Skillshare Talks | From Dreaming to Doing with Creative Freelancer Bonnie Christine | Bonnie Christine | Skillshare

Skillshare Talks | From Dreaming to Doing with Creative Freelancer Bonnie Christine

Bonnie Christine, Surface Pattern Designer + Artist

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2 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Introduction

      0:56
    • 2. From Dreaming to Doing

      19:41
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About This Class

This short video is part of the Skillshare Talks series that shares footage from live conversations with our teacher community.

Join the Skillshare team at our NYC headquarters with Bonnie Christine - a surface pattern designer, educator, and creative entrepreneur. Through this talk, you will hear how Bonnie transitioned from a dreamer to a doer, achieving her biggest dream along the way: becoming a surface pattern designer. She shares her strategies for tackling goals, creating a signature style, and achieving financial stability as an artist.

BONUS! Click HERE to Download Bonnie's FREE "Guide To Overcoming Overwhelm" 

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I am a dreamer. I set huge, lofty goals. I would get so overwhelmed that I wouldn't know where to start, so I just wouldn't start. So in hindsight, this was really me just floundering and not knowing what to do. But in reality, it was a vital part of my success because it gave me a few underlying years to build a platform in which I could leap from. But I was so overwhelmed, didn't know how to start. So that day, I decided that I was going to start doing one thing every single day and efforts of moving myself to accomplishing this dream. We know that we're not currently qualified to reach our big goal and we don't know what all those hundreds or thousands of steps look like on the path to getting there. What dawned on me was that I knew what I could do today. That's the big secret for it today. 2. From Dreaming to Doing: I am a dreamer. I've set huge lofty goals. You know the ones because when you tell your friends or your family, they think you're crazy. They used to stop me in my tracks. I would get so overwhelmed that I wouldn't know where to start, so I just wouldn't start until I became a doer. Becoming a doer has led me to live my life's absolute biggest creative dream. For me, my biggest dream was to become a surface pattern designer. When I decided that I wanted to do this, there was just one problem: I had no idea how to design. I mean, I was clueless. I had just graduated from business school and I set this big lofty goal for myself. I was drawn to fabric because my mom owned a cloth shop and I grew up in her store so I was always around fabric. I started working for her after I graduated school. That's when it really dawned on me that this was even a job opportunity. I remember meeting with Fabricrafts, and ordering collections for the store to be carried, and looking at it, and just wondering if I could ever do that. While this was really someone's job was to make artwork for fabricate, it blew my mind when I realized that surface pattern design was a thing. I love this quote that says, "The things you are passionate about are not random, but they are your calling." That's really when it hit me that I didn't want what I was passionate about to be my hobby. I felt like it was my calling and it's what I wanted to work on day and night and craft my whole career after. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know where to start, so I let it stop me. I knew though for sure at the time that I wanted to have a future in the creative community. The thing that I knew I could do and get started with was to start a blog and sell handmade items in the Etsy shop. This was in 2009 and I knew how to sew. Somewhere in there, I knew that it was not only important for me to start, but it was important for me to start building a community and a tribe around my passion. In hindsight, this was really me just floundering, not knowing what to do. But in reality, it was a vital part of my success because it gave me a few underlying years to build a platform in which I could leap from. I had some credentials or something to show when I was able to finally realize my dream. Here I am angry that I went to business school, really wishing I had gone to design school, and floundering with what to do next. Two things dawned on me: I could actually use business school to build a business, and two, I didn't need to go back to design school, I wanted to try to learn it on my own. Then I hit another roadblock. I woke up one morning and realized that six months had gone by and I had done nothing in order to make this dream a reality, but I was so overwhelmed, I didn't know how to start. That day I decided that I was going to start doing one thing every single day and efforts of moving myself to accomplishing this dream. We know that we're not currently qualified to reach our big goal and we don't know what all those hundreds or thousands of steps look like on the path to getting there. What dawned on me was that I knew what I could do today to start moving in that direction. You know what it was? Google, how to become a fabric designer. You know what? I did what Google told me to do. It sparked another question and I asked Google again, and I did what it told me to do. That's what I did the whole time. That's the big secret for today. The point is that it led me on a path and the questions that I thought I would have were always answered in the right amount of time. For me, this huge chunk at the beginning was just based on research. What are the necessary skills that I need to even be able to do this? Once I figured out the necessary skills, I spent some time reaching out to people in the industry just to introduce myself and see if they had any cookie crumbs to tell me that I could follow. It eventually turned into learning Adobe Illustrator, which is the program that I use, which I think it would have been easier to learn like German. That took me a year. Then it finally ended up with me learning how to sketch, and learning how to design, and learning how to make repeating patterns and turn them into collections, put together a portfolio, and start reaching out to companies to see if they would be interested in working with me. It finally took me to walking the floors of Quilt Market, which is the industry trade show for the quilting industry, and walking up to art directors with my portfolio in hand, and asking if they would have a moment to look at my work and see if they wanted to work with me. This process took two years. At the end of two years, I signed a contract with my number one choice company as a fabric designer in 2012. This process was slow. But I want to say that it's not only okay for this process to be slow, it's essential. I want you to grow a deep love for yourself and where you are right now, no matter where you are in your journey. I have to tell myself this all the time too, because we are doers now. We're constantly setting new big goals for ourselves. This time of learning and exploring, it can't be rushed. It's a great time to build your platform in which you will be able to leap from. This is the time where you will find yourself in your work. You'll establish a signature style for yourself and it cannot be rushed. Take 12 months, or two years, or five years to pour yourself into your work and love yourself for where you are with it. This is also most likely the only time where you'll be designing just from your heart. You'll have no pressure, and no deadlines, and no art directors giving you feedback. This is purely what's coming from your heart. If you do this, I promise you, you will have a body of work that you're proud of, and that feels like you, and you'll be able to stand out from the crowd. I like to teach that you need a signature style and an irresistible package. A signature style is that thing that makes you be able to recognize an artist's work even when their name is not attached to it. An irresistible package to me are all those things that a proper brand would need, so a good website. Note, I didn't say expensive website, just a nice website. There's no reason to pour a ton of money into a website. It really ever, but especially when you're starting, because there are so many easy ways to create a clear website that has a clear mission and reflects your work. Consistent social media accounts, thoughtful photos and presentation, a good about page, and a compelling bio photo, these things that you would expect from all your favorite brands is what you need for your signature. A signature package works as well. Think of yourself from a brand perspective instead of a personal perspective. This was hard for me to shift from personal to professional especially like on Instagram. I like to say though that you can't find your voice unless you use it. This requires creating a lot of artwork. I will be the first to say that this idea of a signature style terrified me. Rather than let that overwhelm me and stop me, I put my head down and I did the work. I created, I explored, and I just made artwork that felt like it was from my heart. Before I showed my work or my portfolio to anyone, I had made about 200 patterns. It wasn't until then that I was able to stop and look back on my work and see a consistency, and see a consistent hand in my work that really turned out to be my signature style. If you feel like this is the place where you get stuck, like you're not really sure what your style is, you will find it through the process. You will find it through just working and making more and more artwork. Make artwork for yourself and another way to think about that is to create literally what you want to see in the world. A great question to ask yourself is, after you create something, would you buy it? I remember asking myself this, maybe midway through my career thus far, and the answer wasn't always yes. When I had created something and realized that it's not really something that I would actually buy myself, I had to take some time to go down that road and figure out what it was that I was doing that didn't register that way. When I shifted gears to only create work that I wanted to see in the world and literally wanted to maybe purchase, my signature style got stronger and so I love to think about my work that way. Create before you consume. I cannot remember where I heard this, but it has always stuck with me and the idea is to sit down and do your creative work before you consume all those things that we have to consume in the beautiful online world. And the idea behind this is that you won't be comparing yourself to anyone else and you won't feel pressure to make something as great as something you saw on Instagram or Pinterest. I think if I waited for my inspiration to strike, I would be sitting around all day. This is really my favorite part of my whole career, is chasing my inspiration. It's that thing that gets me away from the computer and outside and literally finding the things in this world that inspire me most. If I want to design flowers or need to reference a horse, I will go outside and find flowers to photograph myself or visit a horse farm and take photos and soak in the whole experience and it's this field study that fuels the design work rather than just looking at what's right in front of you. Let's talk about Skillshare. I've heard this cycle that you should learn, teach, learn, teach and then I've also heard that the way to success is to learn, implement, learn implement for me these three work in unison. I like to learn, implement, and teach. It's through implementing and teaching that I've been able to master new skills and constantly create new content for my audience. Teaching constantly pushes me to learn new things, master new skills, implement them in my business, and then in turn, turn around and help others learn the same thing. A side effect of this for me has really been constantly pushing my boundaries to learn more so that I can teach more, and it's been able to put my career on a bit of a fast track. That's what I want to say to you tonight, that if you ever have the itch to teach or you have something that you're really great at and you want to teach it. It has been an incredible way to just constantly push yourself and meanwhile help people learn what they want to learn. Students have told me that I've changed their lives but they have changed my life in a way that it's hard for me to even communicate. But hearing their success stories and building a community around the passion that I love has been amazing. I've had students start their own fabric manufacturing companies, go on to start their design businesses, become teachers themselves and have had countless students become fabric designers themselves. In a flourishing art practice there's no room for fear or for doubt. Let's look at this in more detail. The starving artist says, they're afraid that my artwork isn't good enough. I'm fearful that my artwork will get stolen, fear that I won't make any money from it, says I'm not a business person or I'm not tech savvy or I'm too old or I'm too young, or I didn't go to art school, so I don't know what I'm doing or I'm just an imposter or phony, or suffering will make me a better artist, or going through hard times will give me more content to pull from. On the flip side, a flourishing artists says, I can learn anything that I set my mind to and there's room for me in the market. I have something unique to share, promoting myself and learning how to market my work always allows me to do what I love. I love sharing my work and my process with the world. My skill set allows me to explore so many different opportunities. Every artist has feelings on the left side of this board. But it's equally important to know that they are lies and I believe that if you announce to yourself that you are an artist and that you can do it, it will help squash those fears. The one thing all of my successful students have had in common is drive. If you have the drive and the determination, there's room for you too. Its more common today to see artists crafting careers that have many different moving parts. There are so many of us that are multi-passionate and it can lead us to running very multi-faceted businesses. Creating a diversified income will allow you to have an income ebbs and flows. If one part of your business slows down, you can ramp up the other part so that you have a stable income. Residual income is when you continue to get paid after you've done the work and recurring revenue is revenue that is highly likely to continue in the future. Recurring revenue is money that is predictable, stable, and can be counted on in the future with high degree of certainty. This is absolutely what I have been able to do in my business and it's the only way that I've been able to grow steadily. I want you to think about things that would potentially make money while you sleep. Examples of residual income would be like digital items, like e-books and downloadables. Teaching online courses, just like on skillshare. Licensing your work if you're an artist and a great example of reoccurring revenue would be like having a membership. I want you to ask yourself, what can you make once and sell over and over and over and over again. This is what my personal income division looks like and you can see it's pretty much clearly thirded between licensing my membership called the Roost tribe on my blog and teaching. I want you guys to know too, I want to talk for a second about the early years because we struggled. My husband and I lived in California. We live in North Carolina now, but we were in California for a few years and we lived nearly entirely on my husband's income and I looked it up last week and it was considered lower-class, but it was really close to the poverty line. And we struggled while I was trying to learn this. We sold a car, so we only had one car and I would take him to work everyday. We lived really beneath our means and he supported me though, and he had no idea what I was doing, but he supported me. I think that he supported me because he could see how passionate I was, but also how hard I worked and how many hours I put into this. In 2013, I had just licensed my very first artwork and I launched the Roost tribe at the time for $5 a month and I think I had 200 people sign up the weekend that I launched it and that year I made $15,000, which was huge for my contribution to our little family. Every year since 2013, I've been able to double my income from the year prior. You guys can figure that out later. It's been through licensing, teaching, and running my membership that I've been able to use these strategies of reoccurring revenue and residual income. If any of this has inspired to you, I don't want you to feel overwhelmed. Rather, I want you to think about the one thing that you need to do today in order to start moving forward into your goal. It's through long-term consistency that you'll see progress and that long-term consistency guys is what makes the difference. I see so many times people run out of the gate, gung-ho, and six months down the road, they lose steam because they're not making money, or they haven't licensed what they want to license, or they don't have any followers, and they fall off the bandwagon. That is what weeds out the week. It's through long-term consistency that you'll be able to accomplish your goals and see huge rewards. Behind every overnight success there are years of hard work that we just don't see. I know that we have dreamers in this. Who has a big dream. It is when you put it out into the world that I don't know what happens, but things start happening. You hold yourself accountable and it's when I say things out loud that things start happening. So I'll give you a second if anybody wants to say there's out loud. Yeah. Yes. This is [inaudible] and I know her from an online space and just met her for the first time. She has three small kids and she wakes up at 3 AM. This is going to make me cry. She wakes up at 3 AM to work on her passion. Before her kids are wake is the only time that she has to work and so she does it. That's determination and long-term consistency right there. Who wants to just quit their life sucking day jobs? I believe that dreams come true by way of knowledge. The number one thing you need to do is to avoid overwhelms so that you can make progress on your goals. Everything in life is possible if you're willing to put in the work, it just takes work. You were probably going to have to research and read and Google your brains out. But you can do that and you know what? You can do hard things. I can do hard things. I have, I'll move up here.