Friday, 19 April 2013

What inspires you?

I've been reflecting a lot lately on where inspiration comes from. Most of my inspiration for my polymer clay jewellery right now comes from curiosity - I have a list as long as my arm of techniques I want to try and so whenever I get the chance to play with clay I give a new technique a go. The result is masses of fun but it means my stock is somewhat eclectic in style. You certainly can't pigeon-hole my shop! (Or crow-hole it for that matter ;))

I have often wondered how artists and designers develop their signature look. Does it come naturally and instantly, or does it evolve over time? Do even the most original artists begin by mimicking others? I grew up as a scientist and then later an editor, and my creative exploits were always driven by my desire to explore and experiment, and to try out what I thought might be a hoot. I didn't have the artistic upbringing that might encourage one to specialise, to become fixated on one thing, or one method. To be honest, that's why I got out of science - the thought of being the world's leading expert in one tiny protein in one of a billion chemical pathways in the human body just left me cold. I had no desire to be king of a very tiny and lonely castle!

I tell myself that my inspiration is nature. That's pretty damn broad I can tell you! It encompasses colour, form, structure, texture... pretty much anything that isn't manmade, and in my view that really only leaves out architecture, industrial, steampunk and kawaii (oh and vintage, but I make an exception for that). I suppose it takes my king of the castle philosophy to its most extreme point. It allows me to be a wanderer, going wherever whim takes me like a happy vagabond.

Bearing all of that in mind, Pinterest suits me down to the ground. I can be the ultimate magpie, browsing through thousands of pins and plucking out anything that sparkles at me. I even love the way it is laid out, so no matter what I pin, my boards look cohesive (to me) and lovely (to me). Pinterest seems to quietly sort out and organise the disparate thoughts in my mind. As a result, browsing through my inspiration board is like plugging directly into the mains. POW! I get 10,000 volts of inspiration right smack in the face. I love it!

So I guess what I am saying is that I am not quite ready to settle down yet. I'm having far too much fun gathering my pearls of inspiration - disparate as they are - and hoarding them like jewels. All that is to say, don't be surprised if my shop goes through some changes as I develop. It's like a teenager, working out its style.

And now I have given myself permission to be creative, let's see where that takes me :)

PS - you are welcome to follow me on Pinterest. I'm quite a prolific pinner, but it is all me, I don't pander to anyone else's idea of what inspiration might be.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Rebel with a mouse

Hi there, it's been a while since my last post - shame on me! I had sort of decided to post once a week, on Fridays if possible, and generate some sort of order here. Looks like life got in the way of that one. While I've been quiet on the blog front I have been very busy behind the scenes curating and collating (try saying that one after a medicinal brandy ;)) and generally getting my hands dirty in the world of social media.

Social media has changed a LOT since I last ran a craft business. When I first started out, some time around 2004, the big new thing was Mr Site - a website in a box - and that was about it. I joined Facebook as it was back then, but had no idea how to build an FB page, or connect that page to other websites. I posted on Livejournal, occasionally pimped the website link, did a monthly newsletter, but everything I (and my business partner) did was driven by us and at our pace. This time around I am floored by the changes.

I worked as an online editor for seven years, so I really shouldn't be so surprised with how quickly social media has moved on, but I am. Most publishing companies in the legal compliance arena are just about comfortable with having a Twitter account, perhaps a linkedIn presence, maybe an app or two. I was even perversely proud that I had managed to avoid the dreaded Twitter for so long. Looking back on it now, I think I was steeling myself; plunging into the world of social media is not for the faint hearted or the ill-prepared.

Social media today is not just Twitter, Facebook, Web 2.0 and all that jazz. Social media today is all of those things plus so many more. There's, Sulia, RebelMouse, ExploreB2B, Digg, StumbleUpon, Tumblr... there are sites for collating all your social media activity into once place, sites for guided discovery of material of interest to you, sites for networking, groups on Twitter dedicated only to retweeting each other... there's almost too much choice.

So what is a budding craft entrepreneur to do?

My advice is to take it one step at a time. If you try to do too much too quickly you will burn out. After launching my own, deleting it, launching a RebelMouse page which I like much better, tweeting and retweeting others, building my network of likeminded souls, after two weeks I am worn out! I want to retreat into my studio (OK, my kitchen) and play with clay. That's the point of all of this after all?

What I intend to do is to get organised about this. I'm gonna get strategic on this mutha-humper's ass. The trick is not to do everything, but to channel effort where it brings the most reward. I'm going to stick to #uketsyhour twice a week, to keep retweeting and promoting the friendly people I come across and to keep an eye on who returns the favour and who does not. I'm going to do my #shoutouts to the people that I feature on my RebelMouse page, and I'm going to share tidbits of fun with my Facebook likers on my FB page. The rest can go hang... for now.

The trick to being a good editor is being able to quickly and calmly filter out the dross. If you try to include every single news story in your weekly digest then you're going to be coding til midnight and nobody wants that. You'll give yourself RSI from all the typing and your readership won't appreciate wading through mountains of irrelevant stories to get at the jewels hidden beneath. Neither of you will be able to see the wood for the trees. The trick is to prune wisely, to focus effort on maintaining an overview, and to know when to stop, take a step back, and review.

So with that in mind, follow me on RebelMouse, like me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, and know that the information you will receive will be incisive, relevant and timely, and hopefully occasionally heartwarming and/or funny too, with no extraneous crap. Lord knows, we all have to wade through enough of that as it is without me adding to the noise.