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finding meaning in life with less

Emily Kelley

Recently, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and since the first time I saw it, I've already watched it again. That is a very rare thing for me to do, but I became so interested in this documentary and its message. The basis of the film is this:

How might your life be better with less?

There is so much happening in the world today that the concept of less equals more can feel impossible. This year in particular has been an incredibly confusing and chaotic time in so many ways no matter who you are or what side of the story you stand on. When difficult times come our way, we must be physically and mentally healthy to take it on. For me, a part of this lies in the power of meditation and another part lies in my everyday life.

Take moments to hear the sound of your own breathing.

Hard times can be a reminder that we need a solid foundation to stand on when the rug is being pulled out from under us. If we are facing adversity in all aspects in our life, then it can really take a toll on our well-being. Our unhappiness can bury itself so deep that we don't even recognize it anymore...

This brings me to the idea of "things" and "stuff" in our life. I am fully aware that my business is comprised of creating goods, which in a very broad sense can be labeled as "stuff" (although I don't like to think of it in that way).

In my mind there is a difference between bringing "stuff" into your life and bringing in valuable things that matter to you, personally.

In all honesty, I don't think that people will ever stop buying things. Consumerism at its core will probably never completely go away. So if I am to make things in an ever consuming society, I want to make things that bring value. I want to change the way we see and buy material goods. If we can live a more full life with less, than maybe we can have less stuff that's more meaningful, right? What ever happened to having those few handmade possessions that are passed down from generation to generation? We can have things in our life, but they can be things that hold meaning, too. Meaning much more greater than just for material purposes. 

Minimalism can mean something different to everyone. For me, it's a journey to find peace in mind, body and soul. I have been recognizing that peace more and more every time I bring less and less "things" into my life. Our peace begins and ends with us. It's there, you may just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

on growing as a creative person

Emily Kelley

So this is a subject that has been on my mind for a while, but I wasn't exactly sure how to boil it down into one sentence...until I just sat down to write a new post about it and here's what I've got:

Being a creative person in todays world is.....??

Well, maybe I don't have the whole sentence down yet, but I think I'm on to something. Being a creative person in 2016 is...rewarding...challenging...self-deprecating?...mind-numbing?...

This sentence pertains specifically to how social media has shaped the creative process, and the way creatives of today are able to form their own identities. The fact is that any creative person (or really anyone for that matter) can post their work online for anyone to see. Which is great, but the way the world responds, may ultimately shape the way the creative individual responds.

Let's take Instagram for example. (Instagram is pretty much the only social media platform I have somewhat of a grasp on. So I'm going to focus on it in this post.)

When I started my Instagram on June 24, 2013 I would have never thought that it would become a vital part of my process. Go ahead, page through my Instagram all the way back to my first post in 2013 and you will see how my work has evolved overtime. I wasn't looking for a large following, a large number of likes, or trying to figure out what would be popular to post. Today, I have about 1600+ more followers than when I started. Not a huge number by Instagram standards, but I still catch myself organizing and editing posts before I share them. Which leads me to wonder...

Has my creative process been altered by a social media app? How much of the work I make today is influenced by this app? Does my work have a correlation to the posts I like in my feed and other accounts I follow? 

Now that all sounds a little crazy, but not totally false. I think that it is okay to discover more about who you are and what you're drawn to as a creative person through social media without it overtaking your life. I think that my work has been in some form influenced by Instagram through being inspired by other artists, and wanting to work just as hard.

However, there are fallbacks to platforms such as Instagram. There has been countless artist ripoffs as of late, and a huge factor to blame is social media. I'm not talking about just the cases of Zara ripping off artists like Tuesday Bassen, but the everyday person that has an Instagram account. Our work is out there for anyone to copy, replicate, screenshot and repost without the slightest need to tag or give credit. Kind of scary, right? This is definitely something I worry about, but ultimately can't truly control. Not to mention, the emphasis on how many followers you have, how many likes a post has (wait, you mean that post only has 88 likes and not over 100?? I must be making crappy work today!).....It's tiresome. 

And what if Instagram (or any social media platform) never came into existence? Would your work look the same? Would you have grown as an artist, designer, illustrator, maker in the same way? Some food for thought.

After thinking about all of these factors, I could just delete my account right? Wrong. Here's what I'm thinking...

Social media is kinda great. I like social media...a lot.
There, I said it.

Why? Because Instagram has allowed me to connect with some of the most kind, brave, inspiring, super-talented people making, writing, exploring and sharing things in our world today. These people have been encouraging, supportive and helpful to my growth and process as a creative person. And you know what? There is an endless amount of these wonderful people who are on Instagram for you to meet, and there is always room for more. And I love that. Not to mention the fact that I use Instagram as a tool to meet many of my clients for freelance. 

Let's just think of it this way. Instagram is a free app that has helped me share my work with the public, meet awesome people, and grow my business...did I mention it was free?

So to end this post (I could go on forever, but I am putting you all to sleep as is..) I think that social media, Instagram specifically, has been a key component to my growth as a creative person today. Even with all the negatives mixed in. Therefore, if you too have these super introspective moments about what you're making, and if part of that struggle is coming from a place of frustration from social media, you might want to stop and ask yourself these questions:

Do I know why I am making this work?
Does this work express who I am, and not someone else?
Would I make this work, even without the recognition?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, than I feel like you are probably on the right track. Don't let the noise get to you, and just focus on making the work that YOU make. 


why looking back is good

Emily Kelley

Look back. Look back on past work, past relationships, past moments, past jobs, past late nights with one or two or three glasses of wine, past struggles, past victories, past anything...and see why it is a good thing that it happened. That all of it happened. Even the stuff you would rather not remember.

I feel like there is a cliché notion that by looking back you can see how "far" you've come and all the "obstacles" you've overcome...which is true in a way, but it sounds sort of negative right? And why do some people say we shouldn't look back? Is it dangerous for us to look back to our past for some reason?

If I never looked back and just kept moving blindly through life, I probably wouldn't be sitting here writing this post...
Actually, I know I wouldn't.

Our past is always there for us like a trail marker, just in case we get lost and need to retrace our steps... 

When I graduated from college, I immediately started working. I was so happy and felt so lucky. (Which I definitely was.) Most importantly, I thought I knew exactly where I was going. Then suddenly, I felt kinda lost like I wasn't sure where I was going at all. Up until that point I just followed the obvious steps of what I knew I was going to do...graduate high school, go to art school, study graphic design, graduate art school, get a great design job, and then...? I realized where I was wasn't where I truly wanted to be. I needed to go back to the trail marker and figure out why I was doodling patterns in my sketchbooks, and making weird plant illustrations. Then, I took some quick travels across the country (Oregon, specifically) and that really sealed the deal for me. I knew I wanted to make more work influenced by nature and the outdoors. There was so much more to life experiences than I ever thought possible, and I was missing out by not translating that feeling into my work. I went back to the trail marker and started off on another path (or maybe it was the path I was meant to be on all along)...

Did I ever think I would eventually try to start my own business at 24? No, not really. But it also doesn't surprise me either. Right before I start an illustration, or carve a lino block, I always look back at my past experiences, and I always feel inspired.

And I realize I totally am where I should be.

(Besides, if I never looked back, I wouldn't have found the sketchbook page where I scribbled the name "Land & She" in the margins...)

If you need to go back to the trail marker...just to retrace your steps, or to remind yourself where you've been, where you come from, and where you're going...then do it. It's a GOOD thing. And who knows...it might lead you on a new path. Or even better, back to the path you were already meant to be on...