Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Things with A is for Ampersand

Hello, all of you pretty MaieDae readers! My name is Amy, and I run a silly little blog called A is for Ampersand. By day, I'm a graphic designer for a local Apple specialist, as well as the blog outreach coordinator for Blowfish Shoes. But by night, I like to blog about thrifty adventures and pretend I'm a career thrifter and vintage connoisseur. I love cats and music far more than is socially acceptable and spend most of my days galavanting in our 1984 Westfalia Vanagon.

When Savannah asked me to guest post here about staying inspired, I realized it was exactly what I needed as I was having trouble with it myself. I recently made the big switch from full time, at my graphic design job, to part time so I could focus on my other endeavors--Blowfish, my shop, freelancing, living life. It was all very exciting but very hard to find the all-important life balance. I still firmly believe that life is too short to waste away doing things you despise, so I worked hard to balance it all out and find ways to stay inspired so I could excel in each aspect of my professional life. While none of these tips are anything special, they are what help me time after time to refresh my creative side and stay productive and inspired.

1. Write it ALL down ---> This is something a lot of bloggers write about and there's a good reason-- writing clears the mind. Whether it's writing down your to-do list, things that inspire you, or ideas for future blog posts//products, WRITE IT DOWN. I can't stay inspired when my mind is cluttered, so when my mind won't stop running, I take the time to write it all down, get it out, and refocus. And if you're an avid writer, you might want to check out 750 words--a site based on the book The Artist's Way. You can learn more about it there, but it's a fantastic daily exercise to keep a clear head. In fact, if you're really interested in experiencing a creative revolution, I HIGHLY recommend trying out The Artist's Way. It's pretty intensive and hippy dippy, but it works and I'm a huge fan.

2. Get in your zone with music you love ---> I can't work without music--it just won't happen. As a music junkie, I try to remember that not everyone is as motivated by music as I am, but music can be a powerful inspirational tool. It might seem silly, but when I find myself in a designer rut, I have my go-to bands that always somehow make working in Illustrator that much easier and magic ensues. (Radiohead, Deerhunter, CocoRosie, Arcade Fire, Animal Collective.) Spotify is a great app for finding new music and making playlists to get you going.

3. Take time for your hobbies ---> I learned this the hard way-- take time for the things you love! I can't express to you the importance of setting time apart for doing things that mean something to you. When you own your own business, it is so easy to fall into the guilt trap of working constantly because your computer and phone are right there--don't do it. Set apart time each day//week for free time to do the things that interest you on a personal level. Doing so will only rejuvenate you and refresh you for the work ahead. Nobody can work forever!

4. Try a new form of inspiration ---> As much as I love Pinterest, and as good as I think it is for inspiration, it's far too easy to fall into the comparison game. Spending too much time on these sites can easily lead to feelings of inadequacy--it's exhausting to see so many perfect things in one place! Trust me. Rather than relying on the internet, try finding inspiration elsewhere-- nature, art museums, drives, music, fashion, thrifting, whatever. Take some time away from the screen to be in the moment and remember that there is life past work and the internet. Look at things differently and see how you can apply what you see to you work.

5. Become an autodidact ---> One of the greatest things about the internet is that we can learn virtually whatever we want to do. I am a self-taught designer--I started doing it almost 10 years ago and have constantly pushed to learn more. If there's an aspect of your small business that you feel needs improving, take it upon yourself to get out there and learn it--google it, get some books from the library, and teach yourself. The beauty of being an autodidact is you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. And I find that the more skills I learn, the more inspired I am in every aspect of my career. New skills lead to new ideas, which all leads to feeling empowered and continually inspired.

Whew. Lengthy post! But I sincerely believe in all of those things and have learned the hard way with many of them. Staying inspired always helps me live in the moment, and that's something I find so incredibly important in this day and age where workaholics are the norm and everything runs at a frenzied pace. Thank you so much to all of you for sticking with me and joining in on the quest to stay fulfilled and inspired. You can always come and visit me on my blog or join me on Twitter. I'd love to visit with you! What are your tips for staying inspired?

Find Amy Here: Blog  |  Shop  |  Twitter

Thank you so much Amy!! I love the new resources you suggested, I can't wait to take a look at Spotify and The Artist's Way!


  1. Anonymous15.12.11

    I love everything about this! And i love amy too, such a great piece ! xo

  2. I love Amy!!! What a fabulous post.

  3. Great post! I love what she had to say about online sites like Pinterst and so forth that are great and all but can lead to comparison and never feeling like you can do it as good as in the photos! Hits home for me.
    Thanks for much for sharing this post!

  4. Isn't Amy the best?! Love her blog and her heart!

    xo S

  5. Love this post. Thanks for telling us about Amy. I love what she said about finding inspiration at it's source rather than repinning (as much as I love and am addicted to Pinterest) other people's inspiration.

  6. This is such a great post Amy! These are all great tips and I really appreciate the insight from a girl pursuing her dreams and juggling so much!

    Love the new series Savannah! I'm trying to read anything I can on these topics and such perfect timing for the new year full of new goals!

  7. I'm loving this series! Thanks for sharing such tips :)

  8. Thank you all so much for reading! I'm so glad you were able to glean something helpful from it. It's definitely a work in progress to keep things figured out, but I think this awesome blogging community only fuels it all. We're in it together!

  9. Anonymous15.12.11

    I think that the advice to find non-internet inspiration sources is crucial. I get too sucked in, pinning and tweeting and... well, you know. Time for something different!

  10. Thank you, Savannah. Did you just say "hippy dippy"? ;) This is an amazing post. SO glad I found your blog. (And this guest post!)

  11. i love it! amy is such a wonderful lady, and she inspires me all the time :)