but it's going to be great to go back!


Kid's Choice Awards 

Every year my daughter loves to watch the Kid's Choice Awards and this year we've invited a friend over for a little viewing party.  We've been brainstorming food and decoration ideas over at Pinterest, picked out green and orange outfits, and created a Vote Tracking Sheet to fill out while they watch.  My daughter is a list maker so she was all over this one!  I just love how involved they feel because their votes are deciding something.  I know its only for entertainment but its a nice concept to pass on.  Feel free to download and print!  You can fill out your choices before the show then circle the winners as they are reveled.  Enjoy the show!



Wall Decal Cabinet Reface

Refacing, using wall decals, is a very easy and temporary way to update the look of furniture.  Its a great idea for kid's rooms and baths since they are easy to install AND easy to remove and change.  I had this piece of hand-me-down Ikea that had started to yellow a bit from age and it's been given new life with what is essentially just a big sticker!

The best type of furniture to used these on is something which has flat panels or slab front drawers.  Ikea or the inexpensive storage cabinets sold at Target and Lowes are really ideal but I'm sure anything that has a low or no profile will work too. 


Measure the face of your full cabinet and cut your wall decal 1/2" larger than those dimensions.

Remove all your hardware or if you don't have any hardware, drill the holes for that now.  One of the biggest things you can do to these cheaper cabinets is to replace any provided hardware with nicer pieces.  You can usually get heavier weight pieces at your local hardware store for $3-$5 a piece and you'd be amazed at all the ways you can change the look.  

Give your whole piece a good scrubbing.  The wall decals will pick up everything that is on the face and because you are covering it, even a spec of dirt will end up looking like a bubble 5x as large.  Once it is clean and dry you will be ready to apply your decal.

Peel off your decal's backing (a second set of hands is helpful) and position over the entire piece.  Start with the top and work your way down the center then out to the edges smoothing the best you can.  It does not need to be perfect at this point.  One of the nice things about the decals is you can pull them up and reposition them several times until you get it right.  

Once you have the sticker fairly well positioned take an exacto knife with a new blade and make cuts between any of the openings to the drawers and drawers.  Again, things don't need to be perfect, this is just to separate all your pieces.  Once all your doors and drawers are independent from each other, work your way through each of the surfaces, smoothing any bubbles out to the edges.  A credit card is a great tool for this.  

If you notice that you have a bit of dirt trapped under the decal, just peel it back part way, clear it off and reposition it down again.  When the decal is flattened fully, use the edges of the drawer/door as your guide to trim any over hanging material.  Again, make sure you are using a sharp blade so you get clean cuts.  A dull blade can lead to feathering or uneven edges.

Once you have repeated this process for each of the pieces including the face of your frame, you can go back and find the pre drilled holes for your hardware.  You will want to cut the material by inserting your exacto in a "x" shape.  Because the decal material is more of a plastic this will help the screws make it through without pulling the decal away from the cabinet face.  

Reattach your hardware  and enjoy your new piece!

There are so many great wall decals available or you can design your own.  Spoonflower has thousands of unique designs but you will want to order their wallpaper not the decals.  It is the same material but the wallpaper comes 24" x 144" while the decals only go up to 30" x 30".  I chose to design my own since I was able to size my needed decal to the nearest inch.  I used Red Tag Print Sale and was very happy with their quality, speed and pricing.

A piece which I always thought I'd replace at some point has now become my favorite studio addition!