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Beckon in the season
As the weather turns and the leaves begin to fall, I always turn to a specific genre of music. This faux 80’s synth pop just seems the perfect compliment for the melancholy season. So here I present to you a Playlist for Fall 2017, a fresh take on that 80s style, inspired by all your favorite coming of age, angsty, teen movies.
I can definitely say I love going for a bike ride down the older neighborhoods with massive trees of all different colors. When you can wear a sweater or jacket, and hear the leaves crunch as you pass along. The cool breezy nights with the hazy full moon glowing. I’d have to say fall is my favorite season, so it makes sense I have a lot of music that makes me reminisce on the festive harvest season. I’m not sure what it is that ties fall weather and the 80’s together so closely in my mind. It could be the slew of 80’s and early 90’s themed halloween and scary classic movies. Either way, here are a few of my favorite tracks from the fall playlist:
M83 – Kim & Jessie
The 1975 – Somebody Else
HAIM – Falling
What are your favorites?
Do you have any 80s inspired fall-feeling music? I’d love to hear your suggestions. You can never have enough music. Follow along and I’ll be creating a few more fun playlists throughout the year. But for now, I hope you enjoy this season and the Playlist for Fall 2017.
A lot of people struggle with the beginning stages of projects that require any sort of visual aesthetics. Creating a mood board has been a tried and true method for creating a visual style, or getting a good start to any project. This is useful if you’re a professional interior designer, photographer, artist, or event planner. Or maybe you’re a DIY party decorator, small business owner creating your own store, or mom decorating your baby’s room. Either way, having a way to visually accumulate and document the goals you are aiming for will bring clarity to your ideas, and a way to share and communicate what you are seeking.
“…having a way to visually accumulate and document the goals you are aiming for will bring clarity to your ideas, and a way to share and communicate what you are seeking.”
Start with One
Let’s get started! I’ve found that a good mood board usually comes from one piece of inspiration. Start with the one thing that tickles your fancy. For me, it’s usually with some great photography, but for you it might be a piece of fabric or some artwork.
I’m creating a mood board for a new office space. Having an inspiring and exciting area to work in is very important to me. I know I want it to be bold and mostly neutral colors, however I want it to be warm and a little playful with a pop of color.
I found this photograph by edwardkb and I loved the warm orange hues as well as the contrast between the white lights and the dark black shadows. I can definitely use this as a starting point.
Find More Pieces to Make a Cohesive Mood Board
Next up, describe what feelings or imagery this piece inspires. Seek out other pieces that have a similar theme, look, colors, tones, textures, or complimentary elements. Remember that inspiration is everywhere. Take photos with your smartphone, get some carpet samples from Home Depot, grab that stick from the backyard. The key is to focus intently on your original piece and ideas to curate a group of elements that relay a visual style.
“…focus intently on your original piece and ideas to curate a group of elements that relay a visual style.”
For the original photo I chose, I might say “modern, warm, soft, bold, spacious, contrasting, patterns and grids, orange, spacious, calculated.”
It is okay to be literal, and since I’m looking to revamp my office area I’ll add some photos of great spaces. However, having more diverse sources of inspiration will open me up to being more creative and inventive with the space. I don’t want to just copy someone else’s ideas. I want to gather an eclectic collection of sources that can lead to original ideas. I love this work area as photographed by Petra Bindel. I chose this because it keeps those warmer tones and has many bold black and white contrasting elements, such as a black frame on a white wall, or the black and white typographic poster.
Gather All Your Elements
Now go out into the world and find all of your inspiration! Scour the web, use whatever keywords you can think of. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram are great for finding amazing photos and searching tags. One of my favorite resources for finding design centered inspiration is Designspiration.net.
All that is left is to keep adding, changing, taking away, improving, and playing until you’ve exhausted your resources. Arrange all of these elements in one space. You can do this electronically by throwing images into a document, or maybe uploading and saving all of these elements to a pinterest board or blog.
Here’s a variety of images I found that I thought fit in with this mood I was going for, I tried to find a plethora of images ranging from paintings to furniture, to advertisements and stairways.
You can definitely create a physical mood board, a lot of people love the idea of being able to psychically pin up your ideas. Either way you do it, find a way to keep your creation in easy view. And that’s about it. At this point you should have a mood board that you can share and use as a tool to communicate your ideas with others, or to remind yourself of what you are aiming for.
Finally, here is my finished mood board thats been cleaned up and narrowed down. I hope you learned a little about coming up with your own creative style with a mood board. This can be an extremely helpful tool in any project and a way to communicate with other designers or visual artists. Now go and make something sweet!
Networking was one of those disgusting terms I hated to hear coming out of those “career consultants” at school. “You need business cards!” “Have a firm handshake.” The idea of networking they gave me was that I should wear a neon yellow business suit, jumping around to circles of people throwing my business cards up in the air and loudly incanting all of my work experience in the face of anyone and everyone.
At the same time, I was tired of the unhelpful advice from those who only care about formality, and I never thought the insight of networking gurus was that…insightful. People always seemed to focus on what you can get out of someone. The idea of using people for my own gain never sat well with me. I would hear war stories of friends running around conferences and networking events collecting cards and “getting their name out there.” Yet none of them seemed to hear back from anyone. After making quite a few mistakes and finding dead ends myself, I started changing the way I looked at the idea of networking. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from making actual connections and some great advice I’ve received from people I look up to.
Networking isn’t necessarily something you can see. It’s not a video game, you won’t see points stacking up and you can’t just use business cards as currency. It’s more a game of trust you play with yourself.
Trusting that putting yourself out there and providing value to others will pay off.
So here are
My 5 Networking
Guidelines to Live By
1. Treat Every Moment as a Networking Moment: There’s something to be said about living your life like someone is watching. The truth is, people are watching. The best connections you’ll make are when you’re in the least business oriented situations. Being at concerts or events is the best way to network with someone who has the same interests as you. This isn’t to say you always need to live life with a mask on. It’s the opposite. I’m saying take the mask off when it comes to networking, everyone can see through it anyway.
2. Know Yourself (And How to Communicate that): As annoying as it can be to purposefully market yourself, you just have to do it. You need an elevator pitch for these situations. And if you’re doing it right then it’ll be empowering. There’s nothing worse than being asked “So what do you do?” and having the most lackluster and bland response. That was your invitation to clearly communicate what you do, what you want to do, and what you’re passionate about, and instead you said, “I’m just an intern.” If you suffer from imposter syndrome or from devaluing your talent and experience, having a pre-developed response will save you from ruining amazing opportunities.
If you need help figuring out a decent elevator pitch or figuring out your brand identity, check out my intensive Guide to Personal Brand Identity
3. It’s Not About You: No really. Stop thinking about what you want. The last thing you want to come off as is desperate. No one wants to do you favors, help you move, invest in your pyramid scheme, or read your first attempt at a scifi-western romantic drama. Be present and try to introduce yourself when given a chance, but immediately make it about the other person. Ask them questions, you can be personal and ask about their lives, interests, favorite foods. Your main goal should be to provide some sort of value to them. Value can come in all shapes and sizes, a business solution, another contact you have, or a recipe for amazing pineapple salsa. Genuinely seek to give them something useful, instead of voraciously seeking their time, energy, or jobs.
4. Don’t Worry About Field or Position: The worst thing you can do when trying to network is to cut out people in fields other than your own. Instead of hitting up the Art Director who gets unsolicited emails from designers every week, why not talk to the accountant. For many of these people you’ll be the “most creative person” they know. When they have a project, a need, or hear about a new position opening up they’ll immediately think of you. Not to mention, it’s amazing what kind of things you’ll learn from people who have completely different interests than yours.
5. You Need to Follow Up: You can’t expect your amazing connections to follow up with you. That becomes your responsibility. If your “networking” is going well, and you’re both seemingly enjoying each others company, find a reason to follow up. “Let me send you this great link.” “I just watched a great documentary, I can send you the info.” This is where you exchange cards. Yes cards, no they’re not outdated. Yes, we have the internet. But a physical card provides an experience and a memento of your meeting. Don’t just pass along your card, be sure to get their contact info and then follow up within 3 days. In your follow up email repeat who you are, where and how you met, and provide them some even more great value.
Well there it is, I hope a few of these tips will help you out the next time you set out to “network.” I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. It can just be part of your everyday life. Some of my favorite work connections have turned out to also be great friends. If you have any networking experiences and hacks I’d love to hear them.
Having a positive experience in networking comes when you’re being authentic, and providing a wealth of resources to those around you.
Mentality of Lack
If you’re like me, and many of the other goal setters, you created a nice set of resolutions as the new year approached. I took, seemingly, all precautions in crafting some well thought out, attainable, and measurable goals. However, within the first few days quite a few stumbling blocks immediately popped up. All of these problems centered around one main mindset, a certain outlook that seems to always be the first that comes up whenever you are aiming for something bigger, or better. That is why I thought it’d be beneficial to talk about the mentality of lack.
After the buzz of coming up with a brand new creative idea fades, your logical mind begins working. How can I achieve this? What budget will I need, what equipment, connections or resources? Immediately you start looking at what you need. The problem is, the world will definitely offer you faux solutions. If you’re a musician, you’ll always need better gear, if you’re a painter there are always better paints, if you’re a writer there’s always another notebook. The world preys on your creative beginnings, selling you the idea that you just need to buy one more thing before you can reach “it”. But being stuck in a mentality of lack can lead to many more negative ways of thinking further on. Lack can lead to unhealthy competition, the idea that there is not enough for everyone. If you’re coming from the mentality of lack you probably are quick to judge others for what they do have. You’ll start thinking narrowly and rigidly. There is only one way it can be done, and it has to be your way. This thinking is always based in fear, in what could happen, what could go wrong, what your losses will be. Continuing on with this viewpoint will ultimately lead to feeling completely depleted and defeated. You’ll end up feeling like you’re stuck and that you’ve done everything you possibly could, before you’ve even really started.
The direct results of this mentality of lack, or scarcity mentality, is anxiety and fear. When you feel you have nothing you certainly won’t take any risks, because you cant stand to lose what little you have. This way of thinking becomes your story, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You, in turn, will end up causing your own demise.
Instead of going into every situation saying, “I need…”, start saying “I have…”, and you’ll begin to see completely different outcomes.
Mentality of Abundance
Now, thankfully there is definitely a way to combat and reverse this way of thinking. The absolute opposite mentality is one of abundance, meaning you have more than enough. Wow. Just take a second to think about that. You have more than enough. If you’re reading this you have sight, an electronic device, an internet connection, you have time. There are probably so many ways in which you already have enough. One of the strongest remedies for any negative thought processes, is gratitude. Find ways to be thankful about every little detail. The coffee you’re drinking. The air conditioning you’re sitting in. The sunlight that feels good to stand in. I guarantee this little exercise will bring about a complete change in attitude and lead to more progress toward your goals. Gratitude leads to resourcefulness, the ability to identify what you have around you, and how to utilize it. So you may not have an angel investor, maybe you have a mailing list to at least get your ideas out there. And you may not have all the right connections, but you may know someone who does.
Another tool that reveals the fallacies of the mentality of lack is giving. Is there a way you can give what it is you feel you lack? If you feel you lack the knowledge, teach someone. If you feel like you lack talent, allow your talents to be used by someone else. After all, you can’t give away something you don’t have. Generosity resets your internal caliber of abilities. Spending time with those who have much less than you, in any area, will always remind you of your responsibility to do well with that which you are gifted.
Possibly the hardest part of getting rid of this mentality of lack is actually identifying it. Usually you see the frustrations, the symptoms of it, before you are able to realize it. When making difficult decisions try to pinpoint where your motives are coming from. If it is from a place of fear, you’re probably operating from this mentality of lack. That is when you need to reflect on times of abundance in your life. Remember those times where you had more than enough. The times where you had a ton of choices, where people needed your expertise. Also, cut out the ‘complainers’ in your life who support your negative mindsets. After all, you are enough. Everything you need you have. You don’t need another product, another mentor, another lesson. What you do need will be there for you, you just have to find it. Allow life to be your teacher. Experience trumps textbooks.
The past few months have been a roller coaster of creative epiphanies all making me question every reason for doing what I do. From personal decisions, continually comparing your worth and value and talent. Also in craft, wondering how many years it will take to become more skilled or to finally learn what you need to, or to finally meet who you’re supposed to. My mind has been volatile and spinning every second. So here I am instead, writing and working out my frustrations with language, a very oddly straightforward medium for me.While I have completely debunked “writer’s block” within my creative life, no one really recounts of what comes after. Yes, we all know it. Finding time to actually do the work you want to do. It’s difficult. But essentially, just bloody doing it is the answer. The real struggles, the obstacles, are only bigger on the other side. Mountains and crevices of fear, confidence, hopelessness and anticipation. If you thought you had to work to get started, just wait till you have to work to keep going. Now now, I am being dramatic, I know. In reality, this isn’t all bad. It’s far too late to go back, and all of the hard work has been done. Seeking a creative life is a life long battle that no one necessarily signs up for, it just happens to them. So I’ll be working and trying and struggling anyway, might as well do it now. So I’ll list a few of my experiences here in hopes to connect or relate to anybody who feels like they’re becoming a worthless genius of the arts.
There is a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don’t, and the secret is this: It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
The War of Art
Being able to focus takes 15 minutes of active, uninterrupted time. I’m not sure where I got that bit of information, but I’m believing it to be true after studying it myself. It takes time to ‘get into the groove’. One distraction is enough to throw the train off the tracks. So, as hard as you’ve tried to just get started and to begin…that can all be overturned in an instant. Set boundaries, turn off your phone, disconnect the internet. Anything you have to do to create uninterrupted spaces. Even more importantly, the more you work, the easier it is to get into the flow of it, and the less distractions can have a hold on you.
The most beautiful and horrible thing about pursuing anything creative, is that every project feels like it could be ‘it’, your opus magnum. As much as you try to remove yourself from ego or desire, it simply cannot happen. It will always be there. However going into creating thinking “this could be it” within every detail is so much weight. It’s too much. It will break anything you start. You can’t go into anything thinking it will be your success or masterpiece. It simply has to be you, a creation. Put your ego aside.
In the same vein, for artists, every opportunity feels like the only opportunity. It is a constant fear of ‘this is it’. If you fail this you’ve failed it all. You’ve missed your destined chance, the fateful meeting. And now there is no more future for you. In reality, there are hundreds of opportunities and this might not be it for you. It may be wrong for you. It may not be what you even wanted or needed. And remember, that a success doesn’t mean much. Unfortunately success is fleeting and fickle. Just being you see it once doesn’t mean you’ll see it again. And we all know too well, people are quick to drop you like a hot potato. You have to be so solid in yourself, that opportunities don’t sway you, that chance means nothing because you know your core. Opportunities will align to you. This is not the make it or break it moment. Yes, work hard, apply yourself…try. But don’t place your worth in it, and always know that the world is big enough for you to fit into it.
Even if you do happen to see a success, we all know what that means. An artist will never be happy. The eternal struggle between art and worth and creativity and purpose will keep you from enjoying or understanding how far you’ve gotten from where you started. You are already at where you wanted to be. But there will always be another “better” and a bigger opportunity. Work yourself to the bone, but be able to be grateful.
It takes years. Hours. Thousands of painstaking details and choices. So do not place all of your potential on one thing. One song, illustration, opportunity, moment. It’s simply cannot hold that weight. There will always be another thing before you’ve “made it” so you might as well stop waiting. There are no Hollywood moments, and we are all aware the romanticized idea of artistry is for those who have never tried. The moments that get you high are always the small ones, within your work, so stay there, take solace there. Make cool things. Michelangelo burned all of his sketches and went through great lengths to craft his biography and legacy. He didn’t want people to know exactly how hard he worked, how hard he tried, how many times he had to draw one detail over and over again. But the reality is, that is what we must do. So stop overthinking every moment. Lose yourself in it.
Don’t be afraid to be sloppy. Your idea of perfection will haunt you. It may seem impossible to turn off, but you can. I guarantee that the mistakes you make will be the parts you love most about your creations.
I can’t promise you that pursuing creativity will ever lead to anything, but for many of us, it’s not a choice we can live without. Eventually the calling that started as a small voice begins to grow until it is a gut-wrenching urge to create and to be fully dedicated to it. When it gnaws at you this hard, you can only hope somehow you’ll have a place to sleep and some food to eat, and throw caution to the wind, and hope that great things will happen. Keep working! No one really knows what they’re doing. And there are no rules.
Happy New Year!
As always, time is flying by! At the ending of every year I always like to take a moment to look back and try to reflect and digest all that has transpired. There always seems to be major themes and challenges, places of growth that we didn’t know we needed. While this year seems to not have brought on many external or obvious changes, I know that internally I have matured greatly. Many of my work and personal philosophies were tested and challenged. My goals and aspirations questioned.
Starting your own business brings along a slew of growing pains. It takes some adaptability and resistance, some patience and a bit of vulnerability. If you can imagine, I was forced to change a lot of preexisting ideas of work and of what it means to be creative. It required a vast amount of research, some new skills, a great amount of flexibility, and a strong foundation to pull energy from. It also required a new set of habits. I’m dubbing this year of internal growth as the year of introspection.
The “Professional” and “Personal” Life.
Growing up, we were always reminded the difference between our professional selves, our personal selves, our academic selves etc. I had always compartmentalized and set strict boundaries. But as setbacks or achievements happened in any of these areas I realized how vitally interconnected they are, so much so that it makes no sense to differentiate between them. You are the asset of your work, develop yourself as you would a business project. Take care of yourself as you would a piece of equipment. Being a better you means being more productive, being a better worker, and being even happier. Have a clear idea of what success means to you. No matter what field you are in, there are ups and downs. Don’t place your value in the material world. Know that you are doing great, and that you are capable of achieving even more. Everything you do, do it for people. If you find yourself lost, or not knowing what to do, donate your time and talents. Work on those areas you are not satisfied with. No not everyone can be great in everything, it’s true. But that is not an excuse to never try to get better at it. I was so obsessed with focusing on my strengths that my weaknesses were still weighing me down.
The only goals you achieve are the goals you set.
Patience is a virtue. But the ability to work hard and to work diligently is even more rare. Nothing comes from nothing. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Evaluate and consciously restructure your habits. When you consider your time as an investment, look at what your returns are. Last January I decided to kick up my exercising. I started working out five days a week. The first few weeks were a little difficult. I pushed myself too hard at times, or not enough at other times. Before long, it was a habit and I found myself seeking even more physical activity outside of the gym. Now, missing a day seems like such a waste. Because I had made it a goal, made it a priority, and made it a habit, it stuck, and I’m making progress! Putting this into practice for your creative work is much the same. Working even when you don’t feel like it is an investment in your future happiness. Don’t let the days slip from you. Consciously decide to make progress each day.
Working for yourself requires a strong identity. I wonder how many people are “working for themselves”. It seems our entire lives there are always other people to work for. You work for your parents, you work for your teachers, your professors. You work for a degree, you work for others. You work for your family, or for a paycheck. But this year, I was challenged to work for myself. To figure out why I was doing what I was doing. There’s so much freedom is realizing you have control over where you are heading. Take a step back and reevaluate what you want. Don’t bring yourself down for not having something that you don’t even want in the first place. No one else’s expectations are your own. So set your goals, know who you are and why you do what you do. Then work hard and work diligently. Don’t forget that good things also come to those who simply ask. Learning to reach out and include others isn’t admitting defeat, it’s being smart.
This year was great. I had such an amazing time, saw some beautiful things. Had some adventures and grew up a little. And I am more than ready to take all of these learned lessons and applied knowledge and make an even bigger and better 2016. There are seasons where you need to listen and learn, but coming into this next year it is a season to take action. No need to think so hard, just do and be.
“..the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”
– Jack Kerouac On The Road