Aristotle said “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”
While most of us know that in the literal sense that statement is incorrect, figuratively I think it has a lot of merit. The way that I interpret it is that we accomplish a great deal more working together with others than we can accomplish individually. I am seeing evidence of that lately in so many aspects of my work.
Since Keith has come to be a my partner, our business has soared. Not only is it easier to share the day to day tasks with someone (He is the “I.T. Guy” (Internet Technology) and I am the “P.R Girl” (Public Relations)). It is a relationship that doesn’t always work – especially among couples, but because of our mutual respect and admiration for the others’ abilities, and the trust which allows us to ‘let go’ of some things, we are each able to pursue our own interests without having to worry about filling every single need that a small business requires. And that is a GREAT thing. It allows us to spend more time on what each of us love doing most – designing new projects for others to enjoy. It is what I call a “win/win/win” for all involved: Keith, myself and our customers.
Lately, I am finding that this philosophy works well in other aspects of our business as well. Since the beginning of the year, I have been working with the very talented Lynne Andrews – a decorative painting artist whom I have admired for quite a long time. I have always loved her designs and I had the idea to create a Facebook page as a support group for one of her projects – “The 12 Days of Christmas” ornament series from her book “Christmas Blessings“. Those of you who follow my posts regularly know that this has been fabulously successful for all involved. We now have over 300 people in our group (12 Days of Christmas Ornaments by Lynne Andrews – We Are Making Them!), and whether the members are actually creating the ornaments themselves or just cheering us on, it is an exciting and fun place that is promoting creativity and painting and friendship. It has made me some wonderful friends – Lynne included – and I admit from a business standpoint, it has helped my business grow in a way I could have never imagined. It was one of those ‘happy accidents’ that came from a pure desire to do what we love. Along the way, it has taught me a valuable lesson: working together with others who share my passion for creating not only helps the my business grow, but also helps bring positive excitement to the entire industry. I think that is a wonderful thing any way you look at it.
I remember sitting in one of my university art classes on a day when we were discussing the ‘business of being an artist.’ Most of us who were there in class had a true love of creating, so naturally we were exploring the different vocations associated with earning a living in an artistic field. Among the most stable and highest paying jobs available to artists was that of a “graphic designer.” However, it was the general consensus that jobs in graphic design were not only highly stressful, but cut throat and competitive. Our instructor did everything in his power to discourage us from following that path. He cited companies such as Leo Burnett (which was based in Chicago) and mentioned that he had some associates that had worked there and suffered great anxiety and stress because of the fast-paced, competitive nature of the advertising industry.
Knowing even back then that I had a ‘soft heart’, I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a job such as that. It would eat me alive. But it didn’t discourage me from tucking into the back of my mind the thought of someday earning my living through art. I have always loved creating things. My earliest memories are those of me coloring, painting and embroidering. I never lost that desire to do so on a daily basis. I also wanted to share the good feelings I get from creating with others through teaching. Whether it be creating with paint, wood or thread, it is something that drives me every single day and makes me happy. It is a good way to live, and well worth the time it took for me to get to this point.
Now we are back at the present time, and I am finding that I am thoroughly enjoying working with like-minded artists and collaborating on several different types of projects. I am helping Sandy Warner McTier with the computer graphics for her adorable new stamps. I am producing custom wood surfaces for many artists that I long admired, such as Amy Mogish, Peggy Harris, and additional projects with Lynne Andrews to name a few. There are more in the works, too and I can’t wait to reveal what is in store. I think the hardest part is keeping quiet about things until they are ready to be presented. Working with these artists is a privilege that I never thought I would experience. I have learned so much from each of them, and it also has brought my work to a new level. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I try to step up to the plate and hit a home run with each project. It has been a win/win/win for everyone, I believe.
With autumn knocking at our door, I am (as are most designers) thinking ahead to fall projects. While I was going through my Halloween things the other day, I came across my little “Boo Bunny” magnets that I made from Peggy Harris’ pattern several years ago. I was just returning to decorative painting after a long absence when I painted them, and they were one of the projects that kicked me back into that area of artwork and reawakened my desire to paint. Back then, I had a few people ask if I would cut the wood pieces, as Peggy’s original pattern was done on a flat surface, and I did so. I had few painting followers then and the project came and went, although each year I took out my magnets and admired them.
With my recent collaboration with Peggy’s Cinderealla Mouse tiara project, I thought I would ask her if it was OK for me to offer these cute little bunny ghosts as wood pieces and stand-ups. She graciously agreed and I helped her rewrite her instructions to make a marketable pattern packet which uses either Folk Art Acrylics or DecoArt Americanas to create this project.
. . . and a Pattern and Wood Kit Combo (SLDPS150) which includes the full color pattern for all the bunnies, as well as a set of the 3.5″ wood ornaments or magnets.
It is a fun way to get started on your autumn crafting and make these adorable ornaments or magnets! I hope you stop by the site and check things out. You can now also go directly to the painting section of my site by using the url http://www.tolepaintingdesigns.com. I find that avoids some of the confusion that my painters had when coming to the site.
As for my own “Cinderella Mouse” project, I had some time to work on it last night. I am thrilled with how it is progressing! (You can get Peggy’s pattern/surface here at Peggy’s SHOP) I first sketched in the fur with the undercoats:
. . . and then began adding the details:
The layering that Peggy teaches really makes this project fast and easy!
Before long, I finished the fur on the two mice and began basing out the clothing.
I got tired after that and called it a night. But I can’t help but admire it with the pretty tiara frame laying on top!
I hope to finish it off today. I am pretty much in the home stretch. I am such a slow painter, but it really didn’t take me long to do. I love seeing it come to life and I think I may have to paint another one for myself. (This one is for my grand daughter, Willow.) I will keep you posted.
Keith also revealed a new design on our site. All week I have been watching him draw these exquisite Large Filigree Ornament Frames with Optional Silhouette designs (SLDK685)
The pattern for these lovely ornaments is now up on the site on the main scroll saw page. I think they are absolutely beautiful and I am sure they will be very popular.
Well, that is about all for today. I was up early and wanted to get to work.
I am so happy that I found not only a way to make a living being creative, but also some wonderful artists whom I call friends to share things with. It is so much more fun to have a colleague to share ideas with. I think they feel the same about me. In these days of everyone trying to be the ‘best’ and hearing of the competitive nature of some artists, it is nice to know there are those who enjoy working together with others and appreciate what fellow artists have to offer. I think that will help the industry grow and that the ones that will benefit most will be the students and customers. Collaborations are a wonderful thing, and the whole truly does exceed the sum of its parts in this instance. It is a wonderful thing for all involved.
Happy Thursday to you all!