Behind-the-scenes: What I wish I had known before going "full-time"

As a solo-entrepreneur and artist, I have learned MANY lessons in the past 3 years of "full-time" working for myself.  Today I hope to shed some light on the real behind-the-scenes of the operation you know and love as Art by Megan.

 Framed 8x10 prints / Frames courtesy of  Art to Frames  

Framed 8x10 prints / Frames courtesy of Art to Frames 

1. Make artist/creative/maker friends either online or in-person.  THIS is essential.  Working ALONE from home or my kitchen table has allowed me many freedoms such as motherhood multi-tasking like a champion, but it can also be a bit isolating at times.  Online friends, phone dates with friends, Facetime calls, and anything else I can get my hands on have saved my sanity.  Real life coffee dates are also my sanity-saver of choice!  I LOVE human interaction and when it is limited I can really feel drained, so I have had to learn to schedule this time into my work.  

2. Follow a schedule the best you can.  Hold yourself accountable to a schedule when you work alone.  Without one the days and nights can blur together and productivity can be completely lost.  I use a technique where I accomplish as much of a specific kind of task as I can in an hour and then move on the to the next thing on my checklist.  Which leads me to the world's best check-list technique...

3. Use a bullet journal.  I use a scheduling and brain-dump technique known as a bullet journal.  It's all over the internet and some people's journals are ridiculously beautiful.  But, the beauty of this type of note-taking and scheduling is that you can completely make it your own and tailor it to your needs as a mom/business owner, etc. 

 

4. Schedule time off.  YOU MUST be able to put down the business at night (sometimes!) and pay attention to your family or you will be burnt out and bitter over the long-haul.  BUT, I wish I had known how hard this would be.  The tricky part of owning a business is that you actually DO love what you do, even if it's some of the silly tasks or "boring" admin tasks.  I genuinely enjoy most aspects (most...I am looking at you financial planning and taxes!) of owning my business, so it's VERY HARD to turn it off.  Which leads me to...

5. Your business might take over your life sometimes.  I thought that I would be able to pursue many of my passions simultaneous to starting my own business and I think I was wrong.  I don't actually balance things well.  I am kind of an all-or-nothing kind of person.  So, that being said, I have learned that I love this enough to pour 100% of my energy into it on most days.  It's not a perfect balance, but I am ok with it because I love it and I have come to realize that things evolve over time.  

6. Be FLEXIBLE.  My scheduled time working on Art by Megan is often "migrated" (that's bullet journal lingo for rescheduled) to other days on my calendar as I am parent who does pick ups from school, after-school play dates, doctors appointments and all of the other fun last-minute stuff that comes with parenting.  My day really starts at 9 and ends at 2:30pm and resumes after bedtime if I have work to continue.  It's not a typical 9-5 and it changes rapidly on any given day, but this unique flexibility works for our family and you learn to do the best that you can.  

7. Celebrate the small victories.  Progress in any form (working out, parenthood, relationships, reaching goals, etc.) can feel so SLOW.  I often have to force myself to STOP, smell the roses and be grateful for how far I have come in the past couple of years.  I also think that being grateful for the ability to own a small business and pursue a dream is something that I need to tell myself at least once a week.  If you just keep going and going, you will lose the small moments in the process and that's just no fun at all. 

8. It won't always feel like "full-time".  Some weeks I work over 100 hours to make this business work and other times I have to travel FAR on weekends.  On different weeks, especially those in early 2018, I work only 20 hours a week and take naps on the couch to just survive.  There is not a hard and fast rule in regards to clocking hours when you are your own boss.  It's glamorous and awesome to be able to live like this, but it can also drive a person who loves structure and goals (me!) a little batty.  So sometimes I like to repeat the following after myself: "Be nice to yourself, Megan."

9. Tell people what you do all day.  Yesterday I was on a coffee date (yay! real human interaction!) with a friend and we talked about how there is a bit of mystery surrounding people who work from home or work for themselves - whether they be freelancers or creatives or what have you.  BUT, for me, I have found that I need to share what I do with those who might not understand or have context.  I want people to know that I am working hard, even if I am not at the studio.  It's not to prove how hard I am working, but instead to share what actually happens behind-the-scenes.  People are really just genuinely curious and don't mean to be offensive if they say things like, "so, what DO you do all day?".  It's a new type of job, relatively speaking, so SHARE SHARE SHARE what you do with the world!  Enter social media. :) 

10.  Being an artist is SO messy.  I love making a good mess as much as the next gal, but something I have come to realize is that I own literally 5 articles of clothing that are untouched by paint.  I am CONSTANTLY covered in paint.  I usually have some on either elbow, on my nails, and somewhere else on my body at all times.  If I have to do something formal like be in a wedding, go out in public with real life adults, or be even mildly presentable, I find that I have to do a full-body scan to make sure that I don't have giant paint blobs somewhere on my body.  Who knew the struggle would be so real to stay clean?  ;)

Art by Megan X Shop Denik notebooks

I hope this helps shed a bit of light on my journey as an artist working to build a dream. Thanks for reading and see you next week! 

xo 

M

 

Art: 3 must-knows before commissioning original artwork

Clients often reach out asking about what is required prior to securing a spot on my commissions list.  So, today I am writing a post all about the must-knows before commissioning original artwork for your home! 

Here's what you should know about preparing for a commission: 

 image courtesy of Commission Client 

image courtesy of Commission Client 

1. Design details: color scheme, ideal location for the painting, and inspiration photos.  I always ask clients or interior designers to provide these 3 things via email when we finalize commissions.  A color scheme is important so I know what colors to include and which I might want to avoid in your original work.  Sending a paint chip of the color in the room or snapping a photo on your phone of the space is another perfect way to capture the overall look of the room!  Measurements of the wall or space where the work will hang are SUPER helpful and can help us to determine what sizes work best for the final work.  And inspiration photos of beaches or petals that you love are wonderful.  

2. Budget: Ideal budget is important to share right away.  My pricing for commissions is available upon request and I always strive to be sure that clients receive the painting that they are dreaming of for their space, but I understand that budget can be an important factor in deciding.  

3. Timeline: If you would like your work rushed for a specific holiday (birthday, anniversary, etc.) or can be more flexible with the timeline, this information is SUPER helpful for me as I plan my monthly commissions.  I can take up to 2 commissions a month, but often I have space last minute or can be flexible with timing, if needed.  

 image courtesy of  Sweet Chaos Home

image courtesy of Sweet Chaos Home

One important note...

What not to send along: Other artists' work inspiration photos.  I know that Pinterest helps to curate a collection of works that may seem ideal, but as an artist I am very focused on staying true to my own style and form.  Therefore, sending along previous work that I have completed is MUCH more helpful!  I often tell clients to "shop my website or instagram" and to select their top 5-8 pieces from there to be sure that we are on the same stylistic and thematic page.  And it's a fun way for clients to begin visualizing their own painting, which I love!  

So, I hope you find this helpful and if you would like to get on the end-of-2018 commissions list, I have 3 spots left this year.  Feel free to email me at megan@artbymegan.com to chat commissioned original artwork.  

Have a great day! 

xo 

Megan 

Behind-the-scenes: My favorite Art Movies and Documentaries

I love to watch a good inspirational art-related movie or documentary to relax but still be thinking about my work as an artist.  Over time, I have compiled a list of my favorites and I am sharing them here today!  

Frida movie

Here are my favorite art-related documentaries and films: 

1.  "Bill Cunningham New York" chronicles legendary NYC fashion photographer and bohemian, Bill Cunningham.  

2. "The 100 Years Show" features 100 year-old Cuban artist Carmen Herrera as she prepares for her first solo show at the Whitney Museum of Art.  

3. "Frida" features Selma Hayek as Frida Kahlo and her acting is so believable it feels like a documentary.  

4. "Pollack" is all about a now well-known artist who remained a tortured, creative mystery-person to so many in his lifetime.  

5. "Joan Didion: The Center will not Hold" features interviews with the author about her bohemian life as an artist and writer in the 60s-70s plus a rare-look at her personal life and struggles.  

6. "Iris" features the cult-icon Iris Apfel and her life as creative person defying the odds and following her heart doing what she loved in fashion.  

7. "Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere" is about my favorite TV artist.  As a kid, I LOVED watching his show and found him so soothing and wonderful, albeit wacky.  

8. "Midnight in Paris" is one of my favorite films because Owen Wilson lives in his own little world, and quite honestly, I can totally relate!  

and one I am dying to see, "Loving Vincent" , a film that has been created entirely in paint!  

Best Art Supplies for Young Artists

If you have or know a little budding artist, the best way to support them in following their dreams is to load them up with some of the coolest (and most affordable!) art supplies around.  A rule of thumb: when in doubt, buy washable.  Another trick: simple is best!  

Art by Megan and her little artist at work in the studio

Here's my list of favorite art supplies for young artists, ages 3 and up! 

1.  A basic set of watercolor paints. Crayola brand is my favorite and they are super affordable and washable!  (click to purchase through Amazon) 

2. Paint brushes in different sizes and shapes.  My favorite (even I use them to paint!) are from Ikea in the kids' department.  

3. A fun little portfolio or notebook on-the-go.  Remember that little artists are happiest when they can draw and doodle anywhere, so something small that can go to restaurants or other "quiet places" are a HUGE gift for parents, too!  

4. Books with fun and cool techniques about how to draw people, animals, etc. This is a perfect rainy-day or summer break activity for older kids, too!  

5. A kit for making something from their imagination.  My favorite brand for kits are Kid Made Modern and Seedling.  These kits are hours and days of fun and are neatly packaged so that the supplies don't completely take over your home!  

6.  And don't forget all of the basics like glue sticks, different types of tapes, and paper! A little gift basket of essentials (extra points if you assemble them all in a storage bin or "art kit"!) are perfect for a little artist.  

7. CLAY!  Because clay is the best thing ever invented according to kids and this clay doesn't make a mess at all.  I promise! 

8. Stickers.  Because stickers are important and essential.  Kid's love them so much, so just give in and get them for your little artist and then tell them not to put them on every single flat surface in your home. 

9. An easel.  If you want to win mom or dad or aunt or uncle-of-the-year, buy a kid who loves art an easel and watch them giggle with excitement.  

10. Fancy colored pencils.  Nothing against crayola because I love their products for kids and adults alike, but these Prisma colored pencils are THE BEST.  Bigger kids love getting "fancy" art supplies, so something like this is perfect for the little artist who is ready to take the next step in their art career.  

Most importantly, enjoy making a mess with your little artist!  It's all part of the process and they will remember making art for the rest of their lives!  Happy art-making, friends. 

art by Megan paint palette

xo 

M

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links to my amazon.  I trust and use all of these products!  

Art + Home: My Favorite Gallery Walls

I love to hang a statement wall of favorite photos, artwork and kids' artwork and think that a well-styled gallery wall is such a great accent in any sized home.  Our tiny apartment in NYC has a great little gallery wall that makes me smile every time we enter our home or enjoy a meal at the dinner table.  

The major trick with assembling a custom gallery wall is to start with a larger object in the center and work your way out from the center point, to maintain a general pattern of shapes and sizes, and to frame in similar frames (I used an assortment of Ikea Frames that we had collected over the years to create ours!).  I find that sometimes people get caught up in the measuring and can over-think it too much.  Imperfect totally works for a gallery wall!!  

 Our apartment gallery wall - see more on  @artbymegan .  

Our apartment gallery wall - see more on @artbymegan.  

Here's a round-up of some of my favorite gallery walls for inspiration.  

 Image courtesy of  Oh Joy Blog .  

Image courtesy of Oh Joy Blog.  

 image courtesy of Shay Cochrane's  Home Tour  with Curated Interior.  

image courtesy of Shay Cochrane's Home Tour with Curated Interior.  

 Image courtesy of Morgan Foery aka Preppy Blogger's  Instagram .  

Image courtesy of Morgan Foery aka Preppy Blogger's Instagram.  

Here's my Gallery Walls inspiration board full of great ideas for creating your own wall of memories and fun artwork!  

 

 

My Artist-Gang: The Original Art Collective

Started in 2016, The Original Art Collective is a group of professional, emerging and established artists from around the U.S. who believe in helping one another succeed and thrive as artists and business owners.  

What began as a business mentoring relationship immediately turned into a friendship between all of us.  Not a week (or day!) goes by where we do not chat via Instagram messenger about ALL things motherhood, art, balance, and pursuing a career in what sometimes seems literally impossible.  

We support one another furiously, believe in one another and encourage one another through transitions in life, challenging times, creative block and all of the other curve balls life has thrown us. 

The funny part - we have never once met in person.  Some of us have individually met one another at shows or events, but we have NEVER ALL BEEN TOGETHER!   So, my challenge to anyone reading is to figure out how and where we can show our work together this year or next.  Can we make it happen?  I am totally manifesting this or "throwing it into the universe" as the Jealous Curator says to do.  

Want to check out the gang?  Here's a list of the amazing artists that are part of the OAC.

1. Lesley Grainger

Lesley Grainger artwork
Lesley Weaver
Susannah Bee Fine Art
Wink Wink Studio
Eva Magill-Oliver
Jenny Prinn
Katherine Freeman Art
Gee Gee Collins

Be sure to follow us at @originalartcollective on Instagram and also check out all of their amazing work!!  

xo

Behind-the-scenes: Best date nights in NYC

   

  

Grand Banks Brooklyn

If you know me, you know I love adventures, food and date night.  Seriously I just love hitting up a new spot (or a favorite) and enjoying an unplugged evening of laughing and chatting with Mr. Art by Megan. 

Here's a list of our favorite places to go for a date in Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Note: some (but not all!) of these are kid friendly, so use your best judgement! :) 

 

Manhattan date nights: 

Romantic French cafe + perfect neighborhood stroll: Buvette

Speakeasy + Hot Dog Date: Please Don't Tell + Criff Dogs afterwards.  

Simple and Delicious + a long stroll afterwards: Jacks Wife Freda.

Traditional + Classy: The Smith

Low Budget + Romantic: Joe's Pizza takeout and hang on a park bench.  

 

Brooklyn date nights: 

Flavorful + Fun Foodie Heaven: Talde.

Romantic and Tiny + A walk in the park: Le Paddock followed by a walk in Prospect Park

Backyard Cuteness + a fun neighborhood bar: Krupa Grocery and Double Windsor

Shuffleboard + Ice Cream Date: Royal Palms and Ample Hills Ice Cream

Backyard BBQ and beers: Pig Beach

Summer Fun + Urban Sailing: Grand Banks.  

 

 

 

A Summer Reading List: Art by Megan-style

Confession: I am a TOTAL bookworm.  I usually have about 3-5 books going at the same time and cannot get enough reading time on the train, in between tasks, in the evenings and any other time I can squeeze in some reading for fun.  Here are my most recent favorites to add to your reading list: 

1.  "Disoriental".  The story of an Iranian family over the generations, this book is extremely interesting and captivating.  I loved learning about a new region of the world (to me) and seeing how generations change over time but remain attached as a family.  I loved this book! 

2. "Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk".  An older lady takes a walk around her old stomping grounds in NYC in this beautifully written and poetic novel.  I love to read about NYC in the olden days and seeing how it has changed so much but also remained the same.  I cried at the end of this novel, it was that sweet.  

3. "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck". Read it!  Seriously so good and a great laugh for small business owners. I like to read this one right before bed sometimes to give very good perspective to the day!  

4. "Rules of Civility".  I loved the language of this book.  It takes place during the Great Depression in New York City and beyond and it was just intriguing and interesting.  I don't want to ruin the book for you, but I loved the perspective of the narrator and hearing about tragedy from a unique point of view.  Read this one!  

5.  "The Girl Who Smiled Beads".  This was one of my most favorite recent picks with my Book of the Month Club.  It chronicles the true story of a young girl who flees her home in the midst of civil war in Rwanda.  I loved her perspective and the writing is just beautiful.  The story of a strong woman who survives and is thriving as an adult is so inspirational and beautiful.  

6.  "Little Fires Everywhere". OMG!  This book is addictive and so-so juicy with gossip and betrayal.  I want to re-read it again before it becomes a TV show.  Did you hear?  Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon are making it into a TV series!! 

ALSO, Join Book of the Month Club if you are a fellow book worm who cannot get enough!  I love this subscription service and really like to pick out my book each month.  Click here to get a deal on your first book! 

 

Art: 10 female artists you need to know about

In an effort to share the work of more women artists in the world, I am sharing my favorites today. I am totally inspired by my new instagram favorite called @artgirlrising, which aims to share notable women in the arts so that people can name more than 5 of their favorite women artists in conversation. (More than just Frida, O'Keefe, and Helen Frankenthaler.) 

 For more amazing t-shirts celebrating women in the arts that you MUST KNOW.   Click here.   

For more amazing t-shirts celebrating women in the arts that you MUST KNOW.  Click here.  

 Carmen Herrera from Art News.

Carmen Herrera from Art News.

Carmen Herrera is one of my favorites!  I love her late bloomer story and how she has dilligently worked at her simplistic and relaxing painting over the years.  Also, she is Cuban so obviously I love her.  Her famous quote "don't be intimidated about anything" is one of my favorites to remember and repeat.  Also, her first show made me cry at the Whitney Museum of art.  And she had to wait until she was 100 years old to get it.  So, keep painting if you are doubting yourself.  Also, watch this Netflix documentary.  

Amy Sherald.  If you haven't heard about Amy Sherald, you have been living under a proverbial rock.  She is the recently super famous artist who was commissioned by former First Lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait.  Her work is fresh and breathtaking and unique and I LOVE HER.  Listen to her interview with The Jealous Curator on her podcast "Art for your Ear" here.  

 One of my favorite Joan Mitchell paintings.  

One of my favorite Joan Mitchell paintings.  

Joan Mitchell.  If you love abstract expressionism (think DeKooning or Pollack), then you love Mitchell.  I love her work because it is full of movement and feeling and strong emotion. Also, she loves the color blue and for that reason alone I cannot stop staring at her work.  I love you Joan.  

Eva Mendieta.  If you like performance art and crazy expression, then Eva is your lady.  She is wonderfully different and refreshing and totally bonkers.  You need to check her out and immerse yourself in her breathtaking work.  

Yayoi Kasuma is such a badass and has totally embraced our culture of "selfie" obsession. Check out her work, lest you dare braving the selfie obsessed millennials in line.  Her sculptures are conceptual, interesting and full of dizzying movement and space.  I love her fashion as well, she really matches her work so nicely.  

Mary Cassatt.  I love a gangster lady who fights her way into the circles of tradition and men.  One such lady is Mary Cassatt, who is a famous impressionist and who didn't let the world of art saturated by men of her time overwhelm her.  She explores the role of mother daughter relationships in her beautiful paintings and you should read more about her here and here.  

Louise Nevelson.  Nevelson's work is full of structure, movement and shape.  Her sculptures are famous for being collections of objects that are painted in monochrome colors.  I love the found-art movement and I love her unique work.  Plus, she is rumored for being a total ball-buster, which is pretty awesome, too.  

Lee Krasner.  You might recognize her name from her famous husband, (Jackson Pollack) but Lee Krasner's work speaks for itself.  Her wild abstracts, part of the abstract expressionism movement, are both joyful and passionate, angry and untamed.  Read more about her here.  

Faith Ringgold.  Best known for her writing and narrative quilts, Faith Rinngold's work is beautiful and tells such amazing stories.  Her work is highly influential in the civil rights movement and fight for equality among African Americans. Additionally, she fought for collaboration, storytelling and celebrating tradition in her work.  I LOVE HER WORK!  

Beatriz Milhazes. This Brazilian artist paints in such a colorful, lively and beautiful palette and I cannot get enough of her work.  Her work is compared to a kaleidoscope of color, which i just adore.  You cannot stop looking at her paintings in real life and they really engage the viewer.  Check her out!  

 Painting by Beatriz Milhazes.  

Painting by Beatriz Milhazes.  

Parenting + Art: Best Crafty Gifts for Kids

Ok, I don't know about you, but it seems like birthday party and end-of-year gift season for some reason and I KNOW you need some affordable and crafty ideas.  Well, search no longer, my friends.  Here are my favorite gifts for crafty kids!  

Kiwi Crate

1. Kiwi Crate subscription.  THIS IS THE BEST gift that my kid currently receives.  Monthly, a box of inventions, discoveries and cool scientific "stuff" arrives at our doorstep and she giggles with delight.  Last night she built a LEGIT vacuum cleaner by herself FOR FUN.  I am telling you, this box subscription is worth every penny and makes a great gift for kids ages 4-10.  Click below to sign up today!  (affiliate link) 

Kid Made Modern

2. Kid Made Modern craft kits.  BUT SERIOUSLY.  This is my childhood dream come true. Crafty kits for crafty kids with super cool themes and they come in cute tiny cases.  I mean seriously, who doesn't love a kit of fun little trinkets?  If you don't like trinket cases, just stop reading this blog, because I have nothing to say to you. ;)  ALSO, these are SUPER SUPER AFFORDABLE and they have a super cute instagram that you should totally follow.  PS I want all of their books, too.  

Bravery Mag

3. Bravery Magazine.  Girl Power? Check.  Inspiring stories?  check.  Interesting new ideas and concepts?  Check!  Go check out the new Bravery Mag and fall immediately in love like I did.  The world needs more magazines just like this for little dreamers - boys AND girls!  

Illustoria Mag

4. Illustoria Magazine.  As a former elementary school doodler, I really appreciate a magazine that celebrates the doodlers.  I used to COVER pages of notebooks and textbooks and my backpack (sorry mom and dad) with my little creations and now there's a magazine that celebrates kids who can't turn off the doodles.  I love it.  Also, it's a great magazine for young readers who need some practice and inspiration.  

Melissa and Doug

5. Melissa and Doug craft kits. Affordable, fun and adorable, these kits are perfect for boys and girls who love to make things.  I love their little kits for party favors, birthday gifts, and little kits to use for long car trips.  They are well made, fun and entertaining for little ones ages 3 and up!  

So, happy shopping and stay crafty, little ones!  

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