Letter to a Young Decorative Painter: In-depth

Letter to a Young Decorative Painter: In-Depth

WEBe

In my last post, Letter to a Young Decorative Painter, I shared a list of tips and ideas, advice and recommendations that I had sent to a “young” decorative painter…IE, someone new to the field, who is just starting out, and trying to get clients and build business.

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How interesting it is to look back, and see all the things we have  done along the way to learn, develop, grow, sustain and thrive as an artist, entrepreneur, small business person, and member of the “creative class” and service industry.  A more in-depth look at my list seems in order.  Maybe it will open some doors for others, wherever they are in their career.

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  • Get a good Website, absolutely, to share and showcase your work. Absolutely essential. Anyone, anywhere needs to be able to access images of your work, your contact information, bio, and references, referrals, and testimonials.  I use my site as my online portfolio, calling card, tool of communication, and catalog! Start small, and develop your site as your business develops. WordPress sites are lauded as being user-friendly, and offering you the ability to update your own site, which can be a boon! You can choose to depict the kind of work you most wish to be hired for, and steer whoever looks at your site in that direction.

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  • Start a Blog, focusing on the kind of work you would like to do, etc. Many advise that having a blog is also essential in today’s entrepreneurial world. That may be, but only if you post on it  regularly! A blog also can be a tool of communication, a marketing tool, a place to develop ideas and attract audience, followers and colleagues as well as clients, and even create outlines and drafts for other writing projects. I have found that planning specific time each week to post helps get it done. You may want to focus your blog, or a series of posts on specific subjects, or aspects of your business.

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  • Network with Interior Designers and Architects, as well as Painters, Paint Stores, and others in the Building/Built Environment field. Networking is key, and there are many ways of doing this, in person, online, by referral, formally, and informally.  As a decorative painter, muralist and faux finisher, you may find great resources at your local paint store, design center, or design district. You may want to do some demonstrations of your paint store’s product, offer to do signage, or other small project for a designer or architect whom you admire, and would like to work with, or for a favorite charity, non-profit, or organization. Whatever you do, make sure you have plenty of business cards, and other print material handy to post, and pass out to anyone you want to connect with, or to those who may know others who could use your work.

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  • Join a networking group, such as “BNI INTERNATIONAL“, (Business Networking International). (Google it). The “BNI” model is a group that meets weekly, consisting of one person only from any profession, with the purpose of referring clients to each other.  Many skills, and challenges are inherent in the process: defining your business so that you can share about it to the group, presentation, listening and supporting others, volunteerism, and interaction, to name a few!  A tremendous learning and development experience, on both a personal, and professional level.

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  • Take an entrepreneurship or business class, or whole program, and put together a Business Plan. Entrepreneurship classes, programs and studies are becoming much more prevalent in our society, and educational systems. You can learn how to create a business plan, and put money, marketing and management mojo to work, in the company of like-minded individuals. looking at your numbers, putting your goals and objectives down on paper, presenting to a group, learning about others’ business plans can be stimulating, clarifying and sometimes startling, but always educational and growth-inducing!

RenCenhttp://www.rencenter.org/

  • Have a selection of good-sized Samples, depicting your strengths, and the kind of work you most like to do, most want to do, and from which you think you will get the most business. What is the work you most want to do? Are strongest in?  is most sought after by the potential clients that are most sought after…by you? Create a set of samples, and a way to present them, so you can share with others your abilities, and what you can produce. You are in a visual business, so help potential clients imagine how you could transform their environment through your work.

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  • Create brochure, and a postcard, as well as a business card to go with your Site…they should all work together, as your business Visual Identity. Put your card and brochure in Local Paint Stores, and other appropriate venues! This is another arena where you can have fun, and put your color, design and graphics skills to use. it is not possible to do it all, and especially not well, or to professional standards, so enlist the expertise of  recommended / vetted and true graphics/web designer to work with you to develop a visual identity system that does you and your work proud. Your web and print presence are your visual calling cards, so make sure you present yourself at your best, and in the way you truly want to be seen.  Dianna Jacobsen, of  Jacobsen Design is a superb graphic and web designer who can design for clients based anywhere on the globe, and does.  Once you have your visual identity, put it out there…put it everywhere!

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  • Start an email newsletter (it can be simple) , and start building your Mailing List. Use your postcards! Keep in touch with your clients, potential clients, colleagues, associates and networking partners through digital and analogue means.  Email newsletters, blogs and social media can be a great way to stay in touch, but never underestimate the power of a beautifully designed card or stationary, and the handwritten word!

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  • Selectively, Do Some High Profile Work, at a Reduced,  or no Cost, for 1-3 Clients…to get your name out there, and showcase your skills and abilities. Have a party to celebrate it, at the job site if you can, when completed. If you are not yet known, move to a new locale, change the focus of your work/practice,  or have a great opportunity to support a cause dear to your heart, or for an entity that you want to connect with, consider doing a carefully selected and thought-out project that will gain you some visibility, recognition, and contacts, as well as give back to the community. Do not get into a long, costly, back-breaking job that will require elaborate scaffold or expensive materials. Consider something attainable, affordable, and impactful, and then use your communication systems to draw attention to it , create credibility, and potential referrals.  Ask the recipient of your efforts for a referral, testimonial or reference, and try to build your business from their. Most importantly, pick a project you will enjoy doing, and let the love show through!

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ArtBizCoachWEBArt Biz Coach, Alyson B. Stanfield and Artists

  • Get a Facebook Business Page, a  Twitter feed, and a Linked In and Pinterest  account, and keep up with them…interact and support others in related fields, and post many images. Share, support, educate, inspire and inform. Develop your online presence with care, remembering that as is stated in the wonderful film “The Social Network“, “The internet isn’t written in pencil, it is written in ink.” meaning that, assume that whatever you put on the web is there forever, for any and all to see.  So, present yourself truthfully, and as you wish to be seen…hopefully there is not too much of a disconnect between those two (!), and give to others, while spreading your own word and image.

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  • Follow “Seth Godin for rich, daily doses information and inspiration. You can research his work  through Google/Facebook. Sign up to receive his daily blog posts in your email inbox.  Pithy, rich, down to earth advice on anything and everything related to marketing, entrepreneurship, creative business, and more. Easy to read, yet resonant, such that you can reread his words many times over.  Enough said…read his generous work!

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  • Don’t get discouraged. Do something to grow your business every day, keep on  plugging, and, don’t forget to help others and give back!!I would love to hear how You are doing in the comments section! Thank you for reading, thinking, considering, and creating.  Bestest wishes!

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Letter to a Young Decorative Painter

Letter to a Young Decorative Painter

WEBa25 Years of Painting

Recently I received  an email, the gist of which was the following:

Hello Debra,
I had an opportunity to view your website and I love your work. I commend you on your business. I recently began my endeavor in running my own decorative painting business, only to realize I have no idea what I am doing.
I have the creative background as well as sales background, but have no idea how to find clients.  I was part of Home Adviser, but they have no real category for someone with my skills.
What advice would a creative mind and business owner as your self give a fellow creative mind? I was given the advice to contact someone who is in the same industry as myself from another city  and ask questions,  being that I am not your competitor. I look forward to your response.
Respectfully,
Rene

Now, I don’t know how old in human years Rene is, but I do know that he has just begun his professional journey as a decorative painter, and thus is a “young” one, in terms of business years!

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Here is what I emailed back to Rene, with a few additions and modifications, to make it  more useful for You.  It was interesting to review what I have done over the years to create, sustain and build my business, and how much it does take!  I realized this list could be valuable to just about anyone pursuing creative entrepreneurship…and entrepreneurship is always creative!

Hello Rene,

Here are my recommendations:

  • Get a good Website, absolutely, to share and showcase your work.
  • Start a Blog, focusing on the kind of work you would like to do, etc.
  • Network with Interior Designers and Architects, as well as Painters, Paint Stores, and others in the Building/Built Environment field.
  • Take an entrepreneurship or business class, or whole program, and put together a Business Plan.
  • Have a selection of good-sized Samples, depicting your strengths, and the kind of work you most like to do, most want to do, and from which you think you will get the most business.
  • Create brochure, and a postcard, as well as a business card to go with your Site…they should all work together, as your business Visual Identity.
  • Start an email newsletter, and start building your Mailing List.
  • Put your card and brochure in Local Paint Stores.
  • Selectively, Do Some High Profile Work, at a Reduced,  or no Cost, for 1-3 Clients…to get your name out there, and showcase your skills and abilities. Have a party to celebrate it, at the job site if you can, when completed.
  • Follow “Seth Godin for rich, daily doses information and inspiration. You can research his work  through Google/Facebook. Sign up to receive his daily blog posts in your email inbox.
  • Don’t get discouraged. Do something to grow your business every day, and keep plugging!

 

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Here is how Rene responded:

Hello Debra ,
What it does in my opinion is simply show support that creative individuals as ourselves are willing to provide one another.  I truly appreciate the advice, and I have already set up a meeting with a client to provide my services at little or no cost, simply to attract his high end neighbors.  If I can ever be of assistance to you in any way, I would be happy to help. I thank you again and I wish you well always.   I would love to share my work with you as well.
Respectfully,                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rene

Have YOU ever looked back at all the things you have done, to establish, nurture, build, sustain, and grow your business?  I am certain that if you make a list you will be amazed at all you have done, and at all it takes. I look forward to elaborating on mine, and going into greater depth with it, for myself and others. It’s a fascinating and rewarding process!

Here’s to all of You creative entrepreneurs!

WEBe

 

 

Some Favorite Things…

Some Favorite Things…

Posted purely for pleasure…taking a moment away from the more serious subjects I usually tackle in posts..but hey!

Pure pleasure can be serious business!

Pure Luminosity

Pure Winsome

Pure Magnificence

Pure Pan

Pure Color

Pure Golden

Pure MOM

Pure Howl

Pure Image

Pure Love

What are some of YOUR favorite things?? 

                     If you are so moved, please share them with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all responding to this thing called Life, together.




Brand New 2

Brand New 2

What is a “brand“?  I added a link to the term, because I think Wikipedia describes the concept better than I can, at least at this stage.  One of the salient words used in the definition is “identity”.  Specifically: “A brand is the identity of a specific product,  service,  or business.” My colleague  Elka Eastly Veratransformative coach and brand consultant, defines it such: “A brand is like soul DNA. It’s what people recognize you for. It’s where the “you of you” meets the world. It’s the essence of your business. “

Jim Moran, founder and manager of Co-Op, a NYC-based branding firm, says,Brand is really the DNA that defines your company. Branding is about storytelling.  it’s about bringing the DNA to life and creating perceptions.”

When Frank Mahnke, of the International Association of Colour Consultants/Designers says that color is a form of communication and information, he is talking the language of branding.  How do colors, patterns, textures, shapes, forms and images create  ‘soul DNA’, and story?

It took me awhile to realize how much like graphic design and marketing decorative painting could be.  When I worked with the talented graphic designer Dianna Jacobsen, of Jacobsen Design, on the creation of my website, business cards, brochure, and postcard, I went through an in-depth process of determining how I wanted to beam my business, my work, my self, out into the world.

It’s not just about making things beautiful, but creating an experience for people.” says Dianna, about bringing the “brand” into physical spaces.

When I found myself working with clients ranging from businesses and  organizations to  non-profits and institutions, I discovered that I was helping them do just that through visual, and often verbal elements as well.

Let’s take a look at a few of them who employed the painter’s brush as a tool for communicating their message.

921 Front Street is a historic building dating from 1859, located in the North Waterfront area of San Francisco. Originally a warehouse, it is now a commercial building providing office space. The signage in the lobby is based on the building’s logo, so there is an immediate tie-in to the brand.  The metallic copper and steely silver colors used in the lettering reflect the natural and industrial materials used in the lobby.

Maitri Compassionate Care provides exemplary, innovative, and compassionate hospice care. The Maitri Mover Campaign Donor Recognition Arch above was designed to honor the donors who participated in the capital campaign supporting its present facility. Names of donors are hand-painted onto the glazed surface of the industrial arch which supports the one-time parking garage.  Like 921 Front Street,  the lettering is done in metallic paints to draw the eye to the words, and make them stand out from the background.  Whether said background be black or white, and the words words sparse or abundant, all visual and verbal elements support the branding.

“On the Fly” is a specialty men’s store designed by  Martinkovic Milford Architects The broken stripe design suggests stitching, as well as the classic men’s pin-striped suit sold inside. The stripe patten reflects the visual branding image used in the brand’s marketing materials. The “hands on” stripe application both communicates and enhances the store’s established visual message, and is “tailor-made” for the venue!

Also communicating directly out onto the “street”, but in a whole other way, the mural above depicts an imagined “Land of Oshun”, where a host of interacting Oshun figures express the colors, symbols, and attributes of this beneficent and inspirational goddess figure. Oshun Center, a drop-in center for women and their families, is a program of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics.   Oshun is the name of an “Orisha” or goddess in the Yoruban (an ethno-linguistic group of West Africa), Brazilian, and Cuban religious pantheons.  Oshun’s color is yellow, and her metals are gold and copper. Other symbols depicted in the mural include peacocks and mirrors, reflective of vanity and physical beauty.  Oshun represents life’s joys, and all that makes it worth living, and this is the “soul DNA”, message, story,  brand, of Oshun Center, supported in turn, by the visual language of the mural.

When we think about how everything we see, indeed everything we experience through any of our senses, transmits something, carries and provides associations, and potentially stirs our emotions, we can see just how powerful visual and verbal elements can be in telling the story of our soul, and communicating the soul of our story.

How have You communicated the essence of your own work or business, or that of another,  through the elements of color, pattern, texture and imagery?  What about words, text, or as the brand editor Abby Kerr would say, “phraseologie”?

Please share about the richness of your experience with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we  are all branding through this thing called Life, together.


Brand New

Brand New

What is a “brand“?  I added a link to the term, because I think Wikipedia describes the concept better than I can, at least at this stage.  One of the salient words used in the definition is “identity”.  Specifically: “A brand is the identity of a specific product,  service,  or business.” My colleague  Elka Eastly Veratransformative coach and brand consultant, defines it such: “A brand is like soul DNA. It’s what people recognize you for. It’s where the “you of you” meets the world. It’s the essence of your business. “

If we look at the idea of a “brand” this way, then it could even be used to describe how we present ourselves in the world.  But that is a subject for another post….

The visual elements of color and design, pattern and image, texture, shape and composition can all be brought to bear upon  the process of developing and communicating a brand identity.  Graphic designers, like the talented Dianna Jacobsen, of Jacobsen Design, do this all the time.

As an artist, muralist, decorative painter, and colorist (not mutually exclusive terms by any means), I am always intrigued with how this works, and fascinated to participate.  We may tend to think of “brands” as purely commercial (cereal, dog food and shoes come to mind), but devoted non-profits and noble institutions also have theirs, and in my experience, a similar approach is taken to communicate them.

Let’s look at a number of  businesses and organizations who employed the painter’s brush as a tool for communicating their message, how color plays a starring role in their brand identity, and why.

When  Benihana Restaurant in Cupertino, Ca. underwent extensive remodeling,  a mural consisting of a branded graphical design was specified to be painted on the “corrugated” concrete surface approximately 10 to 80′ in the air.  Benjamin Moore Creative Paint in San Francisco matched the colors of the restaurant’s branded interior wall covering in  paint. Master color mixer and matcher Norman Chinn chose Ben Moore Aura exterior paint colors by eye. He was so precise that without knowing it, he chose the very strawberry red used as a stock color in the Benihana Restaurant brand, which is heavy on warm reds, punctuated by creams, darker reds, and red-blacks. Red tends to be associated with heat fire and blood…can we read, appetite?

Red is used in a different way in the new  Dress for Success San Francisco headquarters, designed by local architectural firm, Martinkovic Milford Architects.  Dress for Success provides business attire and training for women, and key to the design is the theme of butterflies, expressing the idea of transformation. Tone on tone reds provide warmth, accent, and a sense of womb-like support for the women getting ready to launch out into the business world.  Red’s association with life and love doesn’t hurt either.

  Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt venue in San Francisco’s South of Market District is painted is apple green and crisp white, communicating a sense of freshness appropriate to a dairy-orientated ‘snackery”.  However, this hue of green also provides other tasty associations:  the sharp and pungent flavors of limes and sour apples, as well as the sweetness of kiwis and honeydew melons.  All cool and refreshing, and fruity ingredients that could be used in their delicious yogurt!

Although also used to evoke connotations of the natural world, the greens in the  mural below, designed and executed for San Francisco’s Planning for Elders in the Central City organization serve quite a different function. “PECC”, which works to “improve the quality of life of seniors, adults with disabilities, and their caregivers in San Francisco and beyond….”  wanted to use the tree as a central image to express life, giving, renewal, community and support.  Associations with the Tree of Life, and the Giving Tree are amplified by using the color of leaves, which also represents life.  Green is also one of the colors associated with the heart chakra, standing for love, sympathy, and harmony.

Embarking on this post, I see how rich, expansive, and complex the subject of visual branding and the way artists can support it,  is.  A sister post may be in order to further elaborate on the subject. 

When we think about how everything we see, indeed everything we experience through any of our senses, communicates something, carries and provides associations, and potentially stirs our emotions, it boggles the mind, (no pun intended.)  We see, and experience first-hand just how powerful the element of color is, and how many different ways it can be used. 

We can perhaps understand in a new way, the expression, “…coloring perception…”

What experiences have You had with color branding?  Have you used color as part of a brand consultation? Color consulted with businesses, organizations, or even individuals on the how of hue  for their “soul DNA“, as Elka Eastly Vera, would say?

If so, please share it with us here.  We love to hear from You.

Remember, we are all bounding and branding through this thing called Life, together.




Color Muze News, Views and Hues: Transformative Color

Color Muze News, Views and Hues: Transformative Color

I continue to be inspired by serving as the Color Muze for Cre8tive Compass Magazine, and Artistically Speaking talk show.  Helmed by Rebecca E. Parsons, creative “arte-preneur” extraordinaire, and master decorative artist, Lyna Farkas, Artistically Speaking is a popular blog talk radio show focusing on the visual arts.  It features interviews with artists and creative entrepreneurs that educate, intrigue, inspire, and inform us about how to experience, grow and create our Art, Business and Life, mixing and matching along the way!

Each third Sunday of the month at approximately 7:15pm EST, I join the delightful Rebecca and Lyna, to offer tips, share real-life stories, and provide guidance in the powerful and awesome realm of Color.  I will also be providing follow-up Color Muze articles for Cre8tive Compass Magazine, like this one!  SO, sit back, listen up, read, and enjoy the show!

In January 2011 we muzed about the emotional, communicative and transformational power of color, discussing real-life examples.  I’d like to share one of them here with you.

A beloved client, with whom I have worked for over a decade, found her charming but rather dark kitchen very depressing.  Over the course of time, she had added some stained glass, and worked with me to paint out areas of the dark woodwork which predominated in the room.

During the course of our work together, she had a period of great personal challenge that demanded tremendous strength and fortitude.  Although we had enhanced her kitchen and other areas of her home over the years, she felt strongly that the dark tenor of this important area was still affecting her state of mind, and needed to be transformed.

Astonishingly, the remains of the paint we had used in her kitchen years before was found, and she was able to get more of it from her local vendor.  We used it to paint out more of the dark wood trim and doors. The warm golden ochre color had been chosen to brighten the room (which gets little natural sunlight), as well as to set off the visual treasures displayed there.  True to form, the hue created its contextual magic once again.


“The final outcome of the project was transformational. “ said my client.What had been a dark and brooding extended kitchen area became a light and inviting space that perfectly wove into the accent colors already in place. The end product created a welcoming environment and one that now highlights the unique wooden carvings within the rooms.”

This statement is truly a testament to the transformative power of color.  It can support your life, and help you through dark and demanding times.  The “right” color can offer lightness, joy, grace and positivity to any space, in any context.  In other words, color can help you live.

During our Muze on January 16, 2011, I offered a way to approach our color decisions by suggesting three aspects to take into consideration when we are making them.  These aspects are:

  • Purpose
  • Effect
  • Context

These three aspects or considerations as regards to choosing colors can be seen as a three part lens through which to view color in any context.  I suggest you try writing these out in the form of a chart, a list, a set of questions or even a story, and see if this activity proves helpful to you in making color decisions.

In regards to my client’s color story related above…what was the Purpose of the color she was choosing for her kitchen? Well, the Purpose was to elevate her mood, communicate and support a sense of optimism, energy, happiness, cheerfulness, positivity and possibility.  A hue in the yellow family was chosen, not a lemony yellow, but an earthy one, which worked with the colors, textures, architecture and general sensibility of the room and its Purpose, as well as the home as a whole.

The Effect of the chosen hue is warm, light and bright (in comparison to the dark wood it covers), yet earthy and comforting.  Associated with the sun, candlelight, flame, and firelight, as well as gold and gladness, an earthy hue of yellow is perfect in this room for the Purpose described above.  We associate yellow  with optimism, energy, happiness, cheerfulness, positivity and possibility. Think “sunny” disposition!

What was the Context for this color?  As regards to Place, the kitchen is considered by many to be the hearth, heart, and nucleus of the home.  When I visit this particular Client, who has become a friend over the years, we don’t sit in the living room to chat; we sit in the kitchen. Thus our color needed to be appetizing, inviting, invigorating, but also relaxing. The choice of a warm, earthy golden hue also helps compensate for the lack of natural light in the room. In terms of the existing Design and Architecture of the room, with its cream walls, dark wood ceiling beams, ochre backsplash tiles, brick red tiled floor, and lighter brick stove area, our color needed to play nice with all of these elements, integrating, and not competing with them.  Finally, the room holds a number of Objects and Accents treasured by my Client: decorative plates, ceramics, and stained glass, which hang on walls, windows and doors.  Our hue needed to set off and work with these as well.

Purpose, Effect, Context is a way to think about, consider, and approach color.  The “P.E.C.” approach can be applied to your decision-making process about color in any context: web or graphic design, interior design and architecture, textiles, craft, decorative painting, and even fine or conceptual art.  Give it a try…its fun! Thinking in terms of Purpose, Effect and Context may help you sort out your color challenges with greater ease,  and allow you to experience the pure joy and pleasure of color more fully.

What a luscious, luminous world we have as finishers, decorative painters, muralists, artists, artisans and humans, to explore! Please join our Color Muze on Artistically Speaking Talk Show, and Cre8tive Compass Magazine, “where we honor your passion, and your vision, in this community we are co-creating”

Here’s to a colorful journey!


TJ’s…and Me

TJ’s…and Me

I am sure many colleagues, fellow artists, artisans, decorative painters, solopreneurs,  “creativepreneurs” (does that word exist yet in our lexicon?)  and many others, can relate to the feeling that I had not so long ago, after a spec visit to a potential new Client.  We love what we do, interacting with people, the excitement of beginning a new project, the creative collaboration with our Clients, the focus, commitment and connections required.  What we don’t love is that sometimes the continual reaching out into the unknown: people, projects, ideas, materials, challenges (the weather, for heaven’s sake!), can at times be momentarily exhausting, even overwhelming.

The feeling can overtake us at any given moment, after a meeting (hopefully not before, or during), unloading supplies, working through the numbers for a bid, or even working on a blog post (not me.. no, never!)

Suddenly, the professional interaction feels demanding, carrying supplies becomes lugging, the numbers seem either too high, or too low, and perfectionism and procrastination rear their challenging heads.

I felt that way recently, when I found myself trying, as we all do, to pull the various factors of a project together to make it work out well for the Client and myself, to say nothing of the associated painting contractor.  I left the meeting, and since Trader Joe’s was  right on my way home, I decided to stop in and do a little shopping, knowing that I always enjoyed the experience.

Why do I always enjoy the TJ’s experience, especially at my “home” store?

Well, for starters, there is the free coffee and samples, an offering  to the weary traveler (ah- customer) ready for a little TLC.  Whether it is a mother with young children clutching her cart, a couple on a budget preparing for a party, or, like me, a working gal needing a break, the TJ’s temple of artisanal eats is there to serve.

And serve me that day it did.  The instant I dismounted my vehicle, traversed the parking lot, and entered the grocery’s hallowed hall, I felt that blast of energy one gets when stepping  into the stream of animated humanity there for but one reason: to gather forth sustenance for themselves and their families, and to have fun doing it.

The sights, scents, and colors (yes, colors ARE part of sights, but so much more, as my colleagues in HUE will attest to…) of flowers, fruits, cheeses, chocolate, (I recommend the Trader Joe’s truffles, to all who are looking for a little something sweet to bring to a gathering), among seemingly millions of other things, all of which I knew I could love, greeted me upon entering.  I made a beeline to the samples station,  reanimated myself with a tiny cup of perky cafe, and snarfed down a thimbleful of something hot and delicious that was being featured, once again thinking, “What an awesome marketing strategy…this great free stuff makes one want to come here, without one even knowing it…one looks forward to the goodies one knows one is going to get!”

Not only that.  The Trader Joe’s “wait staff” is a part of the total energizing quality of the place, at least at the store we patronize.  Fresh and positive, they make you feel as though you are making their day just by being there.   They are just thrilled to share with you where the soymilk is, how many kinds of Parmesan there are, and whether a favorite item is ever going to show up in the store again, or has been discontinued.  After a few interactions with these folks, I felt the tension drain away, and a new lease on life take its place.  After all, how bad can it be, when one can treat oneself to a frozen vegetarian pizza, or stack of salmon patties so reasonably?

If it all is part of a marketing strategy, it is working. Stimulated by the coffee, and nourished by the tasty sample and friendly chat, I was ready to shop, and of course ended up buying more than I had originally intended, which was pretty much nothing.

There are so many business and life lessons embedded in this experience.  First of all, the resonance of a positive experience had already been established by many visits to TJ’s in the past, which drew me to go there expecting to have one again.  I had sense memories of sights, sounds and  tastes that had been enjoyed there.  I knew the whole philosophy of the place is good value in a fun atmosphere.  I knew I’d be fed, both literally and figuratively, in the process of food shopping.

TJ’s gives us a break from our normal routine of constant commerce by offering us up that little treat to keep us going: that sip of coffee, swallow of juice,  bite of something delicious, a smile or a  joke without, ostensibly, asking for anything back.  But what they do get back is something so much more: customer loyalty, continued patronage, and increased sales, just because people have so much fun being there, perhaps walking out feeling better then when they walked in.  Of course, the goods are delivered: healthy, artisan goods of  quality, delivered  at a reasonable price.  Everyone knows what they will get when they go there, and they keep coming back.

This is what we all want from our businesses,  from our lives…a continued commitment in quality relationships, goods and services, something we can afford, and gives us pleasure and satisfaction, something we can, in this precarious world, depend on.  Something that doesn’t disappoint, but keeps us coming back for more.  Maybe keeps us hungry for more.

TJ’s, thank you for being there!  I will continue to learn by your example, and enjoy your offerings.  Now…where’s that vegetarian pizza?

Facebook…and You

Facebook…and You

A Group is Made of Individuals

Recently, I have been approached by no less than three esteemed colleagues, asking me to share with them how I use Facebook, and how “FB” could serve their business, organization, and publication, respectively.  This Interior Designer, Non-profit Director, and Publisher had essentially one goal in mind: swim through the potentially bewildering mass of input that is Facebook, understand its processes, and harness its power to grow their business, raise awareness of their organization,  and increase the readership of their publication.  In a nutshell…to get more people to pay more attention to what they are doing.  In essence, not to be alone howling their message into the wind.

Don't Howl Alone into the Wind

How do we do this?

Reach Out and Touch Someone...

Well…reach out through the digital divide, connect with your keyboard, and touch someone, or, a lot of people.

Say:  “Hello” – (aka: “Hello World!)

Say, "Hello World"

While not a “how-to” guide”, I offer some thoughts,  ideas, and guidelines to the new and the seasoned user of Facebook, in the hopes that they will “friend” the twin activities of giving and receiving, and thus enrich not only themselves and their endeavors, but all of us “FB” users.

OK…So, how do we do this?

Through sharing and caring. (Sound sappy?  It’s powerful.)  We can communicate, consider, and connect, each in our individual style.  It does take some effort.  There are even mathematical formulas expounded, as to how to distribute your energy across the Facebook terrain.  I will share mine (mind you the math part is flexible…adjust to your own needs, intent, and instinct).

Facebook is used to share, communicate, inspire, educate, market, network, promote, inform, connect, and all manner of other good stuff.    It may be used for other things too, but the latter is what I, and most of the folks I am connected to and observe,  use it for.

I present this simple formula for your consideration:

Make roughly 30% of your posts about YOU/Your Work, Product, Service, Cause, or Organization.

Make roughly 60% of your posts about OTHERS/Their Work, Product, Service, Cause, or Organization, or even, their jokes, videos, photos or links that you feel comfortable having on your page, and sharing with your FB friends.  Ways to do this include “sharing”, or re-posting friends’  posts on your page, “LIKING” their posts, and  “COMMENTING” on their posts in an appreciative and supportive manner.  You can also simply post about someone, or something on your page, recommending, extolling, supporting, or complimenting them, or, it, as long as this feels true to you.  I engage in these activities primarily within the context of my field of work: decorative painting, color, the visual arts in general, the arts in general, to keep my Facebook presentation cohesive. I call this activity “CELEBRATIONS”, and it is great to post them regularly.  Celebrating a person, their work, their cause, or their achievement is a gratifying way to show appreciation, reach out, and support your fellow FB friends, or even those you are not (yet) connected to on FB.  You can  promote their work, service, business, or just THEM to the world…the Facebook world, and the world in general (if your Page happens to be public, as mine is.)

Make roughly 10% of your posts about WHATEVER fun, unique, unusual, special, eccentric or eclectic  topics you wish to share…keeping in mind that these posts are indeed, sharing.  These posts may have a more personal flavor, without necessarily looking, at first glance,  like they are directly connected to your Work, Product, Service, Cause, or Organization, although at second glance, they might be.

I realize as I write this how personal Facebook really is, as regards to how folks approach it, how they use it, and what they want to get out of it.  It can be tempting to get really personal on Facebook.  I would just remind everyone that  anything placed  upon the seemingly infinite table of the Internet, can potentially be seen, read, consumed, and responded to by anyone alive on the planet.  So…please!  Be careful…be considerate, be conscientious….but don’t stop having FUN!

Don’t howl alone,  howl with and to others!  They may find your howling helpful, or at least, amusing….

Don't Howl Alone...Howl with Others!

For further FB info:

Here is an informative post on Regina Garay’s  (of GARAY ARTISANS)  far-reaching blog, “FAUXOLOGY” on how to use Facebook for your Business, written by her sister Suzanne.  This post helps to demystify the difference between FB pages and groups, so please read, and enjoy!

If you have the time, and the inclination, let us know what you think, and feel, about this post.  We are all in this thing called Life, together.

Cheerio!

Slowing it Down to Move it Forward

Slowing it Down to Move it Forward

It may feel counter-intuitive, but more and more often,  I find that the best way to move “it” (aka: life, work, even relationships) forward, is to slow down, perhaps even STOP, take a breath, look inwards, or outwards, rally my forces, or let it all go, for just a few moments.

Like the old story of the tortoise and the hare, sometimes,“slow and steady” really does do it.

Sometimes when we slow down, we a find that we actually reach our goal more quickly, exceeding expectations, and enjoying a richer, more luxuriant experience.

In business for ourselves as artists, we may worry, as we work on a project and  near  its completion, that we are not meeting our bottom line…that time is “getting away” from us, that we under bid, over worked, or otherwise miscalculated our efforts and agreed-upon compensation.

That is exactly the moment to  STOP, take a breath, recalibrate, recalculate. Of course we need to make a living, to  be aware of  our bottom line, and consider our contract. But, at the same time, if we allow that to get in the way of our soul’s delight in what we love to do, then the whole enterprise can fall into question.

Instead, we can learn the creative, artistic, and business  lessons that each job, each experience, and each project offers,  and especially in those last few hours, minutes, and moments of completion, take joy in what we do, while exerting our best efforts.

Because, sometimes we need to see the parts,

in order to appreciate the whole.

Sometimes we need to slow down, even STOP,

to get the shot, the concept,  the bigger picture, the Moment: something wondrous, wonderful, and unexpected.

Sometimes we need to STOP and observe, from our own vantage point, what is around us, and feel what is inside of us.

In order to make ourselves whole again, we may need to STOP  for a moment, to realize where we have come from, how far we have traveled, and where we are going.

In doing so, we may find that we have come

full circle.

If you have the Time, please STOP! and share some of your experiences slowing it down, to move it forward.

And thanks for visiting…we are all in this thing called Life, together.

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