Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Anniversary To Me!

I cannot believe that 2 years ago I quit my job to become a full-time artist! It seems like just yesterday that I took the leap of faith to make a hand-made life for myself.

In that time, I've written 198 blog posts, sent 3,648 tweets, finally joined Facebook, set up a YouTube channel and a Pinterest account, updated this blog and my website, vended at 14 art shows (including one burlesque show!), and sold 253 items in my Etsy Shop! Oh... and I've made a lot of art!

I created more than 120 pieces of one-of-a-kind jewelry, 125 Knock-Down Dolls, 50 Carnival-style Assemblages, played around with freaks at the circus side show, and even started a brand new line of folk art style rag dolls! I sold my art in over a dozen retail stores, got 9 pieces of art into juried gallery shows (even won an award!), and created lots of individual pieces of all shapes and sizes.

I distracted myself with refinishing furniture, giving birth to twins (dolls, of course), going to lots and lots of flea markets, yard sales and antique shows, as well as taking workshops from several very talented mixed media artists that I admire. Oh... and my other paying job... freelance graphic design!

I even partnered with my mom to launch Creativity By-the-Sea — a seashore art retreat right here in my home town — which attracted more than 75 attendees and plenty of high praise! It was such a great success that we're doing it again next April!

But it hasn't been a piece of cake, either. There have been lots of "almosts" too. A very unique copywriting job that fell through. An opportunity for online teaching that didn't work out, retail stores that never sold a thing, a licensing opportunity that I was turned down for, and dozens of other tiny losses. Add to that a stagnant economy and I have to say that these hand-made times are tough. In fact... I'm probably going to have to get a job (so, ummmm... let me know if you hear of anything!).

Being your own company means you do everything.... leaving little time for laundry, dishes, or vacuuming. Making money means spending money... also very scary, as your outcomes are never guaranteed. Working hard means lots of days exhausted and spent. But doing something you love certainly helps. Now to just find a way to keep doing it!

Despite the difficulties, I am amazed at what I've been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I learned a lot about myself... about selling in the real world and a social media world... about what works and what doesn't... and I've changed directions as many times as I have categories of art that I love!

So, I'm still learning and changing and growing.... and trying to be very gentle with myself. Because... that's what we should do when we follow our dreams.


  1. You threw me for a loop today, Michelle.

    I can't believe it's been 2 years!!!

    I'm so glad you have been able to follow your heart.

    Here's hoping the economy picks up soon. There's so many awesome and talented people out there (like YOU!) whose work should be seen by everyone!!! :=}

  2. Michelle, congrats. you should be very proud of all that you have accomplished and yes, kind to yourself.

  3. Wonderfully inspiring Michelle!!! And very realistic! Thanks. I needed to see thia post.

  4. You inspire me everyday!!! Congratulations on your anniversary!!!

  5. Hi Michelle, just came upon you via a Tim's Sally post. First, congrats on your anniversary!! Second, I'm so glad you posted this little tidbit, especially about the difficulties you've encountered, and how you've kept going. I've been trying to find where I fit in, and I get frustrated and want to quit. Your post today gave me encouragement. Thank you.


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michelle renee bernard