Category Archives: My Thoughts

Why I quit posting my daily paintings on social media

I began my 30-minute daily painting challenge in November of last year.

I realized I’d been putting my art making on a back burner and thought daily challenge would reinvigorate my practice.

(You can read more about my challenge in this blog post and this one.)

My new challenge did help me tremendously to develop  a habit to sit and paint every day. Once it became a habit, I’d feel uneasy if I hadn’t painted by mid-afternoon.

But, I was also getting really stressed out.

It wasn’t the act of painting that was stressful – for the most part, I looked forward to my painting time, and it was calming and relaxing – but, I began to pressure myself to create something my followers would “like” on social media.

I knew intellectually the daily creative practice was ultimately for me but would feel bad when I got fewer “likes.”

Rather than creating something I felt like creating, I began painting something I thought my followers would respond to better.

Rather than being playful and curious, I was carefully crafting works that were attractive and well put together.

And to do so in 30 minutes became so exhausting! It’s like creating a concept, writing your first draft, editing, and publishing an article all in 30 minutes. I was making so many micro-decisions while I painted, and that was not enjoyable at all.

Plus posting my artwork every day became a chore – not only did I spend 30+ minutes for prepping, painting, and clean up, but it took extra 30 minutes to take a decent photo, edit the image, write the captions and hashtags for Instagram, and schedule the post every day.

It was taking the time and energy away (not to mention my social media real estate) from the work I should’ve been focusing on, which is making products and promoting them to generate more income for my business.

So I decided to quit posting my paintings on social media after day 183.

This is the last painting I posted officially.

I still sit down to make something every day. But rather than focusing on finishing a presentable piece in 30 minutes, I might just make a quick 10-15 minute painting or take longer if I feel like it. Or I’d collage. Or draw with pen and markers.

It just depends on what I feel like making that day, and since I don’t have the pressure to share and get more “likes”, I’m more relaxed and free.

The practice was actually enjoyable again!

These are some of the art I made after I quit posting.

(I still do share the peek of it on my Instagram Stories every day. But since the images go away after 24 hours, and you don’t have the “like” counts, it’s a lot less pressure.)

I realized it was more important for me to exercise my creative muscle every day than to create something that looks good every day.

I did lose some followers as a result, and I hate backing out of my word – but, I allowed myself to quit  because it was no longer helping me to achieve my goal.

So far, not posting my work hasn’t stopped me from making art every day (I’m on day 213 as of the time of writing this article), and I call that a success!

Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind again in the future, and that’s OK, too.

When you set a goal, it’s important that you pay attention to the little voice inside of you and course correct when something doesn’t feel good to you any more.

There is absolutely no need for you to keep doing something that doesn’t bring you joy or bring you closer to your goal! Your work will suffer in a long run, and you’ll eventually get burned out.

And, burnout, my friend, is the worst enemy of an artist.

We all suffer from the “like” addiction, and recognizing how it hinders you from expressing your authentic creative voice is the first step in overcoming that addiction. 

Now, go do your thing 🙂 The world needs you to keep creating the things only you can!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

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What I did during my sabbatical week

Hello! I hope you’re enjoying a nice Memorial Day weekend!

I’m not doing anything special… 😀 Since I quit my regular job almost 2 yeas ago (!!), I don’t keep track of holidays very much any more, except for the big winter holidays. Dave is out of town this weekend (he comes home later tonight, thou) so I’m just enjoying peace and quiet.

Speaking of peace and quiet (notice my smooth segue? :D), I was on my mini sabbatical a couple of weeks ago.

(If you don’t know what my mini sabbaticals are, I’ve been taking every 7th week off since October 2015 to rest and recharge. You can read more about it here.)

I’d been feeling tired, unmotivated, and low-energy for a couple of weeks leading up to it and knew I really needed that time off.

I had a couple of work stuff and chores to take care of but didn’t plan too much else. Had dinner with a couple of friends but otherwise enjoyed my alone time, which is super important for an introvert like me! (Dave was out of town for work for most of the week.)

On Tuesday, I went to my pottery class. I had a few underglazed mugs that came out of the kiln so I glazed them.

I find glazing (putting the shiny coat once it’s fired once) to be the hardest part! I tend to lay it on too thick, I guess, and it tends to crack once it’s fired…:( I hope these mugs will turn out OK. (BTW, I talked about the joys and struggles of being a beginner on this blog post!)

On Thursday afternoon I block printed! My pottery instructor asked me to make a studio apron for her, so I’d been designing a new pottery-themed art for it.

Pottery tool block print ❤

It was more complicated than my usual design, and I loved how it came out! And she loved the apron 🙂

On Saturday, I vended at the Bastyr University Herb & Food Fair! We had such a gorgeous weather and had a great turnout!

This is my booth!

Shows are a lot of work, but most of the time it’s worth it! This fair had a nice laid-back vibe, and the shoppers were super nice 🙂

And lots of cute dogs, too!! <3<3<3

The show was more successful than I expected, which is always a plus 🙂

Although my sabbatical was a bit on a busy side, I was so energized and ready to go by the time Monday rolled around. I was so focused and productive.

It confirmed my belief again that taking a regular time off isn’t a luxury for me or my business – it’s a requirement for my success and happiness! 

If you’re curious about how I spend my sabbatical weeks, you can read my past sabbatical blog posts here!

Have a great week, my friend 🙂 Do more self-care!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

On being a beginner

I’ve been taking a pottery class at a local community college since January.

And, I LOVE it.

Growing up in Japan, I’ve always loved pottery and wanted to learn. My husband gave me the class for Christmas last year, and it’s turned out to be one of the best gifts yet!

Black poppy tiny dishes

First of all, I appreciate having a creative outlet that’s not related to my business.

When I’m playing with the clay in the pottery studio on Tuesdays, I’m there to enjoy myself and create whatever I feel like creating. It doesn’t matter if it looks wonky. I don’t have to wonder if it’s going to sell.

For a few hours, I can focus on the joy of simply creating for the sake of creating, which sadly, gets buried under a pile of business tasks in my day-to-day.

Tiny bowls. I use the ones with line drawings for nuts, chips, dips, etc.

When I’m making my pottery pieces, I feel like a total beginner. 

When I’m hand-building a cup, 95% of the time it flairs out and becomes a bowl. 2 out of 3 mugs I made has cracks where I attached the side to the bottom piece.

My tall cups are definitely not round when you look at them from the top, and it’s not level when you look at them from the side. None of my pieces are even in thickness.

More wonky bowls and cups!

I see the beautiful pieces my instructor and more seasoned students (some of the students have been in the class for 15+ years!!) make and get so inspired.

Some of them make stunning wheel-thrown bowls and cups while others make complicated and unique sculpture pieces. They’d come to the studio with a big bag stuffed with their own tools, brushes, and bottles of special glazes etc. (All I bring to the class is my brushes to paint underglazes on :D)

Throughout the quarter, we do a critique every time our pieces come out of the kiln.

Although I love all of my pieces, including the flaws and wonkiness, I feel a little embarrassed to see my pieces on the table among more sophisticated pieces other students had made. 

Being a beginner allows me to be humble and reminds me to be patient. It reminds me that only way to get better is to make less-than-great work many, many, many times.

Poster by Nikki Hampson

You may have seen this Ira Glass quote about imperfection. It’s a classic and such a good reminder for any creatives learning something new!

Being a beginner also allows me to be less precious with my work.

I don’t know what I’m doing, so I’m less afraid to make a mistake (or don’t know if I’m making a mistake…:D) It’s like I have a permission to be more experimental and playful, which I tend to forget when I’m doing my “work” work.

And, when I make something for myself purely for the joy of it, it often resonates well with my audience, too.

Cats & dog bowls. Underglazed and fired once.

This is another lesson for me – Sometimes I think too much about what other people may want from me when I create my illustration work, and I’m no longer listening to my intuition about what I want to create.

I have to remind myself that people can tell when I create something from the place of joy and delight, and that’s what speaks to them the most.

I’m continuing to take the class this quarter and can’t wait to make more wonky pottery pieces!

Fellow artists and makers – do you have a creative hobby that’s not related to your regular work? 

Tell me in the comment! 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

How do you make social justice part of your creative work?

Hi friend!

I wrote the following article on art and social justice for my newsletter a couple of weeks ago for Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. I got a lot of positive feedback from my subscribers and thought you might enjoy it!

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The other day, I was enjoying a lovely lunch with my lovely friend, Deann, at one of our favorite Vietnamese restaurants, Tamarind Tree, in Seattle’s International District.

Deann had the crispy Vietnamese crepe, and I ordered their lemongrass grilled tofu. We were catching up on our lives sipping our teas, talking, and listening. It was a late lunch, so the restaurant wasn’t super crowded or noisy.

And then she asked me how I make social justice part of my art practice. 

I paused – because #1, I got a tiny pepper flake stuck on my throat and had to cough for like 2 full minutes, and #2 it’s kind of a big question!

Before I became a full-time artist in 2015, I’d worked for an anti-violence social service organization for almost 15 years. Social justice was on my mind all. the. time.

In a way, I didn’t even have to explain what I did to make the world a better place. I’d tell people where I worked, and they’d automatically give me the concerned look and assume I was this selfless angelic person who was fighting evil day in and day out. (Which is partly true, but I also did other things like managing employees’ insurance :D)

Social justice is still very important to me, but without engaging in a tangible direct action every day, it was hard for me to explain how it was part of my creative work.

So after thinking about her question for a few minutes, I described my perspectives on how my value is incorporated in my daily work.

I believe art has the power to unite people no matter where they stand on various political or social issues. 

You see a beautiful painting, and your heart aches. Your favorite song about lost love comes on the radio, and you feel a lump in your throat. You read a sci-fi dystopian novel and feel physically ill from the awful things the heroine has to go through.

Art makes you feel. It reminds you that you are human. It can undermine the culture of division.

So that’s how I see my role as an artist in the social justice movement today: I create art to make you feel joy and happiness. I work hard to fill our world with more love, peace, and compassion. Through my art, I want to keep reminding you humanity is not doomed.

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I’m curious how you would answer this question. How do you make social justice part of your everyday? If you haven’t had a chance to reflect on this recently or ever, give it a try 🙂

Have a peaceful day, my friend.

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

2016 In Review: 3 Questions to Ask Yourself

I love Marie Forleo and her work!

I enjoy her Marie TV episodes and weekly newsletter because I get so much encouragement and inspirations from her around being an entrepreneur while being true to yourself.

(Plus I really appreciate her sense of humor :D)

I got this episode of Marie TV in my inbox right before the holidays, and it made me pause.

In this episode of Marie TV, she shares 3 important questions to ask yourself before making your new year’s resolution for 2017.

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution setter – I’m always working on some sort of goals, and goals change over time. So I don’t feel the need to make a resolution for the year, per se. But I found these questions insightful and thought you might benefit from it, too!

(I highly encourage you to watch the episode first if you want to do this exercise yourself. It’ll resonate more with you!)

OK, here are the 3 questions and my answers:

1. What’s one thing you did that you’re proud of?

I try to recognize small successes every day as it motivates me to keep moving forward – so when I think back on my accomplishments this past year, it’s hard to just choose one!

I had a successful holiday season, my business continues to grow, I made a total of 7 tutorial videos for Sakura of America, and started a daily painting challenge in November…

So, if I had to sum it up, I’m proud of doing something that scares me and pushing myself out of my comfort zone every day!

2. What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned?

Again, there are many to choose from… :D, but I’d have to say poor time management.

I know from experience everything takes longer than you think (like 3 x longer). I think I scheduled enough time to complete something but inevitably, it takes longer, or something else comes up that needs my attention so my original tasks get pushed back, which in turn, pushes everything else back.

This happens more often than I want to admit, and I always feel bad about myself when it happens. I get overly optimistic about how much I could get done and tend to pack too much into my day. And when it doesn’t happen, I end up stressing out about it 😦

I would’t feel too terrible if I make this mistake for a new task I’ve never done before, but I keep experiencing this cycle for things I’ve done many times before! (Like creating video tutorials.)

My logic is, well, I’ve done this before. –> I should be more efficient at this by now. –> It shouldn’t take too long. It kinda makes sense, but certain things can’t or shouldn’t be rushed, and I tend to take a long time to make a decision anyway.

So what I’m going to do differently would be to internalize the lesson and change my expectation around how much I can get done within a timeframe! And to identify where I can truly maximize the efficiency and create a process for it so I don’t waste time unnecessarily.

3. What’s one story you’re willing to let go of before the New Year?

This is the most powerful question for me, and my answer is: comparing myself with other artists on the internet and believing everyone else is doing better.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. Internet only shows a small part of our lives, and especially if you’re a working artist, you often only show the polished and highly curated works on social media and highlight our successes (heck, I do that!!).

We don’t share the crappy part of our life very often – maybe your relationships are falling apart, maybe your bank account is almost empty and you don’t know where the next check is coming from, or maybe you got nothing but rejection letters for the first 5 years of your career – and I’m not advocating for airing your dirty laundry on the internet for the sake of just venting. It’s often more appropriate to do so with your close friends and/or your therapist!

But it’s important to remember people’s lives are much more complex than what you see on the surface, and comparing yourself to the strangers on the internet is so damaging! And since when has that helped you reach your goals anyway??? 😀

I fall into this more often when I’m having self-doubt and feeling insecure about my work. And when I catch myself doing that, I try to be kind with myself and acknowledge that’s what’s happening. I try to give myself a moment to just feel those feelings and remind myself it’s ok to not be positive and happy all the time.

Here are a few things I do when I’m browsing the social media so I don’t fall into the comparison trap : 1) don’t pay attention to how many followers or “likes” other artists are getting, or for that matter, for myself, either. It’s a metric that’s good for something but doesn’t validate your worth as a person or an artist. 2) simply enjoy the beautiful work people put out and be curious about what makes their work so inspiring instead of wishing you could draw like them or your life would be so much better if your work looked more like your idol’s. Your creative life is most fulfilling when you stay true to your voice and create what makes you happy! Learn from others, sure, but keep being you 🙂 3) “like” their work and share encouraging comments with other artists! By lifting up others, my jealousy and insecurity usually go away.

And most importantly, I try to bring my focus on what progress I made to reach my goal today. If I did at least one thing to move my business forward, then I call it a success! It doesn’t matter what other people are doing or not doing. You’re the only one who lives 100% of your life, you know??

Hope these questions and answers inspired you! Share your answers in the comment! I’d love to know 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

30-minute daily painting challenge is ON!!

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The other day I posted this drawing on Instagram, and the cation read:

“Ok truth time – I haven’t drawn anything for 2 weeks. It’s a shame, I know. // I’ve been spending most of my time putting together my winter collection and other tasks, and you know how it goes. There is a lot of photoshopping, uploading, writing, posting, promoting, emailing, scheduling, packaging etc. etc. // Last night I finally doodled this while watching Netflix and it felt so nice. // I feel like I need to be intentionally creating work now more than ever. For myself and others who can use beauty and light in their lives.”

It was difficult to admit I hadn’t made any art (including doodling!) for two weeks!!! I mean, how can I call myself an artist If I don’t have a consistent creative practice? Isn’t the whole reason why I quit my day job to pursue my passion (=make art) full-time?

Right.

I get being an entrepreneurial artist means you need to have a strong business practice, and you don’t get to just make art all the time.

I’ve been focusing a lot on the business side of things because that’s where I had the least experience in, and I also enjoy the hustle of working on my business. But that doesn’t mean the only time I create art is when I’m designing new products or when “I have time” (well, look what that got me! Two weeks of not making art!!).

I had a wake-up call to me – in order for my business to grow, I need to nurture my creative practice more intentionally and put more time and energy into it. And business aside, I want to be a person who truly values creativity, and I want my action to align with my words. 

So, here is the deal. I decided to start a new 365 day painting challenge!

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My first painting was of our beautiful persimmons.

You may remember between April 2014 and April 2015, I did a daily drawing project called 365 Day Happiness is, where I made a drawing about happiness every day for 365 days.

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Happiness is Apple Cider. Isn’t that the truth?? Pen, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper, 2015.

That project helped me find and develop my own creative voice, and I became more confident as an artist. I also got many cool opportunities through the project, like being featured in one of Lisa Congdon‘s speeches and starting a partnership with Sakura of America.

This time around, I’m not gonna have a specific theme, but I’ll paint or draw something for 30 minutes every day (my big inspiration for this comes from August Wren, who is on her year 3 of daily painting!) and share it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

I’m excited to practice painting with gouache (i.e. opaque watercolor) and other media, and limiting it to 30 minutes a day makes it less overwhelming. What scares me the most about putting a time limit is sharing work I don’t think are great 😀 You know, because when 30 minutes is over, it’s over. I’m not gonna try to make it “perfect” before sharing it with my audience. No matter how much I hate it, it’s going to be shared! And that makes me feel SO vulnerable!! EEEEEK!

But, my goal is about showing up every day and not about making a masterpiece every day. 

Like Jennifer from August Wren says, I’m not gonna apologize or make an excuse for work I don’t think are great. I’ll just paint every day, share, and move on.

Doing a daily project like this is a really good practice in letting go. And the thing is, number 1, people probably don’t think it sucks as much as you do, and number 2, nobody’s gonna remember your post 5 minutes after they see it 😀 They’re just not as emotionally attached to your creations as you are! So it’s OK 🙂

I want to do this for at least one year but potentially longer. I know once it becomes a habit, it’s just gonna be something you do every day, and you’ll start to miss it if you don’t do it. Painting every day is an awesome thing to do anyway even if I decide to switch my career at some point in the future!

When I had the inspiration to start another 365 day project, I thought about starting it on January 1st. But there is no real reason to wait, is there? I was afraid I’d lose a momentum or come up with excuses not to start if I waited.

So I just started my daily painting challenge 2 weeks ago! And here is a couple more 🙂

This painting is about how I'm becoming appreciative of my body the way it is now <3
This painting is about how I’m becoming more appreciative of my body the way it is now ❤
My mild kimchi :D
My mild kimchi 😀

You can follow along on any social media I listed earlier although Instagram (@honeyberrystudios) is probably my favorite. Use the hashtag #yukosdailypainting to view my paintings so far!

Hope you enjoy! And feel free to join me in the daily painting challenge. I can use a company in this journey 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

How to Get Inspired by What You Eat

I love to eat. And I love to draw what I eat! Surprise!

One of the creative business podcasts I listen to is Seanwes podcast, and he said in one of the episodes that to grow an audience, you need to curate what you share.

He says if you’re an illustrator, don’t be posting a bunch of pictures of your lunch. Instead, you should be drawing it!

That advice stuck with me, and I only shared the drawings of what I ate on Honeyberry Studios’ social media accounts for a long time. (I do share a ton of food photos on my personal account, though!)

I noticed as I made more drawings of food, I became more connected with what I ate.

When you draw what you eat, you take the time to notice the details of what’s on your plate. The ingredients, steps you took to prepare them, the texture, the aroma, the portion of your meal, and of course, the happiness you feel on your tastebuds.

On top of that, food journaling automatically gives you something to draw!

No more staring at the blank page when you’re feeling un-creative 😀 You do eat something every day, don’t you?

Here are some of my more recent food drawings:

vegetable sticks and peanut butter illustration

Veggie sticks and peanut butter. A simple and satisfying snack idea!

zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce with salmon with vegan walnut pesto illustration
Zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce and salmon with vegan walnut pesto. What a refreshing and tasty lunch!

BTW, you can check out the illustrated recipe for the zucchini pasta with creamy avocado sauce here 🙂

Japanese breakfast kale natto miso rice illustration
I have these phases where all I want to eat is Japanese food. All. the. time. Here is one simple meal I enjoyed the other day.
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing...!!
Oh, this Avocado Chocolate Pudding is so decadent and amazing…!! My dairy-loving husband approves, too.

Oh man, these drawings are making me hungry… 😀 I better go feed myself now!

Do you want to learn how to create your own food journal? I created a tutorial for Sakura of America and you can watch it on their YouTube channel here.

Eat well and happy creating, my friend! xo

Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

Taking a time off when you’re swamped

{Hi friend – I just wanted to acknowledge that this has been a rough week for many of us… I happen to write this post about self-care (or sort of a failed attempt at one) and hope it helps you in some ways. Know I’ve been thinking about you <3}

I just took my mini sabbatical week off during the first week of November, and it was not easy.

(If you’re not familiar with the mini sabbatical, I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. I adapted the concept from Seanwes. It’s pretty much the best, and you should totally do it, too!)

I’ve been taking my sabbatical week off since last October, and since it’s a regular thing, I put it on my calendar in advance. And it helps me to not schedule any deadlines or client work during that time.

My mini sabbaticals force me to be more productive during my “on” weeks. Since you are taking a week off every 7 weeks (so 6 weeks on, 1 week off) you’re forced to get 7-weeks worth of work done in 6 weeks. I remember being super productive right before I left for a vacation at my old day job, and it’s a very similar feeling.

For this sabbatical, even though I knew it was coming, I didn’t plan well enough in advance so everything was behind.

First of all, I had to prepare for my winter holiday stationery collection release that was scheduled for November 1st.

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Yay, it’s here!
I was already behind getting everything ready for it due to planned and unplanned events this summer/fall – I swore last year I was going to start getting the holiday collection ready earlier in the summer – well, now I’m telling myself I need to start planning for next year’s collection, like, NOW. Sigh.

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I seem to need a reminder for the lesson #1 above, “Everything takes way longer than you think.” over and over….and over. Note to self: Always expect things will take longer. Things will go wrong. Schedule buffer!!! 

(BTW, who said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”? I do feel a little crazy going through this yet again!!!)

On top of that, my really good friend from Japan was visiting last week. So I had to juggle my collection launch timeline and hanging out with her for several days. Eeeek!

Although I had to bow out of some of the social engagements so I could finish work, we did manage to do some fun things together, like visiting the Seattle Art Museum to check out their Yves Saint Laurent exhibit (it was exquisite!), visiting my American parents on Camano Island, seeing our mutual friends, and taking a day trip to Portland.

And, I taught my block printing class on the last day of my sabbatical.

Honestly I was feeling so run down and tired that I didn’t feel like I was on my A game, but the students seemed to have a great time and did a wonderful job! Seeing how much fun my students had during the class always lifts up my spirit ❤

Look at their gorgeous work!!
Look at their gorgeous work!!
My sabbatical was not the most relaxing or rejuvenating, and I’m definitely feeling a little burned-out.

For example, it takes more to get and stay motivated. I’m tired and can’t stay focused on my tasks. I’m feeling low energy in general. The grey weather and daylight saving time change are not helping either! Not to mention the election… OK, I can’t go there, yet 😦

Holiday time is not the most relaxing fun time for a small creative business owner (or anyone? :D), and I really need to be more vigilant about self-care.

I need to listen to my body and be compassionate with myself. Giving myself permission to slow down or change my plans, especially during my hustle time, is still one of the hardest things!!

To recover from my not-so-relaxing sabbatical week :D, I’ve been taking things a little easy this week. I’m getting back in my regular routine of early bedtime (I try to go to bed by 9:30pm), cooking and eating more at home, and limiting my social engagements so I can just stay home and enjoy my alone time. I don’t know if it’s the age thing, but I seem to need a lot more down time than I used to to recover from stuff! 😀

Unfortunately, you can’t just batch your self-care all at once during your time off every 7 weeks.

Taking care of yourself in small doses every day really makes a difference! And, incorporating your small self-care habits into your daily routine is the key to success 🙂 Once you build a habit, it just becomes something you do, like brushing your teeth or washing your face!

I hope you take good care of yourself and stay well, my friend ❤

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

You’re making a difference even if you’re not making money.

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{First of all – THANK YOU for responding to my “What do you enjoy reading about the most on my blog?” survey! I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know how you feel. If you missed it, you can still share your thoughts with me here :)}

I recently posted this video on Instagram and it resonated with a lot of people.

You are making a difference even if you are not making $

I often get anxious when I’m doing things that are not actively paying the bills, like gardening, making food from scratch, and taking my mini sabbaticals every 7 weeks.

I could decide to let them go so I can spend more time on growing my creative business (and I almost did give up on gardening a couple of years ago). We only have 24 hours a day, and if we wanted to create time for something important, you just need to say no to other things.

But really, I often get my creative inspirations from doing things like gardening and cooking healthy meals from scratch.

Gardening gets me in touch with the seasons and nature. It also gets me outside of our house regularly. I’m a homebody and would stay home for as long as I care to admit if I let myself 😀

I also feel empowered knowing that we’re able to meet at least a tiny portion of our basic needs ourselves.

Eat a Rainbow Colorful Summer Vegetable Illustration by Honeyberry Studios
Eat a Rainbow, watercolors & pen on paper.

Making food from scratch might take longer and could actually be more expensive than buying prepared or processed food, but it also helps me feel good in my body and mind.

Cooking is a very hands-on creative activity with an immediate reward (well, most of the time anyway) and gives me a break from a lot of thinking and computer work, too.

This beet walnut hummus recipe is not only tasty and healthy, it's beautiful!
This beet walnut hummus recipe is not only tasty and healthy, but it’s beautiful!

I also feel annoyed by other household chores, like cleaning and grocery shopping, but if they don’t happen, my working environment wouldn’t feel as good and productive.

Yes, as a creative business owner, I need to be making money and maintain a strong focus to achieve that goal.

I constantly think about how to create a life where I still enjoy the craft and have a sustainable business doing what I love. I need my life to be meaningful and joyful so I can continue creating work that brings others joy ❤

These other things, though they don’t seem to be directly helping me bring in the big paycheck, are part of what keeps my creative reservoir filled. And it’s my professional obligation as a working artist to do so.

If you ever felt guilty for taking the time out of your day to attend to “other” needs, think of how those activities are helping you to stay well-rounded so you can focus on your goals.

Remember, your creations have values. It makes people happy and feel warm and fuzzy. It makes them laugh out loud. It makes them think or cry. People are moved by what you create. It’s truly magical!

Keep putting yourself out there even if you don’t feel it’s making a difference today. Believe me, you’re making a difference by doing what you do!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

I quit my day job one year ago!!

July 31st was my one year anniversary of quitting the regular day job! Whoa!

Happy first birthday to an-independent-artist/entrepreneur-me 🙂 I’m still here, alive and kickin’!

cupcake_watercolor and pen drawing

I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year, and I just feel so grateful and privileged to be able to pursue my passion every day.

When I left my day job, I gave up a steady paycheck and good benefits. And in return, I gained the freedom to create work from my passion and decide how I’m going to achieve my goals.

And, I love being my own boss. For the most part anyway.

But one of the hardest part of being my own boss is – well, not having a boss.

What does a boss do? They give you a guidance, direction, support and a feedback. Well, at least they should, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have bosses who did all those things 🙂

And it can be extremely difficult to do that for myself sometimes.

Especially when you work so hard and don’t see the results right away, not getting that constant validation and encouragement that your’e doing a good job can be tough.

You're-doing-a-great-job-sketchbook_1000px

I’d imagine many entrepreneurs feel this way. Or if your’e a parent or a boss’s boss. It gets lonely up here!

You know another thing I miss about the day job? An annual performance review!

Is that weird? I always felt so refreshed after my review. It’s a wonderful opportunity to sit and reflect on all the things you’ve accomplished and set an intention for where you want to go next.

So I wanted to review my last 12 months and share with you what I’ve learned.

What I’m proud of:

  • Started taking mini sabbaticals every 7 week. I believe self-care is super important and wanted to put a regular self-care practice in place to prevent burn-out.
  • Did 5 art shows
  • Ran the Creative Coaching 4-week email course and a pilot program
  • Have been meeting with 2-3 accountability partners regularly to stay focused and motivated on my goals
  • Consistently writing & posting blogs and newsletters
  • Launched my first art collection, Eat a Rainbow, this summer
  • Started teaching Introduction to Block Printing workshops locally
  • My revenue grew almost 5x from the same time frame between 2014-2015
  • My work was featured in Seattle Magazine and Uppercase newsletter (and a couple more in the works! Yay!)
  • Created my first video tutorial and taught in an e-course, the Journey Within
  • Partnered with Sakura of America to produce 5 tutorial videos (launch dates TBD)
  • Participated in 10 arts & craft shows
  • Made 4 times more sales on my Etsy store alone
  • Grew my social media followers by 200%
  • Joined the gym and consistently working out
  • Went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat and continuing my daily meditation practice
  • Started selling my products at 5 retail store locations

What I could do more or better:

  • Create sustainable cashflow strategies & implement it!
  • Create a better, more streamlined system for marketing
  • Explore new social media platform (e.g. Snapchat etc.) so I can interact  with my followers more deeply
  • Continue prioritizing my health and wellness and take regular sabbaticals
  • Allow time for reflection and long-term strategies (every quarter or 6 months?) even if everyday busyness seems more urgent.
  • Narrow down my focus
  • Become more comfortable with taking a risk, don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and if I make a mistake, don’t dwell on the negatives. Learn the lessons, and move on!
  • Prepare better financially for slow times (e.g. In-person teaching is super slow during summer so maybe do more shows to create a better cash flow).
  • Expand my wholesale capacity and partner with more retail shops
  • Expand my teaching offerings both in-person & online

What I want to learn:

  • Research and learn more about product business/manufacturers/wholesale, to make my biz more profitable
  • Effective social media marketing strategies & apps
  • How to make better videos and shoot photos
  • Sewing and more fun creative projects for myself!

Next Step:

  • I’ve made an appointment with myself later this week to sit down and do a planning session for the next 6 months. I’m going to figure out timelines for my goals, break down my goals into baby steps, and make a plan of attack!

I was surprised that it didn’t take very much time to make a list of my accomplishments. It’s so nice to remind myself that I am moving forward even if the progress seems slow.

If you don’t have a boss to give you a performance review, I highly recommend you do this with yourself at least once a year. I bet you’ll feel inspired and motivated by how far you’ve come, too!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot