In the Studio: Jenny Highsmith

Today in the studio, Jenny Highsmith is answering a little q&a along with offering up a print giveaway to 3 lucky winners.  If you aren't already following her blog and print shop, you are missing out!  Today she is sharing a few things that help her in balancing a multiple business ventures, how she avoids creative ruts and so much more.  Don't forget to check out the end of the post for your chance to win one of her beautiful prints!

Great question! So, to my surprise, the art print side of things was not planned at all. As you may know, I love painting and designing and decorating everything :) Of course, with Maiedae, I'm able to use my graphic design skills and I have SO much fun doing that. At home, I'm constantly working on a project. Haha. If you could talk to my husband and family they would probably roll their eyes at my inability to sit still. But for me, creating is just a natural part of life and it brings me so much energy and joy. :) So, I had started creating some lettering and artwork for our home last year and several friends started commenting about how much they wanted something similar. So, I started making custom orders for friends and family using ink on canvas. I put this photo on Instagram and then things kind of went crazy. Moorea contacted me and asked me to be a designer for her shop. (!!!! eeeek!!! I was so excited) Then, I started getting so many requests that I began creating the less expensive option of my prints that you see now in my lettering shop. I never imagined so many people would be interested in my doodling. I am so thankful for this unexpected journey because it is something I absolutely love doing and would do anyways!

Tthis is a great question. I think anyone who owns their own business can relate to the constant struggle for balance. I'm also, like most entrepreneurs, the over-achiever type. I don't mind being busy all the time and I have to force myself to take breaks. And I don't like taking breaks. But, I think ever since quitting my full time job last year and going full time with Maiedae, I've felt so much more balanced in general. Trying to work a 9-5 job and then come home and make your dream business a reality feels overwhelming. I never had time to create artwork or play around with lettering. So this past year has been such a blessing to be able to do what I love during the day and then explore other hobbies in my free time.

But, to answer your question, a typical work week looks something like this: Mondays and Fridays I spend most of the day answering emails, scheduling out design clients, receiving new print orders, shipping out orders, taking photos, editing photos, scheduling out blog posts, and writing blog posts. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays is when I get most of my design work done for Maiedae clients. I do most of my work from a coffee shop on those days simply because 1) I'm an extrovert and I get really sad if I spend all day every day alone and 2) I get too distracted with projects and chores staring me in the face at home. I'm not a morning person, so I start work most mornings around 9:30 or 10am.  Before that, I love taking my time to get up, get dressed, listen to Pandora, get a cup of coffee, eat breakfast, and think through ideas for artwork. This is my "alone time." Typically I eat lunch while working to save some time because I like to end my day by 6pm so I can eat dinner with my husband. After dinner is usually when I paint or draw out my ideas for my art prints or work on custom orders. I don't do this every night, though. Probably an average of 2-3 nights a week. To make sure I don't overwork, my husband and I have a scheduled date night, a scheduled chore night, and try to keep Friday and Saturday nights open to spend time traveling to see family or friends. I know that might sound ridiculous to some of you, but if I don't have a schedule that forces me to stop, then I will just keep working.

Speaking of scheduling, that's the only way I get through all of my to-dos and tasks. Scheduling is a HUGE part of my day to day balance and life. I use Google calendar to schedule out all of my blog posts for the month as well as any Maiedae tasks or design client deadlines. Then, I have a list app on my phone that lets me know things outside of Maiedae and my blog that need to get done that day. Anything from what we need at the grocery store to who is waiting for their art prints to be shipped out. I love keeping these lists, tasks, and calendar because once I write it down, it frees up my brain to think about other things. If you asked me what I had going on next week, I wouldn't be able to tell you without looking at my calendar! This is wonderful to me because it means I don't have a million things running through my brain! It also helps me plan ahead - especially with my blog posts and collaborations.

Something that I'm working on currently to be more balanced is that I just turned off notifications on my phone for email and social media a few weeks ago. I was finding myself checking email and social media throughout all hours of the night and weekend and I'm trying to get better at not constantly being on my phone. I still have specific times where I check in on things, but not having them pop up every 3 seconds has already made a huge difference in separating work time from free time.

Inspiration is such a tricky thing because some weeks it seems to come so naturally and other times it is like looking for water in a desert. It's just not there. I've found that if I take the time to take care of myself, take the breaks I know I need, spend time with friends, and actually do stuff other than work, that I usually have the natural energy for being inspired and creative. Obviously, being inspired by other designers and artists is wonderful, but most of the time my ideas come from me thinking to myself, "Man, I'd really like to decorate our bathroom with some artwork and I'd love something that said or looked like ____." I started my art prints just because they were something I wanted in my own home, so usually if I really want something for our house, I know other people probably do too. With my art prints I also like to think, "If I were getting married again, what would I want?" or "If I were a single woman in Atlanta what kind of artwork would I decorate my apartment with?" The same goes for my blog. If I enjoyed making something, I share it. If I would enjoy reading it, I write about it. And if I learned something that really impacted me, I think others might want to know too. Usually that's where my best ideas come from.

If I'm truly in a creative rut, sometimes I'll schedule a day to take off from work, from blogging, and from making anything artistic and I'll just go do something I enjoy. I might go sit and read a book or I might go visit a friend or I might just lay around the house. Usually a creative rut means that my mind just needs a break.

Now that I've jumped into the art print business, I have so many ideas and dreams for where it could go! Obviously, I want to continue to do Maiedae full time. But, I would love to have a super-legit art print shop like Lindsay Letters or Oh My Deer. They both have such successful art print businesses and I'm so inspired by their beautiful products. I would love to open a Shopify store in the near future and start working with a printer who has more capabilities to print on canvas, etc. I would also love to increase my wholesale clientele and start showing up in more stores around the country. :) That would be really cool.


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Winners were chosen at random, have been listed below and notified via email

Thanks for entering! xo

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