Ever have a cute, fuzzy little pet project sitting on the back-burner of your To Do list, and no matter HOW MUCH you love it, believe in it, and have endless enthusiasm for it, you just never seem to be able to push it from One-Of-These-Days to NOW-OR-NEVER?
That was me, last week. Well, guess what? I did it! I finished the project. It’s a new mini-class called How to Make Hand Drawn Gift Wrap Using Recycled Paper. BONUS: I come to you with NOT ONLY a HAPPY ENDING to this story, but I’m ALSO sharing the all-important WHY*.
What moved this project from One-Of-These-Days to NOW-OR-NEVER status
Reason one: the impending holidays lit a fire under my butt. I wanted the class to be available as early as possible to encourage others to put self-expression above perfection with their gift wrapping this year! (And, while we’re at it, let’s use recycled paper and give a gift to the planet, too!)
Reason two: art is my business. And the truth is, I spend a *lot* of time talking up a storm about the *biz* part of that equation. But, as much as I love talking biz, I also love to talk about about the *art* part, too! This project was just calling out to me and saying FINISH ME FIRST, PLEASE! And I said Ok, I will. you’ve been patient enough!
Reason three: the feeling of accomplishment and pride! Finishing something you start can have such a monumental effect on your motivation level to get *other* projects finished. I let this one “cut the line” on my To Do list because, after reasons one and two, I also thought I could finish it within a certain timeframe. (I succeeded! Yay!) I also knew that, when I finished it, I’d feel GREAT and would be *totally primed* to return to other in-progress projects with a renewed sense of urgency! So, all told, it’s definitely a Win-Win!
I hope that reading my story helps to stoke an ember in *you* to finish something that *you* have sitting on the back-burner, too. I KNOW you can do it.
It’s been over a year since I have posted. There’s no better way to restart my blog than to tell you how I got to where I am today.
I was a graphic designer and illustrator for The Boston Globe / Boston.com in Sales and Marketing for 17.5 years, when I got laid off in 2015.
Don’t worry. It wasn’t tragic. See, I’d started my own biz in 2005– a “side hustle” that I always fully intended to go full-time with, ONE day. Just didn’t know WHEN.
It started out as a custom pet portraiture biz, then morphed into children’s illustration, then greeting card licensing and art licensing for products.
By 2012, I’d exhibited 3x at licensing trade shows, and attended additional shows. I was working two FT jobs, and was hustling so hard, I barely slept.
But, when your dreams start materializing, you run with it.
Never stop dreaming, never stop doing.
Back to 2012… I launched my first (in retrospect, my only) fabric line with Northcott. I was working on my first character brand collection with a major gift co (Demdaco).
I also started refocusing my Etsy biz to print-on-demand and began my mug line. I sold on Etsy back then, but I also dabbled in many other platforms, at the same time (Was it A LOT? Yes.)
I continued art licensing, and creating, connecting, and working. (And still, not doing much sleeping).
In 2015, I brought Cats At Work to SURTEX: and it all went bananas in a good way. Got several licenses for Cats, bonkers. Same year, I spoke at a design conference for the first time and did a live hand lettering workshop there, too. Faced my anxiety, embodied my biggest fear. Didn’t die.
Bonus: realized I could teach.
Got laid off in late 2015 from my day job. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t sad about it. Had perfectly positioned myself to go full time with my indie art biz.
However great 2015 was, it was ALSO getting a little dark:
My burn-out was starting to scream.
It became especially obvious when I acquired a stubborn and potentially dangerous infection on my Surtex trip.
I was sick for six months.
I also ran into some snags in my biz that derailed me, made me feel powerless, gave me major anxiety, and left me in a holding pattern for a long stretch.
During that time, I switched my focus to parts of my biz that didn’t have anything to do with OTHER parts of my biz.
My mug line, which I’d been doing for a few years at that point, came to the forefront. I tried more print-on-demand product formats in my shop and, I also decided to branch out and try something NEW. I jumped into YouTube (I actually credit YT for saving me from being a depressed puddle, at that time.)
As time went on and I juggled my Etsy shop and my Shopify shop, I took an audit of my biz and realized, with clarity AND with my ego in check (vy imp) that my Etsy shop was pretty much kicking my Shopify’s hiney, in terms of effort spent vs. pay-off.
So, I woke up, smelled the coffee beans and decided to go all-in on Etsy.
(I made a comprehensive video all about the reasons WHY I did this.).
Then, Etsy Wholesale came and went, but it existed *just long enough* for me to hop on board and realize the promise wholesale held for my biz, when I had the right wholesale platform partner.
Soon, Faire hit the scene, and the rest is history. Now, my mugs are in over 200 independent U.S. retail shops, and growing. (kathyweller.com/wholesale for list of stockists).
Ok! So that’s my BIZ evolution…
Which brings me to my evolution with my Etsy shop!
I talk ALL about my evolution as an artist on Etsy selling print-on-demand in this video I made.
I’m not sugar-coating it. The struggle was REAL… but! I’m a fighter, and I’m realllly stubborn. So, YES— there’s a HAPPY ending!
I have a new class in which I share how I was able to solve this struggle for myself. If YOU are an Artist on Etsy, and you’re trying to make sense of print-on-demand, and trying to figure out HOW on EARTH to make it work, and the struggle is REAL for YOU too, I got you.
If you’re interested in the class but you’re not on Skillshare and don’t want to be, visit my independent learning platform Creativity Takes Guts.
I love you guys, and THANK YOU for being here for me through the thick and thin of my journey as an Artist.
We are innovators, we are resourceful, we MAKE IT WORK, and we are GENEROUS, which I think is one of the keys to happiness in life….
I am here for you, and I share even more of myself and my journey in this class. I hope to help you reach higher with your business.
I’ve put together a bunch of resources for artists. Take a look:
Courses + Coaching
• The Abundant Artist is offering Pay-What-You-Will Coaching for Artists.
The following courses are offered through Coursera* platform:
• Museum of Modern Art NY is offering free online courses
• CalArts Intro to Typography
• CalArts Intro to Imagemaking
*Coursera courses are FREE for a seven-day trial but are $49/month thereafter, unless you AUDIT the course.
How to AUDIT:
When you click to sign up for a course, you will get a box that says “Free 7-day Trial, and then pay $49 a month”.
There is a small “AUDIT” link in the bottom left corner. Click on that, then fill out the form, and then you will be able to continue on to enjoy the course WITHOUT having to enter in any credit card information.
For visual artists who are also musicians:
• Open Studio Jazz: Choose what you pay
Below is a compilation of sites that contain a compilation of COVID-19 resources for artists: