Creativity? I haven’t got time for creativity!

paintbrush-art2

If you’re chasing small children, changing nappies and juggling a smartphone all at the same time, the chances are creativity isn’t one of your top priorities. If I’m honest, it wasn’t that important to me in my LBK (life before kids) either. The tools of my trade were spreadsheets rather than paintbrushes!

Creating a business is a kind of creative pursuit. But creating a business is usually a logical series of steps that lead to an outcome – at least that’s what you’re aiming for. Admittedly some days it’s much more haphazard than that! But the outcome still matters – if your product isn’t good then nobody will buy it. If your customer service is bad then your customer won’t return.

Even if your product is creative, such as a logo or even a canvas to hang on a wall, ultimately someone has to like it enough to buy it. You’re not one hundred percent free to do whatever you choose.

So why does creativity matter so much? Continue reading “Creativity? I haven’t got time for creativity!”

Desperate Artwives: Mothers who create art behind closed doors

Being a working mum means that anything other than earning a living and caring for children is usually pushed aside. At least that’s the picture for many of us. Yet having young children so often brings about a burst in creativity. Perhaps it’s the shift in our priorities, the fresh perspective that children bring or just reconnecting with the way we were ourselves as children.

I experienced this myself but not being especially artistic, for me it was an urge to write, communicate, teach and be entrepreneurial. But many mums are artistic and find themselves desperate for a creative outlet. Conceptual artist Any Dignam is a mother of two who was in exactly this situation. That’s why she has created Desperate Artwives. Continue reading “Desperate Artwives: Mothers who create art behind closed doors”

Turn Your Creative Skill Into a Business (Part 2)

This is the part two of an article by artist and workshop leader Amelia Critchlow. You can read How to turn your creative skill into a business (part 1) here.

11. Be visible: once you are up and running you need to be visible: on the net, in magazines, via business cards, by adverts in local shops, libraries, centres, tell people. You won’t sell or get work if people don’t know you are there. So tell the world in whatever format you feel comfortable! Network like crazy on the net, leaving comments on other blogs, guest posting, doing give-aways and so on.

12. Once you have a web presence, get a business card printed up stating clearly what you do (or even what you intend to do!;), with an image that speaks volumes about the nature of your work and contact/web details on. Carry them with you at ALL TIMES ready to give out appropriately

13. Create a signature email so that all emails you send have a link straight back to your website or any url’s, and state what you do ie. jewellery designer, writer, tutor etc.

14. Have a single name that you use consistently for all web url’s so people get to know who you are and make the link. for example  same name for; website, blog, twitter, facebook, linkedin etc

15. On any web spaces make it clear and easy to contact you ie. name and email address at the top/front (avoid making it hard for people work to find out how to contact you)

16. Ask! Ask for help, support, babysitting, write ups, ask questions, ask for freebies, for tips and strategie.

17. Swap skills: for example, if you need some-one to read over or edit the text you’ve written for your site (or you want them to write it in the first place) and you can’t afford to pay then swap skills. I do this frequently and people are normally flattered to be asked.

18. Talk: talk to everyone you meet about what you do. Be excited, say it confidently, often I find speaking positively and passionately about what you do leads to offers of work, commissions, workshops, sales, interest etc

19. Ideas-storm with yourself. Once you are up and running and out there or once you hit an obstacle, or maybe before you have even started, I find one of my best and most helpful techniques is to ‘ideas storm’ with my self. Sit quietly, get a note-book and write out the question you want an answer to – frame it as a ‘how’ question, rather than a ‘why’ question. Then quietly let ideas come, and however ludicrous they may seem jot them down. Or go to sleep with your trusty notebook nearby and when you wake up jot down any ideas fresh in your mind. I can honestly say that some of my best and most helpful ideas – that I have then implemented – came to me like this.

20. Last of all I would say just GO FOR IT! There is nothing more fulfilling than earning money from what you love, it gives working a whole new dimension and fulfils parts of you that money never can. I live by the motto that a winner never quits and a quitter never wins, but only you can define what your definition of winning or success is – often it’s not about the money, but being able to live each day fulfilled and content doing what we love .

Oh and by the way I am still learning too and am in the thick of it right now – I am continuously picking up tips and ideas and know I still have a way to go, but the main thing is I love what I am doing and it balances out the things I find tough at times.

You can find out more about Amelia here:

Her website: www.ameliacritchlow.co.uk

Her blog: 101 Bird Tales

Her Experimental Art E-Course

Turn Your Creative Skill into A Business (Part 1)

Artist and workshop leader Amelia Critchlow has turned her art into a business.  She has very kindly agreed to share the ideas and strategies that have worked for her, so over to you, Amelia!

Returning to art a few years back – I always had a yearning to study art – and finally honouring that calling has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am mother to two children: one teenager and one seven year old who has special needs and only myself at home working and parenting. I have a lovely partner, but we don’t live together.

This year I have fully committed to making my passions my income streams too.

Whilst doing my degree in art, I also took a teaching qualification to become an art tutor and workshop leader, and after having spent time teaching, finally decided to write and run my own on-line art course, geared toward those desiring to fulfil their creativity or reach their creative potential, and parents who can’t always afford to go ‘out’ to art classes because of childcare or financial constraints (or those who lack of confidence artistically).

The experimental art e-course was launched this year as an accompaniment to my already existing art practice and website. I added a blog to my website last year too which I feel has been key to creating a successful on-line creative business.

You might benefit from sitting back with a nice glass or cup of something and a notebook to hand – I am always one for ‘capturing’ ideas when they pop into my head!

Here goes with my ‘top 20’ list:

  1. Confidence: confidence is key. How you get that confidence will be down to you. It may be studying a little more to get that level of confidence you need, or develop your skill. It may be having a show, or just telling some-one your idea, but only you will know when you ‘feel’ ready.
  2. Write out or collage your dream work scenario, and how a working day would look like and feel – revel in that feeling. Clear intentions are crucial
  3. Step past the fear and make a personal commitment to your art
  4. Take it seriously – if you don’t take you and your creative business idea seriously, no-one else will either (they will forever think it’s a whimsical ‘easy’ hobby – it isn’t!)
  5. Carve out time dedicated to pursuing your dream job – an hour an evening/week, an afternoon when kids are at nursery/school. LEAVE the housework whilst you get going on this
  6. Buy yourself some time: if money is an issue save up enough money to live on for a few months without having to do any other work and ‘buy’ yourself some time to launch your business (I did this by saving up, getting some-one to cover my other job, and taking a cut in income). Or work part time and cultivate your own business in the evenings (I no longer watch TV as I prefer to do my own art related work)
  7. Research: research those who are making it ‘work’ in your eyes. look at their websites, research their CV’s and/or ask them out to lunch to pick their brains – I did this and it was the best research and fun day out too! I grabbed ideas from this book: The Four Hour Work Week.
  8. Keep an ‘ideas’ book with you at all times, starting from NOW. I sleep with a notebook next to my bed, and I carry a notebook in my handbag, you never know when you will read, see, hear or get an idea for your art or business
  9. List out your current resources: think of all the things you have right now that you can use to start up that cost you nothing: the web (website, blog or network forums), people, your own hands/voice/personality, printer, phone, computer, camera, knowledge, skill, pen, paper, ideas etc
  10. Action: action is so key to starting off. One action always leads to another one. The minute I graduated from my art degree I applied to do an open house art show (at home) with my local borough. I didn’t think. I filled in the form, paid the cheque and made art for a few months. I was so nervous, but so glad I did it. Doing leads to new ‘happenings’: I met people, got invited to participate in shows, sold work and more. Other actions: start a blog or website. (My art website is with www.clikpic.com and my blog with www.blogspot.com the first is cheap, the other is free). Have a launch party at home, send an editorial to a magazine, make enough stock for an etsy shop: www.etsy.com

Amelia continues with Turn Your Creative Skill Into a Business in Part 2.

Amelia’s Grant for Creative Women

If a £100 grant would  help you with your creative project, then take a look at Amelia Critchlow’s 101 Bird Tales blog.

Amelia, artist and workshop leader, says

“‘Gift Grants 2010’ was an idea that came to me early this year. It is a personal initiative I wish to start, assisting creative self-starters in an arts/creative project. I am willing to give as a ‘gift’ – hence the name – £100 to an individual who has started an initiative related to creativity/the arts, but may be experiencing financial difficulties, or simply needs some money toward materials, a space, paid help, or whatever else might be needed to get a creative project up and flying.


I found it an incredible struggle trying to single parent, earn money, and find something for me, but when I did (art) and with the help I was given, I feel it has been the difference between sanity and insanity for me. Now it’s time I’d like to give back.”

To find out how to apply and if you’re eligible, check out 101 Bird Tales.

And Amelia will be guest blogging here at Business Plus Baby very soon…