June 19, 2014

Handmade Marathon: Janelle Hardy

Editor's Note: By now, I'm sure you all know that snail mail brings me great joy. When I recently came across Janelle's art, I immediately invited her to be a part of the #handmademarathon series. Be sure to check out her monthly subscriptions to receive beautiful snail mail.  Janelle also writes a lovely e-newsletter called Sunday Morning Pleasures - perfect for reading with Sunday morning tea. Let's meet Janelle.

(+) Tell us about your business

My business is all about luscious and soulful creativity. I create monthly art offerings, sell prints and originals, and will soon be offering intuitive creativity ecourses.

My monthly art offerings are a painted Letters From Vancouver Island subscription, an art-by-the-month tiny print subscription and Devotional Paintings.  I love offering these because they combine my passion for storytelling through writing, painting and snail-mail, as well as connecting with people.

My creativity ecourses will include 2015: A Year of Creativity, and four 40-day creativity intensives: Coming Home to the Body: finding compassion and love for the skin you're in, Filling the Creative Well, Becoming the Wild Goddess and Personal Mythmaking: rewriting your personal history and family stories.

(+) How did you get started?

Well, I have always been creative, I've always dreamed of supporting myself as an artist, and over the years I've cobbled together many different contracts, at least half of them arts-related, whether for dance performance, choreography, writing, visual arts, teaching and doing arts admin (among many other things). However, I also spent a long time believing that I couldn't possibly make a living doing what I'm compelled to do, and trying to be 'practical.'

I've only just figured out that I can combine my many creative passions and work in a single-minded and focused way to make a sustainable living as a creative person, and I am so excited to be starting on this new path.

It was December of 2013 that the lightbulb came on, and I've been working like crazy since then to learn all things online arts marketing-related and get my projects cohesive and out there (Etsy is such a fabulous platform for getting started).

(+) The gal/guy behind the business - Tell us about yourself, how do you spend your Saturday mornings, a little glimpse into your life, your family etc.

The gal behind my business is my 11-year old daughter. She's a tremendous force of nature, and I'm really blessed to have her in my life. I'm a single mother, and that one fact has really shaped myself and my creative life, creating an equal amount of challenge and reward. I'm an introvert, she's an extrovert. It's a mix of exhaustion and delight as I raise my daughter and try to build a life as a self-employed creative.

Saturday mornings involve sleeping in. Both of us are night owls and find the early rising routine for school particularly challenging. So, on Friday night I turn off all alarm clocks and telephones and we enjoy the luxury of sleeping until our bodies decide it's time to wake.

Slow mornings are what I like best - waking up and lingering in bed with a book, puttering around in the kitchen preparing breakfast and tea, and if it's nice, sitting outside to enjoy the sun as we plan what the rest of the day will look like. It's a heavenly routine!

(+) What inspires you? Where does your creativity come from?

Honestly, everything under the sun inspires me. I can find sparks and illumination in anything.

All it takes is shifting gears and opening myself up to the present moment and it all floods in. I can sometimes feel so overwhelmed by beauty and ideas that I almost cry.

Having said that, when it comes to the creative process, and realizing my ideas and inspiration into the world, there is a specific internal incubation process at work that I have learned must not be forced. It cooks away until it's ready to come out, and if I'm paying attention, I know when to take action. At that point it will come out almost fully formed. But if I try to force or hurry it, I get terrible results!

(+) What's one thing you would like to improve about your business?

I'm just starting out in my art business, so I can't say I have just the one thing to improve on. I'm on a steep learning curve in every aspect of marketing myself online.

Practically speaking, I'd like to get better at product photos and copywriting (I didn't even know what that was until 3 months ago!)

Perhaps the other thing I'd like to improve are my time management skills for art-making. With all the work I've been putting into learning how to make a living as an artist, sometime the art-making suffers! Paradoxical, but it happens. 

(+) What is the best gift you have ever given or received?

Oh goodness. I don't know how to precisely answer that. I used to be a very ungrateful receiver of gifts. I think I'm a hard person to give gifts to, and I would often feel, when I got a gift, that the giver didn't understand me or pay attention to me.

After such a long time raising my daughter on my own, my attitude has changed and I'm really grateful for everything. I've dropped the foolishness of feeling unseen, and instead I'm so tremendously grateful for the smallest of things.

Gifts of presence, attention and time.

A friend washing the dishes and making a meal for me because they see that I'm overwhelmed. Another friend is constantly making things out of wood for my daughter and I. Last year he would chop my wood every couple of weeks when my primary source of heat was a woodstove.

Boy oh boy do I ever love those little gifts of unasked-for help!

(+) How do you celebrate special occasions?

I come from a super foodie family who love throwing fabulous dinner parties. I still adore that. I'm not quite as good at being a host as my mother and brothers, but a great dinner and dance party with friends, family, food, devil's coffee, candlelight and a lot of laughter is my favourite way to celebrate special occasions.
(+) What do you do when you make time for yourself (you and only you)

Taking walks in the forest. It makes me feel so good. That and dancing. Making art in my own company. I love recharging in solitude.

You can find out more about Janelle here:
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