Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm not here anymore!!!!!

Hi Everyone!!
I'm not blogging here anymore. A couple of months ago I built myself a lovely Squarespace website - still victoriajohnsondesign.com - and it has a blog attached to it - here.  So from now on all my blogging will be done there.  Please do go over and have a look.  A new website was long overdue as the one I had wasn't visible on devices.  I'm very pleased with the new one.  Just need to shuffle the header a bit so the bird's face doesn't get chopped off on iphone!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Here we go!!! Surtex 2015!!

It's that time of year.  And this year I'm a veteran.  I know how it all works, don't need to get into a state, it'll be ten times easier this time round. Won't it?
I'm panicking because I feel like I was way ahead with the planning last year but yesterday I had a look through my 'to do' lists from back then and actually I wasn't.  I started preparing in the second week of Mar.  So I'm only a week behind.  Last year I was confused about every tiny detail, the size of the booth, how I'd hang, display, transport things.  I nervously read every line of the exhibitor manual.
It reminded me of when I brought my first new baby home and the idea of her growing teeth and eating real food and not wearing nappies was an alarming prospect in the future and I had no idea how we would do all that.  Obviously, when I brought the second new baby home there were no daunting mysteries and I felt confident that his baby years would be much easier.
But they weren't really.  I still had to do them/deal with them.  The difference was that I knew how the second time round.  Which is what  I'm finding now.  I know exactly what to do but I still have to get on and actually do it!!!!  And more importantly - I have to find the time to do it.
So, with that in mind, I started my preparations with an extremely important task that couldn't wait a moment longer - making a pretty 'to do' list.  It's pinned up in front of me as a jolly, happy reminder of the hellishly busy weeks ahead.
It will be worth it though - I can't actually wait to go to Surtex - it's the highlight of my year - just like having my babies was the highlight of my life.  No pain, no gain, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you get out what you put in!!!  Here we go!

Friday, March 6, 2015

I think I like collage best!!

I just listened to this interview with Lisa Congdon by Monica Lee from Smart Creative Women - here.   Lisa talks about  my friend and fellow Jennifer Nelson Artist,  Jennifer Orkin Lewis (August Wren) and her brilliantly successful sketchbook project.  She talks about it in the context of finding what makes you enthusiastic - what makes you want to leap out of bed in the morning.
I've been working as an artist/designer pretty much my entire adult life, in one way or another, and obviously there have been creative peaks and troughs during that time.  
I think university was probably one of my highest points creatively, where I had the opportunity to exercise the purest freedom to be myself and experiment artistically (for zero money). The grimmest period was the first few years after having my first child - where I wearily cranked out miserable looking designs two and a half days a week, to try and keep my hand in and earn enough to pay some bills.
And now!!!  I'm riding the crest again!  I'm doing what I want - and it's okay - clients like it!  And a lot of it turns out to be collage!  I don't know why but this really appeals to me.  It's messy and chaotic and I can draw and paint on it... and I can't keep clicking the back button when something is wonky.  But it's also clean and flat and bold and brightly colored.  And at the end of it I'm holding something in my hand that can be propped up or hung (or scanned and photographed and messed about with!)  
I can't tell you how many times I used to sit in an NY design studio and dream of expressing my own taste like this.
I look at what I'm creating now and think - well - it's not difficult is it?  You always liked this stuff, these colours, these shapes, these layers.  Why couldn't you have been doing this before?  And the answer is...because I wasn't ready.  I was in a constant low grade panic, with a (misguided) voice in my head telling  me what was okay and what wasn't.  And I didn't have the context or support to exercise that level of  freedom.  Over the last few years I've worked towards building that context and support, surrounding myself by voices that override my own when it tells me what I can't do.  
One of those voices is Jennifer Nelson's.  She's shouting loud and clear.  The other voices are those of my online artist friends around the world.  And then, most importantly, there are my clients  - the ones who want to work with me, who think I'm doing a great job!   Of course, at the end of all this though, there's me isn't there!  I'm starting to understand what I REALLY like and go where I want to go.  I'm  cheering myself on - and on the days when the enthusiasm is ebbing, there's always Wilson (the disembodied head stuck to my computer stand) to remind me!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Time to...start managing time!!!

My kids and I haven't been very well lately.  For two weeks straight one or the other of us was bed-ridden - which meant that I wasn't very productive.  Normally this would have been annoying and frustrating because there is always too much to do and not enough time - but during this particular period it was exasperating.  Since signing on with Jennifer Nelson Artists I've had one job after the next.  The success of the agency has exceeded all my expectations and I couldn't be happier with the outcome!!  This means, however, that I have many more projects to juggle and  need to start structuring my working week better, finding ways to be more productive so that when disaster strikes and we're all at home lying around, I'm not in a state of panic about how I will catch up.
I'm NOT a morning person.  If I could choose when to work I'd start at around 4pm and work until past midnight.  But I can't because I have children and my work day has to fit around them.  Because I'm in a sort of fog for the first few hours of my work day, I start later than I should - around 10am - and don't make the most of my time.  This is going to change - I'm going to sit myself down at 9am every day!   I've also started keeping track of my work hours and am amazed at how sporadic they are - stopping and starting, changing from one day to the next!  That is also going to change.  I'm going to try and keep set hours!  What else?  Ah yes - I've had a strict policy of working on ONE thing at a time, then clearing it all away before starting the next.  I love working like this - it keeps my brain tidy.   It's not possible anymore.  I'm going to have to start multi-tasking!!!  Eeek.  But maybe I will manage to post on  my blog more often if I get used to switching from one thing to the next.
Lastly - I have to get up at 7am every day for my kids.  But I often don't go to sleep until way past midnight!  That's another thing that will have to change and may even lift the morning fog a bit.
I'm memorializing all this here!  I would add in a plan to exercise regularly but I've been threatening to do that for twenty years and it hasn't happened yet so I'll tackle the other big changes first.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Changed the name and the header!

What do you think?  You might think this is the last word in narcissism but there is a reason.  I embroidered my name for my artist thumbnail on Jennifer Nelson Artists website - here.  It took a few evenings in front of the telly as you can imagine so I wanted to get as much use as possible out of it.  I've had my old banner and website for three years and am considering my options for an overhaul.  I particularly didn't like the old name of my blog - 'Conversationally' - because I thought it sounded a bit trite - conversationals being the name of prints featuring little pictures, which is what I do.
So I thought I'd post my embroidery.  I could NOT get the right recipe of resolution and size (I tried to put the image above up there) so I ended up with just Victoria.  So now my blog is called Victoria?   Ha Ha.  It's a work in progress.  Any ideas?

Friday, January 23, 2015


I've been doing a sketch type thing a day recently. A lot of people have started doing it and I think many of them were inspired by the sketchbooks of Jennifer Orkin Lewis, or August Wren, which are filled with incredible thirty minute paintings. You can follow her on Instagram (augustwren) as she posts daily.  
It's actually a very good practice, enabling the sketcher/painter to create without inhibitions (or even discipline) and really experiment.  Then the experiments fuel the 'real' work. 
This is how I came up with my gold floral above. It was a spin off of some watercolour florals I did, using masking fluid and ink, and curiosity led me to quickly try the technique with gold acrylic, gold being a big trend this season. 
This one experiment inspired me to go to the one and only local art shop this morning and go mad buying everything gold and some new canvases.  I'm looking forward to doing some very shiny paintings soon!! 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thank you!!

The launch of Jennifer's new agency was a huge success, beyond our wildest imaginings, and on Monday morning we all reflected on the generous and supportive response we got.
I'm working on Valentine ideas at the moment so I made this little dog with a huge bouquet to say thank you to everyone who so kindly sent their best wishes.  I love being part of a global community of artists and at times like this I really value having the companionship, support and advice that I receive daily from everyone.
I started building a collection under my own name three years ago, feeling like a very obscure needle in an enormous haystack and wondering how my work would ever get noticed.   I have a tendency to swing wildly between extreme exertion and complete inertia but I approached this with a slow, plodding consistency, tackling everything methodically, following a (very loose) structure I'd set up for myself.  This year I'm getting a sense that my efforts are coming to fruition.
A year ago I started a  goal journal, feeling sort of obliged to follow the protocol, to see if it worked.  It's a very sporadically-entered collection of ramblings but among the mess are some goals.  I recommend doing it.  Some of the more outlandish ones are actually being realized and its unimaginably gratifying to tick them off!!  I'm predicting that with Jennifer's help and my artist friends' support some of the other pipe dreams are also going to become attainable.