Lace for Your Jewelry: Resin Pendant Tutorial

Resin can be a fun hobby or business for the crafty miseducated diva in all of us. The possibilities are endless, allow your creativity to run wild and create pieces that are quite unique and fun. With some initial prepping steps, you can suspend just about any material in resin.

In this basic tutorial I will be casting jewelry pieces with resin, but you can use resin for whatever else you would like to make like paperweights, coasters, soap dishes and many other things. There are even many different types of resin that can be used, for different types of desired uses.

I myself use a two part casting resin that is pretty user friendly. I am a novice at resin, just learning as I go and getting better each time. Its fun and I thought I would share some basic tips and give crafty divas something new to try…cause like me I know with all this creativity you have inside of you, you always want to try something new. So this is something for you gals who are aching for a new creative outlet.

I chose to cast fabric for the purpose of this tutorial. I have played with sprinkles, glitter, and candy before. So I thought I would try something new, so here goes….

resin

Supplies

  • Easy Cast Resin
  • 2 Plastic Cups
  • 2 Stir Sticks
  • Wax Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Resin Molds
  • Fabric of choice
  • Mask
  • Gloves
  • Timer

Before hand I prepped my pieces of fabric by cutting them a little smaller than mold shape, and sealed them off with mod podge, or you can use an acrylic sealer if desired.

Instructions

    1. Take a plastic cup and pour in 1 oz. of resin, then pour in 1oz. of the hardener in the same cup, so you end up with 2 oz. total. (Easy Cast has a ratio of 1:1)

    2. Take one of the stir sticks and gently mix the concoction, make sure not to whip as it causes air bubbles. Scrape the sides periodically and mix well for 2 minutes. The mixture will look cloudy at first but this will clear up after resin and hardener are mixed together thoroughly.

    3. Take this mixture and gently pour into your other clean plastic cup. Stir gently again for 1 minute this time. The mixture at this point should be clearer than before.

    4. Set mixture aside for 5 minutes, so the resin can self-degas. Take this time to clean up a bit and get your mold and fabric piece(s) ready.

    5. When ready, pour a little bit of resin into each mold, about a quarter full.

    6. Then place cut fabric, right side down into resin. You can use a toothpick to position and press fabric. This will also help remove any air pockets trapped underneath the fabric that can caused some bubbles.

    7. Then this is where you will need to practice some patience…let the piece(s) rest overnight or for several hours until cured. You can check if it is cured with a toothpick, this way no fingerprints will be left behind.

What I covered in this tutorial are the basics, but you can get more creative by adding different layers. Below are photos of some layer pieces I created, I hope you find them inspiring.

After your pendants are cured, you can jazz them up by drilling holes, adding jump rings, gluing on bails, posts, brooch settings, what ever you like, let your imagination run wild, its all up to you! Your end result will be beautiful and unique pieces.

A great source of reference and inspiration of mine is a book that I turned to when first approaching resin after multiple searches on Google, a book called “The Art of Resin Jewelry” by Sherri Haab. In this book she goes over in detail all different types of techniques with resin, like the so fun and yummy candy jewelry.

Athina’s Creations

See more in my shop here.

Originally published on 12/08/2009.

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

I really wanted to make a big, cheesy collage for this post like I did when I started Miseducated.. remember those days?
I miss those.

Where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
I always ask the artists we feature here but I’ve never gotten to ask you!

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and can’t focus I like to flip through my inspiration drawers filled with old photos, papers and all sorts of useless things I’ve collected through the years. Useless to the onlooker that is but quite important to me! My favorite place for my brain to play is old magazines.. I love soaking up the eye-candy in 60s women’s zines most of all. I can’t get enough!

What can you not get enough of? What inspires you?

Getting Magnified With Nubby Twiglet

Visualize what you want out of life, big or small and work hard. Stay focused. It’s never supposed to be easy.

what i wore nubby twiglet fashion style outfit

Q.

Nubby! There are all kinds of creative people around the globe, but many of them find real difficulty in pinning down exactly what it is they would like to make a living doing. How did you take the plunge and commit to graphic design, and what advice would you give to people still ‘working it out’?

A.

It’s completely normal to experiment before committing to a career. I would start by asking yourself what you’re truly passionate about. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time? What’s the one thing that you’re willing to stay up late and do, no matter how tired you get?

In school, my two strongest subjects were always Art and English. I loved ripping up fashion magazines and making collages, playing with sheets of rub-on letters and flipping through old advertising and poster books. I knew that fine art is really subjective and that it wasn’t going to be an easy way to make a living right away. Graphic design combined my love of art and type with one of my other passions; advertising. The thing is, once your passion becomes a job, it’s not all about fun and leisure anymore. There’s a level of professionalism that goes into it and at the end of the day, there are certain things you have to do to ensure that you get paid. Even when you’re working for yourself, the money has to come from somewhere.

If you’re unsure of what you want to do, reach out to teachers, mentors and career counsellors. Take some classes for fun. The more things you try, the easier it is to realize what you DON’T want to do. When I was in college years ago, I did filing in offices, stuffed invoices into envelopes and worked retail. All of these jobs built character and made me appreciate the career that I have now.

Q.

You seem to have been incredibly practical in the pursuit of what many would consider an impractical or ‘risky’ career choice, is that how you see it? Did you face any naysayers along the way and, if so, how did you deal with that?

A.

I always felt that any career in art or design was really risky and that’s probably because my parents always worked traditional office jobs, doing sales. That’s one of the main reasons I went to school first for business. My mom encouraged me because she knew I had the potential and in a way, I think she wanted me to have something to ‘fall back on.’ After I completed that degree though, I just didn’t feel fulfilled. I had already started to do freelance design work but felt like I wasn’t as proficient or knowledgeable as I wanted to be. I had a lot of people around me who just didn’t get it…I was supposedly done with school and trying to go back for something completely different.

At 25, I didn’t want to waste another four years in school and this is why I chose to do a two year, limited entry graphic design program. I’d always dreamed of working at an ad agency and what I soon realized is that the combination of marketing and design backgrounds meshed perfectly for my career path. Listen to your instincts – there are always going to be naysayers. But, it’s your life. You know best.

magazine typofiles typography

Q.

Your work seems like so much more than a 9-5 for you, it is clear from your blog how intertwined your job, lifestyle, fashion sense and even home decor are! How important do you think it is to blur the lines between work, life and play in terms of career fulfillment?

A.

A career in design doesn’t necessarily have a starting and stopping point. Inspiration will hit you at completely random times and I think that as a designer, it’s a natural progression for your interests at that moment to seep into your outfit choices, home decor, blogging topics, etc. I’ve always strived to have a seamless line between my work, life, and blog. It’s definitely tricky because I am the face of my brand and my personality is interconnected heavily with my work.

I don’t think it’s necessary to blur the lines between your work, life and play – if anything, it’s probably a relief for most people to break away at the end of the day. I’ve done things differently because it makes sense in my life, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. It has to feel like a natural progression.

week in pictures

Q.

You’ve mentioned both your brand and your personality and how key they are in your career, how important do you think a ‘personal brand’ is for a career in the creative industries? What advice would you give to someone looking to brand themselves within their market – where should they start?

A.

Most of the time, a person’s work speaks for itself but in a flooded market, often what makes someone stand apart is their personality and ability to potentially relate to their customers. There are so many designers out there – the personal connection you make with your customers is going to be the defining factor that keeps them coming back. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter how good you are if nobody knows how to find you. Branding yourself in a recognizable, uncluttered manner will help you get remembered. Start by building an online presence through various social media platforms and showcase your work on your own domain, whether that’s a website or a blog. Reach out to people you admire – often, they’ll help you along and even show you the ropes, no questions asked. A simple logo that will mature with your work is also helpful. And, always have business cards handy! Some people think they’re extinct, but I promise you, there will be times where they pay off. You never know who you’re going to meet!

Q.

It looks like you’ve learnt a great deal about yourself and your field through your career so far, what one piece of advice would you liked to have given yourself, say, 5 years ago? And, conversely, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

A.

I would have told myself that it was possible to work at an ad agency and that it wasn’t a pipe dream to run my own business full time. And, I definitely would have gotten started on my personal blog much sooner. It’s so easy now to look back and see things differently, but the reality is, life happens and we tend to just do the best we can at any particular time without knowing if the outcome is going to be what we hoped for.

And, five years from now… wow, that is a long time away! Five years ago, I hadn’t gone to school for design yet. I was finishing my business degree and had just returned home from a two month stay in New York. I hadn’t done my first solo art show yet. I was working at a shoe store and living with four boy roommates. My life was completely different! So, five years from now, I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing. I hope to be working at a fashion magazine (Elle!) in New York, working as an art director at an agency or running an agency with my brother. Though, he loves working at Nike, so he might be too cool to spend his days with me! I also want to write a how-to guide about marketing for designers and do workshops on what it takes to be a freelancer and how to build a portfolio. Oh, and I want to travel a lot. I guess I have a vague idea then…but life is meant to be lived. Setting anything in stone feels too rigid – I am just soaking up new experiences, trying to stay in the present and enjoying my life right now.

what i wore nubby twiglet pantone notebook design

Q.

You seem to have done things totally your own way, do you consider yourself Miseducated? If so, what makes you Miseducated and what final advice would you give to readers embarking on their own Miseducated careers?

A.

Since Miseducated is about embracing a unique, unconventional existence, I would say yes! Though I tend to make plans, set goals and keep a schedule, beyond that, I try to live the best life possible and to do things my way. You’re only going to live once so it’s important to stay true to your values and ethics – at the end of the day, you have to answer to YOU. That’s it. Do what makes you happy. When I was younger, I tried to fit into ideals, to do what I thought would make me happy by society’s standards. I quickly realized that wearing corporate casual attire, working at a mainstream office and living in the suburbs was not for me. I went to school for business because it seemed more practical. But, I wasn’t fulfilled so I went back for a design degree. Visualize what you want out of life, big or small and work hard. Stay focused. It’s never supposed to be easy. The things that you do that feel impossible and test your will do add character. If people tell you that something can’t be done, work even harder to prove them wrong. It’s up to you to create the life that you want.

Design Your Own Career: Part Four

“Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing, and if you are good enough at it, the money will come.”
– Greer Garson

money
We’ve identified our passion, worked out the skills we will need to pursue it, and found that we must keep learning in any creative career. Now the tricky bit, the question of the ‘M’ word, the point when we realise just how difficult the creative career is to achieve, and why so many abandon it or never even try: how do we make money? Firstly, there are two vital points to keep in mind when embarking on or living the creative career, if you want it to work financially.

Two Principles for Making Your Passion Pay

Not only do you have to love doing it, you have to have a certain amount of love for the work involved in doing it. For example, I would really like to be a property developer; I’m interested in buildings, interior design and the pleasure that comes from renewing something tired and old. However, I’m not one for physical labour – a bit here and there, sure, but stripping walls, plastering, painting – it just isn’t for me; I’m an ideas person. Therefore, I would either need a great deal of start-up money to outsource this work, or I’d need to partner up with someone who wants the challenge – it’s just logic. Whereas, when it comes to writing, I love the concept, the materials, the result and the work involved – it’s win win.

You have to think about who will pay you, and tailor your work for them. Making money always involves someone else; you don’t make money as an individual unless you have a licence to print it yourself. Now, if you know you won’t get paid as an isolated entity, then you need to quit thinking of your ‘working self’ as an isolated entity – you need to start thinking about your customer: the person who will pay you to do what you love. When you think about them, you bring yourself closer to making money, because you can see things from their point of view, and know why they would or wouldn’t part with their cash on your behalf. For example, if I wrote articles purely for myself, made them all about me and only relevant to my life, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone would ever pay me for them. Whereas, if I wrote them, yes out of a love for the craft, but also with a target audience in mind (publishers as well as readers) then I’ve tailored my work and I invite payment.

What about money now?

This is all well and good, but I’d be lying if I said these principles alone will make you a living from your passion: there are many more sides to the coin. Firstly, it is an elite few who have the resources to start a business from scratch and live off of it, and I’m going to assume you are not one of them. So how do you get a financial head start with a creative career?

Start early. If you want a lucrative, independent career, you must be prepared to walk a long, toll-taking road to success. Because you are not relying on anyone else for that ‘big break’, you have to build up all the things that separate entity would offer you: reputation, credibility, contacts, experience, knowledge etc. The sooner you start, the better.

Do it alongside study. Study, particularly undergraduate study, is probably one of the best times you could start working out a creative career, whilst still feeling grounded. You have plenty of free time, you might have a student loan, and you are surrounded by other creative, young individuals to join forces with.

Do it alongside other work. Many creatives assume an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, refusing conventional work altogether – but you don’t have to be one of them. A part time job can fund your creative endeavours if you want it to, and work doesn’t always have to be a 9-5 desk job. Do something that keeps you fit like being a kids water sports instructor; do something in a creative environment like work at an independent cinema; or even do something that you can do whilst working on your career, like evening babysitting.

Research possible creative grants and/or young person’s business loans. These exist, and they are actually far more plentiful than you might think. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend commercial debt, there are many government-backed schemes to help the entrepreneurs of the future: after all, it is in the interest of any economy that you make money. In terms of grants, if you’ve got the talent, show people – they may be willing to fund your potential success. Type ‘creative grants’ or ‘arts grants’ or whatever is relevant to your dream career, plus the area you live in into Google and see what you find.

…Ask parents or investors? For some of you this will be the obvious choice, for some it will be unthinkable, but we’ll leave that debate for another day. If you think your parents (or other members of your family) will be willing to invest in you, make it worth their while. Like I’ve said, think about the person attached to that fistful of cash and ask yourself ‘what’s in it for them?’ Draw up a business plan and approach them like any other lender, and, of course, pay them back when you are in the position to do so.

Want to know just what you could be doing that’s creative and will earn you a crust?

Here are some examples of possible creative careers: Writer, Blogger, Graphic/Web Designer, Cabinet Maker, Painter, Interior Designer, Fashion Designer, Textile Designer, Property Developer, Musician, Life Coach, Personal Stylist, Photographer, Potter, Illustrator, Chef, Baker, Landscape Gardener, Florist, Window Dresser, Advertising Creative, Copywriter, Thespian, Director, Set Designer, Dancer, Greetings Card Maker, Knitter etc.

You can follow just one of these paths, you could weave several of them together, or you could carve out a new career especially for yourself. There are people in every one of these careers making good money, why not pick your guru and research how they did it? And, more appropriately, how they made it pay. Don’t be disheartened if you’re not abundantly rich in your chosen career immediately, it can take several years to get on your feet – the point is to get there and, if you give up, you never will.

Where to go next

Don’t let this series be a waste of your precious reading minutes; get started on your dream creative career now. However old/young/ prepared/unprepared you might be – there’s something you could be doing to make the mission of earning money one that is fun, fulfilling and freeing.

That’s it for designing your own career.

Please let me know your thoughts on the series and ask any questions/request follow up articles. Remember – you’re my customer and I’m here to tailor my work to your needs 😉 If you want to throw a tip my way, well, that’s up to you!

Miseducated Scrapbook: Online Art Journaling

Yikes! I’ve missed you so much lately and getting to be creative in both work and play. This past week was entirely draining but I left it feeling much more enlightened (..and slow ..and tired .. and pregnant).

I have never experienced happiness like this, absolute fulfillment.. Colette opened a new book of endless inspiration and motivation to create the world we want.

Did I tell you she’s kicking now?

So anyway, as of recently I’ve been getting back into keeping my sketch/idea book up to date and I’ve found out that still the craft of art journaling is still so fun and addicting. I decided to share it with you and inspire you to do your own journal, letters or scrapbooks! Big plans for these so if you’re interested in contributing please let me know!

So I’ve written you a little letter..

As for inspiration.. hit up your local thrift store and flip through the vintage magazines. When I feel uninspired I take a break with my magazine collection and then I imagine ways to translate home decor into web design and graphic art. It’s even great for inspiration to just relax and read as I’ve said before. Remember, a 20 minute break can help tremendously!

Until later, stay sweet, inspired and colorful.

letter

Finding Creativity in a Block

So you’re in a block? You’re staring at the screen, your sketchpad, a canvas, the keyboard with disgust. Why can’t your ideas spill out onto the paper as brilliantly as they did yesterday?

In having a creative job I’ve found quite a few ways of my own as well as received some useful advice which has helped me find my creativity when it seems to be lost.

nap

Take a Nap

Really?? I know this seems a little lazy but taking time out for a 15-30 minute break or nap can sometimes help significantly! If I find I’m stuck and getting no where on a project sometimes I’ll go lay down for a few minutes so I can start a new upon waking.

If you can’t imagine taking a nap, just take a break. Have a cup of tea or coffee and relax. Read a few pages of the current book you’re reading. When you come back you’ll be ready to tackle the project from a new angle.

Brainstorm

An absolute favorite of mine when I’m feeling uninspired. Grab a sketch pad, feel free to include one or more friends, and sit and ramble off new ideas — your great idea might just be waiting to be let out.

Music Session

Listen to music, take a walk, sing your favorite song. Sometimes getting into the rhythm can inspire you to get motivated on your project. Not only that but both music and walks are absolutely inspiring!

Sketch in an Idea Book

Grab a notebook and sketch some ideas out. If you’re a writer just start writing some text and see where it takes you. Often I have absolutely no idea where I’m going but when I start the project just happens. This is especially true when I’m crafting, it works on all levels. Don’t expect this try to be genius, just start.

Sketch any ideas you have and as you have them, paste fabrics and color palettes you find while you’re out. Check this book out later when you need new ideas.

Meditate

Again, sometimes the answer to your question is just waiting inside for you to find it. Clear your mind and think about things from a new perspective. Visualize the project and outcome. If meditation isn’t something you enjoy, try taking a long, hot bath and doing the same thing.

Don’t be too Critical

Many times if we could have worked out each of our ideas we would have learned quite a lot about the process and geared ourselves up for the next project. Don’t be too quick to say no, give it a try and see how it goes.

Inspired by Lovely Lovely UK

lovely

I *love* Lovely Lovely — you may even recognize seeing some of their goods in my apartment feature — I had to have quite a few of their pop art cute, neon sugar clad brand. Years later, they’re still my favorite plates.

Picture 1
Picture 3

If your taste is anything like mine, the retro revival food (check out the rosy gelatin mould!) and cake-inspired palettes are enough to make your eyes gleam with eye candy overload.

Living Art: How To Make a Terrarium

Terrariums are magical miniature pieces of nature that you can admire anywhere in your home. They are living pieces of art. You don’t even need to be a master gardener (I certainly am not) to put together and care for your own terrarium or dish garden, but you do need to know a few things about what kinds of plants need how much light and watering. Designing your own terrarium allows to you get creative and let your imagination run wild. You can include miniature statues of mythical creatures, little signs and pretty rocks. If you can’t find what you want, you can even make little mushrooms or animals out of oven bake clay.

Terrariums are enclosed, so the plants need to be small enough to grow inside of a glass jar, a small glass box or any clear container. Wide-mouthed glass containers with a removable lid are the easiest to work with because you have easy access to water and prune as you need to. You can even mount your terrarium on the wall in a light box or hang it from the ceiling in a glass globe. It all depends on your imagination and the things you can find. People have even made tiny terrariums inside old light bulbs!

970065_020_b 970065_020_f
Tabletop Terrariums at Athopologie

You Need

A container
A group of small plant starters that will grow under the same amount
of light and watering.
Some sand or small pebbles
Activated charcoal
Spaghnum moss
Potting soil

You should plan out how you want it to look before you start collecting your supplies–make a sketch or just have a vivid image in your head. The first thing you will place in your container is a layer of coarse sand or small pebbles that is about one inch thick. This layer is for drainage and will keep your plants’ roots from rotting.

Next you will need to lay on a thin layer of activated charcoal–the same kind they use in aquarium filters to keep the air flow or water flow clean, so you can find this at the pet store. If you are planting in an open-air container you won’t need this.

Lay down your Spaghnum moss in a thin layer so that your soil won’t sink down into the charcoal and pebbles every time you water it.

Now you can add your soil. You can buy pre-mixed terrarium soil blends or you can just mix 2 parts regular potting soil, 1 part coarse builders sand (never use beach sand) and 1 part leaf mold (aka humus). You don’t need to add fertilizer because you don’t want the plants to grow very large and there is already a substantial amount in the potting soil.

Sometimes all your little plants require for watering is a good misting from a spray bottle to emulate rain. You should never place your terrarium in direct sunlight.

If you want to make a desert-themed cactus garden, this would be much easier to do in a dish rather than a terrarium. Since cacti and succulents need drier, sandy soil, you can use special potting soil
made for them or put your potting soil down and then place an equal layer of coarse sand on top after you plant your cacti. You don’t need spaghnum moss, charcoal or pebbles for a desert garden, but if you are using a planter dish with a hole at the bottom, be sure to put a small piece of screen over it so your sand doesn’t fall out. Also, unlike a terrarium, your cacti will need plenty of direct sunlight. Wear thick gardening gloves if you are working with sharp cacti!

Your cacti will only need to be watered about once a month. Always make sure you water your plants with luke warm water instead of cold water so you don’t shock the roots. Image someone throwing ice cold water on you on a hot day!

I hope I’ve sparked your interest for making your own terrarium! They make great little decorations and interesting gifts. Here is a list of a few small plants that would be good for a terrarium or dish garden but this definitely isn’t all of them. Do some research on the care of the plants that you want to use and let your imagination run wild as you plan out the look of your mini garden.

Irish Moss

Great for any tiny landscape and only grows to a max of three inches tall.

Miniature Peperomia

Stays small and and has tiny round leaves. Very easy to maintain.

Wintergreen

Grows to about six inches tall and is very hearty. Blooms tiny white flowers in the summer and smells minty.

Dwarf Japanese Sweet Flag

Tiny ornamental grass that resembles an Iris plant, but only grows to two inches tall.

Leptinellas

Looks exactly like an itty bitty fern and are often refered to as “mini ferns”. These are also easy to take care of.

Butterwort

Cool little carnivorous plant that attracts insects like a living fly paper and dissolves them with digestive juices on its leaves. Only grows to about one inch tall with sticky leaves but will bloom a pretty purple flower.

Mini Bonsai

Would be a cool addition to a dish garden but would be hard to maintain in a closed container because they need to be trimmed and trained into the bonsai shape.

Earth star AKA Starfish Plant

It stays under six inches tall and grows a rosetted star shape of long, spiked leaves. It is easy to care for and is perfectly suited for a terrarium because it loves humity.

Succulents

Cacti and other succulents like Aloe Vera and Jade grow very slowly and will eventually outgrow whatever container you put them in. Plant them when they are small and you’ll be able to enjoy your mini desert garden for quite a while.

Design Your Own Career: Part Two

Part Two: The Essential Elements of Entrepreneurialism

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Nietzsche

Hopefully, from our work together on the previous post you’ll have some idea of the unique career you want to build. Now is the time to look at what is required from you to achieve this, and how you can acquire, cultivate and harvest these traits to your best advantage. Even if you haven’t 100% pinned down your ideal career, working on this in the mean time will only serve to enhance your prospects.

That ladder again…

Designing your own career is not a clear-cut thing, so it does not merely entail clear-cut procedures to attain it, like achieving basic qualifications, writing an average CV or applying for an advertised position. Your own career requires more; it requires passion; it requires initiative and brazen ambition; it requires jumping on all opportunities, and manufacturing the opportunities if they don’t exist; it has to justify itself by the very splendor that the ‘work’ brings you, before you even begin to contemplate the money you could make.

That said, you shouldn’t lose sight of the practical measures in the design of your own career if you want to make a practical living from it. As I previously highlighted: whether we opt for the conventional or creative career, we are still on a ladder. The only difference is who chooses the steps.

You need to conjure your own steps, and then take them with dedication.

I strongly advise writing down your prospective steps if you’re serious about success. Designing your own career isn’t easy, in fact it requires far, far more work than any other option, but you must love this work, or at least love the thought of where it will take you enough to bury yourself in even its most mundane elements with reckless abandon.

I can’t stress enough how strongly you have to want to design your own career if it is ever going to happen, it has to burst out of you like bubbles from a shaken can – if it seems too much like hard work now, know that it’ll get harder before it gets any easier. I don’t say this to put you off, not at all; I’m here to encourage you! I simply want to portray the seriousness of what you’re embarking upon, this is a huge part of your life, so do it right.

But back to those steps…

Here’s a guideline:

Where you are now. Education and ambition, laying foundations by getting qualified and testing the water. A time for work-experience, seeking a mentor etc.
Establish a product. A book, a collection of paintings or photography, a brand, a form of design, a celebrity self, a voice, a viewpoint etc.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Sell product. Look at ways to sell more product/ market product. Create a website, go on tour, create flyers, get a stand at an event etc.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Expand on product; bring in outside help. Create more products/more angles to your one main product.
Let others sell product for you, whether commercial or not. Affiliate programs, Amazon, local stores or galleries.
Refine, improve, and update product.
Take product elsewhere, into new markets, perhaps re-branding it.
Ultimate goal. (Mansion? Fame? Florida retirement?)

You are always selling a product in any career, whether that product is yourself, your art, a service – you have something to offer, and you receive recompense in return. This is your product, but call it whatever you like: your offering, your merchandise, your ideas.

Don’t feel like you have to stick closely to the above guidelines, your own career is your own, after all, and the steps will be uniquely yours. Just make them clear, measurable, and place them somewhere you’ll look at often and repeatedly.

The top three traits to entrepreneurialism and designing you own career.

There is no magic formula that mixes to make you an instant entrepreneur. You should know already if you have a passion strong enough to carry you along your own unique career path, and that is the only real starting point. However, here are three factors I consider the most important in any aspiring artistic tycoon.

Be inspired because…

“If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.” – Katherine Hepburn

You have to find a medium of work that has you jumping out of bed at 5am because you can’t wait to get started (okay, maybe 8am…); one that has projects ticking over in your mind all day and that you can viably dedicate hours upon hours of your time to, for what is often little or no pay to begin with.

Be sure to protect and nurture this inspiration, not take it for granted; take yourself on a cultural outing once in a while, make time for watching interesting movies, read books, and carry a notebook to catch your best brainwaves like butterflies in a jar. Think of your source of inspiration as a well that needs to be replenished often.

Be Fearless because…

“You’ve got to jump off cliffs, all the time, and build your wings on the way down.” – Ray Bradbury

You must be genuinely prepared for hard work and possible failures in the quest for your own career; but know that failing is never truly failing if we can take a lesson from it. Take chances, even if you don’t fully know what the outcome will be, even if you are only 60% prepared. Jump in at the deep end and you’ll probably find you can float, if not swim laps!

Be a risk-taker and an authenticist (new favorite made-up word meaning someone who is true to themselves.) If an opportunity scares you, it’s probably the exact one you should take. Dream big dreams and get a successful mindset because, if you act like a success, you will eventually realize success.

Be a Leader because…

“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” – Michael Evans

Have a message you want to spread and a clear goal in mind at all times, or else you’re liable to stray from it. Not that this goal should be unbending, but you need to at least be aware if it does morph into something else. Prepare an elevator pitch (aptly named to be short enough to say on an average elevator ride i.e. one to three minutes) if the ideal time to sell your product should arise unexpectedly; keep all your dealings consistent with this pitch.

Form your tribe.

Common Problems with the Creative Career

The above is all well and good, but we have to prepare ourselves for the bumps and knocks of entrepreneurialism too. Like in any conventional career, you will encounter blocks on the creative path. Often, though, these blocks will be internal issues, not external ones – making them simultaneously easier (you’re the only issue to get over, no middle man or external barrier) to be got over, and more difficult (changing yourself is notoriously tricky when you are the only person there to answer to; requires immense will.)

Again, this isn’t with an aim to put you off, but to arm you with a mindset to defeat them, and to help you understand why you’ll need to get good at the positive traits I’ve already mentioned.

Time-management

The bad news is that this is something you’ll have to get good at. The good news is that the way you do this is totally up to you. When it’s your own work, deadlines will often be wishy-washy or even non-existent, but what if you’re just not that organized generally? You need to construct a system for how you deal with your time, whether that’s ‘every night from 6-8’ or ‘I feel so inspired, I’m just going to spend all day on my art, even if I do nothing for the rest of the week’.

You must get to know your productive self and how that self thrives: first thing in the morning, last thing at night, on the weekend, at the library, with a laptop in Starbucks etc. You need to write down a system that works for you, even if you avoid anything too specific. For more on time-management, read my article on How to Avoid Procrastination.

Lack of Opportunities

On the last first part of this series I received this from a reader: “…what stands in my way are the meagre opportunities and the lack of support from family and friends who do not believe in setting up a creative career, and hence won’t help in finances and the like.” My words on finances will come later in the series, but opportunities and support are essential factors to be overcome in all creative endeavors.

Believe me, opportunities are out there. Seek and you will find. If opportunities don’t seem to exist, you must take action to create them. Dedicate a day to trawling the internet with keyword Google searches and save your findings in a ‘Favorites’ folder. There are people out there, just like you, succeeding in what you want to do; link up with them, get work experience with them, interview them for a blog, find out how they got where they are and mimic it.

Find courses you can take in or around your subject, as this is often the best way to meet real, working professionals in the business. Meet other creative people in your community; even if their skills differ from yours, you can work together. For example, a web designer could assist a photographer to build a website, and the photographer could return the favor with help on promotional pictures.

Lack of Support

Going it alone career-wise is very often championed by the introvert. Why? Because it can be a lonely business; it requires someone who is happy to depend on themselves and spend a great deal of time working over their own thoughts and ideas. I’ve been lucky, I feel I can achieve great things because of the support network I have, but I know this isn’t always the case. Financial support can be sourced elsewhere (more information on this to come later) but emotional support of friends and family is truly priceless – and without it you can feel a bit lost.

Join a community, whether locally or online, no matter your niche, one will exist somewhere. If it doesn’t – set one up, even if it’s only a Facebook group. This kind of support won’t act as a replacement for that of close personal relationships, but it can surely help, and who knows what will come of the links you will forge.

Depending on your situation, if you believe in yourself enough and start to see small successes, your family and friends will come around. You have to look for the positive, create the positive, and you will find that you will attract positivity.

Dealing with People

Despite what I’ve said on the subject of support, an independent career will never be 100% you and you alone. Whether you’re collaborating, targeting a certain market, networking – whatever – you need to know about people, even if that’s a very small niche of people. It’s in your interest to learn how to interact, impress, excite and enlighten your public – as much for their benefit as your own. Establish yourself as a go-to person in your business, and your success will only grow.

Consider this your initiation into the world of your dream career! Next up will be Part Three: Love & Learning in Equal Measure where I’ll consider questions of gratitude and education, before we move on to the essential question of cold hard cash in Part Four: Making Your Passion Pay.

Design Your Own Career: Part One

Part One: What’s Your Calling?

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” – George Bernard Shaw

Convention, we nearly all assign ourselves to it on some level or another; whether it’s three square meals a day, two point four children or a standard curriculum education. However, there comes a point in the life of your average creative when they realize convention just won’t cut it for them any longer, most powerfully when it comes to their careers.

Sometimes, even though it would be easier for an individual to ignore their talent, their desires, their dreams, and opt for habitual obedience and a fixed wage, they just can’t quite swallow the dry pill that is the conventional career. Is this you? Then this series is here to help.

Whether you’ve got no idea where to start, or you’re a seasoned freelancer looking to get back to basics, ‘How to Design Your Own Career’ will take you from the very basics of figuring out just what it is you should be doing, the traits you’ll need to be successful in that career, getting qualified and making it pay. From artists to jewelery designers, writers to life coaches and more – it’s in your hands to create a self-sufficient, fulfilling and profitable career. So, how about it?

What should you be doing?

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha

You may know that a conventional career isn’t for you, what you may not know is which creative path you’d like to take. Deciding early on is desirable, as the more work you can put in now, the sooner you’ll get there. For sure success, you’ll also want to stoke a very organic, fiery desire within yourself, aimed at a certain path.

However, the creative mind is oftentimes a confused one – there’s just too much going on in there! For that reason, it may take a little self-research to conclude just what it is that you want to make your living doing.

If you’re stuck, try this exercise:

1. Find yourself a private space where you can sit comfortably, equipped with a notepad, pen, warm drink and perhaps some motivating music playing quietly. Gather five to ten items that interest, excite or inspire you. For example: a great book you’ve read (fiction or non-fiction) a magazine clipping, a beautiful image or photograph, a piece of jewellery or clothing, a CD or DVD etc. Try to vary the items as much as possible (although this isn’t essential) and spread them out in front of you.

2. Study the items and try to note down answers to the following questions:

  • What unifies them?
  • Imagine they were the belongings of a fictional character (i.e. not yourself) what would that character be like? Could you aspire to be more like this character? What career would fulfil this character?
  • With each item individually, try to create another item from it. For example, a Jazz CD could relate to a Jazz club (real or imagined) and you can picture how the Jazz club would be decorated, perhaps with a mural or mix of antique furniture.
  • Of all the items, real and imagined, which feels most exciting or ‘hottest’ to you?

3. Leave your notes for a day or so, and then return to them in the same setting. Brainstorm careers around the ideas you generated, even if they don’t exist, even if they’re silly, even if you don’t believe for one minute that you could make a living out of them.

4. Further questions you might like to ask yourself and brainstorm from are: what do you most often think about? (Food, fashion, a certain sport etc.) What do you most often read about? (What kind of article would you stop to read in a magazine, or what book would you pick up in a library?) What is currently on your mind? (When you’ll get a chance to watch that new movie, or your next holiday etc.) Again, what feels ‘hottest’?

5. Once you have certain topics in mind that inspire you, think about how you could make a career from them. What are the different ways people have done this? Who are they? How did they do it? How could you do it differently?

What you should know is that any career, any career you can think of, is made up of a series of ‘steps’. This, low and behold, is why it is called ‘the career ladder’! All you need to do is determine what these steps are, from your current position, and start taking them.

If your creative career doesn’t exist – create it! Thanks to the internet, the world of work is changing. The middle man’s days are numbered and we are freer than ever when it comes to how we can generate income. Online business is lucrative for the individual, and can be forged from an almost innumerable amount of hobbies, skills and interests.

Many people think they need a ‘big break’, or lots of money to begin with, and this can be the case, but don’t you think that even if you just reach, say, step seven, you’re far more likely to be noticed for your hypothetical ‘big break’ than if you lounge around at step zero? Precisely.

The truth is, the career of the creative is often made up like a tapestry, weaving together several income streams, some more attractive than others. Many people take the option of what we’ll call ‘half creative’ living, where they work a part-time or even full time job, and pursue a creative career alongside it. If followed with enough ambition, this option can often lead to ‘fully creative’ living.

Only you can know which choice is right for you but, if you’re really serious about designing your own career, you need to dedicate as much time as possible and, if not, have a strict regime of how you’ll use the time that you can dedicate. We’ll look more at time-keeping, and other positive traits you’ll need to develop for successfully creating your own career, in the next part of the series.