“The difference between an audience and a community is which direction the chairs are pointing.” - Chris Brogan http://www.chrisbrogan.com/audience-or-community/
I came across that quote in a blog I follow, and it seems particularly appropriate for this post today. As a working artist, of course I need an audience, and preferably a buying audience. But as an online artist I never thought much about needing a “community.” About 6 months ago I came across a blog with an intriguing name: Creative Nachos, and its sister site, Thursday Sweet Treat - both blogs the creation of Natasha Reilly. Thus began my participation in what is now my online community: a group of artists who – thanks to Natasha’s clever posted themes – share their newest creations weekly, support each other, and provide what I call “a warm blanket” - an accepting environment where we are free to explore, experiment and grow our art. Natasha is not only an incredibly talented writer and artist, but her unfailing support, generous nature, and always cheerful demeanor make her a very special person indeed. I wanted to know more about her. So … let me present my conversation with Natasha!
Shop name: http://doodlestar.etsy.com/
FK: Natasha, I always wanted to know how you came up with that title “creative nachos.”
Sitting in the middle of an incredible Mexican restaurant in NYC with a few friends one night, staring at the most delectable appetizer, Creative Nachos was born. For a little while I wanted to be a Nacho chip, scooping up colorful fabrics, words, people, ideas, paints, photos, etc., without any worries or time constraints. I wanted to soak up as much creativity and fun as possible. So, I created a playground where, for as little or as long as you like, you can cover yourself in inspiration, laughter, thoughtfulness, ideas, stories, anything you want. AND you can share too!
Yes, Nachos are 100% a favorite food!!
FK: Tell me about your family and your Etsy shop. You sell cards and notes in your shop.
My husband is a very funny, very lovable man who keeps me sane. Honestly, he helps to keep me grounded and laughing in tough times. He’s my rock. Our daughter is a two-year-old little singer, dancer and all-around entertainer. She loves A,B,C’s and coloring.
My shop is currently being re-vamped. I am REALLY into creating blank and fun-filled activity journals. I LOVE it…so I am changing up my shop. I will still have some cards but many journals. Any ideas on how to market them?? I’m learning.
FK: Journals will take advantage of two of your talents: art and writing. Which do you prefer?
I can’t choose. I love the combination of writing and art, for sure!
FK: How did Thursday Sweet Treat come about? It’s a comfortable environment and there’s some incredible art being shared there …
The TST began after a conversation with several folks including Janet Davies (who I like to call the Aunt of the TST) about feeling a lack of motivation. It takes so much time to promote yourself that often it can leave you with little energy to create new things at the end of the day. That was December 2008. In January 2009, I reached out to those folks I had been chatting with in the forums – total of 10 people including me – and asked them if they wanted to play. I grabbed a Blogger spot and started. The rest is history. I never, ever expected the response I got that’s for sure.
The TST place is warm because of people like you. There are so many thoughtful souls who come to visit and all they want to do is share, laugh and create. The people who submit and cheer and hang out at the TST – they are the reason it’s such an amazing place. They created the warm, welcoming, non-critical environment.
I feel amazing each time I read a comment or see a new piece from an artist. I demand A LOT from myself so I often worry that I’ve let someone down, not done enough, not responded to something. The site has taken me forever but that’s because I’ve been trying to build several things – a new business (PR, marketing), revamping my shop (Doodlestar) and the TST. It gets overwhelming at times but they are all about art and people – the things I love. I worry that people will get bored so I keep thinking of new ideas. Basically, I beat myself up about it but I love the TST… I wouldn’t have it any other way.
FK: TST has been a little quieter lately … summertime?
Yes, the submissions have slacked off and initially I was responsible for some of that. I stopped promoting as hard for a little bit because I got lost. I had no idea what I was building. I was afraid of letting people down and I had no idea what I wanted to do. I needed some time to think, re-evaluate and figure out where I wanted to go. This summer has been a great time for that. This summer has also been crazy busy for lots of folks. I get emails all the time from folks just checking in and telling me they miss it but they are swamped. I understand – the summer is a tough time.
In the Fall, I’d like to make a major push. With the new site and renewed energy and focus I plan to promote the hell out of the TST. I’d love for folks to go into the forums and talk about it like they did before or Twitter about it - in the Fall. I think when people slow down and have more time it would be great…I’d really appreciate it. Gosh, I hope people still want the TST then….see I worry ALL the time!!!!
FK: It’s not your fault, Natasha. You are always so positive and upbeat …
LOL…no I am FAR from positive all the time. I BELIEVE with ALL my
heart in the artists that submit to the TST. The work is amazing and when someone’s work touches me and inspires me … I have to say it. I have to celebrate it. I’m like that online and off. I’m known for my laughter and I’ve got some decent comedic timing as well. However, I’m also riddled with insecurities. There have been some very difficult times in my life when I questioned whether or not I was something good in life…because honestly I felt like nothing more than a mistake or burden to people. I have come to see that I’m ok and as I raise my little girl I want her to celebrate herself. I want her to be proud of who she is…to love herself despite what anyone says. Obviously that requires teaching by example so I work hard at believing in myself, sharing that with others and being positive. But believe me I have my angry, crying, sad, Calgon take me away days just like everyone else.
FK: You mentioned that you started a new business …
Yes, I have launched my own PR and marketing company. I have some stellar new clients that I LOVE working with! I have worked in many fields ranging from publishing (book, magazine and web) to fashion and education. Over the course of that time, I have had an opportunity to work in the areas of marketing, PR, fundraising and communications (both corporate and nonprofit). What I have found is that it is the "story" that inspires people to make a purchase, believe in a cause, move to action and spread the word to their friends. That is what I am basing my business upon. I think it is about more than simply branding; it's about good, honest storytelling. So, that's the mission - if you will - behind my work. Based upon the needs of the company, I can provide a number of services which include, but are not limited to: copywriting, creation of artist biography, blog writing, editing, development or update of business plans, generation of articles, newsletters, assistance with speech writing, original web content, writing of press releases, contacting targeted media (print and online), and more. I’m working with artists, small businesses and nonprofits right now. If people are interested they can contact me at Natasha@creativenachos.com.
FK: When do you sleep, girl??
LOL…I do sleep from time to time! LOL….I don’t really know how things get done…I have a ton of energy and when I am passionate about something there is NO stopping me! But I also have days where I am exhausted and need to do absolutely nothing. I always plan for one day during the week to be like that…there is always one day when I need to play, sleep and be outside because I can’t focus. That’s when my brain says - enough. It lets me recharge a bit.
FK: Good for your smart brain! Finally, do you have any questions for me and for my readers?
I think I just want to know if people are still into the TST…ah, worry and insecurity unveiled! LOL
And thank you from the bottom of my heart for this opportunity. I cannot tell you what an honor it is to be interviewed by someone I so admire.
FK: The honor is all mine, Natasha!! And I can assure you that we TST’ers aren’t going away anytime soon.
So all you artists out there - what do you think? Tell us why you enjoy participating in TST. Does it feel like a community to you?
If you’re not already playing, check out the theme for the week on Fridays and come back to play with Natasha and the rest of us on Thursdays: http://thursdaysweettreat.blogspot.com/
And while you are here, pop over to my "Let's Play Charades!!" contest. Take a look at the artists shown, leave a comment, and you'll be entered in the drawing for my digital collage print, In the Light of the Moon.