Stand out from the crowd.

Coco

‘Coco’ 2016

Everyone discovers things in their lives at different ages and different stages. Hence, to compare one’s life with another is completely futile. The lessons you have to learn are complex and unique. The time and methods you take to learn them are also unique to you. So let go of thinking that things should be one way or another, of measuring experiences and achievements. Life is not linear, so we must stop treating it so. 

Something I wrote down sometime last year in my notebook of scribbles, ideas, thoughts and things I need to put down to get out of my head, and to help me when I look back at them. (So pretty much just a manual version of this blog in fact!)

On the one hand the words I wrote are stating the obvious and are so simple. Yet they keep coming up in my life and now seem quite profound. I’m pretty sure most people, if not everyone, at least in the Western world anyway, struggles and stumbles over this at different times in their life. It’s like there are these invisible pressures all throughout our lives. You have to do this, and then that, get a degree, get a car, get a mortgage, and meet the ‘right’ person and make a certain amount of money etc. And if you haven’t done all of this by a certain age then you have probably failed at life. At least that’s what society, or our inner subliminal pressures make us think. When in fact, there are examples of the very opposite all over the place. It is actually the people who intentionally ignore these pressures, or fight against them and listen to what their own being actually wants,  that are really succeeding at life. The people who question all this stuff and resist it, who fight to understand what makes them happy rather than trying to buy it or just doing what the person on instagram is doing because they look happy. Who cares if you rent where you live anyway. And, if you think about it, what an insane idea that you should find one person on this massive planet that is somehow supposed to fill up every area of your life, and keep doing so, your entire life. We keep chasing money, chasing things, and ending up back where we started, wondering why we aren’t happy and why we followed this stupid, tired, and well trodden path that has been dictated to us our entire life whether we are aware of it or not.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

It also comes down to the Paradox of choice. Watch this amazing TED talk which hits the nail on the head with this concept. This has become more and more the case every day in our current world, we are told that we can do anything we want, be anything we want, go anywhere we want, have anything we want (and put the whole country in a recession, but hey, you got the car you wanted), live anywhere, date anyone, wear anything… you get the idea. And at first glance this is freedom, so much freedom. But actually, it may just be the opposite. Because if you have even a shadow of doubt, about which dress to buy, or which person to marry, of which city you should live in or whether to quit you job and take off, well, that is debilitating, and can often lead to inaction instead of being proactive. Indecision is crippling. When you can do anything, it is often easier to do nothing, change nothing, or constantly question whether you made the right decision. And that can slowly lead you to insanity, depression and a constant anxiety over your own life. Yes I do think we can do anything, go anywhere etc, but wise words to remember are that ‘you can do anything, but you can’t do everything’.

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. “Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”

Instead, we need to take control and make decisions, but also be content with the decisions we make. And look back and realise that even if we have regrets, tell ourselves that we did something because at that point in our life it was exactly what we wanted, or what made sense to us at the time with the information we had. And that’s ok.

It takes courage to take time to step away from the mainstream and question what actually makes sense for you, but when you do you will be so free with the liberty of doing what the hell you want and where you want and why, that your whole life will change.

“He who is brave is free” – Seneca

It is so easy to be overwhelmed by choice in today’s world, there are too many distractions, too many options, with everything.

One minute I can be happy and feeling on track and then quickly get swept away on social media and suddenly I am questioning everything.

So do not compare yourself. Do not compare your one precious life and belittle your own achievements and virtues. Everyone is on their own path and we should be working harder to make our own path unique to us, and to celebrate that. To be true to our own person and personality and to not just follow the crowd and follow what someone else is doing or being.

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. – Kurt Cobain

Be yourself, don’t try to copy someone else, who they are, or what they do.

The world needs you to be you.

-Holly

x
(Watch another brilliant TEDx talk here on ‘The art of being yourself’ )

If you liked this here are other posts with similar ideas why not to compare yourself and Go your own way.

Limited Edition prints of ‘Coco’ available HERE

Q & A (part 2)

Flux - Holly Sharpe 72 dpi
Flux’, prints here

Finally got around to writing up another Q&A post! (See my first one here) Below are some questions I have received in emails from people, and of course my answers to them. Similar themes seem to come up, so thought it would be useful to share in the hope that they may be helpful to others reading this! If you have a specific question please leave in the comments below, or email – hollysharpe@live.com And I will get back to you as soon as I can, and possibly feature it in my next Q&A post.

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Q. Can you tell me a bit about your background?

A. My background = Born in Edinburgh. Studied printed textiles at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee- got a 1st. Went on to travel and then moved to London where I worked as a textile designer full time for a while. Realised it wasn’t for me, and spent all free hours trying to work on my own drawings and illustrations as well as promoting it as much as I could mainly via the internet.

Q. When/how did you find your own signature style and work method?

 A. Uh, I guess it has been an ongoing thing that continues to develop and change, whilst still retaining my ‘style’ which comes naturally for the most part. I think it started to take shape after lots of experience, practice and knowledge/ experience in different disciplines. 
Q.Where do you usually get your inspiration?

A. Everywhere. – I answered this in previous Q&A which you can read here.

 
Q. How does your day-to-day routine when working look like?
A. It varies, but for the most part I will be in my studio all day. I spend a lot more time on my computer doing less exciting admin – type stuff, which unfortunately seems to take up a chunk of time. I will also spend time packaging and posting sales made from my online shops. And then of course time to work on new work whether on or off my computer…
Depending on how my day has gone, I sometimes stay and work late in my studio or I will keep working at home. Although I never do this every night as I think it is very important to take time off and create space, physically and mentally from your work in order to stay creative. 

Q. Who are your favourite illustrators or artists?

 A. Oh, also made a blog post about some of my favourite artists/ illustrators here
And a couple more which aren’t on there because sadly they are no longer alive are : Egon Schiele, and Lucian Freud.

Q. You’ve worked on commissions for products like Derwent and Chloé in Marie Claire magazine, how did these commissions come about?

A. Those commissions all came about by them contacting me basically. I am not sure where each of them first found or heard about my work. I think for this reason it is important to put your work in a lot of places, whether that be online or offline as you never know who is going to see it and when. So therefore the more places you have it in, probably the better. I try to post my work and news on social media a lot and I think that has definitely helped get my name and my work out there. 

Q. I’ve noticed that there is a reoccurring theme within your work and most predominately the use of women. Is there any particular reason for this?

A. Not exactly no. I guess one piece leads to another and I like to explore something that worked. I have always liked drawing people, and for the most part find women nicer to draw – having said that I did draw a couple of men last year and hope to explore that some more this year.  

Q. Do you still take any classes, or partake in life drawing sessions. If not do you use models for the subjects within your work?

 A. I occasionally go to a life drawing class, but don’t have the time to go anywhere near as much as I would like to. I find it very relaxing and enjoyable and would much rather be able to draw from real life all the time, but unfortunately it isn’t always possible. I did do life drawing at uni a lot, this is definitely one of the best ways to enhance your drawing skills.  

Q. Are there any interesting projects you are currently working on or plans for the future?

 A. A few things in the pipeline, but still in the process of making plans etc so I guess you’ll have to wait and see 🙂 

Q. I’ve followed your work on Instagram & your website for a while now, but how else do you get your work into the public eye

A.  Yes I also use twitter:  https://twitter.com/hollysharpe
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollySharpeDrawings
etsy: 
https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/hollysharpe?ref=hdr_shop_menu
pinterest: 
http://www.pinterest.com/hollysharpe2012/
and my blog which I mentioned a few times. Apart from that I guess it is word of mouth, trying to get my work shown and  / or sold in different places etc. 

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….I am currently in my third year at the University of Lincoln, studying Fashion Design. This year I am writing my dissertation which is based on fashion illustration. After finding your portfolio on Association of Illustrators, I loved your work and I would be very grateful if it was possible for you to answer a few questions that would help me with my research, and that I can also include in my dissertation.

Q. How would you describe your style of illustration?

A. I will try and answer these questions as best as I can, I have actually answered at least one of them in this interview here which might be helpful to you:

http://castlefoundations.com/2014/10/03/feature-friday-illustrator-holly-sharpe/

Q. What methods do you use to create your final illustration?

 

A. The methods I use to create a final illustration are – I always start with pencil, pen or paint and paper. Sometimes I will draw/ paint the main image and then scan it into the computer to play around with it, or add to it in photoshop. Other times I will just use pencil, ink and watercolour and keep it that way. And sometimes I will draw/ paint the main image and some other elements separately, then scan them all in and play around with composition etc in photoshop to bring together the final illustration. I hope that answers your question? I don’t really have a strict method which I stick to, but I think starting with paper and paint etc will, for me anyway, always produce a richer result, rather than doing it entirely digitally. 

Q. Do you read any fashion magazines? If so, do you believe that there are enough illustrations included throughout the magazine?

A. To be honest, not often at all no. Sometimes I browse the Sunday Times Style magazine if I am at my parents house. Other than that, I may occasionally buy something obscure that catches my eye, but unfortunately there aren’t that many shops that sell the smaller, less mainstream magazines that I would rather buy. The last time I bought Marie Claire, it’s because I had an illustration in it – which was exciting of course – but I don’t buy it regularly. Oh, so to answer your question, no there are no where near enough illustrations in them, and if there was more I would definitely buy them A LOT more often! I just think it becomes very stale when flicking through a hundred generic photographic adverts for Chanel, Gucci, Burberry etc, I pretty much glaze over at most of them now. They need illustrations to bring them to life again!  – don’t get me wrong I love some fashion photography, but there is so much of it these days that only some of it really stands out.

Q. Finally, what do you think the role of fashion illustration is today and how has it changed over the years?

A. The role of fashion illustration today…. not sure to be honest. I like to think it helps to capture the essence or feeling of something, rather than describing a specific item or object. I think a lot of fashion illustration has become an art piece in itself. And once it becomes art it is hard to define what role it actually plays? I think it has changed a lot in that it is probably a lot more broader these days, people are so creative and we now have a lot more tools to help enhance that. Whereas in the earlier times of fashion illustration it was there to fulfil quite a clear purpose to illustrate clothes, when there wasn’t any/ very many photographs about, whereas now it has to do something more than that.

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Q. ….
I started drawing and painting this year, and although I’m not aiming to break into the illustration field , I would love to improve my work.
 
I wanted to ask you about what brand of watercolour you use, I’m trying find the brand that works for me but I want vibrant colours and good pigments without  breaking the bank.. I had been thinking of giving Dr. Ph Martin’s watercolours a try but I see you use watercolour pans or tubes.. what are your thoughts?

A. I’m not sure what country you are emailing from as I haven’t actually heard of Dr. Ph Martin’s watercolours….?? I use Windsor and Newton. They have two types which they sell, one is either called ‘professional or artists’ watercolours, and that is the more expensive and much better quality out of the two types that they do. The other one is still good, but the pigments are a lot stronger in the artists’/professional one and seem to be less likely to fade etc. To be honest I actually haven’t tried that many other brands, I probably should test out some other ones to compare! The ones I buy are pretty expensive, but they do last a long time, and if you buy them as a pack, rather than individual colours it works out cheaper. 

Q. Another thing is that I’m very intimidated by beautiful paper.. If I set to draw on nice watercolour paper, I get so nervous I ruin it, while if I draw on the ipad or on scrap paper… I make actually pretty good stuff..

Any tips to get over this?

A. I totally understand why you feel like this sometimes, and I think a lot of people get this ‘blank canvas’ complex. If I’m drawing in a sketchbook I pretty much never draw on the first page, I always leave it blank, or I’ll stick a postcard or a picture/photograph by someone else that I like there. So I guess that’s my thing, too much pressure to make the first page amazing that I avoid it all together! When working on loose leaf paper however, I guess because I have done it so much now I am rarely afraid to ruin it. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes ruin it, I am just a lot better at accepting that I spend a lot of money on paper, and that’s ok because it is now my ‘job’ so if some of it gets wasted because I messed up, it’s not the end of the world (and I do try to always recycle it!). I suppose the best ‘tips’ I could give you are 1. Maybe warm up/sketch on a scrap bit of paper first and 2. Practice, doing it more and getting used to working on nice paper will hopefully make it more ‘normal’ and not so different form working on a scrap piece. 3. try not to think so much about this pressure that you are putting on yourself – which itself may just come with practice – not everything you do is going to be great, everyone has bad days, and work that they hate or that just didn’t work, so don’t stress too much if it doesn’t work out. Another thing I would say, is that it’s ok if you do great work on scrap bits of paper or on your ipad, you can keep them too and it is just as much a piece of art as the ones you create on ‘nice’ paper. The scrap paper may even add something to the work, maybe you should embrace that way of working?

Q. And lastly, do you work from reference photos? I struggle a lot with proportion.. and yet as most people I’m very concerned about originality…I feel like a cheat when I use reference photos from magazines and such..

A. Yes I usually use photos for reference. I don’t like doing it either, but it is not practical or possible for me to always have a model to draw from. I know what you are saying about originality, but I am pretty much never trying to copy the photograph, I may even be looking at a few and combining elements I like from each and putting that together with my own ideas and sketches to create my own piece of work. The photographs are for reference only. I have been going to life drawing classes for years, and although I don’t go to them as much as I would like anymore, I still go when I can. This is by far the best way to practice proportions. It is thought that the human body is the hardest thing to draw – which is why architects often go to life classes to practice their drawing – so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with it, it takes time and practice and a lot of times you may not get it right. Just remember to keep looking – your brain/eyes play tricks on you so it is just practice. It should start to come a lot more naturally with time.

 
 

A few words on determination and success….

Believe

Determination is sticking to your health/ fitness plan when you really don’t feel like it, it is getting out of your bed when you don’t want to, when it is cold and raining outside, and putting your trainers on and going for a run.

That was me last Tuesday morning. I actually surprised myself, I can be pretty driven and hard on myself, but other times I am too soft and with things like going for a run I make excuses, tell myself I need more sleep, don’t have time etc etc. But it hit me that morning when I was feeling pleased (smug maybe) with myself for making it out and was enjoying the fresh air and refreshing rain as I ran through it, it reminded me that this is your ‘edge’, these are the times that you need to push through, that make the pros stand out from the amateurs, the successes over the (I use this word tentatively) ‘failures’. They draw out those that will always excel in life, because they continued to show up, they kept trying, against the odds, against the stuff that tries to put up a wall against your dreams, they push through it.

Below are a few things, in my opinion, which help towards building determination, and ultimately leading to success in whatever way that means for you:

  • Music helps.
  • Exercise helps.
  • Building good mental habits and practising positivity every single day helps.
  • Meeting new inspiring people.
  • Trying new things and building your confidence.
  • Picking yourself up when things don’t go your way.
  • Fighting back.
  • Perseverance.
  • Belief.
  • Strength.
  • Writing down small steps towards bigger goals and sticking to them.
  • Being kind to yourself.
  • Being hard on yourself.
  • Faith in yourself.
  • Keeping going when others don’t.
  • Focusing on what IS working rather than dwelling on what isn’t/ didn’t.
  • Focus.
  • Drive.
  • (More) perseverance.
  • Integrity.
  • Passion.
  • Grit.
  • Doing it for the right reasons.
  • Straight up hard work.
  • Will power.

What is going to make you stand out from the crowd, and take it a step further to achieve the success that you want?

Hope you are feeling a little more motivated after this fairly brief post!
Holly x

http://www.hollysharpe.com
twitter: @hollysharpe

Change the world by changing yourself.

Hope

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently. And about compassion. Not quite related I guess. Which is to say: I’ve been thinking (or over-thinking) a lot recently. Not much new there really.

I feel like as time goes on, and life seems to throw bigger decisions at you, sometimes it is so hard to know what is the right direction. What is the “right” way to be. What is the “right’ thing to do. I don’t think there is ever one answer to any of these questions. And one thing I think which is useful to remember, (re my post about comparing yourself) is that we are all so different. Each and every person is unique. That’s 7 billion complete and utter individuals living on this planet (don’t get me started on what is beyond this planet, as that is a little too mind blowing). If I’m honest, that fact alone completely over shadows any worries or concerns I had in my own little world. And instead I find myself in awe of this overwhelming miracle which is actually a fact.

With a decent dose of my usual tangents, I will try to get back to what I think my overall point is… For quite a few years now I have taken it upon myself to learn more about yoga, Buddhism, and meditation. I have a whole array of thoughts on them all, which I will for the most part leave aside for another day, in another post/s. But what I do want to say, is that when you feel in doubt, when you are confused and questioning whether you are in the right job, or at the right place in your life or whatever it is you are (constantly) questioning. One thing you can be sure of, in my opinion, is to work on bettering yourself. Now that of course means something different to everyone. However there are probably a few core things which most would surely agree on, such as trying to be a good person, trying to treat others without judgment and without criticism. Trying to be healthier, to treat you body and mind with the respect and love it so deserves, and encouraging others to do the same.

They are just a couple of things which I think most people would feel happier if they tried to improve on them, and for most people there is always some room for improvement within those areas. And I think that once you are focusing on these things, in time the rest will start to fall into place, because your whole outlook will be more positive and with more clarity. I want to try and make my point with a ‘story’ or whatever you would like to call it, which one of my wonderful yoga teachers, Laura, recently shared with us. It was written by an Unknown Monk, in 1100 AD and reflects that we can only change ourselves –

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realise the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realise that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

This really said something to me, because I think it is so true. This ‘ripple effect’ of passing good intentions and good energy, but by starting with yourself, makes so much sense to me, and is a lot easier to feel like perhaps you could in fact help change something, rather than feeling helpless and overwhelmed by the state of the world if you start thinking about changing the entire world yourself.

And just to round this up, perhaps on a slightly too cheesy note for some, here are some words which perhaps a lot of you already know, but it’s a nice one to remember:

Promise yourself

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past, and press on to the greater achievements of
the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living
creature you meet.
To give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy
to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud
words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side, so long as you are true
to the best that is in you.

The Optimist Creed

By Christian D. Larson 1912

Hope you enjoyed my post, thanks again for taking the time to read it!
– Holly

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When your ideas exceed your time = creative dilemmas

too many ideas

I posted the above photo on my Instagram earlier and a lot of people commented on it saying they felt the same. The response to my sharing of this feeling, inspired me to write a blog post about it, because apparently that’s what I do now…

Sometimes I have so many ideas going on in this little head that I feel like my head is going to explode, or my brain, or my heart,… SOMETHING is going to explode. It can be so all –consuming, so overwhelming that I literally don’t know where to start. This is becoming a problem which often presents itself in one of the following two options;

1. I don’t know which idea to pursue, or proceed with, so I don’t start, I do nothing, I procrastinate, I tidy my studio, I reply to emails, I do yoga, I do anything but create and follow through with the idea/s. I am quite sure this is a common thing for creatives and has been written and talked about a lot (for example in ‘Turning Pro’, by Steven Pressfield, he talks about this amongst other things…), = resistance.

2. I start loads of different things, and don’t finish any of them, or finish some of them, and get all confused again because it seems to have no relevance to what I actually want to do, or to the ‘path’ I previously thought I was trying to take my work and career on. This happens a lot, and the trouble is knowing, and figuring out, and deciding, which ones to carry on with, which ones will I gain the most from, personally, for others, and financially (which unfortunately has to come into it on occasion)??

So, one of my ‘new years’ resolutions’, if you want to call it that, is to try and be more focused and try to not go off on tangents and get distracted as much… If I start an idea, I would like to decide fairly near the initial commencement of said idea whether or not it feels right, if I feel like I have enough fuel, and excitement for the idea to see it through. And if yes, I want to almost force myself to make sure I finish it. This is going to be a delicate balance, because if it is something creative we are talking about, rules and regulations don’t tend to mix well with it (not for me anyway). I think one solution, for me, is to create enough space from the work, I generally always have more than one project or commission that I am working on at any one time, and this can be a good thing, as when I feel a bit tired with one thing, I can work on something that I feel more excited about (sometimes this is not an option when deadlines are involved of course…) and therefore hopefully always keep things fresh. I think a good idea to make sure I can sustain my motivation to finish things, is to allow myself time here and there, to just off load ideas, to sketch, paint, write, whatever, with no plans, no pressure on the outcome or the success of whatever it is. This way, I can go back to focusing on the things I want to see to the end and finish, whilst having ‘side projects’ that don’t need to mean anything, or necessarily go anywhere, but I guess act as some sort of release. And if they turn into something more than that, I guess that can only be a bonus.

This focus and drive to see things through to the end, also means facing the fear of the idea/s failing, which I think is often an underlying reason for the aforementioned ‘resistance’ whether we are aware of it or not. And failing, or not being afraid to, is an all important aspect to staying creative. If something fails, this is a learning experience and it usually means you have pushed yourself, so, I would like to try and maintain my focus on the ideas I decide to follow through on, irregardless of whether or not there is a chance they will ‘fail’. Whatever ‘fail’ means anyway.

I would be really interested to hear any of your views or thoughts on whether or not you feel like this sometimes? And if so, do you have ways of channeling it or ‘coping’ with it? And any advice on how I should manage my own hectic head full of ideas would be very welcome!

Thanks for reading,

– Holly
x

Email: hollysharpe@live.com

Twitter: @hollysharpe

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Why not to compare yourself to others.

Ben Lomond
Me and Ben Lomond last year ^

Social media is a great thing in many ways, and I use it for my work a lot and it has helped me a lot. However, it also has a LOT of negatives. It is crazy how much time people spend wishing away their lives scrolling through Facebook etc. Aside from time wasting, the main issue I have with it, and have heard discussed here and there is the envy and jealousy it creates. Wishing you looked like someone else, wishing you lived somewhere else, wishing you had the fame or life of someone else. We, as humans, are naturally compelled to get carried away and indulge in these feelings of wanting and wishing. Which does nothing and doesn’t help anyone. What we need to remember, is that everyone’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, is a tiny, tiny, edited version of their life or work. Everyone has ups and downs, rainy days and grumpy days, yet their social media profiles probably don’t represent this. As much as it is important to have aims and goals we want to get to, it is also crucial that we don’t spend our lives saying ‘when I have this’ or once I have done this, or live here, or have lost this weight or have this much money, I’ll be happy, and instead remember to pay attention to what we already have, rather than always looking forwards. Otherwise you might wake up one day and wonder where your life actually went.

And on a side note, it is always best to assume that Photoshop HAS been used on most celebrities/ models in most pictures you will see in most places, because it usually has.

I don’t know where I read this the other day, but it said, ‘Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle’. I think this puts it quite succinctly. It is completely futile to compare your ‘success’, your journey, or whatever, to someone else’s. Think about it, there have been so many points already throughout your life when one small decision affected a big change. So much is up to chance, hurdles you faced in your personal life that they didn’t, priorities you chose that they didn’t. Alain de Botton touches on this idea, and puts it across a whole lot better than I ever could in his extremely watchable (/listenable) TED Talk here.

My ideas on and behind this blog, and the majority of my posts on social media have a positive thread, or should do, throughout. This is intentional as this is how I want to come across, this is how I want to inspire and engage others, it is also how I want to be more of the time. (Having said this, a few people have pointed out that a lot of the girls in my illustrations looks sad, -blog post coming on that point soon.. – so maybe this counteracts all of this anyway…?) However, I wanted to share these words with you to make sure it is understood that my career, my situation is not always rosy. Perhaps it can comes across as if it is when I post about this commission or this break through or another ‘uplifting’ quote. But I wanted to make sure that people know I am human too, I have ups and downs like everyone else. Creating art is one of my coping mechanisms for sure. As is yoga, and people, of course. It is hard to remember that a lot of people that follow me and my work, don’t actually know me, or have never met me. So it is hard to know how people picture you if they only have written words and posted pictures to go by…

Anyway, point is, we are all only human, doing the best we can do and that is all we can do.

Thanks again for reading,
Holly

And if you would like to follow me on the aforementioned social media, here’s the links:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr.

Motivation 2015.

words - find a way

Procrastination is not your friend. I am fairly well acquainted with it and I know there are very few occasions, if any, when it could be seen to be a positive. I remember years ago reading a fairly generic article where various woman shared their best one – liners of advice and the main one, well, the only one I remember is so simple, but for me, so perfect – ‘Just do it, then it’s done’. It just made me think, if I could just apply this to so many things in my life, I would surely be more productive and most likely less distracted. Like with all those little things that niggle at the back of your mind – phone this person, email someone else, fix this, buy that, do this, do that, go here etc etc Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure we all have them… don’t we?! I go through phases where I get better at applying this to my life. If I need to fix something or email someone, I try to do it straight away. It is amazing, if a tad pathetic, the relief and satisfaction I seem to feel after dealing with these small, but irritating things, that simply just need to be done. So, I am writing this for myself, as a reminder, as much as I am for anyone else that perhaps needs a little push. If you want to be more focused, productive, and generally achieve more in your day, week, month… tick off those little, but necessary things on your list first, get them out the way and then you will hopefully be more focused with less distractions at the back of your mind to get on with what you really want to be doing. This could, I suppose in it’s own way be seen as procrastination as I have read people advise that the best way to be productive is to tackle the hardest/ biggest thing on your to do list first, otherwise you just circle around it all day and find other things you could be doing first. Perhaps this is the best tactic, I’m sure different ways work for different people. But the main advice in both is to start, take action… like, now!

Continuing on this thread, after receiving another email earlier from someone asking how I came about a certain commission, or client or how I did this or that, it made me come back to something which really gets me excited and motivated and realise that it is something I want to do more of this year – I want to motivate you, I want to inspire you and I want to help more people see that they are not fulfilling their potential and that they are so much more capable of so many things if they only put their mind to it. The more I give out this sort of advice, the more I question it… perhaps I’m wrong and not everyone is capable of what I think, maybe I should be more careful when I tell people to quit the job they hate, and have done for years, to take to the road and travel with no particular aim but just because they had a strong urge to. Maybe not everyone is strong enough to deal with the aftermath, the struggle to then help your reality take shape. Or maybe not enough people have even tried? And that is why more people don’t. If you are surrounded by people who just accept things as the way they are, and think they have no choice in the matter, then it is less likely that you will question that in your own life. Without trying to waffle too much, once I get into this I could go on for a whiiiile, here are my main two points, I think.

1. Question everything.

Ok, maybe not everything, but ‘question most things’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. All I mean is, if there is something in your life that you are not happy with, don’t just accept that there is no other option, feel sorry for yourself and continue with it. Question it.

It really is my belief that most people have an option, everything in their life was and is a choice. Once you accept this, it gives you control back, it’s exciting! What would you change if you could? Well guess what, you can! I know some will think I have my head in the clouds, but the reason I am close to 100% sure of it now, is because I did it, I changed things I wanted to, and I try hard to keep changing things that I am not happy with now.

2. Action is key.

Whatever it is you want to do, whether it be loose weight and get into shape, learn a new language or quit your job and do your creative thing full time/ freelance, you need to do more than think and talk about it. Obvious yes, but it is in our blood to talk the talk and so many people convince themselves that they mean it and will get around to going to the gym, or eating healthy, or looking for a new job, but it seems much rarer that people actually take action and do something about it. Which we have all done, and the reason is that it takes effort, and confidence and courage. But it feels amazing when you even take one small step towards it. My advice, is start with one small thing. What tiny step can you take towards your goal? Do it. Then figure out the next small step… you should congratulate yourself after each small step, because it is a lot more than thinking and talking about it. For example, if your goal is : to loose weight/ be healthier. Don’t be unrealistic, start with something achievable like, no snacks between meals. Or no snacks every day apart from Friday. Then maybe your next step could be to eat more veg every day. Then maybe your next small step – after you have kept up the previous two for a little while – could be to do 15 mins of exercise every day, or take the stairs instead of the lift (elevator) everyday, or do sit ups every other morning.

Ok less about vegetables, but I hope you get my point, if you can apply that method to whatever it is that you want to do, it does make it seem more achievable and therefore you are more likely to stick to it longer than a week.

This may be stating the obvious but actually I think sometimes when things are written down, or said out loud, they all of a sudden become so much clearer and therefore easier to put into action.

I don’t believe that January is the only time to make changes and resolutions, but it is as good a time as any, so I hope this has helped some of you feel a little more motivated with your goals or resolutions!

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Holly
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Q & A

I quite often receive emails from various people asking me specific questions about my work and or practice. So I thought it might be a good idea to start a feature on here which allows you to send in your questions and I will try to answer them all at some point or perhaps on a monthly (or every-other-monthly) basis!
If you want to ask me something please leave a comment below this post and or email me – hollysharpe@live.com

Here are a couple I have answered recently –

Q: …I haven’t been working on this particular project for very long but I am really struggling to come up with new and creative ideas for designs so I was just wondering what you do when you are trying to design something and need a little help or inspiration? How do you come up with something original that is completely your own work?

A: This is probably something I could talk about for a while, and don’t think there is a black and white answer to your question as it will be different for everyone. So with that in mind I will try my best to give you a few pointers as to how to start off getting ideas which are your own and help you to stay inspired.

I really do get inspiration from everywhere, whether that be nature itself, music, or something I have listened to or read. The way to build on an idea to create something that is your own, is to take it step by step, ie do lots of research, collect images that you like – not necessarily of a finished piece that you want yours to be like, but perhaps photographs, colours, textures, patterns. Anything that you are drawn to, don’t get too bogged down with how related they are to your final project or outcome. The initial steps should always be research, and then you might want to create a nice ‘mood board’ of any images you want to focus on. Then the best step is probably to start sketching, again don’t think too much about where it is going at this stage, just sketch and try to generate different ideas. I very rarely have an image of what my finished piece is going to look like at this stage. So I guess that is where I am going with all this, the process should be quite organic and flourish almost by itself, rather than sitting down and expecting to just come up with something amazing, it is like most things, a step by step journey. Hope that makes sense? If you try to work this way, your final piece/s will have so much more substance.

Practical things I do when I need ideas are things like – go for a walk or run with music on, for some reason this helps take away the pressure and will sometimes let ideas come about quite naturally, read books or go to an art library where there is an abundance of inspiration, and I guess generally looking around, look everywhere, try and absorb all the amazing things around you….. Don’t try to force ideas, let your mind wander and they should come to flourish themselves.

 

Q: I am currently in the process of writing my essay and one of the artists I am focussing on is you, so I was just wondering if you could tell me some information about yourself, like what inspires you etc

A: I always say this, but pretty much everything inspires me. I usually start with an idea, which might come when I am listening to music, or reading or going for a walk amongst the trees, these are some of the best times to generate ideas. These ideas are usually quite powerful, but not necessarily something I can put into words at the initial stages. So I will collect images I like, do some sketches and generally build on the original idea to finally follow it through to finished pieces, I have a lot of ideas, a lot of the time, so it is choosing which ones to pursue that I find hard. So basically so many things inspire me, from music, to colours, to nature and philosophy, fashion and of course other artists.

 

Thanks for reading! Hopefully these answers are useful to others too…  Please feel free to reply with any more questions.

 

Holly

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*No secret formula* – tips on making it in the creative industry. Part 2/2

Paul Coelho

 

Following on from part 1 (read here) here are some more ‘tips’ which I personally think are important if you are trying to make a career in the creative industries, or if you already are but need some reminders to help keep doing what you’re doing.

– Be yourself. –

 Focus on what makes you unique, on your own strengths. It makes a lot more sense to build on what you already have rather than try and change into something you are not. The same goes for your work, of course take inspiration from others, but trying to copy what someone else has done is futile, as you will never be able to do it as good as them, just as they would never be able to do exactly what you have done.

– Create something unique –

Following on from the point above, it will be a whole lot harder, in this already highly competitive industry, for you/ your work to stand out if it isn’t truly your own and there are already a 100 people out there doing a very similar thing. If you create something unique it has a much better chance of standing out. Rather than creating a similar take on something that has already been done. Find your niche and this will give value to what you do and the product/ service you offer.

– Experience –

  • Take risks, do internships (although don’t be one of these guys that works for free for 6months – a year!! *some companies will take advantage*).
  • Meet people/ connect with people in similar fields – find out what it is happening in your area or even online. Go to lectures/ talks / seminars, expand your mind and GET INVOLVED!
  • Experiment with your work too, keep pushing the boundaries of whatever it is you are doing, try new techniques, technology, whatever it is that applies to your discipline/area. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I know this is hard sometimes, and in some ways the more ‘success’ you have, the harder it is because more people are looking at you and your work, ready to ‘judge’ it. But if you don’t take risks your work will become stale and stay the same. Some of my best work has happened when I least expected it, when I was playing around and trying not to worry about the final result and really letting go.

– Be nice –

This might sound basic, but hear me out. I believe that you should try and be friendly, polite and courteous to everyone that you come into contact with. Whether that be through an email, on twitter, or in person. In your personal life and especially in your business life (although if your situation is anything like mine… they tend to merge into one.. and yes I know that isn’t very healthy!). My reasons for this are:

  1. Because it’s nice to be nice and positive energy is infectious.
  1. From a professional point of view, I think it is important to remember that you don’t know who the person you are in contact with knows, for example their Uncle could just so happen to be the CEO of a design company you desperately want to work for, or an editor at a major magazine you want published in, or the curator at a prestigious art gallery. You get the idea. The point is, any of these people that you are in touch with, could lead you to a person that may be able to help you on your way to that dream career/ project/ commission! Building connections and a client base does not happen over night, yes I’m sure you could buy a long list of names and addresses in your field, but even then, they don’t know you, or have any personal affiliation with you. Professional relationships take time and effort to naturally flourish. It is a two way thing and they need to know they can trust and rely on you.

This whole point came to me after being amazed at the number of people who have emailed me asking my opinion on something, advice, questions etc And after I took the time (ok sometimes 3 weeks later, but still) to send them a well thought out response, a lot of them never even replied with a simple ‘thank you’. Without wanting to start a rant, I really don’t understand this. I completely understand that people are crazy busy/ stressed etc. But 30secs is all it would take to say thanks. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t get how they don’t see that it’s all connected. I know I rave on about how you are the main driving force behind your own destiny and everything, but there will undoubtedly be a number of key people at different stages in your life that help you along the way, and sometimes they appear when you least expect it.
Oh AND of course-

3. No matter how much your client or the person you are working for/ with is annoying / frustrating you, take a deep breath, step away from the computer, go for a walk, come back to it the next day if you can, and be NICE to them. Clients can sometimes be tricky / demanding, but they are paying you and it is not always going to be a match made in heaven whilst working on something together. Especially when it is something creative, there will be clashes. One thing I like to remember and have really appreciated when working with a couple of clients is that you are only half of the picture. You need them as much as they need you. So please, don’t get too on your creative high horse and try to respect that their vision is just as valid as yours, and hopefully if you find the right balance together you can create something way better than either of you would have done separately.

– Baby steps. –

It is great to have a long term goal/ ambition, but this can often be very daunting and seem unattainable. I think the best way to get there is to break it down into smaller, more manageable sized targets. Perhaps by making a monthly, weekly and daily list of smaller steps/ actions which you can realistically take now to get you closer to your end goal.

 

I hope you have found some of the words in these two parts helpful! I have no doubt I will think of more things, and there are so many factors which help or hold you back when trying to make things happen in your life. But for now, think about the things I have said and decide for yourself if they perhaps apply to you and if it makes sense to try some changes which will hopefully help you achieve the things that you want to. Please get in touch or leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to discuss some of the things that I have said.
email: holly sharpe@live.com
Twitter: @hollysharpe

Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog!!
Holly
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courage