Big Hearted Business- The Conference that Changed my Life.

This blog post is dedicated to an exhibition that is launching this coming Saturday night in Bendigo, Victoria at the Viewpoint Handmade Gallery.   What is special about this exhibition?  It is called “Community, an exhibition exploring themes of belonging and connection”. I just love this theme, considering that I am kind of new to my chosen community of Ballarat and am really enjoying the connections I am making in my new town and also the way that myself, my family and my new little business Creative Conversation are being embraced here.  And, frankly, I’m  just a little bit obsessed with the importance of creative people connecting and finding their place within the world!

This exhibition features artists and makers the attended the inaugural Big Hearted Business Conference this year, hosted by the wonderful Clare Bowditch.  Just in case you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard about this conference, it was just a wee bit TOTALLY FREAKIN AWESOME!  It’s had loads of press and Clare’s wish to encourage others to “Do what you love, make money, save the world” resonated with every single person of the odd 250 people that were lucky enough to attended that event, myself included.  Lives were changed and many a creative enterprise was born.

When I attended the conference I was three weeks out of my second shoulder surgery in five years.  I had a 20 month old and a 4 month old at home and a business, which was ‘on ice’ while I was taking some maternity leave.  I was so excited to be at the conference and a few of my dearest friends were there also.   And I was so excited to be having some ‘me’ [...]

How Do You Deal with Criticism of Your Work?

Today I am battling with criticism and rejection.  A few days ago a close friend of mine, who I invited to be a part of a small group for me to pilot some new material I’ve been working on, contacted me to say that it ‘wasn’t for her’.  My reaction?  Well, I was taken aback to say the least.  But I called her and we talked about it and I fully understood that it was simply that she was not really ready to be doing the kind of work I was presenting and that it was stressing her out.  Later she popped around with a little bunch of flowers, which was super sweet and kind, and we talked a little more about it.  She told me as gently and kindly as she could and I took it as gracefully as I could.  All was well, or so I thought.

I am one of these people who often falls into the trap of understanding things intellectually while not really experiencing the emotional truth of how I feel about something.  My head gets it, I try to move on, only to discover that my heart does not get it and is not ready to move on.  Consequently it is often days, weeks or months later that I realize, ‘hang on, I feel really hurt by this.’ I have become expert at attempting to avoid the pain of criticism and rejection of my work by unconsciously telling myself “it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine”.

Well, it’s not fine for me today.  I feel ready to give up.  I feel like a fool for putting my very new creative dream out there in the world.  I feel fear that I [...]

My name is Susan and I am an Over-Preparer…

If there was a 12 step program for people who are addicted to completely over-preparing for every single design, engagement, email, appointment and responsibility, I would be in it.

Seriously, its almost pathological for me, the need to have read everything, seen everything, left no stone unturned, rehearsed and be 100% clear on how I am going to conduct myself through pretty much most situations (Translation: yes, I am a nerd).  I say most, because obviously you can’t do this all the time. On those occasions I ‘wing it’ and do you know what happens?  It all turns out perfectly fine and nobody knows that I put zero preparation in.

So why do I bother?  I guess the answer lies in that we all have a creative process which (hopefully) gets us to the completion of a project.  For me I think that it is partly just the habit of holding onto old ways of being and doing, because for some time now I have been exploring what it means to live intuitively and trusting my natural talent.  And for the period that I have been experimenting with this, the results have been mostly really fantastic – I have trusted my natural ability to do what it is that I am setting out to do, kept an end result in mind, and then ‘winged it to completion’, minus the 20 hours of preparation.

So why, pray tell, did I just spend 4 days in a hotel in Perth writing ten thousand words (the equivalent of an Honours Thesis) in preparation for a workshop?  I have just realised that there are two reasons:

Firstly, the very valid need to get my voice out on paper on a particular theme [...]

How Self-Doubt Can Be Good for Creative Professionals

Make friends with self-doubt.  It may not be going anywhere, but you still can!

I can say, that I don’t know a single creative professional that does not from time to time have moments of crippling self-doubt.  You know, the kind that stops you dead in your tracks and has you considering pretty much any profession other than the one you have chosen.  This may sound like a gross generalisation, but in my personal experience, those that I know that suffer from the most dramatic shutdowns caused by self-doubt, happen to be my creative compatriots.

I am not at all surprised that this is the case.  Few other professions require putting your soft, most private underbelly on the line as a creative business people.  When it is your job to pull out of yourself on a regular basis something so special and inspired that others will fork out money for it, the pressure is really on.

And I think it is shallow to think that that pressure comes from making the sale or not.  What’s really at stake is rejection, humiliation and failure. To many creatives, putting your art or product out there and asking people to pay money for it, is akin to putting your head on a chopping block.  What will happen if they say no?  Or worse still, what if no one says anything at all?

I can happily admit, that after 14 years of putting myself out in the world as a creative professional and asking people to buy my work, that I am still now and again overtaken by tsunamis of self-doubt so great that I completely shut down.

I think I have finally come to accept that they happen, and that the only [...]

And So It Begins….

I’ve been wondering lately exactly when it was that I made my decision to become a creative professional. I have a memory of waking in a cold sweat one night, in the midst of my post-graduate studies in Art History, deciding if I would convert my MA to a PhD and commit to a life of academia. It was also the night that I decided to give up the Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship that I had been living on. I remembered writing something of a declaration in my journal that night, and today I found that journal entry:


It is dated 9th November 1998- 14 years and 10 months ago.

I remember that moment as one of the most pivotal in my life, right up there with my wedding and the birth of my babies. In fact, I think of this as the birth of my very first baby- the creative entity that came about as a result of my choice and commitment to satisfy the drive in me to seek a more creative life. I stepped out into the unknown and made the commitment to myself, that, though I didn’t know how yet, I was going to figure out how I could earn my living from being creative. It may sound very simple, but to me it was the holy grail- to support yourself financially from doing what you love. Quite a fanciful dream for the daughter of a nurse and a fireman.

In 2000 I registered a business name- Manque Design- and that business has [...]

By |September 27th, 2013|Design|13 Comments|