Saturday, July 30, 2011

How to Find Your Unique Voice as an Artist
– Part III

     written by Tien Frogget

6. Let go of criticism
I know how to feels to look at others work and become dejected - I still (frequently) see others work that just wows me and after I get past the beauty of if I start comparing it to my own work and instantly feel smaller. I think, "I could never be that good!" or, "I like their style better than mine!" And on really bad days I'll think things like, "Why even bother trying? The world doesn't need another artist."  And then I look at my work and remember that's exactly the reason why I should.

Because I'm not doing it for anyone else - I'm doing it for me. I'm doing it because it brings me joy, and for no other reason. There are tons of people out there that don't like my work! And that's totally okay. Because for every person that doesn't there's another that does. That's the greatest gift of art: it is completely personal. Haven't you ever gone to someone's house and you think, "what is that hideous thing on their wall?" Then they proceed to say, "Don't you just love this!? It's by my favorite artist!" You may be gagging, but they smile every time they look at it.

Each of us has our own unique voice and we only need to give ourselves permission to create freely and with wild abandon in order to find it.

Imagine if Van Gogh had painted his first painting, looked at it and said, "Well this isn’t very good. I must not be cut out to be an artist," and then he quit! Can you imagine the world without his paintings? I can't either. But you know what? He had to start where we all started: trial and error. But people don't realize that even he had to learn, just like the rest of us.

Every great artist, writer, photographer, and creative person has to start at the beginning. How quickly we advance all depends on how much time we spend doing what we love - and how much time we spend loving what we do.

7. Change the way you talk to yourself about your abilities
This one takes a little effort if you're used to looking at your work and feeling your heart sink and frequently think thoughts like, "see, Tien? You suck! Everyone else out there is so much better than you. You're just not improving fast enough." But changing the way you think is the second most important thing you can do, after practice.

     • Give yourself permission to create endless “bad” pictures.
     • Remind yourself that anything you don't like can go in the trash and you will never have to look at it again.
     • When you are feeling frustrated, remind yourself that even creative geniuses create things that they don't like; in fact, they are often their own worst critics.
     • You might not be seeing your art as it actually is, but through your own "not good enough" filters. They might be better than you think.
     • Look at those pieces you created that you do like all the time.
     • Recognize that you are good, that you have created wonderful things and you continue to do so.
     •  Remember that you are only going to get better.
     • If you can, try listening to music that makes you feel good when you create. Your emotions will translate naturally into the picture.
     • Try to paint or draw when you are in a really good mood. This doesn't mean make excuses not to if you're in a bad mood, it just means that if you're feeling great and you have time, go create some more. When you are feeling good, you will automatically create more beautiful things. (Seriously! I'm not kidding about this one!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Find Your Unique Voice as an Artist
– Part II

     written by Tien Frogget

3.  Paint, Draw, or Create every single day.
The best way to get good at anything is to just do it. Over and over and over and over and over again. By doing it, you train yourself to the point where things become automatic; you do the basics without even thinking about them because it comes so naturally.

Repetition is the fastest way to learn or master anything. Art is no exception. The more frequently you do it, the more quickly you will improve and advance.

Try different things! Experiment! Create a piece several times. Do it the “technically correct” way… and then do it again and break ALL off the rules! That's how you step outside of the box and do new things. You might discover a new way of creating that you never would have thought of otherwise.

4. Create because you love to - and for no other reason.
The #1 most important thing you can do to improve your art and find your unique voice is to HAVE FUN!

Is it really that simple? Yes, yes, and yes!

When you are having fun and trying new things and exploring and enjoying yourself, you are naturally more creative. Ideas will occur to you that you never thought of before. Things will naturally fall into place. Having fun is the key to being good. Seriously.

Creating beautiful art is something that comes from the heart, not the mind.
It is a journey. If you are trying to create work in order to sell it, you are probably over-thinking it. If you do it because you love it, you are creating what comes from your heart and soul. Do it because it makes you feel good, and people will see it and like it because it resonates with them, and makes them feel good, too.

5. Get inspired!
Being truly unique is about getting all of the other voices out of your head about what you could do and what you should do and how things are supposed to be done. It's about quieting all your thoughts and then listening to the stillness and the silence where all of the new ideas are and getting in touch with your spirit. This is where you will hear the inspiration that will cause you to make uncommon connections and spawn new and great creations.

Do those things that feed your soul - eat delicious foods, read inspiring books, spend time with creative people, look at art you love, listen to music that transports you to a whole new world. It is often in those moments when you are simply enjoying life that the best ideas occur or you have the most wonderful inspiration for new things.

Those very things that inspire you are often hints and nudges in the direction that you could take your art to move it to the next level.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to Find Your Unique Voice as an Artist – Part I

     written by Tien Frogget

In this day and age where it seems like there are more talented artists than ever, artists are frequently asking themselves, "how can I set my stuff apart from everyone else and be successful?”

It's not just enough to be good - you've got to find your own unique voice. The question is - how?

1.  Paint, Draw, or Create what interests you
This may seem obvious, but there are still a lot of people who go about this all the wrong way. They ask themselves, "What type of art has the most demand right now? What area will be the most lucrative?" And then they go out and try to fit themselves into that arena.

But you will never be as successful doing this as you could be by doing what interests you.

Why? Because you will enjoy it more. You will naturally create more beautiful work. You will be more creative and want to try new things. This is so important and yet most people don't even think twice about it. When you are passionate about what you do, it is a simple fact that your joy will propel you forward. You will not be dragging yourself out of bed, you will be leaping from the mattress full of excitement and enthusiasm, and that in turn will carry over into your work.

2.  Avoid the #1 Creativity Killer
Contrary to popular belief, reading more books and taking more classes does not always make you a better artist. Don't get me wrong; they can be incredibly helpful tools that help you learn and grow - to an extent. However, there is a point that most artists reach where studying and learning stops being helpful and becomes counterproductive. How do you know that you've reached that point?

When you find yourself critiquing and criticizing your work more than you are simply enjoying it.

You might be thinking, "Now wait a minute. Hold on. Critiquing helps me to get better! That's how I learn. I see what worked, what didn't, and I can correct and improve."

Yes, in an ideal world. And usually this works in moderation. However, I've seen more artists shut themselves down long before they ever truly delved into their potential because of this #1 creativity-killer: perfectionism. They overanalyze all of the details of their art, attempting to make everything in each one of them just right.

Art is not supposed to be perfect. There are technical tools that we can use to improve our work, but they are only that: tools - not rules. Just like people, art is technically imperfect - and yet that's what makes it so beautiful. Each piece is an impression of a moment or feeling that can never be recreated. And only you, from your unique viewpoint, have the ability to create it.

If you create something and you like it, then what anyone else says doesn't matter. The "rules" are great to a certain extent, and then after that they start to hinder you.  Stop trying to make your art adhere to everyone else's rules, and they will begin to take on a whole new form.

The true "greats" in any field not only break the rules, but reinvent them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

5 More Ways To Promote Your Creative Business

     written by Tien Frogget

When it comes to promoting what you do, there are several other effective ways to showcase your talents and bring in business. Of course, you want to work smarter – not harder. So here are five more highly effective things that you can do that can have a potentially huge return.

#1 – Ask For Referrals
The people who have bought from you in the past, as well as your family and friends, are an incredible (and often untapped) resource. A lot of times, people either don’t think to ask for a referral or they worry that the person will feel pressured. Quite the opposite! All you are doing is asking a simple question – “do you know anyone else who could benefit from my services?” They will mentally run through their list of contact and think, “you know, Jenny was talking about wanting to redesign her house. This would be perfect.” The worst that will happen is they will say no – but more likely than not, you will be surprised at the number of referrals you get, just from asking!

#2 – Start a Mailing List
A mailing list is an incredibly powerful tool. These people are basically giving you permission to e-mail them and promote your stuff! The trick is, you’ve got to do it effectively. Don’t bombard them with too much mail. Once or twice a month is plenty; more than that and people will get tired of it and unsubscribe. Less than that, and they will forget they opted-in and won’t remember who you are. And most importantly: provide value! Don’t just send them links to your latest products, give them good information so that they appreciate your newsletter and want to stay on it. This leads me to…

#3 – Write An Article
Write five articles… or ten! Articles are one of the best ways to be found online. You are providing good, valuable information about your niche and also setting yourself up as the expert in the readers’ eyes. You will gain their trust and (so long as you don’t do anything to squash it) most likely be interested in learning more.

#4 – Write A Press Release
Different than an article, a press release is a more newsworthy and concisely written piece. It is very effective when you are doing something new within your business, or a event is coming up. Rather than being written to teach, a press release is meant to inform the reader of the latest big thing that’s going on with you.

#5 – Write A Book
A much more time-consuming affair, definitely. But worth it? Yes, a thousand times over. A book is not only a way to inform and gain trust, just like an article, but it is also an extra source of income! A book is written once, but it can be sold over and over again. And if you’ve written several highly useful articles and started a mailing list, you will already have people lining up to buy it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Using Limitations to Be More Creative

     written by Tien Frogget

Whether you’re an artist, designer, photographer, or any create professional, sometimes knowing where to start on a project can be difficult if you don’t have any guidelines or foundation. It seems sort of counterintuitive, right? We tend to assume that with infinite possibility comes infinite ease, because we can choose anything.

But this isn’t always true. In fact, it can actually hinder the creative process. But why?

Too many choices?
It’s simple, really – you might have too many possibilities to choose from. Imagine going to buy an ice cream cone and you have 20 flavors to choose from. Unless you’ve been there before and already know your favorite, it’s very likely that you’ll stand around for at least five minutes trying to decide what you want, if not longer. But if you approach a simple ice cream cart with only three choices – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, the choice is easy.

Now, we definitely don’t want to eliminate the wonderful plethora of choice out there. This is one of the delicious parts of creating that makes it so fun. Life would be boring if there were only ever three flavors of ice cream. However, knowing which limitations and restrictions to place on a creative project can dramatically enhance your creative abilities, because it limits the choices.

Creative Secret
Why is that? It is those very restrictions that force us to think more creatively. Ideas that would never have occurred to us otherwise will appear suddenly in our mind, and we’ll think, “what a great concept!” This is the secret of those “outside the box” thinkers.  They know that without having a box to begin with, they can’t break free from it.

If you are a painter, grab a blank canvas and choose just five colors. Then grab a tool besides a paint brush – it can be a sponge, a palette knife, your fingers, a fork, a toothpick, anything. Now paint an entire painting using only those paints and that tool. I guarantee you will learn something new, because you are taking it to the edge of its possibility. You are going to ask yourself, “how can I do this in a way I haven’t thought of before?” You may even discover that you have a knack for creating a completely new style that no one else has done before.

Creativity Push
If you are a photographer, limit yourself to one light in a dark room. Or only one piece of special equipment. Ask yourself how you could take a good landscape photo without a tripod, and don’t give up until you’ve done it. Take photos in what most photographers consider the worst conditions - high noon lighting, a dark room, an overly-windy day. In doing so, you will likely find ways of getting around the problem and being able to take advantage of the circumstances and create photos that look unusual and unique to you.

If you are an interior designer, you can limit yourself with colors, shapes, a very specific number of accessories or lights, or begin with one painting or piece of furniture in mind and arrange everything around that.

There is so much that you can do to set limitations that cause you to become more creative; just use your imagination. And most of all – have fun with this!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Top 5 Ways To Promote Your Creative Business

     written by Tien Frogget

Chances are, you probably already have one or two of these different things that you are doing to promote your business. However, are you doing all of them? Just doing one extra thing on this list could mean dozens or even hundreds of potential clients. What are you waiting for?

#1 – A Website
In this day and age, everyone has a website. If you don’t have one, clients will typically wonder why not, and even question whether or not you are even a legitimate business. The same is true if you are a creative person trying to promote and sell your services. Whether you are an artist, photographer, or interior designer, you need a website with a gallery of your best work, information about you, and your contact info – at a minimum.

#2 – Business Cards
If you meet someone and want to tell them about your business, you’re going to look a lot more professional if you hand them a card with your info on it rather than grabbing a pen and trying to find a napkin or post-it to scribble your website on. And as a creative professional, you have an advantage – you can make your card look so beautiful that they won’t ever consider throwing it away.

#3 – Make A Video
Or even better, make five videos! Make them short (2-3 minutes) interesting, entertaining, and if you can – funny. Then upload them to YouTube. Put them on your website. Share them with friends, colleagues, and clients. This is an excellent way to get your work out there.

#4 – Join A Social Network
If you’re not social network savvy, I recommend just choosing one to start with. Trying to do too many at once can be overwhelming and confusing. If you stick with one for a while before trying to implement another, you have time to get really good at the one and build up followers. Social Networks are an invaluable tool for keeping people informed about the latest and greatest aspects of what you do! There are so many to choose from – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning, the choices are endless. Not to mention the many industry specific social networks, like PictureCorrect for photographers and DeviantArt for artists.

#5 – Start A Blog
Blogs are all the rage! If you can bring beauty, entertainment, and fun together in an interesting way, you can promote your work, pick up followers, and build your web presence even more.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Here by special request!

Defining Expansion I
©Wendy Froshay

     ... Written by Tien Frogget

Our last article explained why you want to design a room concept around a piece of art that is meaningful to the client, rather than the other way around. We had some people asking us if we could give an example or two.  So we’ve taken a few different pieces of our favorite art and come up with some fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Defining Expansion III
©Wendy Froshay
  Organic, Warm, Earthy
  Let’s start with
  “Defining Expansion I and Defining Expansion III”
  by Wendy Froshay.
  These gorgeous organic abstracts
  are just the right combination of
  soft shapes and texture for an
  earthy abode with an exotic splash of color.

I would begin with a light, airy room with cream walls and tan carpet or warm wood floors, depending on your preference. Choose simple, elegant furniture and accessories in creams, tans, rust, copper, and warm brown. Then add carefully selected accents in vivid turquoise, dark brown or black, and indigo. You’ll want to go for a clean yet homey feel with natural and earthy or possibly ethnic touches, giving the room a peaceful ambience with rich and passionate undertones.

Art as the Focal Point
The Golden Key ©Emelina Figueroa
Now let’s take a look at “The Golden Key” by Emelina Figueroa.  This is a beautiful piece with bold colors and repetitive shapes that would make a stunning focal point in a living room or bedroom.

I would begin with a foundation of light tans and creams with lots of gold and dark brown.  Then I would add large splashes of deep maroon embellished with more gold and dark purple-indigo.  I would definitely try to bring the texture of this painting into the feel of the room, if I could, through use of both rough rock and smooth stone (possibly dark marble,) as well as implementing the woven theme. Depending on the client’s tastes, a classic water feature with clean lines would also fit nicely. This particular piece of art works well with a combination of both straight edges and smooth, perfect curves.

The possibilities are endless! The only limit is your imagination. This is simply meant to give you a few ideas of how art can be the best place to start when designing any interior. And the beautiful thing is, there are so many different directions you can go from the same piece.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Designing a Room Around Art

Do Americans undervalue Art?
     ...written by Tien Frogget

It’s sad to say, but in this day and age the number of interior designers who undervalue the purpose of art is growing rapidly. Too many professionals are spending all of their effort and focus on all of the other aspects of design; the flooring, the furniture, the lighting, and all of the accessories. Then when they’re all done they stand back and go, “I really need to put some art right here.” But they’ve spent almost all of their budget on everything else. So they go out and try to find the most inexpensive art they can find that matches their color scheme, slap it on the wall, and call it a day.

European Practice
Whatever happened to the days of beginning with a piece of art that truly moves you, and building your whole design concept around that? This is still common practice for a lot of Europeans and wow-oh-wow you should see some of the living spaces that are the result! In many ways, a piece of art can offer so much inspiration for the room: a delicious color palette, repetition of shapes and patterns, even the style of the art itself can lend flavor to the room’s d├ęcor.

Timelessness of Art
And the result? A more unified theme with elegantly integrated elements all working together to create balance and harmony. Not only that, the room becomes so much more personal.  The occupants will be able to sit back and enjoy a favorite piece of art time and again that they already know and love, rather than just passing by another design element every day that disappears into everything else. It becomes a focal point and a conversation piece, an opportunity for the owner to proudly show off their prize at their next soiree.

Taking It to the Next Level
Knowing how to integrate high-quality art into a design is truly a skill that only the best designers can brag about. But if you want to take your work to the next level, this is an excellent direction to focus. Imagine working with your clients to find works of art that they absolutely love and then building their design around them. You will be surprised by the new dimension that your room takes and your clients will be absolutely delighted when they see the end result. The home becomes infinitely more meaningful and their satisfaction will be your reward.