Thursday, January 16, 2014

You Should Send Valentines

Have I really not blogged since October? Whew. If you're still with me, bless you.

Just a quick post today about what could be my least favorite holiday. It has the potential to suck the life out of me with all its roses and kisses and heart-shaped-chocolate and pink teddy bears. Am I right?

Ugh.

Instead of being sucked into the commercial portrayal of Valentine's Day, which somehow pressures guys into buying jewelry and girls into buying a new dress, I'm taking a different approach.

We are called to love.
"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart..." 
- 1 Peter 1:22
I send Valentines because I want to love on people. And actually, I send them more than just in the middle of February. But, really, couldn't everyone use a little love in the middle of February? Our New Year's Resolutions seem harder these days and we're still months away from spring.

I created a Valentine's Day collection that will span the whole year. It's less covered in hearts and x's and o's and more full of light-hearted design and sincere thought. People need to feel loved. You can make them feel so.

If you're so inclined, shop here!



Say "no" to the heart-shaped balloons this year, friends. You can do it.
MT

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Getting Paid as a Creative

Hi, friends! Bear with me as I learn to balance, juggle and plan my days as a free-lancer over here. Time management is an art, y'all. The 'ol blog took a back seat (again), but I'm back at it this evening to share some uplifting tidbits for you fellow creatives.

I am asked all the time how I knew to take the "leap" into full-time design. How I knew I could quit my day job. How I was sure we'd make it. Cue blatant honesty: I counted my dollars, that's how.

I wish I could say it was an "ah-ha" moment on a Monday morning where I slammed the door on my job in stick-it-to-the-man fashion and sat down blissfully at my computer to make pretty things for lots of money. Instead, it was long, loooooong nights and weekends spent juggling three jobs, hoarding pennies, and praying. Lots of praying.

Let's face it: as passionate and talented as we are, at some point it's about the money, at least a little bit. I know, I know. It's not about the money - and maybe most days it's not. But. When rent is due, it's about dollars.

I stumbled across this fantastic article today on Design*Sponge and thought I'd share. I love its transparency and truth. I'm especially connected to this snippet about competitors.

There’s enough work for all of us — no one is reinventing the wheel here, do your share and do that work! Send positive energy to those who you feel are your competitors, there’s something in their work that you aspire and connect to, the good vibes will come back around. Comparative thoughts are so draining and do not help you access your own creativity.

So often we are bombarded by others' work and, instead of inspiring or driving us to be better and refine our craft, we're bogged down in not being that person. Which - guys - is super silly. We're ourselves, that's it. It's enough and it's good.

These Golden Rules work for Leela Cyd, a crazy-talented photographer of all things. Some of my favorite photos of hers are below. Take a moment to read Leela's advice. It's a balance of gentle nudges and hop-to-it honesty. Two things we creatives really need, I think.

That, and coffee.




Monday, August 19, 2013

NotWedding // Atlanta

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all had an enjoyable weekend - and stayed dry in this weird Georgia weather. For us, the weekend was packed full of driving. I topped it off with a trip to Atlanta yesterday to be a part of the NotWedding event at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center and had. a. blast.

Guys, this is such a fun idea. A really awesome alternative to the traditional (and often overwhelming and un-inspirational) bridal show, The NotWedding showcases dozens of local wedding vendors and puts on a fake wedding. With a real couple, real food, real invitations, real dancing - like a real wedding, but not. Get it? Besides giving brides-to-be a true picture of what their potential wedding vendors can give them, it's seriously FUN.

One of their creative directors reached out to me last month about being part of the team and I jumped at the chance. They provided this inspiration board and basically said to run wild. Which, as fellow artists would agree, is what we live for - creative freedom!

Also, that dress.



So, I decided to run with ombre. I felt like the shades of pinks and "honey" would be beautiful in a gradient. I also decided to hand-letter and digitize the "NotCouple"'s names as well as the headings for the RSVP card and programs. The response was overwhelming - the guests loved them!


Left: Seating and arrangements at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
Middle: Puddleduck's Information Table
Right: A little somethin' for the boys from their brides-to-be. 
Guys always say they get nothing at wedding events. No more, I say. 

Not only did I get a chance to connect with (the sweetest) potential clients, but I made some amazing connections with other super talented vendors. Here are a few of my favorites:




If you're getting married, please consider supporting this fabulous industry event. Check here to see when The NotWedding is coming to your city!

Have a great week, friends!
MT

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Come On In // Home Tour

If you're anything like me, your home is a work in progress. I am constantly rearranging, adding a new this here or a moving that there. Since I have more time for the blog lately, I was perusing through my links and posts and realized that our "home tour" link is super out-dated. So, when I photographed my studio, I went ahead and sprang for the whole house.

I'm on a huge white kick lately. I love how much larger it can make a room feel and how all of my decorations are somehow more beautiful against a simple, neutral backdrop. We are in our last year here in this home, so I really want to enjoy our space. I'm sure you can guess that I'm thrilled to decorate a new place when we move.



Head on over here to check out the changes to our space. And, let me know what you think!

Happy Thursday!
MT

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Come On In! // Studio Tour

Hello, there! Thank you all for such kind words of encouragement and support over these past few weeks regarding this full-time gig of mine. I'm still giddy when I get up in the morning and get to be creative right away. In honor of this new adventure, I thought I'd share the space I now spend almost all of my time.

I toyed with the idea of renting a studio space downtown somewhere so I could "go to work", but I realize that I'm lucky enough to be able to make this my career and didn't want to get ahead of myself. Read: I had a serious case of sticker shock on rent rates. We live in the house that REM lived in when they were in Athens and I reeeeeally wanted their old office space upstairs on the corner of College and Clayton here in Athens, but (again), let's not get ahead of ourselves.

So, with the money I would have used for one month's rent, I decided to spruce up my home studio and make it truly work for my needs and materials.


I finally invested in a brand new iMac. I never had enough memory before - hooray for no more spinning beach ball waiting for files to save!



I previously worked on a (humongous) Pottery Barn work table with these white book shelves on either side but was realizing lately that it was not an efficient use of space. With quite a small space, I needed to actually use every inch. So, we split up the book shelves and my hands husband attached a pieces of unfinished wood to the top of this one to make a work surface. It's perfect for cutting liners and assembling packages for shipping.



Here is the other half of the book shelf. Perfect for shipping supplies and boxes. I can finally store inventory (!!) and our new retail wedding albums. And a big happy poster never hurt anyone.

I'm quite fond of the natural light and new-found space in here. What are your office must-haves?

Thanks for stopping by!
MT

Friday, July 26, 2013

Quit Your Day Job

Friends! Long time no blog! When Puddleduck business picked up, something had to take the back burner and the blog was the first thing to go. Sorry for the radio silence for the past FIVE months, but I hope to be able to devote more time to this little corner of the web now that I'm a full-time stay-at-home (or coffee shop) designer. Which, whoa.

Here's a little re-cap of the past few months:

February: Blogged about my plans for the National Stationery Show.
March: Planned and sketched and designed for the National Stationery Show.
April: Wrote checks and stayed up late and panicked and cried and FREAKED OUT about the National Stationery Show.
May: Actually went to the National Stationery Show. Whew.
June: Recovered from the National Stationery Show.
July: Filled orders from the National Stationery Show.

Today is beautiful. Today, here at 8:00 am, I sit with my cup of coffee on my first day without a "real" job. I must admit, I am a little emotional in this sweet moment. I have hoped for this day for years and years. I have dreamed and planned and saved and envied other people who were where I am now, wondering WHAT ON EARTH they were doing so right that I was doing so wrong. Turns out, I wasn't doing anything wrong at all except lacking patience.

Etsy has a blog series called "Quit Your Day Job" and features small, shot-to-the-top shops whose success they owe to Etsy. On this especially exciting Friday, and since I owe so much of my own success to Etsy's incredible community of artists and buyers, I thought it appropriate to share with you the series - maybe it's as inspiring to you as it is to me. Though I found myself antsy with envy over so many of these talented folks at times, these stories are really what kept me believing that one day I, too, could make the leap.

Whether you're an artist itching to make your craft a full-time adventure, or you simply hate your ho-hum job and are toying with the idea of pursuing your real passion, my advice is this: do it.

Think it through, plan and save, but do it. You only have this one life - and there is really something to be said for loving what you do. It shouldn't seem like work all the time, you know. Thank you, readers, clients, supporters, fellow artists, friends and family, for helping make this dream of mine come true. It sure doesn't feel like work at all.

I'll leave you with a few beautiful words of wisdom.

Love!
MT





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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

National Stationery Show (and a little catch-up)

Folks. It has been a hot minute since I've been on the 'ol blog. My username-password did not fly off my fingertips when logging into Blogger like it did just a few months ago. Something I wish were not so, but something I am ever-grateful to say is because I am SWAMPED with orders. To which I say: Praise. The. Lord.

Since the first day of December, I literally cannot see my table top. It's covered in beautiful, colorful stacks of wedding invitations, save the dates, crisp envelopes and party goodies. What a glorious problem to have. 

Just six months ago, I remember asking myself if this little business would ever "take off". And, what does that mean anyway? Is this even worth it? Do people even like paper? And then God showed up. I have now made double my 2012 yearly profits in less than two months. Speechless.

With this clear message and confidence, I am now growing like never before. So, before I share my next big plan, let me say this: THANK YOU! Thank you to each and every one of you who have purchased from, featured, "ooohed" and "ahhed" and loved on me since I began this adventure. Every single one of you matter. I'm so excited to share more with you!

Now. I was invited in 2010 to one of the most sought-after opportunities in the paper business - The National Stationery Show - but quickly realized that my little hobby paled in comparison to some of the most talented designers I have ever seen. Not to mention I was lacking a few dollars. So, I tucked my tail and started saving, creating, building contacts, and planning. I am beyond thrilled to actually be attending the show in May in New York!

After all the budgeting and contracts, I am finally to the fun part - decorating my booth! I'm going with a light, airy, modern and fresh theme, much like my blog and website. Take a peek at my beginning plans and let me know what you think!



Cheers, friends!
MT
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