Color Colour Minibook

paislee-Color-Mini-projectbyhooper00I believe I have made my new all time favorite minibook. When I was in the Philippines there was color EVERYWHERE. I was obsessed with taking every colorful photo I could find. There was color in everything and I could not get enough. Therefore, I made an entire minibook to celebrate it. I used all of my favorite papers from Paislee Press and made my favorite kind of book. Full of funky pages, lots of surprise turns and fun little embellishments. You can see the whole tutorial and how to make your own book over on the Paislee Press blog. paislee-Color-Mini-projectbyhooper09

An (almost) Year With The Get To Work Book: A Review

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It’s been almost a year since I started using my Get To Work Book by Elise.  I shared an in depth review after I first received my planner and had used it for about 2 months at the time. I still stand by my review and am still absolutely loving my book. I wanted to share an update on how I am using it now and on whether or not I will be reordering another one.

Spoiler alert: I already have ordered next year’s planner.

I filmed a quick time-lapse of my book from beginning to end to show you how much I have been using my book and because I LOVE seeing peeks into other people’s messy planners.

Get-To-Work-Book-2Ok, so last time we chatted, I wasn’t using the end of the month reflection pages, they just felt odd to me. But I gave them a chance and now I cant wait to get to them. I really love the ‘things to let go of’ column as it has been really helpful for me as I have been over committing a lot lately and need that time to and space to move on from a few things. Get-To-Work-Book-3
Another fun thing I have been doing is using the extra week pages (these occur every now and then when their is one odd day that spills over into another month from another week) and the gridded pages to plan out my project life pages. Im in a major catch up and this has been vital to doing it on such a large scale. Get-To-Work-Book-4

The best change I have made is how I organize my day. I saw this on the Get To Work Book instagram to divide up the to do list and the schedule. I put my schedule, as I see multiple students each day, have meetings, duties, etc up top and in order so I can see where I have to be and when at a glance, then leave a space (when possible) to put my to do list and at the very bottom will put any night time activities that occur after work. This has helped me stay more organized which is why I LOVE the GTWB Instagram feed as you get so many great ideas from how others are using their books. 
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This is a great example of how I used the project pages to plan out my postcard launch. I also have the notepad of these pages because I use them for soooo many things.

Get-To-Work-Book-Review-1And last, but not least, I am loosely using the month planners now. At first I wasnt, but as the school year wraps up SO much stuff starts to happen and it is imperative that I see it all at glance. I don’t use it very detailed, but I do add in big events so I can see where to not plan things. Ps totally loving the arrow tape from GTWB also to mark big events like my mom being in town!

So, those are my updates on how I am now using the GTWB that are a little different from the very beginning and with these changes, I am officially using EVERY page and feature in the book. I love every thing about this book and am so excited to get started with next years book as it has a few new features that I am even more stoked about.

And a quick update for you on how the book is holding up: GREAT. No rips or tears and very little wear honestly. I only carry it home on Fridays and leave it on my work desk for the week, but it is holding up really well and I am ordering the chipboard cover again for next year because of this, but if you needed something more sturdy I would go with the new hard cover black one.

To read my in depth review go here and order your own here! 

PS this is not a sponsored post or affiliate link, I just truly love this product and it has been incredibly helpful for me and I feel that it will be helpful for others no matter what you need to plan.

Interview with Artist KenT

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Hey friends! I have someone I would love you for you to meet today. kenT is an artist living in my (almost) hometown of Charlotte, who I met through instagram! Seriously, that app just keeps making my life better every day #weird. When I found kenT’s work I was enamoured with his use of color and movement. I love a good abstract, but his stuff was nothing like anything I had seen before. As I began to dig deeper into who he was I realized that we had a lot in common, including some friends, and after reading just a few bits of his bio and poking around his site I thought “we need more people like him in the world sharing these kinds of ideas”, so when we started talking about doing an interview I knew I had to get him to share with you guys. Oh, and the best part about it is, he just wrote a book! So if you can’t get enough of him here in this interview, go check out alllll his thoughts in his new book Be Something. If You Want To Make Something. 

Recently a shift has been happening, especially in the online world, with artists. You can no longer be flaky, unorganized, difficult, moody and slightly insane to be successful because there is a long line of reliable and nice artists waiting to serve your customers/clients. And besides, no one likes people like that. I have been thinking and talking about this, in my own life, a lot recently and I knew that kenT would be a great person to speak to this and share his own experiences. I hope you enjoy his energetic and honest thoughts on self-care, customer service and showing up to work.

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kenT, a big part of your bio is about being kind and fun to work with. How do you infuse your business practices with kindness and why you want to be known for this?

i’m not sure if kind if my favorite word here, but it is in the right direction. kind just reminds me of going back to the days of the vcr and having to fast forward to get to the beginning of the movie. anyone else remember “be kind. rewind.”? my attitude is really to be surprising. this includes kindness + thoughtfulness. surprising someone really is what this whole journey of be-ing someone who is noticed is all about. as an artist i fight with the typical starving artist stereotype. i am expected to fit into a mold. it’s a “scattered, out-of-the-box, running late, torn-jeans wearing, messed-up hair” kind of mold. i think spike lee playing mars blackman in the first nike air jordan commercial got it wrong. it has nothing to do with the shoes. if you want to make and make a living at this, you have to surprise people. not with how you look, but with your product, your personality, and your service. surprise does not mean crazy or overboard obnoxious – it means to exceed their expectations. the corporate world has an absurd way of gauging their employees’ performances. at year-end reviews, employees are given marks of either “does not meet,” “meets,” or “exceeds” expectations. based on those reviews, bonuses are given, promotions are made, etc. employees work all year just to get one of those credits on their records. those that “meet” expectations just keep riding the train. those that do not are given a second and sometimes third chance to bring up their marks. those that are marked “exceeds” (which are few and far between) are considered stars within the company and often get a new title (oooooh – aaahhh, yeah!) and perhaps a bigger bonus. for the most part, employees “meet” expectations, and things continue to move along as is. as an entrepreneur or business owner / maker, we are not given such reviews. we are only offered two possible marks. either yes. or no. and we are given those reviews on a daily basis. yes. yes, i will buy from you again, work with you again, forward you to a friend, and carry a torch for you. or a no. h – e – double – hockey – sticks no, i won’t buy from you again. in fact, i’ll tell others not to as well. see that review – you suck. no stars for you. a rating of one. there is no second or third chance. if you do not deliver, you lose. companies will keep you around because it is easier than finding someone new or it is risky to make changes. but buyers, they will drop you. i’m sure of it because i do. i’m not good with second chances on customer service. i’ve walked out of a small shop when the owner was too chatty on the phone to help me. i took my business elsewhere. i refuse to purchase art supplies at a big box store minutes from my home, and instead drive farther, because it is so slow and has an aura of malaise. i’m certain you have stories of poor results in which you have taken your business somewhere else. you may not have the same i-won’t-shop-there list as i do, but i’ll bet you have one. unless you exceed their expectations, which are high, customers / clients will move on to the next person on their lists. do more for clients or potential clients than they expect. be nice. be helpful. treat them as you would your best friend. it surprises people. 140514_kentyoungstrom-2

You talk a lot about showing people that working with artists can be a reliable and efficient effort, not a tortured and haphazard procedure. How do you stay organized in your (art) work and business? 

i mentioned above that as an artist you are already facing an uphill battle. rightfully so, artists are thought of as difficult to work with. i attempt to give off a casual, easy to work with vibe because it is how i operate. for others it may be different. here is some simple advice. given with a simple question:

would you buy from you?

take a credit card – even if it cost you a small percentage of the sale. put the price of shipping into the product, so shipping is not extra. if it breaks, replace it. if it’s wrong, fix it. be easy to work with. be easy to refer. i don’t give this advice to my daughter, but i do to you. be easy. have you ever seen the scottish keg toss competition where the guys in skirts, i mean kilts, toss kegs over increasingly high walls? i am convinced shipping companies play similar games with my packaged paintings. i’ve given up on insuring them because it is denied every time. apparently unless ansel adams takes photos of the packaging, all claims will be denied. that’s not the point of this story however. i have on separate occasions had paintings both stabbed and snapped in half. on both of those occasions, i gained clients for life by simply fixing the problem at no cost or no hassle to the client. no hemming and hawing about let me check and file a claim and get back to you. no. on the phone i took care of it the first time. client one got a youtube video and a repair kit, because she wanted to fix it herself. i did not know her at the time or know she would soon be a great client and business friend. since the dexter-like box-stabbing incident, i was the initial artist on her quote-sharing app (which was launched at harpo studios). she also has since purchased multiple pieces and promoted my work to countless business connections. client two got his package picked up the next day and returned to him in about a week or so – fixed and ready to hang. he also got a small painting just for the delay and the hassle. was all this convenient for me? absolutely not. pain in the derrière. but the end result sure was a win – win. take care of your customer as if they were your mom. (minus the discount and, well, frankly the hassle that would be.) they will tell other customers as if they were your mom too. you know – like every time she talks to them!

be easy. be nice to your mom. it surprises people. 140514_kentyoungstrom-16

The life of the successful (or not so successful) artists, business owner, blogger, dad, friend, and now author (!) etc goes about 800 miles a minute and there is so much work to be done. How do you balance work and rest (and not just the 8 hours a night kind)? What are some of your rituals or routines for rest? 

8 hours? am i suppose to get 8 hours? i often hear it is about balance. my thought? balance shmalance. that doesn’t exist. i prefer persistence + pattern. i make it a pattern to do all those things. my pleasure is the pattern. it’s doing it again. then again. i’m a fighter. i’m driven. i hit the bag and get in the ring over and over. not literally – but everyday i’m there. the pleasure of the pattern is the result. the pattern may change but it’s all part of me. it’s not a mix of plaid and stripes, but rather a mix of subtle textures and colors.

it looks something like this.

wake
work out
eat (power bar of some type)
take the kids to school
*walk into the big box of paint i call the studio
paint a bit.
eat (turkey/ chicken)
visit with my mac/ check orders
paint some more
eat (fruit/nuts)
wrap up./ package/ wash brushes / head home
say hey to kids / make them food
do some computer work
make dinner (high protein/low fat)
take kids to some sort of practice / game / homework adventure etc.
hang out

* in that big box of paint i have the freedom to insert…
nap
make nice with my TRX bands
paint something that has not been ordered
run an errand
pick up a kid or two for appointments
walk the dogs
text friends
take photos
crank spotify
juggle the soccer ball
downward dog my way to a little inspiration
jump around. jump around. jump up. jump up. and get down.

this pattern is revolving and always will be. it certainly didn’t develop overnight. but it grounds me. makes me me. pleases me.book pic 2 (4 of 9)

I hope you guys are as pumped to go surprise some people as I am after reading kenT’s interview. Check out his book here and connect with him here. Thanks so much kenT. Now lets all go be something. 140723_KentYoungstrom-13-X2