Friday, June 21, 2013

Wreck This Journey - Only 9 Days Till The Launch!!!!!

You might recall us giving away a free copy of Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith.

That contest served a purpose -- namely, to get a copy of the book into one of our reader's hot little hands, since starting July 1st, we're going to be off on a marvelous adventure called Wreck This Journey. More specifically, we're going to be vlogging our way through Keri Smith's journal project, and showcasing our favorite bits here on the blog.

But wait, there's more! We want you to be a part of this adventure, not just as silent readers, but with vlogs, pictures, and written responses of your own! We're super excited to see all the cool stuff you create, and feature it here on the blog -- but we can't do it without your help. Here's what you need to do before July 1st (you only have 9 days left!).

Step 1) Order Keri Smith's freaking fabulous book. You can buy Wreck This Journal from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell's Books, or Indie Bound -- or you can even go to your local bookstore and pick up a copy most places (or request they order it for you. They do that, you know?).

Step 2) Brace yourself for the awesomeness.

Simple, right?


We know we're excited, but just to get your juices flowing and inspire you for the amazingness to come, here are just a couple examples from one flickr user of the sort of awesomeness ahead!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Take 5 With Kylin Jewell

We get back into our Take 5 series with Kylin Jewell, a multi-talented and multi-passionate artist who's come to some pretty significant realizations in her life post- art school. Check it out! 

Name: Kylin Jewell

Creative Specialties:
Drawing, painting, dancing (ballet, jazz, modern) aerial silks, yoga… being up-side-down, hula-hooping, jewelry making, hair/ makeup, modeling, sewing and costume design, basic wood and metal-working, teaching any of these activities…

Current Location: 
Tucson, AZ

Mini Bio:
Kylin Jewell’s art is documentation of the processes she employs to uncover the relationship between emotion and emotive content. To one degree or another her work has always revolved around a central idea of feeling held captive by our own thoughts, actions, and the ‘inner realities’– or the escape to sublime states of being after the process of letting go, meditating, and allowing for a more spiritual connection. In a sense, her ultimate goal in creating is to tap into the universal experience of feeling.

Kylin was born in 1986 in Tucson, Arizona where she has spent 26 years improving on and perfecting her passion. In 2005 she graduated from Tucson High Magnet School with a performing arts endorsement and was credited for her AP 2-D portfolio. In May of 2010 she received a BA in 2-D design with an emphasis in painting from the University of Arizona. In August she will leave behind her desert home for life in the city of Chicago. Here, she will delve further in her interest in the ‘inner-self’ and begin her career in Art Therapy.

Currently, some of my artwork can be seen through my Facebook page. In the fall, I will have a website running through SAIC.

5 realizations I had that changed my life and the way I define myself as an artist:

1) If money was no object, what would you make?

I think it’s important to remember that we are all creative beings. Some of us don’t tap into it, or have little faith in our artistic ability and thusly do not nourish the imaginative spirit. Many have ways of being creative that aren’t in our traditional definition of the term so they don’t recognize their potential.

That’s why I have chosen to introduce myself with my dreams…

This is why I (we) create. Because we are able to dream.

If I had all of the financial resources imaginable, and could employ a crew of any number, I would make… SO MANY THINGS!!!

First and foremost, I would knock out the brilliant interactive idea my significant other and myself proposed to the Burning Man grant committee this year. It is a large-scale, multi-medium, interactive, two-phase sculpture with fire elements.

It would be nice not to feel limited in terms of resources for completing more paintings and drawings, but my interest in art has developed into something that goes beyond satisfying an internal need to make something that is both aesthetically pleasing and healing for myself anymore.
I want to, and will - after two years at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master’s in Art Therapy program starting this Fall! – be in the position to help others find their voice and discover healing through art making. As made obvious by the career I am pursuing, I am more interested in being a first-hand witness to the emotional response to a project and getting the audience involved in the creative process than I am in fulfilling documentation of the images and designs constantly swirling through my mind. I want to know how opening a conversation about art, through the act of creation, can not only bring people together but can also help individuals work through any dis-ease in their lives. I trust in my creativity to bring joy into my own life.
I suppose I am just curious to know if my beliefs can be supported. If art making affects the minds and hearts of all beings in the same manner, and, if it does, I would like to uncover its potential for emotional/ psychological rebuilding in all beings.

In a magical world with no financial limitation I would travel with sculptures like the one we plan to bring to Black Rock City someday. I would research the reaction and interaction of art, people, music, etc. and project that I would find my hypothesis to be supported by my findings.

2) How do you remain positive and hopeful when either the ideas stop flowing, the work dries up, or the money stops coming in?

I really try to be an optimistic person but I must admit, I went through a dry-spell for nearly a year after I received my Bachelor’s in Studio Art.

At the time, I was ashamed and extremely disappointed in myself.

I am supposed to be a painter!
I am supposed to be selling my work!
I am supposed to… 

I am sure you are all familiar with a similar internal mantra, no?

But the fact of the matter was that I was uninspired, unmotivated, and painfully unsure of my next step. I needed a job but knew that selling my work was going to take more energy and devotion than I felt like I had at that point in time.

In fact, over the past couple years since graduating I have come to realize how little interest I have in selling my work at all! (More on this later.)

Luckily, I was not relying on my artwork before graduating as a means of income so not having that resource post-degree didn’t make much of a difference to me.

Just when I needed it most, I was given the opportunity to teach art to elementary school aged children. It got my creative juices flowing again because I had to train my mind to think about making art in a way I hadn’t in my entire life. For so long it had just flowed, and now I had to inspire students – some who didn’t have the same innate interest for mark-making, color, shape and light as I had as a child. More so, I had to inspire myself! My livelihood depended upon it!

I was forced into a new state of mind that wasn’t so concerned about the final product of what I drew or the concept behind it. I had been given a time-machine into the most creative sources on Earth – something that got lost along the way with all the schooling and the aging – the mind of a child!

Yes, my classes were about learning how to draw a certain objects and how to best use the mediums chosen for each project, but it became something so much more than that – we were playing! Creating from an intuitive source and letting the story write itself as we went along. If that wasn’t divine inspiration on learning to trust myself again, how to be okay with taking steps toward the next chapter of my life, I don’t know what is!

This approach not only brought joy to my students, but there was an upwelling of healing for my own tired heart as my students and I connected over common human emotion and the desire to leave our mark.
I realized that I had to reevaluate how I thought about my work.

To abandon old processes and concentrations so that I could allow myself to breathe. I had to give myself the freedom to make art that I might hate when I was done with it. It was absolutely necessary to allow myself to make mistakes again. To make in a manner of complete abandon the way the five-year-old version of myself had.

Now, if I find myself feeling unsatisfied with my work or feeling stuck I know I need to spend some time drawing with people half my age. Or, at least check in with my inner-child and get back to a place where I am not over thinking my work.

The mission of feeling financially secure in your artistic endeavors can be an equally daunting task. It’s hard not to get upset when you spent all that time working on a grant proposal and the funds are awarded to someone else.

My S.O. and I didn’t get the Burning Man grant by the way, but the project hasn’t been abandoned yet. There are other options available to us if we are willing to network, to spend more time setting up “kick starter” web pages and accounts, and if we refuse to lose sight of the purpose for our art.

Know that a lot of the time you have to meet up with the right people, who will become your support system for a specific project. Sometimes we just don’t know how to present it to the panel of judges and the whole “there’s always next year” thing starts to make a lot more sense. Other times it means we need to expand our audience.

Trial and error is just as important to us in building our reputation as an artist as it was when we were first learning to make a balanced composition.&

If at first you don’t succeed…

Well, you know the rest.

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

The greatest challenge I have faced as a creative person is two-fold.
  1. Finding the confidence within myself necessary to pursue a career that others may have trouble understanding.
  2. Coming to terms with the financial and emotional struggles I face because I have chosen to follow my passions instead of seeking out the most comfortable or lucrative career.
It is so easy to allow the opinions and seeming lack of support from the most important people in our lives (parents, friends, etc.) discourage us from listening to our hearts.

What I have discovered over the past year, during GRE exams, tears, graduate school applications, interviews around the country, financial planning, and yes… more tears… is that sometimes a loved one’s concerns over the steps you are taking in pursuit of your goals aren’t voiced because they don’t want you to be happy. It’s not that they don’t want you to succeed or don’t believe in your ability to meet your goals. Family and friends – we worry about each other. This is no mystery!

So, it is important to keep in mind that a lot of the time things that come across as unsupportive are said out of fear that you are taking a path that they know virtually nothing about… beyond the “starving artist” stereotype.

I implore you to follow your own arrow, and not let their words dissuade you from a calling.If it brings you bliss and you are willing to work for it – why not?

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

This is something I must deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes it is extremely difficult for me to ignore the bits of advice given to me with all the best intentions and to truly trust that my inner-voice is guiding me in the right direction.

Because I am who I am, and have developed a profound interest in yoga – in the form of an Asana and Meditation Practice – I believe in an internal source of knowing.

I am creative, therefore I am meant to create…

But there is extreme trust there.

I have to believe that

      a) my gut instincts are valuable and valid
      b) I deserve to do what makes me happy.

My Practice now spills over into every aspect of my life and gives me the confidence I need to completely trust my decisions and myself.

In addition, I have taken a page from the book of my students and made the decision to embrace my creative spirit. It is, without question, one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It hasn’t been until the past six months that I have really wanted to start projects that have nothing to do with youth or school. It is what my desire, along with encouragement from my SO, to make interactive sculptures.

Because of the things pushing me to create, I don’t think of making a profit off of my ideas in terms of money. A successful piece would bring a sense of clarity to at least one person who aids in its construction, if not many.

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

I trust in the chaos of the world around me because I have no other choice – unless I want to become bitter and immobilized by my fears of the unknown.

Remember all those stereotypes and naysayers we mentioned earlier?

Well, they have their place and don’t come without some hint of truth.

Making a living as an artist is not easy work, but we wouldn’t have chosen this path if it were.

Tell me you never had to hide a smile when someone criticized you for wanting to be an artist, going on about how much you would struggle to make ends meet!

Admit it, you liked the idea of this challenge.

We wouldn’t want to create if we didn’t have questions about the world we live in. If we weren’t trying to figure it out.

We wouldn’t have these questions if we knew everything.
(Do you see where I am going with this?)

Without the uncertainty of the future there would be no need for creative thinking. No questions to be answered. No problems to solve.

When we allow ourselves to embrace the unknown we can actually be present in our lives, and in our work. Sometimes things are going to go well, and sometimes there are going to be bumps in the road.
It’s life and a reality someone in any profession could encounter.

If my intentions are good and I continue to push forward even when things get rough – if I refuse to quit dreaming – I can use the uncertainty of my future as motivation to use my creativity as a solution to any hardship I may face.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Maintaining A Work / Life Balance With Braid

During my exploration of the inter webs this week I stumbled upon the amazing creative work from Braid Creative, creative branding and visioning consultants for creative entrepreneurs.  If you need any help with your branding these girls are amazing.  But on top of that they just happened to write a really amazing article on how they balance their creative work with their lives. Kismet?  I think so… To read the original article click here.

How Daylight Savings Jacked Up Our Work Life Balance

Tara and I have always been proud of the fact that we’re not total workaholics. Even coming from an advertising agency background we’ve always believed that if you can’t get it done in 40 hours a week then you’re doing something wrong. 

As creative entrepreneurs it can be hard to it shut down. The lines between work and life are blurred when you’re passionate about growing your business. And as of two weeks ago daylight savings has sprung us forward an hour - completely jacking with our internal circadian rhythm that tells us when to wake up, begin work, and more importantly shut down the computer, eat dinner and go to bed. 

Here is how we try to maintain that work / life balance and clues for when we’re overextending ourselves. 

We’ll start with me. 

I know I’m maintaining a pretty good work / life balance when:

Kathleen Work Life Balance1. I can fit in my daily work out - I use this time to decompress and transition from working out of my house to just being at home.

2. When I watch my favorite shows in real time - there’s nothing like watching The Walking Dead or Mad Men when it airs.

3. When I have time to indulge in a Netflix marathon - on the flip side of watching shows as they air there is something special about watching three seasons of Breaking Bad in a span of two weeks.

4. When my schedule is in synch with my 9-to-5 husband - that means we’re going to sleep, waking up and eating meals together. 

5. When I have time to enjoy a happy hour cocktail - sometimes a work out is not enough to decompress from a long week. I like to enjoy a nice glass of wine or local microbrewed beer after a productive day of work.

Tara Work Life BalanceIt’s a little trickier for Tara because she’s got two kiddos in the mix - but here’s how she knows she’s doing a good job of juggling it all with grace: 

1. She manages to pack school lunches at a reasonable hour - without going “mommy dearest” crazy and throwing ziploc sandwich baggies everywhere.

2. She’s not up all night with work-induced insomnia - Tara also has this habit of sleep walking (more of a freak out really) when she’s particularly stressed. Read more of that hilarious story here. 

3. She gets to go to “guilty pleasure” movies at the actual theatre complete with popcorn and syrupy soda - this means psychotic grossout movies that I cannot fathom how she gets so much glee out of, like Hostel or The Hills Have Eyes.

4. She can hole up in her room with a novel for at least a two-hour stretch - when we were kids she’d lock us all out of her room to read Little Women for the twentieth time while we pounded on the door or tried to slip notes under the crack “play with us pleasssseee.”


Sometimes we don’t recognize when the scales are being tipped. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress that comes with being a creative entrepreneur so here are some warning signs or clues that you’re on the brink of a work / life meltdown:

1. You forget to eat - I always thought this was something celebrities said to mask an eating disorder. So when I realized I had forgotten to eat lunch one day I was shocked that paparazzi wasn’t chasing me around at the same time.

2. You have nothing to blog about - I find that when I’m out of ideas for things to blog about on my personal lifestyle blog that I’ve probably been working (or thinking about work) too much.

3. You have no sense of humor - Our designer Kristin finds that she has zero capacity to process jokes when she’s feeling stressed.

4. Your kids get your attention by talking to you about work - Tara’s kid Charlie will say things like “Now, Super Mario is kind of like Braid because …” or will replicate our logo in colored markers for praise instead of drawing normal kid things like cars and dinosaurs. 

 If you want to learn more about Braid Creative & Consulting check out their Website, Facebook , Vimeo , or Twitter accounts!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hang Time: Balancing Life As A Creative

This week on the blog we are talking about trying to bring a bit of balance to our creative lives so we don't turn into crazy people who end up murdering their husbands...

With that thought in mind, during my random journey into the magical land of the interwebs this week I stumbled upon this awesome video by the amazing people over at Red on Black Productions.  Take one google hangout, a handful of amazingly creative people and give them the topic of how to balance a creative life and you get some pretty awesome stuff.

So grab a cup of coffee and enjoy hanging out with the good folks at Red on Black!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Challenge #11: Help! My Creativity Is Taking Over My Life!

Challenge Badge Swag
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that we normally post five days a week, rain or shine -- except for last week. On a related note, I have a confession to make:

It was my fault.

If you've ever tried to run a blog with a regular posting schedule, you know that it can quickly turn into a looming, anxiety-inducing deadline -- especially if you start to get extra-busy in your non-blog-related life. Once this happens, you have a choice: you can either sacrifice your blog and take care of the rest of your life, or you can shake your head at life and insist on sticking to your publishing schedule, or you can run yourself ragged trying to accomplish everything.

Generally, I swing between the first and the third options -- and thus, when last week I celebrated my anniversary by attempting to create a sublime, eat-your-heart-out-Martha-Stewart -worthy feast, then received news of a family emergency that just piled on the pressure (don't worry, everyone's okay now), then realized that there was no way I was going to be able to meet all my obligations in time for the weekend -- I decided that I would have to forget about the blog for the moment.

And thus I was once again foiled in my pursuit of "work-life balance." Usually I see that phrase used to reference the challenges that come with trying to be there for kids and pursue a fulfilling career -- but I think it's applicable in any situation where social/familial desires come into conflict with work desires. Even obligations fall under the heading of desires, since you only "have" to do it because you desire to avoid the fallout from not doing it. In fact, let's lose the term "work-life balance" -- instead, let's go with desire balance.

Suck it, wordsmiths.
Anyway, attempting to balance out desires as a creative person can be extra challenging -- it certainly is for me -- because there is SO MUCH STUFF you want to do. Let's start with public creativity goals - such as writing a book or a blog (hi), completing a photo series, learning a new dance routine, etc. And then let's add the creative stuff you want to do for yourself -- in my case, this means making a new retro dress, decorating my house, trying new recipes. Then add the stuff that fuels your spirit outside of your creative pursuits -- spending time with friends and family, going to check out a new movie or cool art show, and of course getting enough rest, getting enough food, and doing whatever it is that connects you with your creative inspiration.

Notice anything missing from that list? Oh yeah -- all the stuff you have to do. Whether it's working the job that pays the bills, helping out a friend in need, applying for a grant, attending classes, getting in a run, or just keeping up with day-to-day chores around the house, it's easy to find most of your time filled up with the day-to-day tasks of living, or end up neglecting the more basic stuff in favor of meeting your creative goals (aka, why my sink is full of dishes and I swear I'll get around to vacuuming . . . sometime in the next month).

That brings us to this week's challenge. Although it may be impossible to get everything done, perhaps it's possible to find a balance. This week, keep track of how you spend your time. Write it down. Make to-do lists. Make sure to schedule downtime -- and don't feel guilty about it! Personally, I'm going to try applying productivity tactics like the Pomodoro Technique to my entire week's schedule (and I'll be using this little timer to help me out with that). Starting tomorrow, I'll be keeping a log on our Facebook of what I do, versus how long I thought it would take me, versus what I want to get done.

Want to see how you stack up? Email your daily logs to, and we'll post them alongside mine on our Facebook page. We might even feature a couple here on the blog! Now go off and find that desire balance -- and don't forget to take our trusty challenge badge with you.