Take the Clutter Quiz: Start Fresh With a New Space

Copyright © 2010 Kate Harper

Want to start fresh with new ideas and a upbeat working space? Too much clutter in your art studio can weigh heavy on your creativity and inspiration.


1. Have you used this item in a year? If not, you have permission to purge it without feeling guilty about having purchased it in the first place. Life changes. We need different things at different times. Get rid of the stuff you aren't really using anymore.

2. Afraid you might need it later? Then put it in a box, date it and store it. If you don't open the box in a year, then purge it.

3. Can you rent, borrow, or get another one? If so, then purge it. Great for dumping books. You can always go to the library if you really need that one book again in a pinch.

4. Can you sell it? Sell it on Amazon Marketplace. You can sell almost anything: CD's, pet toys, old ipods, cameras, books, computer cables, you name it. Anything you can find for sale on Amazon, you can pretty much sell a "used version" of it, and unlike ebay, the website is easy to use and hassle free. You can even print out prepaid shipping labels.

5. Can you give it away? Donate it to the Goodwill. If it's too precious to give up to an anonymous buyer, think of a specific person or organization who really could use it. Seeing their smiling face will reaffirm you did the right thing.

I gave away a huge pile of paper supplies to people in my neighborhood a few years ago and made a dozen new friends. People came out of the woodwork because their sister, daughter, school, family, theater troupe and nursing home needed it. Even after 2 years, people still thank me for it. One woman even offered to let me use her empty house for a week, when I had a friend coming to town!

6. Don't know where to start? Move everything from you studio to another room except for basics (computer, phone, tables). Now, only bring back the things into your studio as-you-need them. After a week, you might find you are only really use 10% of the stuff you originally had in the room.


If you do 1 of these things: You have already taken a big step to being clutter- free. Sit down and have a martini with an umbrella inside.

If you do 3 of these things: Whoever shares space with you should take you out to dinner and celebrate! Tell them I said so.

If you do ALL of these things: Not only do you deserve a martini and dinner, you are an official expert and should teach classes on clearing clutter!


Don't want to hassle with selling things? Here are 4 ways you can make your clutter magically disappear and you *won't* have to make an appointment, haul anything away, or exchange money. All you have to do is drag it from the indoors to the outdoors.

  • On Craig's list submit a post that says your items must be picked up today (deters lazy people from writing back). When you decide who you will give it to, tell them where the item is on your property. (ex: on the porch, beside the garage, in the bin). Then you don't have to meet anyone at a specific time. I've done this for 10 years and have never had a problem.
  • Give it away online with freecycle (same instructions as above). Freecycle has a strong dependable community of people who will take almost anything. Someone even came to my house to pick up an old rotted fence post. Who'd a thought?
  • Send an email out to your neighborhood and tell them you have free stuff on the porch for the taking. It helps to list a few "teaser" items so they come and look at everything.
  • When you put the garbage out this week, include a box next to the garbage can labeled: "Free." Fill it up with stuff. You'll be amazed how fast the stuff disappears. You can even put out grocery bags, so people can carry stuff home! Side Benefit:Add new stuff to the box every week.


Dealing with Exhaustion: If you start clearing out your studio and start feeling overwhelmed, that's normal. Sorting through piles of paper especially is exhausting. It's important to take a break every hour, and only work on one section of the room at a time. Also, it may take several weeks to get rid of everything. Don't be too hard on yourself for not getting it all done at once.

Get Support: Find a buddy, spouse or studio mate who is willing to do the "Agile" or "Scrum" project management system with you. I've reinvented this for my personal use, and found it quite affective at accomplishing large tasks:

How to do Agile Project Management: Every morning, tell your buddy:
1) what you accomplished yesterday
2) what you want to accomplish today
3) what the potential roadblocks are.

You'll be amazed how magically effective it is. Use this until the job is complete.


Here's how I purged my studio. And it feels great! If I can do it, you can too!



How to be a Card Designer According to John Madden

I have been a fan of John Madden for years, not just because he coached a local football team, but because he was the first sports announcer I ever saw who drew pictures all over the TV screen during a game.

I never liked football until I had that "artistic experience." It liberated me from the mystery of the game. I then became a fan of John Madden. I didn't care what teams he discussed. I would have watched a knitting show if he was the commentator.

Even though John has retired, every morning on KCBS, I listen to his 10 minute podcast interviews and find much of his humble, yet funny wisdom very applicable to being a designer.

Here are a few quotes by John Madden with my commentary:

"Don't worry about the horse being blind, just load the wagon."
(Don't wait around until your art is perfect before submitting your designs)

"Self-praise is for losers. Be a winner. Stand for something."
(Draw what really matters to you, not just what you think will sell)

"In order for this team to win the game, the QB has to at least throw the ball"
(DO something, don't just stand there)

"Coaches have to watch for what they don't want to see and listen to what they don't want to hear."
(As much as we don't want to see it, rejection can be an opportunity to get good advice.)

"The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer."
(Being an artist sometimes involves eating beans, and having people tell you to go get a "real job" whatever that is.)

"The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break. "
(Don't be hard on yourself and think you have to stick to one media or style. Try new things. )

"What's the toughest thing in a professional football game? It's being the mother of the quarterback."
(Remember, there are many people who care about you and your art. They are rooting for you even in the toughest times.)


30 Things I Learned in 2010 That Helped my Design Career

I asked artists: "In ten words or less, what did you learn in 2010 that helped you with your design career?" Here are some of the answers:

Find your audience, then make images for yourself. -Lida Enche www.lidaenche.com

There is never enough time. Get it done anyway. -Deb Booth http://www.differentlightstudio.com

Learn photoshop, have enough work in portfolio, be flexible. -Frances Poole

To be a professional artist, one should have a website. -Beth Grove www.bethgrove.com

Ignore yourself sometimes and just "do it." -Belinda Lindhardt

When you have to choose between left and right, go straight. -Danny Naz

Allow self to leave the studio... and the muse appears. ^..^~ Beverly Dyer

Set goals! Create collections, internet presence, network dilgently! Take risks! -Sue Duda http://www.sueduda.com

Recapturing what truly makes an excellent, creative, edgy designer. -Kirsty McDonald www.parkleadesignagency.co.uk

If you are persistent and follow your goal new opportunities arrive. -Jack Tuszynski

Patience. Remain true to my artistic vision and continue evolving. -Gail Green www.sweetpetatoes.com

The answer to every question can be found through networking! -Beverly Hayes

Develop your "elevator speech". Don't be afraid to use it! -Laura Cantu Smith

Find your focus and give it all you've got. -Toni Wall

Open yourself up to the possibilities and opportunities come knocking. -Lisa Fu

Trust your inner Van Gogh; create from the heart. -Shannon Bielke

Less stress leads to more creativity! -Gabriel Morosan http://www.finestreetphotography.com

Persist until you receive an email asking to "unsubscribe."-Tracey Hart

Review, focus, identify and go for it! 2010 has been my best year yet! -Martha Spak

Make your life, creativity & happiness a priority, because no one else will. -xenos mesa http://www.xenosmesa.com/

Open yourself to multiple streams of revenue. -Lindsay Obermeyer www.lbostudio.com

Learn to network and follow up without being sales-y. -Sarah Bush

Don't be your own roadblock. -xenos mesa http://www.xenosmesa.com/

Create what you love for broad usage and appeal & network. -Katie Atkinson

The Business Aspect of having a successful Career as a Artist. -Howard Pearlman

Improved my digital skills! -beatrice trezevant

Work from your heart and be tenacious. -Barbara Johansen Newman

Research, network, communicate, follow-up, respond, never give up. -Tim Read

Keep moving forward! NO "What if " -or- "But I can't" -Miki Berman www.mikibermandesign.com

I switched my Lynda account to a Think Vitamin account. -Will Kesling

Do not waste your time. -Jack Tuszynski

Get Some Sleep! -Dianne Woods
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...