Thursday, February 11, 2010
Interview 4: Theresa Cole
**My apologies for not posting Theresa's interview yesterday (and for having to post Sandy's tomorrow). We literally had a blizzard here and the internet was just not working. We got almost 2 feet of snow on top of the 2 feet of snow we got on Saturday. It's terrible. We're totally exhausted from shoveling. UGH! Back to our regularly scheduled program**
I'm so excited to be able to interview an artist like Theresa Cole! Her work is varied, original, and beautiful. She creates gorgeous hemp jewelry, yummy bath products, amazing photography, and MORE! I love the name of her blog, The Happy Soul - makes me feel happy just saying it! Definitely check out her etsy shop.
How long have you been arting?
Ever since I was a young girl, I enjoyed making things. I remember my grandmother trying to teach me to crochet and letting me sew with her sewing machine at a very young age. In high school, I took every art class that I could, and also a wood shop class. There is just something about that feeling of accomplishment when you look at your finished product and say "Wow. I made that." My creating and crafting fell to the wayside after I had my boys, but about 7 years ago it was sparked again. I fell in love with an adorable little hemp necklace, and after closer inspection, I realized that I had the ability to make those! I've been creating hemp items ever since. My photography is a new found love, only about 1year old, but it was love at first click! The world becomes a very magical place when you look at it through the viewfinder. Within the last year, I have also picked up crocheting and sewing again. Some memories are meant to be relived. :0)
Have you always hearted your art or did you struggle to do so?
Oh my goodness. I still find it hard to heart my art at times. It is a constant struggle for me to accept that I am a true artist, and that my creations are beautiful. I do love everything that I make, but when sales are slow (which is very often), it can be totally discouraging. I have found that if I keep creating, the happiness that brings can break through all of the doubts that I may have. Having a wonderful support group of online friends helps, too.
If you did struggle, how long did it take for you to heart your art?
As I said, the struggle is almost constant. It's easy for me to love my creations, but there is always that doubt that no one else will. On the rare occasion that I actually sell something, it is always a magical experience! To know that someone else loves my items enough to buy them is the greatest feeling in the world!
What was the process you went through?
Oh boy... for many years it was just me against the world. Filled with self doubt and hesitations, I trudged on. Within the last year, I have found the most supportive group of friends that any one could ever ask for, and when that doubt rears it's ugly head, they are the first people I talk to. They encourage me where I need to be, talk me through ideas, and keep me focused on what I need to focus on. Without them, who knows where I'd be.
Has there ever been a time when you stopped arting because of this struggle?
No, I can't say that I ever stopped. There were some very low points where I really thought I wanted to stop, but I truly do like the items that I make. It's hard to stop creating when it's something that you love to do.
Family and Friends:
Is (or was) your family supportive of you and your art?
As a child, not really. My father never saw much point in being creative, and my mother only wanted me to be creative when it was something that I was making for her. Now though, my husband and my mother-in-law are absolutely fantastic! In fact, I show my hubby every new creation before I even list it in my etsy shop, and believe it or not, he picks the beads for the necklaces at least half the time. He's wonderful, and I thank God for providing me with a husband as supportive and understanding as mine.
How about friends (past and present)?
I was never one to have many friends when I was younger, but since I've joined Etsy, I've found the truest, most fantastic group of friends that anyone could ever ask for. They support me in every venture, and help me through every difficulty. Without them, I would probably be a crazy woman locked up with her yarn and crochet hook!
How much influence has your experiences with family and friends had on your own feelings about your art?
Wow. The support that I have received from my friends and family has grown my love of my art immensely! When you are the person creating, it can sometimes be hard to have a clear perspective on the items that you make. My friends and family help me to develop the confidence that I need in myself, and my work.
How much influence does ‘the outside’ have on your feelings about your art?
Now this part is easy. I try not to let any outside influences affect how I think or feel. I learned a long time ago that being true to yourself is the only path to happiness.
How does positive feedback effect your feelings?
Positive feedback is essential to my creativity! Hearing what people like about my art gives me the confidence and incentive to keep creating.
How do you deal with negative comments?
I usually run straight to my support group to ask if there is any merit in the comments. If, (after some deep investigation) I find that there is merit to the comment, I strive to do everything I can to make the situation better. Learning from my mistakes is something I have grown accustomed to. Without the occasional mistake, we wouldn't be normal.
How do you deal with your art not selling?
That's a tough one for me. I rarely sell much, but just that one occasional sale is all I need to keep going. I realize that not everyone will love what I make, and if I can still find that occasional customer who does, I'm happy.
What is your current experience with hearting your art?
Through all the ups and downs, I've realized that creating is where my happiness comes from. Of course, I would love to sell more, but being able to explore all of my interests and create what I believe to be beautiful is what it's all about.
Do you still struggle?
Of course. Not everyday can be sunshine and roses. If I go a long time without a sale, I can get pretty depressed.
What do you do?
I force myself to create something new! Creating is what really makes me happy, and if I can force myself to create something new, I find that I am happy again in no time.
Do you compare your work with the work of other artists?
I am constantly thinking that everyone else's art is much better than mine. I have no education in any artist area, but what I create comes straight from my soul. Creating the perfect item is what I strive for, and if that doesn't compare to someone else's creations, then oh well. It's part of me, and that's who I am.
How do you deal with comparison from others?
There are times when it totally depresses me, but I honestly try my best to pick myself back up. I know that what I create is special and original, and honestly...if I have to wait a year before it goes to the perfect person, that's ok.
Do you have a process for your inner critic?
Unfortunately, not a good one. Most of the time, I run straight to my best friend and ask her if what I'm thinking is true, or if it's just that evil twin in my head messing with me. After her reassurance, I'm good!
Do you know the ‘what’s the point’ jerk? How do you deal with him?
I am thrilled to say that I don't have one of those people in my life! Honestly, I wouldn't deal with it well, and they would probably be pushed right out of my bubble in a quick hurry.
In what ways do you feel the struggle to heart your art has manifested itself in your life?
The struggle basically only exists in my head. As long as I make a conscious effort to fight it, I usually do ok. It's when I let my guard down that I can become vulnerable.
Where do you believe this struggle comes from - what do you believe the root is?
My own low self esteem is where it stems from. I've struggled with low self esteem all of my life, and even though over the years it has gotten better, it's still a constant battle.
What is your best tip for someone who struggles in this area?
Follow your heart! Your creations are beautiful, even if others cannot see it. Have value in yourself, your creativity, and your items. YOU ARE AN ARTIST! Show the world!