Artists of Social Media, I: Jess Tinsley

Jess Tinsley is one of the kindest people you'll connect with on social media.  Full of encouragement and uplifting stories, Jess shares how art has transformed her life after a traumatizing accident in the first edition of Artists of Social Media.  Jess's artwork is full meaning, as well as movement with her inspired use of lines and color.  Each piece she creates is undeniably unique, but also reflects Jess's personal, authentic style.

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Be sure to follow Jess on Instagram @jesstinsleyfineart and read more of her story in the first edition of Artists of Social Media!

Artists of Social Media, II: Eric M. Roberts, AIA

Eric, an architect by day, and artist by night is witty and real about what it takes to sell artwork in this digital age in the second edition of Artists of Social Media.  With shops on Etsy and Society6, Eric talks about how having those shops is simply enough, and consistent promotion is necessary.  Although he initially got on social media to connect with other artists and get feedback about his work, Eric has also found social media platforms a great place to promote and market his work.

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Eric's artwork is full of real-life detail and his own brilliant artistic vision.  His artwork is impressive, captivating, and definitely looking into more.  Find Eric on Instagram @ericmrobertsart and in the second edition of Artists of Social Media!

Artists of Social Media, I: Melissa Doty

Melissa Doty is one feisty watercolorist!  She is endlessly witty and oh-so-kind.  She focuses her paintings on geometrics and florals, and while those two seem like themes that the same artist would follow, Melissa excels in both!  While coming to the art scene after most of her kids were out of the house, she is ambitious and lets nothing hold her back, even when she finds herself terrified.

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Melissa is currently working on her first mural in West Virginia and she is posting tons of updates on her stories.  For those artists who are looking to jump into the arts after years of focusing on other things, Melissa is so inspiring and generous with her hard earned wisdom!

Follow her on Instagram at @meldoty.art !

Artists of Social Media, II: Anika Zebron

Anika Zebron is a Seattle based designer, painter, writer, and magic maker.  Her Instagram feed is full of inspiring photography of her travels and life, reimagined with the inclusion of artwork.  She is also a member of the empowering group @bossladiespopup, which encourages women to turn their dreams into reality.

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In addition to being all around incredible, Anika is so super nice and generous.  Also, when the #100dayproject comes around, her projects are always fantastically inventive, inspiring, and so well done.  Anika is definitely an artist to watch and know!

Follow her on social media @anikazebron !

Artists of Social Media, II: Ashleigh Norrie

Printmaking and mixed media artist, Ashleigh Norrie, has always immersed herself in the arts.  After graduating with her fine art degree, Ashleigh decided to work as a school art teacher.  Even though she has a daily interaction with art, Ashleigh realized that most of her creative energy was focused on her students and the classroom, instead of her own work.

As Ashleigh has sought to make a change in feeding her creativity more, she has used social media as a place to find validation and support.  This has encouraged her practice and has helped her develop her own unique style of layering.  While providing so much to her students, Ashleigh also builds herself while at the same time enriching the arts on social media by sharing her complex and interesting artwork.

Be sure to follow Ashleigh on Instagram @ash_norrie_artist and read more about her work and story in the Second Edition of Artists of Social Media!

Artists of Social Media, II: Megan Watkins

Megan Watkins, an acrylic painter from Tennessee, has been artistic since the moment she picked up a pencil.  Always creating, she uses her practice as a way to maintain sanity and communicate her emotions.  In her work, she seeks to connect with her viewers on an emotional level and "invite them to feel".

"Abstract Floral," Acrylic on Stretched Canvas, 18"x24"

While painting in the evenings and on weekends, Megan maintains a consistent practice.  Her finished works are shared on social media to inspire her followers.  Social media also provides Megan a great opportunity to connect with more viewers and other artists around the world as she strives to pursue art as a full time career.  

Be sure to follow Megan on Instagram at @meganwatkinsarts and read more of her story in the Second Edition of Artists of Social Media!

Artists of Social Media, I: Jess Swan

Jess Swan, an Australian artist, has used social media to make a huge impact in her artistic journey.  Jess began painting on an impulse, defied resistance to posting on social media, and has turned her hobby into a full time art practice with paintings sold to collectors all over the world.

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What may be perceived to some as a disadvantage, Jess uses her lack of formal art training as an opportunity to explore color and shape in her own way, without the restrictions of someone else's preconceived ideas.  And well, Jess is mighty successful in following her intuition!

Read the rest of Jess's story and see more of her work in the first edition of Artists of Social Media.

Also, take the opportunity to connect with her on Instagram @jessswan_art !

6 Tips for Applying to Artists of Social Media

As we start another round of applications for Artists of Social Media, I've put together some tips to help you as you select photos and consider the questionnaire.

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  1. Share Your Story - Artists of Social Media is all about the stories of artists.  Collectors and other artists love to know how you got to where you are.  It's not about the number of followers, sales, or how long you've been on social media, it's about what you've done, decided, or resolved to do that has gotten you to where you are, doing what you do, and sharing what you create.  Your journey is unique and we want to hear it.
  2. Be Willing to be Vulnerable - Hand in hand with sharing your story, be willing to be vulnerable.  The most impactful stories are often those that are hardest to share.  Brené Brown states that it is in vulnerability that we find true connection, and that's where the gold is.
  3. Great Photos - Just as important as your words, the photos you submit need to represent your work well.  Be mindful about choosing your work and be sure to upload only photos that do not contain any background, framing, or styling.  Also, if you refer to a work in your writing, consider uploading that piece as a reference for the reader.
  4. Artist Photo - The photo of yourself will most likely be the reader's first impression of you, so be sure to take care in selecting a well lit, high quality photo.  Of course, use this opportunity to share your personality!  No need for formal, high school year book style photos!
  5. Artist Statement - Along with your artist photo, your statement will introduce the reader to your work.  If you don't use a standard artist statement across all your platforms, consider reading over the questionnaire before writing it so that you can be sure to include any information that you think is critical for the reader, that may not be in the questionnaire.
  6. Required Information - Not every question you answer may be included in the published book.  The information that you can count on appearing is your artist statement, contact information, and who your favorite artists are to follow.  All other information may or may not be published.  As you answer questions, keep in mind the the more you answer, the more content you'll have available for publication.

Artists of Social Media is such a special project that highlights stories, shares triumphs and struggles, and brings people together.  I am so grateful for everyone who is willing to share in this way and for the enriching the online artist community.  

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns regarding the application!

Being Involved

It is so exciting to be a part of projects and challenges that others organize.  Some creatives think up the most inventive challenges and the benefits can be incredible, if you choose to get involved.

Depending on the project, of course, it could challenge you to do something new or develop your skills.  Projects like the 100 Day Project, organized by the magnificent Elle Luna on Instagram, leave the gates wide open for you.  With that project, you get to choose what you want to engage in for 100 days, so the extent of the benefit is whatever you allow it to be.  You could learn a new medium, build a collection, or focus on a theme.  When you start a project like that, if is best to decide what you want by the end of it, and create your project so that you get those results.

The Collaboration Project, has been another opportunity to not just create artwork, but also get to know other artists within the Instagram community.  Again, the extent of this benefit is proportional to the effort that is put into it.  Some collaborators have spent a great deal of time getting to know their partners and others have been more casual.  Both are right and appropriate, but the benefits are different.

Being involved within a community and with others, however, has the surprising benefit of lifting you up, bringing in new ideas, and the joy of helping others in their goals.  If being involved sounds scary, take the opportunity of expanding your comfort zone.  You may be surprised by how worth the effort it will be! 

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone

Have you ever heard the saying "there's no growth in the comfort zone"?

Getting out of our comfort zones is one of the hardest things for us to do sometimes.  Our comfort zones are familiar and they allow us to relax and be, well, comfortable.  There's no mystery in why we like to stay there.

The thing is, most of our desired results are cultivated by getting out of, and expanding, our comfort zones.

If we are unwilling to get out of our comfort zones, face fears, and risk the possibility of "failure", then we simultaneously deny ourselves the opportunity to grow, develop, and create the results that we want to experience in our lives.  Think back to something that you recall as once having been scary.  Maybe it was the first day of school.  Can you remember how terrifying that was?  New teachers, new classmates, new schedule, maybe even a whole new school to get to know.  But as you went to school each day, all the new things became less foreign.  Certainly by the end of the year, your comfort zone had expanded to include all the things that were new to you in the beginning.  And guess what, you survived.

We have to continually put ourselves in the position of attending "the first day of school".  When we try new things, and survive them, our confidence builds and we expand that circle of comfort.  With an ever expanding circle, more possibilities open up to us.  Things that seem way too scary today, will eventually seem like the logical next step.  

Expanding your comfort zone is gradual, but be sure to make it consistent.

If you want to do something, but feel fear holding you back, make yourself do it anyway.  Even the small things count.  Do you think it's scary to mail an international package?  Find a pen pal who lives over seas.  Have a fear of talking to people?  Engage in minor conversations with strangers at the store.  Scared of making a fool of yourself in public?  Do it intentionally and with that out of the way, continue on with your fabulous self. 

There's almost no way to screw it up and so much to gain.

Mind Mapping

The hard thing about thinking up a big plan, dream, project, or result is that it can be really difficult to see how to bring it into the realm of "now".  As difficult as this is, it is important.  The only way to make the fear about your big plans is to take action.  The only way to build momentum is to take action.  

My favorite method of breaking big things down into manageable chunks is to mind map.  If you've never mind mapped before, it's awesome.  There are some really cool apps out there that provide a good platform for mind mapping (MindNode is my favorite), but I often turn to good old fashioned paper and pen.

To mind map, write your big dream, goal, or idea in the center of the page.  Make it legible, but not too big, so that you have plenty of space on all sides.  Then, write out some big things that contribute to making the overall dream possible.  Let's take on the example of selling artwork.

In the image above, I used Mind Node to start the mind map.  Here I wrote out the main objective and four major avenues to reach that objective.  Each of the four are big tasks in their own right, as they should be at this point.  To continue with the mind mapping, break down each thing even farther. 

The point of mind mapping is to get down to the tasks that are easy to do.  "Buy a domain" is easy and takes 5 minutes.  Every task can be broken down to small, manageable chunks that will ultimately accomplish the big goal.  

Mind mapping is also helpful when something new comes to mind that you hadn't previously considered.  You can add it into the mind map, break it down, and feel like you're getting started on it.  It's also a great way to organize tasks and look back to see what you've accomplished toward your goal!

Give mind mapping a try and see how it makes even your biggest goals seem manageable!

Thinking Big

I read a lot about the power of big thinking.  Sometimes, thinking big is a hard thing because when you dream up some big, incredible project, outcome, or result, it can seem too massive.  It tends to grow teeth and claws and it becomes intimidating.  Then you don't want to approach it because fear gets to you.  Fear tells you that you're inadequate, it's impossible, it's too expensive, you can't do it...  Fear feeds you all sorts of garbage.

Here's the thing, though, even little dreams and projects can grow to be intimidating.  If you're going to push past the fear to get a result, the benefits to thinking bigger outweigh the benefits of thinking smaller.  As you think big and work on a bigger outcome, you create momentum after you defeat fear and resistance.  Each action you take is just a step on a longer path towards something great.  

It's easier to maintain enthusiasm and persistence when you're working towards something that really sets your soul on fire.

It might take longer, but it is certainly no more difficult because as you work and reach milestone after milestone, your perception of what is possible becomes more and more expanded.  You begin to realize that it's not as difficult or scary as you thought.  

Each milestone proves to you that it is possible. 

Realizing the possibility of creating the results that you want is far more valuable than playing small and going after what you currently see as within your abilities.

As you think big, you allow yourself to grow in big ways.

What is it that you truly want to do or accomplish?  How can you go after it and overcome the fear?

Motivational Book Monday - As a Man Thinketh

A little old time-y, but still incredibly powerful and relevant, James Allen's As a Man Thinketh aims to illustrate just how powerful our thoughts are.  If you doubt the power of thoughts and their ability to help you create any result that you want (and also the results you want to avoid so badly that you can't stop thinking about them...), then this book is a must read.

The book is short, but packed with wisdom.  The best thing about this little classic is that it causes us to acknowledge that we can control our thoughts and by thus controlling our thoughts, we can control our outcomes.  This means that we can literally and seriously create any result that we want in our life.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is a direct result of his own thoughts."
"A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts.  He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts."
"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become."

Mastermind Groups

I recently learned the importance of a mastermind group.  While I have been sold on the idea for quite some time, I didn't know how to go about finding the right people and forming the group and I didn't really try that hard, to be honest.

However, we have a friend who is definitely an idea generator.  He has tons of ideas and the skills to pursue all of them.  He's brilliant and talented, but he recognizes that he doesn't have all the answers.  He's been visiting with us for about a year and a half about one of his major projects.  We've seen him through most of the versions of his idea and have given our opinions and suggestions.

This last time we met we had a major break through in the project.  When the solution to the project's main problem came to us, we all felt enthusiastic and that it was just what we were looking for.  However, we only got to that solution by meeting together every so often to discuss the project, the different angles, and different approaches.  While the conversation may have appeared casual, we're all emotionally invested in the success of the project and sincerely want it to fly.  

Later on in the discussion, another lightening bolt struck about a project that I've been trying to work on, but again, that only happened because of our discussion.  

Reflecting on the experience later, I realized that this is the power that a mastermind group offers.  The group brings go-getters together to work on solutions.  They provide support to one another and offer suggestions.  This sort of consistent, group brainstorming brings the best ideas to the surface.

If you've been on the fence about finding a mastermind group, sit on the fence no more.  The progress that you'll make on your ideas (not to mention the thrill you'll get from helping others reach their success) will astound you.  Sure, you might be able to just do it alone, but it'll take you longer and won't be near as much fun.  Try starting with just one other person, but start.

Keep Going

We chatted yesterday about giving up, and that can be a hard thing, but some times choosing to keep going can be even harder.  When most people choose to keep going, they don't just choose it once, they find themselves having to choose it over and over and over again.

During my senior year of college, one of my art professors brought in a professional photographer in to speak to us about the challenges we might expect once we graduate and get out into the world.  By loading our schedules with art classes, she explained, we are pretty certain to maintain a steady art practice.  We'll be in the art building and studio all time.  We'll have homework and projects to complete.  Our practice is secure.  

But out in the world, we'll experience even more things competing for our attention.  We'll have the pressure to make money and will need to prioritize that for our survival.  We'll get married and have families.  So many things will happen and it will be easy to put our art practice to a side.

Then she said, "You're going to have to choose your art every single day."

I didn't believe her until I found myself working a corporate job, too exhausted in the evenings to even pick up a sketchbook, and completely miserable.  It slowly dawned on me that I had stopped choosing my art.  I chose other things.  I chose sleep and tv.  I chose to work the corporate job.  I chose good things like chores and errands.  But I did not choose my art until it came to a point that I was so miserable about not creating art that something had to change.

Then, one day, I did choose art.

I wasn't consistent in my choosing art.  Some days I chose it and other days I didn't.  However, slowly, I chose my art more days than I didn't.

So, to keep going, you just have to keep choosing it.  Remind yourself why it's important to you.  Remind yourself how fulfilled and happy it makes you.  Remind yourself of whatever you need to until choosing it becomes automatic.  That's how you keep going.

Giving Up

We all have a tendency to think big from time to time.  We'll get these ideas and be totally enthusiastic about them for a time and then the enthusiasm starts to sizzle out as we realize the amount of work it will take or simply think it's not realistic.  When the excitement has worn off, we have two options:

Give up or keep going.

"Giving up" has a negative connotation to it, but it truly is not always a bad thing.  Let me give you an example of a good case of "giving up" and a bad one.

I once heard a guy tell me about how he has bounced around from diet to diet.  This guy has tried everything.  He's been vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, dairy free, meat free, you name it, he's tried it.  He was at a dinner with some friends when he casually told them that he was "vegan again".  They teased and chided him for being inconsistent.  He took it in for a few minutes until they all ran out of steam and then he told them why he hasn't stuck to one diet.

This guy was a real athlete.  He loved to run.  It was his passion.  Eating, he explained to his friends, was just a way to fuel his body.  He goes from diet to diet to see how the diet makes an impact on his endurance and stamina when he runs.  Some diets, he found, slow him down and others help him beat personal records.  The point, for him, wasn't to stick to a diet.  The point was to discover which diet fueled his body in the most powerful way.

In looking at it this way, "giving up" a diet that wasn't giving him the results that he wanted is a good thing.  It does not serve him to stay with a diet that was slowing him down simply for the sake of appearing consistent to his friends.

However, if he gave up running, something he loved and really wanted to do, because he couldn't peel himself off the couch.  Well, that's where the negative connotation of "giving up" comes from.  

The difference is in how the decision is serving you.

Giving up something that does not serve you, is a great thing.  Giving up something that would serve you well, is a terrible thing.  Next time you come to the crossroad of giving up or keep going, get down to the root of it.  What's the point?  What's your real goal?  

Remember, there's no shame in giving up something that is not serving you.

 

Lessons From an Acrobat

Recently I met a guy who is an acrobat.  When I heard his profession, I immediately expressed my astonishment and showed enthusiasm that he is pursuing his passion.  He quickly qualified his position by stating that he's just in training, but has plans to move down to Vegas and try out for some troops down there.

Sensing his insecurity about his current standing as an acrobat, I heaped encouragement on him.  I told him how awesome it was that he was going after it and doing it.  I reassured him that people make a living by being an acrobat all the time, so he could too!  His dream is possible and attainable!  

For so many of us, we lack that encouragement from outside sources about pursuing and attaining our own "dream life".  Instead of just going after it with determination and persistence, we get distracted and discouraged.  Instead of recognizing that there ARE people out there doing exactly what we want to do, we focus on the millions of people who don't make that work.

Whatever it is that you want to do, be, or have, there are people out there that do, are, and have it.

IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU.

One caveat, you have to pursue it with persistence and determination.  No one is going to hand your dream life while you sit there and day dream about it.

Make a plan.  Get up and put the plan into action.  Adjust the plan.  Repeat.

Motivational Book Monday - Steal Like an Artist

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon is a short, clever, to-the-point kick in the butt that everyone needs from time to time.  The book is little and surprisingly entertaining.  In fact, once you pick it up, I dare you to take longer than three days to finish it.  

The little book is packed full of great, practical advice such as: "Don't wait until you know who you are to get started" and "Be nice".

One of my favorite concepts that Austin presents is to "Practice Productive Procrastination".  What he means by this is to indulge the things that you're wondering about or want to try.  Follow the curiosity wherever it may lead because it's those unexpected things that may turn into the next big thing for you.  I've seen this in my own life as I wondered what it would be like to sketch on the train.  I followed that idea and stumbled upon the work I am now most passionate about.

Another great idea of his is that "In the beginning obscurity is good".  As we all get our careers gong, we're all making work that we may be proud of in the moment.  However, if time passes and we realize how amateur it really was, it's okay, because it's not like we have a name or reputation or anything to screw up.  If we're just an obscure artist, it's okay if our work isn't perfect while we're still figuring out who we are, what we do, and how to create it.  Enjoy the obscurity while you have it because it's liberating!  Create!  Learn!  Experiment and explore!  Just go for it!

Here a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

"A wonderful flaw about human beings is that we're incapable of making perfect copies.  Our failure to copy our heroes is where we discover where our own thing lives.  That is how we evolve."
"You're ready.  Start making stuff."
"Quit picking fights and go make something." 

Fresh Starts

Every once in awhile, we all require a fresh start.  This could be as simple as a new sheet of paper or as drastic as selling the house and moving out of the country.  Life can get monotonous and with the monotony, your senses become dull.

Engaging in something new and exciting will refresh your senses, give you new ideas, and change your perspective.

If there are such great benefits to new beginnings, why don't we do it more often?  

Starting something new can be scary.  Even if you've done something just the same or similar in the past, fear can creep in and make you feel like this time it will fail.  For some, that fear is enough to keep them from even going for it.  The fear is even worse when it's uncharted territory.

Getting over the fear to do something new or to "start fresh" can be daunting, depending on the kind of start you're contemplating.  However, it is possible to start small and work your way up towards a big, scary change.  Practice getting out of your comfort zone as much as possible and you'll soon find yourself ready for the fresh start you really want. 

The fresh start will revitalize your work and give you new opportunities and experiences.  If your routine is feeling old and mundane, it's probably just the thing that you need!

Whether it's a new project or a new lifestyle, if you feel like you're due for a change, take the leap, and go for it!  

Cultivating Gratitude

Gratitude is one of the unheralded secrets of success.  In everything I've ever read on success, there has always been an element of gratitude mentioned.  More good things come to the person who is grateful for what they receive and this is because being grateful puts you into the frequency to have more things happen to continue your grateful attitude.

So, how do we cultivate gratitude?  

Cultivating gratitude is pretty easy and can be done in a myriad of ways.  I have friends who spend a few moments at the beginning and end of each day to think about the things that they're grateful for.  I have another friend who keeps a "gratitude journal" in which she keeps a running list of all the things she's grateful for, doing her best not to repeat anything.  My preferred method is to write five things I'm grateful for in my journal at the end of each day.

When you're striving to be grateful, the point is to notice all the good things around you.  Whether you take time to meditate on the good things or you write them down, the experience needs to be impactful enough that each day you find new things to be grateful for and recognize the good that comes into your life.

It may be that there's more good surrounding you than you currently realize.  

This week, take some time to feel grateful and appreciate everything you enjoy.