secrets of a biz owner

Ugh. Guys. This one's tough. If it were up to me I'd know everything always so I could prepare accordingly. That's reasonable, right? Ha! That's impossible. In life and business.

As an in-house designer for small biz owners, I never really know at the beginning of each month how many projects I'll work on. Sure, I know what our retainer is and how much work that usually entails. But there are always surprises, extra projects, and sometimes no projects.

Projects ebb and flow. And to be super honest, the ebbs make me really nervous sometimes! But it always works out. There are slow times and I'm learning to enjoy them, to take advantage of a free afternoon instead of worrying about what's to come. Because more will come. It always does.

Secret bottom line? There are certain areas of your business you'll never be able to control. The sooner you accept that and dance with it, the better. You can never say for sure how many projects you'll work on in a month or how well your new program is going to sell or whether or not your online shop will become decorated with lovely sold out signs.

At the end of the day, all you can do is keep going. Create work you believe in and enjoy this crazy amazing freelance / entrepreneur lifestyle. Don't let the unknowns freak you out.

Want more secrety biz secrets? Catch up on this series here!

Need a new logo ASAP and don't want to spend your vacation fund? The artsocial shop has gotcha covered.


erin_podcast GUYS. This week was my birthday AND I'm on a podcast! Talk about a great way to start the year. Especially because it's a podcast with one of my very favorite people in the entire world, Tiffany Han.

I was SO honored and butterflies-in-my-stomach excited when Tiffany asked me to be on Raise Your Hand, Say Yes. I've listened to every episode and get so much inspiration from each woman's story. Seriously, guys, don't listen before bed. The inspiration will keep you awake. I'm speaking from experience.

I hope I contributed some inspiration to the pot! Or at least some food for thought on leaving a "real" job to start a business and what a wild, amazing adventure that can be.

Take a listen here.

Thank you, Tiffany!! You are my business soulmate; the Flo Rida to my dance party.

And P.S. I'm SO THRILLED to be a part of the the Raise your Hand, Say Yes book club! We’re starting with The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Get your copy and give it a read, k? The episode will air on March 4th. Woot!

xoxo, erin


just keep creating My goal for December is to build up my graphic design portfolio. Collect my faves from the past few months and maybe create a few new amaaaazing graphics specifically for the 'folio.

Well here's the thing, creating with the portfolio in mind - the collection of your VERY BEST work ever - totally trips me up. I can't work that way. Thinking about the end result before a project even starts is, clearly, not the way to get the creative juju flowing.

I've been reading Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist (I know, I think I'm the last creative person on the planet to read this). SUCH a great read. As soon as I finished the last page, it hit me:

Everything you're feeling is okay... and valid... and others have felt this way, too.

Just keep going.

All the doubt (do I really have what it takes...), all the frustration (it seemed so much cooler in my head, now what?)... all the insecurity (does anyone else do it this way?) - it's all okay, it's all valid, and every creative person experiences these thoughts in some form or another.

The key is to keep creating. Everyday. Accept that those thoughts and feelings will be there - and, honestly, who cares if they are? We're in the arena, livin' our dream. And that's way more important than whether or not something is portfolio-worthy.

P.S. I do about 95% of my creative work in that beanie :)

Image by artsocial.


be creative project My Be Creative project rolls on, friends! How is it already June?? I had a blast last month tapping into my inner child by doing these fun diy projects, here and here. But now it's time to switch gears... June will be dedicated to spending time in nature.

Much like meditation, spending time in nature can help us quiet our minds and create the mental conditions necessary for inspiration to come forth and new ideas to pop into our heads.

Later this month I'll be taking a little trip into NATURE... that's right. This nature destination deserves all caps. Kevin and I will be going to Yosemite for a whole week!! Wahoo! It will be the perfect time to put this method to the test.

But in the meantime, to remind myself to spend more time in nature I've created this desktop background... and guess what? You can download it, too! Wahoo!

fleurs wallpaper download

2560x1440 | 1680x10501440x900 | 1280x800 | ipad | iphone

Let's be honest, sometimes we get stuck in front of the computer for looong periods of time. This background will be a good substitute on those days when I can't visit nature for reals...

Are you inspired by nature? Do you have a favorite place to walk or hike that always helps you clear your head? I'd love to hear about it!


This post is part of the Be Creative project. Join me as I try 12 different methods for boosting creativity over the course of 12 months. Every Tuesday I’ll share my progress along with creative projects… Catch up on past Be Creative posts here!

Images by artsocial.


be creative project My year long quest to be more creative continues. This month I shared my office space with this rad blue backdrop from The High Five Factory. Why? Other than the fact that it made my office 10 times more fun? Well, according to this article, a 2009 study found that people solved twice as many “insight puzzles” when surrounded by the color blue. Apparently blue leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. THIS is surely my path to more creativity, I thought. I spent April testing this theory.

After spending the first part of the month intensely focused on creating awesome ideas with my blue backdrop by my side, I realized such intense focus wasn't quite working. I was too focused. I was worrying about the final results for all my projects and getting suuuper stressed in the process. That takes all the fun out of the creative process.

Intentionally attempting to spark creativity is tricky business, guys. In my experience, great ideas can't be forced. The more you try to force creativity, the less likely it is to happen. The best thing you can do is surround yourself with the things that inspire you and then chillax, bro. That way we're calm and receptive to ideas. Stress, anxiety, and working at a frantic pace will NEVER result in new + great ideas. Okay, lesson learned... for the 50th time.

I started to let go towards the end of the month and simply have fun creating without worrying about the final product. Good ideas and creativity definitely started flowing more easily. A sense of lighthearted detachment goes a long way when you're being creative.

What's coming up in May for my Be Creative project will be the perfect follow-up to this month. I'll be exploring the "act like a child" method, which involves more play and FUN. Channeling my inner child will surely help me be more lighthearted. Get ready. All my childhood faves are coming back - bubbles, kites, sidewalk chalk - I'm doing it all in the name of creativity, folks.

HUGE thank you to The High Five Factory for lending me their amazing backdrop!! Fun was had, photos were taken. I highly recommend one for your next event, party, or, ya know, for that empty wall in your office.

Images by artsocial.


gummis This month I've experimented with the theory that having a drink, chillaxin' at happy hour, and gettin' one's drank on can help spark creativity. I have not been very successful. Sure, I've had fun... but my productivity has decreased. Shocking/not shocking. Although I was inspired to get creative with this photo shoot. Maybe it's working after all?

Before I say peace out to cocktail hours, mimosas, and booze popsicles, let's take things up a notch for one last drink. I love the idea of infusing my own vodka. Especially after visiting this place. If you're a fan of infused vodkas and live in Denver, go there. Get pineapple, you won't regret it.

Last weekend, I started the infusion process with jalapenos, pears, and cucumbers... and gummi bears. I was channeling my inner college student.

jalapeno pear cucumber

This weekend I'll be putting my own vodka-infused spin on a few of the following recipes... woot! Which one should I try first? Numbers 01 & 05 look wayyy good.

01 Jalapeno Bloody Mary

02 Cucumber Cape Codder

03 Pear Rosemary Cocktail

04 Jalapeno Basil Martini

05 Pear Lemon Fizz

I'm looking forward to starting a new method for sparking creativity next month. One that does not result in hangovers + Breaking Bad marathons. Although I did enjoy the Breaking Bad marathons... let's see what's coming up on the Be Creative project:

be creative project

Images by artsocial.


blues and booze Happy April, friends! It's a new month and you know what that means... I'm experimenting with new methods for sparking creativity. Can you guess what they are? The title gave 'em away, huh?

The first method I'm already enjoying is surrounding myself with the color blue. According to this article, a 2009 study found that people solved twice as many "insight puzzles" when surrounded by the color blue. Apparently blue leads to more relaxed and associative thinking. Well bring it, blue.

In order to bring more blue into my life, I've teamed up with The High Five Factory. These awesome + talented ladies create one of a kind, custom made photo booth backdrops. I'm pretty stoked to share my office with this rad backdrop for the month. I've transformed an entire wall into a photo-opp-idea-sparking-backdrop-of-awesomeness. I am in love with this thing.

blues and booze

The second method I'm (hesitantly) trying this month involves getting my drank on. Why do I think drinking will lead to more creativity? Welp, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago tested students' performance on a series of insight puzzles. Drunk students solved nearly 30% more puzzles than sober students.

The reason being, drunk students have the surprising advantage of not paying attention and thus not inhibiting their imagination. This article says it best: "Although we live in an age that worships focus—we are always forcing ourselves to concentrate, chugging caffeine—this approach can inhibit the imagination. We might be focused, but we're probably focused on the wrong answer."

blues and booze

So interesting, right? That means taking a break from work and going to happy hour with our friends - just letting go for a bit - can actually be the best thing for our creativity. Just to be clear, I'm in no way saying we should all take up drinking to be creative. That would be cray. Plus I'm a major lightweight, I couldn't handle that. I am, however, going to try this approach in moderation and carry its underlying message with me this month: take time to relax, yo! and have fun.

Follow along with my adventures this month on instagram + twitter! I'll most definitely be 'gramming this blue backdrop on the reg...


Huge thank you to The High Five Factory for making my blue experiment possible! Images by artsocial.


creating is good for you I've had so much fun creating more this month for my Be Creative project. At the beginning of the month, I remember thinking how the heck am I going to make time to create more? I knew I'd feel this way, so I devised a strategy early on: ONLY create projects and diys I'm really excited about.

By only taking on additional projects I truly loved, I knew I'd find the time... and I did. However, this strategy meant spending more time in the planning phase... much more, which is tough for me. I always want to hurry up and create already. It takes time to think of awesome projects! And I had to LOVE it otherwise I wouldn't follow through. Spending extra time planning paid off though. I had fun creating and I was happy with the final results.

My month of creating more has taught me (once again) about the importance of choosing the right projects. By only doing those things I really want to do, not only do I feel more productive and prolific, but I also feel freer. I had plenty of time and had plenty of fun... and I've created a whole lotta stuff this month!

So. Only invest your time and attention in projects you love and the creativity will flow. Of course, it comes down to following your bliss. Of course!

I have one more diy on the way to round out my mini diy series, so stay tuned. Although I've had so much fun, I'm wondering if I should incorporate more mini diys into the ol' blog... and maybe even keep my little shop open for a while. What do you think? Should I keep this creating train rollin?

Aannd here's what's coming up for the Be Creative project. Still not quite sure how I'm going to tackle April... I'm the lightest of lightweights.

be creative project

Images by artsocial.


it's been done Do you ever have a super exciting idea but immediately shoot it down because someone else has already done it? Yep. I do that constantly.

The most recent example being hosting an event. I was SO excited when I first had the idea to do an artsocial event. Then I started looking around the internets... ohhhh here come the doubts: everyone's doing events, that's not a unique idea, I can't do an event if so-and-so just did one... on and on.

Here's the thing, though - EVERYTHING has already been done, but not by you. Sooo many bloggers have hosted events... but I haven't :) We all have something unique we can bring to the table. Yes, someone somewhere has already done it. So what, yo.

We can't let that stop us from creating what we want to create. You gotta go for it... and it's not about doing something bigger or better than others. It's just about following your excitement and creating something you're proud of. Give it your full attention and passion... and never feel like you have to explain yourself. The truth is, others will be writing, painting, and hosting events right along with you but NO ONE will do it exactly like you do.

Realizing this really helped take the pressure off. It's okay - just go, create. Who cares if it's already been done. So, as you guys know, I'm hosting that event. In fact, it's turning into a series of events. Whaaaaat. So stoked to share more with everyone soon...!

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for the Be Happy linkup! Join the happiness conversation below and on Facebook!


Images by artsocial.


be creative project - artsocial

When you make new choices, things automatically get more interesting. Even boring things - eating breakfast, picking a Pandora station, watching tv - become opportunities for new experiences. While this may be annoying to some (ahem my boyfriend... understandably so, I get it), it's blowing my mind at how much fun I'm having just because I'm trying new things.

While I'm not doing new things all day everyday, I am trying at least one new thing each day. It's such a small change, but maybe that's the brilliance of it. If it's a small change, it's easier to stick to it. If branching out and trying the carne asada street tacos instead of my usual chicken tacos makes the experience 3x better and more memorable, then heck yeah, friends! This could be my new lifestyle.

This month is about something bigger than simply trying a new breakfast item or saying yes to a coffee date. It's about being open to receiving new information... and by receiving new information, you create the conditions for new ideas and more creativity to emerge. You never know what the universe is trying to offer you. I had a crazy moment of coincidence last week, I really think there's something to this... so say yes to the new, k?

be creative project - artsocial

So far this month, I've tried a few headstands (I'm embarrassingly bad at them... but I'm gonna keep trying), I've gone to a hockey game, a comedy show, and several hangout seshes with some old + new friends... I've learned SO much from all of these experiences... mainly that even though I think I'd rather stay at home in my jams, it's SO good for me to try new things. I'm always glad I went... and I always leave with new wisdom, information, or a renewed connection with someone I love. And that's better than jams (sorry, super comfortable pajamas).

So I've learned a ton about the importance of being open, but am I more creative? I have had a lot of ideas for the coming months - like starting a society6 shop as a creative outlet for my arty thoughts + ideas, writing an ebook about being a blogging maven in your first year, and several ridiculous photo shoots (the above shoot included where I'm upside-down... in a dress). So, honestly, I'd say it seems to be working... but not in the way I expected. It's subtle. I wanted the big EUREKA! moments like in the movies... is that just in the movies?

I do think that meditation + trying new things is increasing my awareness of the BIGGER PICTURE. Instead of feverishly typing posts and photoshopping cool shtuff with a narrow focus on my blog, the last two months have made me step away from the computer a bit, reach out to new people, and dare to bring some of my bigger ideas to life. Now that I'm seeing the bigger picture, I want to live in the bigger picture... there's a lot of new + exciting stuff over here, and you know I'm down for that.

I've started February with the small changes... now it's time to take things up a notch. Wednesday I'll be attending a self-reflexology class through Dabble... why? Because it's something I'd never normally try. Eep! Get some sneak peeks at my adventures over on twitter and instagram (@heyartsocial)!

What's on the Be Creative agenda? Well...


Images by artsocial. Quote by Thomas Jefferson.