Well, I once again have not held up my promise to myself that I would blog regularly. To my defense I have blogged more this year than I did last year so that’s a small success right? I think so. Also, why are we so hard on ourselves? If you’re anything like me you set goals for yourself that you think are attainable, some maybe a bit more challenging but definitely do-able, and then you blink and suddenly you realize the last blog post you made was at the beginning of the summer about your summer goals and maybe you have cross off one of them…and it’s the end of summer. TAKE HEART! I haven’t been doing nothing over here and I’m sure you haven’t been staring at the wall either. Growth and progress take time. If we stop and look at the things we wanted to accomplish and look at the things that we did accomplish, I think we might be surprised that we did more than we expected. Life is full of surprises right and sometimes those surprises can be bullet points that you add on to your do-to list and then immediately cross off (I do that all the time and it feels great). Each new thing I did this summer, while not on my actual list, felt like a new opportunity and experience, a little grass root growing. Here are a few things I did this summer that I didn’t plan to do:
Hello my lovely humans!
Time has been flyyyying this year and I cannot believe it is already midway through June. My friend and I were talking about how summer used to this time that we looked forward to all year because it meant no school, no homework, and allll the vacations. Now as a working artist and small business starter it does not contain the same amount of magic and dazzle because we still have to keep the hustle alive! It’s okay though, it’s a new season and summers have new purposes. Just like making time to make art, we have to make time for vacations and breaks now.
I wanted to give a quick little pep talk to anyone who is struggling with attaining their goals or maybe doesn’t know where to start with even having goals! Here is a list of some things that I think have helped me become better at achieving goals in my life.
- make lists of your ideas and projects you’d like to do: this is huge. Just writing them down outside of your brain is a big deal. Write it somewhere that you will see it every day as a reminder that you have these ideas and they deserve to be thought about and brought to reality
- make small attainable goals that lead to that larger idea or project: say something on your list is to be more creative. Make a list of materials you already have access to then make a alarm in your phone or calendar for time that you set aside to then sit with those materials. Look at some ideas on Pinterest in you can’t get started or just jump right in! There are no wrong answers in creativity. You just have to start. Making each small step towards that larger idea hopefully will make the process more accessible and not as overwhelming
- even if you are afraid, just do something: taking action is another huge thing. Don’t get in your own way of making your goals a reality. It’s okay to be afraid but don’t let fear win and control your dreams. Even if you try whatever it is your goal is and it doesn’t work out, at least you tried! You learned one way to not do something, and most likely you have learned enough to try again or try something else.
A huge thing for me recently was making time for myself to work in my studio more. I will be the first to admit that I get in my own way some times and am so overwhelmed by inspiration that I can’t bring myself to just get something done. I have a hundred ideas in my head but also have a hundred things to do so often those ideas don’t get fostered. They’re seeds that need to be planted. An amazing podcast I listen to called “Raise Your Hand, Say Yes” by Tiffany Han talks about this all the time. What good are your ideas if they are just sitting in your brain? What good are seeds that are sitting in a bag in the garage? As creatives we have a responsibility to our community to plant those seeds because no one else will. I am so happy to say that I have been working hard in my studio and finally started getting my ideas out and will be making a post about those pieces very soon so stay tuned.
Here is my summer 2018 goal list so far! I would love to see any of your goals for the summer!
The standard understanding of this phrase is along the lines of doing whatever the current thing is or where the current takes you, not being oppositional or confrontational, going with whatever comes your way and potentially even traveling the path of least resistance. While I believe there is a time and season for this way of thinking, going with the Flo has taken on a different meaning for me.
Flo or Florence, the 1978 VW transporter, came to me from a couple down in South Carolina. Before them, a girl had her down in Florida and before her, Flo sat in a yard for many years. The journey she alone has taken is something I am so excited to be a part of. The couple I purchased her from used her often for camping trips and she was dearly but needed to be sold to help pay for their downpayment on their construction of their dream home. Here is Dana and her husband Houston ( aren’t they adorable!?).
The bus used to be named Caroline but when I bought her I changed her name to Florence, Flo for short. I wanted a classic name and it was also the name of my great grandmother who was a teacher. I knew that I would use the bus to teach others so it just seemed like the perfect name. She is the physical evidence of so many of my dreams coming true. We used to have a VW bus named Monro but tragically lost him to a fire. Ever since we lost him I wanted another bus but it wasn’t the right time for our family. The theme of my senior thesis in college was called Art Across Borders and was the story of how I traveled to 4 countries in 4 years and did various kinds of creative work and grew a passion for creative outlets for people especially kids. When I decided to make that title the name of my passion project after graduation, I knew that it had to become a mobile project, and knew that I wanted my own VW bus. Adapting the title of my thesis to a business was easy. Not only was art going to cross borders within people’s hearts and minds but I wanted to take a creative outlet across borders within my community, the state, and hopefully the country! When my dreaming turned to planning and my plans became a reality with Flo coming into my life, the phrase “go with the flow” now became “go with the Flo.” This for me now means go with your heart, your gut, your passion, even if that’s against the current. Flo has become a symbol in my life of what rebirth, adventure, dreaming big and working hard looks like. This is why I now have her tattooed on my arm and why I am having “go with the Flo” printed on everything. To remind myself and others that we can do hard things! Peace and love my dear friends and remember to “go with the Flo.”
Yesterday was my 25th birthday! It was a rainy day in New Jersey which made it the perfect reflecting weather. The past 5 years of birthdays have been really incredible and I am so blessed and thankful for all of the adventures each year brings. On my 21st birthday I was called by Art Feeds in Joplin Missouri and was informed that I had been accepted into their internship program for the summer (life changing internship btw). On my 22nd birthday I graduated college with a degree in Fine Art (missing that place and those people!). On my 23rd birthday, Flo was delivered to me from a family in South Carolina and my vision for Art Across Borders started to take shape. On my 24th birthday, Flo was road worthy enough to make a steep trek up to the camp site I rented for my birthday party and we celebrated with food, a fire, amazing cake, and so so much laughter. This year, I had a lovely brunch with my best friend, spent the afternoon looking at art and shopping, resting, dreaming, and had a wonderful dinner prepared by my love.
It’s hard to believe I’ve lived a quarter of a century. So many amazing people are in my life that have helped shape me into who I am today. I’ve traveled far, eaten well, laughed hard, cried, fallen, gotten back up, tried, failed, succeeded, and loved. Three years ago, having graduated college, I embarked on the most daunting adventure yet. Living life post grad. After having every year laid out for you by the measure of what year you were in school, life after 16 consecutive years of schooling is truly uncharted territory. I don’t miss writing paper but I do miss the studio with fellow art majors. I don’t miss finals but I miss the wee hours of the night finishing a project before it was due. Rebuilding a community has been one of the hardest challenges living post grad, but slowly and surely I am meeting more of my tribe in my local community. It’s these introductions, connections, and conversations that truly give me hope that I am where I am supposed to be right now in life. One of the biggest lessons I have learned over these past few years is that life is full of surprises and you have to make the most of every situation. I love working hard and hustling to make my dreams a reality, but I am constantly surprised by situations. Some have been incredibly awful, but even in those times there have been silver linings. Some have been incredible beyond anything I could have planned or dreamed. I have been so blessed with an incredibly supportive family that lets me be their “artist in residence” in our home and am so thankful for technology that helps me keep in touch with all of my people across the globe. Life truly is what you make it and it has taken a village to help me make this beautiful life of mine. Thank you dear friends and family. Cheers to another spin around the sun.
Hey friends! Super excited to start up the blog again and be more consistent with my postings. I have always loved writing but let life and other projects get in the way so I am here to put an end to that! I’m not going to say how often they will be posted but am going to just surprise you (and myself) and am just shooting for “more regularly.” If there is a pattern that shows itself once I publish a few times then perhaps I will make that the regular timing. Anyway, I wanted to share a bit about this word, ambition.
The last time I posted was the update of what we did in 2017. Flo has been dormant since December but Art Across Borders certainly hasn’t been! I have embraced the word “ambitious” that people have often said to me about my work and want to encourage others to do the same. First, a bit of info about what’s next for Flo. It was so incredible to meet a few of the guys from the Filthy Buggers VW group who helped Flo’s engine situation out back in December. Since then I have continued growing my workshop series and have been planning what is next for Flo. The first thing on the list is to have her accelerator chord and mechanics replaced (the gas pedal is sticking down). I have the parts and am just scheduling when I can get someone to come fix her up. I am starting to go through all the materials and am trying to figure out the best way to make storage better for her for this next season. If anyone has any ideas let me know!
Now, onto being ambitious. This word was consistently mentioned to me about my mural in the entrance of Man Skirt Brewing in Hackettstown, NJ. I painted this mural last summer and it consists of about 180 painted frames, each with a painting inside reflecting the themes of the brewery. It was a very tedious mural that I honestly had no idea was going to take me as long as it did, but it served a purpose in my life at that time. I would go and paint for a few hours at a time and it became a sacred time for me to focus and work on a project that was going to bring joy to so many people. It became a form of therapy for me during a time that was filled with uncertainty and frustration. I feel as though this word is used primarily about artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs and can either be a compliment or a backhanded compliment. I don’t really think people mean to be discouraging or give backhanded compliments but are often so overwhelmed by whatever it is you’re doing/making that it comes out as such. It’s funny, I talk about this a lot with a lot of my artist friends, specifically my best friend who is a ceramicist. If you have ambition in your bones, heart, and soul, there’s no telling you otherwise. You just have to do the thing. If you have a vision or dream, it’s part of your purpose to make that a reality.
Now I know some of you might be saying, “What if I want to be ambitious but I don’t have the creativity/time/courage to make it happen?” I say, just try. Ambition is not something that has a universal scale, it is a personal one. I didn’t view my massive mural design as ambitious really because it was just what had to be done in my mind. Going to the gym consistently? That’s ambitious to me. Maybe that’s something you have no problem doing but art making seems like a mountain of a task. We are all different and have different aspirations. My advice to you, start small but be consistent in your steps forward, upward, towards those bigger goals. Don’t be intimidated when people comment on whatever it is you are doing as ambitious. Take it as a compliment and be encouraged. Sometimes letting outside voices take root in your mind will throw off your balance, stay focused, do your thing. I just was listening to an amazing podcast by Tiffany Han (Raise Your Hand Say Yes) and her guest Elise Cripe mentioned that sometimes if you are having anxiety about the tasks at hand, it is important to stop and pin point what you know are truths. They can be as simple as “I am sitting in the living room.” Making a list of the things you know to be true is helpful to ground your heart. Know that you are able, unique, beautiful, and have your own seeds of ambitious dreams that are waiting to be planted.
This year has been quite an adventure! It has been filled with peaks and valleys that make up a landscape that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It was Flo’s first whole year in NJ and her first East Coast winter. It was the year of many firsts which I must say is one of the most satisfying feelings. Taking a risk or leap of faith to pursue your passion is so scary and very difficult at times but something I’ve learned within this past year is that life truly begins outside of your comfort zone. To make change happen, you must keep moving. Not necessarily moving forward, but just moving. Sometimes the steps feel backwards or sideways, but in that movement there is a lesson or experience that you would have never been able to plan for that just might change your life. To see more pictures from this list, follow Art Across Borders on Instagram! Here is the list of Flo’s 2017 journey and a few lessons we learned along the way. I cannot thank everyone enough for their support, love, and encouragement this past year!
- brought Flo out of hibernation from my dad’s garage from the winter
- designed and launched our logo and website
- brought art to the homes of some students that I mentor
- celebrated 1 year of owning Flo and my 24th birthday
- had weekly art sessions in the parking lot of a local camp during the summer
- made the VW emblem out of paint brushes
- painted several murals
- didn’t spend money on decals for Flo but painted them on instead
- painted the inside of Flo lavender
- organized the art supplies
- supplied a creative outlet for a fundraiser
- became the neighborhood art club for several kiddos
- started going to outside events like Blairstown 4th of July, Vets Summer Fest, Black Potato Music Festival, and Easton Out Loud
- hosted our first birthday party!
- painted A TON of faces
- successfully hosted Craft and Crafts nights at Man Skirt Brewing and Lone Eagle Brewery
- raised money for what we thought would be a very expensive engine fix
- became friends with the incredible women that run The Loving Piece shop in Easton, PA and also Artstitution in Hackettstown, NJ
- met the incredible members of the Filthy Buggers crew who fixed our engine problem for a fraction of the original projected cost
- already started making plans for exciting new events and partnerships for 2018
Well it has been way over a year since my last post on this blog but that doesn’t mean there has been a lack of movement and activity over here! It’s incredible how time flies and how much has been happening since Flo became a Jersey girl. Here is the running list of exciting new accomplishments that have happened since last May:
- new tires
- organized supplies in new but temporary shelving units
- painted the interior lavender
- CELEBRATED 1 YEAR OF OWNING FLO
- made emblem out of paint brushes for the front of Flo
- designed the logo
- launched the website (artacrossborders.com)
- installed new windshield wiper motor
- designed and made a removable awning (working on 2.0 design)
- attended several community events such as Vets Summer Fest, Blairstown Fourth Festival, Easton Out Loud, The Black Potatoe Music Festival
- hosted Craft and Crafts nights at Man Skirt Brewery
- hired out for birthday parties
Every event we go to has been a blast and we have met some incredible people. Every time I take Flo somewhere there is a handful of people that will come up to us and tell their story or experience with a VW bus. We’ve heard some wonderful stories and love all the support and enthusiasm people have for what we are doing.
One of the biggest updates now is one that isn’t so joyful. Flo had a very eventful summer and ran like a champ most of the time but within the past month or so was having a harder and harder time running confidently. Into the shop she went and turns out she’s only running on three of her four cylinders. There’s a lack of compression in the one and other mechanical jargon that I have written down that I need a diagram to fully understand. The moral of the story is that the parts needed to replace the broken and worn down ones would cost just as much as buying a whole new rebuilt motor. I have (:read Big Joe the VW guru) priced out one through a website that I often get parts from and have been given a few more resources to contact but the price tag on this sucker will range from $1500-$2500 including getting it installed which might be covered in that range. I have been saving and picking up extra commissions, actually am starting a new job, but if I want to still be at fall festivals or be available for parties and events I am going to need some help.
This is where you can come in. My community of people is spread out over this country and they have always supported even my wildest dreams and travels. You have helped send me all over the globe and have even helped make Art Across Borders possible and I cannot thank you enough. This time I have come up with some incentives and gifts for you all because gift giving is one of my love languages and while I find it amazing that Kickstarters work for some people, I think I am going to hold off on doing an official one and create my own endeavor. Here is the list of gifts corresponding with the levels of giving I intend to send to each donor.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for your donation and gift or if you have any questions. I will be posting more information about what some of the prints and paintings look like on the Instagram page so be sure to follow @artacrossborders. I don’t have a time limit on this fundraiser but would like to get the parts as soon as possible to get back out into the community and doing events before it gets too cold. As I mentioned before the range that this will cost is between $1,500-$2,500. Once I have found and decided on the actual motor I am going to get I will update yuo all on that information. Any bit will help whether that’s in monetary support or by prayer or sharing this post with your community.
Thank you so much for following our journey and supporting Flo and I as we cross borders and help others cross the borders within themselves through the art making adventure.
So sorry for the extended amount of silence and lack of updates with the project! Not only is Flo in the shop but now my car is in the shop getting an extensive amount of work done because when it rains it pours with car troubles it seems! The journey with Flo the VW has just begun and man it has already been a wild ride. She is still in the shop but that is not reflection of the amount of work she needs. The shop owner was gracious enough to let us have her delivered to his lot and sit there until he could get a chance to look at what’s going on. I stopped by the other day and he said that this week he’s planning on looking at her.
I’ve realized that gratitude is one of the themes of this new journey. I am already overwhelmed by the amount of generosity people have shown me and really cannot thank everyone enough for their support in both monetary support and well wishes. The previous owner of Flo has shown an incredible amount of generosity from the start and I truly believe she is a soul sister of mine. She wrote me a beautiful letter that she sent with the guy who picked up Flo and brought her up to NJ and I just want to share part of it. She wrote, “There are so many special memories from my life engrained in the walls of this bus and I know all you are going to do is just breathe more life into it. With that being said, I wanted to pass my tradition on to you. I have always made a halo of flowers to hang around the rearview mirrors of my buses. For me it is a reminder to keep peace in my life, look for the natural beauty in situations and to keep serene even when barreling towards whatever unnerving event I was heading towards. It helped me keep my headspace clear in many situations and hopefully it will lend peace to you! I made you a halo and put it in place for you! Always look ahead with a curious heart and an open mind, and NEVER look back, because that’s not where you are headed.” These words meant so much to me when i read them two weeks ago but now as the journey is continuing, I’m even more thankful for them. I am working on a new piece that is inspired by this gesture and I will be sharing that sometime next week.
In the mean time here is how you can support Art Across Borders. Due to my current car situation and the need to put money into my daily driver, I have decided to have 100% of the profits from these two prints go towards Flo’s impending maintenance costs. Originally the sales were going to be split between the savings for Art Across Borders and Flo’s upkeep since I had savings set aside for mechanical bills to get her running but now have to use some of that for my car. I am waiting to hear what the final cost is for the work that needs to be done to get her on the road but anything will help. These two are both 5z7 in size and can be found in the Etsy shop in the links below.
Black Linoleum print 5×7:
I have found joy in this journey already. I struggle with having patience but I am at peace with the current situation and know that my timing is never really accurate or what’s best anyway so I have to let go of that and truly embrace “Go with the Flo.” Sometimes the journey is tough and seemingly filled with obstacles, but I am excited to find joy even in the hard times. I am watching dear friends of mine go through incredibly heart wrenching situations and am so encouraged by their ability to find joy even in their darkest of nights. I will be better at posting updates and ways you can be involved and again thank everyone for their support and excitement!
It is with great excitement and joy that I introduce the newest member of the family, Florence aka “Flo” the 1977 VW Transporter. It has been a long term dream of mine to own my own bus and someday have a mobile art studio so I am ecstatic that my dream is becoming a reality. My family used to own a VW bus named Monro (I will share his story soon) and ever since we tragically lost him in a fire we have always dreamed of someday owning another. When I interned for the Art Feeds in Joplin, Missouri (artfeeds.org) two summers ago I had the privilege of serving along side Van Gogh (https://vimeo.com/79296270) and loved how he brought Joplin and the surrounding communities together through art. Van Gogh is a very important team member in the Art Feeds family and I have a deep admiration for everything that AF does for the communities that they serve. I am honored to call them family and am looking forward to putting to practice all the things I learned through interning and working for them.
After I interned for Art Feeds life went on, I graduated college, moved home, started construction on our house, and my family bought a tow behind camper so owning a VW bus didn’t seem to be a possibility. A few weeks ago however the inspiration lightbulb turned on, well, it more like went off like fireworks, when my stepdad was sent a listing for a VW bus on craigslist. I pleaded with him to buy the bus, which turned into let me help pay for the bus, which turned into wait…I want to buy the bus. That particular one sold but that night I started scribbling down my ideas and dreams for a VW bus that was a mobile art studio that served a purpose. Weeks of searching for the right bus at the right cost was exhausting but I knew that there was a bus out there for me. Through an extreme and unimaginable amount of generosity from friends and family combined with my savings I had a decent budget to work with. The morning of the day that I was going to see a bus that I was 99% positive I was going to buy, my stepdad sent me a text telling me that he received a notification from a bus group he is a part of on FB stating that one of the members put their bus up for sale. He sent me a picture and immediately I loved it because her color is my all time favorite color (if I had to pick just one). He spoke with the current owner over the phone for me while I was at work and found out that she and I were pretty much soul sisters (it’s insane how much Dana and I have in common, I will share more details of that soon) and this bus was meant to be mine. I spoke with her later on and solidified the deal and after the longest most anxious week and a half of my life (okay maybe not life but I am so excited) Flo is here in Jersey and she is just about mine (just have to finish some paperwork, register her, all that real owning a car stuff)! She needs a tune up and a few things worked on to make her road ready again but that shouldn’t take too long.
Over a year ago when I was putting together my senior exhibition I decided to title the show “Art Across Borders” because it was a visual representation of the development of my passion for creative outlets for kids. After the show was over I hoped to sell some of the work and donate a portion of the funds to the different art programs that I represented in the exhibition but plans have changed a bit and expanded! With Flo’s help I hope to take Art Across Borders beyond my Etsy shop and occasional craft shows. I will be sharing Flo’s journey and involvement in the community and future plans as they become more clear here on this blog. Her purpose is multifaceted but ultimately I want her to be a resource to the kids in my local community as a space where their creativity has no boundaries, no borders, and they are free to let their imagination run wild. I plan to create a business with her that also offers different art parties brought right to people’s homes, parks, etc. and intend to donate a portion of the income to the art programs that I am in contact with both state side and overseas. The Etsy shop will be updated today and this week with exciting new pieces that Flo has inspired and that mark the new adventure that Art Across Borders is starting. Thank you so much to everyone who has already supported me in this incredibly wonderful new journey and I can’t wait to share with you all the ways you can be involved with this new chapter!
“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” -Victor Hugo