How I became a full-time artist

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a full-time artist, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I would’ve thought you were out of your mind and averted your gaze while laughing uncomfortably.

I don’t have an art degree. I make cute drawings. That’s not “art.” Being a successful working artist is an option available only to a selected few.

Or so I thought.

My story of making a transition from working at a non-profit org (that’s totally non-art-related) to becoming a full-time artist fascinates many people.

If you’d ever wondered how it all unfolded and what I’ve learned in the beginning, you’re in luck!

I recently got interviewed by a fellow artist, Eileen McKenna, for her blog, and shared my origin story.

(Including my celebrity encounter, my #1 advice for creatives wanting to go full-time, and lessons I’ve learned.)

Here is how the interview starts:

What inspired you to do your “Happiness is” project?
At the time (spring of 2014), I was toying with the idea of becoming a working artist. And then I thought, if I wanted to be a working artist, I should be making art every day and enjoy the process. So that’s why I decided to start my 365 day daily art project. I’d also learned about Lisa Congdon (one of my heroes) and her daily art projects and was deeply inspired by it. I wanted to get over my fear of putting myself out there, too. It was sort of a shock therapy where I’d post my drawing (and not always perfect) every day, and eventually I cringed less about sharing my work on the internet.

As far as the topic goes, I wanted it to be something that’s relatively easy. I first thought about making art about food I eat every day, like a food journal, but knew I’d eat the same thing over and over 😀 So then I thought of happiness and what makes me happy every day. I’m not naturally a glass-half-full kind of a person…

Continue reading on Eileen’s blog.

Hope you enjoy!

xo

Not so humble brag 😎

You know when people “humble brag”?

Queue the eye roll, please.

Humble-bragging is an act where one makes a statement that’s self-deprecating or modest but actually trying to draw attention to something they’re proud of.

I can understand why people do this – you don’t wanna appear full of yourself or arrogant.

And what if people don’t think what you’ve done is that awesome?? With humble bragging, you can keep pretending it wasn’t that big of a deal while crying tears of disappointment inside.

But am I the only one who thinks humble bragging makes you sound even more of a jerk?? I just wanna yell “we know what you’re doing!”

That was a rhetorical question, BTW – I know it’s kind of silly to humble brag – that’s why there are so many memes about it!

So here I am – I’m proud of something and just gonna tell you about it 😀

(It’s very un-Japanese of me to brag about myself, but that’s probably why I’ve stayed in the US for the last 22 years.)

Anyway look, my 2019 Llama Dream Calendar was featured in the latest issue of Seattle Magazine 😍

The editor contacted me a couple of months back asking if they could see my calendar and potentially feature it in their holiday gift guide. Apparently, one of her co-workers has taken my block printing workshops and knew I made calendars. You never know who’s watching!

It was very exciting to see the calendar in a print publication – they always do such a good job creating beautiful and inspiring spreads.

When you work for yourself and don’t have a boss to tell you what a good job you’re doing, you rely heavily on your internal compass to know you’re going in the right direction. 

I know I shouldn’t need constant external validation, but it sure is nice to be recognized like this.

Definitely one of my highlights this year!

Thanks for celebrating with me and not judging me for bragging 😚

xo

ps. I still have limited number of the llama calendar posters here. Order by the end of today, Sunday, December 16th for shipping before Christmas (remember, no shipping between 12/18-27.) Or you can pick it up at Renegade Craft Fair (my last show of the season) today 11-5!

🎁 Place your holiday order by this date 🎁

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving!

I had a wonderful time at Port Townsend Holiday Craft Fair last weekend.

Definitely a show I wanna come back to!

Don’t I fit right in with these otters? 😉​

If you’re shopping for adorable holiday gifts online, I want you to know I’ll be out of town later this month and need you to place your orders soon!

Please place your online orders by Sunday, December 16th.

Last day for shipping before Christmas is Monday, December 17th.

My shop will be open while we’re gone, but any order that comes in after December 16th will ship on or after Friday, December 28th.

We’ll be in Wisconsin visiting Dave’s family for Christmas. I hope there will be snow!!! ❄️🥶☃️

Let me know if you have any questions! I’m here to help.

xo

ps. Are you a Seattle local? I’ll be at a few more holiday craft fairs if you wanna shop directly in person!

This is what makes me do a happy dance ⭐️

Do you know what your “Love Language” is?

We all experience love and connection differently. Gary Chapman has a book called The 5 Love Languages and talks about what they are and how it can help deepen your relationships with your loved ones.

There are 5 categories of Love Languages – Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.

Do you know what yours is?

(You can take a quiz here if you wanna know!)

Mine is Words of Affirmation. So any verbal or written appreciation or encouragement is all I need to keep going.

BTW – it’s really low on Dave’s Love Language totem pole (his is Quality Time), so in the beginning of our relationship, I had to constantly remind him that I needed him to say “thank you” when I did something nice. In return, I need to remember to spend more time with him rather than just saying I love him 😀

It’s no wonder I get a major love fix from your customer reviews!

Every time I get a notification that someone’s left a review, I do a happy dance!

Not only does it make me ridiculously happy, it also lets other shoppers know that my shop and products are legit.

So here I am asking you for a favor 😉

If you’ve purchased my goods (including from a retail shop) and LOVED it, would you mind taking a couple of minutes to leave a positive review?

You can do so by going to my online shop, find the item(s) you bought, scroll down, click on the “Write a review” button, and write something nice. It’s super easy!

What should you say? Well, I have some ideas 💡

You can say a little bit about why you bought the product, how you felt when you received the item, what’s your favorite thing about the product (e.g. colors, texture, a message etc.), how you’ve used the product, how the customer service was etc.

If you’ve gifted it to someone, you can say what the reaction of your recipient was or why you bought it for that particular person – seriously, anything is helpful!

And, If you’ve ever had a negative experience with my shop or products, please do contact me privately first. I care about your experience deeply and will do my best to fix it, ok?

Thanks for being awesome 😘

xo

ps. Last day to place your order before Christmas is Sunday, December 16th!

pps. Seattle local? Come shop with me at more craft fairs!

🍁🍂Happy Thanksgiving!🍂🍁

Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

I hope you’re having a relaxing day and you’re surrounding yourself with people who make you happy.

I’ll be spending some time with our friends this morning and then off to Port Townsend for Port Townsend Holiday Craft Sale Nov. 23-24.

I’ll be sad to miss our annual Thanksgiving dinner with my American family 😢 but looking forward to our mini work/fun getaway.

Holiday time is by far the busiest time of the year for me and many other creative business owners.

I’m so grateful for you and feel very lucky every day that I get to make art that brings you joy!

Thank you for being awesome ❤️

If you’re traveling for the holiday, be safe

xo

DIY Llama calendar tea towel & winter kitty projects!

Hi friend,

Do you LOVE pretty things?

(I assume you are if you’re reading my blog😉)

I love having beautiful things around because they make me happy!

Vibrant colors and joyful designs always lift up my mood.

That’s why I’m so excited to tell you that you can now enjoy more fun designs in my Spoonflower fabric shop.

How about this adorable 2019 Llama Dream calendar tea towel??

It’d make a perfect holiday gift for a llama lover (or an alpaca lover, you know they’re almost the same thing).

Purchase this design in linen cotton canvas ultra (which is sturdy and absorbent) fat quarter, 18″x27″. All you have to do is trim the ends and sew around the hem.

Easy peasy, right??

Also, my winter kitty design is available as fabric!

How about a tote bag to carry your books or groceries?

Or a pillow to cozy up with this winter!

Don’t even get me started on how ADORABLE this dress is 😍😍😍 Will you please make this for a tiny person in your life and send me a photo??

I might cry.

I got a yard of fleece to make this no-sew blanket. I intend to gift it to my friend’s baby – unless I decide it’s too cute I can’t part with it 😂

Too much cuteness?

I hope you can handle this because I’ve got 27 other designs (yes, twenty-seven) you can play with in my shop.

How about these adorable pillows from my last holiday collection?

Who would’ve thought to make your own lamp shade? With fabric? If you love succulents, this could be your jam😍

Go ahead and explore the most adorable fabric collections here!

Enjoy 😘

xo

ps. Be sure to read their holiday shipping timeline and mark your calendar. It could take 2+ weeks to get your fabrics.

🐱🍄 Cats and mushrooms 🍄🐱

Hey,

I was on my 7th week sabbatical this past week.

What the heck is that? A fine question. I take every 7th week off to rest and recharge. A practice I started in October, 2015 inspired by seanwes.

(This is pretty much how I stay sane and don’t get burnt out in my biz.)

But I wanted to pop in and say hello!

I’m actually not feeling 100% this week, so this time off came at a perfect timing.

My week’s itinerary included: sleeping more, organizing my inventory for the upcoming holiday fair season, and just kind of hanging out on the couch a lot.

I also thought it’d be fun to show you what I’ve been working on in my pottery class at South Seattle College this quarter.

Tuxedo cat ornaments are coming back! 

Once they’re glazed, these cuties will be going to King Street Maker’s Market 11/29-12/2. If I have leftovers, I’ll post them in the shop later!

I’ve also been working on some personal projects.

I plant to mount these mushrooms and the hedgie on a wall in our kitchen to create a fun woodland scene 🦔🍄 I wanna make different seasonal themes so we can switch them around throughout the year!

Oh the possibilities are endless 😍

xo

Self-care is not selfish 💗

How do you take care of yourself?

Or, are you that person who feels “self-care” is a nice thought but not meant for you?

Do the words “self-care” make you cringe and fill you with guilt?

What’s self-care anyway?

You may think of cliche things like taking a bubble bath and eating chocolate 🍫 (which is my favorite).

I see it as giving yourself what you need emotionally, physically, and mentally so you can be loving and present with yourself and people you care about.

For example, when I feel overwhelmed and not like myself, I:

– Lie down and close my eyes for 10 minutes.

– Break down what I’m overwhelmed about into smaller steps and do something.

– Watch cute animal videos on YouTube (thank goodness for the internet!)

– Talk to Dave. Sometimes, all I need to feel better is to verbalize how I’m feeling.

– Doodle.

– Cancel dinner with friends if I’d rather stay home and have an alone time.

– Eat a donut and don’t punish myself for it.

– Take a walk.

– Diffuse my favorite essential oils (my fave uplifting combo is lavender, wild orange, and peppermint from doTerra.)

– Watch a sad movie and cry.

– Give someone else encouragement.

– Make a list of what I’m grateful for, no matter how small.

(These are just some of the things that help me – your list may look very different, and that’s OK!)

At my old non-profit job, we once had a speaker come and talk to us about the importance of self-care.

She said “saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself.” And that’s stuck with me for many years.

(In fact, I should make a card saying that 💡yes?)

You know, self-care’s like taking care of your car – if you take it in for a regular maintenance, you prevent the major issues from cropping up in the future – saving you money and the headaches (and accidents!) in a long run.

Nobody thinks taking a good care of your car is selfish. They actually think it’s smart!!

Self-care works the same way. If you do small things to take care of yourself every day, it’ll keep you away from that scary B-word.

BURN-OUT.

Who wants a burn-out? NOBODY. If you’re burnt out, you stop caring. You’re no good for anyone, including yourself.

You may think “nah, I’m too busy for this. I’m doing OK.”

Hear me out. It’s not the matter of “if,” it’s “when.” Just like a head gasket in your car, which is guaranteed to get blown at a certain mileage (speaking from an experience 🙋🏻‍♀️), burnout will happen if you never stop to take care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself before you get too drained to care is not selfish. It’s necessary.

You know, your friends and family don’t care as much if your house is sparkling clean or your kid’s dressed in a perfectly matching outfit – they’d prefer that you’re happy and fun to be around.

My “Self-Care is not Selfish” design has resonated with many people since I created it last summer.

It tells me that so many of us struggle to put our needs first.

We all need to believe in this message. And if you need to hear it from someone else, hear it from me!

And now it’s available as a vinyl, dishwasher safe sticker!

Decorate your water bottle, mug, laptop, bike helmet, or car with this sticker (I have a friend who put my “You Are Enough” sticker on her bathroom mirror as a daily reminder ❤️) so you can take it wherever you go.

I hope my little creation will remind you that you’re a human being who deserves a little TLC every day❤️

xo

 

Here is how you can cross off that big “to-do” on your list 📝

Hey friend,

My winter holiday craft fair calendar is finalized!

I’m gonna be busy, busy, busy but happy, happy, happy to see you there 😍

Holiday craft fairs are pure magic. You’ll meet lots of talented local makers and learn the story behind the goods they make.

How cool would it be to tell your loved ones that the art you bought was inspired by the artist’s past work in the anti gender-based violence? Or learn how the Chinese zodiac animals came to be??

(Which you can learn if you come chat with me at the fairs 😉)

And you’ll get to cross off “buy awesome holiday gifts for family” from your list while getting some cardio 👟 and admiring beautiful handmade stuff all day long.

Win win, right?

Most of the fairs offer food, music, and fun holiday decorations, too, so invite your friends to join you ❄️ I know you’re overdue for a quality time with your bff!

Visit my events page to get more details 😘

Hope to see you there!

xo

p.s. Go to my events page if you wanna know more about each fair.

p.p.s. My online shop is open 24/7 if you don’t live in the area.