50+ interviews to inspire you to take action

Did you know that we have a beautiful archive full of over 50 interviews with inspiring artists and creatives? We couldn't believe it, either.

Our series of DELVE interviews explore the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. How did they get to where they are? What did they do before? What does a day or week in their professional lives look like? Check out our whole series of DELVE Interviews here.

Five Alive is an interview series where we ask creative people we admire five questions about their practice. They are short, powerful glimpses into the worlds of talented people, just like you. See our growing Five Alive series here.

Enjoy and be inspired! XO, Sara and Andrea

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

5 steps for effectively telling your story to potential clients

You are the only ______ (fill in the blank: freelancer, artist, designer, singer...) in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way.

So how do you let your potential clients know who you are and what you do in a way that feels powerful and genuine? How do you recount your professional history, products and services in a compelling way when your work isn’t there to visually speak for you?

 

 

 

 

 

Here are five tips for telling your UNIQUE story:

1. Carve out the time to get it right

You need to set aside time for yourself to craft your unique story. Take a look at your schedule and determine when you most like to write and feel self-reflective. Over morning coffee? At night after a day’s work? On the weekend?

Make it count! Schedule a few hours in your calendar and show up. This is a very important meeting you have with yourself.

2. Reflect on why you are awesome

It doesn’t matter if you hate writing, despise thinking about yourself, loathe self-promotion, and would rather crawl in a hole. Now is the time to pat yourself on the back a bit, reflect on all of the amazing things you have been doing and think about why you are so awesome.

Let’s get started. Answer the questions below honestly and with as many descriptive words as possible in a free-form style. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or coherent thoughts, just write and avoid jargon. Be yourself. No one is reading this except for you.

  • What do you do? What does your work look like? (If you make visual or physical products, get down into the nitty-gritty and describe one of your most successful projects or pieces in great detail. If you offer services, write out the exact steps you take on a project from beginning to end with an ideal client.)
  • How do you do it? (List the cold, hard facts about how you do what you do. Take nothing for granted. For the makers: how much time does it take, what kind of materials do you use, what does it look like in space? And if you offer services: how much time does it take, what is your approach and attitude, where do you do it? What are the results that people get from you?)
  • How did you arrive at this kind of work? (What is your applicable personal and professional history that has led you down this unique path? What inspired you to start doing this? Go back in time and think about the days before freelancing, or that amazing project that launched you.)
  • Who are you as a creative professional and how do you want to be defined? (As a creative, you might wear many hats, but only state the thing that you want to be known for by your ideal clients.)

OK, you’re done! Save your writing and get ready to move on with your day.

But first, schedule a time tomorrow to review this. It should only take about 30-45 minutes. Do it. Show up. Don’t wait until next week!

3. What nice things have other people said about you?

So you currently have a giant document full of information about your work that applies only to you. These notes provide the actual words that reflect your very own personal and professional history that drive your creativity and passion for what you create.

Next, you need to remember the nice and amazing things that clients have said about you and your work.

Write from memory, and if you have some great testimonials kicking around then copy them into this doc.

4. Show why you care

You’re more than just your work.

Your career path and personality make you unique, so just describing yourself as a “designer” won’t help you get new clients. Tell us exactly what you design, why, what it means to you, and how you got there. Give your clients something to care about and remember.

With that frame in mind, review your notes and take the first stab at writing your unique story as if you were telling the story to someone who loves what you do. Don’t bore them, engage them.

Set your timer for one hour.

First, clearly state what you do and the services you offer. Tell us why your services are unique and how and why you do them. Next, reflect on any interesting tidbits of your professional path or applicable personal details that make you stand out from others in your field. And finally, what are the amazing results that clients get from working with you?

Sleep on this first draft, take a day or two, and better yet, engage the help of a friend and schedule in your next meeting to whittle this beast down to a manageable statement that you can use on your website and other marketing materials. It will also translate beautifully to how you talk about what you do.

You’re close. We know you can see the light.

5. Keep refining

The goal for the next sixty minutes is to finish editing your draft down into a manageable professional story that is engaging, genuine, and all you. The goal is to have one to two concise and powerful paragraphs that are malleable enough to share on your website, use in your marketing efforts and feel proud of.

Spoiler alert: this step really isn’t the last, since your unique story will be ever-evolving and changing as you do. Roll with it and come back to these questions often when you feel a shift in your work or when you know that you have something wonderful to add.

How do you tell your story? Let us know!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Make people remember you with an effective introduction

Have you ever felt tongue-tied when asked to introduce yourself and describe your work? Or maybe you ramble on in a way that doesn’t accurately describe what you do?

As a creative who does so many amazing things, it might be incredibly difficult to put your work into words in order to give your audience that “aha” moment and make them want to learn more.

There are many occasions where you’ll be asked to describe your work – or answer that dreaded question: what do you do? These include interviews, parties, networking get-togethers, conferences, or even meeting a friend of a friend for the first time.

The goal? You want the right people to remember you.

There are ways to practice talking about your services and talents that will open doors and engage the people you are talking with in an exciting way.

First, you need to remember: You are the only person in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way. We want to help you make sure you tell the right story when people ask, in a clear, succinct, and compelling way.

First, let’s explore an example:

We met an artist at an opening. She had recently moved to New York from Florida, so we were discussing that, since it's a big life move. Sarah, our new acquaintance, impressed us when we asked her, "What kind of work do you make?" And she answered, "I am a sculptor who makes works from recycled materials, especially those small plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in."

Immediately, we were intrigued, asked her more questions about her work, and made it a point to look at her website the next day. Had she just said, "I am a sculptor" the conversation might have drifted off to more social things, or perhaps ended. So, the point here is to be very specific because each and every one of us is incredibly unique.

Make someone remember you. How do you do that? Create your perfect elevator pitch in five easy steps:

1. Say what you do: I am a______________________________. (designer, writer, illustrator, programmer, etc)

2. Now write down the three most important things that you do as a (designer, writer, illustrator, programmer, etc) and cite proof points why your work is important or unique.

3. Now figure out: What do you want your work to accomplish/What is your goal?

4. Distill the above three points into a short sentence or two: this will become your introduction, or pitch. You’ll want to end up with a simple statement like: I am a _____________ who (does this unique thing.)

5. Remember, you are talking with someone else, so engage them. Hopefully your pitch is so compelling that they ask you follow-up questions! Make sure you have a business card on hand to give them in case they want to learn more.

Here are some tips to consider as you practice your pitch in the mirror and to your dog, cat and best friend before you take it out into the real world:

  • It should explain what you do, clearly and succinctly: Who are you? What do you do?
  • It should be no longer than 20-30 seconds, which is about the time it takes to ride an elevator.
  • The pitch should be addressed to THEM not to YOU. To successfully engage in conversation, remember it’s about storytelling, not fact-reciting.
  • It should be comprehensible to even a kid.
  • Say it with confidence.
  • Be memorable.
  • It needs to be compelling and sound natural in person. (It’s beneficial to write it out and memorize it, but you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot.)

Why is your elevator pitch important?

  • You want people to understand what you do and remember you. It’s an opportunity to create a mental picture for your audience when your work is not in front of them to experience first hand.
  • You are creating an opportunity for an opportunity, which getting tongue tied will not provide you.
  • In a social setting, you would like to be able to engage in meaningful dialog with someone without rambling.
  • You want to add value to your community.
  • Because it’s an opportunity to represent your character as well as what kind of work you do.
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Good luck! Let us know what your success stories are after you’ve written out and practiced your pitch!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Your Unique Story: tips for figuring it out and getting it out there

Happy September!
Whether it's back to school time for you or not, this time of year never-the-less makes it feel like it's time for a fresh start. We are feeling it, and are excited to dive in with you and help you refresh your story and your materials. This month we'll be sharing advice and ideas on how to hone in on how you tell your story, both in writing and verbally. Once you have that down, you'll find that it'll be easier to pursue and get opportunities and reach your goals!

Fact: you are the only person in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way. As artists and creatives, we all occupy so many different roles in our lives that sometimes we need a boost in seeing the big picture. We need to assure that we stand out in our vibrant, saturated, creative communities. So, how do you let your audience know who you are, tell your story in a compelling way, and genuinely show that your artwork or creative products are so incredibly unique? We’ll cover a step-by-step process below.

Sharing your unique story in a professional, genuine way is undoubtedly important because potential customers and patrons want to know who you are and where you come from; it gives them confidence to know about you, makes them comfortable and interested, and they can connect with you and your work in a profound way. Your story is part of your identity, whether that’s a brand identity for your product or who you are as an artist.

By confidently conveying your professional creative self, you will be able to reach several goals that come along with having a strong story and identity:

  • You will sell work. If there’s a strong story behind your work, it’s going to be a lot easier for people to hold on to it, remember it, and want it.
  • People will be more inclined to follow you on social media if they can connect with you and recognize themselves in your story. You want to form a bond with your audience and the best way to do that is by sharing.
  • With your story loud and clear on your website, people will feel comfortable reaching out to you for commissions, purchases, or to collaborate on projects.

The first step in feeling confident in telling your unique story is to set aside quality time to write. Set aside one uninterrupted hour on a timer and answer these questions:

  • Who are you and how do you want to be defined? For example, you might work a day job as an accountant, but make jewelry in your spare time, with the hopes of eventually launching a jewelry business. So you would state that you are indeed a jewelry maker.
  • Write out your professional bio as a creative. Look back at the work you’ve made, where you’ve showed it, who has purchased it, and any press you’ve received and sing your own praises. Just starting out? Don’t worry about it. Definitely touch on any education, workshops, and experiences you have along with your passion for the work.
  • Write out a detailed description of your work or project. What does it look like, how is it made, what kind of materials do you use, what does it feel like? Be as specific as possible.
  • What is the inspiration behind your work? This can be anything and everything, don’t hold back.

Next, after a short break, read over what you’ve written and highlight the parts that are unique to you. Make a separate list of these unique traits and translate these facts into a written story about yourself in the first-person. For example, you might have started out by describing yourself as a jewelry maker (of which there are thousands), but now you are able to describe yourself as a jewelry maker who uses brass fittings and rope from the hardware store to make bold, sculptural statement necklaces inspired by your life growing up on the New England coast helping your grandfather repair his boats. It’s pretty likely that no one else can claim that exact story, and this specificity will make your audience want to learn and see more.

The added bonus of adding specific details to your story is that they can also help shape your logo and the look of your website if you are getting ready to launch an online store. The jewelry maker in the above example might be inspired to incorporate nautical elements into her logo or decide that she wants all the product photography to be taken on a weathered dock to reference her story.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

You're doing it right.

You are the expert on your business: whether it is your art practice, architecture firm, or if you are writing a novel. Your projects, your approach, your accounting techniques, your communication style, your social media accounts, your ideas, they belong to you. Working alone in your studio or in a small business can mean a lot of second-guessing of yourself and a lot of feeling isolated. It can all feel like too much, or like you're not doing something right. Right?

We get it. But remember that you ARE doing it right by doing it. By showing up and working hard and translating your creative vision to the world. That is your job and only you can do it.

We've gotten hung up on a lot of things that we feel like we should be doing because that is what the "work world" does. But it just doesn't work for us. We are both working moms and artists and we are damn busy, and just like for you, life can feel like too much sometimes. So, this is what we remind ourselves of everyday:

  • We don't have to follow a normal 9-5 schedule. We are excellent communicators and pretty good at managing our time (both within and outside of a normal workday schedule), and we will get things done and be productive.
  • It's better to experiment and fail than not to try.
  • Being present for our families and our clients is the biggest priority. Sometimes momentum can stall when life gets in the way. We love what we do, and therefore have the energy to pick it back up again.
  • We have the job of helping amazing people get the opportunities they want by verbalizing and focusing on why they are so unique. And it works and it rocks.

You are the only one who really knows how you spend your time. In our last post we offered some advice to open up time to get more done. Make your own strides to be as productive as you can. You don't have to stick to a traditional schedule.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Is time always running out?

One of the biggest fears a lot of our clients have is the fear of not having enough time. Enough time to finish a project, get an application written, or a proposal sent out. It's that nagging feeling that you might as well not even try because you'll probably run out of time. Or the realization that the deadline is at midnight, and here it's already 7pm, so why even bother. It's born out of procrastination but also causes procrastination. Have you ever said to yourself "I'm never going to get my materials together in time, so I might as well not even bother?" (and then promptly clicked over to Facebook or Instagram)...

Us, too. It happens. But how do you get out of that mindset or rut? 

The key is realizing it is a mindset. Meaning it's in your mind. Anything that's in your mind, you can adjust. If you think about it, there are 2 kinds of time. There is clock time, which is standardized and given (60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, etc.) and then there is the time you feel on any given day. This kind of time is completely based on perception, meaning an hour at the dentist can feel like an eternity, while watching your baby turn 18 can feel like the blink of an eye. So any tasks that you want to fit in for your practice or business can be organized with clock time, but their perception can be adjusted depending on your mental attitude towards them. 

Step one is harnessing and organizing that clock time. 

Here's how:

1. First, you need to know where all of your time is going to begin with. Grab a scheduler (or a calendar), and for one week, write down everything you do and how long it takes. Be honest, and see how much time the various parts of your business or practice take. (This is also a valuable exercise to see what things you're not even doing, even though you know you probably should be doing them). How much time during your week is spent with productive activities that are working towards your goals?

2. Wait, what? Goals? You know you have some, but are they really clearly spelled out for the next month, six months, or year? And we mean really clear, like you know exactly what the goal is, and how it's broken down into achievable tasks over the next few weeks? Next step: write out your goals, and then break them down into manageable pieces or steps.

3. Each piece of that goal should have time assigned to it. This is where a scheduler or calendar actually comes in really handy. A to-do list is great, but what happens is that it becomes longer and longer and then gets overwhelming. Take those to-dos and pencil them into a real schedule with real amounts of time assigned to them. That way you don't have to think about them and have them overwhelm you, unless they are the scheduled task in front of you for the next 30 minutes or hour. Keep that appointment with that task. If you do that, it will actually get crossed off your list! Amazing!

4. Take 10 or 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or even the night before) to plan the day. Make sure all your scheduled goals are still on track and that the tasks you set for yourself are realistic to accomplish. At the end of your work day, take 10-20 minutes to go through that day's tasks and assess if you've actually accomplished them and if the process went smoothly. If it didn't, assess what went wrong and try to remedy it for next time. (For example, you set one hour to work on your writing, and you got nothing accomplished because you were feeling blocked and spent one hour staring at a blank screen. Next time, start the task with a list of questions you can answer to help you get the writing process started. Start simply, with a question like "What is this project about?")

5. Take a minute before each task to decide what result you want to achieve. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take a minute after each task to determine whether your desired result was achieved. 

This all seems like a lot of work, probably. But once you try it and figure out a way to work it into your routine, time will feel a lot less scary and you'll actually feel like you have a grasp of it–and can possibly even manage it!

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

 

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Overcoming Fear: 3 things to consider

ideal relaxing end-of-summer scenario...

ideal relaxing end-of-summer scenario...

Happy August!  We hope you're out enjoying the end of summer and getting some relaxing time in before the Fall kicks into gear. 

Since this month is a slower one for many people, we decided to use the downtime for some introspection, so that we can move forward with intention once the busy season of Fall kicks in. For us, the upcoming season means teaching lots of workshops and classes, going to as many openings as we can muster, while also launching a whole new suite of products (stay tuned—it's about to get exciting around here!) So before we do all of that, we wanted to spend a few quiet moments pondering a subject that we know haunts a lot of us: FEAR. 

Fear of what? Of taking the next step in your career, of trying something new in the studio, of talking to a stranger at an opening, of doing your taxes, of reaching out to your idol, of putting your work out into the world? And why are we fearful of that? Because of failure. It boils down to the fact that we're all afraid of failing. But what does that mean, exactly? For each of the examples mentioned above, the stakes are of course a bit different. Do any of your fears make you stop in your tracks and feel unable to move forward?

This month, we'll talk about steps to take to push through your fears, but before we go there, let's first all acknowledge that failure is part of the process. And sometimes failure is the best thing that can happen, because it allows you to reassess your situation, your point of view, and your approach. It often leads to new ideas, new ways of working, and new relationships. It is why great things happen, which is why you have to at least try. Nothing happens without trying, and that's the stasis we want to avoid! 

Here are three things to think about when you feel fear creeping in and preventing you from taking a next step:

1) What exactly is it that is making your fearful? Get specific and identify what aspect of the task is preventing you from moving forward. 

2) Talk or write it out. Find someone to confide in, or write it out in your journal. Chances are, once you've listed your specific fears, they will no longer seem so scary or daunting. 

3) If you are feeling fear, switch over to feeling gratitude instead. For example, if you are at an opening and afraid to introduce yourself to the curator, instead take a fresh look at the situation and feel grateful to be able to be in the position to make this connection/be part of this artist community/to have seen the great show this person has curated. Chances are, it will change your attitude and point of view, and you'll no longer be afraid to say hi.  

Let us know what fears are holding you back. We want to start a conversation and help you move forward! 

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Five Alive: Abigail Doan

Abigail Doan

Abigail Doan

Five Alive is an interview series where we ask creative people we admire five questions about their practice. Today we are featuring Abigail Doan, an environmental fiber artist and writer, who divides her time between NYC and Europe. Her studio practice explores the sculptural language of handmade objects, slow craft methodologies, and cultural preservation issues.

Thank you, Abigail, for sharing your work with us!

Plaited Wildgrass | New Mexico (2006), hand-plaited wild grasses from The LAND/an art site residency in rural New Mexico | by Abigail Doan

Plaited Wildgrass | New Mexico (2006), hand-plaited wild grasses from The LAND/an art site residency in rural New Mexico | by Abigail Doan


What is your favorite art making tool?

Abigail's tabletop loom

Abigail's tabletop loom

A miniature tabletop loom that I use to create small ‘drawings’ with leftover or salvaged paper, threads, textile bits, and even dried vegetation or found flotsam.

I also really cherish a magnifying glass that belonged to my grandmother. I sometimes use it to zoom in on materials that I am documenting while traveling or working at home.

A good pair of scissors makes me very happy, particularly my Okubo garden scissors from Japan – perfect for bonsai trimming or simply as a paperweight on my desk.

I am definitely a tool lover, so much so that I started a project called, Toolshedding. Several of these objects were on view with my own sculptural forms in a solo exhibition at Weaving Hand gallery in Brooklyn last autumn.

What project(s) are you working on right now?

I recently initiated a project called, Walking Libraries, which involves (slow) movement research in combination with the documentation of site-specific materials in both rural and urban zones. This is an extension of an exploratory performance-based practice I started years ago for Conflux Festival as well as during solo walks in the deserts of the American Southwest and in the fields of my childhood farmland of the Hudson Valley. I will continue these travel explorations in rural communities in Bulgaria this summer as well as along coastal routes in Italy. 

Walking Libraries | artifacts 01 (2016), gathered wild grasses, recycled fiber, mylar, and plastics for still life documentation | by Abigail Doan

Walking Libraries | artifacts 01 (2016), gathered wild grasses, recycled fiber, mylar, and plastics for still life documentation | by Abigail Doan

My intention is to build a library of plotted, psycho-geographic phenomena across communities and cultures with the mission of highlighting border-defying acts. This documentation with also serve as an archive for future art and design projects for my creative agency, Lost in Fiber.

I am also collaborating with several artist friends on projects that relate to modern day correspondence (in an attempt to make social media sharing more tactile), as well as an olfactory art project that explores tools for modern pioneering and monitoring pedestrian flow.

What music/band/artist are you listening to the most right now? 

Well, I just arrived in Bulgaria for the summer, so I tend to listen to local bands here as well as regional folk music. I love to run in the morning with my headphones on – listening to Rachel Row as well as Milenita, two very cool Bulgarian women artists/musicians. Otherwise, I listen to my eight year old twin sons singing and practicing their instruments.

Toolshedding | artifacts 02 | assemblage (2015),  16” x 16”, vintage wooden shuttle with recycled threads and collage | by Abigail Doan

Toolshedding | artifacts 02 | assemblage (2015),  16” x 16”, vintage wooden shuttle with recycled threads and collage | by Abigail Doan

Where do you go for peace and quiet?  

Definitely the mountains in Bulgaria, small village life in Italy, as well as some secret pockets within Central Park. I also have favorite rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that I often retreat to when urban life is wearing thin. I grew up on a farm in New York State, so I am always trying to simulate this existence no matter where I roam. This is most likely why I have the art practice that I do, i.e. methods of outreach beyond the studio walls.

Is there a color or palette that you are drawn to?

The muted tones of the desert as well as hues created by botanical dyes. Several art friends are natural dyers, so I have learned a lot from them about what constitutes true color. Although I am not a dyer per se, I did grow up in a household where my mother often had a dye pot on the stove or we were foraging for roadside ‘weeds’ together. 

Color is something that I typically view as being nature-based. That said, I have been exploring the inclusion of neon pops of color in my still life documentation, as I like the counterpoint and reference to the palette available with digital tools. Color can be bold, though, as demonstrated by the plant palette experiments of artist friend, Sasha Duerr.

Walking Libraries 03 | Coastal California (2016), site-specific documentation with hand-dyed fiber rope and handmade silk tassel | by Abigail Doan

Walking Libraries 03 | Coastal California (2016), site-specific documentation with hand-dyed fiber rope and handmade silk tassel | by Abigail Doan

Walking Libraries 01 | Coastal California’ (2016), c-print: 20" x 20”; site-specific documentation with fiber drawing, vintage glass, recycled packaging, soil, and local vegetation | by Abigail Doan

Walking Libraries 01 | Coastal California’ (2016), c-print: 20" x 20”; site-specific documentation with fiber drawing, vintage glass, recycled packaging, soil, and local vegetation | by Abigail Doan

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

A 30-minute writing exercise to define your personal brand.

Visual artists are always asked to write an artist statement to add context to the experience of looking at their work. A successful artist statement doesn't tell the viewer how to feel, but might elaborate on the artistic process, the inspiration or symbolism in the work, and why the artist was driven to make it. The end result allows them to engage their audience in a more meaningful way.

The same idea can be applied when writing a mission statement. We want to find out what your core values are, why you are unique, and what specifically you do that sets you apart from everyone else. It's not an easy task, but by starting out with these harder questions, the rest of your marketing becomes a heck of a lot easier.

Set your time for 30 minutes and answer these questions for yourself:

1)    Who are you? (Even if your art/creative business is a side hustle, tell us that you are an artist, if that’s how you most strongly self-identify.)

2)     Describe what you do with very descriptive words. Write as thought we have never seen your work and you want to conjure a visual in our imagination.

3)     How do you do what you do? What is your process?

Don't hold back from writing your answers (or dictating them into your phone) since no one will read this stuff. Go in there and highlight the gems of thought that really stand out to you as being detailed and clear. Cut or strikethrough any sentences that are superfluous or not descriptive or not relevant. Then take all the highlighted sentences and paste them into a new paragraph. Read through what you have, and then rearrange them as necessary, making any edits that feel good. Now we suggest leaving it--shut your computer and walk away. Sleep on it. Don’t look at it for a day or two. When you look at if with fresh eyes, you’ll hopefully see what works and what doesn’t. Make edits and tweaks as needed, and then show it to a friend or editor.

This is hard!!!! We know it is. Don’t give up. Your story will surface, and you once you feel good about it, you can use it to shape everything from application essays to visual materials for marketing to how you talk about your work. An added bonus is that once you are clear on your story, it will help add clarity to your practice, as well.

Questions? Don't hesitate to email us.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Who are you talking to? Writing for your ideal audience.

If you were to write down who makes up the audience of your work is right now, who would be on that list? A great number of you might be thinking, "Audience? I have no idea. I don't have one." This reaction is normal but we are here to tell you that you DO have an attentive audience that is paying attention to your work. It may be 10 people, it may be 1000, but those people count, and you are an important part of their lives.

Defining your current audience is actually pretty easy. Let’s start with your fans, community, patrons, family, friends, curators, customers, collectors and all of the people who love you. Who are they? Write them down on a big list, and voila, you have your core. From here, it's time to grow, but this original list includes the people you need to hold onto and think about when you share your work online.

Now that you have realized that you do have a tribe that supports you, you realize that you want more. You want to build to a bigger audience of people who do not know you, and you want them to support your work. You want your work to be seen, respected and embraced. You want to stand out from the crowd.

Your work should definitely speak for itself, but there is more to your world as an artist or maker than what they see online. The inside scoop to who you are and why you make your work could resonate with a larger number of people, and it all starts with your unique story. How can you give your audience important insight into your work so they can connect with you on a deeper level?

Here is the plan.

It's time to define your IDEAL AUDIENCE. Who are the people you know of that you want to share your work with? Maybe you know them personally but maybe you do not. This could be anyone: a curator, a new buyer, someone with interests that are similar to yours. Who are your peers, related organizations, people and organizations that you admire? All of these people can support you and your work, and together you can make things happen. 

Remember that the world is vast past your studio/office doors, and you will find your ideal audience. But to keep them around, you need to bring value to their lives by building your narrative and sharing your story in small pieces over time. The key here is time. Just as you build a friendship or other relationship over time, as people get to know you in small pieces, writing for your ideal audience functions in the same way. Sharing who you are behind the work is a wonderful way to cultivate your personal brand and let people in, so that they can know you, trust you, and support you.

Here are some ideas to try sharing with your ideal audience:

  • Share moments of your past work or experiences in writing and images.
  • Describe behind-the-scenes moments of your work.
  • Blog about topics that are relevant to your work.

Remember to keep the information you share relevant to your work; don't go off topic or share too much personal information (unless that is a selling point to your brand.) The key is for people to get to know the amazing person behind the work and how you do it. Build your audience genuinely and organically so that you can make real connections, and continue to make your work, stand out, and shine.

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Inspiring and simple ways to incorporate writing in your practice.

In our last post, we defined why writing is the crucial skill to getting what you want. You need to put words to your work that will translate to how you speak about it, how you write your statements and project descriptions, and how you market your work. In this post, we are going to share how to incorporate new writing habits in small, effective ways into your daily practice.

We want to take a moment and recognize that writing may be very difficult for many of you. You turn to a visual, performative or sonic medium to articulate your ideas. Perhaps English isn't your primary language. Maybe you are creating a product that sells itself it's so beautiful. Or maybe you are really good at talking through issues and problems and when you sit down to write, it falls short from what is in your head. You could struggle with dyslexia. We have encountered all of these obstacles with our clients and we still hold firm: writing is essential to your practice. But we are going to find the BEST way to fit it into your practice.

What kind of writing exercises can work for you?

  • Dictate and transcribe later. For those of you who struggle to sit down and actually write, try recording your voice and transcribing your thoughts later. This has worked really well for dyslexic artists and those who simply struggle with writing. It's a very freeing exercise.
  • Journal on paper or online, and always have it with you. Keep a sacred place where you can jot down thoughts as they arise and always have it with you. If not handwritten, then on your phone. Keep lists, dream up titles, write down goals, questions you have about your work, etc.

  • Read and take notes. Sometimes we can feel tongue-tied and stuck when trying to conjure words that support our work. Try reading anything – fiction, non-fiction, essays about people you admire – that can inspire you and find language there that speaks to you that you can translate into your own thoughts.

  • Write upon waking. Can you spare ten minutes in the morning to clear your head for the day and write your goals? Is this a time where you feel content and inspired? Use it to your advantage and write upon waking.

  • 30-second habit. As soon as you finish a conversation, stop listening to music, podcast, or lecture, write down your thoughts and reaction within the first thirty seconds before distraction sets in.

  • Daily habits and a recap. Setting aside time to write can be tedious, but we suggest it happens daily, even if it’s a few notes. Writers don’t always want to write, often time they do not, but it’s about getting into a habit, even if it’s painful at first. Maybe you are spending five minutes at the end of each day thinking and prepping for tomorrow’s goals—write them down, cross them off, repeat. It’s very satisfying.

If you've worked with us in the past or have read through our blog posts, we tend to tactfully nag all of our people a lot on this subject: writing is the most crucial start to opening up doors of opportunity.  Remember, no one is reading these exercises, they are solely for you. It is a way to create an archive of words, thoughts and concepts that will not flee from your brain. Don't hold back and start in on a new habit today. One of our clients recently wrote us: " Thank you so much for the structure you have given me to gracefully work through a wonderful creative life." And a lot of this structure is based in writing. Get in touch to see if we can help!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Why writing is crucial for your practice, even for visual people.

Over the next few weeks we are going to be exploring how and why writing is an absolutely crucial part of your practice. No matter what your medium is, what your profession is or what your product is, you need to be able to write about it. Writing about yourself and your work is not easy, but there are ways to make it something to look forward to and relatively painless.

We often refer to your “unique story" as an artist or creative entrepreneur and you may be thinking, I know I am unique but it's really hard for me to articulate why. Your unique story is a description of who you are, what you do, and why you do it, with a sprinkling of how you got there. This story gives you a framework to share your work and put yourself out there. It’s a tool to help you get the opportunities you want, and it translates into the written, verbal and visual presentation of you and your work.

writing-july1.jpg

The most important part of effectively figuring out your story is to find ways to incorporate writing into your practice and your daily life. Hands-down, writing is the answer most of our clients give when we ask them what they struggle with the most. Yet writing is the most effective tool in articulating your unique story so that you can eventually talk about it with ease. Even our clients who are writers, not just visual artists, have trouble writing about themselves, because it can be hard to see yourself from an outside perspective. It happens to us all.

The act of writing consistently helps with:

  • Working out problems: jotting notes down about your work gives language to ideas that could be abstract at the moment.

  • Being prepared for opportunities: having the right written tools on hand will help prepare you for an artist talk, applying to opportunities, and more.

  • Getting the things you want: words on paper make it easier to actually talk about what you do, being able to write effective emails and notes to strangers and colleagues is also an important skill. Being clear, thoughtful and articulate starts with putting words down on paper, and it can help you open doors of opportunity.

How do you incorporate writing into your practice? Check out past blog posts about writing or take a look at our Writing Package via the 1:1 DELVE Toolkit. 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Halsey Burgund

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. DELVE is an educational and coaching platform to help you get the business side of your career in order. We celebrate everyone's path as positive forces in their communities and share tools and advice we all need to meet our goals. 

Musician and sound artist, Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Musician and sound artist, Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This month we have been exploring ways to share your work with your ideal audience online and in person and wanted to introduce you to Halsey Burgund, a musician and sound artist living outside Boston. Both his installations and musical performances make extensive use of spoken human voice recordings as musical elements, alongside traditional and electronic instruments. In many ways, Halsey's work is a combination of socio-anthropological 'research', musical documentary and contributory experience. Recently, his work has focused on contributory location-based audio installations for which he developed Roundware, a distributed platform for collecting, organizing and re-presenting media via smartphones and the web.

Halsey has exhibited and performed in museums and galleries internationally, including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Puke Ariki Museum (NZ), Tyne & Wear Archive and Museums, Newcastle, UK, the Museum of Science, Boston and the California Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship to explore their audio archives for future work and is currently a fellow in MIT’s Open Documentary Lab as well as a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.

An installation shot of Faint Earth Murmur at Harvard University by Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

An installation shot of Faint Earth Murmur at Harvard University by Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

He currently is exhibiting his project, Faint Earth Murmur, an interactive exploration of the history of radio at Harvard University. Faint Earth Murmur aims to resurrect the long since lost in the internet-age, excitement and anticipation of physically tuning a radio dial to discover new stations and new sounds. The installation brings gallery visitors on an unpredictable aural journey of the past 100 years of radio via six themes ranging from politics to entertainment to sports.

Thanks for sharing your path with us, Halsey!

 

 


Can you describe your path as an artist – from where and when you began, until now?

I took a long time to focus my life on my artistic interests. I wrote a poem that became a song a long time ago that included the line “sneaking along a circuitous path” and I think that’s essentially what I’ve been doing in my life:

In college, I majored in Geology & Geophysics and generally was a science/math nerd. I took a bunch of music classes as well and played drum kit in bands, which was my primary creative outlet at that time in my life. When I graduated, I wanted to do something more physical than mental and I’d always loved working with my hands, so I spent a few years teaching myself woodworking and designing and building furniture. That wasn’t overly lucrative and I stopped doing it for money when I began resenting that all the careful detailed work I wanted to do to realize my aesthetic desires ended up being inversely proportional to my profits.

I began working in high-tech consulting and internet security and quit that after earning enough money to give myself a decent runway to give the art/music career a real go. I have not had a “real” job since then and it’s been over 10 years now.

What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

Sadly, I think I’m fairly typical in that I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like actually creating new work.

I spend a large chunk of my time in my studio at my computer either doing logistical things like answering emails (or email interviews for blogs!), doing online research and various promotional activities like website work etc. I work a lot on the logistics of the various projects I have underway at any given time and I also typical spend some time managing software development of Roundware (my contributory, location-based audio platform) either for a specific project (sometimes art-related, sometimes more commercial) or for general advancement of the platform.

I offend conduct interviews of participants, listen to these interviews and slice them up into appropriate chunks for use in my work. And when I’m lucky, I get to write music to go with the voices.

Also, I have two small boys and my studio is at home, so quite often, I am invaded by their craziness, which tends to bring a halt to most of my productivity. I lead an interrupt-driven existence currently which is very challenging with all of my work, but in particular my creative work as getting into the “flow” is almost impossible. I hear when they get older, things will calm down a bit.

What do you do to promote your work and get opportunities? What are some challenges you've overcome in expanding your audience?

Thankfully I am at a point in my career where some of my work comes to me passively and I don’t have to generate all of my opportunities myself. I still apply for grants and actively pursue museum curators whom I think might be interested in my work. Sometimes I propose specific projects for specific museums/institutions and I keep a cache of project ideas that are looking for the right opportunity to become a reality.

I suppose I have overcome some of the challenges in expanding my audience, but it feels like there are tons more still to overcome. As a sound artist, a perpetual challenge is explaining what sound art is (which requires me to pretend that I know what it is) and figuring out ways of letting the public know that my work exists as it is often invisible. Sadly, I don’t have any specific silver bullets for expanding audiences, but I can say that I now allocate a much more significant portion of my overall budget for any given project to promotion/marketing than I used to. Things don’t tend to go well if that is an afterthought, especially since most of my projects require contributions from the public in order to become fully realized.

Can you tell us about an upcoming project?

I’m working on a project currently called “From the Mouths of Monkeys” which was commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. It will be an outdoor audio installation along a path in the Greenway, which is a new-ish park in downtown Boston that occupies the space previously occupied by I-93, which is now underground thanks to the Big Dig.

I am interviewing around a dozen people (from 0 to 84 years old) who were born in the year of the monkey – according to the Chinese Zodiac – and diving into questions of belief systems; zodiac-driven, religious, scientific, etc. The voices will be arranged with music in four sections that will be playing from speakers mounted on lamp posts lining an urban, though leafy, path.

The project is slated to open in July and will be up until late Fall.

And where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

My extended family has a place on an island off the coast of Maine which I have been going to for my entire life and it for me is the most relaxing, motivating and inspirational place I’ve ever been. Thankfully I can return there often. It is beautiful for all of the senses and I often just go on walks or sit at the end of the pier and look/listen/smell/feel the wind and my mind wanders in ways I don’t allow it to in other places. I do a lot of work on the house and property - chainsawing, boat work, painting etc - which gets me in a different mindset and gives me a different sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which I find helps my creative work. 

I’m not sure if it is the decades-long connection I have to the place or the natural beauty or something less direct, but there is no doubt that this place does something to me that nowhere else can...at least not yet.

Halsey Burgund performing “Ocean Voices” at the Museum of Science, Boston

Halsey Burgund performing “Ocean Voices” at the Museum of Science, Boston

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Your Editorial Calendar: Part 3, tools to get it done.

In the previous post, Your Editorial Calendar: Part 2, the content and visuals, we covered how to create unique content for your editorial calendar. Now we are going to help you make a plan to create your editorial calendar and execute it. To do this, you need an organizational plan and some tools to make it easy for you. Let's dig in!

1. Create your calendar. We use a spreadsheet shared through Google Drive. Not very exciting, but it works as a shared repository for ideas and creating an actual monthly calendar that we can both refer to. You can also use a physical calendar if you prefer to write down your plan and cross things off in a very satisfying way. Either way, it's time to fill in a blank calendar that will guide you.

2. Fill in your monthly themes. Think at least 6 months ahead. What are your monthly themes that will help guide all of your online content? Write them in.

3. When will you update your website? Remember, your website is the hub of all of your online content. Ideally, you would like to direct people here to do something: purchase something, sign up for your newsletter, follow you on social media platforms, or contact you. Your website represents you and your work when you are not there in person to explain it. So, your website updates are an important part of your marketing plan.

4. Equally important is your newsletter. We use Mailchimp to easily send out visually stimulating updates, but there are other paid and free platforms that you can also use. Remember back to our previous posts: be consistent.  Newsletters do not always have to share huge news or events, they can update your audience on new work, work in progress, or inspiration. How often will you share your newsletter? Write that into your calendar, as well as the days when you will prep the content before hand and do testing.

5. Updates to your blog or online journal are crucial to add to your editorial calendar. Keeping an active section on your website that shares important news and updates about your work serves as an archive and gives you a reason to direct people back to your website when you share these posts on social media.

6. Your social media updates probably seem the most overwhelming to add to your editorial calendar. How can you keep up on sharing so much original content and not get sucked into meaningless tasks all day? Use scheduling tools like Buffer or Edgar. These give you the power to schedule your online content at one time, which then works while you sleep! Then you can hop on to your preferred platforms when time allows to share your beautiful content. (Remember that that being physically present at events and in networking situations are all great fodder for your live social media content. These scheduling tools help you sell your product when people are engaging online so you can do your work.)

Here is a ridiculous but accurate metaphor to keep in mind when creating your editorial calendar: the key to sustaining a powerful online presence is to stay on top of your editorial calendar like you would nurture a garden. It needs some work at the beginning to get everything prepped for planting (who are you and what is your story?). Once you curate your garden (determine your themes and create original content) , you simple need to plant the seeds (schedule the content), and water, weed and fertilize (check into your calendar once a week, write your posts and engage on social media.) You'll the reap the benefits by creating a wonderful, supportive community around what you do.

Please say hi if you have any questions! We are here to help.

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Your Editorial Calendar: Part 2, the content & visuals.

In the last post, Your Editorial Calendar: Part 1, the overview, we covered what an editorial calendar and content management are, and what big picture items you need to assess before starting your online marketing plan. Please be sure to read it here.

Today we are going to cover many ideas of how to create unique content for your editorial calendar. The goal with your editorial calendar is to organize your marketing plan so it is easy to execute. It's an organized calendar that you create yourself weeks and months in advance to keep you on track. We use a shared Excel sheet to keep track of our content and ideas. Not very sexy but it does the trick and it's accessible anywhere.

The Plan

  • Goals. Are you looking to sell something, get newsletter sign ups, share an event, create community around your art practice? Anything goes! And your goals might change month to month, or weekly.
  • Themes. When looking at the year ahead and your goals, it might be helpful to start off by choosing themes for each month on which to base your content. We use that approach because we have so many tips to share, we wanted to organize 2016 by monthly topic. It could be that your theme is based on an event, a new project or a product. The key is that you have a focal point and you can elaborate on this theme to share unique, detailed and powerful content!
  • Consistency. If anything, be consistent in your sharing and in your message. Keep your personal social media accounts separate from your professional accounts, unless it all makes sense. Be active and consistent in your sharing; your audience cares!
  • Platforms. What platforms will you be using to share your content? Newsletter, social media, blog posts, guest articles? We will cover the power of each significant platform in the next post.

The Content

  • Your voice. In the last post, we wrote about determining your unique story as an artist. This exercise is crucial because it centers your marketing plan on your work and gives you the language and confidence to talk about it. It keeps your message clear, so consistency is also valid in this context. This also applies to your bios and social media handles: make sure that your "about" is unique and consistent.
  • Frequency. Depending on which platforms you use, you may have to post multiple times daily (Twitter) versus once a week (a personal journal or blog). Figure out what you can handle in your schedule and what the platform dictates.
  • Hashtags. Don't forget to use hashtags when appropriate to make your work easier to find!
  • Call to action. Ask your reader to engage with your content. Do you want to direct them to your website, sign up for your newsletter, or comment?
  • Share and be generous. The more you share and open up, the more engagement you will receive. By keeping your content relevant and powerful, you will be creating a genuine marketing plan that your audience will look forward to seeing and that will resonate with them, and with you.  This also applies to engaging with others on social media platforms; it's a two-way street!
  • Recycle. If you are an active Instagram user, share some image highlights on your blog. Do you have years worth of wonderful posts from your blog? Share them again on social media platforms. Good content will resonate over time.

The Visuals

  • Beautiful documentation of your work. Don't ruin all of the work you have put into developing your unique story and compelling content with bad pictures. Your images that you share should be consistent and visually compelling.
  • Design matters. As your bio and social media handles should be consistent, don't forget about consistent good design in all of your materials. Font and color choices are as important as the content and images.

Here is a list of content ideas for your editorial calendar:

  • News: awards, press, other updates
  • Events
  • Website Updates
  • New Work
  • Work in progress
  • How To: ways to share your process
  • Behind the Scenes: your work in progress, your life as artist or creative
  • On Site: live posting at a relevant event
  • Sharing other relevant content: cross promotion, articles, etc.
  • Promotion of products, services or events
  • Blog/Journal: can be written and/or visual posts

In the next post, Your Editorial Calendar: Part 3, the platforms and tools, we will be covering all of the best strategies for the different platforms you can use to make your Editorial Calendar come to life!

What other ideas do you have to create amazing editorial calendars? Please share in the comments below!


 

 

 

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.