Art Tips: How to Choose Awesome Background Images For a Collage

How to choose background papers for a collage
For me, the hardest part of an art project is getting started. (Can I get an "amen!" from all the perfectionists out there?) When doing collage art, I get the most stuck at the beginning, figuring out where to start with the background. After all, the background is what an entire art piece rests on - and while it can't be too plain and uninteresting, it also can't be too busy that the text and images layered on top aren't readable. So how do you choose background papers for a collage? For me, the real answer is "I just choose what feels good!". Which is a supremely unhelpful answer, I know. But if I analyze what makes me feel good, here's what I look for when starting a collage: 
How to choose background papers for a collage
Look for backgrounds that will allow you highlight the focus of your piece. For me, the quote is always the focus. If the letters are going to get lost against the background, then the piece as whole won't work.

Look for interesting textures, patterns, and colors. Visual interest is important! I love the richly layered look of collage art, and finding neat background materials that jive together in a pleasing way pretty much rocks my world. 

Look in unexpected places for background images. I found this vintage map of New York in my old car that was passed down from my grandma - it had been in the glove box for years. Old dressmaker patterns have beautiful graphic designs, and are transparent enough to allow layers to show through. Vintage books have beautiful illustrations and gorgeous pages of text. Wallpaper samples can be bursting with pattern and texture, ranging from bold to subtle. A printed paper placemat from a kitchsy diner has retro appeal. Keep your eyes open - you really can find great art supplies in places you'd never expect. 
How to choose background papers for a collage
One last thought when starting a piece of art...
Trust your gut. Trust that you know what you like. Trust that you know what feels good to you. Trust in the experiment. Trust in your awesome creativity. 

To see more of my art (finshed art! Not just backgrounds!) you can visit my Etsy shop

 Happy Monday!

PS. If you're selling your collage art, choose images that won't get you into trouble!  Your own photography, messy painted textures, layered grocery receipts, and vintage book pages all make beautiful backgrounds. If you are using someone else's images (such as scrapbook paper), make sure you're altering it to make it yours. (More on the topic of copyright and fair use in collage art later!)

Inspiring Words: On Fear of the Unknown

Replace fear of the unknown with curiousity

What do you fear, in art or business or life? How can you transform your fear into curiosity, openness, and growth?

Think about it. Then do it.

Happy Wednesday!

Guess What?

Gemma Correll Illustration
[Illustration by the talented Gemma Correll]

It's true. I like you.

Happy Friday!

Inspiring Words: 5 Simple Rules

Description of Photo

I would add one more to that list:  6. Let go and trust God.
What's on your list for a happy life?

Happy Wednesday! 

Indie Business: The Productivity Tool I Love

Indie Business Productivity Tools
[Images in this post are from retro-space and Blogging Tips]

I've seen post after post with headings like "The Top 5 Productivity Tools You Really Should Use" and "Productivity Tools You Can't Live Without or You Might Be Ostracized From Society" (okay, not really), and while most of these posts have some useful resources, I've never come across anything that's ever really made a big difference to how I work.

But seriously...this one has. This is definitely my must-have productivity tool, and it's changed how I organize my life, my blog, my business, and all my to-do's.

Friends, may I introduce you to...WORKFLOWY. Workflowy is so deceptively simple, it's magical. See?

Workflowy helps you organize your tasks into simple, manageable lists. You can create top-level categories, and then create lists within those categories to capture notes, ideas, and to-do's. I have top-level categories to organize big general chunks of my life (like Personal, Blog, Business, and Work) and sub-categories to break down tasks and projects (like To Read, Blog Topic Ideas, and To Watch on Netflix).

The beauty is that I use to collect and organize ideas and to-do's for both my personal life and business - but I can choose to view only what I need to and hide the rest until the appropriate time. For me, this means that I can capture all my random thoughts, ideas, and tasks when they're fresh, but I'm not overwhelmed by everything on my plate - I can choose to focus on a select task and know that all my notes for other projects are easily accessible when it's time to focus on them. And when a task is finished, there's the satisfaction of marking it as completed, and seeing a nice line strike though it as it disappears from your list. Booyeah.

Want a better, more practical (and less romantic) explanation of Workflowy? Check out this brief and simple overview here.

Do you have a productivity tool that you can't live without?

Happy Monday!

Inspiring Words: January 11, 2012

Philippians 4:6-7
[From Pinterest; original source unknown. If you know where this is from, please advise so I can give credit.]

Sometimes, when you're having a challenging week, you just need to hear some truth that's good for your mind, body, and soul.

Happy Wednesday, my dears.

Indie Business Q+A: Using Your Name Online

retro woman on computer
[Image by retro-space]

How do you feel about using your real name online? I recently got an email from a super sweet reader asking that exact question:
I get worried because everyone always says be careful of what you put out there on the internet. Also, I don't have a generic last name like Smith, Johnson, or Williams so my name is easily searchable. However, I see so many other people do it like yourself, and with pictures too. As I grow my blog I feel like I will want to put more pictures, and I also feel like it would be nice to put at least my first name up just to make it a little more personal. What are your feelings on how you put yourself out there or how you overcame worries such as these? Have you faced any problems when putting your name and pictures out there? 
I do agree that it's true that you have to be careful what you put online. I read a quote recently that says, "the internet's not written in pencil, it's written in ink". It stays, and is forever searchable. I also have a name that's kind of unique - there are not a lot of Lesley Myrick's out there, so when you search for me you're easily going to find me. (My maiden name, Denford, is even less common...I swear I was the only Lesley Denford on the whole internet!)

Because my blog is part of my business and branding, I've chosen to use my name to build my brand and establish trust with my readers and clients. I use my full name as my screen name for everything, and I like the consistency with that. It's something that makes sense for me, because I'm actively marketing myself online with everything I do. I've never had a problem with anyone being creepy (although I did meet someone once who had read my whole blog and knew so much about me that it was weird!) but I am careful not to put my address or phone number online. I also don't use Foursquare or any of those other apps that "check you in" at locations - I just find that's too much info to share with strangers!

There are a number of artists and designers that I admire who use their real names online, and that's part of the reason I chose to do so. I respect their art, business, and blogs, and I want to be viewed on the same playing field as them.

I would suggest that you go with your gut on this one. If you feel comfortable sharing your name and making that connection with your readers, then please do! If you don't, then trust that feeling. Maybe this is the chance to come up with a fun nickname instead of your real name. My opinion is that whatever you do, be consistent in your identity and how you brand yourself online.

New bloggers and veteran bloggers, what are your thoughts about using your real name online? Do you use your real name? Why or why not?

Inspiring Words: When We Love

When We Love by Mae Chevrette
"When We Love" by Mae Chevrette 

Happy Wednesday!

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