Monday, February 27, 2012

So You Want to be a Creative eh?

I took a (creative) leap this past Saturday. Well, the leap occurred a few weeks prior when I emailed The Makerie--the Boulder-based retreat for creatives--to see if I could volunteer my labor for the event. I wasn't sure hubby and I could scrap together the funds to enroll as a participant, so I deduced that, maybe, I could get some of that creative inspiration simply by proximity.

My filled Crock-Pot
Fortuitously I sent my email in time to be invited to participate in the first annual soup swap for Makerie volunteers. So this past Saturday I whipped up my favorite Roasted Butternut Squash and Italian Sausage bisque and headed to the Savory Spice Shop in Boulder to meet the famous maker of The Makerie and the women helping to make her vision a reality.

Amidst the lovely jars of freshly ground seasonings, I mingled with the creatives. The marketing force behind the Horseshoe Market. The owner of Old Glory Antiques. Knitting teacher genius from Common Threads. And one of the Flygals of Firefly Handmade. Oh no, no I wasn't intimidated (!).

Then, when asked, "What do you make?," I found myself searching for an answer that would justify my presence. Why didn't I anticipate such a question given the audience? Hmm, I stammered. I read blogs about design, decor, and art. I shop at vintage, handmade markets. I pin all my favorite local indie artists. I encourage craft with my kids. Oh, and I go to Goodwill, a lot.

I knew I wasn't REALLY answering the question. How could I? I didn't have a claim to fame! Dare say, a poser amongst genuines???

Photo from Art Therapy Association of Colorado
So when it came time to do a round robin of introductions, I began my monologue with, "I'm not an artist but...". I'm not sure what I said after that, but I do know that The Makerie maker then used my "apology" to emphasize the motivation behind starting the retreat. (Never mind I taught public speaking during grad school and know better than to begin a public speech with self-deprecation!).

She described The Makerie retreat as a space to play, to create, and to be inspired. In this sense, we are ALL artists, she continued; since our day-to-day lives are often over-scheduled and over plugged-in, simply retreating for a few days to the wonder of all that surrounds us is a gift, the gift of The Makerie.

Ok, I bought the vision hook, line, and sinker, and long before the smell of yummy soups! Creativity IS important--to work, to parenting, to our souls.

Yet, I keep asking myself. What makes an artist? Who can claim that moniker? Only professionally trained and educated painters, sculptors, or fabric designers?  Seems limiting (at the same time, they earned the title...). What about those of us who ASPIRE to have an integrated, creative work life? What do we call ourselves?

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's a Revolution I Tell You

I made a glaring omission yesterday.

You see, I didn't mention the obvious: WOMEN are the ones driving the success of Pinterest. Tagged as “tumblr for ladiez”, the new belle of the ball of social media is in fact primarily used by women. While the stats are seemingly up for grabs, one article suggests as much as 97% of users are female. Quite frankly, the pinking of Pinterest deserves much more discussion.

Attributes have been made about the feminine design of the logo. Others suggest that style of the boards is inherently feminine as well. But design alone can't be reason women use Pinterest more than men.

Perhaps Pinterest is simply a space to express women's creativity? Yes, we (women) understand the site is like retail therapy, without the debt. We pin clothes we can't afford. We pin mansions as if they were a possibility. But we do so knowingly. Sonia Saraiya says it best:

"... I’ve noticed something interesting about the Pinterest community: There’s a self-awareness to this aspiration, too. A common type of pin that floats around from time to time reads something like this: “Pinterest: to plan the weddings we can’t afford, to raise the children we don’t have, and decorate the houses we don’t live in.” It seems like most of us on Pinterest are in on the joke — we’re buying into a fantasy lifestyle, and selling it to each other. Some of us may be using our boards to plan a real-life event, or to give us ideas for a concrete occurrence, but I think most of us are updating our dream scrapbooks — fully aware those dreams may never happen, but indulging in the fantasy anyway."

I appreciate the irony of the delusion. But I believe there is a subversive element present as well. Creative subversion. Creative inspiration. After all, it takes a certain set of eyes to curate a look, a house, an aspiration. 

Why not make the dreams a reality? If part of the pull for women on Pinterest is beautifying their worlds, use the platform to show HOW this can be done. There is plenty of evidence already present that this is the case. From pins of repurposing household goods to saving money at the grocery store, women ARE making their fantasy more attainable, even sustainable. 

Vintage Cake Toppers on Etsy @ Hattiecat's Vintage Emporium 
So whose to say Pinterest can't be a wonderful companion to Etsy--the premier homemade and vintage marketplace? After all, you can pin goods from Etsy and even the price point will show up on the photo, making it that much easier for indie-artisans across the globe to market their wares. Whose to say it can't become the go-to site for locals looking for artisans and craft markets in their community? Whose to say Pinterest can't be the women supporting women hub? Because, after all, women are the ones driving the home-made revolution!

And that is what Pindie is all about. Women. Art. Craft. Creating. A. New. Local. Indie. Economy. 

In what ways can you envision using Pindie to support women?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pinning the Ideal Self

"I don't get it."

"Huh?" I asked, a bit indignantly. "What's not to get?"

"I mean, what's the purpose?" hubby continued, "You just look at and pin pictures. Why?"

At first I was taken aback by his question. It was late in the evening. We were in bed. I had just shown hubby one of my favorite curated boards--@ the Homestead--and was particularly smitten with a recent pin. I wanted confirmation of my latest pursuit, not scrutiny. It seemed so OBVIOUS why I would enjoy Pinterest! But I swallowed my ego, tried not to take the question personally (after all, I had been spending an inordinate amount of time on the social media site...), and considered his question. Fair enough. 

Why DO I pin? What IS the purpose of Pinterest?

In less than 2 years time from its launch, Pinterest has become one of the top social media sites with over 10 million users. How's it work? After getting an invitation to the site and logging on through Facebook or Twitter, users then "pin" favorite web images in an on-line bulletin board or 'pinboard' as it's called. You can create different boards based on interests ranging from fashion to travel to home decor and design. Not only does the site create 'communities' of people based on their likes (you can 'follow' boards or people of your choosing), it's an excellent way to find all things local as compared to the big box offerings found on FB sponsored links. As Jeff Bercovici writes, "It’s more like a craft fair where people go to exhibit their wares, check out other vendors’ offerings, or do a bit of both." Well, now that makes sense to a woman like me who LOVES ALL THINGS HOMEMADE.

Which leads me to what I should've told my hubby last night...I pin because:

1. Pinterest is like going to craft markets without leaving the house! I can peruse all my favorite local indie-crafters and make pinboards of all the vendors I want to visit and support at the upcoming local artisan markets including Sugar Plum Bazaar, Firefly Handmade at the Makerie, and Horseshoe Craft and Flea Market to name a few favorites.

2. Pinterest is like going to a thrift store without spending money! Yes, I will be the first to volunteer to go to the grocery store because the Goodwill is right next door. Just like the second hand store, Pinterest merchandise is constantly changing. You truly never know what you're going to find. And since the pull of the hunt is ever-present, Pinterest serves with its 24-7 hours. 

And at the end of the day, let's be honest.

3. Pinterest allows me to curate my ideal self. I collect all my treasures on-line, arrange them into neat categories, and in doing so, create the most flawless picture of my likes, finds, and desires. As Sonia Saraiya over at Persephone suggests when likening Pinterest as the new women’s magazine, “I feverishly add to my boards with the same diligence I papered the walls of my bedroom [as a teen] — to reflect some idea of who I am, and further, who I want to be.” I agree. I pin myself. I want to be a locavore. I want to repurpose. I want to be crafty. I want to be an artist. I want to be a writer. I want to be a decorator. And I want to be a (sub)urban homesteader. And I have pictures to prove it!

So while it has its issues, no, you can't (currently) pin from FB, and, yes, sometimes Pinterest can't find the image on a particular web page which makes pinning sometimes cumbersome, the draw of the social scrapbooking site remains unequivocally addictive. As Lydia Dishman opens her Fast Company article, "I would have written this article sooner, but I was busy on Pinterest."

So why do YOU Pinterest?