Friday, May 3, 2013

Art So Small, It Fits In Your Mailbox

We've been talking all week about encouragement and why you should give some and get some and how we sent out handmade encouragement postcards to some creatives in need, so I figured it was high time we showcased some example of just how awesome postcards can be --

I give you . . . ALTERED POSTCARDS!!!

Check out some of the goodness: 

Made by daisy69778

Made by Mandy's Magical World of Art

Made by Susan LotusFlower
And there's a whole lot more where those came from here. Feeling inspired yet? I know I am! I'm going to finish up my postcards to mail out today -- what about you? Send pictures of your mini-artworks to, and we'll post them here. Can't wait to see what you make!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Take Five With Morgan Lee Kestner

Photo By: Hilary Mercer
Morgan Lee Kestner

Creative Specialties: 
Costume Design

Current Location: 
Los Angeles, CA

Mini Bio: 
Morgan is straight from Nashville Tennessee. Growing up she had her mom and grandmother teach her how to sew. From there Morgan knew that she wanted to be a designer. After college and 2 years in Atlanta, Morgan has resided in Los Angeles where she works on print and commercials.  She is working on her new lines and hopes to have it on display in 2014.


1) What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person?

Making a living at what I love to do. Obviously, this is an ongoing challenge but the fact that I have made this choice to do what I love over any other "safe" job has been my biggest challenge. Since embarking on this challenge, after 3 years I am finally hitting my stride. 

2) How do you cope with creative anxiety and societal expectations?

I workout and dance. I find that if I have some social interaction and do intense workouts it helps my mind release stress and thus be able to think clearer. 

3) Do you have a ritual way of preparing to create?

I love to walk the fabric district in downtown LA. Trips to Mood Fabrics (a must), glimpsing through magazines, and sketching. Coffee is always apart of this ritual. 

4) How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?

Save your money! I work freelance and it is inevitable that there will be slow months and busy months. You have to really figure out a budget for yourself. I limited all my outings for 3 months so I could save an emergency income supply for those dry months. 

5) What moment/place/time/setting lets you function to your fullest creative potential?

For me, its coffee, This American Life, music, clean space, and evenings. I am most productive around 3pm-10pm. 

If you want to check out some of Morgans work, check out her VIMEO page.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Up Up and Away -- Send an Encouragement Postcard Today!

This week, we've been talking about Encouragement - why, as creatives, we need it; why, as people, we should give it; and today, we're putting our words into actions and sending out those encouragement postcards we've been telling you about. Also, this:

Should you share this on someone's
wall today? Yeah you should.
Now I know, some of you are saying, "But wait! I wanted to get a postcard too!" Well, you're in luck. Email by Friday this week, and we'll get a handmade postcard in the mail to you right away.

In the meantime, do you know someone who would benefit from seeing that note on their wall today? Maybe you should send it on.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Encouragement: Just Ask

I have something to confess today -- and I'm still a little nervous about it.

But first, let's watch a video from the amazing people over at The Foundation for a Better Life.

Unfortunately, they don't allow embedding of their videos, but you can view it here!

Did you watch it?? I love that cheesy Hallmark stuff.

Yes, this is a commercial, but it's based on a real event. Think for a moment how AMAZING that kid must have felt. Taking a ginormous creative risk, and then not only not getting in trouble for it, but being actively encouraged and celebrated by a master pianist and an entire audience of concert-goers. I'm betting that kid grows up to be the next Rachmaninov, or another one of the guys on this list. Or maybe a guerrilla performance artist . . .

The point is, when we encourage someone to pursue their dreams, we're setting in motion a series of events fueled by positivity - positive thoughts, positive emotions, positive expectations. And that can lead to some really wonderful things, far beyond the scope of the initial encouragement.

This brings me back to my confession. Last night, I was trying to finally -- FINALLY -- send in an application to this totally amazing organization, after three weeks of hemming and hawing and struggling with the feeling that I just wasn't good enough. As an accountability measure, I sent up a flag on my Facebook page, telling people what I was doing and what I was afraid of, and what I hoped to accomplish. This is not something I normally  do - I prefer to let my problems figure themselves out, and then just report on the results. It's less messy that way, and leaves me feeling less vulnerable when I don't have to tell all my friends when something doesn't work out.

This time, however, I'm so very, very glad I did.

BAM! Just like that, the amazing Nancy Hankel (go read her blog, she's hilarious and awesome) and a book by Sheryl Sandberg gave me exactly the shot in the arm I needed -- why the heck shouldn't I apply??

With this in mind, I did send in my application. I have no idea how it's going to turn out -- but I do know that if I hadn't exposed myself just that little bit, I wouldn't have received the encouragement I needed. And if my friend hadn't taken that moment to cheer me on, I would be writing a very different story.

It's like Kadie wrote yesterday, encouragement is a two-way street. Sometimes you need it, sometimes someone else needs it. And if you can have to courage to express that need, or the generosity to see someone else's need and rise to the occasion, the world's going to see a lot more dreams pursued and fulfilled.


It's not too late to get a super-awesome handmade encouragement postcard from The Art Abyss -- just email with your mailing address info, and maybe even a little info about what you need encouragement on, if you like, and we'll get those cards in the mail and sent out to you ASAP!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Challenge #4: With A Little Help From Our Friends

From day one this website has been about keeping it real with other artists and creatives about the ups, the downs and all the in-betweens of living a creative life.  So let me just say straight out that last week was really rough for me emotionally.

I found myself feeling like everything I did was crap, like none of this “creative” stuff I do really matters and that nobody even cares that I do it at all. How could I have been foolish enough to think that anybody would really care about my work let alone want to pay me money for it!?  Basically I sat around having a pity party for myself wondering why I wasn't like a “normal” person, with a “normal” degree and a “normal” job where life would be so much much much less complicated.

But I don’t have to explain this to you guys, you know exactly what I mean I’m sure.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.

Sometimes in this creative life I lead I feel as if I am essentially drudging my way through some dark, murky and infinite abyss.  I keep flailing my arms about around me as I go, hoping to find some sort of hand rail, or wall, or defined pathway, to let me know I’m heading the right direction and not simply around in circles but all I ever seem to come up with is air.  So without any other recourse I simply keep plugging along in the darkness, hoping the direction I set out on will eventually get me to where I want to be and not into some bottomless pit, or off a cliff along the way.  Sounds enticing doesn’t it?

The beauty and the curse of a creative life is that it has no boundaries, it has no rules, it has no predecessors to simply follow along behind.  The course for everyone is their own, they get to make up their own rules, their own path and their own way to travel the distance to get to their goals.

I always find myself looking around at other creatives and thinking that their paths are so pretty, clearly labeled and that they look like they are traversing them so effortlessly.  While mine on the other hand resembles more of a swampland, combined with a mine field, and maybe a few ravenous wild zombies chasing me while I run around like a crazy person trying not to get blown up or drown in a pool of goo.

But that’s the thing, our paths never look as pretty to us as they do to others.  They never look as clear to us as others seem to perceive they are from the outside.  While we can get lost in a maze of our own making, others can look at our lives and see the beauty in the path we’ve followed.

I found myself thinking a lot about this while I was aimlessly wandering around my creative path, avoiding the ravenous zombies, this past week.

When I am lost in my head so deep that I can’t even see which way is up (like this past week), my friends are always there to offer that outside perspective and let me know which way is up again.  It’s so easy to loose track of where we are and how far we have come as creatives, that being given the gift of understanding how others see you from their perspective is one of the most amazing gifts that can be given to another artistic soul.

Creative people tend to be so insecure about their work and assume, no matter how many time you may tell them, that nobody likes what they do, or that nobody cares.  Hearing the contrary from another human being can be life altering.  It can literally mean the difference between someone throwing in the towel for good on their work or continuing to pursue their passions no matter the challenges they face.  A simple “Hey, I think what you do is amazing,” can literally be that important in the life of a creative person.

So on that note, the challenge I put to you this week is to encourage as many of your creative friends as possible!  Send them a hand written note, post a comment on their website, shoot them a message on Facebook, invite them to coffee, whatever, just let them know that you care and that you think they and their work are amazing and of great value.  You have no idea how much something that simple could change their life. If you can’t think of what to write or say, feel free to grab this weeks challenge badge to share with them!

Now, on the flip side of the coin, maybe YOU are the creative person who could really use this bit of encouragement in your life.  Maybe YOU need to hear that what you do matters, and that your work is of value and importance.  I learned a long time ago that there is nothing wrong with admitting that you need a little encouragement! (In fact, I think I pretty much told Kate point blank that I needed a pep talk last Monday at our weekly meeting) If that is the case, we have something special just for you!  Shoot us an e-mail at: with your home mailing address and get ready to receive a little something special from us to you. (We promise your info will stay secure and that you won’t get on some weird mailing list.)  Make sure you get your address to us ASAP since we have a limited number of special somethings we can send out!

So there you have it lovely people, mission encourage a creative is officially a go!

If you’ve ever been creatively lost along your own path we’d love to hear about it! Drop us a line in the comment section below to share your story!