Discovering the works of other creatives has been fun and inspiring. Everyone has their own creative process, whether a painter, designer, photographer, or writer.
When someone creates something there is a natural tendency to want to know more about the process. It’s an honor to feature artist, Brynn James, on Creatives Corner by LeAnn: Behind The Scenes.
Let the questions begin!
How did you discover your blogging/business niche?
A lot of trial and error lead me to my niche. I have dabbled in so many types of art and I think I finally just found what I love to create! I have gone through many phases with my art and my relationship to it. I think that has helped me rule out a lot of things that just weren’t a good fit for me, while also teaching me bits about myself and what DOES work for me.
My husband Ryan’s background is in branding and digital design. Ryan is an amazing teacher. He is strategic and business-minded. He has also always been generous with his knowledge.
Ryan has helped me grow my business in a lot of ways – not the least of which is confidence. He’s been incredibly encouraging and supportive while also offering his practical help. He helps me keep my expectations of myself realistic, helps me set quantifiable goals, and roots for me in the process.
He’s always gracious and encouraging even if I don’t always level up to the goals I’ve set, and most of all he trusts me. So long-story-long, trying on a lot of hats over time has really crucial for me to figure out what I wanted to do. Finding the perfect match for me (in life and in business) was equally important.
Did you always have an idea of what you wanted to do?
I’ve always known that I want to take care of people and be creative at the same time. I haven’t always known what that would look like but I knew that those were big career goals for me. I think I’ll be happy and creatively fueled as long as I can keep those things top priorities.
What about your craft/biz sets you apart?
As far as my product, I try to make my designs and mediums as unique as possible. Everything I paint is pretty heavily influenced by the Nordic folk art I grew up around. I think that adds an element of quirkiness to my work. I don’t know anyone else who paints on vintage platters, so that’s kind of my main “thing.”
As far as business, I try really hard in all things I do to uphold a high caliber of professionalism and hospitality. I hope to spread warmth through both my product and how I conduct myself.
From my thoughtful planning sessions, the content I paint and illustrate, the way I engage in social media or communicate with clients, down to the care I take in packaging orders – it’s done very intentionally and with the hope of being an encourager. I hope that sets me apart!
Who inspires you creatively? Who makes you think, “they just get me?”
Honestly, I’m most inspired by my customers and clients! They have thrown some really great ideas my way and that’s really grown me. So many folks come to me looking for a gift for someone they love. That constant generosity really moves and motivates me!
I’m thrilled to be thought of when people are planning wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, nursery decor, wedding decorations, memorial events or general encouragement. Such beautiful things to celebrate! And I get to be a part of it in some tiny way! Kind of an amazing thing when you think about it. It’s a real treat that I never take for granted.
Being a creative entrepreneur, what have you learned the most about yourself and about freelancing that you feel is important to share with others?
Find your people!
Those folks who want you to work for free are not your people. The people who ask you to go above and beyond but are also begging for major discounts are not your people. People who don’t respect your boundaries or policies are not your people. It’s okay to say no to projects! Standing up for yourself (kindly) is NOT bad customer service.
Your people are out there. And you will know when you find them because they’ll understand you. They’ll understand your product, your vision ,and they’ll want to be a part of it.
Your people will feel like a breath of fresh air and will be so fun to work for that it won’t feel like work! It is hard to learn that not every person is not your people. You just can’t appeal to or connect with everyone on the planet and that’s okay! It can take a while to figure out who that is, but if you stick to your guns with both what YOU love to create and also your business boundaries, you’ll find them!
What would you like to explore with your art that you haven’t tapped into yet?
I’ve been experimenting with painting on different surfaces. Some day I’d like to get into screen printing some of my illustrations on bags, shirts, etc. But that feels like a million years away since I’ve always got so many open projects I’ve got cooking.
What has been your biggest challenge with your creative endeavors and how did you overcome them?
One of my biggest struggles right now is finding the time to network both online and in “real life.” I feel like a lot of my growth and confidence as a business person has come from the encouragement and feedback I’ve received from fellow small shop bosses so it’s incredibly important to me to be giving that back.
Being self-employed can be kind of a lonely gig since you don’t have coworkers so I’ve found it really helpful to view colleagues as teammates (yes, I know that sounds cheesy).
Connecting with others who are out there chasing the same hustle as you is so valuable! I love coming along other folks and offering my support and camaraderie, but I rarely have enough time to get all of my own work done, let alone invest in others on the level that I’d like.
How do you find work/life balance when you are feeling overwhelmed?
I don’t know if I’ve ever found a real balance!
I try to get the bulk of my work done while my kids are napping or with their grandmas so that while they’re awake and home I can give them my 100%. I don’t want my kids to remember their mom always working. I hate that there are occasional weeks where I find myself repeating “just a minute!” or “I’m almost done with this project.”
I need to know that they come before my work and are a top priority! So it kills me to work too much while they’re awake. Same with my husband – my biggest work nights are nights when he’s out of the house at band practice. That way I’m not ignoring him for work when he’s home.
Obviously, he can get his own snacks and doesn’t need me in the same way, but I love hanging out with him and I need that to higher-ranking than freelance. This helps me personally recharge and not lose my mind. Other than that, I don’t know that I’ve found a balance!
Friends ask me constantly how I “do it all,” which is hilarious to me because I DON’T! My house is usually pretty messy and I suck at meal planning and really cooking, in general, so maybe that’s my balance! I’m not one of those over-achiever moms/housewives who is super put together. Kind of just making it all up one week at a time! haha
What is a typical day in the life of like?
The main stars of most of my days are my daughters Piper (2 years) and Trulee (3 months). I wake up around 5:30-6 and answer my emails while my older daughter watched an episode or two on Netflix and the baby rolls around on the floor.
I’m a total homebody introvert so if we’re doing out-of-the-house things, I try to get them done early while I have the energy for them! So play dates or errands happen in the morning. I have an arts and crafts time every day with the two-year-old and then she naps.
After that, I get about 2 hours to get some work done and try to give the 3-month-old as much attention as possible. Sometimes I have to pick one of those things and I always pick the baby. After the big kid is up from her nap I try to keep us outside for as much of day is left.
We all function and get along better when we’ve had a bit of fresh air! Once they go down to bed in the evening, I’m back to working. It’s so much more likely to be a productive time when little hands aren’t trying to “help” me.
Bedtime is 11 p.m. on an early night. Funny how when you’re on a roll it’s so hard to remember that you need to wake up in 5 hours! So, I drink a LOT of coffee. One day a week I get help from their grandma during which I have most of the day to work. That time is sacred!
What are your go-to hashtags for your niche?
#abmlifeiscolorful #makersgonnamake #makersmovement #shopsmall #handlettered #folkart #homedecor #handmadehome #makermama #makesomethingeveryday #typegang #lovemymakers
(I’m sure there are more but that’s just off the top of my head!)
Any current or upcoming projects you would like to share?