Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creating... Because I Can...

I have been thinking a lot lately about art and business in general.  I know several local artists who are very successful selling their work and are able to have it be their livelihood.  I know several who want to be in that category.  I watch them work hard to grow their skills, stretch their boundaries and get the word out to their market.  I know they put in far more hours than I see and that it is a labor of love for them.  It is not easy to be an artist and sell your work. 

I would love for making art to be a good livelihood for me.  But it is not a requirement for me.  It is a requirement for me to create and have art in my life in lots of different ways.  I know that my business does not pay the bills and that I probably need to step up my marketing game if I want it to do that.  However, I also know that it is more important to me that I enjoy the creative process and do the business "stuff" in my own way that fits me. 

I might not do many shows this year and then again I might decide to do a whole bunch of them.  I go with my gut on shows and events.  There are some I will always do because I love the people who set them up and the people that show up there.  A lot of my repeat customers find me at these events and I truly enjoy seeing them there.  I never do a show or an event just for the sales. (If I never sell anything at a show or event, I still enjoy it - the people especially - and look at it as a way to connect with people.)  It is really transparent to me when I see someone there just for the sales and I tend not to buy from them, even if I love what they have.  I need to feel some kind of a connection from people when I buy something at an event or show.  I am sure that I am not alone in needing that.

I create because I can and feel driven to create.  I may never make a lot of money selling what I create but that is not my goal.  My goal is to create something I love and something another person will fall in love with hopefully.  I feel rich being able to create - having the funds to get the supplies I need, a place to create, and a network of other creative people that support me when I feel not so great about where I am or something I have made. 

If I was told not to create anymore, I don't think I would live very well.  These ideas have to get out and breathe.  I crave the creative process and all the shiny (and not so shiny) things I use to create art.  I need to see an idea that was in my head be made real.  Yep, I am driven to create.  I know lots of people that are and am so glad I get to watch their creative process.

If there is something you do just because you can and it brings you joy, keep doing it.  Don't let anyone tell you that you have to do it for any other reason or purpose.  It is really easy to get bogged down by expectations others have.  Do yours.  Stick with it.  Because you can.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


 *This post is not so much about my work or art as it is my life in general.  I will write about my work and art, of course, but sometimes I feel like writing about things outside of my business. I do hope you will read on.*

Changes are good.  I love them when they work to make something better.  I look forward to the ones that fix something that has been driving me crazy. The ones I dread make something good no longer good anymore.  They suck the joy out of change.

Change is a constant - or so the saying goes.  And to a degree it is.  Something is always moving us in some direction.  Whether we love it or hate it is up to us.  I choose to love many of the changes in my life.  There are those that just make me crazy - like social media sites changing something nice to something complicated or exclusive - but I weather those as part of life too.  

This past year I changed a lot .  I got divorced and learned how much it takes to do that (on so many levels).  I changed how many stores I  am in because it was time to just do that.  I had my daughter move back in to my home.  16 year old daughters change your world a lot!  I welcome that change!  I moved into the world of iPhones instead of sticking with a simple phone, discovering the things I could get done away from my computer.  In other parts of my life, I changed in ways I cannot put into words accurately.

Now that the divorce has been final for awhile, I finally changed my name and took back my maiden name.  It will be interesting to see how many times I sign Luedtke instead of Brown. I spent almost 13 years as Julie Luedtke.  First though I have to get that last name changed on so many things.  (Probably why some people choose not to do so.) It is a lot!!!  I need a list to make sure I get them all.  

So far, I have changed it here, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. There is the bank, insurance, vehicle registration, drivers license, and I am sure I have forgotten something.  Changing my name in all these places drives me a little crazy because each one is different in process.  (Did you know if you are divorced you might need a CERTIFIED copy of your divorce decree?  I did not. Social Security name change #1 was a fail because I did not.). 

It also makes me ask if I really want it.  I always come back to yes.  I used to think I would always be Julie Luedtke, even if divorced because a name does not define me.  But things change and it happened that a change of name was in order.  So tonight as I blog, I also find all the places my name is and hope to get them changed.  

Why did I change it back?  Simply put, I needed to reclaim who I was.  While a name does not define me,  there is a lot that gets attached to a name.  Some things you want, some not so much.  In my case, I needed a fresh start.  So Julie Brown it is again.  (Downtown Julie Brown to some artist friends...)  How a word can kick start a fresh start I may never understand but I totally appreciate that it does.

I am looking at trying some new things in my business too.  Change is not isolated in my life.  (I know people who do one change at a time.  I just jump in all at once and wonder how I thought that would work from time to time.). I will be checking out a new place to sell my work locally very soon and am excited about it.  Let's hope I introduce myself with the correct name.  ;)

As you experience changes in your life, I hope you will always look for the good in them and find ways to weather the less than lovely changes. Changes bring so many good things when you look for them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Oh the journeys life brings us...  It feels like I have been on a rather fantastic journey lately.  One where I don't always get to the computer to update my Facebook page, website, Pinterest, Google+ and this blog very often.  There are pictures on my camera that need to be downloaded and edited.  The technological part of this journey is not a very big one apparently.  (Once I get a few more things done, I will be doing those updates.  I hate to leave things hanging on the TO DO list.) 

I have enjoyed this journey and found some really creative and unique souls along the way.  I have found some art that I just have to follow now because I want to see where it goes for the artist.  I have found some good inspiration on this journey.  I have found a new focus of sorts on this journey.  It is still art and jewelry but there is a twist to it now that I want to test out.   This journey brought some excitement to the areas I was kind of stuck in at the time it started.  Fresh air is a good thing indeed.

This is the kind of journey where you ask yourself questions about life in general, your path in it, and what you really think about it all.  If you have ever been at this point, you know what I am trying to put into words is really difficult to describe accurately.  I have really stopped, stepped back a few steps and looked at where I have been and where I am now.  And asked that super hard question, "What do I want for the future?  Where am I heading?"

Now, I am a live-in-the-moment, don't-worry-about-the-future kind of person in general.  People ask me where I see myself in 5 years and I say "Happy."  They ask for details and I never seem to have them.  I just have a general idea of what I like and the range of things I can accept.  So some may call me flaky...  I can live with that.  I just know that I WILL be happy and doing something I love to do.  And that is enough for me. 

So stopping to go a little bit further into details is kind of a big deal for me.  I still cannot tell you every detail but I know it will involve art and as many friends as I can include.  It will mean I need to delve into technological things more regularly and quit thinking of that as a chore so I will WANT to do it again.  I envision some kind of shop or studio space in my future now and am starting to build it in my mind.  I don't have any idea of the time frame I will need but don't worry about one either.  Happy is still going to be goal #1. 

I have stopped many times on this journey to say thank you to those who came across my path.  THAT is one part of this journey I am so grateful for having!  Giving gratitude has blessed me in so many ways, many of them surprising.  I thank YOU right now for reading this post and supporting me that way.  Lots of little and big things to be thankful for right now!

Whatever journey you are on, I hope it is a good one full of good people and things along the way.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, whatever they may be, and that you build some awesome memories with those you love.  Thank you for being part of my journey!  It has been a really great one because of you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time... my how you fly!!!

Oh my!  How did it get to be soooo long since I last blogged???  What happened to my calendar?  How did it get to be almost October???

It has been a busy summer and now fall is rolling along just as busy.  I loved doing the Iowa State Fair!  I was sad to leave at the end of my 3 days there as part of the Art Under the Tent exhibit.  I truly enjoy meeting all the artists and people that go through the fair.  Every event is a chance to meet new people and connect with them in lots of ways. 

This event season has me at a couple of regular events and some new ones.  Click here to be taken to the Calendar tab of my website.  If you prefer Facebook, click here for that calendar.  I will be updating some of them as information comes to me about them.  I look forward to seeing you there if you get the chance to stop out at one of them.

I always debate about which events to do and rely on my gut instincts to tell me which way to go.  There are always many out there to choose from and I like to try new ones when the time is right.  Lately I have decided that it is time to go to some events and check out how they are set up, see what works for the people at them, and see what I should incorporate into my upcoming events.  It seems kind of silly to just run to events all the time and never attend any other events.  I feel like I am missing something by not taking the time to just attend and see what is out there.

I went to the Des Moines Renaissance Faire on the last weekend it was open.  It was pirate themed that weekend.  (Great fun for the pirate lovers in your life!)  I saw so many cool things there.  It is intriguing to go to an event that is based on a very specific theme.  The costumes are awesome!  And those that act totally in character the whole time are very entertaining.  I came home with some art and crystals of course. 

But more than that, I came home with some ideas of how to set things up in the future.  I am ready to re-vamp how I set up at shows.  Some things are not really very easily changed nor should they be.  They work they way they should.  Some things, though, should be played with a bit.  It is overdue for those changes to be made.  I am excited to give it a try and see how it works for me!!!

Did you go to any fun events recently?  I would love to hear about them!  I always like hearing about events in other places. 

I hope time is flying the right way for you and that you are taking the time to enjoy the good things in your life!  Until the next adventure in blogging, love and light to all of you!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

On Festivals and Shows....

Yesterday, I spent the day at the Des Moines Art Festival in Des Moines, IA as a visitor.  I went several years ago when my youngest daughter had a piece of art in the show after her elementary art teacher submitted it.  I was very proud of my 5th grader and find myself thinking about the moment when I saw her watercolor painting, took her picture next to it.  I remember it like it was yesterday really.

That year, I wandered around by myself.  My daughter went home with her dad and his wife after the awards were handed out.  I wanted to see what was there.  I lived 2 hours away and never really made it to the festival in the past.  We seemed to always be camping or doing other family things on that weekend.  I spent most of my time in the Emerging Artists area.  I came home with a raku fired bowl with this gorgeous copper color created by a student at ISU.  I saw so much cool stuff, so much thought-provoking stuff, so much art that intrigued me and made me want to try some new things.

I had not gone until this year for a variety of reasons.  I seemed to be busy that weekend with something else.  I had also heard about the process to get into this particular festival.  It was not good what I heard.  I have very talented friends who SHOULD have been able to get a spot to show their incredible body of work.  They did not get in though and when it was explained why, I was not sure I wanted to support that process by attending the festival.  The more I heard about the inner workings, the less interested I was in attending.

I still think their decision process is flawed and a lot of local talent gets cut out because it does not fit a formula, an easily labeled category.  Those "messy" or "eclectic" artists interest me the most.  I thrive on variety and really hate being easily labeled or placed into a formula.  I understand where the decision-makers might be coming from but I don't have to like it.

This year, though, after much thought about supporting something that seems elitist to me, I decided to go to the festival with the same daughter that had a piece of art in the festival years ago.  She is now a junior in high school and loves art.  She is eclectic much like her mother and thrives even more on variety.  She is a perfectionist when it comes to painting and frets over little details.  She is fully invested in her artwork.  I wanted her to see some art she might not normally see.

I decided to overlook the labels and boxes those that run the festival put in place and decided instead to focus on the art and the artists.  Isn't that what should really matter?  You bet!  So I went to support artists, talk to them, learn how they create what they create, where they get their ideas and see something out of the norm.  There was some incredibly powerful work based around the idea of faith and religion that just blew me away as well as some technically beautiful work in all forms of media.  There was some fun and whimsical art as well that really used humor just right.  I discovered there were a few more local artists than seemed to be advertised.  (Not sure why the media spoke to the out-of-state artists so much but they missed some kick ass local artists.  They did interview one emerging artist that was local and that was good to see.  I would like to see them cover more of them in the future.) 

I kept analyzing the booths, breaking down the different details especially in the jewelry booths.  I was checking out displays, observing how they priced their work and set up the areas people had to walk in and out.  There is a small amount of real estate and you have a lot to take into consideration.  I noticed who had cool walls that stood out versus the plain white walls.  One artist even brought in flooring to make it easier on her legs and back after the long days at the festival.  I have come to the conclusion that it takes quite an investment to have a good booth that will make it through the decision process, something I don't have right now.

I also came to the conclusion that this is just not the scene for the work I do right now.  Even if I had the tent and the proper booth set up, I would not likely pass the rest of the standards.  I love variety too much and could not just focus on one style or line to show.  I am not specialized yet and may never be specialized like I observed today.  And you know what? I am totally okay with that.  I can go to the festival and others like it, support the artists with my attendance and sales when I can afford to buy their work, and let them know I truly value their work.  As an artist who does events, I know how important it is to hear that your work has some kind of impact on a person.  I wanted my daughter to see that those conversations with artists are really great things, to be be brave and ask artists about their work when she saw something that made her wonder.  (She did get brave.  Took a little nudging but she got comfortable with it after awhile...)

There is one other reason I wanted to go to the festival.  An artist friend put on his Facebook page that he was going down to support a creative partner of his and would be there all day.  He would appreciate anyone who would bring Red Bull to them since they were there from 7:45 am until 10 pm. (I did not bring any Red Bull but another mutual fried did earlier.)  They are an amazing support network and creative team.  (They have a company together and create graphic novels.)  I have wanted to meet this person face-to-face for awhile since I admire what he does and his drive to create so I made it a point to get to the Emerging Artists area and find him.

What a great feeling it is when you meet someone like that!  Just another reason I like meeting artists and picking their brains.....  We seem to be open to meeting people and enjoy the variety of personalities in this world.  (I won't say I love everyone because I am human after all but I will say that I am a very open person, willing to give just about anyone a fair shake.)  He is such a positive, funny, appreciative, and driven person that I just had to meet him in person. So glad I made the time to do that!

When you go to an art festival or check out some art at an event, take time to enjoy it.  Ask questions about the work.  Let the artist know what you enjoy.  There are lots of things we hear that can drive us crazy like "I can make that." or "That seems like a high price.  Would you take $XXX (big drop in price)?" or "I only pay $X for stuff like that." Some of us have nice answers for things like that and some of us come back a bit more aggressively but when someone is having a genuine conversation with us, we are just as genuine back.  I loved the conversations I had with the artists I spoke to today.  I really appreciated them taking time to talk to me about their work.

Not every festival or event is for every artist and that is just fine with me.  But supporting art and artists is for everyone.  I hope that you take some time to enjoy a festival or two on a regular basis, whatever that is for you.  You just never know what you will find.  There is some incredible stuff out there just waiting to be found by YOU!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Revamping... an on-going process

I think I am always re-vamping something or maybe I am just thinking about all my options all of the time.  I have re-vamped this blog just today after reading and responding to a Facebook post by Melbe Creations.  (You can also find her here.)  She was talking about SEO and including links on your blog.  (There is ALWAYS something to be done it seems to make SEO better.) SEO for those unfamiliar with those letters stand for Search Engine Optimization.  I would love to add an icon to the links but have not figured out how to do that quite yet.  (But you know I will be thinking about it a lot now....)

This is an open invitation for you to send me links to your sites and pages so that I can perhaps give you a boost by including them in my Link List (found on the right hand side of my blog).  I have been so blessed to have been supported by so many people that paying it forward is extremely important to me.  You can send it in the contact me section of my blog.  (Yes, I added that too.)  I will probably figure out a few more ways to re-vamp this blog but for today, I will say I have made good progress.

I am also re-vamping how I do events and displays constantly.  It seems that there is a formula that works well but I never want to settle.  So I play with it a little bit and watch how others set up their booths and tables.  I take lots of mental notes.  I already have some ideas for my booth at the Iowa State Fair this summer.  (Is there an off switch for my brain????)

I re-vamp my web-site from time to time and keep updating my albums as I make new items.  It is important to keep them current but I also know that if I wait too long in between updates I will just plain forget to do them.  Lists help but even a list can get lost, right? 

My ideas and styles are always evolving and I tend to follow my gut a lot.  I might get inspiration from what is considered "in season" but most of the time my ideas come from a direct reaction to something I have seen or touched.  Ideas have been known to pop into my head at the most random of moments and I have to make note of them or they get lost.  I am not a sketcher by nature but if it helps me remember the idea, you bet I sketch it out.  I am pretty eclectic in general and I think that shows in my work.  Re-vamping is just part of my process, as I think it is with any creative person.

The one thing that I never re-vamp is my passion and love of all things art, whether you wear it or look at it.  (The background I chose for this blog is a watercolor background, one of my most favorite mediums to use.)  I believe that you should always be surrounded by something you are passionate about and love deeply.  It makes you smile and that is never, ever a bad thing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

In the Right Place

I was driving home from work today and it hit me that I am in a highly creative and encouraging phase of my life.  I have always been creative.  I have always encouraged others.  That is part of my creativity really - encouraging others to be creative, take risks, dream big, ask "What if?" and "Why not?"   It feels especially creative and encouraging right now to me.   I am not sure why exactly but it feels so very right.  I am going to go with it.

18 years ago, i was preparing to graduate from college with my Bachelor of Art Education from Drake University.  I had been exposed to some incredibly talented and creative people.  I had been encouraged to push boundaries, ask questions, and pay it forward.  I was ready to go out and encourage others to do the same.  I had a daughter who had been born March 29th.  I knew touching others' lives was nothing to be taken lightly and was excited to get into a classroom.

I was a creative teacher, one who paid attention to individual needs and strengths.  I am still proud to say I am not a cookie-cutter individual or teacher.  Individuality is key to my creativity and I highly encourage it in others, even when I just have a conversation with someone.  You never know when something you say will hit the right spot and motivate them to do something really incredible so it is my opinion that one should always be positive, encouraging, open and creative.

We all have unique talents that get called into action in different phases of our lives.  We don't always know those talents are there and they sometimes surprise us.  I have been surprised by the intensity I have when it comes to encouraging others to be creative and make their own mark on this world.  Sure, I always encouraged it and always will but the INTENSITY is so strong right now.  The timing for this is right too.

When I was younger, I was so busy trying to get everything done at home and in my classroom.  I was so busy trying to be creative for different reasons that did not always resonate with me.  I was not ready to handle this kind of intense creativity and encouragement.  I was too busy and I was too scattered.  But that has changed as the years pass.  I am glad I am ready for this phase of my life!

I don't always have time to MAKE new jewelry or art but I always have time to dream up ideas, tune into the world and notice tiny details that come out in a creation down the road, and to really appreciate the talent of the people I surround myself with regularly.  Making will happen.  It always does.  But AWARENESS.... that does not always happen.  Being aware makes creativity that much more intense.

A side effect of that is the intensity I have for encouraging others to be creative and go for the big dreams, whether they are art related or not.  I pay it forward as often as possible these days because I think it is important to help others.  Someone has helped me and I need to pay the universe back for those nudges that have led to my successes.  It has now grown to include helping friends  and other artists with fundraising drives, working on "marketing" strategies, and getting more resources when they need them.

(one of those friends said that I had to set up my own fundraising drive if I was going to help him, that I could not just do something for him but HAD to do something for myself and my business too.  And as soon as this divorce is done, I know what I am going to pursue.  I am excited for it!!!)

The more I help this friend, the more excited I am for him and for the things I am learning.  I am forced to be creative to work my way through these processes and I am intensely interested in it.  I want so much for it to be a huge success because I know what great things will come from it for my friend.  All of this feeds my creativity even more.  I start thinking of more art creations, jewelry designs and what I need to make those things a reality.  It is a great cycle and I look forward to what comes from it!

I am right where I need to be and the right people are in my life for great things to happen.  This creativity COMPLETELY resonates with me and it is incredible!  I hope that you will get to have that very same feeling yourself.  Encourage others to go after their dreams and make their mark on the world.  This world needs that.