STYLE STALK: Daphne Guiness

Its no surprise that the ever-changing and always intriguing Daphne Guinness is a massive style inspiration for many, including myself. She possesses a discriminatingly strong personal style, wearing haute couture effortlessly.

The heiress of the Guinness fortune, Daphne has become an icon through her many roles as an artist, actress, muse, model, designer and collector of couture. Since 1994, she has been in the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame and in was included in Tatler’s top 10 best-dressed list in 2010.

She’s also collab’d with MAC to create her own make up line, spent two years mounting an exhibition of a hundred displays of her clothing for the Fashion Institute of Technology, and is notorious on the Brit social circuit a very close friend of the late great Alexander McQueen. Scheduled to model for charity on the runway the day his suicide was announced, Guinness veiled herself in mourning.

As a fierce style icon, and pioneer for the industry, her style, attitude and values stand in sharp alignment with a high couture aesthetic I am drawn to. Many look to her intensely cultivated style and elegance for inspiration.

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Daphne’s individuality is a defining feature. Despite growing up into a life of privilege she created her own independence and unquestionably original style, whilst still retaining her class and elegance.

With her sharp defined features, and two toned black and platinum hair, her signature edgy and high fashion style sees her heralded as a luminary of edgy chic. She is the muse of many photographers who are fascinated by her beauty and feel for artistic performance.

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Her influence on fashion has been large; her imaginative mind always seeing the legacy in fashion as important historical art. “It’s a very mathematical, artistic, ancient tradition. I would never dispose of anything that I’ve had made, it has my personal stamp on it.”

Daphne Guinness

Her vision of preserving and valuing fashion shows her remarkable passion in devoting herself to an ideal.  Hail to the great Daphne, who never fails to inspire and delight with her amazing, flamboyant and cutting edge style!

 

Daphne Guinness

 

xDS

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MUSINGS: On the creative process

I’ve been pondering a little of late about the creative process; more specifically, how to exercise that reflex and how to keep the creative tap turned on. Once we’ve found (and have learned how to entice, not spook) our muse, what is it that sustains and nurtures creative flow?

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Are there any specific practices or processes that successful creatives put in place to ensure that their stream is as constant as it possibly can, and give it the best chance to flourish?

Many of us, especially when we begin a new year, promise ourselves that we will commit to our practice more. We’ll finish that short story. We’ll aim to write in our blog every single day. We’ll fantasise about drawing and painting every day, finishing that studio piece, practicing our instrument without fail.

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Like those proverbial plateaus we often hit when working out, we sometimes lose the steam that once powered new and exciting ideas. So we take a day off to ‘rest’, which can turn into two; until eventually we sometimes find ourselves opening up a notebook or picking up our guitar only to realise it hasn’t been touched in two weeks – or more.

So how to break the drought? How do we implement some changes that will allow us to produce not only a bigger volume of work, but better work?  How do we get into a “growth mindset”, so essential for success?

I find in instances when I am running dry or feeling flat on my creative intuition, I turn to the pros for help. Success breeds success, and if we seek lessons from those who are achieving and succeeding now, we can find a range of ideas and tips on how to bring that creative spark back with a vengeance.

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Learning from the pros is imperative, but if you don’t put their lessons into practice, it won’t take you far.

Professional creatives can offer a wide range of ideas; however, a common thread to their success is more often than not the two D’s- discipline and determination.

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What does that mean in practice? That means making the time for your craft. It means not believing in writer’s block. It means turning off the television, silencing your phone, and finding that secret zen bubble. Easier said than done?

I was reading recently about Nick Cave, one of my absolute favourite multi-faceted creatives – songwriter, novelist, film-score composer, screenwriter – a brilliant, prolific and true modern-day Renaissance man. His genre-bending legacy is that of a highly creative and somewhat obsessive lyricist whose songs and stories never suffer for a lack of vividness.

With an astounding command of the English language and a seemingly unlimited pool from which to draw inspiration, Cave’s creative output in it’s quantity and quality is truly inspiring not to mention his weight as a performer. Although obviously inspired by many influences, his creations are uniquely his.

Claiming that “writing is a necessary thing for me, just to keep myself level”, Cave sees writing as a means of self-definition and self-preservation. Without creativity, Cave feels he would be “less of a human being”. But whilst he celebrates the creative process and claims “I can write certain stuff in my sleep”, there appears to be an element of toil in his art.

He has stated that lyric writing is often the most difficult for him, an agonising activity from which he derives minimal enjoyment. “Writing a song, I’ve always felt, right from the start, like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel. I don’t ever feel there’s a font of ideas to fall back on.”

That said, Cave has proven that he is not the type of songwriter to sit around waiting for lightning to strike.

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Apparently he sits down to write daily, even it’s a mere few lines or a scrap of an idea or a ponderance. ‘‘I go into my office every day that I’m in Brighton and work. Whether I feel like it or not is irrelevant.”

Cave has committed to his writing for many, many years; through times of wild touring, excess and near-self destruction in the Birthday Party years, through the passage of marriage and fatherhood.  The muse beckons as strongly as ever, and projects of all kinds keep bubbling out.

Extraordinarily gifted, the two beacons that shine through and have been a constant for Cave are his discipline and determination to practice his craft and flex that creative muscle, ‘whether you feel like it or not’.

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I find this so motivating; I’ve heard it echoed from varied sources of authors over time and I’m sure it applies across many other disciplines. It reminds me of esteemed funny man Jerry Seinfeld; poles apart from Cave, you’ll agree- he has also talked at length about the creative method that worked for him, and enables him to create new material, often at short notice.

Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity tip is called “Don’t Break the Chain”; perhaps you’ve heard of it? His method for success is simple enough to execute: at the start of each year, he hangs a large calendar on his wall and, for every day he writes new material, he takes the exquisite pleasure of drawing a big red “X” over that day.  Over time Seinfeld found that drawing those Xs got to be pretty rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs. The idea was to never break that chain.

This approach programs the body and mind to sit down and do something daily.  It also motivates you to continue that beautiful string of big, red Xs. If you don’t practise your art on any particular day, you don’t get to draw the X.

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It doesn’t particularly matter what you do, whether you write blogs, articles, scripts, your memoir. You could be an illustrator, struggling to find the time to finish a piece. You could be a painter, desperate to find the time to get into the studio and lock the door on the world. Or you could be like me, wanting more than anything to be able to create artistry on a face or body, if not every day, then as often as possible, with the rest of the time working on concepts, retouching looks, reflecting and writing about the process.

The common thread here seems to be as long as you’re actively and routinely pushing to try and observe and practice what you love as often as you can, you are going in the right direction.

First and foremost, it means making your creative outlet a major part of your life.

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To do that, you have to make it a habit, just like going to the gym, eating healthy food, or flossing- but of course, it’s not that simple. There are countless excuses, most of them completely acceptable, which hold us back from practicing our passion. Often, it’s our never-ending To Do lists, whingeing at us at every minute for attention, that take precedence.

However if we commit to exercises like ‘Don’t Break the Chain’, our art, too, becomes a daily task to cross off that To-do list. Methods like ‘Don’t Break The Chain’ are a constant reminder that, if we want to succeed, we must acknowledge our craft and respect the process.

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Of course, there are other ways to maximise creative energy, clear obstacles, transcend the ordinary and harness your true creative power.

Making the time and making the space seem to be common game changers. Being willing to try and fail as part of the creative process is another biggie.  Finding the balance between being carefree and careless, and visualization and affirmations, are other powerful tools you can add to your arsenal to help you empower yourself with the strength to become successful in your chosen creative field.

Because the reality is, if you do work at your craft obsessively, you will find success.

In the words of Cave, “inspiration is a word used by people who aren’t really doing anything. Keep going, avoid “starting”, never wait for inspiration, accept failure, carry on”.

Sage advice, indeed.

Happy creating xx

DS
 

 

WARRIOR LESSONS: Go and Be Awesome

One of my blogging heroes and life inspirations, Chris Guillebeau (who actually IS awesome, by the way) discusses the concept of ‘going and being awesome’ on his site, the Art of Non Conformity.

At the heart of this premise is the notion that nothing else really matters, if you embody ‘awesome’.

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If you really think about it, on a bigger picture macro level- how much does that degree or that long climb up the corporate ladder really mean in the scheme of things? At the fundamental level, should we really invest that much importance in these supposed milestones, big ticket purchases, new cars, mortgages etc?

Guilllebeau, as much as he is inspirational, is a realist. He understands the frustrations and challenges that telling someone to “go and be awesome” can pose, even to people who are completely capable of being awesome.

So that’s why he’s composed a list to help us on our way along the path to being bigger, better and more awesome. A cyber hand hold to show you how to really “be awesome”!

Thanks to The Art of Non Conformity for the forthcoming very useful advice:

1. FIRST UP

Think about this every day: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn RandIf you aren’t comfortable with this attitude, it’s hard to be awesome. Sorry. You can be good enough without being assertive, but to a large extent, being awesome requires that you initiate, take action, and chart your own course through the norms of mediocrity.

2. HARD WORK

Working your ass off, at least during specific seasons in life, is also a prerequisite for being awesome. This is huge-  if you don’t like hard work, good luck. I hung out with J.D. Roth in Portland a few weeks ago, and we talked about the big success of his personal finance site. Guess how many hours a week he has worked on the site since going full-time last year? 60 HOURS EVERY WEEK. That’s right, aspiring bloggers – you too can have 70,000+ readers and write your own ticket to internet fame – but it won’t happen by playing WoW every night. The same principle holds true with most other work that is worth doing. Yes, I know about things like life / work balance, taking time off to rest, and so on. Those are things you do after you’ve created your world of awesomeness. Jason Calacanis put it best, “If you want to work 9-5, get a job at the Post Office.” Still reading? As mentioned, those first two are prerequisites. They also serve as filters, because lots of people give up on self-determination and hard work. Assuming you can stick with it, it gets easier from here on out.

3. THE GENERAL WORKPLACE

In any given work environment, almost everyone is focused on one goal: to make themselves look good. If you can change things around and focus on making other people look good, you’re well on the way to being awesome. In some environments (certainly academia), this is exceedingly rare behavior. Showing up to work is expected. Showing up early, prepared, and with a good attitude is remarkable (sadly). Present solutions, not problems. If you can present solutions to other people’s problems, you’ll go far. Contribute big ideas, including some that you know are likely to fail. You’ve probably heard this before: “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it.” To be awesome, be the busy person who gets things done.

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4. EMAIL

A wise person once told me, you don’t have to be the first person replying to every convoluted email thread. That just shows everyone that you live on your email. Instead, show up at the end and contribute something of value. Your comments will come to be viewed as the deciding word instead of the kneejerk reaction. The next time, people will look forward to your response and wonder what’s wrong when you haven’t written in. Don’t use rude autoresponders. A rude autoresponder looks like this: What were you thinking in writing to me? I am too important to be bothered by inane requests like yours. I may or may not get back to you, and if I do, it will probably be a while. Have a nice day. Those are not the exact words (usually), but that’s the implied message. If you must use an autoresponder, like when you are traveling or otherwise not checking email very often, be polite and gracious.

5. RELATIONSHIPS

Overdeliver in your personal relationships. Give more than you get. Never find yourself in relationship debt. Never make excuses about being too busy, not having enough time, etc. People who are awesome make time for what’s important to them. From time to time, you’ll screw up. This is how you apologize: “I’m really sorry. It was completely my fault. I hope you’ll forgive me, and here is how I am addressing this in the future.” If you forget to do something you’ve committed to do but remember it later, do it right when you remember. Buy thank-you cards and write 2-3 every day. Use your calendar to keep up with the birthdays of as many people as possible. Write real birthday notes or cards instead of Facebook posts. Whenever a casual relationship is coming to a close (the class ends, colleagues move to another project, etc.) write the person a quick email. “I enjoyed working with you… thanks for doing a good job.” When bad things happen, you can forgive the following: mistakes, weaknesses, shortcomings. (No one is exempt from these things, even awesome people.) When bad things happen, you should worry about the following: dishonesty, passive aggressive behavior, chronic tardiness, whininess. (These patterns do not usually get better with time.) Practice the art of radical exclusion with people who waste your time. This is NOT being impolite – it is showing respect for the people you have committed to serve. Remember that people will basically act the same no matter who they are around. If the people you hang out with are always complaining about other people, chances are they probably complain about you too. The point is: don’t put others down when they’re not around, or at least make sure you’re comfortable with whatever you say being repeated.

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6. GOOD VERSUS EVIL

Reward the behavior of other awesome people, and stop rewarding mediocrity. Tip 20-25% for good service at a restaurant. For the rare occasion when service is awful, don’t tip at all. When you find yourself in a conversation with someone who likes to argue all the time, you may be tempted to respond, but you’ll regret it in the end. Just walk away. Always focus on core motivations. When presented with a request, analyze the situation by thinking about exactly what the person wants from you. (Hint: it is not always what they are explicitly asking for.) Keep up the positive momentum. Look to the future, not the past. Never be a critic without presenting an alternative. Remember that no statues are erected to critics, and no one is remembered for shooting down other people’s ideas.

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Got that? Good. Now- go and be awesome, its well within your reach!

xDS

YO! Please feel free to send me your comments!!!

EMPIRE BUILDING: Fearless Creativity – overcoming roadblocks

SO many creative entrepreneurs struggle with fears that stops them from growing their business, or putting their work out into the world – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of seeming self absorbed, fear of losing time/ money/ interest.

Confronting these insecurities is vital to building your empire and creating long-term success.

Whether your fears stem from a lack of confidence, resistance to putting a price tag on your art or other factors, developing your creative business to the next level depends on you facing these roadblocks head on and overcoming them.

Etsy Content Coordinator, Katy Svehaug, recently spoke with long-term creative, Holly Bobisuthi- founder of Holly Bobisuthi Jewelry– about her strategies for overcoming her fears and boosting her confidence as an artist and business owner.

Holly, a Cali-based metalsmith and illustrator, sells her jewelry on Etsy, at in-person events and at shops around the US through wholesale orders. She relishes the twists and turns her creative journey has taken her on, and offers up her advice for battling six common business fears creative entrepreneurs often face.

Thanks to Katy Svehaug from Etsy for the following interview, which has been truncated for this piece:

Fear One: Sharing Your Work is Too Personal

Deciding to sell your work isn’t about compromising your values, it’s about finding a happy medium between developing your craft and maintaining your livelihood.

“It can be really hard to sell your work when you put so much soul into it,” says Holly. “Especially at first, when it feels too precious.”

Remembering that the creative process is just that — a continuous process — has made all the difference in the world to Holly in terms of selling her work.

“Remember that you’ll always make more,” she recommends. In addition, for every 50 pieces of regular work she creates, she develops a more elaborate piece to keep and wear until someone makes her an offer for it that she simply can’t refuse.

 

Fear Two: Someone Else Has Already Done It

Creative value comes from the intention behind your work, Holly says.

Whilst it’s really important to make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, don’t dismiss the validity of your own ideas simply because you’re worried someone else is already making a similar product.

“Ultimately, the value of creative work is internal to the maker,” she says. “The more closely work is linked to the emotional core, the stronger the work seems to be and the more it resonates with others.”

To find out how to distinguish your products, check out 5 Steps to Stand Out From the Competition.

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Fear Three: People Might Not Buy Your Products

Putting a price tag on your creations can be a struggle when you’re first starting your small business. Many artists struggle with underpricing their work early on, only to realise later on that they could have been charging more.

“Pricing is a challenge for artists everywhere, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of basically giving it away.”

handy tip: it’s a lot easier to be confident in your business and your pricing when it’s paying at least some of the bills. “I keep cutting my hours at my day job so that my business will become a bigger source of income.”

Even if you’re just starting out, take the time to do the math with your prices to ensure that you’re correctly estimating what your time and work is really worth. Make sure you’re covering your materials and paying yourself at least as much hourly as you would make at a day job. If that price doesn’t make sense, go back and change things.

You can read more about pricing your products in How to Price Like a Pro.

 304/365 Believe you can and you will. (Care365)

Fear Four: You Don’t Know What Success Looks Like for You

For creative entrepreneurs, success defies a simple definition; it’s innately relative to the individual. If you look solely to others to define whether your work and business are on par, you’ll undoubtedly end up feeling less-than.

For Holly, growth is about both skill and concept. “I work in a medium that is technically demanding, so there are objective ways to measure the value and progress of my physical products,” she says. “When I look at my older work, though, I can often see good ideas even if the construction is amateurish.”

Holly developed her own system for evaluating her progress, and recommends that other sellers conduct self evaluations on their own terms. Get the process started by reading 5 Ways to Define and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms.

Going beyond developing confidence, a huge part involves setting goals and creating a vision that’s specific to your product and offerings.

Fear Five: You Don’t Have Enough Time

If you’re waiting for the perfect, stress-free opportunity to tap into your creative side and start a business, odds are good that you’ll never get your paint brush wet.

Creative confidence is a product of practice; the more you hone your craft and share your work with the world, the less daunting it becomes.  If you don’t make creating a priority, no one else is going to do it for you. “Work every day,” Holly says. “Even if it’s only for 10 minutes.” Read my article Musings: on the creative Process  for more on this strategy, its a good one.

Become an advocate for your own creative time and space.   If you’re bogged down with logistics, rethink your processes to spend more time doing the work that means the most to you. Read Crunched for Time? Put Routine Tasks on Autopilot for more time-saving tips.

Fear Six: You’re Afraid of Failing

Yep, starting a business is an inherently risky move.  The path to success is rarely smooth. Even the most successful entrepreneurs stumble a few times along the way.

The upshot is that overcoming those obstacles will help build your confidence. Since there’s no clear road to develop a successful creative business, why not take the scenic route? Give yourself permission to break a few plates, color outside the lines and occasionally create work that’s truly, magnificently terrible. Holly makes a point of pursuing new challenges often.

“I take on projects that are outside my comfort zone, participate in art shows outside of my field and say ‘yes’ often to keep myself from getting too comfortable,” she says.

Learn more about maximizing your creative business potential by reading Develop a Winning Product in 5 Steps.

 

What great advice. I feel better already, don’t you?

How are you going on your journey? Have you learned to overcome fears as a creative entrepreneur?

I’d love to hear your advice for building confidence in the comments.