Hello friends! Today's interview is with Master Energy Healer and Intuitive Guidance Counselor Christie Inge. Christie helps women transform their worst habits into empowering actions, unshakeable self-confidence, and radical self-acceptance. Yes! Enjoy:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
I'm Christie Inge, and I'm a writer, artist, and intuitive healer.
My business is in a huge state of transition right now. The heart of what I do isn't changing but what it looks like on the outside is....
Photo Credit: Britney Berrner
Hello friends! I'm so happy to share today's interview with nature painter April Lacheur. April's whimsical art is as poignant as it is lovely! Enjoy:
Where in the world are you located? What is it like being an artist there?
I Live in Maple Ridge BC, one of the ‘burbs’ outside of Vancouver Canada. There is a lot of inspiration for my work to be found here; lots of beautiful west coast nature and...
Hi friends! Today's artist interview is with mixed media artist Shannon Amidon. Shannon's work is infused with mysterious beauty and conveys her deep appreciation for bugs, botanicals, and vintage ephemera. Enjoy!
Where in the world are you located? What is it like being an artist there?
I am in San Jose California, the heart of Silicon Valley. It’s wonderful to be so close to San Francisco and Oakland that both have great art institutions and communities. Unfortunately, there are very few galleries or studio spaces in San Jose. This is partly because it is so expensive to live and work here and at times tech is favored over the arts. The art community is great and really supportive though. I am a firm believer that you get what you put into something. So if you engage, support and are active within your community you will get that back.
You recently shared some really exciting news on Instagram. You were awarded a grant for a group show that you’re curating. Congratulations! Can you tell us some more?
Thank you! I am so excited and happy about the exhibition and grant. The exhibit I am curating - Arousing Biophilia has been a project that has been in the works for 8 months. It began with a desire to say more with my art/art practice. I am really passionate about nature and the environment and wanted to address that in some way. So I decided to curate an exhibit and invite artists who felt the same way I do. There are a variety of mediums and artists exploring everything from plankton and bee extinction to spores and life cycles.
In addition to the exhibit, I also wanted to have free events that educated and informed people about the environment, stewardship, and nature. I applied for an Awesome Foundation grant to help out with the exhibit and events. I really wanted to keep everything free and open to the public. My goal is to have everything be accessible to a variety of people. Not just art lovers but nature lovers, science enthusiasts, school kids and more. I am really fortunate to have been awarded the grant and am so grateful to the Awesome Foundation. I am also partnering with Vegielution a local urban farming organization that does a lot of work with underserved and low-income families and teaches about urban farming sustainability, composting and more.
I think for a lot of artists, there's a tension between feeling called to be an artist and the pull to have a "sensible" career. Have you always known that you're an artist? How has your art career evolved?
I was a late bloomer as an artist. I have always been creative but was not really exposed to traditional art and that world until college. After my first group show, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a professional artist. My career has evolved and grown so much over the years. Each year I am so grateful for the wonderful opportunities and experiences I get to have. I am always pushing myself and if I am not growing and trying new things creatively and professionally I feel stagnate and sad. I have done several residencies, received grants and been in many group and solo exhibitions. There are still so many things I want to do and achieve. I love the variety of experiences I can have as a professional artist.
Can you talk a bit about your process? How has your work evolved over time? What are you working on right now? What's new or different about it?
I started out in photography and loved learning the darkroom process. I transitioned from straight photography to more alternative processes and then more mixed media and cameraless image making. I love process and getting my hands dirty so my work has evolved naturally from photography to mixed media, collage, book art etc. For the past 10 years, I have really focused on encaustic (painting with molten beeswax) I have really fallen in love with the medium. It is the most versatile, forgiving and challenging medium I have worked with. I incorporate a lot of ephemeral materials into my work and still use photography in a lot of my pieces. Recently been exploring using encaustic in a more sculptural 3D way. This has pushed me technically and creatively.
Are there certain themes that show up in your work over and over again?
Yes, there are two themes that I feel consistently show up in my work. Life cycles, through natural history, trees, insects, botanicals, and nature. These are very obvious and can easily be seen throughout my work. The other theme is memories and a sense of time and history. All of my artwork has ephemera in the background. What a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of it is from my family. My Great Grandmothers vaccination record or her recipes. My Mothers drivers test from the 1960’s. Some ephemera I rescue from thrift and antique stores too. I especially love items with handwriting. I think about where these items have been and the hands that created them. Not only is it important from a repurposing and environmental point of view but also as a way to honor those who are no longer with us. Some people are really freaked out that I use the originals in my work. I think of it as sending these memories out into the world to live on forever and not just have them end up in a box in the attic or a landfill.
What is your studio practice like? Do you have any rituals or routines that help you get into the creative zone? Do you ever get creative blocks? How do you get unstuck?
I have strict studio hours Mon – Fri 11-3pm. After 3 pm and the weekends are for my family & friends. I am often doing computer work in the evenings after my daughter has gone to bed. It has been about a year that I have got very serious about my studio time and really honor it. No other appointment, coffee with friends, etc during this time. After I started taking my creative time more seriously I noticed that I was a lot more productive and successful.
I do get creative block sometimes and I have learned not to do anything about it. I know that sounds strange but the more I think about the worse it gets. I still do my studio hours but instead of creating I might organize or clean. I try to be gentle with myself and fill the creative well as they say. I also meditate every day which helps.
I really love your Bugs and Botanicals series. Can you talk a bit about what that series means to you?
Bug and botanicals two of my favorite things. It’s funny people either really love or hate bugs, I have always loved and been fascinated by them. This series was created for a group exhibit called 50/50 where each artist creates 50 pieces of art in 50 days. Talk about crazy! It was a really great and challenging experience. Creatively it was frustrating and freeing. When you are in that time crunch you don’t have time to think, you just have to create. After piece 28 I was freaking out realizing I still had another 22 pieces to go. In the end, it was a huge accomplishment that let me explore subject matter, materials, technique and more. Each piece is named after an entomologist, botanist, or naturalists in hopes that someone might look up and learn a little more about this person. I even created a book to go along with the series.
Are you a full-time artist or do you also have a day job/side hustle? If you do have a day job, does it tie in with your art practice?
I am a full-time artist and I have a part-time job as a webmaster at a university. To be honest I am happy that I have the part-time position. Not only do I enjoy it most of the time but it also gives me the freedom to take more risks with my art. It gives me enough financial freedom that I am not starving and can travel and afford art supplies. I do take my art career very seriously though and I feel that my art is a full-time job. I have the best of both worlds. It has taken many years to get here but I am really grateful that I am in this position.
Let's talk about work/life balance. How do you balance family life, studio time, business and time for yourself?
I don’t balance anything and kind of think it’s a myth. There are times like right now that my art life has taken over everything. I spend 12 hour days working on art/art business and neglect my poor family. Then there are times like the holidays, birthday, etc that I put my art on the backburner and focus on family. It can be frustrating at times, I am a really driven person and can overdo it sometimes. I have learned to say no more and really value my time.
What does being an artist mean to you?
Everything, there is a magic and a freedom in art. I am so grateful to have this life full of amazing experiences and adventures.
If you could give your 20-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
I am not sure. I’m the person I am today because of all of the mistakes, pain, lessons learned, and triumphs I have had. Maybe to surrender and let go a little more.
Wonderful! Thanks so much, Shannon. For more information about Shannon Amidon, please visit her website or you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook. And if you'll be in San Jose, CA anytime between now and April, 22 be sure to check out Arousing Biophilia.
Do you have any questions or comments for Shannon? Add them to the comments below!
I'm a huge fan of the Art Nouveau movement. I love the sinuous forms and the sumptuous colors! This mixed media collage incorporates paper, fabric, leather and paint.
Prints are available in a variety of sizes, framed and unframed. SHOP HERE
Things have been a bit tough lately and so I'm re-sharing a blog post that I wrote back in 2016. Our situation right now isn't as intense as it was back then, but there are a lot similarities. I think I need to remind myself of some of the lessons I learned back then.
Life has a way of throwing some wicked curve balls. Things can be going great—the family is happy, business is growing, the home is cozy. Life is good. And then BAM. The ax falls.
This happened to me about a year and a half ago when my little boy was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis. The seam in his skull that runs from ear to ear had fused prematurely and his brain didn’t have enough room to grow. He would need a major reconstructive surgery.
During my postpartum period, I had a hard time adjusting to life as a new mom. I kept piling my plate higher with projects and clients, driving myself and my husband totally batty in the process. I knew that I would have to handle this new situation differently. I needed to clear my plate and unplug.
Coping With Difficult Emotions
The four months leading up to the operation were fraught with fear and worry. Within a few days of getting the bad news, I went about putting my business on hold. I set my Etsy shop to vacation mode and created autoresponders for incoming email. I had a couple of client projects on my plate that I was able to wrap up. As a side gig, I work as an editorial assistant for a wedding blog, so I contacted my colleagues to let them know I would be offline for at least a month.
Of course, everyone’s situation is unique and putting business completely on hold may not be an option. It’s a good idea to delegate wherever possible and minimize any stressful or emotionally charged interactions. For me, I was feeling pretty lackluster about wedding invitations and emotionally drained by the customer service aspect of the work, so hitting the pause button felt right.
My son’s operation went very smoothly, and we were lucky to catch the problem in time. However, the recovery period was incredibly challenging. The experience was emotionally traumatic for my son, and he ended up regressing developmentally quite a bit. (If your child or the child of a loved one is facing synostosis repair, please don’t let this scare you. Developmental regression is rare, and full recovery generally happens relatively quickly.)
In the weeks just after we came home, he was on heavy pain medication. He and I spent all day every day lying on the couch together. This was a strange time for me. All kinds of funk started to bubble up from the depths of my psyche. So I went on a little bit of a self-help bender.
These are the gems that I found most helpful:
- When Things Fall Apart
- Radical Acceptance
- Heart of Forgiveness
- Start Where You Are
- The Miracle of Mindfulness
- The Power of Now
As great as all that introspection is, it can get a bit heavy. Mixing things up with some fiction is a good way to lighten up. Here are a couple recent favorites:
The Importance of Self-Care
Being a caregiver is very demanding. Practicing good self-care is a must! For me, this started at a pretty rudimentary level: self-talk. With no distractions around, I became painfully aware of how negative my self-talk was: from my life-long struggle with a crummy self-image, to the sinking feeling that the timeline of my life was not shaping up as I planned, to the guilt I felt about having unwittingly passed along a heavy genetic burden to my sweet little boy. Up until now, an undercurrent of self-abasement was kind of an unquestioned given in my thinking. Being able to take a step back and acknowledge that was a big deal all by itself and over time by practicing mindfulness, I’ve been able to keep that tendency in check.
Resources I found most helpful for self-care:
- This ecourse offered by Vital Medicine that changed the way I think about my health.
- The Vitality Map by Dr. Zucker
- Superfood Kitchen cookbook
- These journaling and writing prompts
- Woman’s Comfort Book
Overcome The Anxiety Of Not Being Productive Enough
Taking a leave of absence from business has been hard, but I had to do it. Prior to my son’s operation, my business focus was primarily custom wedding invitations. Talk about a tough customer! I knew I couldn’t deal with client work during my son’s recovery, but I still wanted to feel like I was making progress and being productive. I took some fun ecourses for textile design, stationery business, Illustrator for print production, and a paper/book arts class.
During this time I read Firestarter Sessions and Desire Map. The timing was perfect! I was completely uninspired to get back to custom wedding invitations. These two books helped me to reconsider my goals and as a result, I decided to revise my business model. I found licensing opportunities for my stationery and textile designs (Society6, Zazzle, Spoonflower) and decided to focus my energy on fine art, especially book arts.
My family is lucky in that we can get by on my husband’s income, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone and the loss of income can be devastating. But there are some crowdfunding platforms to help raise money for emergencies:
After about a month of being completely offline, I returned to my side gig in a limited capacity. Minimizing social media interactions and focusing more on behind-the-scenes stuff helped to stave off overwhelm. For bosses who are unable to put their business on hold, the best advice I can offer is to delegate and automate as much as possible. I found the care packages from Cranio Care Bears to be extremely supportive during this time. And for the early days after surgery or childbirth, a meal tree can be a life-saver.
The Silver Lining
It’s been about a year and a half since my son’s surgery and in some ways, he’s still recovering, but the worst is behind us. He’ll be in preschool four days a week this fall and I’ll be getting back to work. This experience put a lot of things into perspective for me. I know with every fiber of my being that my sweet family is everything to me and putting my creative ambitions on hold for a while is not that big of a deal. I managed to face and befriend some of my own personal demons. I also have a much clearer vision of what I want to focus on creatively. I’ll be licensing out my design work so I can focus on fine art. I have a ton of ideas for fine art projects and I can’t wait to get in the studio!
If you’re struggling with a hardship, my heart goes out to you and I hope that what I’ve shared here can be of some help.
This post was originally published on the Being Boss blog on September 7th, 2016.