Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting There

Make more room for creativity in your life! Here are seven tips for streamlining work and life:

Practice Google Fu. A close relative to Kung Fu: Don't let "I don't know" become a stumbling block to the fulfillment of your goals and dreams. Look it up. Ask someone. Learn advanced boolean search rhetoric. (Need a basic primer? Start here.) Become a Google Fu Master.

Don't Fight the Flow unless you have to. If there's nothing urgent on the horizon, clear the decks. Something unexpected is always on the way — could be an emergency, could be an opportunity. In either case, make room for it: Run errands, pay bills, file papers, clean up the office. And if you're tired, rest.

Become an email Ninja. In other words, stealthily process emails OUT of the inbox. Look at it once and decide: Do I want to keep this? Where does it belong? File it where you can find it. Do I need to do something with this? Send quick responses now. Note more involved tasks on an Actions List. Make a folder for things you want to read when/if time allows - get that stuff out of the inbox. Nothing should be in there except brand new mail.

Eliminate Mental Clutter. Your brain is the ultimate inbox, but it works best if you can focus deeply on one project at a time. To get the incoming chatter off your mind, capture it. I keep a notepad beside me as I'm working, so that I can record, "buy stamps" as it flits through my head, "call mechanic", "follow up w/Client B" and then turn my attention back to the project at hand. Later, I'll look at that notepad again, and handle whatever is recorded there.

File Everything. Maps, menus, receipts, bills, contracts, newspaper clippings, paint chips, brochures, warranties, instruction manuals, passwords, bits of poetry written on napkins, even spare screws and washers... anything on paper, or that can be written on paper, or saved onto a compact disk, and anything flat and small enough to fit into a Ziploc bag inside a file folder— In other words, anything that you aren't currently using that's cluttering up your space – label a file, slip it inside, and file it. When you want it later, you'll know exactly where to find it.

Do the most important thing first. It sounds simple, but this statement is tricky. Important to whom? Important for what? In this case, I'm talking about you and your happiness. If a little yoga in the morning will make the entire work day more pleasant, than this is absolutely more important than the looming deadline or the big project you've been agonizing over. If all you've ever wanted to do is write a novel but there are dishes to be washed, then the dishes can wait while you jot down two or three pages. Remember: Important is not the same things as urgent.

Have any tips to add? Write them in the comments. Let's learn from each other!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Practicalities for Practicing Artists

Gouache, watercolor and ink on heavyweight bristol paper, 12 x 9"

A few resources to pass along:

Sales Tips for Artists: podcast with accompanying PDF study guides, on selling artwork to the interior design market, contracting with galleries, pricing your work, and more. Dick Harrison is like a friendly, patient uncle, selfless and extremely informative. This is easy listening, folks.

Art Print Issues: blog focusing on the art print market by Barney Davey, who also wrote a book on the subject.

Mine Stephanie Levy's blog, Artists Who Blog for a lay-of-the-land on artists promoting themselves (and inspiring and informing others) on the web.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Updates and Inspirations

I'm going to Surtex in a couple of weeks, a massive trade show in New York for designers and artists licensing their work for textiles and surface design. I plan to take in the scene, the crowd, the trends, what's hot, and what's getting done over and over. I'm sure I'll be both overwhelmed and inspired, and I'm looking forward to it!

While in the city, I also plan to visit Galleries in Chelsea, to absorb more artistic inspiration and to balance out all that commercialized creativity seen at Surtex (not that galleries aren't commercial too. We live in a capatalist society, after all). I'm especially looking forward to seeing Donna Sharrett's show at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery. I need to stand with my nose pressed up to these pieces. They have already influenced my work. The images are gorgeous, but it's not enough!

I am on Twitter now. Are you? Follow me here:

Been listening to LemonJelly lately - witty, groovy, weird, unique; great background music when concentration must remain elsewhere. I especially like Nervous Tension - hear it, and others, here.

And now, a gift for you: the image above is a repeating tile, which you can download and use as a background on your computer. (You can even use it on a web site or blog, as long as you credit me and include a link back to this blog).

To download the image:

1. Click on the image to view full-scale
2. Right-click (PC) or control-click (Mac) on the image to download.

Insert as your desktop wallpaper image - be sure to allow the image to TILE - voila! Click on "Comments" below to let me know if you like this little gift I'm offering. I'll give away more in the future!

Don't know how to change your wallpaper? Check out these instructions: for PC and for Mac.

PS. Here's a sample of the above image tiled (you must click on the image to see it full-scale):