Anna Brown Creative Studio

Four Years

Anna Brown

I am reflecting on four years in business as Olive Juice Press! Four! This is the first year I almost forgot to stop and celebrate those years. Likely because I took quite a bit of time off to Mom. And after jumping back in, business has been slow. But this is allowing me the opportunity to rethink and restructure. Having a baby has shifted my perspective.

Even though I have been in business for four years, I still don’t feel like I have my “thing” figured out yet. I have felt on the brink of something many times, but it hasn’t ever really been THE thing. I have put myself in a creative box. I will have an idea for a really cool product, even order letterpress plates to print it, and then they will sit on the shelf never to be seen by the world. I have tried and tried to explain this, and have fallen short. But then, I read the below quote by Ira Glass and it is exactly what I have felt and have been trying to say for so long. You know how sometimes hearing what you’ve been trying to express can feel liberating? This is that for me.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.

Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes a while. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

—Ira Glass

Yes. Yes. So much clarity.

I have played around with variations of my handlettering over the years, but I haven’t shared much of it because it didn’t “flow” with my wedding portfolio.

And the mindset that I had to limit myself to this one particular style of design and calligraphy for weddings is one I am moving past. In the past I have tried to make my work fit onto those beautiful blogs and those perfect moments, but doing so has limited my creativity. I am so grateful for the “calligraphy movement” in the wedding industry because it has allowed me to learn a skill that I am so proud of and to create work for some awesome clients. But I feel like I’ve been trying to make my work something it is not and I am ready to break out of the box I put myself in.

Finding this quote by Ira Glass has encouraged me to keep fighting to find my creative voice. It has given me the validation I really needed at this place in my career. One thing I am doing differently now is sharing more of my work. It may not be perfect or exactly that “thing” I want to put out into the world, but it is my story of how I am finding my creative voice.

If you are a creative entrepreneur, can you relate?



Forming a Routine

Anna Brown

I am not one for strict schedules, routines, appointments, and planners. I usually push back against these things when I set them for myself or when they are set for me. It is essentially setting myself up to feel like I have failed if I do not get to everything. I know these things are great for some people, but they haven’t worked for me long term in the past. However, since having Theodore, I now realize the importance of setting intention through a loose routine.

When setting a loose routine, I think it is important to keep a few things in mind…

  1. Give yourself grace. You are likely not going to mark every item off your to-do list when you are balancing being a mom, wife, friend, entrepreneur, etc. It is important to remember you are not going to run out of time. At the end of the day, you will still have tomorrow. And if you miss a deadline, it is not going to be the end of the world. If you get caught in a cycle of negativity or worry about not finishing something, meeting a deadline, or making someone else happy, go out and get some perspective. Read a chapter of a book, take a walk, have a good conversation with a friend. Remember the important things in life and you are likely to be easier on yourself.

  2. Don’t be too specific. For example, if you are trying to add working out into your schedule or trying to drink more water every day, do just that. You don’t have to be so specific as to say “I will work out 3 days this week”. Just give yourself the goal to work out one day. Likely, you will enjoy it and want to do it again. Same with drinking more water. Don’t say “I will drink 50 ounces of water every day.” Instead, give yourself the goal of drinking more water. Keep a glass filled next to you. If you don’t touch it once during the day, whatever! It’s okay to set goals for yourself and not “have” to meet them. Who is keeping track and being hard on you but yourself? And you have the power to go easy on yourself, because you are awesome for trying.

  3. Make it fun. Just because you are an adult, doesn’t mean you have to be boring. Even the mention of words that are super structural can cause anxiety in me. Because of this, I am choosing to call my “routine” a “daily flow” instead. How peaceful does “daily flow” sound? I also think it’s important to add something light hearted or enjoyable into your flow. On busy days that may mean, spend some extra time washing your face! Use a special oil or product! On other days it could be living room yoga, searching for pinterest inspiration, or just making something new. While a lot of my flow is probably going to be filled with things like production, shipping, and e-mailing, I can find a good 5-10 minutes to do something that I enjoy.

  4. Don’t compare. Some people love keeping a planner, some people hate it. Some people love setting specific goals for themself, for some it adds stress. We are all so different! It’s a really beautiful thing to recognize that. If you see someone on social media who has met a goal, be happy for them! And I mean genuinely happy. Try not to immediately compare yourself. We all know the feeling… you see someone else in a similar field or doing something you know you could do, and jump to feeling lesser about yourself. But I want to challenge you to do something different. Change the narrative. The next time this happens to you, recognize that feeling. Even welcome it. Then take some time reflecting on why you are having that feeling. Chances are, it has nothing to do with the other person at all. And you really are happy for them. It usually has something to do with personal insecurities. But taking some time to reflect on why you are having a negative reaction or feeling can help you to see what’s really going on there, work through it, and release it.

Again, people are different. This approach may not work for you and is likely pretty specific to my personality type (Meyers Briggs INFJ & Enneagram 9/2 for those interested). Based on how we are taught in grade school and college, this actually seems like the minority approach. However, I am finding it helpful and if you haven’t been able to relate to the majority approach, maybe you will find it helpful also. I am currently working on my work “daily flow” and will share the specifics when I feel it is more tested, solid and useful. What about you, what approach do you take? I am interested in hearing different strategies!




Anna Brown

I have spent almost my entire 20’s as an artist, afraid to be seen. Even typing the word “artist” in relation to myself scares me. But that is what I am and that is what I aim to do. I like to create. I have tried so many different methods of creating. All of these methods have filled my head with confusion. I enjoy a lot of them, how can I pick just one? Do I have to pick just one? How will my audience know what it is I am doing? Over the years I have made so many things and before those things are even seen by my audience, I get scared. My personality strives for perfection. If a hint of doubt enters my mind, I bail. Even in relation to starting this blog today, I thought “oh I’ve got to have my website all fixed up and perfect before sharing this.”

Thank goodness for my life partner who has finally called me out for it because I am seriously so over being in my head about it. I have trained for over 5 years. I am an artist. I love creating and that is my thing.

Since bringing our son Theodore into the world in April, getting back into the swing of work has been challenging. If you have tried this before, you know what I mean. I will speak of it in detail in the future, but it is hard. When you have a baby, relationships change. Relationships with your spouse, your friends. But most importantly, the relationship you have with yourself changes. You become a whole lot less important. You forget to check in.

All of this has really led me to right here. The last 5+ years of work. The doubt I have as a creator. My family. My desire to work.

I want to be more open and share honestly about my process as someone who creates. I am continuing on my journey to finding what it is I want to share with the world creatively. We all have things that get in our way of moving forward and I am jumping over that thing. I’d love for you to be a part of my community if you are interested. Especially if you feel you can relate.

I look forward to sharing much more with you and in the mean time hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with the people in your life you hold close.