AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER FLANNIGAN

An Interview with Jennifer Flannigan -1Jennifer-Flannigan-Interview A few months ago I stumbled upon this amazing, colorful and abstract art that reminded me of my own passion for painting and creating art with my hands. Naturally I was curious about the artist and wanted to learn more...so I interviewed her. I discovered we both started out as hairstylists - an experience where we both developed our communication skills and perspective on color. Here's what the warm and inspired artist Jennifer Flannigan had to say.

AN INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER FLANNIGAN | VISUAL ARTIST & PAINTER

How did you get started as an artist and painter? I have always been drawn to art, especially abstract paintings. My grandmother introduced me to the artwork of some of my favorite artists at an early age. Jackson Pollack, Dale Chihuly, Salvador Dali, and many others. As long as I can remember I've always been inspired by art museums, and interested in learning about modern art. It fascinates me to learn how they create and what inspires them. What I guess really motivated me to create more artwork is buying a new home. I was looking to buy some large abstract pieces for my home and decided I would attempt to create some of my own. I had experimented and painted on a smaller scale but became excited about the challenge of doing larger work. Realizing how much fun it was to have such a creative outlet I became hooked. Since then I have been painting and always experimenting with different styles and mediums to keep my work fresh and original. I am constantly challenging myself to try new ideas and to never stop learning.

Looking back at your childhood, did you have any creative talents that eluded to a successful career as a artist? I'm not sure if I had any real talent at any of the artistic things I tried as a child, but I was always experimenting in drawing, pottery, and paper mâché. I remember always making crafts and working on little creative projects that I took very seriously. My mother was very creative and loved doing these things with me which is probably what encouraged my creativity. Jennifer Flannigan - Create Jennifer Falnnigan - Art -1 Jennifer Flannigan - Art What do you believe is one of the most important things you've done to successfully grow your business as an artist? The decision and the ability to sell my paintings online was key to expanding my business, and has allowed me to promote my work all over the world. Since I mostly sell and market my work online being able to photograph my paintings myself became very important. It took a long time to learn how to accurately capture the colors and textures of my work on camera. Without a greatphoto of your paintings selling online becomes impossible.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments? I’m probably the most proud of being able to get past the insecurity of venturing out into a new area of work. I have always loved to paint, but considered it to be a personal passion; one which I wasn’t ready to share with others. Through the process of educating myself on how to become a better artist, I’ve gained the confidence to not only show my work online, but I’ve also begun to challenge myself in other areas such as textile design.

How do you make the transition from providing a service that's always in demand to creating artwork? Being a hairstylist and painting are really similar in the fact that both are creative and deal with color. Being a stylist taught me a new perspective on color and sharpened my communication skills, which helps me when creating custom pieces for clients. I have found that doing commission paintings is a lot like creating a new look for someone. You must feel out their personal style and really listen to what they are looking for by asking the right questions. The client must really trust your artistic abilities and you must work together to create that special piece they have envisioned. Someone loving your work so much they want to look at it everyday is to me, the ultimate compliment as an artist.

What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and how did you overcome it? Every creative venture can become stale at some point. When you are creating commissioned work and have to push past deadlines, it can be very challenging to keep the designs fresh and truly original. I started doing these three-minute painting exercises. It’s similar to breaking through writers’ block- this approach forces you to work quickly and really helps you let go and use your instincts. Being able to tap into your creative mind on-demand and consistently staying true to your personal artistic vision are challenges that all artists face; having these tools at my disposal has helped me overcome them.

Jennifer Flannigan - Studio Jennifer Flannigan - Studio -1 Any words of advice for other artists looking to take the leap and get paid doing what they love? Really take the time to make a strong online presence. Put together a website that you are really proud of and that you update often with your latest work. Social media is such a great tool to promote your artwork. Whether it's Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or starting your own blog, dedicate the time to connect with others and to consistently put yourself out there. I cannot believe how many wonderful people and connections I have made through social media. Also, make the effort to promote and encourage other fellow artists. It's good karma and it will come back to you in your business. As hard as it may seem try not to compare yourself with other artists online. There are so many talented artists out there but each of us has unique talents. I've learned to try to only be competitive with myself and concentrate on how much I've learned or improved over the years. Doing this you are always growing and moving forward towards becoming better at your craft. Comparison only discourages and takes away the enjoyment and freedom that creating art can give. Jennifer Flannigan - Quote
If you had 5 minutes to pack a bag and move, where would you go and what would you bring? I took a girls trip two years ago with one of my closest friends, my sister, and cousin all through France and Florence, Italy. I would definitely want to go back to Florence. Such an inspiring city, especially as an artist. So much amazing art and food. I don't think I could ever get tired of all the beautiful architecture and art museums. I am terrible at packing light, usually bring twice as much clothes as necessary. Would be sure to bring my camera, ipad, and really good walking shoes. Learned the hard way how important good shoes are on that kind of a trip.

What's the first and last thing you did today? First thing I did today was cook pancakes for breakfast. It's a Sunday tradition in our home and one of my husbands favorites. The last thing I did was play with my two Bengal cats. They won't let us sleep without playing fetch for at least thirty minutes before bedtime. Probably, one of my favorite parts of the day is spending time with them.

If your friend was asked to describe you in one sentence, what would they say? Probably, that I am talkative, a planner, nurturing, and really passionate about animals, especially cats.

What's the last music you listened to? Led Zeppelin and Dave Mathews, both I listen to often while painting

Last book you read? Wild written by Cheryl Strayed, great book but I'm much more likely to be reading interior design or trashy magazines

Coffee or tea? Being from the south I would have to say sweet tea.

To see more of Jennifer's work, visit her Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Photo credits to Anna Aycock and Jena Smith

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY GROW

An Interview with Bethany Grow I can't recall when I first stumbled upon Bethany's work, but what I do remember is reading her blog posts on launching her new business and her day-to-day life and work challenges on taking the leap into self-employment. I fell in love with honesty, clean designs and hilarious commentary. Meet Bethany Grow, a wildly talented designer, blogger, creative, entrepreneur and the cutest thing since cupcakes.

AN INTERVIEW WIT BETHANY GROW  |  DESIGNER & CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR

How did you get started as a designer and entrepreneur?  I actually got started after designing my own wedding invitations! I loved the challenge of creating the first piece that would introduce the whole look and feel of my wedding to my guests. I had such a great time creating my own that I decided to start designing more and creating wedding stationery for other happy couples! Through that I discovered a love of branding as I loved capturing the whole feeling and experience of an entire event in one design. Since then I've transitioned into working with businesses and blogs to style their look and strategize the brand experience!

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Looking back at your childhood, did you have any creative talents that eluded to a career as a designer/entrepreneur? Oh yes! I mean, I had so many ideas of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do when I grew up and I wanted to start as soon as I could! At one point I started a fake radio show called "The Cheese" and I wrote stories and songs for the show that were all about cheese. I used to draw and paint all the time and I would sell the finished pieces in my front yard (but I was never successful since I hid behind a tree when cars came because I was uber shy). I loved writing books and had many many notebooks full of novels that I would start.

I just knew that I wanted to do something creative and I don't think I understood this at the time, but looking back at my many ventures, I really wanted to run my own show.

Creativity and art has always been hugely important to me. Maybe someday I'll tell you about the one time I peed my pants in 1st grade because I just REALLY didn't want to leave art class to go to the bathroom.

How were you able to take the leap into self-employment successfully? Did you overlap your day job with freelancing for a certain period of time? I started my business about a year and a half ago and up until three months ago, I was always working another job while freelancing. There were a few times when I actually had 2 jobs! It was crazy stressful, trying to get a business off the ground in the evenings when I was already tired and grumpy from my other jobs earlier that day. Really I decided to take the leap when I realized how miserable my 9-5 jobs were making me and how much I loved my freelance work. And while I did LOTS of planning, preparing, and saving, I honestly couldn't have made this leap without my husband by my side. Together we've been able to set budgets and cut back on our spending so I don't feel too pressured to make tons of money during this truly vulnerable time. He is so supportive of my goals and dreams and can see the joy that freelancing brings me so he has been amazing and made lots of sacrifices for me. And I'm so glad we took this leap together because I'm so much happier and have been able to do so much more with my business!

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What are you doing today or what have you done in the past to successfully grow your business?  I work hard every single day to grow my business! A huge part of what I do that has contributed to my success is marketing with my blog. I've been able to connect with so many potential clients by sharing my knowledge and experiences for everyone! Beyond my blog, I'm constantly strategizing new ways to reach my target market and grow my business by creating new offerings, strategizing new marketing plans, and taking little risks that will push me further.

What's one of your greatest accomplishments?  One of my greatest and more recent accomplishments was taking the huge risk of quitting my job and giving up my steady income to invest my whole heart and time into my business. It was a big step and a hard one to take and I had many a panic attack before my first day of working from home, but with a lot of effort and sacrifice I've not only made it work but I've thrived! It was the best decision I've ever made for my business and I'm so proud of myself for having the faith and guts to do it! Because of that step I've been able to do so much more with my business and make new plans that will propel me even further!

What's one short term and one long term goal of yours?  One short term goal of mine is to finish my book! Over my Christmas vacation I got the idea and started brainstorming and just recently have had the time to get started on it. It's been a big adjustment as writing in this setting is so new to me, but I'm learning a lot throughout the process and I can't wait till it's finished!

A long term goal of mine is to travel all over Europe and Asia! I know that doesn't seem business related at all, but one of the many many reasons I wanted to quit my job to become a creative solopreneur was to have the freedom to pursue my dreams and not just my business dreams, but all of them! It will require a lot of work on my part to earn the money to do it all, but I'm determined and I'm making the steps to eventually get there. Hopefully it's not too far off! I'm itching to go see the world!

Ooh a book, do spill! I'm so excited about this book! It started as a way to fully gather my advice and lessons that I've given to design and consulting clients that have struggled with creating and maintaining a professional and successful blog.

In working with these clients, I've discovered that many don't understand the concept of branding and are missing out on a hugely important part of what they do that can really propel them forward in the blogosphere.

Have that brand experience- the stories, voice, feelings, actions, expectations, style, everything that goes into creating a brand- is what will set them apart and help them be more successful. My goal is to show them how they can create a brand for themselves and their blog all on their own with lots of brainstorming, strategic planning, some helpful tools, and tons of work. I want to empower readers to go out on their own with clarity on who they are, who they want to reach, and how they're going to reach them and then the confidence to go out and do!

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What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and what did you do to overcome it? One challenge I really really struggled with for a long time was comparison. It's so hard to not compare myself to other creatives when everything seems to be so quantifiable these days! They are making more money than me, they've had more sales, they have more readers on their blog, more Twitter followers, everything! But almost a year ago now I was having a conversation with a friend about competition in the creative fields when it hit me that we are all so different and have so many different styles that why on earth do we compare ourselves to others? That's the great thing about being creatives is that we can all work in our own ways and have so many opportunities to be unique! Since then I've made a huge effort to avoid the comparison trap (though I admittedly still fall into it sometimes) and instead focus on putting my heart and soul into the work that I do. I am unique and do great work and that's all that matters!

Any words of advice for other creatives and artists looking to start and grow their expertise and business?  Remember to relax. It's funny because I almost wrote "work hard" because of course a lot of work is required to grow any business.

So much time and energy goes in to running your own show, it's so easy to become a workaholic and let your life revolve around your work. But don't forget to live your life!

Get outside, go on vacation, read a book, see your friends, try new foods, go see a movie! Regularly stepping away from your work will be so good for your sanity and creativity. And chances are, if you take a step back you'll be so much more excited about being able to get back to your work and it will remind you why you love what you do so much!

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What's the first and the last thing you did today? The first thing I did was cuddle with my dog Bruce Wayne in bed. I'm not a morning person at all so I like to wake up slow (and late) and what better way than to hang with your cute fluffy pup? The last thing that I always do before going to sleep is write in my journals. I have one to record my day to day activities and another Q+A journal where I can answer fun questions! I love to take time every night to look back on my day and write down the things I really want to remember.

Tell me more about your journaling process - the Q&A sounds interesting. I've always been really terrible at journaling. I love writing and I love the concept of saving memories and being able to go back and remember the good stuff, but I've always been terrible at committing to a journal and sticking to it. So this year I started two different journals- the one line a day journal and the Q&A journal. The One Line A Day Journal is five year journal where I can record just a few short sentences about my day. It helps me to stay focused on the things that truly matter that I'll want to remember in years to come. Each day in the journal has five different lines, one for each year and in years to come I will keep writing in that journal and share my quick thoughts on my day. So in five years, I'll be able to look back on the things that happened on each day for those years and see how things have changed! Then there's the Q&A journal. It's similar to the One Line A Day Journal as it only lets you write a few sentences and it's also a five-year journal. But instead of just summing up my day, I answer a random question! This is a fun way to record the simple stuff that might not be important enough to mention in my One Line a Day Journal, but things that will be fun to look back on. Like the song that was stuck in my head all day or what I wore today or who I'm mad at or if I could travel anywhere, where would I go? I have a feeling that these answers will be fun to compare in the next five years.

I just love being able to spend a few minutes every night before bed thinking back on the day and remembering the things I should be grateful for. It helps me to clear my head and to go to bed feeling happy.

What's the last music you listened to? The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack! It's my favorite movie and I listen to the soundtrack a lot while I work

What’s the last book you read? Daring Greatly- amazing read! Go read it. Do it.

What's your favorite dessert? Right now, eclairs! But that will change in a week.

Coffee or tea? Hot Chocolate! I actually don't drink either coffee or tea, but you can often find me with a mug full of hot chocolate!

To see more of Bethany's work or to say hello, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY GOSVENER

An Interview with Bethany Gosvener Today, I'm thrilled to share with you an interview with the very talented, Portland, OR based artist, Bethany Gosvener. I first discovered Bethany's work through Pinterest when searching for inspiration. I came across a picture of her sitting on the floor, on top of her artwork, drawing larger than life portraits. I was immediately curious and intrigued, not just because she was incredibly good, but also because the scale of these drawings were huge...not to mention she's gorgeous.

AN INTERVIEW WITH BETHANY GOSVENER  |  VISUAL ARTIST

How did you get started as an artist creating these amazingly realistic and life-sized drawings? I have a lot to say, but only recently have I found the courage to say it. For a while I pursued things that felt safe, like wedding invitations, greeting cards, logos, and custom works, all the while pushing down my true creative desires. Many fears kept me returning to these safe pursuits but ultimately time and time again I felt unfulfilled.

I finally took the plunge to say no to these safe temptations and to say yes to my dreams.

I've always been incredibly moved by large scale fine art and longed to create massive pieces of my own expressions. It's terrifying to be so vulnerable, but the thought of bringing to life images I've only imagined makes me feel alive and that feels worth the risk.

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What are you doing today or have done in the past to successfully grow your business? I'm personally drawn to people who I can sense are genuine and real. Even if it is over the internet, I relate and feel most at home and encouraged by them. So I suppose my goal is to do the same, to be as true to myself as I can, in whatever way that looks like. I think that in itself will help me to be successful. I think consistency of delivering quality over quantity is probably the most important standard I would like to hold myself to in all areas of my business. Although I am most definitely in a transitional period of learning what this looks like in my life right now, it's quite a difficult standard to meet.

What is one of your greatest accomplishments? Starting this first Pollinate piece! I am so proud of myself for going for it! This will be my first series to complete, which is just the start of my goals. It was a terrifying commitment and I could not be happier to have made it. I'm amazed to see how far I've come away from those initial fears and doubts. Finding that courage has been most rewarding and I can't wait to see where it leads me!

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Tell us more about the Pollinate piece and what exactly Pollinate (in regards to artwork) means. Learning about the beauty and knowledge bees posess fascinated me. I've never realized just how incredibly moving and beautiful they are, nor the great impact they have on our lives. For our species to be so dependent on such tiny creatures was such a beautiful example of what it means to live on this earth, in gratitude. The way we treat one another. I began to think about the comparison of flies and how they are attracted to death. I had fun designing the series, so these deep feelings I hold may not come across but the concept revolves around how we live our lives, what we give and attract. Do we choose to keep death or life alive.

How do you create such large-scale portraits? Do you use a projector, an image or is it purely memory? I begin with a concept and from there plan out each piece to tell the story and then take specific photos similar to the design already formed in my mind. I then use a projector to quickly trace the basics, where the eyes, mouth, ears, arms etc are. Filling in the details is quite difficult and time consuming. I may generally know where the arm is but creating the shape of each shadow and the other subtle details is always challenging, but it's also half of the fun

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What's one short term and one long term goal of yours? One of my short term goals is to complete a portfolio or works I can be proud of. One of my largest long term goals is to one day have a piece in a museum. (ah! that's a vulnerable goal to admit!)

What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and what did you do to overcome it? I think my largest challenge has been the sense of failing and my perspective on what it means to fail. We all have so much inside of us to give that we're unaware of. Doubts and fears that keep us from ever even picking up that paint brush or taking that dance lesson or buying that 8'x4' drawing board. I would have never even known the ability I have to draw if my husband hadn't badgered me with encouragement to just try. I now am very thankful for his encouragement and pushing through my failings, they've rewarded me with humility as well as showing me that I can fail better next time. With my blog I hope to badger everyone with as much encouragement to try as they need. It is worth it.

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Any words of advice for other creatives and artists looking to start and grow their expertise and business?

Do not lose yourself in fear. Let out what is inside of you. Take a chance. Let your soul breathe.

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What was the last music you Listened to? Macklemore. His lyrics inspire and amaze me.

What was the last book you read? The Watchmen. Super intriguing! Read it, read it!

What's your favorite desert? Sucker for black and tan brownie any time!

Coffee or tea? Miso soup! All day.

To see more of Bethany's work go to here website, Instagram or Pinterest

( PHOTOS HERE & HERE )

STORYTELLING WITH SARAH ROSBORG

Sarah-Rosborg-Storytelling I'm excited to embark on my new Storytelling series that interviews creatives, individuals and entrepreneurs doing remarkable things, creating amazing art and inspiring ideas and movements all over the world.

To kick off the series is the talented Sarah Rosborg, owner and charity guru of Castle Design based in Australia. A few years back I met Sarah Rosborg via email while working with a client on branding - Sarah was working on the clients web design while I was branding the clients business. We immediately hit it off and exchanged ideas and passions about charities and how we could collaborate to create something amazing together. Nothing has surfaced yet (my bad) but in the meantime, you guys should get to know graphic designer, business owner, mom, wife, philanthropist and creative Sarah Rosborg.

What are you doing today or what have you done in the past to successfully grow your business?

I did a lot of free work for charities when I started my business and from there I started getting more work through word of mouth. I treat my customers as I wish to be treated and I think I do a good job with their design work :)

Tell me a little more about your work with charities and your philanthropic roots. How did you get started working with them? What was your first charity and what did you give? How did you know you wanted to work for charities and give your time to others in need?

I do a lot of work with many charities around the world. I would only do this if I could afford to! but alas we all have to pay our bills. I started working with them when I first went to Kenya in 2005. 1 week after Ieft Kenya I was involved in a horrific car accident. I was pretty much bed bound for 9-12 months.. i taught myself web design and other items involved and set up a charity in Australia for Mission in Action who was who I had visited in Kenya. I havent looked back. I have always had a thing for Africa.. My mother says I have spoken of it my whole life.. so I guess I always knew!

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What's one of your greatest accomplishments?

I think my greatest accomplishment is starting my own company which allows me to work from anywhere in the world doing what I love whilst still having a wonderful family life. I have also set it up so I can continue to help charities who are in need. I couldn’t love my job anymore and have met many wonderful people on the way.

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What's one short-term and one long-term goal of yours?

Current short-term goal is to get a new a new charity I am starting in Australia registered and approved! It’s a lot of work to get a charity registered so I am able to fundraise in Australia but once that is done I am hoping to start a sponsorship program for the girls at Rafiki Mwema in Kenya.

My long-term goal would be to hire a web designer to help me with my workload. I would love to have a great team of people working for Castle Design.. I would manage the company and work and be able to focus on my charity design work more while other staff are taking care of all of my other clients..

What's one challenge you've encountered as an artist and what did you do to overcome it?

The only challenge I have faced since starting Castle Design is the lack of confidence that I am not good enough to be charging people or to have my own company. I would look at others and be envious of their wonderful websites and amazing skills.. Since I have stopped looking at others and focused on my own work and clients things have been much better.. There is enough work for all of us in the world and I believe if I do a good job and treat my customers well I will continue to have enough work.

What kind of advice would you give to aspiring philanthropists looking to donate their time or work to charities and others in need?

Money is not always what is needed. Skills and support is so needed.. There are so many people out there working in the field but they have no idea about the marketing , website, social media side.. this side of a charity is so necessary. Make sure you know who you are working for and if you can, visit the project. It will inspire you more than you can ever imagine.

Any words of advice for other creatives and artists looking to start and grow their expertise and business?

As I keep saying.. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Do free work for people in need. Give more than people expect to receive. Love your job and if you don’t love it STOP!

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Download this free quote as an 8.5x11" print here. 

What's the first and the last thing you did today? First thing I did was wake up to my daughter early this morning. I tried to convince her that it would be a good idea to come into Mummy's bed for a cuddle so I could keep my eyes closed for 5 more minutes but she wasn't as keen as I was. The day is not over yet and it is only mid morning and I am about to get a strong coffee!

As a business owner, mother and wife, what's your secret to balancing life and work and how do you stay inspired?

I am always inspired. There is no problem of that lacking.. my problem is knowing when to stop work. If someone can give me some advice on how to stop working and relax I would like to hear it.

And just for fun:

What's the last music you listened to? Sia - Breathe me

What’s the last book you read? It has been so long since I have read a book.. If I am not looking after my daughter my head is in my computer.. but I think it was a book on the band TOOL. Maynard Keenan fascinates me.

What's your favorite dessert? I don’t have a sweet tooth so would have to say a packet of corn chips! or wine. Wine is delicious.

Coffee or tea? Strong coffee. I am married to a Swede. strong is the only option!

To find out more about Sarah and her work go to her website, like her on Facebook and Instagram. Have any questions? Email Sarah.

Click the image below to download yourself a free 8.5x11" print of Sarah's quote, I think this would make a great addition to my wall. How about you?

Love it or STOP! POSTER

Storytelling is a series that interviews creatives, individuals and entrepreneurs doing remarkable things, creating amazing art and inspiring ideas and movements all over the world. Are you one?  I want to hear from you, email me today.