Tuesday, January 28, 2014

We Bought a Fixer: Studio Renovation Complete!

Hi there. How are you? We're finally ready to unveil our fully renovated studio space. We were able to turn a tired, water damaged basement den into a large, bright and super functional artist studio. I have to admit, it's pretty freaking cool!!  Click here to see the early stages of the studio renovation and click here to see more of our home renovation.

After all of the painting and lighting was done, Matt got to work building these work tables. He even built me some flat files for my immense stock of paper.  Next, we gave all of the built-ins a coat of paint. 

 Ta-da! White paint is magical! 

Last weekend, we did final touch-ups and started moving stuff in.

This is my realm.  I've got a nice space for drawing and computing.

This is Matt's pad. He really can't wait to paint again!  

The massive work table measures 4' x 6' and has storage galore.
I like that this table was built to stand up at and I can really spread out on in it.

Speaking of storage, we have tons! Between the open shelves here......

....And the closed storage along the back wall, we're set!
We even organized it all to make the most of the storage space.
I've already got a couple of new pieces going in the new space. Stay tuned!

I can't believe we have such an awesome studio space, in our house! I really have to give most of the credit for this amazing transformation to Matt. He is super talented and so motivated when it comes to home renovation. I'm a lucky girl. What fun we will have here! Have a great week friends. Ta-Ta!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time and Money

Time and money. Common stresses for many people, right? Me too. Big time. In fact right now, I'm feeling paralyzed by them, and I don't quite know what to do about it.

Time doesn't often feel likes it's on my side when it comes to my art career. There's just never enough time! I feel guilty saying that, as I used to hold down a challenging full time job and still manage to make art. Now, I still work, but less....And feel like I am accomplishing a lot less in my art career than I did back then. 2.5 years ago, when I left my teaching job, I was hoping I could make a real full-time go of being an artist. Today, I feel stagnant, and rushed. Very rushed.

There seems to never really be enough time to think things all the way through, to plan and figure out my next move. There's always a home project, a looming deadline or a trip that forces me have to make decisions without a lot of thought. I hate that feeling. I don't like feeling like this art career of mine doesn't have a good solid vision behind it. I know I want to make things. I know that I need to do some things differently than I have in the past, but there never seems to be time to make that happen.

Now that the holidays are over, I theoretically should have time to look back on the good and bad of 2013, and methodically plot my next steps. Instead, I've hastily applied to 2014 art fairs to make January application deadlines. Why am I doing this when there were points in time last year when I wondered if I should even be doing art fairs? (I had some real stinkers last year.) Why do I keep doing this to myself?

And then, when I do take the time to work on business planning, I feel guilty that I'm not spending that time making something. I'm feeling quite guilty as sit here now and write. Is this my best use of my limited studio time as I've only got 1-2 days a week, if that? This is the constant dilemma I have with myself.

I do have some goals and aspirations for my art career in 2014.....
  • Make 40+ new pieces.
  • Hire someone to design me a new jenniferjohansson.com, that can integrate my current portfolio site, my blog and also a new independent e-commerce site. 
  • Build, consistent online sales, and etsy just isn't doing that for me. 
  • Pursue wholesale accounts for my prints and cards. 
  • Develop an effective marketing strategy.
  • Expand my product range, and experiment with printing my work on textiles.
  • Hire one of the many artist business coaches out there to help me make a plan and be more successful.
So I've got goals. Yahoo! That's all I need right?? Ha.

Besides time, it takes money to buy necessary art supplies, design a new website, have an e-commerce site and hire a business coach, and there just isn't any for that. Now I guess I could try and put together my own website....There are plenty of different sites out there that make it pretty easy, but I know that I wouldn't be truly pleased with the results. Yes, I know that a website alone is not going to revolutionize my business, but it's something I'd like to do. A strong, well designed and cohesive web presence is important. And the business coach thing......I've read countless blog posts (in fact I spend way too much time doing this), have participated in e-courses, and watched lectures by the experts, all which have been free. But, that's not been enough. I need some one-on-one, personalized feedback. And yes, I know that a business coach is also not going to suddenly make me a thriving artist, but I believe it will give me a good boost, some confidence and some direction. This flying by the seat of my pants thing is clearly not working.

The bosses at my "day job" have asked me to take on more hours at work. This is a good thing, right?  I would take home more money to put towards my artistic goals, but there goes my time! How can I make enough art and do enough marketing in just one day a week? How do I make enough money in art to leave that day job?  Do I just hang up my professional artist hat and just go full time working for someone else? It breaks my heart to have to think that.
So here I am, feeling stuck. What is my next step? How do I make these goals a reality? And how do I become the successful artist I want to become? Feeling a little paralyzed and tired of making bad moves.

I didn't write this post to garner sympathy or help, or money, I just needed to write. I don't know if this will even ever get posted, it just had to come out. And I guess, I'm feeling a little better now that it is.

There are some things you could help me with though. Anyone have any recommendations for a fab web designer? And what about a business coach? Have you worked with one? Any recommendations?  Do you have any experience using/ setting up a Shopify, Big Cartel or any other independent online shopping platform. Any insights would be much appreciated.

I'm off to work. I'll see you next Tuesday with some happier news! Ta-Ta. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Efrem is one creative kid!

 I got the most awesome of surprise packages in the mail yesterday.

An entire book written and illustrated by Efrem, a crazy talented 7 year old.  

I gave him this blank sketchbook in late November, when he and his family were at our house for a party. I knew that Efrem loved to draw and would enjoy one of my multitude of blank books I've got laying around. I never expected to get it back, filled with 70 some odd drawings!!!  These next two pages pretty much sums up the premise of the book.......

Here are a few of the pages from the guide that Efrem includes in the book. 

After the kids in the story read the guide, they set out to rescue their mom. 
Here are some of my favorite goblin action scenes! 

 I just can't get over the amount of detail and brave mark making he puts into these pages!

And finally.....

Mom is heroically rescued and brought home! 

Thank you much for letting me share your book Efrem!  And thank you to his parents, who do much to encourage his interest in the arts. I hear Efrem even got a drafting table for Christmas.  Lucky kid!

Well, that's it for this week. See you next Tuesday. Ta-Ta!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Years in Naples

Happy 2014! How's the year going so far?

Like much of the rest of the nation, we're freezing our butts off in Southern Illinois. Most of Carbondale has been shut down the last 2 days with the extreme cold and icy roads. With that being said, I thought it was a perfect time to share pics from our New Years trip to Naples, Florida.

Matt's parents own a vacation home in Naples, and Matt, Jack and I were lucky enough to spend the week between Christmas and New Years with them there.  With temperatures in the 70's and 80's, we spent a lot of time outside. 

Matt was in bird nerd heaven. I'm thinking about illustrating some of the beach birds we saw. 

This is the boardwalk to the beach. You walk through large mangrove forest to get there. 
Really cool and teeming with wildlife. 


On New Year's Eve we rented a boat and toured around the inlet bays that are teeming with palatial estates. Most of these homes are just vacation properties.....I heard that only 25% of properties in Naples are inhabited year round. Crazy!!!

Later that evening, we watched the sunset on the beach, while imbibing in bubbles and snacks. As you can tell, we hated every moment of this. I really love the beach, and Matt gets a kick out of how excited I get when I'm there. If I was on this trip by myself, I probably would have spent every moment there! 

We capped the evening off with a seafood feast and fireworks that we watched right out the front door of the condo. 
It was a great trip.....I really can't wait to go back! 

Happy 2014 friends! Wishing all the best. See you next week!