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THE CREATIVES; SERIES NO.2

Hi, friends! I’ve got The Creatives, Series No. 2 for you and boy, is it a good one (although, I’m 100% sure I will say that about every one). Oh, and if you missed June’s guest features, make sure to check out Series No. 1.

Before we start, I just wanted to say how cool it is that each and every one of the you brings something completely different to the table. It doesn’t even matter if two of you are from the same field. For example, the word photographer, graphic designer, hand-letterer, etc., may be a creative title in which many of you share, but it represents something different for each one of you. The personal approach and passion you put into your work is what makes the title your own.

The creative community is constantly growing and I think it is important to take the time to realize the varying characteristics in the people that make it up. We are all wired a different way, and what we create is a direct reflection of that. Having the transparency to be able to share our personal experiences, advice, and work is one of the things I respect and love about this community. We all get to discover, learn and grow from one another, and that really is the foundation of this series. So, thank you x infinity to everyone participating, reading and supporting this. YOU ALL ARE THE BEST.

Okay, on to the good part. Aka: getting to know these three talented, down-to-earth ladies..

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To start, say hello to Jenn Gietzen. She is the founder of Write On! Design, a full-service design studio that offers services such as logo design, hand-lettering design, branding and website design. Yes, she does it all, and yes, it is all so amazing. Also, she recently added Digital Downloads to her website and you should definitely check them out, here! Having been following Jenn for awhile now, I can say she is an incredibly talented and multi-faceted creative, she loves Jesus, she makes hand-lettering look easy (I assure you, NO such thing), and she keeps it real. Seriously, go check her out on Instagram and you’ll know what I mean. To be honest, I just want to be her real-life friend and I’m sure you’ll feel the same after you get to know her a little more as well!

JennPhotography Credit: Kathryn Mccrary

WHAT MADE YOU ASPIRE TO BE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER/HAND-LETTERER?

I’ve been playing with calligraphy since middle school and it’s always fascinated me. The letters, the curve and strokes of them, the way the ink stays in the nib – some sort of science my brain may never be able to comprehend. (I never did do well in science class. whoops!) and my college degree is in graphic design, so it just seemed natural to combine the two! Who knew!?

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD?

My style of lettering is pretty similar to my actual handwriting. I think that makes it a little more distinct than a more traditional copperplate, which is so beautiful! My hand can’t quite write like that, so it fascinates me for those who can. I strive to be as transparent as possible. Sometimes it can get me in to trouble, but my sassiness, attitude and love for others tends to come out. It’s not just about the design or lettering for me. It’s also about using my work and what I’m doing to love others. (I’m a little obsessed with hugs, if that hasn’t ever come out in my work until now 😉

WHAT/WHERE IS YOUR GO-TO PLACE FOR INSPIRATION?
(OTHER THAN PINTEREST)

Instagram! It’s so easy to get lost in a weaving web of person after person and the lives they lead. Sounds stalkerish, but come on, we all do it. 😉 Also, my friends. I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by some of the most talented people on the planet and I want to soak up every ounce of energy and creativity they give off.

ANY ADVICE FOR OTHERS WANTING TO GET INTO GRAPHIC DESIGN/HAND-LETTERING?

I believe I lettered something once that said, “how to be successful: focus on your own shit”. That statement could not be more true. Whether you want to get into graphic design, hand lettering, interior design, writing, fashion design… whatever it is, focus. on. your own. shit. Yes you need inspiration, yes you can gather it from those around you, but do your best to not focus on those around you, their work, their projects, their successes and even their failures. The other statement, “comparison is the thief of joy”. What a cliche, and maybe the truest statement I’ve learned in this process of started a business.

© Kathryn McCrary Photography Atlanta Product Photographer Jenn Gietzen Write On Design-19Photography Credit: Kathryn Mccrary

buffy dekmar_2Photography Credit: Buffy Dekmar

To learn more about Jenn and/or to see more of her work, check out her website, Instagram, and Facebook!

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Next, say hello to one of my favorite photographers, Anna Howard, from Anna Howard Studios. I was one lucky gal to have been able to collaborate and get to know this talented beauty this past year. Every photo Anna takes has you wanting to see more — whether it’s one of her breath-taking California adventures, her styled shoots, or her latest wedding and/or engagement session (ps: she does travel for those who are looking ;). Her personal style and perspective is seriously too good. Every time she posts a new capture on Instagram, I wish liking a photo multiple times was a thing along with instant teleportation. However, she does turn some of her photographs into prints. This way you can purchase them, place  them in your home, and look at them all the time. I have the California Hwy 1 print in my office and I already want to order another one. Check out the AHS Print Shop and get to know a little more about my sweet, friend!

Anna

WHAT MADE YOU ASPIRE TO BE A PHOTOGRAPHER?

I honestly don’t know what took me so long to begin photographing professionally. I danced around the hobby for almost 6 years. One day I was assigned to take photos for a start-up company through a previous job position and the light bulb appeared–shinning brightly. This is what I want to do. All the time, I thought. And so a little over a year ago, I took the plunge and began my full-time photography career under the name, Anna Howard Studios.

Initially, photography was something that stemmed from wanting to capture my travels and favorite daily moments. I’ve always sort of viewed life through a lens– composing, sorting colors, and appreciating gorgeous lighting. Now, it’s all about capturing those things through a professional scope and handing back personal moments, favorite things, passionate designs, crafts and projects to those that love and appreciate them. To me, nothing is more rewarding than making valued life moments permanent and tangible.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD?

I aim to take the time and understand each clients’ wishes for the outcome of their photographs. My style and perspective remain, but I am aware that each client is slightly different. Thus, everyone values certain shots more than others–  so I try and take that into consideration when photographing weddings, engagements and designs. Typically this approach makes their full gallery a bit more personalized and enables me to continue to mold into a better photographer.

WHAT/WHERE IS YOUR GO-TO PLACE FOR INSPIRATION?
(OTHER THAN PINTEREST)

I collect mounds of coffee table books. It is slightly hoard-ish. Ha! Even if the subject and style have little to do with my next shoot, I study them for inspiration, ideas and lighting situations. I also find designers very inspiring– such as your lady here, Ms. Jennifer Sweet Design.

ANY ADVICE FOR OTHERS WANTING TO GET INTO PHOTOGRAPHY?

Do it. Don’t hesitate and think that your work “isn’t there yet.” Of course it’s not. You will continuously grow and transform. You will most likely criticize your own work …day in and day out… for years to come. However, your growth will be at a much slower pace unless you free yourself of inhibitions and begin. Do remain humble to your experience level. Make sacrifices (like offering freebie sessions) and soak in as much knowledge as you can before opening your business. It will pay off.

5K5A07635K5A0797To learn more about Anna and/or to see more of her work, check out her website, Instagram, and Facebook!

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For our third creative, we have the lovely Ashley Henderson. She is the maker, owner and founder or Zella Woods Designs. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to get to know Ashley a little more throughout this past month. Along with being a designer, she is also a wife, mother and a disciple and she pours her heart and soul into all four. Her jewelry line is timeless. Each piece is shaped, polished, buffed and sealed and all done by hand. She also sells select items that are handmade by the Hmong women of Thailand. Each item is part of the Z|W global initiative that works to empower women in impoverished regions. Like I said, heart and soul. I just ordered a bracelet from her Disciple Series and I already know its going to be a 24/7 piece. Not because its gorgeous, but because it gives me the daily reminder that I find myself looking for so often. How amazing is it to meet and connect with other creatives who also share the same love for Jesus? It’s really the best thing and so is Ashley’s story. Prepared to be inspired!

Zella

WHAT MADE YOU ASPIRE TO BE A DESIGNER?

The passion behind my business is rooted in love – my love for family, love for travel, love for design, and above all love for God.

My grandmother had passed away before I was born, but she has always been with me. She is Zella Woods – the original inspiration and namesake for Zella Woods Designs. She was an immaculate lady in a generation that valued the idea of always looking and wearing your best, even if you spent your days in the kitchen at home. Seeing her in pictures throughout the 1950-60’s is how I’ve developed a nostalgia for all things mid-century vintage. When I work to salvage pieces of jewelry from that time period, or design new items using original parts from that era, it reminds me of her and the affinity you feel for family.

I have also been extremely fortunate to travel a lot at a young age and even live abroad in college. This exposure has heavily influenced the way I see things creatively and is the foundation behind my original jewelry designs. I am inspired by foreign cultures and their craft and I am a firm believer in supporting handmade makers as often as possible. The same heart that lives in them, lives in me. When I use materials ethically sourced from other countries, it reminds me of the whimsy and naivety of being totally immersed in a foreign place. Somewhere totally unknown, where the language isn’t understood and the culture is beyond my wildest imagination. That sense of being totally outside my comfort level; that’s where true adventure lies, and you never forget the feeling.

When my daughter came along, she was named after her great grandmother too. That sparked a totally new chapter of creativity. Now when I make custom pieces for mommies that remind them of their littles, it tugs at my heart. When I have women fighting cancer that order custom bracelets with phrases of affirmation or words of strength, that stuff means so much more than the words I inscribe. These things speak so deeply to my soul and the purpose God has put on my heart to fulfill with my hands.

My ultimate hope is to live a quiet life and work with my hands to make jewelry that people treasure like memories – timeless pieces that speak to the individual rather than the masses.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE SETS YOU APART FROM OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD?

I’d say the eclectic mix of what I make is pretty unusual in comparison to other jewelry makers. With the limited production of my handmade original designs, the vintage-made-modern Bridal Collection that is exclusively on Etsy come September, the Disciple Series collection that features designs inspired from scripture, items for baby + toddler, and the entire series of custom stamped items that allow people to order something personal – it’s a lot to choose from. And since I make every item myself (with the exception of a few global import items that are handmade by artisans in impoverished regions) that means my story is part of every piece. People that know my business from following me on Instagram, know my personal story, they know about my life and how much this business means to me. They get to see my pour all of myself into this craft that is really an embodiment of so many things in my life that I deeply cherish and love.

WHAT/WHERE IS YOUR GO-TO PLACE FOR INSPIRATION?
(OTHER THAN PINTEREST)

Travel. Anywhere and everywhere. Just getting in the car and going somewhere I’ve never been before gets me inspired. Even going through old pictures I’ve taken on previous trips; sometimes reliving old adventures through pictures helps reignite my creative senses. Seeing the architecture of the buildings in France, or the colors of Italy and the patterns of African textiles, it all helps get me excited about design. I also love going to antique malls, salvage shops and estate sales where you find one-of-a-kind things that you don’t normally see and can come across materials you can re-purpose. That sort of stuff helps get my creative wheels moving.  

The Disciple Series Collection is inspired entirely by scripture. Every time I open the Bible, work through a group study or listen to a sermon, I’m sketching something and taking notes. The word of God never fails to open new chambers of my heart, breath new life into my weariness or humble me with an awe for how He loves us. It’s endless inspiration.

ANY ADVICE FOR OTHERS WANTING TO GET INTO DESIGNING?

Stay determined. It’s a must.

There are times when the creativity stops, the work aspects (i.e. website maintenance, accounting, blah blah blah) feel totally overwhelming, and the income isn’t consistent. When the parts necessary behind running a business start to pile up and it feels like the creative part is taking a major backseat, its easy to tell yourself you can’t do it anymore. But you stay determined. I have to ultimately remind myself why I do what I do – I love it. My husband helps remind me of that all the time too; it’s impossible without support. So make sure to surround yourself with other creative souls, small business owners and people that genuinely love you, to help keep you encouraged.

When you make something you love into work, you have to be ready to fight for it when things get hard. If I hear myself saying something that I wouldn’t want my daughter telling herself (like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not as good as so-and-so with 50k followers”) I shut it down, immediately. I dive into the Bible or a devotional and refocus. God has me right where I am supposed to be. I’m not going to doubt that for a second more than I’d allow her too. You have to have a strong conviction that this is what you were made for, and know what will keep pointing you back to that truth, so that when times get tough you can turn to that for encouragement and refuge.

work picTo learn more about Ashley and/or to see more of her work, check out her website, Instagram, and Facebook!

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I told you this was a goodie! Remember, if you want to get involved in this series, shoot me an email at: hello@jennifersweetdesign.com. I will be contacting the next set of guest features this week and next. Series No. 3 will be posted September 18!

Stay creative!

Xo,

-J

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