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Emily Jeffords: "Creativity: Do it for the Process"
There are so many things to love about Emily Jeffords, not least of which is how she tried to start off this episode by asking me the questions. I loved it.
Emily is one of the most gently confident people I have ever met. She's poised, thoughtful & generous. And her clarity - Emily is SO clear. Throughout the episode she gives us examples of how clarity has been one of the most important elements in the foundations of everything she's created. And she has created a lot.
She has established herself as a leader in the art community, forged partnerships with some huge brands like Anthropologie and Design Sponge, and together with her team she now serves over 2,000 students through Making Art Work her 12 week art business course.
I really appreciate Emily’s clarity of who she is and what she wants, what works for her, what her worth is and, perhaps most importantly, what makes her happy. There she was a classically trained violinist who was about to embark on a whole career in performance music (imagine how many hours and what an investment of time and money both she and her family made to get to that point) but when she realized she didn't enjoy it - she simply stopped doing it.
I was fascinated to learn about the HUGE career Emily almost had and I was so proud of her retroactively for deciding NOT to.
Emily was able to create so much abundance and freedom as an artist because she allowed herself to have a big beautiful vision and did not let herself be swayed by the limiting beliefs of those around her.
When we allow ourselves to listen to the things we have been curious about and follow those little nudges, a path can begin to emerge, and when we pair that with giving ourselves permission to expand onto this path bit by bit making sure to to celebrate every single little win along the way, then we are able to to grow a sustainable creative practice.
Emily Jeffords is funny and kind and all around lovely, I think you are going to fall in love with her. I hope you enjoy this episode.
I hope you hear something in this episode that moves you. And if there is please share it with a friend and then with us in the reviews section of Apple Podcasts.
If you are moved to make a financial contribution to the production of this podcast, THANK YOU here is the link for our Patreon
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FULL TRANSCRIPT OF EPISODE 13 of The Creative Genius Podcast with Emily Jeffords
Kate Shepherd 0:02
At the last minute I was like, I hate performing. I hate being on stage performing. I get mixed me. I am really good at it. I know that this is a skill that I have and I do not like it in the slightest. So I was like, why don't I make this my job Hold on there are so many things to love about Emily Jeffords, not least of which is how she tried to start off this episode by asking me the questions. I loved it. Emily is one of the most gently confident people I've ever met. She's poised, thoughtful, and generous. And her clarity. Emily is so clear. Throughout the episode, she gives us examples of how clarity has been one of the most important elements in the foundations of everything she's created. And she has created a lot. She's established herself as a leader in the art community forged partnerships with some huge brands like anthropology and Design Sponge. And together with her team, she now serves over 2000 students through her 12 week art business course called Making art work. She's funny, and kind and all around lovely. I think you're gonna fall in love with her. Just before we head into the interview, I want to ask you to consider becoming a Patreon of the show. As a fiercely independent person, it is a little hard for me to ask for help. But a lot goes into making this show. And the reality is, I need some help. A contribution of as little as $5 a month, but you could think of like buying me a coffee will have an incredible impact on what I'm able to produce for you now and into the future. Head over to patreon.com/creative Genius podcast are find links on my website. Kate Shepherd creative comm. I was fascinated and a little odd what Emily told the story of the huge Career She almost had, but walked away from I hope you hear something in today's show that moves you. And if there is please share it with a friend. And with us in the review section of Apple podcasts. Here's my conversation with Emily Jeffords. Emily, I'm so happy to meet you and have you here on the show. Thank you for coming.
Emily Jeffords 2:17
It's an honor to be here. Thank you.
Kate Shepherd 2:20
I'm so excited to talk to you. At the beginning of every episode, I like to share a little bit of the intention with the podcast for you and also for our listeners, because this isn't just I mean, it's wonderful conversations. But there's a there's a deep intent behind this work. And it all kind of comes from this aha moment I had a while back. Right? It really hit me that everything that's wrong with the world. And there's a lot I mean, I say we're glitching there's you know, we're everything from overconsumption to environmental degradation to fractured relationships within our cultures and families. I just had this kind of moment where I realized it's all connected to and we can trace it all back to this set of limiting beliefs that seem to be the more I look woven into every facet of society, around creativity. And, as I can see it so far and add to it, if you feel that there's more, but I feel like these ideas are that. Number one, Creativity only exists in certain places, and that that's mostly in art, and maybe mostly in painting, even specifically drilled down beyond that. But you know, in the in the visual sort of arts, that only certain people have access to creativity, and that you either have it or you don't and too bad if you don't right from birth, that you're born with it or yet or for Too bad for you. And that the products of creativity. So what any of us might make, as a result of our creative endeavors have to look or sound, if it's music or feel or whatever, a certain way to be considered good. Like there's this idea of good or bad. And to me, those are such horrible, I'm about like let's get let's just tear down all the gatekeepers and all the things that keep us separate from creativity because to me, all those things are their faulty thinking. They're their lies, their fraudulent beliefs, but we're really we seem to be beholden to them, individually and culturally. And so I'm on a mission. Now I realized that it's my life's calling, really, to dedicate my my life and my creative energy, which I have a lot of myself to helping as many people as I can remember what is true about creativity, because I think it's just we've just forgotten, you know, that we all have it. And actually, not only do we all have it, but it's it's critical that we learn how to and help each other cultivate relationships with creativity so that we can have healthy creative expression in our lives. Whether that's you know, so that's kind of that's my mission. I feel like humanity's glitching. Because we're not letting ourselves be creative. And it's because of all those reasons. And so, yeah, let's stop.
Emily Jeffords 5:13
I love that. Yeah, I have a question that as you were talking, you said, you want humanity to remember what is true about creativity? What is true creativity, from your point of view, I'm just gonna interview you for
Kate Shepherd 5:27
Oh, I love it. I love it. Oh, you come on my show and interview me, and I'll come on your show and interview you. That's perfect. Let's do that. I love it. Well, what is true for me about creativity is that it is the intelligence that is animating our entire universe. So if you're, if you're breathing, it's, it's the same energy that's, that knows how to breathe your body that knows how to I'm getting the chills full body. I literally felt my chest just like actually expand when you said, we'll say it again. I'm gonna misquote you. And it was so good. It's it's the intelligence that animates the entire universe. It's everything. It's what it's what it's what, like, if you think about right now, like, let's just imagine, I don't know why Monterey Bay and California came up in my mind, because it's just an area that's like rife with biology. And so right now, in this moment, there's a seahorse being born. And the intelligence that that had the code for the information for the seahorse to, it's the same thing that's breathing our bodies, and it's the same thing we longed to tap into, in the studio with our paint brushes, it's that it's that intelligence that that can move us it's the it's the thing that causes the yeses, and the nose and the gut instincts and, and intuitions. It's, it's this wise, alive, infinitely capable, and, and, and in everything, energy. And so the idea that we have, that we've that we're able to disconnect ourselves from that I mean, you can't if you're breathing, you are this energy it is in you, you can even if you want it to say well, I fold your arms and dig your heels in the gravel, I'm not going to be you can't, it is who you are. It's he can't disconnect it. But you can believe you can believe that you are disconnected from it. And that's where we've, that's where we've created what we've created with the glitch,
Emily Jeffords 7:26
That is so beautiful, that is so beautiful. And the whole, taking it back to like expanding it that large and saying like you are a part of an entire system that is built on creativity, and then making it so intimate as to say that your cells are responding with creativity, whether you're, you know, if you are at all in tune with your body, and you're listening to what your intuition is guiding you towards, or what even like logic is guiding, guiding you towards because logic is intuition with more black and white to it, then you know, all the color. Like what are you feeling that's creativity at its essence, that's really interesting. Yeah, but yeah, it's safe in that part of ourselves off, because it's scary, it's vulnerable, you might be wrong, or you're not even wrong, but like you might be going counter culture, you know, like, you might do something that looks wrong to somebody else.
Kate Shepherd 8:21
And that's why this conversation is so important to have out loud and and to have in front of as many people as possible and include as many people as possible in this conversation, because that all that stuff, all that pressure, all that I mean, it's like a grownup version of peer pressure, right? It's like Don't, don't express. Yeah, but we can we actually I really feel that we can. But it's like the ideas being that's being said, as you know, don't,don't, don't be brave enough to express, you know, what's really inside you. Because what if, what if? What if other people don't like it? What if I'm teaching a class right now? Actually, we just had our last session last week. They're about eight women in it. And I intentionally don't tell them what we're doing until I kind of have to, you know, we're doing a bunch of underlayers. And we're building our color. And we're not, you know, they're not composing anything quite just yet. And they're having an amazing time. And this happens every single time. I've done this a number of times, and every single time we get to the point where I say, Okay, I have to tell you what we're doing now so that you can we're doing flowers or you have to do the vase or whatever it is, right. There's this, like freezing up that happens where like, Oh, now there's pressure. Now I have to make something now it has to be good. Now it has a should like it should look this way or it should have this form. Yeah. But there's like, there's fear there. And it's when I watch people because I I mean, as an instructor, I'm sure you have this too, like you're observing so much of what your work is observing and, and what I what I have noticed is that it's almost like there's an invisible bully in the room. Like it's almost like there's like somebody who they're scared of like, Oh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna waste this piece of paper. I'm gonna what? So curious for you. Have you seen that with your students?
Emily Jeffords 10:06
And oh, yeah. Oh yeah. So I teach students in a variety of different spaces.
Kate Shepherd 10:16
Actually, let's, let's go back just because we got into some juicy stuff right away and I, I feel like I want to help I want people to understand a little bit more about who you are. You do tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Emily Jeffords 10:31
So my name is Emily Jeffords. I'm a an abstract expressionist painter. And that to me means I can paint whatever I want, which I just love, just saying like, Oh, pm landscape, I'll pay an abstract, I'll paint color studies and call them fine art, I'll paint botanicals, whatever I want to call it, that's what it is. I began my creative life pretty, like I had a gentle I had a gentle start with a caveat of it was the recession when I began becoming a full time creative. So that was very hard. We had no money. Zero $0. But as far as like, when creativity came into my life, and what I gave myself permission to pursue it, I was very young, I went to art school, I came out of art school, knowing that I had what it took to be an artist, which I think is a tribute to my tenacity, and to my professors guidance and to my just, you know, I have had a pattern of seeing opposition in my life and saying, no, no, no, no, I'm going to definitely work on myself around that somehow, whether I do it in, you know, the normal way or the creative way. So that I think was a bit of a recipe for success from the beginning. So I began my creative career when I was 22. I had I had my first baby 23. So yeah, I snuck into it before I had maybe the logical side of my brain was developed. In fact, my brain wasn't even fully formed. You know, it doesn't fully formed by 25. I did it before that. So I think that was a bit of a, an advantage, because I don't think I knew the risks and the shoulds and the scary things that were to come and had I known. That's a lot to work through. So now in my creative work, I'm a fine artist, I sell paintings, I sell prints, I work with brands, I do collaborations with, you know, art reps, and hotels and all kinds of things. And the other side of my business now is I get to help coach and mentor other artists as they work through the the struggle of both becoming a vibrant, creative, but also running a vibrant and profitable business. Because the business side has come really, naturally to me, I think that's how my brain works. I love marketing, I love processes, I have a team I have, like a real business that my state of South Carolina actually cares about, right? Like, that's something that I don't think a lot of artists find to be natural parts of their of themselves. So now I get to help other artists grow their businesses from you know, making $10 to making over a million dollars. And that's really, really special that you can kind of have that not everyone makes seven $9 I'm not going to promise that. But it's not. It's not as uncommon as one might think, in the creative world. So that's very special part of my business.
Kate Shepherd 13:32
Now, I want to talk about both of those things. Sort of sort of separately, because they feel that that feels so big. Like if I feel like you've built this empire with these things I really feel like I often feel like I'm straddling between two islands. It can be hard for me to one human who is I mean, like I said, I do have a team that helps to support me in every single way. But it is hard to emotionally hold both of them because they're very different energies.
Yeah, I can imagine. I guess one of the things I was really curious to talk to you about was I mean you have 40 forge some partnerships with some pretty amazing brands like anthropology and designs bunch and I mean a bunch of other ones. And I was wondering like how did you how did that happen? Like I'm getting the feeling that you you're somebody who loves a challenge and you don't like the few here and no from the world you maybe don't take it as seriously as they might want you to because you know no energy can be very powerful for us right we hear we'd be very powerful. But so how did you theory powerful
Emily Jeffords 14:39
Yeah, you know, I think I think I've heard a lot of knows from from a tiny tiny age like from a young age being told no. You know, just I don't want to get too much into like my family stuff but like hearing that you can't or shouldn't do something consistently and then thinking, but this is inside of me, I'm this. I'm this kind of human. So learning how to feel that opposition and then learning how to say yeah, but but I feel something different inside of me whether it's you know, that got really philosophical and big. But that does boil down to if something happens in my creative business that doesn't seem to go my way it doesn't change how I feel about myself, which is something that I think we all have to develop and I have more developing to do in that way. Of course, we all probably do, but not letting someone else's opinion. Let me believe their opinions that makes sense.
Kate Shepherd 15:42
It makes it makes perfect sense. And I guess I'm wondering how you did that? Because I think a lot of a lot of people listening to this today they're going, Yeah, okay. Yeah, I know. Yeah. And I would love to know how to just like, because I think that you know, what we were talking about earlier on, you know, the intention of the show is to help connect people with that intelligence inside them. That's giving them the yeses of the nose and the whispers of go do this, go to that and follow your heart. Now, it's all coming out. But it's then there's this conditioning that comes from the outside world, like the nose and the limiting beliefs. And then, and so for the person listening to this going, Okay, well, I kind of I well, or even, I'm struggling to even know what that is, those outside voices can be so loud, I might not even know what it is I, what I desire, what I want to do, or who I really am, because it's been sort of shoved down for so long. But if you could get to the point where you're, hey, well, I've, I've, I've uncovered what it is I want to do. And there's this thing that you're just talking about, there's this thing inside of me that I want to let out. How do you stand guard for that? How do you be an advocate for that? I know, on the good days, you wake up in the morning, and you think, you know, I have days where I think oh, it's all gonna happen. And I'm, you know, it's, and then I have days where I wake up and I just think I can I'm going to just I'm going to give up but what was I thinking I can't, you know, I can't transcend all of this negative energy out there or, you know, like in a total roller coaster, in I call it the house of mirrors. Right, like, but so how can how did you? It sounds like you sort of released the image I have of you sort of like that you're sort of sitting in a throne in your kingdom, where you're like, I now not know, not in like a, you know, power wielding way more just like you're sitting in a seat of wisdom, and you're more informed by the yeses inside of you than you are by the nose in the outside world. Yeah. And you talk about developing that. How did you develop that?
Emily Jeffords 17:30
So one thing that I don't think that I knew that I was doing, but now looking back on it, I've gotten to kind of say, you know, I, I've gotten to teach so many students that you kind of have to reverse engineer some things to be like, Okay, but how did I do that, and then I can back it up and create a formula or whatever around it, or guidance, at least around it. And I think one thing that I allowed myself to do is, it's at least two parts, I might, I might have a third as I talk through this. But the first part is to begin with some sort of vision. And at the beginning, my vision was very small. I didn't have this grand vision, I never in a million years thought I would be doing what I'm doing today, there's no way I could have charted this out. None. I mean, I don't think I would even want to have been doing this 10 years ago, or 12 years ago, when I began this would have been, I often think if you had just plopped me into this, this seat that I'm in now 12 years ago, I would be I would have a panic attack every 10 minutes, there's no doubt about it. So you do grow into what you're supposed to be kind of evolved out surely. And you say yes, and you nourish yourself and you do this process of, of nourishing the ability within you to have that vision. So what is what is your ideal month look like look like next month? Or what is 2020? To look like? What's the vision for where you're going to grow in the next couple of months. And that can be scaling up your business or it can be following a creative pursuit that you're like, I really want to try you know, oil pastels, I really want to try sculpture or whatever it may be. Where are you kind of finding curiosity? Where is your brain leading you because your whatever that thought is in you, because something in yourselves back to your the universe is, you know, full of the animation of creativity that's happening in your body. And so whenever that's thought that that word that keeps popping into your mind that's there for a reason. And following those little nudges, consistently, letting them expand to be something beautiful. One thing that I see a lot of my students, especially when I'm teaching in the business side of things, a lot of my students, I have to help them through this and I talk about it really openly so that they do see it for themselves and don't have to be like oh, I mean, you're five years into this and you haven't learned so sorry. I try to save as as soon as possible. The one thing that I can't give you, as my student or anyone can give you as an outside person is the ability to see where you're working go, the ability to see, hey, this is where your work can head this, how big and beautiful it can be in the world, I might be able to see that and be like, Oh, I mean, if I had your skills and your hands and your eyes, I can make it do this. But until you internalize it, and see it for yourself, and own it, and give yourself permission to step into those slightly larger, slightly scarier shoes, your work will always remain small and hidden. It'll always remain quiet, or we're maybe not quiet at some point, either at this point can really beautiful. But it will always remain where it currently is, if not received further back, when I think what we all want is for our work to have a voice and to be given that stage because we create work because it fills us and makes us better, happier, more vibrant humans. But then we share our work. Because creative work is generous. And creative work has the ability to change someone's perspective and change someone's mind. And I know that sounds really grand. And like that's a really big job for this little tiny painting to do. But that's what it's doing. And once you finish the thing, and you say, Okay, I've signed it, or I've completed the composition, or I've completed the essay or whatever you're working on the recipe, the cake, whatever it is, you finished it, you're now done your part in the process of letting your work fill you and letting it be, you know, do for the process is a phrase that I say a lot, because when you're creative work is just in you. Because it's like an act of worship, it's an act of filling and giving and being in communion with whatever emotions or thoughts or, you know, outside things are happening inside of your brain and inside of you. And it's this whole magical, beautiful flow, right? Whenever you're done with that, now the work gets to speak on its own, and now it gets to be in someone's life or in their home or in there, wherever it is. And you're no longer necessarily a part of that. And that's kind of magic.
Kate Shepherd 22:13
It's kind of it is I mean, it's absolutely magic. And I think you said something, you said something a minute ago that I just wanted to go back to you said that you when you went to school, you knew that you had what it took to be an artist and to have this. And so I think that's an important intersection. Because I think a lot of us, I think a lot of us have days where we are able to align with that belief and that knowing because it is true, if you if you think it is true, if you feel if you have a suspicion, I might I might be good. But then there's all those ideas again, so yeah, I'm just wondering about for the person who, who is making art and actually, maybe secretly really loves it. And, and, and it is, you know, I don't want to say good, but it is, you know, has that vibe to it of like it this could go somewhere. I could take this somewhere, but it's really struggling. But do you and for your students who are struggling with that? Because that's a limiting belief, right? It's like, yeah, I don't think I have what it takes to or people are gonna love this or it can't my art can't do that thing that you were just talking about? It might you know, I Yeah, little old me, I couldn't create something that might move someone's soul now. How do you help people move through those beliefs and let them go? That's, that's tricky, because oftentimes, I think that we quantify our worthiness based on someone else's perception of our worthiness. So in fact, my example is an example of that. I had a professor that said, he, he would never phrase it this way. But basically, he said, your work is not worthy of the price that you've put on it. And I said, I think that it is, and I'm going to keep the price on it. And it will sell. I like I said, my brain wasn't fully formed yet. And I was very audacious. I love it. And it did. And he was like, okay for me wrong. And I'm like, Yeah, I did. And that, you know, that kind of spunkiness I know, we're not all born with that, I know. But if you can find a tiny little steeping of it and just give it a little bit of water. I think that'll do a lot of good. But I think more important than spunkiness is gratitude. And that was anything I was going to pair with having a vision and then have a lot of gratitude. A lot of times we see we see people that get super famous overnight or seem to you know, seem to do some they don't but they seem to have done so. Or they maybe get you know, so many sales and they're having a photo with their arms full of boxes that they're sending out into the world and you know these things. Can there be a highlight reel for sure. And also they're not the full picture also. The growth often happens with just tiny little micro steps, you know your first sale on Etsy or your first You're first person that buys your work that you don't know their name, those kinds of things just latch on to them and actually celebrate them, like make it a big deal. They are huge deals. And then where you can celebrate all of those tiny little victories, they happen almost every day, if you look at it, like, did you create a good shape today on your campus, that's a big deal. Did you create a postcard and mail it to someone that you're really like, you know, excited about, that's a big deal. So I think letting all those little tiny victories having at least one a day, and they can be small, might have been very small, and they still are oftentimes, you know, I don't get brand deals with anthropology every day, that doesn't, that's not how it works, it's like a once a year thing and the other day is I have to find something else to be grateful for, you know, find something else to be to keep that joy alive, because it can't come from someone else that's not sustainable. It's not lasting. That's a very synthetic form of, of joy and of finding purpose. So I think the more you can find joy and purpose and vision within yourself, celebrating all the little things that happen along the way, the more you're likely to grow a sustainable creative practice. And then for sure, sustainable creative business, because those two things, they have to go hand in hand, if you're not full creatively, your creative business is going to suffer. And if you're not full, in your creative business, like finding the joy in that process, then maybe you should get a gallery or an agent to do that for you. That's fine. That's totally fine.
Yeah, I mean, a different path is gonna work for for a different person. I think you sort of answered my one of the little notes, I was making a spirit talking just there was one of the things I've struggled with is sometimes all those little nudges, like I love the wisdom you're sharing about how important it is to to take the next right step and the next and be listening to what are you curious about? Those are like golden clues from life about what you know about what wants to happen. And we can discount them because it's not big enough, right? We want this like big, we want anthropology to come knocking on the door and say, Okay, today and the heavens open and the light comes in. And oh, it's finally like that. But But I think actually, the secret that seems to be what I'm sort of hearing from you is that it is about figuring out what all those little nudges are, or where they're taking you less about deciphering where you're going, where was the end, because I get caught up in that I get caught up in like, there's so much juiciness happening here and there is so much bigger for more, but I want this bigger thing to be here today. And I can and then I kind of get you know, and I have friends who are calling me up and saying Kate, like calm down like you're, it's, it's, it's okay, like it doesn't have to all happen today. But that, that for me. And I think for a lot of people, once you start once you find yourself kind of on your road and connected, that you're doing something that feels really good. You want it to just sort all happen right now. Yeah, you know, like, that's actually magical. I think that first burst of inspiration and it can last for a few years. It's not like it's, you know, a week long thing. That is, that's like when you first fall in love. And you are you can't get your hands off this person, like you were obsessed with them. You want to be with them constantly. That's exactly what you're going through in your business or in your creative work. And like I said it might the honeymoon phase might be years long. And that's awesome. Or it might reiterate, for instance, I have been painting for how am I 36 I don't know, let's say 20 years of me painting kind of in the same mediums. And the same way. I'm really good at this. I know how to paint. I've put in my 10,000 hours, right? So now I can find my creative practice to be this gentle, sustaining thing that I can just return. It's like my old love. It's like we've been together for so long. I know how you feel. I know your works. I know Mike works, we can just kind of fit together. And now I'm able to find some space to play creatively in writing. I'm writing a book right now. And it's hard. I have no clue what I'm doing. I'm in love with it. I can't stop thinking about it. Like it's that infatuation phase. And I think it's okay to let yourself fall into that and to want to obsess over it because I think as creative people who have creative cells in our bodies, we are really good lovers, or really good lovers. And it's okay if your lover right now is a medium, and it's okay, if it's writing or baking or whatever you're into right now. Just just do it and enjoy it. But you know, be a little bit careful about burnout because burnout can be hard. Not the end of the world. You can always you know, I always think burnout is like burnout is your your edges saying hey, I'm here. Like you can't I need you to care for me. And then you can like okay, yeah, arrest arrest in this way are all do something a little bit different, and I'll care for you. When you topple over the cliff, into something that's not even burnout into more of it more like self destruction, that's when it gets really bad. But it's so so navigating that for somebody who's who's feeling that those really high highs and then hitting some edges. what's what, when you're working with your students, when this comes up? What are some of the strategies for for being Dental in those places? And yeah, well, because I've worked with a lot of students who are trying to go creative businesses, I think these two things go hand in hand, and they have a lot of parallels. But in your, in both your creative practice, and in your creative business, I think it's important to have one thing that you feel like you can kind of hang your hat on, that's kind of I call it your highest work. Like, what is your signature style, or the thing that you're like, people will know me for this, for instance, I have some paintings behind me that are prints of my work. This, I would consider my landscapes to be like my signature style, or what my highest work. And then from that, so the originals of those pieces of be the thing that I'm most known for. But I can't paint that many originals, I can paint, you know, with my schedule, maybe 30 a year, which is quite a lot. But not, you know, I used to paint a painting a day, because at least of us, you know, a 10% reduction in productivity on that front, but that's okay.
Emily Jeffords 0:00
businesses, I think these two things go hand in hand and they have a lot of parallels. But in your, in both your creative practice and in your creative business, I think it's important to have one thing that you feel like you can kind of hang your hat on, that's kind of I call it your highest work, like, what is your signature style, or the thing that you're like, people will know me for this, for instance, I have some paintings behind me that are prints of my work. This, I would consider my landscapes to be like my signature style, or more my highest work. And then from that, so the originals of those pieces of be the thing that I'm most known for. But I can't paint that many originals, I can paint, you know, with my schedule, maybe 30 a year, which is quite a lot, but not, you know, I used to paint a painting a day, basically. So that is, you know, a 10% reduction in productivity and on that bread, but that's okay. Um, so because that's my highest work now, how can I diversify what that work can do for me. So I can create these original paintings. And then I can turn those original paintings into prints or into keep it elevated? Of course, you don't want to make socks or, you know, toe clippers out of your work. But what else can you create that elevates your work further, or allows it to have a bigger voice or allows it to spread further without you having to do more work, because you can only eat so much, you can only create so much your hands only have so much, you know, ability to move, if we're all human, right? I'm feeling this a lot on the writing front. Because it's new for me. I feel like I can only write for about maybe an hour at a time. And then I'm like, oh, now I'm doing a horrible job. And it doesn't make any sense. Cool. Let's stop now. So I think you have to kind of practice those muscles, of course, but diversifying what your work gets to do in the world. And then you can diversify, even within the mediums like, I don't have to just paint landscapes all the time, I can paint whatever I want. As I said at the beginning, like you can, you can let yourself feel free creatively. But when you're trying to grow a business if you do want to make an income from your work, but you don't have to, I think that's something that creativity can just offer you as a gift. It doesn't have to be your livelihood. But if you do want it to be your livelihood, find ways that you can build a strong business by creating more than one leg on your table. And using my hands a lot looks like jellyfish, but create structures that will let your business thrive even if you get burnt out of one of the components. So for instance, I teach a course called making artwork, it's 12 weeks long, I give myself fully to it. After that course ends, I go on sabbatical because I can no longer sustain that leg of my business intentionally like you know there's that timer like and done. Seen everyone go home everyone's late go put it all the practice is like a rest rhythm. So I think that's important to kind of build in those those ways have ebbing and flowing through your creative work. And then also if you're creative calendar, so maybe you have a show in the spring and then one in the summer you want a collection launch in the fall, and then the holidays so you can kind of ebb and flow your creative output as well know when you have time to devote yourself wholeheartedly to production, like creating this beautiful work. Know when it's time to focus more on marketing or more on photography or more on, you know, growing your, your email list in your marketing and your business growth. And then know when it's time to kind of rest and heal and you can start back up so so I love working in cycles like that. No, I and I love that you're sharing this because one of the guests that I had on a couple years ago named Beth Souter, who's a moon cycle coach, and it kind of blew my mind because this whole conversation around aligning yes output with the moon. And I was like, Well, I mean, I have a jewelry company called Morning moon I love the moon is a big part of my life like I but I've never I've never dove into well, what about like harnessing the power of the moon are looking? Absolutely and what I'm learning from her. Because she's she bought she offered to coach me after we met for the podcast. So I She's actually my moon cycle coach right now, which it's amazing
Kate Shepherd 4:17
is that there's periods of even in the month where I naturally have. So for example, I've scheduled these interviews with you. During a time of the We're in. We're in a waxing moon. So we're headed towards a full moon. And we're the light I'm getting shivers, again, the light is growing and our energies are growing and we're feeling like potential and capacity and all these things. And I mean, I hadn't really looked at it before but when I went back and looked at some of the interviews that I had been doing in the waxing and the waning moon interesting, they were hard there was they were they didn't have this like magical like we have this like beautiful serendipity right now. And there's like, I can feel that we're both alive and connected. And we've met in this space and like I can feel that. That's really easy. I love that. Yeah. And so I wanted to ask Because I also have different arms of my business. And I have two small children, and I'm on my own and all these things. How do you do that? Because I hear what you're saying about like, maybe you do your 12 weeks and then or you have a show or so that's kind of like in a year. That's a really big picture. How do you do that on a daily basis with your, let's divide them up? Let's just even say we're talking about your own personal creative practice. So when you get in there, and the student but your business and then personal, I mean, maybe even just those three things, how do you divide up your time so that you can be sustained on that way? On a daily basis, I charted the moon a lot when I was pregnant. I have I have a four year old now. But before he was born, I was kind of obsessed with the idea of like, because I have I have three kids. So my two daughters are both born on a full moon. And I was like, Is this a thing it is going to happen again. And he was born just before the full moon but he was also 10 days late. So it was down to happen anyways, it was the whole thing. But there's like, there's just as a side note, there's, there's like a chart, there's chart like there's great like, birth, yeah, you can talk to like midwives and spittle was full for all of my children's Yes, like became IV births my daughter in a closet at the hospital because they had no room. So I'm like, I'm like, very cool. Excellent. Wow. But that's not your question at all. I think, I think me and the thing that you said at the beginning about like, the animation of creativity, filling so much of our universe, and then filling so much of us, I am such a fan of listening to myself, I orient so many things in my life around when I feel that they should be done. And I don't know if there's historically, I may need to charge it with the moon or with my personal cycle, possibly. But for instance, I won't do a course launch, which are very high energy things very extrovert giving, talking so much, I won't do that during the week prior to my cycle or amo period. This is a whole lot of information about me now, just because I know that I'm not going to get my best work, I'm not going to be who I need to be. And then I can kind of think about that a little bit. And then from like a more day to day basis, I don't do any work. This is just how my body works. I don't do any work prior to 11am. Because I know that my brain is not in the right. It's it's going to become fight or flight prior to 11am. It's going to become fear based. And I don't want to make any decisions about my business or my life when I'm feeling the urgency to create a decision out of fear. That's just not how I want life to work. So I don't know how I learned that about myself. Because I used to get up at 5am and get everything done in the mornings. And then I'm like, Oh, that's not how I should be behaving cool. Was it like, if you look back and you think about when you sort of had that? What part of your life you had that realization? Can you trace it back to feel like was there a felt sense in your body where you kind of got the growing like, because I feel like we're like these finely tuned instruments like we have these barometers in us that are really I feel like it's yeses and noes. I don't think it's much more if I hear voices that are like, You should do this because then I'm like, oh, that's the rational mind someone else. I do not need to listen so I park it and I'm really just my whole I'm learning how to have my or I've like you oriented my entire life around these yeses and these noes. And for me that came like as a very physical. I realized I felt discord I realized I felt like off. Yes. But now it's yeah, it was the same thing for you for coming to those.
Emily Jeffords 8:46
Well, my, my son was born. He's four years old now. So I've had I've had maybe well, longer than that, though. I don't know the the 11am thing was kind of a gradual like shifting into motherhood young young children, I wanted to be present for their young child that, you know, mornings are always chaotic anyways, so I try to fight the chaos, just flow with it. It's good and fine. We'll grow up someday. So I think it was a bit born out of necessity when my kids were all little now I have one little one and two girls that are on there. The model they're on they're 10 and 12. But they're so self sufficient now, you know. Um, but I think I also think like, again, just learning to listen to me as early as possible also, lets me be a night owl. I get to work when it feels best for me. So I'll start working again at 10pm which people are like, Oh my gosh, that's so unhealthy. How dare you? Are you even productive? What are you doing? Like no, that works for me. Like that's how my brain works. So it's fine. So that also lets me kind of structure my life around the needs of people around me in a way that still lets me accomplish what I want to accomplish and also be who I want to be, you know, like, I don't want to be just my accomplishments. I want to be someone that arranges flowers because they're pretty, or someone who makes dinner a couple times a week because it's fun and someone who can sit down with their kid without having the email open, because you know, not 5pm yet, which I know is a luxury, absolutely a luxury to get to choose those things. And because I have a luxury, I'm going to be grateful for it. I'm going to use it, because otherwise, that's wasteful. You know? I absolutely, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that's very, very sweet that I can work from 11 to three, and then I can stop working until the evening and my brain, you know, is happy with that. So So yeah, it's about learning. It's about learning. What, what, what works for your system? Like I mean, all of our systems are hooked up and set up differently. And it's about sort of tuning in and finding out well, I did the 5am thing. And that didn't really work for me. But now this is a big thing. Now we're going oh, yeah, okay, yeah. Now, we're nerds are nice. Please tell us a little bit about making artwork, because I feel like that's such a special thing that you offer. And I wondered if you would just sort of like, tell us a little bit about how did it come about so much. Tell us everything about it? How did it happen? Why do you do it? What do you get out of it? What do people get out of it? Tell us tell us everything? Tell us everything. So it began in 2019, I had just come off of leading a an intimate year long mastermind for I think, 26 women. And I got to talk with them one on one, I got to mentor them, we were very close, very, you know, very. I knew all about their businesses and all about them by the end of that year, which is very sweet. And I have the honor of running another mastermind in 2022, which I'm so excited about. But outside of that conversation, that year conversation with all of them and also spending the past, I think from 2015 until that year 2019. doing one on one coaching from other artists, I gotten to talk with well over 100 creatives one on one. And what I noticed is I'm saying the same thing, every time really, with slight emphasis being placed on different things with slight things that are shifting, but at the core, all of us are trying to grow something very similar in a world that is very receptive. The world wants us to be doing this. So this is an insane time to be a creative entrepreneur. Because the opportunities are there numerous, they're thirsty, they're so ever present. We really just have to show up beautifully. We have to just show up with our gorgeous work and share it effectively. And again, like infuse it all of gratitude because this is an incredible time to be a female entrepreneur, a female creative. This episode of creative genius is brought to you by mourning Moon nature jewelry, instantly familiar yet unlike anything you've ever owned. This extraordinary handcrafted heirloom jewelry is famous for its incredible detail of actual textures from nature, get 15% of your first order and feel the Wonder use coupon code. creative genius at love morning mood.com.
Kate Shepherd 13:30
You said something a second ago that actually I think I perked me up and I feel like everybody listening or many people listening are going wait a minute. Wait, that's not true. You said the world wants us to be doing this. It's an amazing time there. The world is thirsty for I don't think so many people would say I don't. I don't believe you. That is it. I don't feel that I don't do that it's so hard to sell my work. Why can't I sell my work? I'm really struggling. So tell us how we're wrong? Well, I would love to thank you for asking me, what I would do is just look around you right now, wherever you are in your room, and just maybe tally up the amount of things in your room that have some kind of creative element on them. A lot of times that plays into like graphic design, a lot of times that plays into form, you know, more utilitarian design, you know objects, and there's a fork in front of me actually, I'm at my kitchen table and there's a lot of stuff in front of me, which is the real. There's a milk bar bag full of cookies, which is amazing. There's a graphic novel cover. There's a beautiful ceramic vase, there's a drip candle. That sounds very romantic, it looks like a mess, but you know what I mean? So just kind of scan the room around you and find the creativity in the room around you. Now, this kind of tips a little bit into like how can your work diversify like what can your work do in the world? Every single thing that you just labeled as something that was touched by creativity, that could be touched by your work in some way. Every book cover every ceramic bass, every milk bar bag, it could in theory contain your work. And when you kind of expand, what can you do in this world, suddenly there are opportunities everywhere, everywhere. And you might hear 100 noes. And you might hear that one. Yes. And I mean, there's more than 100 objects in my room right now. So that's, that's fine. So I think just letting yourself go, oh, I can do that. And not just with objects right. Now we can think, Okay, what knowledge do I have that I can also share? Are you fairly decent at writing poetry? I would love to learn how to write poetry. I don't I'm not very good at it. I try. And it's not that great. Are you good at color composition? Are you good at setting up podcast mics? Because I'm not how are you good at, there's so many things that you may be good at that will also kind of touch your creative self in some way. So how can you also express those things to the world and share that with the world? So there's a lot of different friends that can do this on. You could do, of course, that people often think I don't want to be a teacher, and that's okay. You don't have to be a teacher. But can you just maybe guide somebody or share something generous silica, PDF that talks about how to do that one thing or how to, you know, yeah, get better at that skill. A lot of the time, we, the thing that we're so good at, we don't realize other people would love to know a little bit more about how to do because we're just we're living at it right here. So we're like, everybody knows how to do this. But no, like, how can I share that. And again, that sort of speaks to like showing up and sharing, showing up and sharing, and they want to hear from you. I know that, you know, hearing that might make you roll your eyes. But it's true. It's absolutely true. I have my mentors that I've chosen because I like them, maybe you can get the information from someone else. Maybe it's in a book somewhere, I don't really care, I want to learn from them, because I respect what they're doing in the world and who they are in the world and what their ethics and what their morals look like. And are. So I think, you know, I think not diminishing your work and your impact in this world. Because, again, fear gets in the way. And there's this quote that I just I I ruminated on it throughout the entirety of my time in Paris for the entire month of November. Every day I asked myself the same question. Is it fear is it love? And the more you can ask and answer that question, the more you begin to see oh, that's fear. Oh, I thought I was being this whole like higher self and it's still here. And every now and then like that was love that felt so good. Thank you that was awesome. So that can expand out into the entirety of your life that can also narrow down to like, Are you acting in fear or in love and your color choices or in your you know, how you draw something or or what you choose to draw or what you choose to do in the studio? Or how you choose to show up in the world on on YouTube or on a podcast or on wherever? Yeah, it's
Emily Jeffords 18:14
a it's a shapeshifter, that that fear can can start to realize that you're onto it and start changing shape and so when you're talking about in studio Lee, you know, when you reach for the you go for the turquoise, and that's what you're at, but then your brain comes in as well. But you know, the orange cells better? That's fear. So, it's like hiding under no creativity, like so sneaky. It's so sneaky so sneaky. And it can often feel like the most logical choice or even the most loving choice sometimes. Poof that's why I say it's a yes no thing so so I had to get I had a really great therapist once who I was really struggling with like well what part of me is talking is this like that my wise intuitive self? Or is this my ego? Tronic like I couldn't tell the difference. She said well, does it feel like it's standing beside you pushing you to go in a certain direction? Or is it standing there waiting for you to talk with curiosity to see where you go? That was like Oh, because love is never gonna push you yeah to anything ever it just doesn't know how to do that. But fears certainly well and farewell be like, Oh, no, I'm pushing you in this direction. It says I love you. Yeah, yeah, yes, exactly. No, that does not look good to me. Thank you know so so with your with your 12 week class, what is the what is the ride that people can expect to go on? If they're what do you guys do entire so thank you for I forgot my train of thought for that. No, I took us on a little diversion. I'm, I know mine, but I do want to know. So you can probably sense this already. But I love creative businesses, I love growing creative businesses. And I really love doing it in a healthy and heart centered way. I think if you're not enjoying this process, there are easier ways to live. There are easier ways to make money. If you're here, if you've if you've chosen to come into making art work, something else is guiding you. And I hope that it's I hope that it's love. I hope that it's like, you should be like your your soul is saying I need to be doing this with my life. So I always kind of set the stage of that. Then the first, the first two weeks, we're talking a lot about mindset, we're talking about what is your work about? Who does it speak to? Why does it matter? actually turned the thing in the show in the video, you can see this, but I turned the affirmations from making our work into this beautiful deck of affirmation cards, which now anyone can have, but they are a core part of the course as well. Because so much of what we do as creatives happens first, in our, in our minds, as you know, you talked about this quite a lot. Having an unhealthy mindset will hold not only your creative work, but also your creative business spec. So we do a lot of undoing and a lot of unlearning, and a lot of calling out lies what they are because they're really soaked into everything, you know, we have a lot of innate fear, because vulnerability is scary. So putting your work out into the world is scary. There's a lot of very logical fears that go along with that. In fact, we've talked about some of them. Now, no one wants to buy work, no one wants to see my work, my work is not worthy of being up here, or I shouldn't share, I didn't get a response last time, that kind of thing. Those are very logical theories that have a lot to do with our vulnerability.
Kate Shepherd 21:48
But then there are also things that we've been handed that are not necessarily inside of us, but are outside of us things like artists are starving. Well, what proof is that's not from inside of me, someone else said that to me, because they think that there's proof for that out in the world. But I don't feel that inside of me. I don't think that's been true in my life. And so the more that I can hold up examples of past students and current students and other people in the creative community that are dispelling these lies, the more we can begin to actually, cognitively and logically undo them. Because I think it's one thing to be like, I believe in all good things for myself. You can say that so much, but sometimes we just need that little bit of like, no, it's actually gonna be okay, we're gonna be fine. This is actually a career, you can do it. So we begin with that the undoing and redoing, and then we go pretty practical, pretty quick. I'm a very process driven person. I love checklists, I love spread more spreadsheets can be added to that on those spreadsheets. But I love things that makes sense that like, have a rhyme and reason and have ordered to them. So there's a lot of workbooks and get to work together. But then we dive right into how to make your website really user friendly and easy to shop from and how to have a good listing and how to have a good Instagram presence and how to have good video and what kind of branding you should include in your creative work. And we're all very different. Of course, the cool thing is everyone walks out of the course, the most beautiful version of them. But there are no carbon copies, which I just love, the diversity and the the magic that everyone brings to their own iteration of the process of becoming a creative entrepreneur. So it's pretty special. Actually, it brings us to something that you you've written, I read a bunch of your essays preparing to have a chat with you today. And you talk about one that how it's important for you to share a sense of belonging with both of your collectors, you know, both your collectors and your students. So it's and it sounds like that's kind of a part of what can happen when you're in a in a process. And they talk about how people bond not that, of course, is traumatic. But when you go through something with somebody, and you're and you're vulnerable and you're undoing stuff, yes, you're missing. It is there can be there it can be. But when you've gone through, like a big event with people, there's a bonding and belonging that happens. Yeah. And we really helped to foster that by creating smaller groups within the larger group, because of course, it's usually, you know, between 500 and 1000 students, so it's a lot of people on the course. So we create that bonding by also having smaller peer groups. And the smaller peer groups are between, you know, maybe five and seven ish people. Oh, wow. And by the end of the course, I mean, they still talk they still like I get DMS like my peer group just met up in person for the first time and not you don't have to be in person. But you know, people are meeting from all over the world in these peer groups, but they still communicate a resume or they're still on their telegram channel or they're still having their private Instagram pod or whatever. And it's just like it's been a year since we are not quite a year, but basically almost a year. And they still are still amazing. Oh, so when do you offer that you offer that? Well, you said you do it 12 weeks, once a year, and then you're recuperating from that. Yeah. So it starts in March, march. Okay. finishes in late June. Yeah. Okay. Wow. Oh, that's amazing. You had an unconventional childhood, you lived in all kinds of different areas around the Middle East. And that as a young artist, I, you also talked, you refer to your younger self and one of your pieces of writing as a strange creative child who was hiding in a closet doing scrapbooks, and being inventive, and scrappy and chill. And I just want I just had to tell you, I love the image of that little girl, and I see so much of her in you now as an adult. And yeah, I wanted to ask you how you managed to? Well, first how to, you know, living in that sort of unconventional way shape you but also as a second part of that question, and maybe they're related. How did you manage to keep those qualities of innocence and optimism and believing like from that you had when you were that little girl? How did you guard them and bring them into adulthood? Because I think so many of us shoved a bunch of that stuff down just to survive. So families, social situations, right, like some of us have gone through, whatever I mean, many of it, we've all gone through things, but some of us had to sort of shove those things down to kind of to survive, just just to put a point on it. And so how did you how did you keep those things alive? And how can you? How would you how it how would you tell somebody how to how to uncover those parts of us and bring them back to life?
Emily Jeffords 26:44
Well, I had a very unconventional childhood, not only if we move around every three years or so, two and a half to three years. But I also have nine siblings. So I'm the oldest of 10 children, which is why I hate in the closet. So much. Okay, that makes sense to me. Now, I was wondering why my introversion I needed my quiet wow, I needed to escape. And so I had a very unconventional childhood. It was very innocent, though, it was very sheltered, in a lot of ways we didn't have, we had a TV, but it didn't have TV, we didn't have cable or anything. So we had like VCRs, we had to put in once a week to watch our once a week movie. We were always outside, always outside sculpting things and making up worlds and I had a very natural childhood. In essence, I mean, I'm sure like, now that I'm a mother, I'm also seeing that my mom was probably like, you have to go outside of you all, you know, if you can walk, you've got to go outside today. I was homeschooled. Currently in necessity, because we lived in some religions, in some communities that didn't even have, you know, logical schooling options for us. We lived in Tunisia, Africa, and Damascus, Syria. And then we hopped around the us quite a bit. So it was kind of a necessity ish thing at the beginning. And there just became easier and a cultural thing for my family to kind of adapt into. So yeah, I was this a very sweet childhood, a very strange childhood, a very isolated childhood and a lot of ways. That that's what led you to be able to sort of maybe shed or not absorb so much of the sort of overall cultural conditioning around you know, I'm sure Yeah, because interesting. I actually, I need to think about that some more. But yes, my gut instinct says, Absolutely, because I was always really used to being unlike my culture, you know, like, when you're the oldest of 10 children, if you go out to eat, you're going out to eat as if you're a school crowd, like a, you know, a class outing. The Yeah, like we weren't part of our we had cold. We had a community of course, in Damascus and in Tunisia, but it was, again, like a group of expats that all felt weird, we all felt like we were doing something strange and wonderful. And we were, it was a fun, you know, it was a really cool way to grow up in a lot of ways. But also, I don't get any 80s Pop references or 90s, like cultural references, and like, I don't know what that is. I mean, it sounds like you were sheltered in all the best ways you're sheltered from kind of all the conditioning that, you know, we get around, you know, you have to be this you have to be that this is what's possible. I mean, you lived in a completely different universe for those really important years. Yeah. And I lived I also had to claim my own worth and a lot of ways though, because my parents were very supportive about my need or like by my desire to go to art school and to become an artist and to become a creative, I was also classically trained violinist and pianist. So I almost went to college for music as opposed to art. And the last minute I was like, I hate performing. I hate being onstage performing. Like it makes me I am really good at it. I know that this is a skill that I have, and I do not like it in the slightest. So I was like, why would I make this my job? Hold on. But I think there is a lot of Oh, sure, Emily, you can have fun. Go do this thing for fun. That's very cute. So I think I had to claim some of my own like, No, this is something that I'm going to do, because it makes me happy. Yes, that's special. And also, I think that I could do something good with this. And I don't think I knew what that was back then. But you know, as a 19 year old, who is just trying some stuff for fun, you know, but something inside of me was was claiming this is worry, because I want it so badly. Like, what is that? So maybe there's something in that, that we can all kind of hold on to like, what do you want badly?
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