Behind-the-scenes: Podcasts I love!

I am a "lifelong learner" as they say and cannot get enough information, inspiration and ideas from all over the place.  So, one of my favorite places to get amazing inspiration recently is through podcasts.  I often listen to them while I paint at the studio, but also love them at home while my little one does homework or while we hang out in the evenings.  It's an easy way to engage my brain without total visual distraction.  So, here is a list of my favorites! 

 photo by Amy Frances Photo.  

photo by Amy Frances Photo.  

Best podcast for kids: 

Wow in the World. This podcast is GENIUS.  It explores fun scientific concepts and is super silly and fun.  My 1st grader is OBSESSED and we have learned some awesome new trivia and science facts from just listening to it together on weekend mornings or in the evening as a "bedtime story".  Mindy and Guy Raz (of How I Built This Podcast on NPR...another absolute favorite!) are hilarious for both adults and kids, so I highly recommend you give it a listen! 

Best podcast for female run businesses: 

Second Life by My Domaine and Hillary Kerr.  I LOVE this podcast and am so thankful that I discovered it recently for my long drives for work events.  I found the questions and inspiration of women who own businesses after pivoting from other areas of expertise and other jobs so interesting.  The host, Hillary Kerr, does a great job asking probing, important questions to the guests and I just can't wait for the next episode to air!  

Best podcast for artists and inspiration:

I could go on and on about my favorite art podcast and most of you have probably heard or seen me gushing about it on instagram, but that won't stop me from sharing it again.  Listen to Danielle Krysa on The Jealous Curator's Podcast called Art for Your Ear.  I love hearing the stories of artists who have chosen to follow their passion, what they were like as little artists and how they got to where they are today.  It's so intriguing and really a great way to stay inspired in the studio as I paint.  

Best ridiculous and funny podcast: 

My Favorite Murder is a new one that I have gotten hooked to. You definitely have to be in the right mood to listen to it, but the satire and general ridiculousness of it all is so fun and funny.  Try it out if you like making fun of the news, people in general or if you need a good snort-laugh.  

Some of my future podcasts are within these curated lists, so take a look at these lists! 

Levo League's 10 best Podcasts for Women

 Buzz Feed's 13 Podcasts by Women you should know about

A solo show + celebrating the tiny victories!

This coming Friday, May 11, I will be having the first solo show (at Captain's Daughters in Provincetown, MA) during my 3 years of "official" business as Art by Megan.  While I have been SO busy (and under the weather recently due to family expansion!), I kind of forgot until today to celebrate this big (HUGE!) step.   

So, I want to celebrate by taking a little trip down memory lane, Art by Megan-style.

Sometimes I completely forget that ONLY 3 years ago this past weekend, we moved to NYC and started almost completely over in a new city with just a few friends and 2 brand new careers.  It was exhausting and overwhelming and terrifying and completely amazing all in one breath.  

After some time spent unpacking, setting up a new tiny home, learning how to do things the "Brooklyn way" and teaching my little one some important life lessons like how to ride the subway and how to ride a scooter to school, I began to work full-time as an artist and small business owner in the fall of 2015.  I worked from the "Teeny Tiny Studio" aka the spare bedroom (aka the walk in closet in any other state) in our first apartment. 

It was my dream come true. 

I had dreamed of having a space to call my own as an artist for my entire life and this felt like the "big leagues" or at least my childhood fantasy coming true and I was so pumped.   A few months later, I was picking up a package from the UPS guy at our front door while covered in paint and he asked what I did for a living.  I said, confidently and maybe for the first time ever, "I am an artist" and he replied "wow, I have never met a real artist". 

I started to notice that I was saying to people I met, "I am an artist".  It felt amazing and surreal.  

 The "Teeny Tiny Studio" - photo by  Amy Frances Photography  

The "Teeny Tiny Studio" - photo by Amy Frances Photography 

Time passed and selling occasional paintings became less infrequent, but each time I get an order for a print, small painting or large commission, I giggle. 

I always tell my family, "oh my gosh guess what?  I sold a painting!" when it happens and the "honeymoon phase" hasn't worn off yet. I sincerely hope it never does. 

Then, in March of 2017, I found my first studio outside of our home.  I was quickly outgrowing the "teeny tiny studio" and finding that paintings were always on the kitchen table, drying in the hallway, being photographed above our bed and our space for family was getting a little crazy.  So, I took a big financial and business risk and put the down payment on my first studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn in an old warehouse on a crazy street.  I loved it so much.  I will never forget the feeling of stepping into that empty room and thinking "oh man, this is just so cool."  

I cried that day, happy tears.  

 My Gowanus, Brooklyn Studio, 2017 // Here's an awesome  feature  on our studio with photos by  Amy Frances Photography  and featured on Household Mag's Blog.  

My Gowanus, Brooklyn Studio, 2017 // Here's an awesome feature on our studio with photos by Amy Frances Photography and featured on Household Mag's Blog.  

This past February (2018), I moved in with 2 of my favorite business owners ever (Whitney of We Gather and Betsy of Sylvan Park) to our new space at Industry City in Brooklyn, NY.  Industry City is like a magical-google-campus-vibe for creatives and innovators in Brooklyn.  When I step foot into our studio each time I go to work in the morning, I sigh and think or usually say out loud, "dang this is a cool spot". 

My "roomates" often hear me say it and we all giggle or agree.  

As an impatient person with a fierce streak of overachiever, I often forget to take a deep breath and let it all sink in.  But, I am making a sincere effort to do so as I get older and, dare I say, a little bit wiser. 

So, this post is really just a little reminder to myself and to all of you who support me that I am VERY thankful:

  • I am thankful for the friends I have made while growing this business.  
  • I am thankful for the clients who support me by purchasing artwork and prints. 
  • I am thankful for the tough lessons I have learned while building a business from scratch in a crazy new city.  
  • I am thankful for the community of creatives that I helped to build in Brooklyn and who I now consider my dearest friends. (Tuesdays Together NYC) 
  • I am thankful for this chance to push myself and learn so much.
  • I am thankful for a husband who agreed it was time to jump into a crazy new adventure together.
  • I am thankful for 3 years that have felt like both the fastest and longest years of my life!  

Thank you and cheers to celebrating the little victories!  

Megan 

 

Palette Screen Savers for my friends!

I did a little thing and made some iphone backdrops for my friends!  Feel free to download these and use them on your desktop or iphone (or whatever kind of phone) and enjoy a splash of color and messy paint from your favorite artist!  

Have a great day and remember that the beauty is in the mess.  

xo 

Megan 

Learn to Paint with Art by Megan!

Last week, I taught an "Abstract Oceans" course at the instagram-famous and oh-so-lovely Maman at their newest NoMad location just north of the Flatiron Building in Manhattan.  The space is so lovely and accommodating and the Maman team makes teaching a breeze! 

Here are some photos of our night, courtesy of my lovely friend Eileen of Eileen Meny Photography.  

Eileen Meny Photography

More about my Maman classes: 

  • Each class is about 2 hours long and features delicious treats and canapes from Maman's kitchen. 
  • Students of all levels are encouraged to attend and I tailor the class to each student. 
  • Note: I used to teach high school, so I can literally handle anything!  
  • Bring a photo of your favorite ocean scape for inspiration.
  • All supplies are included, just bring along your best friend for a fun night out!

Be sure to follow along on @artbymegan to see when future classes are released!  Hope to see you there.  

Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography
Eileen Meny Photography

All photos featured courtesy of Brooklyn photographer Eileen Meny.   

2018: The Year of the Megan*. (*Insert your name here.)

I have been using Lara Casey's Powersheets for 2018 and I have been amazed.  One of the hardest challenges for me in this goal-setting workbook and planner has been pondering and deciding upon a "word of the year".  Its hard for me to set concrete goals for myself, hold myself accountable, not to overcommit, and to think long-term about myself and my business. So, I have been racking my brain for what I really need to focus on.  And it has finally popped into my head!!! 

For the word of the year this year, I have chosen one that makes me really happy but also kind of want to cringe a little bit. 

Want to hear the word?

It's Megan.  (Note: You can feel free to choose this word, or replace it with your own, too.  Especially if you are a person who needs to finally put yourself in the picture without abandon.)

 photo by Me. 

photo by Me. 

A little story...

One of my best friends in Brooklyn is a "mom-bestie" from Ireland.  She is hilariously funny, hates drinking tea (omg! is that even possible!?) and doesn't drink coffee (i don't honestly know how we are even friends, really!) but makes up for it in amazing company, jokes and her love of red wine (see, I told you, we are soul mates!).  Well anyways, my new friend told me something so wise once when I was frazzled and overwhelmed with life and art career and motherhood and all of the rest.  I was battling how to say yes to everything and how to "balance it all", which, if you read this blog, you know I hop on my soapbox about from time to time.  (Check it out here on Creative Empire Podcast to hear about it!) 

She said, so simply, "Just tell them, it doesn't suit".   

And then she smiled at me like she had just shared the biggest secret to life of all.  I was floored.  I could just tell people "It doesn't suit" and not feel badly about it afterwards?  Wouldn't they need answers or excuses or reasons as to why it doesn't suit?  Come on, Sinead, I thought to myself.  Then, I started to think about it.  We don't have a nice equivalent to "it doesn't suit" in American English.  We say "I am sorry" or "I can't", but we don't say "it doesn't work..." as often.  I love this phrase!  It takes the situation to the 3rd person and no one gets their feelings hurt.  THIS IS HUGE! 

So, anyways.  Cheers to 2018.  I am choosing priorities and if I start to say "it doesn't suit" with a tiny Irish accent more often, you know who to blame.  

I am choosing to prioritize myself this year.  It's time.  I hope you will choose the same.  Life is short and there's no time for second-guessing or doubting our intuitions.  Radical thought: it might just change the world if we all start saying yes to amazing things, "No" to the things that don't suit, and helping other's with all of the leftover energy we have!  

Also, listen to this song by Marc Anthony or my favorite by Celia Cruz if you need help.  

Art by Megan X Hearsay PR: What I have learned from working with a PR company!

Today's post is about all things Public Relations.  As a small business owner (read: one-woman operation), I was VERY hesitant about reaching out to others for help this past year.  But, I have learned that by partnering with experts in their own fields, like the amazing AMAZING (did I say Amazing?!) KJ of Hearsay PR, I could stop relying on myself for all of the answers and learn SO MUCH.

Art by Megan in NYC

Here is the list of the top lessons I have learned from working with a PR company: 

  1. SMALL BUSINESSES LOVE OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES.  KJ has helped me to form connections with people who I considered to be "above me" or "out of my league" and they have answered emails enthusiastically and kindly.  I am blown away by how kind people are when you just reach out.  
  2. ASK FOR HELP.  As a recovering perfectionist and current super mom who juggles "all of the things", I have a really hard time asking for help.  But, the tricky part of not asking for help is that you burn out without it.  I want my business to last, so I had to hunker down and ask for a person who knows so much about marketing, public relations, connecting to others and pitching ideas about how to make sense of it all.
  3. PITCH EMAILS ARE FUN TO WRITE.  I used to HATE HATE HATE (!!!) writing emails to companies and never hearing back from them.  I also don't love marketing myself, except for on social media where I do actually love it!  I am cursed with the unfortunate ability of helping others much easier than helping myself.  ENTER HEARSAY.  KJ has taught me what the essential parts of a pitch email are, how to answer with confidence, and how to let my personality still shine through amongst all of the business talk.  I love writing to companies now and have made some new friends out there because I have learned how to conquer this residual shyness.
  4. DON'T JUST ASK FOR THINGS.  I knew this one all along, but KJ has helped me to really wordsmith this message into my connections with new companies and partnerships.  No one loves getting an email asking for free stuff or promotion, it feels spammy.  BUT, people love receiving emails or phone calls with ideas (enter me, the idea queen!) about how 2 or more companies can work together for the benefit of both.  I feel much more capable now of asking with a real idea that could be awesome for my business but also for the other business that I would like to partner with.
  5. BE BRAVE(R). I am brave.  But I am also a human being and I run out of steam and burn out just like the rest of the world.  I may seem like I am a tough cookie, but I needed a partner.  Someone who wouldn't tell me that all of my ideas are wonderful, but would gently and kindly pick them apart and guide me in the right direction.  Meet KJ.
  6. GET ORGANIZED.  KJ has taught me how to plan out my big goals and little goals per month on a calendar that we both share.  It's REMARKABLE.  I like being held accountable.  I also (competitive much, Megan?) love to add things to the calendar that she doesn't know about and WOW her when we have our phone check-in meetings.  Being organized is an essential step to crushing dreams.  

Read more about KJ and Hearsay PR here.  

Links to my favorite blog posts of hers are here: 

Why you need a Promo Calendar

Four Ways PR Drives Sales

Eleven Ways to Promote Your Next Event

What to Pitch When You're Out of Ideas

How to Develop an Editorial Calendar

 

2017: Year in Review, Art by Megan style!

I love reading "Year in Review" posts on the internet because I love seeing people doing what they love and kicking creative tush.  So, here's mine at Art by Megan!  I couldn't have done any of this without my amazing family, friends and clients, so thank you if you are reading this for being part of a wonderful year at Art by Megan! 

 Me and my friend Marina of  The Warner Firm  started the year with a bang + a photo shoot! Amazing photo by our friend Chi-Chi of  ChiChiAri .

Me and my friend Marina of The Warner Firm started the year with a bang + a photo shoot! Amazing photo by our friend Chi-Chi of ChiChiAri.

January 2017: January brought new ideas and collaboration opportunities, like the one pictured above.  My friend Danielle of Beyond Bklyn pitched the idea of a photoshoot with art and fashion and we decided it was a MUST DO!  We worked with some of our favorite creatives in NYC and from our group called TuesdaysTogether NYC, which is part of The Rising Tide Society to pull off a full fashion shoot featuring my paintings.  It was so much fun working with our amazing photographers Kate of Kate Alison Photography and Chi-Chi of Chi Chi Ari.  

February 2017: In February, I was able to help host a pop-up at West Elm in Manhattan for some of my favorite creative ladies in the city!  It was so much fun and we loved being set-up in the beautiful store for the day.  Thanks to West Elm for supporting artists and small business owners!

Megan Elizabeth, Brooklyn abstract artist

Also, in February I hosted a little art show at the adorable coffee shop in Brooklyn called The Coop and the best part of it was that friends came all the way from Maryland to the opening to support me!  It was so kind of them to visit and I will never forget how generous that was - thank you Madison, Olivia and Alison.  

March 2017: A New Studio! This was a BIG step for me as it was my first studio outside of my home.  It was a SCARY financial leap as a small business owner, but I felt like it was time.  As with most scary decisions, it was one of the best things I have ever done for my business.  

Art by Megan Studio
Megan Elizabeth Studio

April 2017: I traveled to San Francisco to participate in the RISE summit, an online summit with the goal of raising money to build a school with a partnership created with Pencils of Promise.  We FAR surpassed our financial goal, heard amazing business advice from some of the top names in the creative and social media industries, and I was able to reunite with some of my favorite people who I worked with online.  It was a really wonderful time and I am so thankful for the friendships made through this awesome work with The Rising Tide Society and Honeybook.  

RISE Summit

Also in April, I unofficially started a mastermind with two of my favorite business owners out there.  Meredith of Cake and Confetti and Brittany of Brittany Collier Studios are awesome business women, excellent advisors, and trusted opinion-givers.  I truly value not only their hilarious jokes and our running banter, but our friendship that has developed as women "solo-preneurs" supporting one another as we grow our businesses.  If you are a creative business owner reading this, I STRONGLY urge you to find people who you admire and then ask them to be in a mastermind together.  We put one another in the "hot seat" during our "1 hour" (aka 2.5 hour) calls, tell one another the brutal truth, challenge one another's ideas, and we sometimes do happy dances and or burst into tears, depending on the season.  Love you, Mastermind ladies.  

Art by Megan in the Studio

May 2017: I found my first REAL LIFE INTERN!  If you follow me on social media, you know that I loved having Kara join my studio for a month in the spring and we both learned so much and had SO MUCH FUN!  It was so productive and it was amazing to have another person there to bounce business, life and creative ideas off of.  I love you Kara and come back immediately.  We found one another through a feature that Create Mag did about Art by Megan, so THANK YOU a million times over to Create Mag!! 

June 2017:  At the beginning of the month I began painting in FULL-FORCE!  The traveling we were able to do in May as a family totally inspired me to paint and my brain goes full-speed ocean mode once summer hits.  I was completely covered in paint every single day, ruined all of my clothes, and I was as happy as a pig in mud.  And then, my little tiny intern returned for the summer! 

Art by Megan Brooklyn Artist

End of June: I took some much needed time to just be mama.  We went to the beach as much as possible, collected a million seashells and painted on the beach.  It was wonderful to get some time with my little girl and to decompress after a crazy, busy spring! 

Central Park Nap

July 2017: In July there were a lot of beach trips with my little lady, lots of ice cream, family fun and adventures - and SO MUCH BLUE PAINT! 

Also, I worked on some amazing commissions for private clients and some wondreful interior designers and really got to push myself creatively!  I love working on commissions, so if you are ready for one, I am your girl! (sign up here - shameless promotion).  

Little Awkward Studio Podcast

August 2017: We started a podcast!  My studio-mate Amy, of Amy Frances Photography and I decided that our studio conversations were just ridiculous and random enough that it might make a good podcast.  So, our little dynamic duo of studio mates decided to hit the waves of podcast land and never look back.  IT IS SO FUN!  We have delved into some of the hottest topics within our industries including Plagiarism, Mentorships, Inspiration, and Comparison. We have also had some of the most kick ass contestants, or guests, or whatever you call them on our show, including our good friend Whitney of We Gather.  It's a great creative outlet and I am thankful that Amy ordered that darn microphone on Amazon one day while I was painting and forced me (sorta) into it! 

KIPP Art students Bronx NYC

Also in August I was able to re-enter the classroom as a visiting artist at KIPP, an incredible high school in the Bronx with equally incredible and talented art students.  We discussed art, life, finances, planning for college, living the "Dream" as an artist, having a day job, and taking the plunge towards following your heart in life.  It was a truly great experience and I LOVED being able to visit thanks to my friends at NYC-based Stationery company Pineapple Street Designs, who are both teachers at the school.  

Art by Megan paint on palette

September 2017: I began teaching painting courses at Maman, a stylish-instagram paradise in Tribeca, NYC.  I love teaching and was so thankful for the chance to get back into the teaching groove thanks to the events and workshops program at Maman.  Also, they serve NUTELLA brownies during class, there is ROSÉ and it's so fun to watch my new students enjoy themselves doing something new and fun to them.  I always leave my classes with a smile on my face, even if I am carrying all of my supplies for class in 3 bags on the train and getting looks from fellow passengers.  

 photo by my friend Shaunae of  Shaunae Teske Photography .  

photo by my friend Shaunae of Shaunae Teske Photography.  

October 2017: I painted a mural!  One of my lifelong goals as an artist has been to take the BIG plunge and to paint a huge ocean mural.  Thanks to a wonderful friend at Pencils of Promise in NYC, I was able to make this dream come true.  It was so awesome working at such a large scale and I cannot wait for the next opportunity to paint a mural.  

Art by Megan Ocean Paintings

Also in October, I had my first HUGE release day of 25+ new ocean paintings on canvas.  It was SO MUCH WORK to prepare that many paintings and do all of the behind-the-scenes, website updating, and social media marketing but it was so wonderful to see all of that hard work get so much love from my audience.  Thank you guys for the support! 

Oliver Dunn DC Georgetown Interior Design

November 2017: I had pop-ups at 2 of my favorite locations ever!  My first holiday pop-up took place at Oliver Dunn, a charming and gorgeous shop in Georgetown, DC.  I wanted to not only buy every single thing in the store, but also move in.  If you find yourself in DC, go check it out! 

Also, I took a trip down to Charleston, SC to have a pop-up at Indigo Market!  The shop is just perfection, the owners are the most adorable ever, and the opening was AMAZING!  It was really an incredible night full of laughs, new friends and surreal connections.  I love Charleston so much and got to see some great friends like my buddies at Mac + Murphy, Liz and Lacey! 

December 2017: December way crazy, busy and wonderful!  I had a group show with some super cool NJ and NY artists at Main Street Gallery in Manasquan (Jersey Shore), NJ.  It was a beautiful night and lots of fun to mingle with, meet and get to know other artists in the area.  

Thanks to an amazing friend from grad school a million years ago, I was able to attend Art Basel Miami as a guest.  It was so amazing to get to meet curators, artists and galleries from all over the world at this INCREDIBLE event.  I am still reeling in how insane the experience was and promise to dedicate an entire blog post to it eventually. 

Also in December, I launched new products that I had worked on for months with my favorite printers!  I released new notecard sets, a 2018 Calendar of Art by Megan beaches and hand-painted ornaments.  I love having holiday goodies available for my clients! 

 photo by the awesome Kate of  Kate Alison Photo.   

photo by the awesome Kate of Kate Alison Photo.  

So thank you all once again for supporting Art by Megan!  Not a day goes by where I don't feel lucky to have such an amazing community of supporters. 

Happy 2018 + I cannot wait to see what this year brings!  

 photo by my adorable friend  Peace Ofure .

photo by my adorable friend Peace Ofure.

Art by Megan, Megan Elizabeth Brooklyn Artist

Art by Megan X Mixbook

Recently, I was lucky enough to meet the awesome people at Mixbook at the Brit and Co. #CreateGood event in Manhattan.  I loved their product and the quality of their paper, but more importantly, I loved meeting people who are doing good in the world and working to help small businesses succeed.

So, a month ago, I began working on an awesome collaboration with Mixbook to create unique holiday cards for our family and for my business as well.  I am so in love with how they turned out and wanted to share them with you today! 

 photo of me in my studio by  Amy Frances Photo , printed on cards by  Mixbook .  

photo of me in my studio by Amy Frances Photo, printed on cards by Mixbook.  

For Art by Megan, I was able to create beautiful "thank you" notes for my clients and holiday orders with a beautiful white hand-lettering overlay and photos to create a fun year-in-review look.  I chose to print on their 5x5 Cotton Texture Flat Card and I am so impressed by the quality and texture.  Fellow paper snobs, rejoice!  

 Happy Holidays, from the Art by Megan crew!  

Happy Holidays, from the Art by Megan crew!  

For our family's holiday card, I was able to create a beautiful glitter frame in rose gold with some of our favorite family travel photos from this year!  I chose the 5x7 Landscape Signature Matte Flat Card and I love the matching white envelopes for a clean, crisp and elegant look! 

Check out Mixbook and their awesome product!  Tell them your favorite artist sent you :).  

Mixbook Thank You Card by Megan Elizabeth of Art by Megan

 

** A little bit about sponsored posts on Art by Megan.  As my brand continues to grow, I promise to always support companies who I believe in, who do good work in the world by making a positive impact, and who create products that I both use and believe in.  Thank you to Mixbook for your support of Art by Megan!** 

Little Awkward Studio: Business Logistics with Megan and Amy

Episode 5: Business Logistics with Amy and Megan

Business Logistics by Amy Frances Photo

This week on “The Little Awkward Studio”, Amy and Megan chat about the steps that they took to start their businesses on solid ground.  They discuss how they formed their LLCs, how to save some money and time along the way, what steps to take when you can start reinvesting back into your business and taking the little leaps that seem so scary at the beginning of a business.  They talk about what they have learned in the past 2.5 years since working in NYC and how to stay strong in the crazy world of making your own rules as a small business owner.  

Seriously though, we go on a long tangent about women’s fashion and how the sizing is just so frustrating.  We also talk about how much we love one another, I think.  Check it out!!

So, are you ready?

Click here and join us for Episode 5 of Little Awkward Studio.

Want to reach out?  Email us at laspodcastbk@gmail.com and find us on Instagram @littleawkwardstudio.  Or you can find us online.  Amy is on Instagram @amyfrancesphoto and online at www.amyfrancesphoto.com and Megan is on Instagram @artbymegan and online at www.artbymegan.com.  

Little Awkward Studio