How it started
When I first started making jewellery I was learning the techniques and spent many hours making things. I beavered away and obviously wore some myself, but mostly gave away the jewellery to friends and family. To be honest it took me so long to make things, and the quality was probably not the best, but I made things for the joy of making and loved the creative challenge. Soon I realised I loved the feeling of giving.
After a while I felt sure that family and friends would be fed up having jewellery as presents. Luckily at that point I was being asked often where I sold things, so I worked very hard to set up a website. And all was very exciting until I realised that after all my efforts very few new people actually came, so thank goodness for my lovely friends! I very nearly gave up... all that work for nobody to see!
Then I discovered Instagram. I have always loved it on there because it's such a friendly community. People are very generous with their comments and I've found that its a great place to get feedback about my products. Its so lovely to be able to talk to your customers when you don't have a bricks and mortar shop.
So I held a few giveaways; the lucky winners have always been very happy with their wins and I get to find out more about what people like. I have also been lucky enough to win a few prizes too! Happily I was getting found and have built so many lovely friendships on Instagram too. I’m now managing to get a steadily increasing flow of traffic to my website. It's definitely still baby steps, but its making me feel much more positive.
Positive thinking helps creativity
I first discovered the power of positive thinking by wearing one of my hand stamped rings myself. I stamped a ring with ‘I am an artist’ and it really helped me. I had previously experienced a really dry patch and couldn't really get creative with anything. I was amazed how simply having this daily reminder increased my creativity. I sold a ring to one of the lovely ladies in my adult art classes and she said it helped increase her confidence in her work. Then I began selling to creatives I met through Instagram and artists as far as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, America and New Zealand are now wearing my jewellery.
Word of The Year
I’m not a fan of new years resolutions. I've never found they work for me. Instead I prefer to set myself a more positive goal to guide me through the year. Simply by having a word to guide me helps me a great deal. The words I considered for myself this year were evolve, brave, creative, thrive, trust, joy, focus, flourish, meraki, love, magical, vision and simplicity.
I wanted a word that supports me being more visible promoting my business, but also in my personal life making sure I nourish my body with good food choices instead of junk. I also wanted to make time to nurture my creativity and not feel guilty about doing things like going for a walk in nature or treating myself to a gallery visit, or a much needed massage after lots of hammering.
So after living with a few words pinned on my wall for a while, I have chosen my main word to be ‘flourish’ and I’m loving how its helping me to be more outgoing and to feel better about nurturing myself. As a supporting word I decided to choose 'meraki' (pronunciation may-rah-kee) which means to do something with soul, creativity or love, to put something of yourself into your work. Its a Greek word and I really like its meaning because I do put a little bit of myself into every piece of jewellery I make, so need to make sure I nurture my own creativity. Daily meditation is another of my meraki choices. As a typographer I also love how the word looks and find it visually inspiring. I'll be wearing my rings daily and enjoying the confidence its giving me..
You might wonder why I’m excited about giving products away. Well it’s one of my business core values. Kindness. Because by being kind I get more of my products into the world, and more people will experience how good they are at making them feel better. A self fulfilling prophecy if you like. I have also donated jewellery to good causes, which is something I love to do.
So I'm sure you can imagine how excited I was when I found out about a project on Instagram started by the lovely Victoria from @featherandwild www.https://featherandwild.blog
With her #atouchofkind project she's started an initiative to show random acts of kindness to people and also supporting independent makers. The general idea is that makers will send out mostly handmade items of any sort to people without cost to them and without any expectations, but with the suggestion that they too might pay it forward in some way. So of course I’m going to be sending out a few of my handmade silver word of the year rings with the hope that it helps people.
I’m now looking forward to being able to pay it forward with a touch of kindness to other artists and creatives. I want to give them the self-belief and a little reminder to live their best lives. Being kind to ourselves is something we really need to do, so if I can help people to be good to themselves as well that's another benefit. Do pop over and say hello if you're on Instagram.
Obviously this isn't a sustainable business model. While I'm able to offer a few offers like this I will, but longer term I would really love to be able to give something back as a regular commitment. I'm now working on my new collection and wholesale. It would be so good to hear from other people doing something like this, it certainly feels good to give something back.
Do please let me know what you think, I'd love to know.
A CREATIVE BLOCK. As artists and designers we've all had them.......
But how do you get to be creative again? Follow a few of these simple steps to feel inspired again.
Take a break It sounds simple doesn't it..... but its not always that easy is it?
Well actually stepping away from your home or workspace is really important. I know life gets in the way, but getting some fresh air, even just going for a brief walk outside does wonders for creativity. Nature is one of the most inspiring things. So many different colours, textures, patterns, sounds and even smells..... (fresh cut grass - I LOVE that so much). Take a camera to record images. Start to really look at things. Zoom in. If you live in a city that's no excuse. Try looking up for a change. A change of perspective is always useful. There are so many ideas in every environment. Best of all it's free. Treat yourself to some ME time every once in a while and quit feeling guilty. Feeling refreshed is important. Think of it as an investment. If you're feeling washed out and tired, you won't be creative anyway!
If you really can't get out try running a fragranced bubble bath and play some music. Meditation and yoga can also work, they are both really beneficial for me.
Plan some time for yourself. Even a few minutes can do wonders......
Make a mess Yes really!
Designate an area where you can be untidy for a while and leave your work out. Whether it's a table in the corner of the dining room, an easel in the kitchen, a work bench in the spare bedroom or a shed. Just having your own space to work as the mood takes you is most important.
Be prepared to play Think about how creatively free children are......
As adults we rarely play enough to be honest. To be more creative we need to enjoy ourselves and take risks. Take time to be in the moment and enjoy the process. Commit to exploring and having fun, without attachment to the outcome. Many adults fear what other people think of them and this prevents us from being our best selves. Forget what they think and simply be yourself.
It really doesn't matter if we make mistakes. At the end of the day we want to enjoy ourselves right? We can always buy another sketchbook or a new canvas. Permission granted....... Don't worry about what other people think. Have FUN xox
Often our mistakes are a record of learning. Out of a mistake comes knowledge. From knowledge comes understanding. Have you noticed how small children aren't even remotely interested in what they have made. They are forever moving on to the next activity. Schedule your play time now and enjoy making marks instead of worrying about the outcome. You never know you may surprise yourself.
Forget the blank page That blank white canvas or perfect piece of shiny new silver can be quite intimidating.....
So begin to work over a piece of work you are already unhappy with, so that you can take risks. Nothing to lose, right? Next up try working on a different colour background from usual. That coloured ground will give a very interesting effect. Jewellers can create wonderful things from their scrap jar. If it doesn't work out there's nothing lost, because you were only playing. Besides it really is a fabulous feeing when you design something awesome out of scraps!
Change of scale Get away from your usual routine.
Work really large. This can be pretty liberating. You may try working on a huge roll of paper in the garden. Have you seen how cheap wallpaper lining paper is? Or try really tiny...... Miniature things are so cute right?
Use a different media Switch it up. You are sure to delight in using your old watercolour set. Try wetting the paper before flooding the page with yummy colours. Fun hey! Those gorgeous pastels you have unused in the box, you can open them and use them. Yes I know they look so beautiful and neat, but honestly you can always buy more if you use them up. Go on.... It's playtime x
Visually stimulate Visit a gallery or sculpture trail, look at pictures in books or make an inspiring collection of images on Pinterest. I'd love you to follow me @howfinedesigns There are heaps of amazing things out there which can spark ideas. When your mind is stimulated it will want to create. Looking at other visual imagery is one of the best ways to inspire your own ideas. Next try making a brainstorm to start your own creative flow.
The Arrival of Spring
by David Hockney at Salts Mill
Neon by Tracey Emin
Enrol in a class or workshop Go back to being a beginner for a while, perhaps try a new media. Remember the thrill of discovery when you were starting out! This is a great way re-engage and you will love to rekindle your creativity and reconnect with why you decided to be creative in the first place. You will also meet other like minded people. It's amazing how inspiring this can be in itself. Swap ideas and chat about what you're thinking. In my classes the chatter and laughter is my favourite thing! As soon as others see your work, they do not notice the struggles you had to make it just so. Talking to people who are more distanced from you can be fabulous for your ego and will inspire you on your path to creative freedom.
DO NOT DISTURB
Its worth making sure other people know you should not be disturbed while you are busy creating. Let people know this is your time and you will be unavailable. Consider scheduling a regular day or evening for your creativity. Remember to turn off social media, phones and those pesky Facebook notifications while you are creating, as these are notorious for interrupting your flow. Try putting up a sign so people know you are busy being creative. People will soon get used to the idea.
Remember WHY you want to create things....... Enjoyment?
If you can think back to why you started creative activities. It's likely that you enjoyed the activity and it made you feel good. That's what you should remember. Honestly just stop worrying about other people.
Even if you sell your work..... If you like what you make, that is so important. Don't try to second guess what other people would like. That's a slippery path. Other people are sure to like your creations too, you just need to find the right people. When YOU are CONFIDENT in your work because you have LOVED making it that really does show through.
Believe in yourself Creativity NEVER gets used up you know.....
The more you use it the more you get. Great hey?
And DO have some FUN!
Pssssst Have you seen my Empowering Rings? You can order your own words too!
"Creativity is intelligence having Fun"
Images above unless credited are by me, Sally How and the lovely artists in my classes and workshops at Rossett Adult Education, Harrogate. Please Contact Melissa or Catherine on 01423 563 768
- Please do let me know if you've found any of these ideas useful.