So Little Time, So Many Things to Create

David has been working in the studio a lot lately.. he has a couple shows coming up and some other art events. So I’ve been working up in my half on making a complete mess. As I said in the last video, I’m doing wedding decor so the studio is not video-ready. It looks instead like someone took a big, pastel puke in the middle of my floor. Really though with all of the glitter, ribbons, pompoms and flowers… it was only a matter of time. I’m making just about everything in the wedding and although it will be pretty minimal, the items I make will be pop surrealism crafty cute~ pastel rainbow = my favorite thing forever.

pastel rainbow wedding

I’ll also be using a lot of these pastel kawaii materials (I got bulk goodies because I found so many great deals on things I LOVE) to make some goodies for the shop but that will probably come around after the wedding is over, maybe not but probably! The shop will be getting a revamp next year due to our new tshirt printer and products getting finalized~

On that notion I also started doing some sketches again in spare time that wasn’t spent crafting. I had painted an entire painting of an alien scene when David left a canvas he didn’t need on my craft table.. and the only thing I liked about it was the HANDS. How often do illustrators feel that way? I’m not sure.. but it’s not common for me. So I wondered why I don’t sketch anymore and how much more fulfilling it would be if I sketched a bunch of my ideas out prior to sketching on a canvas. Like I used to do. So I’ve been doing little sketches of my moods displayed on a cartoon-y girl. I also pulled one into illustrator after David asked why I’m not doing them in Illustrator. Something about the actual sketching (besides the mobility of it) is providing some sort of therapy for me in my late-night busy brain, tired body situations. If I like any enough in the future I might make some prints of them, not sure yet!

night sketching

thinking girl sketch

whatever sanrio pop kawaii bow

deer fawn girl sketch

whatever girl

And I’ve been doing dolly crocheting again while waiting for things like appointments or meetings to start..

kawaii kokeshi crochet

What have you been working on?

Camilla d’Errico is No Ordinary Love of Mine

As is pretty obvious by my own work and features here, I am involved in and very supportive of the Pop Surrealism movements in Los Angeles and Tokyo. Having seen Camilla d’Errico‘s work at Hello Kitty’s 35th VIP Aniversary Party in LA I just had to promote and feature her work and really wanted to understand a little bit about what makes such a beautiful mind, as communicated on canvas, tick.

How long have you been painting?
I’ve been painting (exhibiting) since 2005.

Did it ever become your main focus?
No, painting has never actually been my main focus, though it took center stage in 2007-2008. I’m a comic book artist, first and foremost, but after I first started showing in galleries, and my work was well loved, I was propelled into the Pop Surrealism movement in Los Angeles and I went with it!

What has been your favorite exhibition?
My favorite would have to be the Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary show in 2009. It was fabulous and so many artists interpreted Hello Kitty (I love HK btw) and it was a very well organized and fun show.

What inspires you most?
I’m mostly inspired by manga and anime.

What has been your favorite painting you’ve created?
No Ordinary Love because it has very special meaning for me. It’s about love, and not giving up on love, but holding onto that hope so dearly … until you are able to be reunited.

Do you have any crazy stories about one of your pieces?
It’s not crazy, per se, but I find it hilarious. My painting, Mountainhead, is a Helmetgirl with the biggest helmet you’ve ever seen. There are bits and pieces of everything on that helmet, completely overpowering her small frame. I painted that for my sister AdaPia because she is always thinking, plotting, planning. In fact, she’s my business partner! So I always like referring to her as Mountainhead.

Favorites
Color? teal
Food? steak
Animal? pug
Music? really into Dubstep right now
Magazine? Shojo Beat
Movie? Spirited Away

Do you have any advice for readers interested in turning their hobby into their main focus?
It takes a lot of determination, focus and willpower to move from hobby to professional. I suggest doing a lot of research about the specific artistic field you want to go into. That’s easy nowadays with Internet, but it’s good to also meet people in person – go to galleries, talk to the curators, owners, directors. Get a good feel for what’s going on. Also, make sure you know and define your own style. Be confident and comfortable with what you are creating. And in the beginning, it’s always a good idea to start slowly; don’t leave your ‘day job’ until you’ve built up a good client base or a collector base. And never give up, even when things seem bad; it’s just a learning phase and you’ll come out stronger.

What do you feel is a recipe for success?
Skill + talent + passion + determination + work ethic and a good dose of people skills!

Are you Miseducated?
Totally! When I was growing up, and even throughout college, everyone tried to persuade me not to go into comics because it isn’t a lucrative career. It’s barely enough for anyone to live off of, unfortunately. But I was obstinate and I wanted to be a comic artist above all else and I persisted in my dream. So first of all, I’m Miseducated because I didn’t do what I was told would be best for me, and also because I’m a self taught painter. Some of my fine art teachers told me I had no skills as a painter, no style … and as much as I am humble, I do get a kick out of knowing I’ve proven them wrong!

Gallery

Get Organized and More Productive with Apps

So I’ve recently become even more addicted to my iPhone (if that’s even physically possible) and it’s array of apps that just happen to make my life so much easier and more organized! Which is just what this article is going to focus on, getting organized and raising your productivity by using the little gadget that most of us love so much. So so much. I know you’ve been wanting me to publish this one for awhile because of the many times you ask me how I appear to stay on task in the midst of chaos and since I gave you my daily staples for happiness I figured next up should be my staples for productivity and organization. Together we’re going to excel in 2013 like never before! Do you feel me?

Some of the most important applications I need to include in my work days (and weekends as well) are simple and easily locatable in the App Store BUT being an Apple fan I’m going to assume that you, much like myself, prefer the finer things in life. The well designed, well written and most useful of the group no matter the cost. So my basic must haves for any day are: brain wave hacks or meditation music, a journal or scrapbook, a gratitude journal, a mood journal, a calendar, a task list, a notebook, a sketchbook, a daily schedule planner and obviously a camera which comes standard in all iPhones. Enjoy my list of top dogs I’ve carefully selected after using many other sub-par creations.

Audio: BrainHack 2.0 and Spotify
Audio and music are probably not important to everyone but they are must-haves for me. Whether I’m stressed and need to calm myself or get inspired a bit with a brainhack or if I just need some relaxing tunes to meditate to audio is a staple to my every day. Plus if you’re all about increasing productivity even in down time you can learn some new things as you commute by subscribing to some awesome Podcasts and radio programs.

A Journal: Evernote and Evernote Food
Everyone needs their go-to journal that’s easily accessible anytime they need to write what they’re feeling or any number of other things. The good thing about Evernote, the journal application I prefer, is that you can access, create and edit all of your notes on your computer, your iPad, your iPhone and even your Kindle or other android device. Evernote has also created a few other useful apps such as Evernote Food that is useful for organizing recipes, favorite dishes and restaurants you enjoy most and we all know how important food is to productivity and to having an enjoyable day! With Evernote, which happens to also be very clean and nice to look at, you can create as many notebooks as you like, attach photos, visually format your notes and attach locations as well. It’s very simple to use and you’ll only continue to think of new ways to use it. I adore it.

Gratitude Journal: Gratitude Journal by Happy Tapper
Very important to those of us who want to become happier and more aware of the good things we have in our life. In practicing gratitude daily you learn to be more thankful for the gifts you have been given and to overlook the problems you may be going through. With this app you also get a daily inspiring quote, you can rate your days, format your entries and attach a picture. This was one of my first favorite apps and I’ve been enjoying it for a long time!

Mood Journal: iMoodJournal
I originally decided to find a mood journal when my boyfriend asked if I had one. We figured, as any therapist will tell you, by recording your moods you’ll become more aware of bad mood triggers and will be able to track how your moods change throughout the day, week, month and year. This app allows you to rate your day, add as many notes and tags as you like and to attach a picture of your face. It even inspires me cheer up when I’m down and look through my positive mood days and photos of what a happy me looks like.

Calendar
I think it’s best to use Apple’s own calendar for this app as it is also the calendar that is on Apple computers. Plus many apps you’ll download for productivity will be designed to sync with your Calendar for optimal organization.

Notebook: Notes
I also use the default notebook for quick notes as it syncs with my computer and is an official Apple product.

Task List: Any.DO
I decided to look for a more friendly task list manager after I only continued to add tasks to the default Apple task list app, Reminders, and felt very overwhelmed that the tasks were not really organized in any way at a glance which was very overwhelming to me. I often have many tasks per day that I need to do and I really enjoy getting to cross them out on Any.Do which has predictive task writing and can target friends online or by phone per task as well as share tasks with another. It has tons of simple yet useful functions that make it my favorite list manager.

Sketchbook: Skitch
Every artist and designer needs a sketchbook on hand just in case words wont do it and you need a quick visual. Since I got tired of carrying around my lot of tiny notebooks and sketchbooks and even my purse most days I decided to add Evernote’s sketchbook to my list of go-to applications. Very useful for annotating photographs and graphics as well when you’re working on the go!

Daily Schedule Planner: Daily Routine
I most recently found this application and I am already in love. It’s beautiful, extensive and although it’s been said (look at the reviews) to be too tough to figure out I prefer it over every other planner. The visuals, features and options it has top all other daily schedule planners and when you spend a few minutes to figure out how to arrange your daily schedules you’ll love it. It can remind you of each new scheduled event during the day and can set the same schedule for every work day and a separate for weekdays or absolutely any other way you can imagine. Try it! It’s worth the cost.

Fun
I’m often asked what my favorite apps are just for entertainment. A few fun apps I enjoy using when taking a break or the work day is over are usually horoscope and spirituality apps, design apps, social media apps and more. I’ll add another article with my favorite apps for the beginning of 2013 soon! Our past app list is probably a bit outdated so keep your eyes peeled for a new one coming soon!

Phone Cases
Looking for a new, cute and productive phone case to go with your new array of amazing applications? We have them coming to our store very soon so stay tuned. Our custom cases have gotten so much praise that we’re in the midst of developing some really special ones for you. Stay tuned!

What helps you stay organized and more productive on and off work days?

Thankful for Monday: Feeling Wonky

Hello, candylanders! Fear not for I did not and could not forget you. *majorsensoryoverload* My time is much more precious with baby girl around, I feel she deserves every waking moment and I seem to have no problem at all giving them to her!

hair bun
I’ve started a new artist project and have been scanning my old sketch/inspiration book.

Changes

Life always changes.. and the past sometimes seems amazing when you try to reminiscence about it.. but in reality you had problems then too. When you’re thinking about how wonderful things used to be you’re probably only focusing on the negatives now.. what what about the positives? I have to say I love changes because although I think I hate them and would want to be a child of the 80s forever — they’re amazing. Life changes all the time and you just have to enjoy each and every part… You only live them once!

You're my Candy Bunny
A print I made for Colette before she was born.

Japanese Fashion Magazines

So I’ve been away from all of my goodies (aka: loot) for quite awhile now.. it’s all still boxed and labeled nicely in storage until we move. I miss it so much! I’m probably going to do an *obsessedwithjunk* post when we move and photo-shoot everything I always took for granted!

I again remember why I miss Japan and the life I had there.. so amazing and filled with health, good food and happiness. The magazines take me back to a time when I surrounded myself with everything adorable, bright and colorful so that I wouldn’t focus on the bad. I tried to focus on cute things that made me feel happy (my Hello Kitty and Sanrio goodies go back to 1981!) and squeal. Japan makes that world of cute lifestyle real to me, I feel so at peace and home when I’m sleeping there.

On a really materialistic note I miss the stores, clothes, magazines and food a lot, too. These magazines are like rainbow soup for my candy-lovers soul.

Sketching

I love sketching once more. When I started painting again recently for a show I found my sketching skills as shaky as ever and I decided to start perfecting them again for this artist feature I’m participating in. I cannot WAIT to show you because I have some great ideas!
😉 I’m doing a sort of a scrapbook in my notebooks as well.

Cotton Candy

I think that with a name like fairy floss this candy pretty much speaks for itself. It’s sweet and flavored (if you’re lucky) sugar melted and dried by a cooling fan. Usually it’s melt-on-your-fingers pink and lick-your-lips blue. I had to go to the local fair recently to snag a monster-sized bag, no questions asked!

FAMILY

The little family I have makes me happiest of all. If I didn’t have them I would be a lot crazier than I am now! 😉 Ben has always been amazing to me and Colette makes me smile more than I ever thought I could! Everyday with them is the best day.

psychedelicake
Old inspiration sketch.

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

Spend the Day With a Camera

You don’t have to have a reason to add some cute relaxation into your day! There are millions of reasons to celebrate each and every day.

My dear friend and I were missing the magic of childhood days so we hid eggs from each other and drew things that make us happy on the sidewalk. These are just a couple of very easy ways to relax, smile and remember why life is so great.

Spend your day with more color and creativity for the smiles that follow!

sidewalking it

i paint hearts

bunny eggs

Who is Colette?

Well my wonderful visitors that is my little belly dweller’s name. We found out that she indeed is a girl and were able to give her the name we had held in our hearts for so long. We’re still so indecisive about the middle name though, feel free to make any suggestions! We’re being slow and picky! Little Colette will be making her appearance around July 12th ~ we can’t wait.

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.

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.