Today's interview is with Shona Cole, an artist, photographer, and writer, who is originally from Ireland. She is also the mother of 5 children under the age of 10, and she homeschools her kids. What a multi-talent - I am amazed at how she does it all. Enjoy!
Shona's blog: www.shonastudio.blogspot.com
Shona's book: The Artistic Mother
Why did you decide to become an artist and could you imagine doing anything else? If so, what?
I have always leaned towards the artistic but I did not pursue art in any professional manner until later in my life. After a few years of being an employee in the social services and quitting to be a stay at home mom, I finally took the time to focus on art. Now that I am living this artistic life I can imagine life without it, but it looks bleak. The pursuit of creativity, of creating something lovely colors my day and gives me something for myself that I look forward to. Creativity to me is endless and exciting.
Do you still believe "do what you love and the money will come?"
I hear those words and I do agree with them to a certain extent, but I believe that success also depends on how you market your product and what you are offering the market. At the moment I have not tried to sell any artwork, but I am selling a book. I wrote on the topic of motherhood and creativity which is a topic that I am passionate about. I loved writing the book and going through the whole editing process. But while the book is selling well for a craft book, but it is not on any best seller list! The reason for that is I don’t have the time or resources to fully market my book to new audiences - I can’t teach real life workshops or go on a book tour or spend too much time online – some of the main marketing avenues.
If I had the time to also teach workshops and make art to sell then those could all join together to create a decent living, and at that point I could say for me ‘yes, doing what I love brings money’, but as I am limited in what I am offering the market and limited in my marketing efforts so the returns are also limited. I am OK with that, it is what I am choosing to do. One day when the main bulk of my time is no longer taken up with children and their schooling then I plan to pursue other artistic avenues. And at that time I fully intend to do what I love.
How has blogging and the internet influenced your work as an artist?
The internet has opened me up to an amazing array of like minds and the work and ideas of people I want to hear from and who I couldn’t have met in real life. It has helped me weed out what I don’t want to do, what I do want to do and even allowed me to reflect on who I am in the art world. I love watching ‘how to’ videos, even if it a simple post about gluing! Every time I watch a video it inspires me to get up and create too!
Blogging itself has given me an audience and a community. I feel like there are people that I consider friends who I have only met through reading their blogs and them visiting and commenting on mine. I think we would be like long lost friends if we ever met! Some of those folks have profoundly affected how I craft and even how I view my family life and work. Without a window into their world I may never had the confidence to embrace the path of the artistic mother so fully!
I have come to value the opinions of those who read my blog regularly. I write what I want to on my blog, but I am also sensitive to what my visitors want. While most comments are positive I can read between the lines as to what folks want to hear about. So I have geared my blogging to the topic of motherhood and art. You won’t come to my blog and hear about politics or what I ate for lunch.
Please name 3 of your favorite blogs and tell us why these blogs are special.
Mortal Muses is a group of women who photograph their world, keeping accountable by way of weekly themes. It is top notch photography and short, inspiring musings on a wide variety of topics. I like having themes to follow and artistic groups to be a part of.
The Storque, the Etsy blog - while I don’t have an Etsy shop, yet, I love to visit their blog for it’s diverse look at real life crafters, folks who are making money from their art. I have always liked being around artsy, craftsy folks and this is the perfect place to feel connected to that world. I love best their video category.
The Writer's Almanac - I consider the Writer’s Almanac to be a kind of blog. I love Garrison Keelers voice and the little pieces of random information about people in the world that he gently lays out and then of course the poetry – I love to hear the poems he reads. His picks are always beautiful and accessible, poetry that I can actually understand and relate to.
What is your greatest fear and what do you do to overcome it?
I fear being bored and unmotivated. I was that way when I was young and I don’t like that feeling. To over come that I make a whole lot of lists, I journal, I pray, I put time limits on what I do and even if I don’t ‘feel like it’ I go to my craft table or upload some photos to process and just start. I usually get into it once I get started.
Who would you like to trade places with for one day? Why?
Goodness, no one really. I am very happy here. But if pressed I guess it would be Martha Stewart. I would like to watch a really successful home arts show come to fruition.
What are your secrets for managing your time wisely?
Many of my time management secrets are also the things I mentioned above about keeping my motivation alive. I make a lot of long and short terms goal lists. I have many note books, for many different topics and write lists regularly in them. Then I have a weekly to do list broken down into days that keeps me on track. In the afternoon when I think about the coming evening (I work mainly in the evening when the kids are down) I often visualize some of the steps in my projects or go over the specific things I need to accomplish. That way when 10 o’clock comes I am ready. I check things off my list. I generally get everything done that way, even the laundry!
If you could live anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – for one year, where would that be? Why?
London. I was born there, married there and have spent lots of time in London. My husband and I even talk about going there as a family for a year when our kids are older. There are so many cultural, artistic, musical and historical places to visit, we would be hard pressed in a year to do it all.
How do you maintain a healthy balance between your professional and private life?
My professional life is all online. So to keep them separate I basically don’t write about certain things on my blog or on other folks blogs.
What are your top 5 goals that you’d like to accomplish within the next 5 years?
1) Write book #2 (I have sent in my proposal)
2) Write book #3 (I have a vision for it already, and book 4! I am an ideas person, I could brainstorm ideas for books all day long!)
3) Reach a wider audience – that means try to find a way to market my ideas better
4) Publish a book of poetry and photography, preferably one that could be sold in my favorite store, Anthropologie
5) Oversee the building of a granny flat and backyard deck/kitchen & pool (I am a big house project/decorating person, which is an example of something I usually don’t include in my blog)
What is your advice for someone who would like to turn his or her creative dreams into reality?
Make a long term goal list, then a short term goal list that helps you make progress on your long term goals list. Then make a day by day action plan. Then have the guts to stick to it and not be swayed from your vision by anyone (except wisdom and reason)!
And most of all, don’t be disheartened. When it your art is hard or you have no new ideas or you post your art and no one comments – don’t give up. If you keep on going, keep on practicing and developing your art one day your skills will bring you to a place of success. If you give up now you will not succeed.
Thank you Shona! You are an inspiration to all creative mothers!