Experiments in Blue 2016 // Week Three

01/18/16

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As some of you know, I started a new yearly project for 2016 in which I’ll be creating a new painting or drawing each week of the year using mostly the color blue. It’s called Experiments in Blue 2016.

Above is my third installment, which is my first large painting for the year!

This week I’m traveling, so I’m planning to create something small for my fourth installment. Stay tuned each Monday for my latest painting in the series.

Have a great Monday!

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New I LOVE YOU Prints for Valentine’s Day!

01/14/16

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Friends, I’m excited to share with you a product I’ve released just in time for Valentine’s Day: new I LOVE YOU screen-printed posters in three colors — red, neon pink & metallic gold! They are limited edition of 25 each — which means when the 25 in each color is sold, they are gone forever. Each print is signed and numbered too.

Grab yours over in my Etsy Shop!

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Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge

01/13/16

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{Grace Bonney with her wife Julia Turshen and their dog Hope!}

I first met Grace Bonney ten years ago in 2006. We were both starting out in our respective paths — Grace had begun writing a design blog called Design*Sponge, and I’d just begun making a go at being a professional artist. The worlds of blogging and art on the internet were really small back then — and so, of course, our paths inevitably crossed. And, over the past ten years, we’ve become friends and during many big life events, confidants. I have always admired Grace for her approach to blogging and to living her life. She is refreshingly brave, straightforward and honest and, in a world of fluff, she has continued to produce rich, meaningful content for over 10 years. Knowing Grace in person, I am pretty sure this comes from a sense of responsibility for the integrity of what she puts into the world. This has never been more apparent than in the past several years. In that time, Grace came out publicly as a lesbian. Instead of doing business as usual, she has used her new lens on the world to reshape how she approaches her content to reflect the rich diversity of the design community. I talked to Grace recently about this shift, about ten years of blogging, and about her openness. I am so honored to present to you my latest (and my first for 2016) interview in my Interviews with People I Admire Series: Grace Bonney!

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{Grace reflects on 100 podcast episodes}

Lisa: Grace, you are one of a handful of women who I think of as the “mothers of design blogging”. You’ve been at this for 10 years and have stayed with it through the changing landscape. Talk briefly about that changing landscape. What was blogging like then and what is blogging like now? What are some of the things that have changed? What challenges do you face now that you didn’t face in 2005?

Grace: I think it’s probably easier to talk about what hasn’t changed. Over the past 11 years of blogging, everything has shifted, from what readers expect to how often we need to post to the entire financial structure supporting online publishing. For me, the biggest struggle is related to how to maintain some sort of a separation between church and state, meaning the integrity of editorial content and the world of ‘native’ advertising (sponsored posts, etc.). The bottom line is that I will always go to battle to protect our editorial voice and preserve its authenticity and openness. But I also want to pay everyone who works for us a living wage. It’s a daily battle, but one I’m thankful for. I realize things could be much, much worse.

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{Grace’s Biz Ladies series is one of the longest running business series for women on the internet}

Lisa: Amidst some of the changes on the most recent years, I know you were feeling a great deal of angst and frustration – you even questioned whether to stay in it. But, thankfully for all of us, you did! And you made some really conscious choices about what you were going to change about your blog, including making a concerted effort for your content and contributors to reflect the rich diversity of the art & design community, something that has been severely lacking in the design blogosphere since its inception. Tell us more about that effort and how it’s changed your blog (and I think the world) for the better.

Grace: I could talk about this all day every day. Coming out (privately in 2011 and publicly in 2013) dramatically affected the way I saw the world and how I experienced almost all information (both news and entertainment) I consumed. I felt much more comfortable, welcomed and included when I saw more out queer people in the design/fashion/lifestyle world and it made me realize what a poor job I was doing of representing all of our community on Design*Sponge. I had a million excuses in my head but not a single one was valid. The bottom line was that I needed to better serve our community and make sure everyone reading felt welcomed, represented and at home. So ever since that moment we’ve worked harder to make sure our content celebrates everyone in our community. Visual representation is a huge part of it, but it’s also about giving people a platform to tell their own stories in their voices. That effort lead to my new book, In The Company of Women, which is coming out this fall. I wanted to see a business/inspiration book that looked like all of the women I knew and admired- not just the ones that fit a certain stereotype perpetuated by the media. I’m so proud of this book and hope that everyone reading will see themselves reflected in one, if not all, of the women in its pages.

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Lisa: Hearing you say this gives me chills! And every time I look at the front page of your blog, I feel it too. So thank you! Next, tell us about your latest book. This book is a labor of love for you, and it’s not entirely design-focused. It’s about actual human beings – a diverse set of women who are exceptionally smart and talented and who have created thriving businesses — in the arts, writing, photography, food, design, acting, and on and on. Why was this the book you wanted to make? And what’s it been like to make it so far? What are your hopes for the book’s impact?

Grace: I was actually under contract to create a massive DIY encyclopedia but my heart wasn’t in it. I kept talking to my wife, Julia about what I actually wanted to do and she said, “Why don’t you ask if you can change it?” I was about to give my advance back when Julia offered to help with a revised book proposal. I turned it in, hoped for the best, and thankfully my publisher, Lia Ronnen, believed in the idea and let me switch topics at the last minute. So I spent my summer traveling across the country with (photographer) Sasha Israel and our project manager, Kelli Kehler, photographing these amazing women and interviewing them in person. I hope the book is something people can return to over and over throughout their lives and their careers when they need inspiration, motivation and ideas that will help them find the courage to do what they love- on their own terms. These women are incredible, but still relatable, examples of what women can do when they’re in charge of their work and their career trajectories. This is, without a doubt, my favorite project I’ve ever had the honor of working on at DS.

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{Some of the amazing women being featured in Grace’s next book}

Lisa: I am always very moved by your courage to write about things in your personal life – like coming out a few years ago, navigating the world of haters, your fears about becoming more at ease in your life and how that might affect your business. Why is it important to write about the stuff that’s personal or scary from time to time – not just for you personally, but for your community of readers?

Grace: I think it’s important for me because I enjoy connecting to people online. I’ve never been someone who had a ton of close friends growing up and connecting- and trusting- other people has always been a challenge for me. Being open and honest online is one way (but I’m sure there are others) that lets me find people who share the same interests, values and ideas. We may not always agree, but the friendships I’ve made online (through being myself and staying open and honest) have been the strongest of my life so far. I don’t think it’s by any means required that all bloggers share personal things, but I think it’s a powerful way to make these connections if that’s what drives and interests you. I think there a million places (thankfully) to find great design advice, cool new shops and interviews, but those personal stories and moments are the truly unique things we have to offer, if that’s what we feel comfortable with.

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{Design Sponge Life & Business column is one of my favorites}

Lisa: I am always interested in how busy, productive women in leadership roles stay grounded in the midst of deadlines and managing both people and content. I know you’ve been working really hard to have more (for lack of a better word) “balance” in your life. How do you balance your life between relaxation/human connection and the crazy amount work that you manage every day to write a popular blog and a giant book. What wisdom do you have for my readers about what’s working for you? What have you had to give up? What have you gained?

Grace: I think it’s a constant struggle, period. There is no perfect place where you have it all figured out and where everything works. There are moments when things feel like clockwork and it all comes together in a smooth, seemingly (but not actually) effortess moment, but there will always be the moments when things smash together in one giant explosion and you have to rebuild and re-learn things. I’ve learned to expect those ups and downs and see them as a way, and an invitation, to learn something new, try a new method of getting something done and to discover a new part of myself I didn’t know existed before. Working on the internet will always keep you on your toes. But I’m really thankful for that- I love having to think on my feet and be open to change. I don’t want to miss out on anything life has to offer, and in my experience, some of the best moments exist in those shaky, wobbly fresh starts.

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{Another thing I love: DIY has always been a part of Design*Sponge}

Lisa: What can we look forward to on Design*Sponge in 2016?

Grace: So much! I feel like this year feels scary and new in all the best ways. I’m launching a print project, our new book and book tour and lots of new online content and new voices being added to the site. I’m ready for 2016 and I can’t wait to start working.

Lisa: Thank you, Grace, for inspiring me for the past 11 years! I can’t wait to see everything you do over the next 11.

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Experiments in Blue 2016 // Week Two

01/11/16

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As some of you know, I started a new yearly project for 2016. Part of the reason I started a new yearly project is because I’m feeling very stuck creatively. So much of what I produce this year I’m definitely classify as “experiments” — and this is one of them. I’m hoping at some point in the year to find my stride and move past these smaller experimental studies into larger works!

More next week!

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New Podcast: CraftSanity

01/08/16

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I had a fantastic time chatting with the amazing Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood on her podcast CraftSanity. We talk for a long time about things like getting older, thriving after 40, how I feel about haters and lots of other juicy topics. Enjoy!

CATEGORIES: Podcasts
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