Monday 19 May 2014

Like a blog hop, only slower. [Which, considering there's hopping involved, might actually be safer].

Hello you.

A few weeks back Sandie from Itchifingers asked if she could 'tag' me to take part in this blog-hop-with-a-difference and, while I'm here now  'Hi, how's things?!' ... truth be told, I very nearly ran screaming ...

You see, the thing is, once you're 'tagged' you have to go on to tag three new people who, in turn, will go on to blog their own 'hop' post the week after yours. [You can read Sandie's post from last week here.]

And ... well ... approaching others ... asking them to play with you ... opening yourself up to rejection ... well that can be a little bit scary [insert all your own flashbacks to your schooldays here].

But, sometimes, especially when you're a freelancer and small business owner [an owner of a small business I mean. Not that I'm a business owner who's small. Although ... at 5ft2in I'm that too] ... sometimes you have to just have to put on your big brave pants and make the most of whatever opportunities lay before you. And join in. Take part.  Be seen. And ask others to play!

So that's what I'm doing today.

I'll introduce you to my 3 lovely hoppers at the end but in the meantime ... here are my responses to the questions I was set. And, as you'll discover ... me sitting here talking about myself was clearly not one of the issues I had!


1. What are you currently working on?
I currently divide my working time between creating craft magazine projects and creativity kits for my Etsy shop. But I thought I'd take this opportunity to share something a little more personal and non-work-related: my Snipped Tales.  [I've mentioned them previously in this earlier post if you'd like to see another example].

Snipped Tales are the short short-stories I make [to say I 'write' them doesn't quite fit with how they're created.] They're micro stories, sometimes verging on poems, and they're made entirely from words and phrases I've snipped from old books:
And they're something I always turn to to wind down after I've put my other commitments to bed for the working day. Because these aren't work. They're just for me. For now at least ...

I can't believe I'm going to say this out loud but ... I'd love to have a full range of Snipped Tales on offer to others as art prints, greeting cards, notebook covers ... even a book ...

But when I'm working on them I try to put all that out of my mind. I don't want to try to second-guess what other people would like .. I just try to build the best story I can with the words in front of me.

Stories like this one ...
As I mentioned, I don't really feel like I 'write' these stories ... it often feels more like I'm simply setting them free. Like they're been trapped inside other pages all their lives ... and then I release them.

But if I've made it sound like I find the process of 'finding' these tales easy ... then you need to ask James what kind of mood I'm in when I've been sitting staring at a box full of words for three nights in a row without having made a single paragraph!
That said ... when it all comes together [say, on the fourth night of staring at all those pages!] and I've unearthed a new tale which, despite being made from disparate parts now has its own logic; makes its own sense; lives in its own new world ... well ... that's one of the best feelings there is.

Do you ever make something which, a few months down the line, you look back at and realise - that despite your own inner critic, or your self-imposed high standards - you actually like the thing? And you give yourself credit for a job well done?

It's a nice feeling isn't it?

Well that's how I feel about my Snipped Tales!

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
If there's a modest yet honest way to answer this question I'm not sure I've found it! But the first thing I thought of when I read this question was the time I had some free business coaching a few years back and one of the first things the coach asked was about my USP; what was my unique selling point?

And I replied [hey, she asked. I had to say something]: "Well, I'm kind of  ... funny."

And while I really do hope that that's the case ...  the thing with that was ...

...  if you feel like you have to tell someone you're funny ... then maybe you're not as funny as you thought! 
Yet whether it's here on my blog, on social media, in my product descriptions or in my emails [it can happen face-to-face too but I'll really have to get to know you first! I'm far better with the written word! And thus a career in stand-up comedy has never been an option! ;-)]

... I really do like to introduce humour and general lightness to the majority of the work I do. Unless I want something to be poignant ... but even then ... those feelings aren't too far apart ...

But - to answer the question - does it make me different to others in my genre? Then I'd have to say probably not. I don't have the monopoly on funny!

There's no way that anything I do [from card making to kit making and my collage work and Snipped Tales in between] is 100% stand-alone different. But I don't really allow that to worry me.

The only definite way in which my work is truly different to that of others is in that I do my work and others do theirs.

One great thing about being my own product designer, brand developer and social media manager is that I get to present everything I do in my own style. In my own words. 

Which ultimately means it must end up slightly 'different' to how someone else works. Because I don't do all that for anyone else!

3. Why do you write/create what you do?
Thinking about how to answer this I've just come to a startlingly clear conclusion - the need to earn money aside -  there are just two reasons I make, write, share the kind of things I do:
  1. To please myself and ...
  2. To help others.
And that's it! Because ...

1. I make what I want to make. What makes me happy. I don't ask permission. I try not to get too caught up in trends or design 'rules'. And if that means sitting in my pyjamas cutting up old books, then so be it!

And it extends to the kits I make for other people to use too; I want to stay true to the kind of creativity/supplies/projects I enjoy, and then pass it on to someone else, without changing it too much. Because if I'm passionate about it first, there's better chance someone else will be somewhere down the line!

2. And secondly, I get huge satisfaction from encouraging others to try something new, to surprise themselves, to dare to prove their inner critic wrong!

I know, from many an hour spent in front of PowerPoint presentations on the subject, that it's what corporations call 'removing barriers to learning'. In my non-crafty life my jobs have included being Learning Mentor to primary school children and an assistant to University students with disabilities ... so, you might be able to guess that supporting others is just what makes me tick.

Which is why I'm always trying to find ways to combine that side of myself with my creative life.

I'd love to think of my blog as a safe space for anyone who feels nervous about their creativity or any of the things I write tutorials and informative blog series about [eg. Push-Up Bra Blogging, of Tips for the Twitter Curious]. And it's why I try to be open and honest about my own fears and hang-ups [and why, in the introduction to this post - all the way back up there ^^ - I mentioned how I'd initially approached this blog hop with apprehension].

If by being a little bit exposed [... don't!] I can help someone else realise they're not alone and they're not such a freak after all ... then I'll consider that a good day's work!  ;-)

And finally ....

4. How does your writing/creating process work?
When I was around 15 my art teacher told my parents that he could picture me, as an adult, working away in an artist's garret somewhere.

My parents laughed.

Not in his face. But afterwards.

You see the thing is [and, judging by my parents' reactions, the thing has always been] that I tend not to suffer unduly for my art.

Which is not to say I'm not dedicated, or I don't work hard [I do ... ask my happy editors and customers!] it's just that I'm not someone who can stay up all night working on deadlines or developing new ideas. [Again, my parents say I'm the only child they'd ever heard asking to go - rather than trying to delay having to go - to bed!]

Where were we? Oh yes, my creative process ...

... so, yes, during my working week days:
  •  I sit at my desk either working on commissions following a brief set by an editor; [OK, maybe this is the garret my teacher was talking about!???]
  • OR I compile a new craft kit from my collection of 'stuff, photograph it, write a description and add it to my shop;
  • OR I prepare blog posts to raise the profile of my kits etc.  
  • And I keep in touch with customers and blog readers on my Facebook page.
And I try not to do any paid work on the weekends, or on a night if I can help it. After all that's when I get to chop up my own paper for my own creative ends!
That's me working on my Snipped Tales last weekend. You're lucky [or else I am] that I'm actually wearing proper clothes here. I'm usually in much more stretchy clothing when I'm settling in for a night of TV and snipping!

So yes ... I love my various creative working outlets and when I'm working on each of them, I put all my efforts into the task at hand. It's just that far from modelling myself on the idea of the tortured artist or the small-business owner working themselves into the ground ...

... I just seem to produce better work when I'm happy, comfortable, awake ... and wearing something with an elasticated waistband.

[I can't wait to see that sentence turned into one of those uplifting motivational quotes people share on Pinterest!]

Julie x

Thank you for visiting me and reading through my words today but ...

 ... like Wonderland's White Rabbit [or someone standing on a cream carpet who's just realised they've got something nasty stuck to the bottom of their shoe ...]

... it's time you hopped on elsewhere my friend ...

Below are links to the three inspiringly creative ladies who [thank goodness!!!! Can you imagine how lonely I'd feel if no one agreed???] accepted my invitation to keep this blog-tour touring next week.

For now you should:
  • go visit them - you'll be glad you did!
  • maybe add them to your regular blog reading list ...
  • and then make sure to head back and visit them when it's their turn to answer questions next Monday, May 26th 2014.
I'll let them introduce themselves in their own words ....

Katie Licht is ...
...  a collage artist, stay at home mom, former graphic designer, proud Midwesterner, amateur roller derby girl, and daily receiver of the mercies of Christ.

She is most inspired by cetaceans, eavesdropping, old paper, and cabernet sauvignon.

Vicky Trainor is ...
... a forty something floral obsessive. 

Vicky considers herself to be very lucky to work from a 'home studio' and very lucky to have a family who allow her to do so as she has taken ownership of what was the living room to her 1930's semi detached....'the parlour'....

This is now her work room that she affectionately calls 'The Linen Garden'....

Vicky’s blog shares her obsession, her 'floral love', her potterings of sorts, her wanderings, her hoardings, little scissor snippets of what is happening in her studio - a very cheerful place for you to visit once in a while.......a perfect little floral gathering...”

And last but not least ...

Kirsty Neale is ...

... is a freelance writer, designer and illustrator, living in London.

She is a columnist for PaperCraft Inspirations, and the author of two books, Hoop-La and Paperie, for David & Charles.


  1. Now that looks like a job for some VERY tightly closed windows :)

    A great read

  2. I am worried about "eat a small soft cake" ....who me never! Enjoyed the insight into your working world.

  3. You ARE funny - you didn't need to tell me !!! I was SO happy that Sandie had tagged you ... AND got a "Yes" because I knew your post would be a little bit quirky and a big bit fun!

  4. Loved this post Julie and thank you so much for agreeing to join in. I relate to so much of what you said (taking risks, putting yourself out there... all in a good cause).
    I love your Snippets - I have done similar for writing poetry. Magnetic poetry (words & phrases) or lines randomly taken from a book (page... line... ) you never always know where it is going but sometimes it writes itself and you just sit back in wonder. Love it!
    I think you do have your own creative style and stand out from others and your writing always makes me smile or laugh. Thank you SO much for saying YES - and I look forward to visiting those you have tagged.

  5. A wonderful read, Julie! And I just love your snipped tales. It's like found poetry! The second one 'Genetics' made me laugh out loud ( and at this end of the day, that' s a real plus for me!) and your third one just made me want to have it on my wall :). Your writing style and the sense of you which comes across communicates such a unique and original voice, and I always enjoy your posts. (I often read them more than once!)

  6. Le sigh . . . I do love your Tales so. The mismatched text and the way they look, almost as much as the words themselves.

    Steve would say 'I want to put them on a sandwich', which is apparently the highest praise a man from the north can offer. And I'm not sure a girl from just south of the middle can do much better.


  7. Your snippets
    find a home
    here... :)

    1. Not sure if you meant your canvas or your home .. but thank you! :-)

  8. Wow that was sooo interesting! I love the idea of the snipped tales. And honey, take it from me you ARE funny, I burst out laughing twice! I am trawling back through this very same blog hop as, having been contacted by endless people wanting to tag me (I make this point so you don't think I am a complete saddo) I have been completely unsuccessful in persuading anyone to play with me (cue violin strings). Like you my initial reaction was to run screaming and now I really wish I had. Actually that last statement is not quite true, because I decided that even if I couldn't progress the hop forward I could 're-tag' someone who had agreed to do it before. That way if anyone does follow the hop (and I'm beginning to think not many go past a week back or forward) it's still introducing ne people. Well that's my logic and I've had a fun evening browsing. And getting depressed about how good everyone's photography is. Great visit, thanks for sharing. Cindy

  9. Oh yes. Forgot to say, so I will be tagging you again!! Cindy
    (Don't worry, you don't have to do anything!! - just wanted you know in case you got a comment and couldn't understand the link!)


Thanks for leaving me a comment, asking me a question, sharing your own story or just randomly saying hello.