Tuesday, 26 July 2011

I am Part of the "Creative Journey" series with Keshet! {and what I've learnt from the other Guest Bloggers!

Yes things have been pretty good for me on the scrappy front lately.
Finally my hard work & dedication is paying some dividends & that feels really, really good.
So many times on this road I've toyed with the idea of packing it all in but I just can't.
Despite the downsides I just love it to much.
Love the blogging community, love the smell of new papers, just love it all really.
So here I am & I am here to stay.

I was SO HONOURED to be asked by dear Keshet if I would like to take part in her inspired series "Creative Journeys" on her blog a few weeks ago.  OF COURSE!  I said & proceeded to write out the longes Creative Journey in history, so long that I had to slash it by 50% & it is still the longest up so far!  What can I say - it's been a long journey for me LOL - but I am ever grateful for the opportunity to be featured on her blog & also for the prompting to actually get all that info down on paper finally.  I have now added it to my sidebar for anyone wanting to read about it in the future. 

 I have copied & pasted my article here just because I like to keep a record of everything in one place but you can find the article here and read the other ones there too.  

Keshet has been running the weekly series for a month now & her first Guest Blogger was 

Week 1 - Jen Jockish

Week 3 - that would be me!!

Week 4 - Stephanie Howell 

The series has definitely helped me & I'm sure it'll help you too so pop on over for a good read!
What JEN confirmed for me
{what I knew but was glad to learn that I was on the right track...}                    

Be professional. That means no whining, no gossiping, no complaining. If you're looking to break into the industry and have this be more than a hobby, treat it like what you hope it to become - a job.  

What JEN taught me -

Be persistent! It took me 5 years of regular submitting to break into CK. Don't give up and just keep on pushing"

The CK bit was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow as I've been inconsistent & erratic with my submissions & I know I have to step up my game there 
(and the thought of plugging away in possible futility for 5 years is not very appealing to be honest...)

What LISA confirmed for me

"I love what I do. It isn't a perfect job - for all the fun creative time there's paperwork, supply lists, following up and stressful deadlines to deal with. But at the end of the day, the fact that i get to share inspiration and help to promote memory keeping really fuels my creative soul."

I love that Lisa confirmed what so many people NOT behind the scenes don't realise - that it's not JUST about creating pretty pages but that it IS worth it!

What LISA also confirmed for me:-

"I've also found that it's KEY to separate your emotions from your work. Not easy, but really essential so that you can be "in the game" but still keep your love for the craft in place."

This was probably my most difficult lesson to learn & I still struggle a bit with it but you HAVE TO do it or you will end up crashing, burning & probably throwing your scissors away forever!
What STEFANIE confirmed for me

"Right now, I'm on three teams, but my main priority is still having fun. If I stop having fun, I will no longer do the team thing. Life's too short:)"

This is something I've been mulling over recently...I definitely have way more FUN on some teams than others - and I intend continually revising my position & ensuring that I tailor-make my choices based on what really appeals to me & what I WANT TO DO.

What Stefanie also confirmed for me

It's all about sticking with it. I submitted for years to certain publications. YEARS!!! There's no reason that not being picked up for a few months should be enough to make you quit. That always baffles me. It takes persistence!

There are not many people in life who have everything "fall into their lap" and then there are those who gain a certain level of success & sit back & accept that.  I really want to continue to grow & develop as an artist & never want to "just float on by" but that's just me :)

1.  The most important thing on my mind right now is that I need to make this lifestyle WORK FOR ME, and that may mean sacrificing some dreams to make way for others.  

2.  I'm struggling to keep up with the scrapping AND the blogging, yet I need to record it all.

3.  I want to repay all the blog love but the blog-hopping is infinite.

4.  I love being "part of a team" yet on some there seem to be endless meetings, never-ending correspondence & countless duties.  

I don't have all the answers yet but I have come up with a few definites for now & one of those is to split my time up between my teams weekly rather than daily. 
I feel like I'm suffering from a bit too much "information overload" so I'm coming up with a working schedule of where I'll visit on each day.

I also need to remember that I have a husband & kids that love me that I need to be MAKING MEMORIES with rather than often being too busy recording them!  
That may mean cutting back on some studio time & reaching my goals more slowly but one thing is for sure in my mind & that is that I want longevity in this industry.

This is an exciting week, scrappy-wise, with CHA just around the corner! But before we get started with the CHA madness, here's another entry in the Creative Journey blog series.
First off, I have to thank you all for your kind and thought-provoking comments about my last post. I'm newly resolved to focus on what I DO have in life and not what I don't. A hard thing to attempt, but a necessary one.On to today's guest--meet the talented, fabulous Helen Tilbury--all the way from Africa!

Helen had some wonderful things to say about her journey in the industry

I started scrapbooking in 2003 in Harare, Zimbabwe, after my daughter attended a holiday workshop & brought home a simple layout that captured my heart! For a couple of years I attended weekly lessons at a really basic studio using simple products & none of “the latest stuff” as it simply wasn’t available. For the first 2 years of my journey all I learned were the basics as I had no time to scrapbook at home and had no idea that there was a whole new world waiting for me online.

In 2005 we emigrated to South Africa & I took a break from scrapbooking for a year while I was adapting to my new environment. 2006 came around and I started attending weekly lessons at my new local scrapbook shop. Now that all my kids were at school I began scrapbooking every morning. I discovered Creating Keepsakes and it was the first scrapbooking magazine I’d ever seen! I became an instant fan of Ali Edwards & finally the cogs started turning and my mind-set regarding my hobby began to shift to a more serious mode 4 years down the line, with that my excitement for scrapbooking started to grow exponentially.

In September 2007 I entered the then only (now non-existent) national scrapbooking competition in South Africa and came second out of thousands of entries. I received nothing, there were no sponsored prizes for second place (as most scrapbooking products sold in South Africa are imported) & no design teams to get onto as there are virtually no local manufacturers. No recognition followed as there was no-one to recognize me! The scrapbooking industry in South Africa is almost non-existent, not even any local scrapbooking shops to teach at as the few that exist teach the classes themselves as they are so few customers. Even the one and only local scrapbook magazine that was set to print the finalists’ layouts closed down the month after the competition & retrieving my layouts turned into a year-long nightmare.

The disappointment spurred me on to find a solution as I realized at this point that there were no local opportunities & I would have to get online in order to get anywhere with the hobby I was growing to love more and more by the day. There had to be a way I could indulge my passion and succeed despite my location. I kept hearing the word “blog” &had no idea what it meant but gathered that it was some type of personal online interactive website.I just knew I needed one but had no idea how to go about getting one – having never been online! September 2008 & I had never surfed the web!! I began fighting with my kids’ computer when they were at school & in October of the same year my blog was born.

I love how Helen's growth in the scrapbook industry also involved finding and "clicking" with an online community - this was very true for me as well!

I spent hours online, learning the ropes, started commenting a lot – I figured someone was bound to notice me eventually if I just kept at it and after a year I had a small readership.I discovered just how excellent so many scrapbookers were in the online world and I remember feeling like I could never “get there”, but the more I saw the more desperate I was to learn& to eventually succeed at creating layouts just as good! 

I lost my way a bit as I fell in love with blogging & ended up blog-hopping more than I was scrapbooking - I certainly made up for all my years offline as I was so excited to broaden my horizons & learned so much about the world beyond Africa, that I had lost sight of my dream of becoming a well-known scrapbooker whose work spoke for itself.

I have always been a competitive person and it just came naturally to want to go all the way with something I was so passionate about. I was determined I didn’t need a national competition to succeed – I was aiming higher than that anyway – I wanted to take on the world! Towards the end of 2009 I started my online education in earnest. Less blogging & more studying. I poured over layouts by talented designers from all over the world & tried to emulate them. I gave myself an 18 month intensive online “course” in scrapbooking by studying successful scrapbookers from all over the world, whose work I admired & used as my inspiration. 

I was struggling to find my own style though & not sure of what I liked & dislikedI was trying too hard & doing too much – I was all over the place!

Trying too hard - definitely an issue I've noticed and experienced! How about you?

Towards the end of 2010 (2 years since I started my blog) it dawned on me that I was never going to “get anywhere” if I didn’t release myself from the confines of my blog and “get out there”. I began taking part in challenges, joining forums, adding my work to galleries and I had various successes along the way. Definitely more failures than successes but finally I felt like something was happening. In 2010 I started to apply to various design teams & faced rejection upon rejection. By Christmas 2010 I realized that I couldn’t go on & needed to reassess what exactly I was doing! Or at least trying to do!!  I prayed to God to please give me a change of heart, so that I was able to apply for design teams then forget all about it (as opposed to keep checking my inbox for the e mail that never came…only to see the DT advertised on their blog!). 

I cried my heart out then went away on holiday! This was the turning point for me. The next DT I applied for when I returned accepted me! And the one after that, and that, and that, and that, and that!  Six design teams in six months & definitely more successes than rejections.The tide is finally turning. I feel I have worked for everything I have but at the same time I want to give all glory to my maker for giving me the stamina and attitude needed for this harsh game. Scrapbooking is sweet and lovely and nurturing and healing, but competitive scrapbooking? Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks!

Want to give it a go?! I hope my story has encouraged you & that, if it’s what you really, really want (as the Spice Girls would say!) that you’ll go confidently in the direction of your dreams. I love finally having a real audience, feeling like my work has a greater purpose& getting a “wow” once in a while. I am striving to be the best I can be &looking forward to the rest of this wonderful journey. I still have a long way to go (I have my first CK publication this month but it’s actually a photograph – check out page 99 of your latest issue) & I’m still not on the DT of any “major” scrapbooking manufacturer, but I am in it for the long haul & I’ve always believed I’ll make it eventually.

I LOVE how Helen really believes in herself--so hard to do but so important!

I do think that it is definitely harder for an “international” (especially an African) to make it in an American dominated industry – mainly because it takes a month to receive any product & I have to make all my scrapbooking purchases online from the States – but I don’t think it is impossible – you just have to be fantastic – and that’s what I’m aiming for! My advice – count the cost. There is a lot involved, and that’s the honest truth. You need to up your game on all levels if you want success.
 You need to work long & hard.You need to meet deadlines. You need to be 100% reliable. You can’t blog about the bad day you’ve been having if your DT has it’s reveal that day – you’ve got to put your happy hat on & encourage everyone to play along.You need to comment on all the entries & in some cases judge the winners, and that is really hard! 

Along the way you will have an amazing & exhausting time! You’ll be rewarded with the most wonderful affirmation of your work (and you’ll make some enemies along the way who despise you just because they’re jealous so you’ll get the occasional nasty comment too!) Toughen up & let it slide off you like water off a duck’s back. Just keep your eye on the prize! If you’re prepared to work for it it can be yours – you can live the life you’ve imagined!!

Thank you for sharing, Helen! Here's a layout that shows off Helen's vintagey style

Check out more of Helen's beautiful work on her blog here!

Helen lives in Durban, South Africa, with her husband & four kids – Chelsea (18), Jack (16), Reilly (13) and Cami (11). She is a keen photographer & when she’s not taking photos, scrapbooking or blogging you can usually find her in the car, rushing up & down the freeway with kids off to dancing lessons, soccer matches or sleepovers!


Diana said...

I've been following the series on Keshet's blog. What a great tribute to you to be featured! You deserve it.
One thing I've learned from the series, and from reading some of your recent blog posts, well it's more of a confirmation of what I knew already: I'm quite fine NOT being published or on DTs!
But more power to you because this is what YOU want, and I wish you all the best in figuring out how to make it work for YOU.

Stefanie said...

Hey there, just a note to tell you that you spelled Stephanie's name with an "F" instead of the "ph". At first I thought you were talking about little ole me! Then I realized that I never said those brilliant things. Wish I had though.
I have loved watching you grow and bloom since those early days of blogging. Way to go...still rooting for you and the rest of our talented continent!

Shayne said...

Fab Helen.

You have done so well for yourself and your perserverance has paid off. Good on you. Your scrapping style has grown and evolved and i've loved being 'by your side' on the journey.

i have no doubt that you will continue to grown and blossom!

Way to go girl x

Alison said...

Loved reading about your journey Helen...you so deserve everything you've achieved!
Alison xx

Yolande (pronounced you-land-a) said...

Congrats on your "Creative Journey" feature....really awesome. Enjoyed hearing about your creative journey....may you continue to blessed with creative success and positive experiences..

Unknown said...

Helen my dear, I feel like you in so many ways, I have goosebumps! As you now know, LOL, I live on a very small island in the Caribbean, islanders usually have this mentality that just keeps them confined to their little world. The thing is I have 2 beautiful children and very big dreams for them and for me. The first time they published me I was so overwhelmed and proud, specially because after so many tries it was finally happening. I wanted to teach my kids that despite living in this tiny island that doesn't look bigger than a dot on the map I could be out there for the world to see. That if they worked hard enough somebody out there would notice. I even changed the language of my blog as my native tongue is Spanish. Finally after so many years I got into a DT and suddenly into 2, proudly sharing one spot with you! So I love this post of yours and how it can inspire so many of us to keep trying and be the best in the industry! I still have so much to learn I don't even know how to work my sidebars in the blog but I will get there like you are.
A big hug my friend, that's how I refer to you in my house!

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Wow... you are my new hero... I can't even express in words how this makes me feel! you go girl! :):):):):):):):)):):)

topkatnz said...

I am very pleased for you that you have achieved some of your dreams. I know it has been and is, a lot of hard work and heartache too - something I would never choose or have time for. I admire that you do:) Love to see where the future takes you.

Heather Jacob said...

absolutely wonderful post Helen spoken from your heart ... you deserve the best and may all your dreams come true ... light and love to you gorgeous .. hugz x

Jeni O'Connor said...

Helen I want to congratulate you and thank you for sharing your story and challenges. It can be so tough to follow your dreams but your creations are beautiful and I'm a firm believer that it's all just a matter of hope and timing.
Wishing you hope and never give up on your dreams.

Jasmine S said...

Fabulous Helen. Congrats on the feature and yep, you are one fabulous lady and one talented scrapbooker so very well deserved I say. Woot Woot.

sandi said...

Congrats Helen on this new 'feature'! Loved reading your inspiring story...yes I think anything that we want takes diligence...you certainly have that and your lo's speak for themself! Keep it up my friend...your dreams are all coming to you...they are all in the palm of your hand! :)

Aussie TM5 Thermomixer said...

Hi Helen, congratulations! That layout of yours is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, as is all of your work. This post has been a really good interesting read, thanks :)

Bellaidea said...

Hi Helen! :)
I like your work a lot, now I aslo like your story .
You are big inspiration to me and I would like to thank you for your help and nice comments , best regards!

Cathy said...

Congrats on your feature Helen.. so excited for you!! Loved reading your inspirational words. You've worked so hard to get where you are and deserve to have all your dreams come true!! Sending you a big hug :))) x

scrapbookertink said...

Congrats Helen, I haven't been blogging for very long but feel that I know you more each time we send messages across the ocean, your story touched me and I hope you aspire to all your dreams and more, take care Doreen x

Mel said...

Oh Helen, I just loved reading every bit of this post, wow, I loved hearing what you have learned and how persistence does pay off, I am so excited for your wonderful feature, you so deserve it my friend, I am feeling the same struggles with time as you, but this has reiterated to me how important for me and my little man keeping these memories are, you are inspirational my friend and I love coming here to visit you. Love Melxx

Eila Sandberg said...

I am not even a rookie in scrapbooking terms, and you know how much nudging and poking it took before I very recently started my own simple blog. Oh Helen, you have had so many lessons learned along the bumpy road. I admire you for your steadfastness and for keeping to your goal no matter what. I've told you many times how I believe in the Law of Attraction; what you send out is what you get back and what is created with heart and soul always finds an audience and the reward will follow automatically. Loved reading the Creative Journeys post and also what the other ladies have written. I am so happy for what you have achieved so far and for all the good things that are just waiting to materialize. Life is indeed bountyful! All my love to you sweet dear Helen, xoxoxox

yyam said...

Congrats on being featured! Love how real and honest you are...I'm sure many are on the same journey and at crossroads. You are such an inspiration! I say continue to do what you do.

P/s: I make myself go off-grid on weekends to avoid burnout...eh..I know I'm cheating a little today...lol

Jessy Christopher said...

Congrats on being featured! Well at least you are featured along with a bunch of big scrapbooking names. Isn't that one of the big achievement? I always enjoy reading ur post, girl, you can write! thanks for sharing ur amazing journey and that layout is beautiful!