Am I there yet? So my first shop anniversary came and went. I celebrated with my closest friends and my parents left me just about the cutest voicemail I’ve ever heard in my life. They hummed a tune and sang “happy anniversary to your Etsy shop.” My dad chimed in at the end “happy shop anniversary little girl” because he clearly didn’t know there was a special anniversary tune but it was still the most precious thing ever. Better than the set of balloons I bought myself to remind myself I did it. But what did I really do?…make some art? Yes, I learned a million things along the way in my first year but when my shop turned one I was left with this unsatisfied feeling. I’m still not completely sure why but I’ll try and write it all down for you.
My year went like this: do some art, teach yourself how to do some new stuff that you should’ve gone to college for four years to learn, have a breakdown, complete a commission, get frustrated because I’m broke, decide to almost give up, call my mom, get up and try again while trying to decide if I was going to be in it for the long run or not. I feel like I was teeter-tottering on the edge of failure on a weekly basis and it was exhausting. I logged some significant hours this year, the majority of which were fueled by passion and not by a monetary value. That is something to be proud of.
I became sure of myself and my career path of choice. I now introduce myself as an artist first and everything else second. That was a weird thing for me to deal with. I am not lacking confidence but I was ashamed of being an artist. Stupid…so, so dumb. Everyone likes art. MY DAD has his favorites of my artwork and has his own names for my girls (if anyone was curious he likes the one in sneakers and he calls her sneaks of course…I mean he’s still a dad). Anyways, when I started to own my title, other people started to jump on board with me. I came to the realization that if I wasn’t doing this, I would be incredibly disappointed in myself as well as anyone who knows my spirit.
I just came across one of my biggest hurdles about three weeks ago and it was a walk off the track or demolish the last hurdle of the 400s whether you come across the finish line standing or not (sorry I was a hurdler so yes this analogy is going to be technical). My goal for August 31st was to come out with my first stationary card and I knew by the beginning of August that my funds for groceries and this damn card were starting to collide. I work two part-time jobs which I adore but it was beyond frustrating when I would go to work to come home and work and spend a good majority of the money I just made working to pay for work. Printing stationery is extremely expensive especially if you don’t even know if you’re going to sell any. I decided to take the hurdle in stride and pick up more hours at my part-time job which means I’ll have a bit less time to design, but more funds to work with for growing my business. And that’s where my training comes into play, I’m relentless when it comes to hurdles, I’ll find a way.
Let’s go back to square one where I was feeling like the first birthday of my shop meant absolutely nothing. I could list all of the important achievements for you that I hit in my first year but when I looked back on them personally, that did nothing for me. This whole year I was rushing towards a deadline, a finish line, a place of achievement and I didn’t ever reach it. After each deadline there was a split second of a sense of achievement but I knew the next challenge or “hurdle” if you’re still with me on that one, was around the corner. I had this feeling that I had to do as much as I could in one year. I was all over the place, not focused in the least. One week I was learning to paint and convincing myself that’s what my business was going to be and the next I was an illustration company, a day later I was teaching myself graphic design and the next month I would focus on the fashion portion of my blog. I was lacking focus of any kind and it really didn’t bother me. It still doesn’t bother me horribly. It’s something I will work on in my second year but here’s the thing: We can be whatever we want to be. The second I started putting restrictions on this thing I was doing was the same second I hated it. Yes, being focused is great, but being versatile is greater because that’s what I am. Other companies that I aspire to be like are very focused in their discipline and I would put my company against theirs and lose every time. Why? Because I made my company and I don’t see it through the rose-colored lens I see every other talented creative through. So I’ve come to this conclusion about my shop’s first birthday: It was nothing more than a mark of time that I started this journey 365 days ago. The next few days my shop did not go away, nor did it have explosive sales, just as it hadn’t the past 365 days. What did happen is I kept creating. I kept getting up and making a choice that I would keep doing this and do it my way. I would keep changing my mind and continue to mold this into whatever I please. That’s the thing, I have the rest of my life to do this. I probably will choose not to even acknowledge August 31st on my calendar in the years coming because it’s nothing. Art is a way for me. It is a choice of a happier life and a way of bringing happiness to others. I choose this. And no I’m not there yet and I hope I never get there.
To finish this post off here is the daily quote of inspiration my dad sends to my inbox, “When all is said and done, success without happiness is the worst kind of failure.” -Louis Binstock
*photo credit//Laura Rae Photography
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I’m Katie, the brand strategist, designer, dreamer, and entrepreneur behind Artful Brands. Dreamy typefaces, clean layouts, and soft color palettes are my love language— but more importantly designing strategic brands that book.