I'm kick starting a brand new interview series off on Jennypurr today. Let me introduce you to Building A Life You Love, which is all about the talented women from around the web who have inspired me with how they have authentically pursued creative endeavours so that they can build a lifestyle and a career that feeds their soul as much as it pays the bills. I'm always talking about following your dreams, facing your fears, and leaping in with both feet over here on Jennypurr but I wanted to be able to open up the floor to some super talented creatives to share their story with you of how they built lives for themselves that they really, really, love.
First up we have Meredith C. Bullock, someone I've gushed about in the past in my Seven Awesome Blogs I've Stumbled Across Recently post from last year. I'm a huge fan of her blog and the beautiful work she creates, and I'm super excited for her to share more of her story with you all today.
Meredith, tell us a little more about your story so far?
I always loved art and the process of creating especially when I was little, but I didn't grow up around artist or in a big city where there were museums or a positive influence on being an "artist", so I never knew what a career as an artist looked like. I had a few aunts that did hair, so I thought that could be something I'd be good at. I went cosmetology school while I was a teenager and for 13 years I was a full-time hairstylist. Throughout those years I would continue to draw and paint, but always for fun. After about 10 years of doing hair, I felt burnt-out and a strong pull to focus on my art.
That year I briefly attended a semester at a community college for art education (thinking I might like to be an art professor, but soon realized I didn't), moved to a new city by myself and set out to create more art and build a new career. It took me over a year to get settled and focused, but I finally started to paint and exhibit my art. It was such a monumental time in my life, a time where everything felt right. I also indirectly met my husband through my first art exhibit that summer.
Everything felt right, but I couldn't figure out how to make money as an artist. I had an Etsy shop with my prints for sale, but they never sold (expect for my mom's purchases – thanks mom!) so I continued doing hair and creating art on the side. That summer I started a business where I traveled to weddings and did hair on-site. This business was greatly successful and helped me supplement my income.
That fall I got engaged and used some calligraphy skills from my teenage years to design my own wedding invitations. I posted my calligraphy work on my Etsy and immediately got some interest and custom order requests. I followed this demand and quickly found myself making a third stream of income which made it possible to quit my day job. Almost a year later, I did exactly that and focused on calligraphy and wedding invite design. I also continued to do hair on-site for weddings for a few summers to supplement my Etsy/calligraphy income.
Months after quitting my day job I discovered that wedding invitation design was not where my heart was. I felt called to help other creatives achieve their dreams and to help them create a brand and business that thrived. I started to offer more logo and brand focused packages and overlapped my wedding projects with my creative projects.
These days I work with creatives on business design & development and most recently started to paint again. I've realized that being an artist, exhibiting my art, selling my art, and creating paintings full-time is what I'm truly meant to do.
We’d love to know more about your work and what drives you as a creative?
My creative output is constantly evolving. Today, I love the process, results and art of painting. Working with my hands, mixing paints and using brushes and water to move the materials around is so therapeutic for me. The end results are also enjoyable, seeing my paintings light up a room and give depth and expression to a room is very rewarding.
For you, what does building a life you love look like?
I imagine my ideal day–what I'm doing, who I'm with, what surrounds me, how I want feel, what I want to accomplish–and I jot it down. Then I create a plan to accomplish that ideal day. Every day is a step closer to that life I love. I also do my best to simply enjoy right now–to be in the moment and grateful for every breath I have, every glimpse of beauty I soak in and every bit of love I can give.
What have been the biggest struggles you’ve faced while carving out a life you love, and how have you overcome them?
When I first became a full-time artist, I found it hard to get into a routine and have boundaries. I didn't have a set schedule or a manager saying telling me what to do. I had to figure it out on my own. These days, I have my routine down, now it's making sure every project I take on is worth my time, that it fulfills me, brings me closer to my purpose and is something I'm truly proud of.
You run a fantastic retreat for female creatives, do you have any advice for those of us looking to find a creative community where we can support each other to thrive and grow?
Thank you, having the retreat is truly one of the most beautiful and rewarding things. When we first moved to Nashville over a year ago, I knew that connecting with other like-minded lady creatives was important to me. Being self-employed and an artist can be lonely, which I typically marvel in, but I didn't have many friends and wanted more meaning relationships and interactions. I craved the bond and unconditional support that woman have for each other and wanted to create a community around that.
Back in October I hosted an all ladies gathering at my home to break bread, share stories, laugh, meet new friends and have fun. Most of the woman that attended were past students of mine or Instagram friends–so it was great to get to know everyone a little more or to meet people for the first time. Since then I've hosted lady gatherings every month. In November I hosted a retreat where 12 woman went into the woods of southern Tennessee and shared their stories, creativity, laughter, fears, struggles and time together. It was so magical and inspiring, I recommend a retreat to anyone looking to connect and grow deeper with yourself and with others.
If you're interested in being a part of a community, I'd encourage you to reach out to others and say hello. Grab coffee with someone who inspires you. Attend an event, party or a class and apply yourself. The more intentional and honest you are about building relationships, the more connections you'll have. Of course you could always start a group online, but in-person interaction are always best. Push yourself to get out of the house and have real face-time with others.
Do you have any words of wisdom for any fellow creatives who want to take a leap into doing more of what they love?
The most important things I've discovered in my life, that have helped me and continue to help me achieve my dreams are these:
1. Dream big - imagine the life you want and go after it
2. Set goals - write out everything you need to do in order to accomplish your dreams and give them a deadline
3. Believe in yourself - know that anything is possible as long as you believe in it
I found Meredith's responses so interesting and insightful and I hope you guys did too - you can check out her blog and her work over on Meredith C. Bullock and keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram as well.
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