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

I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here

CAREER VS CALLING

career-vs-calling Do you have a career or do you have a calling? When you're asked what do you do - do you respond with shameless or defeated I-wish-I-was-doing-what-I-love tone or do you respond with a proud I'm-so-glad-you-asked tone?

I can't count how many times the response I get is the former rather than the latter. Whether you're the leading marketing consultant at a bigwig firm and believe it's too late to follow your dreams or you're an overworked waitress that feels helpless on making a living as a musician - the feeling is the same. Fear of failure, feeling unequipped, negativity and the unknown control you.     

Today you can change that. Just a shift in thinking and focus can help you start living a life bigger than yourself.

Here are 3 tips to make that shift today:

1. Positive Thinking - "Believe you can move mountains and you will" was a quote a read years ago and thought - yeah right, move mountains? I was missing the point - if you believe you can do something and that anything is possible then you have half of the game figured out. If you don't believe you can ever make money as an illustrator, designer, consultant, business owner or singer, than you never will. But once you start believing, something begins to happen. The universe hears you, it hears you're ready. Things begin to shift, mountains move, the path becomes clear and everything begins to fall in place.

2. Goal-Setting - Dreams are goals with a deadline. Do you dream of starting a business that allows you to work from home so you can be closer to your children? Do you wish you could make money creating watercolor paintings all day long? The only way dreams will over become a reality is if you get it out of the head and onto paper. Just writing your ideas down is a huge start, but following through is another. Easy-to-do tips on how to successfully goal-set here and here.

3. Grow - If you're not growing you're dying. Are you dragging your feet, wishing for more but don't know how to make it happen? The most successful people I know are constantly growing, learning and moving forward. Take a class, read a book, attend a conference - anything to keep you growing, expanding, learning and inspired.

So would you rather live a life full of impressive titles, promotions, long hours and salaries. Or live a life doing what you love, that professionally fulfills you, that's intrinsically rewarding so you feel like you're contributing to a higher purpose?

MY GOALS FOR 2014

my-goals-for-2014   writing-out-my-goals-for-2014     2014-goals-teach-cursive-and-calligraphy

Do you follow me on Instagram yet? If you do, you would have noticed a peek into my yearly goal-setting ritual and an announcement of one of my 2014 goals - to teach calligraphy and cursive.

As I've mentioned here, a huge piece of successfully accomplishing your goals is sharing them with others. So I am taking my own advice and sharing with you my goals. From now on, I will be sprinkling in my 2014 goals on Instagram, from business goals like teaching calligraphy and cursive, to personal goals like saving money to travel overseas.

Have you written out your goals for 2014 yet? Check our these dream catching and resolution accomplishing tips here and here to help you get started.

So lets' hear them, what are a few of your 2014 goals (remember - sharing them will help you hold yourself accountable)?

( PHOTO OF ME )

4 WAYS TO ACCOMPLISH YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

4-ways-to-accomplish-your-new-years-resolution Writing a resolution is like a contract to myself that I will live my dream and accomplish everything I set my heart to. So when the end of the year approaches I get all giddy about writing my next year of goals.

Sometimes the hardest part of writing a resolution is actually identifying your goals and writing them out. But to me the hardest part is following through with them.

So to prep for the New Year here are 4 tips on how to write a killer resolution for 2014 so you can reach your goals, grow, make more money, find balance and live your dream.

1. WRITE IT DOWN

Probably the most important step of all is to write your goals down. If you don't write it down, it'll never get done. It will swim around in your head with all of the other ideas you have until you inevitably forget about it. For the past 5 or so years, I have a dedicated journal where I write out my resolutions, That way every year I can look back and see what I've accomplished. Get some more tips and download a goal-setting worksheet here. 

2. SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS

Set Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.

Specific: Be as detailed and precise as possible. If you're looking to grow your expertise, how do you plan to do that? Sign up for a ecourse or read for 30" a day? Whatever the goal, be specific.

Measurable: If you can't measure it, you'll never know if you've reached it. For example, when you set a goal to write a book, include the amount of pages you want to write, how long you want to write per day and so on.

Attainable: Our goals come from our daydreams, brainstorms and ideas and sometimes they can be lofty. In order to reach your goals, they must be attainable. For example, if you want to blog 4 times per week, but really only have time for 3 days a week, set a goal that's more realistic for you.  You can always over achieve your goal.

Relevant: Always make sure your goals are aligned with your vision. If you're accepting new wedding clients, but your goals is to work with creative entrepreneurs then you find yourself off course, bitter and burnt out because you're doing work irrelevant to your vision.

Time-bound: I religiously use google calendar, iCal, my iPhone and my notebook to track all of my goals with their specific dates. Over and over again, if I add a goal to my list without a deadline, it never gets done. So when you write a goal down, give it a date of completion and try to stick with it.

3. PLAN IT OUT

Starting with your last goal of 2014, work your way backward. Imagine you have accomplished all of your goals for 2014, ask yourself how did I get here? Begin by writing down your last goal of 2014, then asking what did I do just before this, and what did I do just before that and so on. Continue to work your way backward all the way to the present. Here's an example:

5. Become a best-selling author (last goal for 2014)

4. Tour the US promoting my book

3. Publish my book

2. Write my book

1. Create outline and gather ideas for my book

Once you have those steps in place, you can fill in even more steps in between each one, like:

3. Publish my book

  • submit draft to editor
  • identify my readers
  • research how to publish a book

2. Write my book

4. SHARE IT WITH OTHERS

Being held accountable by others is powerful. Several studies like this one proves that when you share your goals with others, you're more likely to follow through with them. So talk about what you want to do in 2014, share it with you friends and family, on your blog, email, newsletter or social media. Maybe once a month or every other month you want to share your goals and how you've accomplished them. Whatever makes sense to you, share wherever you can. That way when you're feeling doubtful, fearful, unsure or uninspired you have your tribe to hold you accountable.

I have just a few slots left for the 4 week Creative Coaching Package for $275, normal price is $550. Treat yourself to this 4 week plan that helps you get organized and plan out your resolutions, create a strategy for success and hold you accountable so you can make more money and start reaching your goals. Learn more about the package here  and email me for more information and to reserve your spot. Price is good till January 1, 2014.

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Writing a book (if you couldn't tell) is one of my goals.

( PHOTO )

WHY I BLOG

why-i-blog I started blogging nearly 5 years ago. I found my voice, my tribe and my style through blogging. I read this blog post and was inspired to share why I blog.

My first blog was to explore and share work I loved and work I was creating. In 2010 I started blogging. I had no clue what I was doing, but remember reading my friends blog and thinking how I wanted one of my own. She gave me the advice to be myself, to choose a name that was short and memorable. Looking back at those posts, it's clear I was finding myself. I was discovering my personal style, my art, my voice and my inspiration. I blogged a lot about music and how it inspired my artwork. WOW, has my style changed and what I write about, but It's fun [and embarrassing] to look back at my first blog MUSIC = ART.

My second blog was created to attract clients. 6 months after starting my very first blog, I started a secondary one to blog about my new business venture. I don't talk about it a lot - but I used to be a hairstylist (I plan to share more about this soon). So this blog The Brides Hairstylist was created to attract brides seeking on site hair styling for their wedding. This blog was very successful having 200-400 visits per day. It helped grow my business extensively and connect with brides from all over the world. In 2012 I retired from hair and took down the blog to discontinue the inquiries.

My third blog was made to share my latest work and musings. In 2012 I launched the Hazel Wonderland blog. I remember asking my friend (who was developing my website and blog) to complete the blog first so I didn't feel like a fish out of water - because at that point I had taken down my second blog and had no way of blogging. When this blog was launched, I had 2 years under my belt and was used to release of blogging. On this blog I shared herbal tutorials, recipes, music, art and a lot of interviews. I loved the interviewing part (and will start featuring some here soon) but wasn't connecting with my readers as much as I'd like. Plus I had outgrown my brand and was launching my new business name and brand.

My current blog is for you. October 15, 2013, I launched this blog to answer your questions, solve your problems, teach tips and skills and connect with creatives. Yes, I've shared my secrets, my work and my observations but this time I'm doing it for you. It's only been a few months since this blog launched and already I feel like this one is the best yet. I feel more connected to you, more intentional, and more purposeful.

My mission is to help creatives live their dream, making money doing what they love and this blog is helping me reach that mission everyday.

How about you, what's your blogging history? Why do you blog? And how am I doing - am I helping you solve problems and learn new things?

( ARTWORK )

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

acknowledging-your-accomplishments I was catching up with a friend the other night and she asked me how business was, more specifically, what I was currently working on. So, I answered.

I started off with the one project that I thought was most exciting and notable. Then I continued with another project that was also very exciting, then I started to share the next project and again, equally a very exciting project. At that very moment, I realized something. I realized that all of the projects I was currently working on were all equally notable, exciting and exactly what I wanted to be doing. I was working with my dream clients (other creatives and entrepreneurs) on projects that fill my mission, heart and soul.

After we said our goodbyes I felt like I was on top of the world - my world. I was doing what I love and loving every moment of it. Later that night when I shared this realization with my husband, I reflected on the conversation my friend and I shared and found and an abundant amount of gratitude, contentment, accomplishment and most importantly I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Yep, I was proud of myself and ok with admitting it.

I enjoyed that moment so much, that I had to share what I learned with you. So, my challenge to you is to write your accomplishments down in your notebook, journal, blog or even here in the comments below…anywhere. Just make sure you write them down and give yourself some credit for all of the amazing victories you've tackled.

Tell me, what accomplishments you've had lately? What projects are you working on that excite you? What goals have you reached?

- - -

Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to travel the West Coast. I recall several films that captured breathtaking views of the land feeding my desire to go see it for myself. It wasn't until this summer that I finally saw it in person. My husband and I took 2 weeks to explore and drive up the entire West Coast to fulfill this dream of mine. We started in San Diego and drove all the way to Seattle, WA. One of those days we camped just off the beach near Big Sur, California where this picture was taken. Moments after I snapped this image, we saw a whale pass by. 

HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

how-may-i-help-you As I begin to hash out and mold my vision for my blog, a million ideas of what to write about and how it should look and feel come to mind. Like how I want to talk about the music industry, living as a full-time artist, learning how to find balance with work and life, my creative hurdles, the best brainstorming session ever, films and artwork that inspire me, how to stay focused, and how I don't know if I love my logo yet … etc, etc.

But you see, my mission for this blog was not only to find clarity within my own journey, my mission is to also connect with you and help in anyway I can to solve problems, share and grow. That's right, this blog is here for you too.

I want to hear from you, hear about what you're doing, what struggles you're facing or what victories you're accomplishing.

So, I ask you this: How may I help you?

Here are just a few ideas:

  • What have you accomplished lately that you want to share?
  • What struggles are you facing that you need direction and clarity around?
  • What topics would you like to see here on my blog?

Ask me anything in the comments below, on Facebook or Instagram or email me at meredithcbullock@gmail.com

(ART)

WANDERLUST AKA I WANT TO TRAVEL & CHANGE THE WORLD

wanderlust-aka-i-want-to-change-and-travel-the-world I dream about traveling the world. I imagine my husband and I with backpacks, hopping trains, shaking hands with natives, eating food, wandering streets, experiencing culture and a beauty that we've never seen before.

Not only do I imagine traveling the world, I also imagine changing the world. Like a TOMS's-Shoes-kind of change the world - a one-for-one. I want to give my time and efforts to those who need it. I want to provide for my family while providing for others too. I imagine meeting people from across the United States to all over the world. I imagine getting my hands dirty and experiencing tough realities. I imagine laughing, loving and crying. Most of all, I imagine my heart happy.

For so long I've imagined this dream but never took any serious steps to make it happen. When I have a dream or idea for my business, I write it down.

SO... I'm writing it down and setting some goals. I'm announcing to you today that this is my calling and that I believe I was put on this earth to help others find beauty and strength within themselves and to help guide them to the life of their dreams.

Now that I've shared my big dream, what's yours? Do you have any trips planned? I am a novice to traveling abroad, any tips, recommendations or ideas?