August 3, 2015

The Fool Proof way to Stop Creative Jealousy

The Fool Proof way to Stop Creative Jealousy

That little voice has a lot to answer for. That nagging, sickening whisper that somehow knocks the wind out of you and leaves you useless and wondering why. No one wants to feel inadequate but it’s particularly biting when it comes to feeling like something you put your heart and soul into just isn’t good enough. However hard we try jealousy has it’s way of seeping in through the smallest crack we leave open. More often than not, exactly when we’re feeling especially vulnerable already.

Believe it or not there are some benefits to recognising that jealous feeling when it strikes. Stick with me here for just a moment. Jealousy can help us understand our own aspirations and give us direction. When you see something you wish you were doing then maybe you should be paying more attention to your own needs. But when it comes to debilitating jealousy - the type that stops you producing anything that is a true reflection of your own experience and skill, but leans us closer to straight up plagiarism - that’s not on. We need to find an answer.

The reason I wanted to write about this subject is because I’m no stranger to jealousy. As much as I don’t like to admit it I have moments of blogger envy every day. I wish I could take photos like this blogger, or I wish I’d had that idea or their styling expertise. These pangs, whilst momentarily sucking the life out of you, are actually a good thing. They remind me to keep striving to improve my craft. They keep me on my toes and give me new goals to work towards, but amongst the productive jabs every now and then a much more decremental resentment sneaks up and knocks you clean out.

There are lots of ways to avoid this type of jealousy, non any better than the other. Some people avoid any kind of influence that would create these feelings, choosing only to follow blogs or creative entrepreneurs outside of their niche. But I am way to curious for that. I’m submerged in this DIY world and I wouldn’t have it any other way! So I had to find another way and it came from an unexpected place.

When I first had the idea to start We Make Collective I initially wanted to create all of the tutorials myself. This meant I would get to experiment, learn and explore every possible avenue I could in one creative technique. I’d get to expand on and develop my own skill and basically play with great materials all day long! Living the dream!

But then I realised I was missing out on a great opportunity, not only could I use the Collective to work with some of the people I admire most, I could also create a truly unique collection that featured tutorials out of my own technical experiences and creative influences, and offer more ideas and skills than just those I have learnt. If I hadn’t decided to work with so many other people I think I would have missed the whole value behind We Make Collective. Working with the people I admire creates a much more comprehensive and quality site for everyone involved.

Taking it one step further and working with independent suppliers who might otherwise be our competitors was a natural progression. Yes, I would not be making a big profit by outsourcing so much of the work but the value here is not in the financial gains but in the quality of the service which we have the chance to create.

One of the benefits of choosing this route is that I get to use all the knowledge I’ve earned from my blogger obsession and work with some of the people I admire most. It’s here that I realised just how important it is to collaborate not just to build an amazing resource but for my own emotional advantages. Working with other creatives that I could easily be envious of has softened the blow.

I’m also lucky that my work with Design*Sponge also gives me an avenue to work with even more of the people I admire. It’s in these collaborations that I’ve become less jealous of my coworkers and genuinely happy for their achievements. Part of this is getting the chance to really see the person behind the perfectly styled blogs and websites. When you realise it’s a real person behind the gloss with real stuff going on it their own lives it’s much harder to keep harbouring negative feelings.

So my advice is to get the know the real people behind the window display and perhaps even collaborate with them! I realise that this is not always possible but it’s important to look further than the surface not just for your own peace of mind, but to create a better space for your own audience too!

July 31, 2015

Home | The Easy way to Find Your Signature Style

Habitat inspiration

 Textured Throw | Seagrass Basket | Print | Coffee Table | HYDE Sofa | Clay Vase | Metal & Wood Lamp | Happer Rug

I did promise you it's going to be a week of news here didn't I? So as well as launching the We Make Collective this week (I still can't believe how well that's going!) I also have other news. If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know about it - I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures. We've started looking for a studio!

Up until now I've been working from our flat which (luckily) has a spare bedroom which I took over and use as an office. The problem is I'm outgrowing the small room and taking over the rest of the house with props, materials and general mess and clutter. When I'm working on bigger projects I spend half my day piling furniture up on one side of the room to give me a space in which I can actually fit a piece to photograph it! Apart from getting the chance to flex my muscles (...) this is not ideal.

One of my biggest irks is that my living room is no longer a relaxing space for me. It's cluttered and there's too much furniture. Looking around it's just one big storage space rather than an area to enjoy. One of the most exciting things about moving into a studio will be getting this room back and as soon as I had made the decision I was mentally (and Pinterestingly) planning how to whip this space back into shape!

My biggest problem with decorating is that I'm influenced by too many different styles. I have conflicting ideas of what I think I like and what I'm actually drawn to and instead of coming out as an eclectic masterpiece, I'm left with an awkward mismatch that just doesn't quite work out.

So I'm shifting my focus. I want to trust my gut and not be scared to make decisions that are not on trend. But working out how to do this takes planning. Instead of jumping in thinking I know what I want, I'm going to plan and research like I would any other project. My worry is I'll just plan myself into the awkward mess again because you know what, there is just TOO much choice! But I have found the perfect solution and it's so simple it hurts. It's something I already have and I know you will too. Are you excited?

I'm going to tell you all my secrets now!

You're thinking 'just get to the point!'

Ok, for reals this time. The easy way to find your signature style is...

PINTEREST! Revolutionary, I know... But while we've been Pinning away, saving everything we love to carefully curated project boards for others to enjoy, we've forgotten they are a useful resource for us too! (Well, I have anyway. The rest of you might be a little more savvy than me.)

Follow Francesca | Fall For DIY's board Home Details on Pinterest.

My 'Home details' board has 1077 pins of rooms and details I just love. Not the things I think I should, not the things I can afford or think I need. Just pure aesthetic joy. What better place to start? I've been trying to figure out what I'm naturally drawn to and all this time I've been ignoring I have this huge resource literally at my finger tips.

So after looking over the board I think I can see some clear themes emerging. I love a clean look with accents of colour. Most of the colours are bright but at the same time earthy (I don't know if that makes sense, but it does in my head), muted perhaps. There's a combination of natural, raw materials next to minimal and glossy and the look is generally more grown up and traditional than I thought I would go for.

This is so far from what I have been trying to achieve. In my mind I want an all white, very modern, very minimalist look with bright, bright, bright colour accents. These ideas are so different. When I take a second around my living room I can see them colliding and clashing. I can see exactly where it's going wrong and while it might take a while to correct it at least I now know how to.

I'm starting with these six product which I think encapture my signature style and working from there. I'm being patient with progress. It isn't going to happen overnight. I'm hoping instead that investing in key pieces over a longer period of time will create a more cohesive look than being won over by the latest trend. Come back to me in six months and we'll see if it's working!


July 29, 2015

DIY Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter

Fall For DIY | Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter tutorial

Between me and Alex we can get through quite a bit of tableware at home. Like a clumsy comedy duo we have a problem with breakages. My problem seems to be my elbows. While I can keep my hands in check, when it comes to watching where the rest of my arms are and what they are about to knock over I have tunnel vision. The absolute worst example of this was elbowing a whole bottle of tequila we bought back from Mexico last year onto our kitchen floor! Tequila and glass everywhere. No margaritas for us...

Fall For DIY | Gold Kintsugi Ceramic Planter tutorial

Apart from the tequila bottle, I've found a way to reuse a lot of the breakages and (in my opinion) make them so much better! These Kintsugi DIY repair kits from Mora Approved let you professionally fix your crockery in minutes and is so easy to use. You can put your broken pieces back together again with beautiful accents of gold running through the ceramics. In fact this piece looks so good I wish I'd broken it into a few more pieces before putting it back together again! I'm already looking for other items I may accidentally (ahem!) break so I can experiment more with the kit!

continue reading

July 27, 2015

My Story | How I Became a Creative Blogger

Fall For DIY | How I became a creative blogger

Over the past few months I’ve spoken in depth about how creativity isn’t something you’re born with and how it takes practice, determination and purpose to build creative routines. In this flurry of advice I’m giving out I realised that you might be wondering why on earth you should be listening to me give it. If you are (or are just curious) I thought I’d tell you a little bit more about my story of how I became a creative blogger and how that has led me to have my strong opinions on individual creativity. Then you can make up your own mind whether you should.

The obvious place to start would be at the beginning. I could tell you all about how crafty and hands-on I was as a child. About being drawn towards art at school and getting my degree in textile design but that’s not the important part of this story (if you want to read more about that you can do here). To me, the most significant part of my journey came after that. It came when I was stuck in limbo. When I had no idea what I wanted to do and had little confidence in what I could do. It was when I worked part time jobs waitressing to make ends meet. At this point I never believed I would end up in a creative job. I knew my best chance was working for myself as I didn’t have the practical skills to design or courage to learn on the job. I’d always been told that I was talented and that this was what I was meant to be doing, but I couldn’t have felt any less creative at this point and I started looking for other options.

At this point I just want to run off on a tangent for a moment. Bare with me, but I’m a big hater of the word talent. It’s a tricky one because I’m often tempted to use it. What I want to say is “I’m a little bit in love with you because you are so damn good at what you do” but the more socially acceptable way of saying it is “Damn, you are talented!” right? So what’s my problem with the word? Well, I’ve never liked the idea that someone is naturally better than someone else. With the exception of those child geniuses you see on the news we all have the ability to learn - it’s just where we are encouraged and which opportunities we are given. Most creative adults will tell a story of always being creative. They loved to make as children and (quite rightly) were encouraged to do so. But just because you did or didn’t like to do something as a child doesn’t mean you have to, or cannot do it as an adult. I loved sport as a child. But now, all you need is me, a ball and a camera and you have the makings to go viral. As a child you have hours to entertain yourself each day. You have the time to get good at something you do a lot. It’s not talent, it’s practice.

And this is where I come back to my story. Whilst working behind bars and serving people food I wasn’t practicing being creative. I had little time, drive and to be completely honest with you I was scared to. This was my identity during my childhood and as I grew into an adult. What if that was all just a lie and I didn’t have what it took to compete? What if I disappointed everyone else and most importantly myself? So I just carried on, making ends meet and lacking in any purpose. The alternative was just way too intimidating.

Then I found blogging. 

And everything clicked into place… haha! No, not really. But wouldn’t life be wonderful if it was that easy? It took much longer than that. I started reading blogs about 2009 which evidently is quite late in some people's view, but perhaps early in others (That’s all relative and not really that important, but we need a timeline here) and I started my first blog “Teahab” soon after. But I had nothing to say. I didn’t know how to blog. I didn’t know how to take photos and I didn’t know what to write about. I can assure you it was not an overnight success! I wrote occasionally, but nothing original and nothing with any purpose or meaning. The big change came when I started working in an independent bead shop which gave me the resources I needed to be creative much more often. I can remember my interview well. I had clumsily fixed a jump ring onto a scrabble tile and wore it on a chain. Kate’s (the shop owner) face said it all. I needed to learn and I did.

All of a sudden I had something to write about. My first tutorials were badly shot on my iPhone 3 and edited with an Instagram filter. I put them together in a grid app on my phone, wrote the how to guide (Back in those days I didn’t write an intro or even a quick hello. Straight down to business!) and published. My blog was an awfully designed blogger page and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was doing something. Five years later and I’m still doing it (that story is one for another day!) and I’ve learned so much in that time. By consistently learning new skills and practicing them in different ways I have a better understanding of my own creativity. I trust and believe in myself and I’m no longer scared of failure or the unknown.

Which is where we get to the big announcement I’ve been promising you all week! When I started blogging full time 6 months ago one of my goals was to create a place that would be constructive and promote creative thinking. Obviously I love DIY blogs and the absolutely amazing wealth of knowledge that bloggers are sharing online is fantastic! For me it’s my favourite part of blogging by far but perhaps that is a little selfish. Sometimes when I'm publishing one-off projects I don’t feel like I’m giving back creatively. I don’t feel like I’m encouraging creative freedom and inspiration for others to learn from. And as much as one-off tutorials can give many people the confidence to try out a skill, they can also sometimes stifle ideas and leave people feeling like this is the only way to complete a project.

So, here goes!

That’s why I’m starting a new online community called We Make Collective. It’s a place for learning new skills, being inspired by each other and sharing ideas. Instead of being intimidated by other creatives we can collaborate to encourage each other. We can champion new design and motivate our fellow makers to continue practicing even when they get off track.

But creating this space isn’t easy. I’m so lucky to have had support from so many other bloggers and creatives. Many of them will be helping to create the online inspiration and tutorials. I’ll be announcing all the contributors very soon and I just know you’re going to be excited when you hear who we have on board! But to make sure that we can pay all our contributors fairly and source the very best materials we need your support. Our Kickstarter has launched today! It’s a great way for you to get involved in the Collective from day one. There are a number of affordable options for you to support us starting from just £5/$8USD and our first materials kit is something really special. You can read all about it over on the Kickstarter page so I’ll let you do so when you have a moment! (You probably all need a tea break after this mammoth post…) Questions are so very welcome and if you have any ideas to make the collective even better I’m all ears. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Before you go here’s just a quick note to end my story. Without all of you I might never have gained the confidence to make my life a more creative one. It’s because of your ongoing support, generosity of kindness and consistent encouragement that I am hear today. I am so thankful to each and every one of you for that. Whether we chat in the comments or if you read quickly in your lunch break, I so appreciative you sticking with me all this time. Now it’s time for me to repay the favour!