The cork was popped, the champagne spilled, and the New Year’s festivities are over–which means it’s time to focus on a fresh new start in 2016! Chances are you’ve made a New Year’s resolution with the hope of a successful year, but sticking to your goals is easier said than done. Perhaps you’re struggling to make changes or maybe you’ve already broken your resolution, but fear not, we’ve got the goods to help you get back on track and keep you motivated all year-round!
One of the most exciting things about serving as Editor of The Goods is that there’s always a Maker Story right around the corner. I am honored to get opportunities to meet talented artists, to see what they make and how they make it, and– when I’m extra lucky– to actually step inside their creative spaces. Over the past year, I had the pleasure of visiting several artists and seeing them in action, as did a few of our blog contributors, photographers, and buyers.
From woodworking to weaving to jewelry making and beyond, we saw so much creativity last year that we couldn’t help but give our 2015 Studio Tours one more chance to shine before heading out with cameras and notepads to capture more inspirational moments in the year to come. Here are a few hand-picked highlights from those Studio Tours, complete with a few inspirational quotes, photos that made me want to drop everything and start a new creative project on the spot, and plenty of great advice.
Editor’s note: When we visited jewelry artist Jen Pleasants for a Studio Tour earlier this year, we knew we’d found a special place we wanted to tell everyone about. “I could really feel and see the love she built within her surroundings,” said our contributor, Emily, after spending some time with the artist.
We asked Jen to share her favorite tips for turning a workspace into a place filled with creativity, happy thoughts, and positive energy.
I guess something about the showtheLOVE studio feels good to people– which is why I was asked to write this article, even though I am in no way an expert on the topic.
If you walk into work and you feel good just being in that space, then you are more likely to put good energy into whatever you are working on. If you are an artist making things for others to enjoy, this becomes especially important.
Below you will find two lists of ideas for cultivating a positive workspace – one more mainstream and the other more out there. Pick and choose items as you please that might work for improving your space!
10 Basic Ideas for Promoting a Positive Workspace
1. Hire people who are positive, happy, and kind
If for some reason you accidentally get a bad egg, don’t hesitate to let them go and skip to my second set of advice to remove bad energy.
2. Hang inspirational posters on the walls
I love inspirational quotes and love to surround myself with them. Some of the ones hanging in my office are:
-Change your thoughts, change your world
-You are looking particularly good today
-Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn
-Somewhere over the rainbow
-If you work really hard and are kind amazing things will happen
-Everything will be okay
-What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
-The only zen you will find at the top of the mountain is the zen you bring up there
-Live what you love
-Give and be happy
–She believed she could, so she did
3. Speak kind words
Try not to gossip or speak ill of people in the space you want to keep clear. One of my favorite quotes is by Hafiz, “The words you speak build the house you live in.”
4. Burn candles
This helps the office smells good without toxins. (Which is why I use beeswax candles with essential oils, not synthetic fragrances.) It also creates a peaceful atmosphere because something about candles is magical. Just don’t forget to blow them out before you leave!
5. Remove clutter
It is so obvious that a clutter-free environment feels better. Having said that, this is the one that I have the hardest time with. I am a pack rat and want to turn everything into an art project and don’t have an organized bone in my body. This one is really challenging, though I always feel better when I finally pick up my messes!
6. Provide good healthy snacks and drinks.
Fresh organic fruits and nuts are good, though I am partial to dark chocolate and tea too.
7. Hang a team mission statement or manifesto on the wall
I haven’t done this yet but I think it is good idea! Instead, I have #8 posted on my wall.
8.Keep a copy of the Desiderata–or any poem or sentiment that speaks to you–on hand
I have posted this special poem on my bulletin board and anytime I start getting upset I look at it and it brings me back to what is important “…for you are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, and whether or not it is clear to you now, the universe is unfolding as it should”.
9. Avoid indoor air pollution
Office space can be polluted by plastic off-gassing, asbestos, radon, mold, pesticides, etc. Be acutely aware of any products you bring into your space that might be a culprit. We use natural cleaning products and pesticides. Sick employees don’t foster a positive workplace!
10. Surround yourself with live plants
Not only does this create a peaceful feeling of being in nature, but the plants also clean the air! Oh, and they are beautiful decorations too, making the space a happier one to be in just from a pure aesthetic level.
10 Things That Only a Half Hocus Pocus/Half Crazy Person Will Do to Create Good Ju Ju in an Office– A.K.A. How to Remove BAD ENERGY from an Office (CAUTION: The list below might not be up your alley, but it has worked for me!)
1.Keep on hand a magic selenite wand
I have one on my desk and I use it to clear negative energy from me or anyone who needs it. I just use it like the security guy at the airport uses the wand to check for metal. I slowly wave or rub it across the person or myself including my head and shoulders until I feel cleansed! Selenite works well to clear people and promotes mental flexibility. Black tourmaline is also said to clear negative energy.
2. Post sign at front of office that says “Take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space”
I love my sign but don’t always have the nerve to put it at the front door, so sometimes it is hidden back by my desk.
3. Burn white sage
When we need to remove negative energy we do what many cultures before us have done and burn dried white sage to get rid of bad energy! It smells so good and the ritual itself just puts everyone in a better mood as we are being proactive!
4. Combine salt and Saint George’s sword
Cut the leaves of the plant Saint George’s sword (also known as snake plant) and put them in a jar of half water and half salt (maybe 7 teaspoons salt). Hide the jars behind doors and under desks. This keeps bad spirits at bay, according to my Brazilian friend Ju Ju, who has the best ju ju! We do this a couple times of year.
5. Play new age music
You will feel like you are in spa and all is well. Monk chanting is good too. Both of these choices are only to be done if you are trying to rid negative vibes not if you are in regular work mode. High frequency music is recommended by some too, though it gives me a headache. Most of the time we have on a variety of top 40, reggae, or R&B, just to keep the environment fun and relaxed.
6. Spray essential oils
Take some drops of essential oils and mix with water in a spray bottle, and then spray away (not near computers). Use basil oil to stimulate the conscious mind to invoke happiness or lavender oil to calm and relieve nervous anxiety. Sometimes if I don’t have a spray bottle, I put it on my wrists and rub!
7. Open windows
Fresh air can make a world of difference; especially in a small office.
8. Plant some rue outside your office or studio
On our office deck, we have some rue. It’s supposed to purify the environment and it clears the mind of negative thoughts and energy. And it smells good! Plant with some rosemary in the same pot for extra potency.
9. Light a Himalayan salt lamp
I love my lamp and in addition to giving off a warm peaceful light, it gives off negative ions, which supposedly are a really positive thing!
10. Wear meditative charms
Like our Tibetan Bell to remind you to think good thoughts! Wear it and do great things!™
If you have tips for making your workspace a happy place, share them in the comments!
A while back, we rounded up a series of inspirational quotes that we gathered along our adventures through artists’ studios. Those 8 Quotes that Keep Makers Motivated are enough to give most creative types a little get-up-and-go, but why stop there? We’ve since visited more studios, interviewed a ton of talented artists, and collected even more quotes that help keep our makers going strong. Here are a few that we hope you’ll enjoy!
Considering that Cassidy Schulz Brush deals with lighting all day, it’s no surprise that she’s a fan of Edison. “There are a few quotes by Thomas Edison that I find inspirational,” she told us when we visited her Brooklyn studio. She wrote this quote out on her chalkboard wall and snapped a shot for us.
We’re proud to feature a wide assortment of Ana Talukder’s Jewelry and our Jewelry Buyer, Sharon, was thrilled to have the opportunity to check out Ana’s studio in Seattle. Ana wrote out this mantra that reminds her, “You always have to be looking to be better, you always have to be working at being better, and you always have to put all your heart in it. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Photographer Barry Rosenthal happens to have a creative space in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the same building that UncommonGoods calls home! Of course, we couldn’t wait to work with him to develop new products, but we also couldn’t wait to check out his studio. Barry explained that this Burroughs quote makes him think about his own creative process: “I don’t know what I will find in the field, and I may not know what I will do with what I find, but somehow fully formed themes are sparked just by the simple act of ‘seeing’ what is out there.”
Dave Marcoullier’s San Francisco woodworking studio is in a building that’s also home to the studios of more than 250 other creators, or “mad scientists,” as Dave likes to say. His quote from architect Daniel H. Burnham reminds him that he got where he is today by thinking big. “It’s good to get riled up and make bold plans,” he said.
Jewelry Designer Jen Pleasants not only imprints “She believed she could, so she did” on some of her designs, she also truly believes in the power of those words. She even has them proudly displayed in her Portola Valley, CA studio.
Our Tabletop Buyer, NéQuana, traveled to rural Pennsylvania to meet JoAnn Stratakos, the maker of everyone’s favorite rainbow unicorn, Elwood. One of JoAnn’s favorite quotes, which was inspired by a quote from Richard Bach, is a reminder to keep the good things that could be in mind, instead of thinking about what might be holding you back.
We were lucky to get a look inside Lahla Smart’s London studio when our contributor, Emily, visited England. Lahla said that this Walt Disney quote reminds her of her early days of a designer. She took a leap, created her Food Guide Towel, and the rest is history.
On the same trip, Emily had a chance to check out Stuart Gardiner’s studio. Stuart shared a quote by Saul Bass, not only because Bass is one of his favorite designers, but also because: “it’s quite a broad and vague statement which is similar to the way I go about my work. I have a very organic unstructured approach to design: the opposite of methodical.”
Matthew Hoffman’s work is full of inspiring quotes and words of wisdom, so it was hard to pick just one statement from our recent interview with the Chicago-based artist. We figured that “Anything is possible” pretty much says it all.
We carry quite a few of Ronda J Smith’s photographic pillows, so we loved seeing her favorite quote printed and plush! “This quote means anything and everything you want it to mean,” she said when we visited her Brooklyn studio. “Your thoughts and mindset are more powerful than you could ever imagine.”
We love getting these looks inside our artists’ creative processes, and can’t wait to share more interviews and Studio Tours with through our Maker Stories. Share your favorite quotes in the comments below to get in on the conversation.
Ed Morales – UncommonGoods Operations Associate
I’m inspired by…
Anyone with a disability. They still get up to do what they have to do like going to work, driving, exercising, living life, etc.
My favorite process in the UncommonGoods warehouse is…
Learning everything I can about the warehouse operation.
When I’m not working, I’m probably…
Enjoying the day off with my family and friends.
I’m stubborn about…
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is…
Becoming a good father and a good man.
An uncommon fact about me…
I was shot in the leg when I was fifteen. Till this day I don’t know who did it. I have the scar to remind me of that day. P.s. I wasn’t a bad kid, if you’re wondering.