The Gifted Blog

May 23, 2011

My Life in Ephemera

Earlier this year I decided to get a new Gifted Blog binder. My binder holds blog-related stuff: old calendars, workshop notes, and ideas for the future. As I transferred papers from the old binder to the new, some sentimental ephemera I've held onto caught my eye. Tucked into the clear plastic of the binder's covers, these bits of paper tell part of my creative life story.

First, there's this awesome flier from my mom's art classes. My mom began teaching art classes from her studio (our converted garage) when I was a kid. Looking at this handwritten and Xeroxed flier makes me realized all the care she poured into these. You might be able to read the text in the right-hand rectangle above:
Sundays...a time to let your mind rest, your hands create, & your soul be renewed.
My mom taught with an underlying value of the Sabbath - an invitation to come, rest, and be restored while making something.

With a mom like that, my sister and I had lots of opportunities to make stuff and be creative. I've saved this check for 11 years because it was the first time I was paid for creative work. In high school, I contributed some handmade hairclips to a youth-organized fundraiser...and they sold!

After seeing an ad in a newspaper, I decided to market a line of reconstructed t-shirts to a boutique opening in Oregon the summer before my senior year of college. In retrospect, my level of confidence was borderline embarrassing. Real e-mail excerpt:
The reconstructed tees are handsewn entirely from recycled materials, mostly big old men's shirts. I choose all the material myself, and the t-shirt design is one of my own! It's a super-flattering, feminine cut...I'm really into funky appliques and little details like beading.
Either because the shirts were cute or because I totally worked it in my emails, the boutique owner took 20 pieces on consignment. Some sold there, the rest my college roommate and I hawked from our dorm room. This is the boutique's business card.

I've saved these three scraps of paper because they represent the point where creative passion intersects with a wider audience...whether that is art students in a garage, fundraiser attendees, or boutique shoppers in Astoria, Oregon. Not everything we make needs to be put on display, but some of my most satisfying experiences of making have been when it's been shared.

It's notable that each of these examples involve monetary compensation. Not to get all mercenary, but these three situations were exciting because I (or in the first case, my mom) was getting paid to do something I loved. Money is one way our efforts and talents are validated by the rest of the world, a way of saying "a job well done".

That must by why it's a small thrill to be compensated (modestly) through blogging. I really feel this blog represents some of my best work, and it feels good to be paid for it. What about you? Do you get paid to do something you love? If so, how does it make you feel? If not, how does it make you feel?

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  1. Wow! I can see where you got your creativity from! Your mom's flier looks a lot like something you'd create. :) And I don't think you should be embarrassed of your confidence re: your shirts--they were awesome!

    Sidenote: I haven't really been commenting lately because I don't feel like I have anything to add, since I don't gift wrap myself (also I've been inSANEly busy!). But I've definitely been following along! But at the library on Saturday the Art & Recreation department put on a cool washi tape program, and I had so much fun decorating my little washi tape book--totally thought of you! :)

  2. @Jessica - Hey lady! Thanks for dropping a line; I can definitely understand that blog commenting can't be a life priority when you're busy. : ) The washi tape program sounds so fun! Has the library always been so hip??

  3. I on occasion get paid for my creativity, but not nearly enough...not that the money part is important to me nearly as much as the getting to be creative and have others enjoy it part. =o)
    I, too, follow and don't comment much, we haven't been formally introduced but I really enjoy reading your ideas and such!


  4. @Michelle - Aw, thanks for commenting! I love seeing readers come out of the woodwork - I appreciate it. Getting paid to be creative is definitely not the only thing that matters, but it makes our work more sustainable. Glad to hear that you are occasionally paid for your creativity; hope more opportunities like that come your way!

  5. I love this post. So cool to see what you've done and how you've been recognized for it!! My work has always been hit or miss and I'm just developing my own style, so no payment just yet. =)

  6. @erin t - Hi! Thanks for the feedback. It was fun for me to look at these bits of paper and realize they tell a story. Keep going in developing your style!


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