Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Nicole Gillman




Watching Nicole's Drawing Evolution has been remarkable. She has been drawing for several years and only recently picked up her pencils again. She has come so far and loves to draw portraits, in particular celebrities. I'm sure you'll agree that her eye for detail is impeccable and makes her drawing subjects very recognizable. It's not a secret that I am one of Nicole's biggest fans!

Why did you first start drawing portraits. 
I've been drawing since I was about 8 years old. I began drawing portraits when I was about 14 years old.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity? 
I grew up in small towns. Half my childhood in Safford, AZ, half in Miami, AZ. Small towns are notorious for having nothing to do and we had to find our own fun. However, it was more my family environment that influenced me. My grandfather was a painter and so when I showed interest in art, my mom and extended family fully supported me. My mom would give me "how to draw..." books, cats, dogs, cartoons, caricatures. But I stumbled onto portraits on my own.


Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?
No. Although I may draw in the realistic style, I don't think I've found my niche yet. I'm always trying to figure out how to make my drawings more dynamic and stand out, but I don't think I've done that yet. I'm still trying to find my own uniqueness in what I do.

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
Practice, practice, practice. I'm "self taught" and so everything I've learned, I've taken from books about drawing or online tutorial and just trying new things. I began taking a drawing class in college, but dropped out because I didn't like being told what to do. I liked picking and choosing what methods to try. Nowadays, I most likely would've stuck to it and learned something. But it's shaped me into a true self taught drawer.


How would you describe your process?
Inside Out? Just kidding, I don't know. I begin with basic outlines of the portrait, begin with skin tone and eyes, and move out from there, completing the face, then hair, then body.

What is your favorite medium? 
Pencil is my first love. Amazing things can be done with it and I find it to be the easiest to work with, especially since I've been using it most of the past 17 years. I've recently rediscovered charcoal and I've been having tons of fun just playing with it.


Where do you find your inspiration?
 Magazines and Pinterest. Pinterest has become dangerous to me. I have found a ton of amazing source pictures on there, so much to the point that it overwhelms me and I get discouraged because there's so much I want to do, but I know I can't do it all. Magazine pictures are my influence journals. I tear pictures out I love and keep them to refer back to for inspiration. 

What do you do for fun?
I love watching movies. I grew up on movies and even went to film school so they relax me. I love to travel, when I can. If I get a chance to leave my normal environment, I'll take it. I love seeing new places and things and creating memories.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?
 I haven't made it yet. Sometimes I'm discouraged by that, but then I look at how much I've grown over that past year and know, it wasn't my time then, maybe it's not my time now either. I've got a lot to learn.

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?
I'm still working on that. After I had my 2nd child earlier this year, my normal routine got messed up. I'm still trying to find a balance. I'm amazed I've actually finished some drawings this year.


What is the most difficult part of Being You?
My stubbornness.

What is the most rewarding part of your day?
8am-12pm. My kids are happiest during these hours, usually. It's easy to feel relaxed with them and feed off of their energy and spirits. Nothing to do with drawing, but they make that ok.

What do you have in the works?
I'm entering a couple of drawings into the Arizona State Fair next month. This is my 3rd time entering. I've never won a ribbon, and don't necessarily expect to this year either, but I know I've improved every time I have entered, so there's always hope.

Who do you admire?
Personally, my mom, my sister, and my grandmother. They've been the constant love and support throughout my life.
Art wise, Casey Baugh's work has inspired me for like 10 years, I love his style and process.

You can find Nicole at:

http://nicoledrawing.wordpress.com


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Photographer Izzy Hudgins


Photo by Sarah Deragon of Portraits to the People

Izzy Hudgins is a quirky gal with a serious eye for beautiful pictures. She has lovely red hair and tells the story of many unique couples as a Savannah wedding Photographer. I'm sure you will love her jaw dropping style and dramatic flair as she captures incredible moments.

About Me
I make pictures.
I'm silly and I never want to grow up.
I call people darling, dear and honey.
I love all things that are old, vintage, antique or handmade.
I love make believe and things that are whimsical.
I like things that are sparkly.  
I travel.
I speak Spanish.
My favorite color is pink.
I'm inspired by fashion.
I can't live without my husband & pups.
I offer fun, fresh photography that creative couples love!

Why did you first start taking photographs?  
I started photography when I was in highschool (thank goodness for a good art program!).  It immediately became my love and refuge - something about being alone in a darkroom and the magic of watching your photos coming alive was just amazing to me.  I was always into photographing people and always strove to do so in an editorial way.  From the very beginning, fashion photography inspired me and this is what I wanted to do all throughout college (I attended Savannah College of Art and Design).  It wasn't until 2007 when I lived in TN that I fell in love with wedding photography.  I mean, come on, I get to take pictures of beautiful women in beautiful dresses and get to document them being adorably in love.  Its absolutely the sweetest.  A very long answer to say, I've been a photographer for 15 years and a wedding photographer for 7.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?
I grew up in Durham, NC and I'm one of seven children.  Funny enough, even though my parents are not necessarily artsy, most of us kids have fantastic creative abilities.  I think its mostly because they never limited us, always stretched our brains, didn't spoil us with a ton of tangible toys, etc.  My fondest memories of childhood all revolve around a supremely active imagination and the freedom my parents gave me to run off and practice it.  I also pretty much have to thank my highschool for having a great photography program - I'm not sure I would've picked up a camera otherwise.





Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively? 
Absolutely.  I mean, you are always growing and evolving but its definitely been in the last two years that I feel I have been consistently producing great work, have finally been able to do it full time, am regularly being published, have an incredible team of local vendors with whom I love to work, have happy clients and am extremely happy doing what I do.

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
I've had a lot of schooling to give me the technical skills I need photography wise but of course its been since Ive been out of school that I've learned the business and "people" side to being an artist/owning a business.  Upon moving back to the states (from Madrid, in 2011) I knew that I had to make my business work (Ive long ago realized I can't work for anyone else).  I immediately reached out to folks in my industry, did visual research every day (mostly on wedding blogs to understand trends, etc), watched every applicable Creative Live course I could and was just as plain nice to people as I could be.  Im super shy at heart, so this side of me has been a work in progress but I have found that when you get to do what truly makes you happy and you surround yourself by like minded awesome people and you learn the value of collaborating, its pretty darn easy and fun!


How would you describe your process?
One of the biggest things I've learned is that you cant do nothing on your own.  Its important to build a team of people that you jive with (business wise, aesthetic wise, support wise, etc).  I think everything is better and easier together so why not build up two people or businesses together? (or more!) I was very lucky in meeting Audrey of French Knot Studios upon moving back to the states (Savannah) and we have been inseparable ever since.  She might tell you otherwise, but she is the actual genius behind our operations (which is a lot of what you see from me!) so half the process is simply that she has created something beautiful for me to photograph!  BUT part of our process is designing and shooting something with a particular publication in mind (to get featured), utilizing vendors in a way that establishes strong connections in our industry, promoting new and crazy ideas to the wedding industry while still using elements and techniques that are accessible to the everyday bride and again, specific to my photography, I always try and shoot in an editorial and interesting way while still maintaining the deepest truest silliest emotions of my couple (we always use a real life, in love couple, because ultimately, that's what its about!)


What is your favorite medium? 
Obviously photography ;) I kind of suck at most other artistic mediums. However in terms of photography, I most specifically love photographing people in love.  It sounds so corny but its pretty special.  Its adorable and happy and sweet and private and all of those emotions just leave me feeling peaceful, happy and grateful to do what I do.  Secondly, I love imagining really cool sets and playing with new ideas and imagining Im a real life fashion photographer - which is why I just love doing styled wedding shoots - it allows me to combine the best of both worlds.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Definitely fashion photography. Always has been my biggest source of inspiration.  I just recently moved and found some of my old "inspiration" notebooks from school and they could very well be from today. I love looking at lookbooks for clothing companies such as Anthroplogie.  Pinterest, duh.  And again, my couples.  I always have to feed off the energy that people give me and I usually try and act like a silly goose to get them to loosen up and laugh at me to catch the bestest sweetest belly laughs.

What do you do for fun?
I love eating and drinking.  Whether that be out at amazing restaurants or cooking at home for good friends.  I love playing obscure boardgames.  I love dancing like a ridiculous moron. I love the hunt of a good thrift store. I love taking walks with my husband and doggies and I love more than most things to travel.




Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?
I hope I dont ever feel like I've made it.  There's always room to grow and to become better and to help others become better.  The journey is the best part and usually if I start to feel stale, I have to switch it up again somehow!

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?
This is my biggest challenge. I don't think I do it very well. I've turned into quite the workaholic and I realize every day that I need to set a proper schedule, outsource the parts of running my business that I don't enjoy/can't keep up with and spend more quality time with my family and for myself.  Again, you can't do it all!




What is the most difficult part of Being You?
Being yourself and staying true to yourself shouldn't be difficult because, duh, its YOU! But I do think its a challenge not to compare yourself to everyone else.  Basically, I try and continue to do the things about photography and art that make my heart sing, because isn't that what makes all the stress and difficulties of owning your own business worth it!?  And also, my social awkwardness and shyness is a continuous struggle but again, its what makes me meet wonderful people and opens up new opportunities so I keep this mind as I move forward.

What is the most rewarding part of your day?
I am reaffirmed when I get happy emails from clients, emails from publications saying my work has been accepted for submissions, and coming home to my husband and sweet puppies at the end of the day!

What do you have in the works?
Audrey and I have been commissioned by a national company to produce several styled shoots for the Fall Winter season so be on the lookout for those!  I also have two weddings in Italy next summer which is a complete dream come true!  AND I just bought my first house so I get to play interior decorator which is super fun and a new challenge!



Who do you admire?
Locally, I very much admire the artist Marcus Kenney who creates things that are beautifully creepy and emotionally or politically charged.  In the wedding photography industry, my favorite is clearly Elizabeth Messina whose work should take everyone's breath away and in real life, my parents deserve a huge shout out as they have never ceased to support me in my endeavors and are always looking for ways to keep me moving forward.

You can find Izzy at:
letsplaydear.com
https://www.facebook.com/izzyhudginsphotography

Thank You Izzy for sharing how you are Mastering the Art of Being You.

UPNEXT: Art of Being You Interview with :



Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Art of Being You: with Jennifer Prince


Jennifer Prince is the dynamo behind the niche wedding blog, Hill City Bride. As an only child, she grew up immersed in the world of antique shopping, thrifting and expressing creativity. Now as a wife and mom, she writes about all things wedding related both for her blog and magazine, Clutch. Join her as she discovers new and inspirational things for brides and beyond!




Why did you first start Clutch Guide & Hill City Bride?
I started them in 2010

Where did you grow up?
I hail from Pennsylvania. 

How do you think this influenced your creativity? 
As an only child, my creativity was greatly fostered through playing since I didn't have any siblings! My mother also started an antiques business when I was five, and I became her buddy on buying trips. I definitely learned entrepreneurship and an eye for design from my mom. 

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?
In a way, yes! Although my tastes constantly shift, I feel that is the beauty of being creative… finding something that you love and sticking with it. For me, I will always appreciate vintage things, quality paper, details and great design. 

Alina Thomas Photography

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now? It is always a work in process! Honestly, what I love about being creative is that it can mean different things at different times. I have always had a side business, and that went from direct sales (no, just no!) to having my own antiques business and from making jewelry to having a wedding blog, which eventually grew into a wedding publication and then a women's magazine. Some would say that having that sort of background shows some sort of lack of focus, but I find it just the opposite. Life is such a journey, and I love and appreciate being able to explore different talents and creative activities along the way. Although I definitely feel settled and committed with my blog and magazines, I really don't know what the future holds and what kind of amazing creative things I will happen upon. 


Bride & Groom with DIY by Chykalophia 

How would you describe your process? This definitely depends on what I am working on. The blog is a work of its own in showcasing weddings. I love it when I get submissions and can showcase them! As far as the magazines, it's a long, hard (but fun, rewarding) process, and it is definitely a collaboration with the designers, writers and editors. What I do is very deadline centered. That is where the occasional fun project such as a styled photo shoot, writing project or crafty/design project can really fill a tactile void for me. 
What is your favorite medium? Since what I do is mainly communicated through photography and writing, I would have to say that my most used mediums are the computer and paper. With the computer, the blog provides a very visual experience, and with the magazine, it is both visual and tactile to engage the reader. I feel that quality photography and good writing are a must! 

Where do you find your inspiration? 
Is it too honest to say Pinterest? Ha! That plays a role, but truly I find a lot of inspiration in vintage things and nature. Often, just looking around outside and hearing the sounds gets my creativity flowing… especially if I am on a walk or run. As far as vintage things go, I love the fact that each of the items are so unique and well made. They have such a charming quality, and many times a vintage find will turn into a big idea. 
What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with my family for sure. One of my favorite places to be is near the water (lake preferably!). I also really get a kick out of thrifting… Goodwill, yard sales, antique stores and flea markets are right up my alley. Truly, I can't sleep in on Saturday mornings in the summer because I am wondering if I am missing out on any great deals! I also like a great page turner… and by page turner, I do mean paper. I don't know if I'll ever be able to make the switch to read a book on a digital device. 

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?  
Hmmm. That's an interesting question. I often wonder if those who have "made it" feel like they have made it. There is always someone who is further along in the process than you are, and there is always someone who is further behind. Although our businesses grow at different rates and experience ebbs and flows, I feel like it's a shift of highs and lows. Just a few days ago, I literally woke up at 4:45am with the mindset of "I quit!" Yet, that same day, I got great news. So in one day, I felt like giving up and like I had a huge triumph. I feel that pretty much sums it all up. 




How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?  
When you love what you do, it really doesn't seem separate from the rest of your life, I feel. My mind is always thinking creatively, and I absolutely love spending time doing what I do. BUT that can cause things to really be out of balance for me! Even though sometimes the mind's wheel is turning, I just have to unplug and get away from my computer and immerse myself into spending time with the people who live in the same house I do. :) Easier said that done at times! 

What is the most difficult part of Being You? 
Balance, distractions and ideas. The life/work/family balance is always a tricky thing. Also, I find it is easy to get distracted by what others are doing better or differently, yet I want to just remain true to myself. The last part about ideas… I truly feel that if I had minions (and a plethora of funds!) I really would have about a dozen businesses because the ideas are always flowing. Trying to focus on what I am doing and trying to keep doing it well instead of jumping to the next idea can be a challenge.


Lemon Yogurt Cake as seen in Clutch


What is the most rewarding part of your day? This will seem SO cliche, but honestly, my favorite part of the day is when I get to kiss my kids goodnight, crawl in bed with my husband (and 2 kitties) and turn on whatever show we are binge watching on Netflix. It's just nice to get cozy with those I love, relax and then drift off to sleep. 

What do you have in the works? Well, I have a few styled shoots in the works for our upcoming 2015 wedding magazine with some amazing collaborations. It's always exciting to see a group of creatives come together for those! It's also been fun to get into designing some items. That's really been thrilling! 

Who do you admire? That's a big question, but I am afraid that my answer isn't "big". I really don't have one person that I look up to. I draw such inspiration from pretty much every person I meet… especially if they are a creative or own their own business. I am constantly learning from those around me and the women I meet. So, it's safe to say that my admiration is spread out. I find a little to admire in almost everyone.


Thank You Jennifer for sharing your story with us! You can follow her work on Hill City Bride & The Clutch Guide at...

Hill City Bride

The Clutch Guide

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Mithra Ballesteros of Finder Not Keeper



Why did you first start Finder Not Keeper?
In my online shop, Finder Not Keeper, I sell instant collections of interesting objects and art. On my blog, The Bubble Joy, I write entertaining stories about the collections. Each collection is one-of-a-kind, curated over months and miles, and is the antithesis of mass-production.
I opened the shop in March 2014 in an effort to help people create meaningful living spaces. We all love the look of a gallery wall, a layered mantel, a cabinet of curiosities – but it is difficult to create. Everyone is pinning ideas but no one is selling them. I thought I would try.
In a Pottery Barn / Ikea world, these collections are a design solution for those seeking something that is more authentic, more heartfelt, more reflective of their own story.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?
I was born in Iran. We moved to the U.S. when I was a toddler. I grew up in the Chicago area. Coming from a culturally mixed family influenced me greatly. Perhaps because my father left so much behind when we emigrated, I have a fixation on possessions, especially sentimental ones.

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?
I have always been a skilled collector and an amusing storyteller. To combine the two abilities is definitely a delicious career sandwich and brings me great joy. But the idea didn’t just pop into my head. It took a year of intense reflection to flush out the details of the concept.

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
A very very long path! I blogged on behalf of a company and knew I needed to blog for myself. I put on killer Halloween spookhouses and knew I had visual talents. worked ages ago as a stylist helped others decorate and knew I needed to get paid for my abilities. Both of these truths  sold for others and needed to sell for myself. Bottom line is don’t fret about a zigzagging career path. If you enjoy what you do, let that be enough. No one, not even your mother, can predict what opportunities will arise or what skills will be gained from any endeavor.

How would you describe your process?
I believe that objects have souls. They have an essence that can be communicated to us if we are open to it. When I lock eyes with something wonderful, I get goose bumps. I want to know what kind of life the object led before I came along. That is what I write about.
Last week, I purchased a large quantity of African art and fabric from an eighty-year-old woman who lived half of her life in Botswana and Nigeria before finally coming back home to Wisconsin with crates and crates of things. Her stories! Writing about her provides me a chance to honor her history. Hopefully my writing will connect her possessions to someone who appreciates the path traveled by these objects. 

What is your favorite medium? 
As a buyer of art and antiques, I love anything made by hand. Needlework, especially, calls to me, as I think society undervalues it. As a writer, my favorite medium is limericks. They’re like haikus for the common man.

Where do you find your inspiration?
You! I am inspired by all of the young creatives who are out there making our world a better place, stitch by stitch, brushstroke by brushstroke, shutter click by shutter click.

What do you do for fun?
Cook for teenagers. Is there anyone more endearing than a hungry teenager? They love everything and while their mouths are full, I can lecture them. They always come back for more.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?
What an impossible question! Maybe it was the first time I made a sale to a complete stranger who had a legitimate credit card and wasn’t trying to defraud me from Russia? Or making a gif in Photoshop? Bottom line – I haven’t come close to ‘making it’ yet. 

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?
This is a constant struggle, as it is for so many. I am obsessive and work around the clock. I justify this behavior as necessary to grow a new business. But it is not healthy or sustainable.  The laundry and the personal relationships are suffering.

What is the most rewarding part of your day?
Hitting ‘publish’ on the blog.

What do you have in the works?
I have been working on a new video for the shop. It is a stop motion video that follows the life of a boy told through collections of objects.

Who do you admire?
My husband. (Also, Madeline Albright.)

Thank you Mithra for sharing your story with us! You can follow Finder Not Keeper and all of Mithra's incredible collections and styling at...

  





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Hilary Walker of Style Stories



I met Hilary at Alt Summer she is a photo stylist and blogger based in Dallas, TX. She is "endlessly curious about the type of persons who knows themselves so well that it shows up - in fantastic stylish fashion - in every expression in their life. In their home, through their wardrobe, by way of their career choices and art interests, in the way they speak and the thoughts they carry." She uses her blog as a beautiful platform to gather and share such people and their stories with others.

Why did you first start Our Style Stories?
I started Our Style Stories, my current blog, as a continuation of my first blog called Hilary Inspired. Hilary Inspired came about out of a need for a creative outlet. Three years into it, I had created a series called "Style Stories" where I would visit stylish people, photograph their home spaces, and talk to them about their creative work. I completely fell in love with the subject and, after a lot of thought, I decided to relaunch my blog with a new name and focus centered around the "Style Story" concept. This past July I celebrated the one year anniversary of the relaunch.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?
I grew up in Nashville, TN in a household that put a lot of emphasis on individual creativity. My two younger brothers and I all had completely different educational experiences and pursued different facets of the performing and creative arts. I was homeschooled and studied ballet until graduating from high school. My parents also owned a cafe and bookstore while we were growing up and we all worked together to make the business successful. I learned a lot about hard work, operating a small business, and bringing an idea from concept to fruition through that experience. My grandmother lived five minutes down the road from us and she has incredibly sophisticated and elegant taste. I probably learned the most about design and decorating a beautiful home from her.   


Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?
Maybe for the time being. ;-) As a photo stylist  I definitely feel like I’ve found a line of work that suites my personality - creative, visual, collaborative, different every day, always on the move. And the blog is something I’m very passionate about. I feel really strongly about it's message of individual style that’s authentic, self-reflective, and integrated into all parts of life. Not to mention I love learning things by way of example and insights from others. But I’m realizing more and more that my journey is just beginning and it will definitely go through more iterations. Who knows where these things will lead me in the years to come!


What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?
My professional path started when I selected interior design as my college major. From there, I moved to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX and began the long road to finding work in the design industry. I started with a sales position at Haverty’s, the closest thing to an interior design job that I could find at the time. After lots of networking and cold-emailing, coffee dates and industry cocktail parties, I found a part time position as an assistant to a textile designer, which I worked on my days off from Haverty’s. It was a lot of work! During that time I started my first blog, which helped me put myself out there even more. Eventually, I found full time work as the social media manager for a major luxury lighting and home decor manufacturer. Not long after that, I worked my way into the position of a junior designer for a number of residential interior designers. A little over a year ago, I came to the realization that after all was said and done, interior design just might not be the right fit for me. It was a lot of computer work and sitting at desks. So, I emailed a few friends in various other creative fields and asked them for suggestions of new directions I should pursue given my knowledge and skills. Styling was suggested to me and from there I contacted an agency and booked my first jobs. One year down the road and I’m still going strong!  

How would you describe your process?
My process varies depending on the work I’m doing. When I’m styling, there’s usually a lot of information gathering at first - What is being shot; Who is the client; What is purpose of the photography. Next, I visualize the shot and all of it’s components. Finally, I implement what I’ve created in my head. Unlike interior design, the process is truncated quite a bit and comes together relatively quickly. When it comes to the blog, my process goes something like this - Scout Style Story guests, photograph and interview guests, edit photography and audio, compose the post, publish the post, promote the post throughout my social media channels, brainstorm follow-up stories related to the post, and start all over again!


What is your favorite medium?
Photography!

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration in lots of different places! But mostly in print magazines, nature, other people’s homes, and vintage items.

What do you do for fun?
A lot of my free time (nights and weekends) is spent working on the blog, so that’s a big one! But other than that, I love to walk my neighborhood with my dogs, watch cooking shows with my hubby, and occasionally get out and dance.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?
I don’t think I’ve felt that yet… it’s all such a work in progress!
How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?
I try to disconnect from computer work and the internet as often as possible, which realistically isn’t that much. But even a little helps. When I combine that with time outdoors and with good friends, I get lots of perspective and energy.


What is the most difficult part of Being You?
I have ambitious goals and want to very much to achieve them but I also realize the importance of slowing down and enjoying the small, simple things in life. Many times, those two things conflict with one another. I’m constantly struggling to find a healthy balance between the two.
What is the most rewarding part of your day?
When I come home to my hubby and pups or when I make a genuine connection with a new friend.

What do you have in the works?
Always new Style Stories, of course! But I’ve started developing some in-person workshops for styling as well.

Who do you admire?

I admire many people. My parents and grandmother, my husband, my mentors and friends Joslyn Taylor and Christine Visneau (to name a few), Garance Dore and many of the other women online that pursue meaningful, creative careers alongside cultivating their families and personal lives.

Follow Hilary Walker's Style Stories