Friday, March 7, 2014

Escaping the Box ~ Mikki

We all get into design ruts from time to time, when everything we do begins to look the same and doesn't excite us in the usual what do you do when this happens??
rut 1  (rŭt)
1. A sunken track or groove made by the passage of vehicles.
2. A fixed, usually boring routine.

When you do this design thing as a sole income business it becomes incredibly important to give the market what it wants because you need the sales but it can be awfully self defeating and drive your muse into a rut.  

Sometimes I find I need to consciously move away from myself....I look at the colors, shapes, styles I've been doing and toss them aside. If I've been on certain shape, color, style kick I forbid myself to use any of them. I consider what would be the opposite and challenge myself to create it.  

Now, I'm not saying this is isn't!  But nothing worthwhile ever seems to be easy and, trust me, it is worthwhile.  

As many may know January 2013 saw my work change in a big went from safe bronzes and subdued colors to wild and crazy primaries.  I had quite literally escaped my box by moving states from Utah, where I was miserable, to California, where I am loving life.  When I look back at my work pre-California and post-California I can see that I was in there, trying to get out but the general state of depression I was in came out in my work. It came out as playing safe, muted, tight designs. Now, in the midst of this period I didn't recognize it, you don't's not until you stand back and do your own retrospective show.

The Amazing Suzanne muse, my hero
I was happy to be back in California and I really wanted it to show in my work and that sent me looking at other designer's work to see what made me happy, what made me smile...and why.   I credit Suzanne Golden with getting me out of my rut, it was her work that made me smile and I decided that I wanted to design something that would, hopefully, make her smile in the same way her work made me.   We share a love of black and white with punches of color...wild, primary, jewel tone colors...and that's where I started.

I had my goal. I was inspired. I was challenged.  And, oh boy, I was scared!

But I created something that did what I wanted, I created the "Carousel Series" and it did indeed make Suzanne smile. It also has made us firm friends and we even work together on things via e-mail.  She gave me THE biggest compliment by telling me that after her recent hip surgery when she felt her design muse had left her my work got her back on the horse and gave her her mojo back.  I count that as one of my biggest life achievements because the design world could not loose her genius!

I can also say my new, full color designs were received very well and my sales rocketed telling me that this was the right path for me and I haven't looked back.  My work is a lot more adventurous these days as people have seen with my new "Rotator Cuffs" and will see with my upcoming "Amusement Park" series.  I have a color palette that makes me happy, my designs are fun and they will get to be more fun as I'm designing things with moving parts.

Again....I am escaping the box, tackling challenges and doing the difficult scary things.   But, you know, you have to. Growth doesn't happen in that box....there's not enough room to stretch yourself.

So....if you think you're in a box and it's become suffocating for the door, step out.  Find someone who's work you admire, whose work makes you think "I wish I designed that" and be inspired.  Ask yourself what it is you like so much....take notes. Compare your own work looking at the details, what does their work have that yours doesn't?   Don't copy their work, ever! But learn from it....take your notes and apply them to your own work. Learn something new...a new technique or stitch can jumpstart your designs....even a new bead, maybe one you've been avoiding because you didn't know what to do with it.

I refer back to Neva's post about contests and challenges...they do stimulate us, make us stretch ourselves but remember.....the only person you really need to beat is yourself.  You need to make yourself proud and you don't need to win to do that you just need to create something you feel good about, that takes you a step forward on your design path :)


  1. I really love the direction you've been going in (and I love Suzanne's work -- every bit of it)! I can see from your store the changes you've made. They're all there in one space. The new you is what I really love. I need bright, colorful, do-able, smile-making projects right now. It's really important to me at this strange time of my life. Keep on keeping on, Mikki. I love what you do! You (& Suzanne) rock!

    1. Thanks Sally. I learned a LOT last year and though I can't stretch my designing as far as I would like right now (those pesky bills to pay) I have set some goals which hopefully will allow me time off from 'designing' to make something more 'art' than 'design'.

  2. Your talents are many faceted just like the gem that you are.