Category Archives: My Thoughts

I opened my first Etsy shop in 2010…

{I took my mini sabbatical off during the week of 9/17 but instead of my normal sabbatical week report, I have a more urgent news for you…}

Hey friend,

I opened up my first Etsy shop in December 2010.

I’d posted a picture of my crocheted fingerless gloves on Facebook (can’t believe FB has been out there for so long…) and a couple of friends said “you can sell that!”

I didn’t know what Etsy was and it was hard to imagine if anyone would want to pay for what I made.

But I said “why not?”

So I opened up a shop called “TeAmi Works” – te ami means “hand-knit” or “hand-crocheted” in Japanese – and posted a few pairs of fingerless gloves I made.

(OMG the quality of photos were so BAD 😂 a humble beginning…)

The very first day, a super sweet customer in Nashville, Tennessee, purchased a pair and turned around and placed another order right away because her daughter loved them too and wanted a pair.

It was so rewarding to be appreciated for what I made with my own two hands.

I caught the bug and kept making more gloves and other crocheted accessories to sell.

Over the last 8 years, I’d moved on from making/selling crocheted wares because I got sick of making the same things over and over, and how could you price them for the time it takes really? (anybody wants $150 pair of fingerless gloves?? 😀 maybe with the right kind of positioning and marketing, but I didn’t know that stuff back then.)

I was getting more into drawing then and was getting the same kind of appreciation for it.

And people started asking me if they could pay me to draw or design something for them.

The light bulb went on again 💡

Drawing and selling cards and prints were much more in line with how I wanted to do business, so I slowly transitioned from selling crocheted stuff and adding more art in the shop.

I changed the name of the shop to “Honeyberry Studios” in 2013.

And, mind you, I was never a hot seller on Etsy – between 2010 and until I quit my day job in July 2015, maybe I sold a thing or two per month.

It only started to pick up after I quit my job and started to devote more time making and promoting my work.

But still, Etsy has never brought me enough sales consistently.

I feel it’s hit and miss, and there is the sense of “pay to play” (in fact, they raised their seller fee a couple of months ago) and you need to be on top of your SEO game etc., which I just don’t have the time and energy for.

I was originally going to build a separate shop just for my wholesale business – because Etsy decided to close their wholesale shops at the end of July this year.

I have a bunch of friends who do really well on Etsy, and I’m happy for them!!

But I don’t like the feeling of not being in control of my shop, and it’s just not working for me.

It was time for me to move on and have my own shop that’s under Honeyberry Studios’ name.

I started working on building my new shop back in May when they first announced the closure of Etsy Wholesale.

I then decided to combine both retail and wholesale shops in one place per Shopify’s advice (that’s who’s hosting my new shop now.)

I thought – oh, I’ll take a couple of weeks to finish bulk of the website. It’ll be done by the beginning of summer.

I’m not building it from scratch (thank you Shopify!) so how hard could it be? It’s basically just copy and paste, no?

WRONG.

I always tell myself everything takes 3x longer than you think. In this case, it took me almost 5 times longer 😅

There have been learning curves and bumps on the road, BUT the important thing is…

IT’S DONE!!!! 🎉🎊🎈

Without further ado, meet new Honeyberry Studios shop!!

Isn’t it pretty?? 😍

Not only is it prettier than my old website, it’s got more functions that make your shopping easier (and save you $).

Allow me to point out some of my favorite functions here.

(I know you know how to shop online – I’m just too excited to not talk about it!!! 😆)

First of all, you don’t need to enter a coupon code to get a free US shipping any more.

When your total purchase reaches the minimum of $35 (before tax), bam, your shipping’s free.

(I’ve been manually refunding shoppers on Etsy who forgot to use the coupon code. So it saves me time, too 😀)

I love how easy it is to create/select categories, too. Etsy only allowed a limited number of categories (I think), so it’s a big bonus.

You can either start shopping by selecting a category from the “Shop” button up top, or…

Scroll to see the categories visually laid out for you!

I’m particularly happy about how you can filter all of my greeting cards by occasions, too!

On Etsy, you’d have to scroll through 80+ cards to find what you’re looking for 👎

One thing I’m a little annoyed about, thou, is that every time you put something in a cart, you’re directed to your cart and can’t just keep shopping.

If you want to keep browsing, I suggest you click on the top “Shop” button and get back in a collection you want to explore, rather than hitting the “CONTINUE SHOPPING” button at the bottom because this will throw you in “all products” page where you have to wade through 150 products all mixed together!

And may I suggest you create an account during your first visit??

Not only would you save time on your future shopping, I’m rewarding your loyalty by giving 5% off on every single order you place through your customer account!

(**NOTE:: I was hoping there was an easy way to automate this, but since I haven’t found one, I’ll be manually giving you a refund on your first order after you activate an account. Please allow 48 hours for you to see the refund. After that, it should automatically come off.)

And if you have any questions, I’ve got links to important stuff at the bottom of the website. Of course, you can always shoot me an email, too!

Last but not least, with the grand opening of my new shop, you finally get to shop my fall & winter collection!!! Weeee!

You can explore the llama stationery gifts pictured above, new holiday cards, 2019 calendar, and wrapping papers in my shop now.

FYI – if you’ve already bought some of my new products at markets and are sad you didn’t get the discount – wipe your tears, friend, because I don’t charge you sales tax at markets and fairs. Plus you don’t pay for shipping, so you’re still getting a pretty good deal 😉

My old website used to make me cringe – you know, I built it from scratch using very few coding skills I had, which I’m super proud of.

It worked for what I needed in the beginning, but it felt outdated and didn’t really represent who I was and where I wanted my business to go.

My creative business is labor of love. It’s so much work but gives me so much joy in return.

I’m so happy you’re here with me, witnessing and being part of my dream!!

Take a few minutes to explore my new site today! It’s still somewhat a work in progress, so if you notice something not working, email me and I’ll take care of you!

I’m so looking forward to continue helping you find the adorable and thoughtful gifts for yourself and your loved ones ❤️

Thank you, friend!!!

xo

p.s. If you’re wondering what happens to my Etsy shop now – I’m undecided. It will be there for now, but I will be investing all of my time and energy learning and improving my new site from now on.

On handling rejections

I had kind of a bad day on Wednesday.

I received, not one, but TWO rejection emails from the holiday craft shows I applied for.

They’re kind of big, well-known shows (read: most lucrative) in the area that I really, really wanted to get into (and thought I had a good chance.)

Needless to say, I was disappointed and sad.

My emotional process looked like this 👇

1) DISBELIEF: First of all, I thought the notice wasn’t gonna be sent out till Friday?? Was this a mistake? Is this really happening?

2) FANTASY: Some of my friends didn’t make the cut either. And they’re all talented, amazing makers. Did the organizers make a mistake and send the wrong email to the wrong group of people?? I’m still waiting to get that “sorry-we-sent-the-wrong-email-and-you’re-actually-in” email.

3) CONFUSION: But people love my work! and I’ve been great to work with, haven’t I?? I’m so organized and responsive. WHY DID YOU NOT WANT ME?? 😭

4) NEGATIVE SPIRAL: Is this it for me? What if I don’t get in to ANY of the shows I applied for? Was it just a luck that my business seemed more successful this year? Is it all going to be down hill from here??

5) LOGIC: People DO love my work (and they tell me so!), and I’ve had great relationships with the organizers. It’s not personal. I have other opportunities and will most likely get into other shows.

6) ACCEPTANCE: Oh well. It is just what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ The show must go on. What’s on my to-do list today?

I know intellectually it’s not me or that my work is bad, but it just hurts to be rejected.

I have my “You Are Enough” sticker on my laptop, and it helped 💙

As a self-care strategy, I re-watched the puppy and horse Budweiser commercial from 2014 Super Bowl and had a good cry. It’s truly soul-cleansing ✨

(I question your humanity if this bit doesn’t make you even a little emotional…🐶)

I treated myself for a delicious brownie and pretty dahlias at the farmer’s market.

I also received a copy of Retailing Insight Magazine in the afternoon, where one of my designs was featured (along with my friend, John Met Betty‘s beautiful vegan handbags!) That helped boost my confidence for sure 😊

I don’t have a profound lesson or insight for you today.

But I just wanted to share that things aren’t always great and positive.

I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people share hard and messy stuff in life. And even without the “things-went-to-hell-but-I’m-all-better-now” hero ending sometimes, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

It makes me sad to see people I admire and care about struggle, but I also appreciate their realness.

It helps me feel OK with having those ups and downs in my life, too.

Even though most of the posts on social media are curated and positive, it never tells a whole story.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time or feeling rejected, you’re not alone.

Nobody has it all together.

We’re enough ❤️

xo

p.s. I’m feeling a lot better after processing the feelings with friends and doing all those self-care stuff. So don’t worry!

p.p.s. I’ve got a few holiday events locked down and am waiting to hear back from a bunch more, so it’s going to be OK. I’ll let you know when I have a more solid calendar!

p.p.p.s. I’m gonna be on my 7th week mini sabbatical next week – I’ve been chipping away at my new website so I can launch it very soon. Send me good tech vibes and stay tuned 😉

My top 5 blog posts!

I can’t believe this post is my 526th!

I started blogging back in January 2014. I’ve posted pretty regularly ever since – at least weekly (except for sabbatical weeks), but from April 2014 to April 2015 daily for my 365 day happiness is project.

I like sharing my thoughts in writing.

I’m not a super verbal person, and writing allows me to examine and express myself more intentionally.

Writing has become a part of my everyday routine. In fact it’s the first thing I do in the morning after my short meditation practice.

When I don’t do it, I feel a little disoriented 😀

Anyway, I’ve never paid close attention to my blog stats before – but I got curious, so I checked which posts were most popular.

Here are the all time 5 posts that got the most views this year:

1. My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

2. Quitting my day job cold turkey wasn’t my plan A

3. Draw Yourself Back to Nature Fall Leaf Doodle Tutorial

4. My Favorite Tool: Moo Carve

5. My Vipassana 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat Reflections

I see that you enjoy my tutorials and tool reviews a lot! That makes me happy because I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know 🙂

I used to do a lot of “self reflection-y” posts, too, and I’m glad you found some of those helpful.

I forgot how much work I used to put into my blog posts! There were lots of long-form articles and custom images.

It used to take me hours (like at least 4 hours) to complete a blog post. I’ve since been re-focusing my priorities and goals for my business, so you may have noticed my articles have  become more short and sweet in the recent year.

I sometimes wonder if anybody’s reading my blog 😀 so it was nice to see that people in fact read them! He he.

Thanks for following along my journey! I’m always grateful for your support and encouragement.

Have a great week!

xo

 

 

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New Year’s wishes for you!

2018 is the Year of the Dog. I had a great fun drawing these cute doggies in sweaters 🐶

New Year’s is the biggest holiday in Japan, and everything shuts down between January 1st and the 3rd. Though I’ve lived in the states for almost 22 years now, I still observe it and take a break in the beginning of the year.

On New Year’s Day, Dave and I usually take a long walk if the weather is nice, eat mochi (rice cake) soup to warm up, and be lazy and enjoy relaxing together.

On last New Year’s Day, we went for a walk in the University of Washington Arboretum.

Everything feels sacred to me in the beginning of the year. It gives me a pause to think about what I want this year to be. I take the time to appreciate everything I have in my life.

One of the many things I appreciate in my life is, of course, YOU! I could not do this without your support, so thank you for being interested in what I do and supporting my work❤️

Do you have a ritual or tradition for New Year’s holiday? Tell me in comments 😊

Here is to a whole new year filled with love, joy, and creativity!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

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Self-Care Strategies for the Holiday Busy-ness

My mini sabbatical was last week. Or I should I say, it was supposed to be.

This is by far the busiest time of the year for me with the holiday fairs and events. I wasn’t sure if I should be taking my sabbatical this time especially because I had a big double header craft shows on the weekend.

I tried to tie all the loose ends the week before so I could still enjoy my time off, but it just wasn’t feasible. I also had two events the weekend before, so essentially preparing for 4 shows in one week was not realistic.

So instead, I let go of the idea of having a complete time off and prepared as best as I could the week before so the week leading up to my biggest craft shows wasn’t as stressful.

Here are some things that helped me:

1. I created and scheduled contents ahead of time.

I used to be a lot better about scheduling my contents (blog, newsletter, social media posts etc.) ahead of time, but it’s been slipping a little bit.

So, the couple of weeks leading up to my sabbatical week, I focused more time and energy on having enough contents scheduled so I didn’t have to worry about it during and after the sabbatical. I knew I’d need a little buffer after I finished the big shows to recover.

2. I didn’t schedule anything other than prepping for the shows.

No deadlines, no producing new work, and no outreach to potential retail shops.

Knowing I could only focus on one thing – to prep and pack up for the shows – gave me the mental space to be more present.

3. I asked for help.

If you’ve done any arts & craft shows before, you know it’s A LOT OF WORK. Naturally, I was freaking out about the volume of work that needed to be prepped for two big shows at once.

I am very fortunate to have a super supportive husband. When Dave sees that I’m stressed out, he’s always there to help out.

He did a chunk of preparation work, like folding notecards, stuffing them in sleeves, packing them in boxes, putting labels on them etc. etc.

I honestly don’t know what I’d done without his help!!

Honeyberry Studios HQ

On the side note, I should’ve kept track of how many hours he spent helping me so I have a better idea if/when I decide to hire someone to help me out in the future.

4. I slept more.

I usually wake up at around 5:15 to meditate and do some writing in the morning.

But during my sabbatical, I set my Sleep Cycle app around 6 or not set the alarm at all so I could catch extra sleep. I’d already scheduled all of my contents beforehand, so I could take a break from my early morning daily writing.

It doesn’t seem like much of “sleeping in” to you, but extra 15-30 minutes of sleep does wonders for you! I definitely felt more rested and relaxed during the week.

Me at the Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show in Seattle.

I’m happy to say my two big shows went really well.

And If you were wondering how I managed to be at two shows on the same weekend – I didn’t 😀

Dave rocking the booth at Phinney Winter Festival

I sent my sweet husband, Dave, to do the other one. He’d never done any shows before, yet he did SO well!!

So well in fact I wish he could do all my shows in the future (He declined. Sad.)

I have a couple more busy weekends ahead of me, so I’m continuing to not schedule anything big during the weekdays. 

After all, I do want to enjoy the magic of the holiday season, too, you know?

A perfectionist part of me was thinking “if I couldn’t take my sabbatical week off the way it was supposed to be (i.e. not working ), I should just work as usual and take a time off when the holiday rush is over.”

But I’m glad I ended up taking a little bit of a breather.

After all, running a business is like a marathon, not a sprint (although it may feel like one sometimes 😬), and the last thing you want is a burnout.

I’m trying to take a deep breath, trying to focus on one thing at a time, listening to what my body needs, and doing my best to stay well mentally and physically for the rest of my busy season.

If you feel overwhelmed with all the holiday crazy-ness and feel you don’t have time for self-care, that’s when you need it the most. 

Pause, breathe, and do something that helps you stay present and grounded today.

You got this!

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nurturing connections, belonging, and making time for what’s imporant

When I visited Japan in October, I got to see my friends from high school.

{dinner with my high school buddies 🙂}

Even though we are 40 now, and some of us hadn’t seen each other for almost 20 years, we clicked instantly.

We have different lives now – many of them are married with kids (a couple of them have kids in high school even!!), handle lots of responsibilities at work and home, and some have lost their spouse or a parent.

But we laughed and talked for hours and bonded over funny/awful stories from our teenage years.

The whole time we were hanging out, I was overcome with gratitude.

First of all, I was so grateful that they wanted to see me! It makes me sound like I have a low self-esteem, but I just honestly didn’t know they wanted to see me because I hadn’t kept in touch with them in any meaningful way.

Sure, some of us are on Facebook and occaionally “like” each other’s posts, but it doesn’t make me feel super connected. It’s like reading the news I won’t remember two weeks later (or even 2 hours later!)

But seeing them in-person and eating and laughing together created an instant connection.

Even though it’d been a long time and we’re all in different places in life, I still felt like I belonged.

It’s hard to have a split life between the two worlds. It’s my choice to live so far away from home, and I appreciate it 95% of the time. I have a fulfilling life and a loving community in Seattle, and I have a great time when I’m in Japan, too. Of course, neither places are “perfect” and we all know what kinds of problems exist in both countries.

But I still wish there was a magical portal that connects the two places so I could go back and forth whenever I want. I wish I could just drop by my parents’ house for dinner or see my friends’ kids grow up close by.

It was sad to say goodbye, but my heart was full. 

​Yes, it sucks to be away from your loved ones. But it makes me realize just how special our relationship is. I’m grateful I have family and friends who are truly happy to see me and make me feel accepted for who I am today. 

It’s kind of like when Dave and I were in a long distance relationship for 5 years – I was a wreck whenever we had to say goodbye to each other, but it made our time together so much more precious. We were much more intentional about our communication and didn’t take each other for granted. The distance between us made our hearts grow stronger.

And it really doesn’t matter how close or far away you’re from your loved ones.

Full disclosure: I’ve only seen one of my closest friends in Seattle, who lives one train station away, 5 times this year. That’s like seeing each other every 8 weeks. I was actually shocked to learn that just now! I gotta take a deep breath to calm down…

Yea, we traveled a lot this year, and I was frequently out of town. It seems my friend’s been working on demanding projects at work all the time. We’re both introverts, so we really need alone time to unwind on weekends etc. We text each other sometimes to check in, but still…

There is an artwork on my wall that says, “You always have time for the things that are important to you.”

There it is. It can’t get any truer than that. If I value connection with my friends and family, then I will make time to nurture that connection. I can always choose to be the person I want to be!

So I decided this year I’m gonna take the time to send out Christmas cards to my friends and family. 

I may not be able to send them to everyone I care about. I may not be able to do it every year. But this year, I’m going to do it because I can and I want to.

I know I’m lucky to have them in my life, and the holiday season gives me an opportunity to do something extra. (Plus, I already asked for a bunch of my friends’ addresses, so they’re expecting to receive something from me 😀 Accountability!)

How about you? What helps you feel connected to people you love? How do you make time for things that are important to you? 

xo

 

p.s. If you’re inspired to join me in sending cards to our loved ones this holiday season, you can browse all of my holiday notecards in my shop here.

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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