gift guide

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

Hi there. How are you? 

The creative life can be hard to navigate. Sometimes you need a little guidance or a little encouragement to keep you going. In the past few years, I've noticed a deluge of books on the subject. Working at the public library, I've had a chance to read many books about the creative life, and I thought I'd share my favorites with you. 

 Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

These titles have all provided me with practical guidance on my own creative journey. (Note the word PRACTICAL.) None of these books offer pie in the sky, get famous fast solutions. Instead, think of them as creative pep-talks, each with actionable steps you can take to live your best creative life. They're NOT just for visual artists, but for anyone who has a creative pursuit.

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of the smash hit "Eat, Pray, Love," this is my absolute favorite book on the list. Though Gilbert discusses her own creative process as a writer, the sage wisdom she doles out is applicable to anyone with a creative pursuit. She encourages creatives to NOT quit their day jobs. When your creative pursuit becomes a job, you've got more pressure to produce and it often takes some of the joy out of it. She also puts to rest the myth of the suffering artist. Making good art doesn't have to be torture!

2. Steal LIke an Artist by Austin Kleon

This is a very quick read filled with practical advice in a graphic style. Kleon purports that "Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination."

 One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

3. your inner Critic is A Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

After reading Danielle's blog "The Jealous Curator"  for years and religiously listening to her podcast "Art for Your Ear", I was quick to purchase this book. In her humorous, light-hearted way, Danielle lays out her 10 truths about what it means to be a creative person.  Cheeky illustrations by Martha Rich throughout the book bring even more levity to the discussion. Using anecdotes from successful artists and from her own life, Danielle discusses creative roadblocks, like "Imposter Syndrome," when you feel like a fraud, insecure about your art and creation process. (Boy, can I relate?) She also offers simple, practical exercises to help you get over those roadblocks and get down to the business of making good work. 

 One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

4. show your work by Austin Kleon

In this follow up to Steal Like an Artist, Kleon explains how to "Share Like an Artist."  In his signature style, combining handwritten pages, illustration, and text, he lays out 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.  This is another quick read with actionable advice to help you get your work out there. 

5. Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

More than any of the other books on the list, Growing Gills provides a step-by-step process to help you find your creative focus.  Complete with a downloadable workbook, this book is like your own private workshop, helping you build focus to finish your creative work. 

I've read and re-read these books. 

They're all that good! I tend to grab them off my shelf when I'm in an artistic slump or feeling like a fraud again. These little creative pep talks sure do help. 

* As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase the books I've listed through these links. It's a small way for you to support the work I do. (Thank you!)

Anything I should add to the list?

Do tell! Leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for inspirational reading.

Ciao! Jen

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Hi there. How are you? 

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is gift wrapping. I spend way too much time on it and I like to come up with new ways to wrap things every year.

 Tea towels make great gift wrap. Here I've wrapped up jars of local honey and apple butter. 

Tea towels make great gift wrap. Here I've wrapped up jars of local honey and apple butter. 

Tea Towel as Gift Wrap

Since I started making tea towels a couple years back, I enjoy using them as wrapping "paper". Here I wrapped up a jar of local honey and a local apple butter and topped it off with one of my dala hoop ornaments.

Wouldn't this make a cute teacher or hostess gift?

Click HERE to see how I wrapped this.

 My fabric ornaments have sold well this year. 

My fabric ornaments have sold well this year. 

Hoops are Hot for 2017

I Introduced these small fabric hoop ornaments in 2016 and did not sell a single one. This year, they've been super popular! The ebb and flow of retail is weird.

 Wine towels are new in 2017. Click through to purchase. 

Wine towels are new in 2017. Click through to purchase. 

New Wine Towels

As a lover of wine, I don't know why it took me so long to make a wine tea towel. They're finally here and I love them! (Click HERE to see the whole towel.) 

 Wrap a bottle of wine in this wine tea towel and you've got an instant holiday hostess gift!

Wrap a bottle of wine in this wine tea towel and you've got an instant holiday hostess gift!

A Stylish Holiday Gift

My favorite way to gift a tea towel is with a bottle of wine. Wrap it up and a bow and bam, you've got a fab holiday hostess gift.  (Click HERE to see the steps I followed to wrap this.)

One last thing: 

All orders placed by December 19th will ship with a free mystery print.

It's a little gift from me to you!

December 19th is also the last day I will be shipping for the holidays.

My apologies to my international crew....Any international orders placed now won't make it in time for Christmas.

Happy Holidays Friends! Ciao.

A Last Minute Gift & Wrapping Paper in One!

Hi there. How are you?

How is it December 15th already? This month is flying by and we'll soon be on our way up north to celebrate the holidays with family.

If you're like me and you still need to do some holiday gift buying, I've got a quick and affordable idea for you. Read on.....

 Original feather pattern screen printed on 100% cotton tea towel.

Original feather pattern screen printed on 100% cotton tea towel.

 Screen printed tea towel featuring a hand-drawn beer pattern.

Screen printed tea towel featuring a hand-drawn beer pattern.

Enter the Tea Towel

I've collaborated with my friends at Merchop to create screen printed tea towels featuring two of my favorite hand drawn patterns.

These 100% cotton towels were hand printed with water based inks and can be machine washed. They make a stylish and affordable gift (or gift wrapping) for your favorite cook, beer, or bird lover.

  A tea towel is a perfect size to wrap up a bottle of wine, spirits or big beer.

 A tea towel is a perfect size to wrap up a bottle of wine, spirits or big beer.

I have quite a collection (hoard) of tea towels. I use them all the time, and not just in the kitchen. I lay one down on the coffee table when we have weekend hors d'oeuvres in the living room. I use them as hand towels in the guest bath. I've got them on top of night stands and dressers to add color to a space while hiding little imperfections.

I've even been known to use tea towels as "wrapping paper." Sized at 17" x 30" my tea towels are particularly well suited to wrapping bottles. Pick up a bottle of wine, beer, or spirits, wrap the towel around it, and add a bow. Voila! Instant awesome gift!

There's Still Time to Shop!

If you purchase anytime between now and Thursday, December 17th, I'll automatically upgrade to priority 1-3 day shipping! In fact, December 17th is the last day I will be shipping until after the holidays. So shop now, and shop often!

Shop Locally Too!

If you live near Carbondale, you can also purchase my tea towels locally.  They are in stock at 6Pence Gifts, the adorable gift store inside Cristaudo's Bakery, in downtown Carbondale. If you've never been there, it's so worth a trip. The store is stocked with a mix of vintage finds, locally made goods, humorous gifts and great cards. And while you're there, have an egg between sandwich and a Russian tea cake. Yum!

Well, that's all for now. Thank you friends for supporting me much during this crazy busy holiday retail season.

Ciao and Happy Holidays!