Going Big With Mrs. Eaves & Finding Time to Experiment Creatively

Going Big With Mrs. Eaves & Finding Time to Experiment Creatively

Going Big With Mrs. Eaves 

The Importance of Finding Time to Experiment Creatively

I have been wanting to paint a mural for a very long time. In fact, it has been my New Year’s Resolution for the last two years. Over the weekend I went to a workshop on taking sketches from small to big scale – i.e. mural size, taught by Gemma O’Brien (so much internal fan-girling.) After the workshop, I can finally stop second guessing my instincts about the how of mural painting. Once my basement is not a flooded wasteland I am going to attack the back wall as a test of my new skills!

 

go-big-with-mrs-eaves-gemma-obrien

At the end of the workshop, there was open time for each of us to meet with Gemma and ask questions or get feedback on work, etc. I had plans to sit down and work up some really solid questions the week before the event. Due to some unfortunate circumstances that tore my house apart over the course of last week, and massive amounts of flooding the night before the workshop, I was not at my best. I definitely did not maximize that awesome opportunity. Through some general conversation about balancing passion projects and full time jobs, I realized a few hurdles that I am trying to tackle to allow for creative growth.

experimental-ABCs

blackletter

typographic-experiments

At the end of the workshop, there was open time for each of us to meet with Gemma and ask questions or get feedback on work, etc. I had plans to sit down and work up some really solid questions the week before the event. Due to some unfortunate circumstances that tore my house apart over the course of last week, and massive amounts of flooding the night before the workshop, I was not at my best. I definitely did not maximize that awesome opportunity. Through some general conversation about balancing passion projects and full time jobs, I realized a few hurdles that I am trying to tackle to allow for creative growth.

Creating art that you really care about generally requires a lot of experimentation. I can spend days testing out different ways to use one tool (like a brush) to apply paint/ink/coffee/whatever. This type of experimentation is what drives creative output. It creates original work and inspires ideas you never would have had without going through the process of trial and error.

What happens when you don’t have the luxury of time?

Whether you are on a paid project that has a tight deadline, or your full time job is way out of the confines of 40 hours a week, it can be hard to set aside time to let yourself experiment. I have a major problem with wanting to sit down and knock projects out one by one. I want to start and finish a piece in one sitting.

This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it certainly doesn’t leave much room for growth.

I am working on changing my mentality. For me, instagram has been a huge influence in the way I produce. I feel pressured to create things that will get more likes, more comments, more exposure. In doing this, I am shooting myself in the foot, because I am skipping steps in the process.

Steps to Help Yourself Create

Here are a few guidelines I have set out for myself to reign in the feelings of obligation and allow the creativity to thrive.

Make Yourself Take Time

I think my most over-used mantra is, “Quality over Quantity.” It rings true in so many verticals though! There is a time and a place for quick, sequential creating. Sketch exercises, quote of the day-type projects – these are both great, but give yourself time to really get into finessing and loving some of your projects too. The more you do it, the faster you’ll get at it and eventually the “quick” projects you do will be at the level of your old long-term projects.

Don’t Be Too Precious About It

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s OK if you get going on an approach that you thought was going to be revolutionary when you envisioned it in your head, but turned out less than. This is where the experimentation is key.

One of my recent projects DEFINITELY did not turn out as planned. I sat with it for a couple of days and ‘destroyed’ the technique which led to a really awesome finished piece. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I planned the project, but I learned a lot from it and walked away with a cool finished project in the end. There are plenty of times where the finished project wasn’t worth saving but I view those as learning experiences that have pushed my skill-set in the direction it’s headed now.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Whether it’s scale, material, or subject matter, be sure to switch up what you are working with every now and then. For the last few years I have been lettering with ink on paper. I have stepped out and done some woodcuts (the types of projects I favored as a kid) and it totally changed the way I view dimension in my 2D work. Inspired by the Go Big workshop, my next major project will definitely be large scale lettering and I am so excited!

P.S. If you know anyone with an extra projector laying around, hmu.

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Keeping Up | September 2017 – January 2018

Keeping Up 

September 2017 – January 2018

Hello friends! It’s been a while. We have some really exciting things going on behind the scenes here at smoorelovin…Notice I said ‘we’?? Yes! Exciting things are coming, a certain someone is going to be joining me in contributing to the style section of smoorelovin! I can’t give too many details just yet, but get excited 🙂

The Blog

Like I said, a new contributor will be coming to smoorelovin. Stay tuned for an introduction and her first post! She has a ton of experience doing trend forecasting, has seen me roll myself into a blanket-burrito at 5am while having a fit about going through rush, and is one of my favorite people – I can’t wait for you all to get to know her better!

Career

This is one of those areas that brings me a great deal of excitement (and a fair bit of stress/frustration to balance it all out.) I genuinely think the company I work for is on the verge of changing the landscape for the way companies that produce digital experiences/applications/software/etc. do things. It is such an exciting thing to be a part of, being able to contribute and influence the way these processes are shaping is pretty incredible. Added bonus, the first phase of a project that we started working on this time last year is about to wrap up AND the company website redesign is live! Check it out.

Fitness

I’ve stopped Classpass in favor of focusing fully on muay thai and cutting my expenses a bit in the new year. I lucked out and got a gift card to my favorite yoga spot in Philly for Christmas and am hoping that can supplement what used to be covered by my CP membership!

Fun Projects & Activities

Voloshin & Printfresh New Season Launch (September 2017)

I had the opportunity to attend the Voloshin / Printfresh new season launch at the beginning of the month. As a letterer and illustrator, I inherently love paper goodies and deeply appreciate a good journal. As a designer and digital strategist, I love when you can see into someone’s process and recognize their attention to detail in the beauty of the finished product. Both Voloshin and Printfresh are brands that take pride in the quality of what they produce. All of the clothing in the Voloshin line is made in India – hand dyed, stitched and embroidered – so each piece has the slight imperfections that give it the personality that fast fashion will never be able to truly mimic. On top of that, the lead pattern creator Amy Voloshin creates the kind of beautiful hand painted patterns that are elegant and classic meaning they are the types of pieces that you can wear through all the trends without feeling out of place.

Travel

After a bit of a mix-up at the end of the year, I decided to try and get some trips on the calendar a little earlier this year to make sure I take time to see and do. I’m trying to figure out a couple of other smaller weekend trips to get in the mix, but these are my bigger trips!

  • New Orleans
    I’m so excited to be going to New Orleans for my Mom’s birthday in February. I haven’t been since I was about 9 and am so excited to see it through such a different lens now. Most of my family is buried in New Orleans and my great grandmother was a Mardi Gras queen in her teens. I tried the dress on once, it was seriously impressive!
  • France
    Squeeeee! I am super excited about this trip. This will be my second time travelling in Europe, and this time around my two favorite women will be by my side! My friend Megan, who I went on my last European adventure with, my mom, and I will be spending 9 days traveling around France together.

Keeping Up | August 2017

Going in to August is always exciting because it’s my birthday month. It’s peak summer, there are tons of activities and I get really good at being excited about the tiniest things because I can say, “It’s my birthday *X*,” and that makes it the best *X* I could ask for 🙂

The Blog

I have been thinking a lot about how I want to incorporate all of the different interests and influences I have in my life to share with all of you. It has been really fun to step back and see the different areas that I am inspired by and how I can bring them together to create something that can be a resource and refuge for all of you! I am hoping that by saying this here it will help give me that final push of accountability I need to kick these projects into gear.

Creative Interviews

I have been toying with how I want to do creative interviews on smoorelovin for a while now.I wanted to create an interview that lets you see the real workings of their minds and not just, “What’s your favorite color/candy bar/etc.” I have finally compiled a list of questions that will give a real look into the lives and backgrounds of people who are living creative lives in their own way. Now comes the fun part – executing on the ideas and plans and getting some really awesome people profiled on here!

More Travel

I love documenting my travels here. It is so fun to look back at trips and see what was going through my head each day to step back into the mindset that I was in. Being able to take a minute at the end of each day while traveling to write down a few notes has been a game-changer for me. It really changes my appreciation for the different things I experience in each day and ups the happy level associated with each trip.

Career

  1. I started reading Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in an effort to help me improve in the areas I struggle with the most in my career – money and negotiations. I fall into the category of people (typically women) who think that my work should speak for itself and eventually someone will notice the quality and the big payoff will come. I know it does not work that way, and if someone asks me for career or salary advice I ALWAYS tell them to go for it and recognize the value of what they contribute. I have a hard time putting those practices to work in my own world, so I’m trying to improve.

Fitness

I was off Muay Thai for almost all of August. The gym was closed for renovations and then I was back in Colorado and then the gym had to close again due to flooding. Going back was really hard, I felt so out of shape my first class. Shallow breathing, so much sweat and a thirst that all the water in the world couldn’t quench.

As out of shape as I felt during my first class back, I was pleasantly surprised during my Labor Day weekend exercises at how much my endurance has improved! My mom and I stayed at The Asbury Hotel for Labor Day and they offered a roof top yoga class that we happily participated in. It was a strength-building class for sure and we both powered through smiling. The following day we took a 3 mile run on the boardwalk without even blinking. I am not a runner, I don’t usually enjoy it and I stop every half mile to walk for probably a quarter mile. I don’t know if it was the boardwalk views or having the opportunity to run with my mom that did it, but I comfortably ran that 3 miles without stopping and I am pretty damn proud of it.

Fun Projects & Activities

  1. I have signed on to run the instagram and twitter for TypeThursday PHL, a new group in Philly dedicated to type and letterforms (full on geek mode). TypeThursday is an international group for type lovers and the PHL chapter will have a monthly meet-up. Each month the group will get together to share and critique work, talk about new inspiration and have a general space to talk about type. I am super excited for this group to kick in to gear. I love to draw letterforms and manipulate the elements as a way to get myself off the computer and creating in the real world. I am super excited to meet up with people who share that love and more! Philly has A LOT of really awesome hand-letterers, graffiti artists, type-setters and type designers so I am hoping they all come together and show what an awesome community we have!
  2. I spent my birthday back home in Colorado and it was the best decision I have made this year. I had 5 days off in a row with very few obligations in a place that I love so dearly and don’t get to spend nearly enough time in. I got to go camping with new/old friends and woke up to beautifully crisp Colorado air and [real] pine tree smells. I swam in a lake and hiked to the top of the highest rock I could find. I got to share my beautiful home with Tim (who I learned had never really been camping).
  3. WE DROVE TO CASPER< WY FOR THE ECLIPSE! That was cool.

I hope your August was wonderful and welcomed September with open arms!

Birthday Reflecting | Looking Forward to Personal Growth

Today I turn 27. I have to admit, I am pretty excited about 27 and officially being in my late-twenties. I’m not sure why, but I have a good feeling about personal growth this coming year. My late twenties are going to be about humbly recognizing and celebrating my strengths and improving upon  my weaknesses. They will be about celebrating the strengths of the people I love and am surrounded by and the good that we inspire in each other.

Ways I Have Moved Forward in the Last Year

One of my greatest strengths in life has always been my ability to ignore what other people think. I don’t mean in an arrogant way, more that I was always good at recognizing the grain of salt. I can see through the person criticizing me to their insecurities which allows me to feel compassion for them vs. resentment. Rather than beat myself up, I focus on empathy and trying to lighten the burden they were placing on themself. I attribute this to having a therapist for a mother.

Even that armor isn’t invincible. As much as I was able to let things roll off me like rain on an oil slick, there were those few things that slipped through and ate away at my confidence over time. You can only hear the same critique so many times, you know?

In college I was surrounded by fashion design students who were also aspiring models. They were tall, and thin and beautiful in a way that I will never be. I am solid and muscular and I could probably move a car with the power in my thighs.

I had always been very comfortable with my body until college. In college I wanted the muscle to go away, I didn’t want to be seen as forceful. I looked for workouts that would make me leaner. All of this strength that I had worked my entire life to develop was now the thing that made me [in my mind] stick out like a sore thumb when I walked around campus.

Fastforward a few years to when I was entering my mid-twenties, people in my life would tell me how great being in your late twenties was because you didn’t care so much. When I got to my late-twenties, people started telling me how great being in your thirties was because you didn’t care so much.

The last three years have been a reawakening of my body confidence. Whether it’s because of my age or not, I began to love my body again. I got back into working out regularly, and realized that I love the strength I have. This year I found Muay Thai, a sport that truly celebrates strength. I have once again found the ability to love my body for its strength. I challenged myself to get comfortable in front of the camera by starting style posts like this one, right here on the blog.

I’ve also begun to truly value my skills again (with the help of regular pep talks from my best friend and my mom.) There is endless value in having a true support system! The unexpected benefit of learning the value in what you do is that you also see the true value and worth in your time and how you use it. I have become much more careful in agreeing (or not agreeing) to do things because I have a better understanding of how draining overextending yourself can be. There’s a time and a place and it’s important to recognize when to say both ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

Keeping the Momentum Going

We all have so much power and good inside of us. When we ignore the fear of failure and focus on doing what is good for us and those around us, no matter the outcome we are moving forward. This year I’ll be better at calling myself on my own bullshit and not overextending myself. I will continue to break down the barriers that I have developed internally and strive to grow and welcome new experiences.

It’s also time for a big trip. I’m not sure if the trip will happen during 27 but the planning definitely will! There are so many places that I would like to go and spend time in.

For all of these reasons, I think 27 is going to be good. 

Keeping Up | July 2017

July was quite the month. I made some really important steps toward personal growth! Here’s a little peek into what I’ve been up to lately 🙂

The Blog

There have been some fun things happening on the blog! Color palettes have returned which makes me super excited. I ALSO shared some of my favorite spots in Asbury Park + a beach day outfit to wear while you’re there 🤗

Career

  1. I had an incredible opportunity to travel with my company’s executive team to Washington D.C. for the Microsoft World Partner Conference, Inspire. Working in the booth during the day, and taking advantage of the networking [read party] events at night gave me the chance to get to know the company that I have grown to love even more. As with any job there are pitfalls, but for the first time in my career I am in a place where I am challenged on a regular basis and encouraged to try my hand at as many things as I like.The conference was yet another moment for me to push my fear of public speaking out of the arena because I led the demo booth. I think what made the biggest difference for me is remember that everyone you talk to is just another person. This may sound silly, but it helps me gain some perspective on the significance (or insignificance) of any given conversation. It also took my focus off my fear of not having the right answer for every possible question someone might ask and allowed me to recognize that my knowledge is more expansive than I give myself credit for.While at the conference I also had the chance to attend the Women In Tech Lunch. Lunches like this are always inspiring, the best of the best speak about the things they’ve overcome and how well they’ve done and how far they have to go. It simultaneously puts your struggles in perspective, challenges you to up your game, and reminds you of the shortcomings in the group you are celebrating. Tech is notorious for it’s lack of diversity and the room was definitely representative of that. I am excited to work for a company who is focused on breaking that mold and hope that is a mindset that is becoming more common across the field.On a less happy note, I had to say goodbye to my new boss. Due to unexpected circumstances, he had to leave our company and I am so sad. It’s rare to find someone who is incredibly talented and also able to teach their skills to others. I feel like the more common combination is to be so good at what you do that you are unable to empathize with those that aren’t at your level’s struggle. For those of you that know me well, you know that having a new boss meant that my work-load was a lot more manageable and I was truly excited to sign in to work each morning. While I am still thrilled to start my day, there is a little bit of nervousness in the back of my mind that we are going to end up with an influx of unexpected projects and I am going to drown under a sea of computer files (this is irrational bc business does not work this way and we have an incredible support system set up to stop things like that from happening.)

Fitness

I am super invested in Muay Thai at this point. I started training at the very end of December and have found myself completely obsessed with the sport. Having grown up doing gymnastics it has been hard for me to find a workout routine that has the rigor, discipline and distraction that I found in gymnastics. Muay Thai has all of that. It’s a sport that I could do for 15 years and still learn something new each time I train. I think I’m at the point where I am about to dive in and push myself to get good enough to spar (non-competitively.)

Fun Projects & Activities

    1. I am currently working with a fellow PHLblogger on a new logo for her site. I can’t wait to share the final result with all of you!
    2. My best friend in all the land was in NYC for a bit on a work trip and I had a chance to spend a whole weekend with her and Tim! We wandered around central park (so many dogs) and had a chance to peek around red hook a little bit. It’s funny how the heat and humidity can slow you down so much, we normally cover a pretty long list of activities when we hang out but most of our time was spent lounging in the shade. I can’t complain, it was just the rejuvenation that I needed!
    3. I had to make the incredibly difficult call to step back from my role as Creative Director of PHLbloggers and The Blog Connect Conference. My involvement with PHLbloggers started with Chrystina and I getting together to talk about a logo for a group she had started and grown to 40 members and morphed into something so much bigger. The community ended up growing to have a pretty significant email list and a (now annual) conference. We went through a rebrand, two new websites and the branding and websites for two years of the conference. I got to pour myself into creating visual identities for events geared toward bloggers (what is more fun than that??) It’s with a (truly) heavy heart that I had to pull myself out of the mix after getting a look at what the next 6+ months of my work-life has in store for me. Luckily the team is awesome and I am super excited to see what they come up with this year!

I hope everyone had wonderful July’s!

Father’s Day | Reflecting on Four Years Without Dad

Father’s Day | Reflecting on Four Years Without Dad

Father’s day always brings up a lot of feelings for me. I started writing this post back in March on what would have been my Dad’s 54th birthday. Sometimes it helps to write out all the things that I have thought in the last four years when I wanted him to call me to ask some random question out of the blue or expected him to be waiting at the top of the escalator at Denver International Airport on my trips home. Sometimes it just makes me feel weird. Today it seemed more helpful.

Remembering-Fathers-Day

It’s been for years since my dad was standing at the top of the escalator waiting for me.

It’s weird, I was barely out of college at the time and struggling through my first job. Family stuff was difficult. There was pull for me to move back to Colorado where my dad, step-mom, brothers and sister were, and there was pull to move to Nashville where my mom was at the time & where my grandparents, aunt & uncle and cousins are. I could barely buy groceries, had 7 days off a year and got to spend very little time with my family.

I was stretched so thin – simultaneously disconnected from the everyday lives of everyone I loved while being the tape that was attempting to stop up the leaks in the dam that was our family structure.

My dad wasn’t doing well in his recovery and his manic episodes from bi-polar were becoming more clearly pronounced, making it clear that he was abusing his medication and trying to self diagnose & treat (he was a doctor after all, so he knew best.)

Not long ago I discovered I still had access to a few emails from him. It was a gut-punch looking through them with the knowledge of what would happen so soon after. He sounded so sad, and so lonely. At the time I was reeling from some of his actions and some of the conversations we had so my answers were short, and always ended with “love you,” but they were definitely not the support he needed.

From his death I learned that my approach to the people in my life who struggle with addiction will never be tough love. Definitely a personal choice, but for me the act of cutting him out of my life in hopes of helping his recovery did more damage to me than it helped him. I have come to terms with the what if’s of if I had handled things differently etc., but I don’t ever want to have to do that again.

I have come a long way in recovering the parts of myself that were left blown to pieces after he died. There was never a time when I questioned whether or not he would be proud of where I was or where I was going. What’s been harder is remembering that at each milestone.

This year is another big milestone. My baby sister graduated high school, and that’s brought a twinge with it, too. It’s hard to know that my sweet little babies (also known as siblings) don’t get to share those moments of triumph with the person who loved a celebration, and his kids, more than anyone. On the flip-side they have grown into amazing people who I couldn’t be more proud of.

With that I am going to end this rambling. There’s something cathartic about this word vomit, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t make much sense to anyone but me. -xx