Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Inspires You Most?

It used to be that when someone asked me where I got my inspiration from, I would reply the most typical answer that many artists give "I am inspired by textiles and cultures, and the beads tell me what to do with them blah blah blah ... "

In fact, I used to really believe this. The funny thing is this, it really goes so much deeper than that but most people struggle to put it into words. WELL, if you can figure out the true source of your inspiration and understand it, then using it as a tool in your jewelry business is SO much easier ... trust me o n this.

Why This All Came About:
I am a picture hoarder, and I literally have thousands upon thousands of photos both electronic, hand-drawn by myself and torn and collected paper pages from all over the place. These pictures represent jewelry that inspires with materials or techniques and style, locations, photo styles I like, artwork ... you name it!  When I decided to make a bone fide jewelry business for myself, I realized that it was important to have a unique and consistent line and style through out the business. Knowing that I have so many diverse styles and ideas,  I really struggled with how to narrow down exactly WHAT to do, and this indecision really tangled and prolonged the whole business model creation process (not to mention stall my creative juices).

I didn't want to get put in a design "box" set by the parameters of my business, so I just never decided. It is important to have a cohesive vision for your jewelry business and having a product line that can be clearly identified is hugely important! So I decided to go to the root of the root -- the very heart of my inspiration for all things I do. If I based my business model on that, then it would always feel comfortable and I could transform it this way or that and still be within the bounds of the business model and yet maintain consistency. 

How I Discovered My True Inspiration:

I looked at all those photos, my collection of materials, my wardrobe, the jewelry making books and artists I adore and follow and even the music and movies I love and wrote down the top four things that I was drawn to for each one. It was all over the board: salvaged style, Victorian, grungy, antiqued, steam punk, color, beads, folk, faerie, etc, etc, etc. At the end of this exercise (and it took about a month for me) I became really good at identifying what it was in each item that I found attractive and there were certain things on the list that kept reappearing. It was a big eye opener for me as it became apparent that my inspiration was based on classical literature, history and world cultures. For instance, I am drawn to anything and everything that reminds me of the quaint innocence of Jane Austen or the enigmatic, powerful and meaningful resourcefulness of Jean M. Auel's heroine, Ayla.

Knowing this key information about what inspires you is so helpful. It is freeing. I don't feel limited because I know that if I want to create an ethnic piece that comes straight from the pages of Alibaba and the Forty Thieves, or perhaps a wonderfully lacey and pearl cameo from Sense and Sensibility... I can. And you can too.

Ready ... Set ... Discover!
Okay, so now you have some work to do so dig deep and get ready to set your designs loose. Have you already uncovered your root inspiration? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Name Game ...

Are you struggling to create a catchy business name for yourself?

If you’re like me, you may be yearning for the status and notoriety of a larger businesses that you aspire to and that desire may be causing some indecision for you – I know it was for me.

While it is true that there is something to be said about a catchy name, don’t forget that these large companies have spent millions for someone to think up their name and then they publicly market their name so that it is memorable to you every time you see their logo image or hear a jingle tune which is why their name seems so much better than the business name you might be considering.

When making a name for yourself, the game is to stay true to who you are as a designer. There are many exercises you can practice when deciding on your name, but when going through the final brainstorm and decision phases, try to define your business with a name that is easy to pronounce and a name that your company can grow into in the years to come. For example, a few of my farfetched business goals are to have a nationally selling line of jewelry on QVC and to have my jewelry photographed and published in Vogue Magazine.

Now I ask you this, would you want the nation to see your cute, fluffy hometown business name hatched up on your kitchen table then? It is important that you should have fun with this, for it is just like naming a pet. Often a pet will grow into and embody the name you give it and your company can do the same thing. Deciding on a name is probably one of the most difficult things you will do with your business. But the hope is that once it is in motion the fun can really begin.

A good exercise to warm up to the creative naming game is to play the synonym / thesaurus game. It goes like this:
Jot down all the words you adore, all the words you feel embody you – your style – elements of your product, favorite materials to use, things that set you apart, important locations, specific genre etc…friends and family can help you plat. Many great ideas come from other people knowing you better that you know yourself. Now, take that brainstormed word list and hunt down alternatives and synonyms in a thesaurus. You can also alter the way they are spelled. You could try combining a couple favorite words into one made up word (be prepared to defend or explain your name choice to customers until you are a memorable, recognizable brand)

You can even use the same word but in a different language. A word of caution on different languages:  if you plan to market worldwide, do a quick word-meaning search for what your company name and products mean in other languages, as insulting and ridiculous translation issues have killed more than one business in this way.

 When in this brainstorm phase, you should write it down, all of it. Keep every good, bad or silly name idea. And save them – even if they are on coasters or the back of a receipt in crayon. Years later, you can have a chuckle as you revisit the process you took to come up with your business name and enjoy the journey all over again. It may not seem like it now, but you’re having fun! So go get a glass of wine, sit in a comfortable chain with your favorite pen and a good, thick notebook of paper and start making yourself a name word list!

NEXT:  What is your TRUE inspiration?  It May not be what you think ...