Friday, August 29, 2014

Mustard Seed Sessions: The Creative Porcupine

I can't fully remember how or when I stumbled onto Amanda's instagram, founder and owner of The Creative Porcupine, but I can tell you I immediately recognized her as someone I wanted to know. Her spirit and excitement are contagious, and her work is splendid. Amanda has been gracious enough to partake in my interview series, and her heartfelt words are below.

 Mustard Seed Co: What's a day in your life like? 

The Creative Porcupine: I am big on creating your ideal day, but every day varies, which I love. I try to get up between 5:30-7 and cook breakfast. I make a cup of coffee and sit down to eat while I read my devotional. Once I finish eating breakfast I take a moment to write in my prayer journal. Starting my day with this quiet time starts my day off on the right foot. After my quiet time I get ready for the day and around 9:00 I sit down at my computer and answer emails and then switch to design work, social media, etc. I am still trying to nail down my work flow because some days I am more focused than others. Most days around 2:00 I seem to hit a wall and have to get up and either go grab a cup of coffee or make another cup. It really refreshes me so that I can sit down for the remainder of the day with a renewed mind. I think I have come to accept that I am not good at the typical 9-5. Some day I will work till 2, step away from work, and then get back at it around 6 or 8 that night. 

MSC: What prompted you to start your business?

TCP: Well The Creative Porcupine did not originally start off as a business. It originally started off as a blog that began when I graduated college and suddenly found all this free time on my hands after working three jobs and working to make good grades. Over the years it has evolved into what it has become and it is still evolving. The blog was established as a place to find joy among the riffraff and to this day The Creative Porcupine remains a place where I work to do things that fill my life with a lot of joy, as of right now those things are branding, design, and stationery! 

MSC: Is your business your full time job? If not, what else do you do? 

TCP: The Creative Porcupine will be my full time job in October (hooray!). I currently work three days a week for Puddleduck Paper Co., hence the 5:30 wake up call on some days for The Creative Porcupine.

MSC: What would you tell your 20-year old self? 

TCP: Oh man, there is just so much. I would tell her that hard work will pay off, just keep moving forward. I would tell her that God has got her so quit worrying so much. I would tell her to quit waiting for life to be perfect and focus on the good now. I would tell her to invest in relationships more. I would tell her to do more things that bring her intense joy.

MSC: What's the worst job you've ever had?

TCP: I was a server at a country club when I was in college. I worked every weekend and holiday for two and a half years. It literally sucked my soul, but it paid the bills. There are seasons of life where you just gotta do what you gotta do, but it was a pivotal couple of years where I learned that money didn't buy happiness. 

MSC: What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

TCP: Feel the fear and do it anyway. When I was leaving my full-time job and paycheck to make the leap to work for Puddleduck part-time and have more time to spend on The Creative Porcupine I remember being terrified, but I felt the fear and did it any way and it truly made all the difference. I am not sure where I would be if I had let fear paralyze me.

MSC: What's the hardest part about pursuing a "non-traditional" career? The best part?

TCP: At this time right now the hardest part of pursuing a "non-traditional" career is being the only one behind it. I am the designer, the marketing director, the social media person, the accountant, etc. That's just the stage of life my business is in right now, but I hope one day to grow beyond that. 

The best part is being my own boss. I create my day and the things I fill my day with and that is ultimately so fulfilling to me. 

MSC: What inspires you?

TCP: Mattie of Puddleduck Paper Co. taught me a lot about inspiration. I used to not be sure how to even "be inspired", I know that may sound weird, but it was true. Now everything seems to have an opportunity to inspire me. It's almost like I see the world through a different set of lenses now. I notice patterns in furniture now or fonts in a magazine. Those are things that inspire my designs, but people inspire me too. People who are working to create a life with purpose and a life worth living. I went through the motions of life for so long and now I finally feel alive. I finally feel like I am actually living. 

How inspiring is this girl?! And how beautiful is her word? After you're done cruising her new site, make sure to check out her Facebook page, and follow along on her twitter, instagram, and pinterest accounts. She's someone you'll want to keep an eye on :) Thanks so much, Amanda!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lessons In Leaving Facebook

Out of all the "crazy" decisions I've made lately (and Lord help me, there have been many), the one that seems to really shock people is when I utter the following words. You ready? Sitting down?

"I deleted my facebook."

While there is a fair amount of shock, the most common reaction I've gotten is intrigue. The person I'm speaking with gets a glimmer of excitement in their eye, moves in a bit closer, and asks me what it's like, why did I do it, and other questions that could easily make a passerby assume we're talking about something truly illicit. 

So what have I learned from this little experiment in the past few weeks? Many things, but here are my top five for your reading pleasure:

1. My confidence level has massively increased. This is the one I really didn't see coming. To be fair, my confidence is increasing from a handful of other tactics, and just, I think, as a result of the place of life I'm in. Facebook allows us to see what everyone else we know, or sort of know, or maybe once met, is up to. Thus allowing us to compare where we're at to where we're inferring they are at. Except, as we all know, everyone puts their best social media foot forward. I'm guilty of this myself. Without the ability to scroll through my newsfeed, obsessing over every career, relationship and life success, I'm able to get back to focusing on what I'm up to and feeling good about it. Thus, confidence.

2. I'm reading books and plays. Last year, I read approximately 1.5 books in total. In the past three weeks, I've read 4 books and 3 plays. As it turns out, I really love reading. I have this vague memory of loving to read for, you know, my entire life but reading my social media somehow started to take the place of reading. Oh and puzzles! You guys, doing puzzles is so fun. I like to call it "puzzling", as in "oh I'm just over here, not on facebook, puzzling away".

3. People are calling and writing to tell me things, to share things that are important to them, or invite me to do something. Without facebook, they can't just write on my wall or send me a message. Having to take actual time out of one's day to spend time communicating with people that matter to you is important. Making an effort in one's relationships matter. Facebook allowed me to be lazy about this, and in turn, made it okay for everyone else to contact me in the same manner. There's a real thrill in hearing someone call to tell me something exciting that's happening in their lives, and one that's missed when it comes via social media.

4. I'm using my computer way less. If you know me in real life, you know I've basically been attached to my laptop for the past full year. Apparently, there's some sort of connection for me with checking facebook and using my computer. Like checking my social media became my version of taking a break, except, as you probably know, that ain't no break. Also, without that pesky comparison, I don't feel a heightened sense of need to go accomplish yet another thing for that day. I can take an actual break, and go sit outside with one of those fancy books I like so much.

5. I'm more relaxed, happier, no longer feel lonely all the time, and am much more engaged in my own life and experiences. When something exciting would happen to me, even just a really cool day, I liked to share it on facebook. In a weird way, it allowed me to affirm that things really are moving forward and happening in my life. If I wrote it down, or other people acknowledged it by reading, liking or commenting on it, then it was real. Now I get to just enjoy the experiences of my life as I'm experiencing them. I decide what they mean and how I feel about them, and I don't necessarily weigh them as meaning something, but just something to enjoy. I take time to just be (again: books! who knew?) and relaxing doesn't mean I'm laying down while still working, it means I'm actually relaxing. I'm not having to see random news stories, political opinions, or scary images that would be all over my newsfeed so my stress level stays lower. I'm happier in general but removing facebook has upped that even more.

To be fair, I did not delete facebook, but deactivated it. This means I can return at any time and it will be as though I never left, all things exactly as they were. FB is straight up creepy when you leave it. First, you have to tell them why, then they send you five photos of friends, noting that "Katie" will really miss you on facebook, and so on. Then they tell you roughly 60 times that you can come back at any time. Then they send emails. I'm like, "facebook, I get it, you don't want me to go, but I really need a little time apart".

Due to work obligations, I needed to be able to access two pages. I created a work account, using a different email and different last name, yet when I logged on to that account, my entire newsfeed was filled with posts from friends on my now deactivated account. People who I was not 'friends' with on this account (I have zero friends on it) and would not know their information was showing up on my newsfeed. CREEPY! Eek.

I will be re-activating my account at some point. I like to have it for industry connections and opportunities, not to mention the fact that I run my own business and social media accounts for other people. In short, I currently do have a need for the networking opportunities, however I do not "need" it. And neither do you. When I return, I plan to keep my work account active and use that during the week, only using my personal account once a week. Will I be able to do it? Who knows, but I hope.

What about you? Would you ever leave The Book? Do you think any of these changes would happen in your life? Share please :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mustard Seed Sessions: PORTRAITS FOR PITS

I fell in love with Portraits for Pits on instagram recently. After a quick exchange of a few emails, I also fell head over heels for the couple that started it (and their sweet pup, Olly, of course). Steve and Evie make amazing portraits of dogs (and cats) based off of photos sent from loving owners. They offer digital or printed prints and donate 10% to BADRAP rescue, located near to them in the Bay Area of California. Aside from their amazing work to spread the good truth about pitbulls and help those in need, I love that they started this whole business from a simple idea to have a contest and give away several portraits. When we take action on an idea without worrying what will happen or how it will happen, but just take the action, amazing things happen. After reading their interview, make sure to check out their facebook page and tumblr.

Mustard Seed Co: What's a day in your life like? 

Portraits For Pits: Our days start with breakfast and coffee. When you take four years of art school, you learn to love your coffee. We spend most of the day painting digitally at our laptop computers. Sometimes we paint at home and sometimes we go out and work elsewhere. We can be found working on a range of things from pet portraits for Portraits for Pits, to a variety of other freelance and personal projects that we happen upon. 

We have a 5 year old, black-and-white pit bull named Ollydog (aka Olly / Oliver / Smally / PrinceOlly / Mr.Olly / AllsBalls / OllyBally/ WiggleButt / PoopFace / GoopGoop / SmooshFace / TheBaby / WrinkleFace / SealDog / WhaleBaby / NakedOrca etc.). We found Olly almost three years ago on Mount Baldy in Los Angeles just after a snow storm. He was standing in the middle of the road, skin and bones, clearly wondering whether we would stop to help him. We lured him towards us with some left over french fries and found that he was wearing a collar with the brand name "Ollydog", but no tags. The park ranger told us that people dump their dogs up there in the wilderness all of the time. We left our number just in case anyone lost him, but no one ever called. Olly is ours until the end of his days and a true daddy's boy. 

MSC: What prompted your business?

PFP: We both love Olly and pit bulls in general. Like many, we despise the negative stigma that people have shamelessly branded on pit bulls and other bully breeds like them. Portraits for Pits started as Steve's idea to host an Instagram contest where people could post and hashtag a picture of their pit bull or pit-mix along with a description of their dog's loving disposition or amazing rescue story. Steve and I each painted a series of 10 free portraits for those chosen from the contest entries. This contest was to raise positive awareness about the true nature of pit bulls, but there was a lot of interest and it only made sense to continue with it and donate some of the profits. We of course make portraits for all breeds and cats too with donations going to non-profit bully rescues, Bad Rap being our personal choice. We also continue to share the stories of these dogs so that anyone who views the portraits can not only learn more about their individual personalities and backgrounds, but discover that pit bulls are just as loving and good as any other dog or cat for that matter. We want to be part of the movement that shatters negative stereotypes against these dogs and we want to see an end to BSL (breed specific legislation).

MSC: Is your business/art your full time job? If not, what else do you do? If yes, how long were you doing it before it became full time?

PFP: Portraits for Pits is currently a part-time gig and only 12 weeks old according to our Instagram feed. We currently operate through word-of-mouth, but hope for it to keep growing and see where this takes us. We tend to stay busy either working on other freelance/illustration projects or just our own personal work.

MSC: What would you tell your 20-year old self? 

PFP: Well, haha, I'm 25 and Steve is 24 so we have not come too far from 20 just yet and still have a lot to learn and discover.

MSC: What's the worst job you've ever had?

PFP: I have worked a lot in retail and it's just not for me. Steve worked at a pizza place through college and liked it aside from cleaning the restroom after kids parties. I don't know if you've seen that scene from Daddy Daycare, but yeah, that.

check out their Ollydog above, posing with some recent portraits!

MSC: What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

PFP: Beauty and knowledge fades, but character is long lasting

MSC: What's the hardest part about pursuing a "non-traditional" career? The best part?

PFP: A lot of people will question you and won't really get it. On the flip side, you're probably a lot happier than those people.

MSC: What inspires you?

PFP: Artistically, we each get a healthy dose of fresh art from the blogs we subscribe to. Both of us went to school studying Visual Development for the entertainment industry such as games and film. Because of that, we "follow" a lot of designers working at places like Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks as well as independent illustrators all over the world. We also love anything vintage. Steve can't get enough of 60's advertisement illustrations right now. Mostly we just love to see people doing their own thing. It's always nice for us to see people who paint all day for a living, go home and keep painting. This is not just a job, but a passion.

Thank you so much, Steve, Evie and Olly! Remember to check out their amazing art and purchase one for your own pup.