It’s not very dirty and it’s definitely not a secret, but I’ll let you in on it. I don’t know anyone else who does wood burning (though I know there are plenty of you out there). I started doing it a few years ago when I moved to Waco and didn’t know anyone. It evolved into a fun Etsy business (which is partially why I started this blog), and now I usually just do them as gifts.
Sometime they’re done by hand with a cheap wood burning pen (top C), and sometimes they’re laser cut (bottom B). I started getting them laser cut to cut costs so I could get more Etsy buyers. I likened it to illustrated cards. Handmade, but mass produced. You can pretty much get anything laser cut if you vectorize it. This allows for more detail in the art (not that this B is a good example of detail). Of course the benefit of doing it by hand is exactly that—it’s produced by your very own duck-watching-whisky-drinking-grandpa hands. It’s harder to do and it looks less polished. Luckily rugged is so hot right now.
I’d love to improve my work. If anyone knows of any seasoned wood burners, please let me know! If you know of better wood or a nice pen you swear by, I’d like to know about it. I’m just an amateur, but I hope this inspires you to give it a shot. It’s quite fun and nothing beats the smell of burning wood. Not a bad Mad Men activity either. Try it out and send some pics!
NOTE: You can get the wood planks for Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, as well as the wood burning pen. Most cities have someone who does laser cutting, and they just might vectorize your art if you pay them enough. I recommend Texas Tape and Label if you’re in the Waco region.
Remember how you put off thinking about it last year and then you scrambled to figure something out last minute? Let’s not let this year be another statistic.
Emily Kirwan and I are here to help. Emily works for Amani Ya Juu, a company that empowers African women to make and sell their goods at a fair price. Check them out here.
We want to give you a shot at winning some sweet goods for the best lady in your life; it’s almost like winning a stuffed animal for your date at the county fair. Almost.
Winner gets to pick something from this page on the Amani site, as well as a personalized card made by yours truly. That’s what moms want, right? Someone else’s kid to make the card?
To win these jewels, you can either:
1. Tell a sweet or funny little story about your mama. Or perhaps describe her lovable quirks. Write it in the comments or Tweet/Instagram it to @beckycmurphy
2. Post a photo of your mom (with or without you, vintage or recent). Use the hashtag, #ICalledMyMomToday. Or, again, Tweet/Instagram it to @beckycmurphy. We’ll find you!
Do so by 11:00 AM Sunday, May 5. We’ll randomly pick the winner at that time.
One post at a time.
`~*bAcK 2 BlOgGiNg*~`
I’ve been making excuse after excuse as to why I don’t have time to draw/write/blog/etc. Enough is enough. It’s time to get back into shape, even if it’s ugly and awkward.
Every day my roommate and I tape a note card to our door that says, “My one thing” then there’s a column for each of us and we have to do it. Maybe it’s scheduling a doctor checkup, starting a research paper or finishing some business cards. But it gets done because it’s ONE THING.
It has to be tangible / measurable. Ideally it’s something we’re tempted to put off day after day.
One thing means no excuses.
Baby steps + focus.
It gets done.
Like this post.
Because starting from somewhere is better than starting from nowhere.
One year ago (April 1), I set out to do a marathon of drawings for a “silly side project that’s like, no big deal or anything or whatever. But I seriously don’t even care.”
I’ve gone over this love story before, but I think it’s worth rehashing.
2012 started with a bang. I went to Mardi Gras, SXSW and ran a half marathon. It was weekend after weekend of total-utta-insanity. Then BLAMMO, I had a minor case of post-running depression. I needed something to funnel all my energy into. I decided to do something about an I idea I had been mulling around for the last year or so, but didn’t do anything with because starting is hard and it requires starting.
I decided during a conversation with my good friend Amy, that I would do a bazillion drawings in April. It would be like training. I had to it even when I’d rather be sleeping or at the pub. I used the same discipline that got me out of bed to do 10 miles in order to draw pictures of human measuring sticks. I’d casually post these short people drawings to the blog day after day.
I did it. It was hard. I didn’t always want to stay up late working on them. I wondered what was getting into me. Who did I think I was? There was absolutely no reason to believe this would pan out and become anything at all. Since I deiced to start somewhere—anywhere, I was allowed to make stupid bad drawings. And I did. And they’re still up.
Something inside me knew it was a good idea and I had to do it. I can’t describe it other than delusion.
Nobody knew I was staying up late in hopes that it would one day turn it into a book. I figured I’d self-publish on Blurb and maybe down the road a little birdie (yeah, a real bird) would drop it on the desk of a major editor in New York (smoking a cigar with his feet up on the table during a business meeting. “STOP THE PRESS! We have a better one! Clarence! Call Ms. Murphy immediately!”).
Chad knew what to do. He writes and he told me I should submit to agents after I had about 30 posted (100 was the intention from the start).
I went to his house on a sunny Saturday afternoon the first week of May. He helped me write the query to submit to agents. I remember walking with him to the gas station down the road while he bought
cigarettes (or some sort of lung poison) peach tea as we discussed my project. He encouraged me (classic Chad) and told me that someone would catch on to this idea.
I tried to guard my heart the way they tell you to in junior high youth group. Except my heart was my heart and the boy was a book.
It took everything in me to not tell anyone; this thing was too big. I felt like I would jinx it if I said it out loud.
I expected to wait weeks or months, but after submitting my query, I got an email the next day.
From Laurie, my agent.
I feel like a jerk sometimes when I tell this story because it worked out so well for me. Beyond Laurie emailing me, the process has worked out seamlessly and taken almost as little time as it could have for being a book (still takes forever). Plume didn’t buy I’D RATHER BE SHORT because I was the best applicant; I was the only applicant. It was my idea and all I had to do was try. I used my gifts and my uniqueness the only way I knew how.
If I was born seven feet tall and loved hula hooping plus magic shows, I hope I would have done something with that too.
Don’t write this off because it sounds cliché: delusion bridges the gap between dreaming and doing.
What’s your story?
*photos are taken in my Waco apartment at the end of the book process.
Twitter & Insta: @beckycmurphy
The first few weeks were frustrating, because I was “working hard” but not necessarily on client projects. I’ve found how easy it is to be busy, but not productive. Nobody is paying me to check emails and organize my business; they are paying me to work on brochures, logos and illustrations.
I’m a natural psychoanalyzer, so it’s no surprise that I dissect every day to see how I can improve for the next. I’m quite satisfied with today’s system. Some rules I set for myself:
1. Schedule 30 minutes of ‘etc. work’ after every hour of client work. It break up the day so I have something to look forward to when my hour is up. This is when I can blog, return emails, check twitter, take out the trash and organize future business.
2. Before I take my 30 minutes, I write down exactly what to do first when I return to the project. (“place file into illustrator & add logo”) None of this “getting started is the hardest part so I guess I’ll just take my time because it’s hard, ya know?” any longer.
4. I turned off my phone during work hours.
5. Not allowed to check Twitter.
6. During work-work hours, I take notes of all the little things to do, instead of doing them on the spot. I can hassle my friend about project details, look up high-waisted swimsuits, email editor, DM internet crush, etc. LATER.
a. I would have made above image an animated gif, BUT I only have a few minutes and I have to follow the rules.
b. This makes me sound so intense and so easily distracted. Sometimes I’m neither and sometimes I’m both. I get lost in some projects, and some I don’t, as I’m sure you can relate. Enthusiasm can vary, but I can’t let my pride or integrity fall prey to my fickle human nature.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” —St. Francis of Assisi
Julie read us this prayer from Thomas Merton a few weeks ago. I like it a lot, so I wanted to archive it.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
—Thomas Merton, “Thoughts in Solitude”
It’s been a while. Over a month! Lots happening here, but I’m not going to give you the option of reading a long post about my January. If we have that kind of time, we should close our browsers and read a good book (or call our mothers).
Quick rundown: I quit my job a few weeks ago, moved to Austin last Thursday and now I’m freelancing full time. I’m learning a lot and I love where things are going. I haven’t had time to work on my portfolio, redesign this blog, or even blog at all for that matter (good problem). Always looking for cool projects! Illustration, branding, web, etc.
I’m probably going to handle this blog a bit differently from the past. I want it to be more of a creative outlet and/or share other people’s work I just can’t help but share. It started out that way, but I got caught up in wanting numbers and I thought the only way was to be consistent, even if the posts sucked (like this.)
I’ll be updating with my lessons learned from working independently, illustration warm ups, IRBS book reports and all sorts of shenanigans I get myself into (Mardi Gras this weekend, for example).
If this blog doesn’t bring me life, I can’t make time for it. I’m letting go of expectations and I’m letting go of numbers defining success.*
*trying to let go of expectations and trying to let go of numbers defining success.
I’ll keep you posted. (BLOG PUN)
p.s. “Yes, and…” drawing inspired by improv show I went to in Dallas a few weeks ago.
I love this time of year. The holidays are over and things are returning to normal. It’s a time to reflect on 2012 and be thankful for what we have, or what we had. Don’t let “what you could have done” bring you down — let’s remember how far we’ve come. I’m grateful I can’t help everything in my life.
I have goals for the new year, but I don’t want to share them until they are closer to fruition (mostly because of this). It’s just as important to trim the fat as it is to add new initiatives, so I’m going to take a little sabbatical from the blog during January. Exciting times are ahead (starting freelance in February), and I have a lot to get done. Book work. Portfolio. Boring business hullaballoo. Cleaning & packing & moving. And most importantly, I want to enjoy my last four weeks in Waco. These are the friends that took me in when I was fresh from the womb of Iowa. I’m not going to miss a breakfast or arrive late to a party because I’m writing a blog post. Plus, I want to make some changes to this little hut, and I can’t do those overnight.
You can follow my Twitter (@beckycmurphy) and Instagram (@beckz_). Or, if you’re really feeling saucy, follow @idratherbeshort on Twitter. If you’re a design nerd, I might add some portfolio process peaks to dribbble along the way.
I can’t wait to come back with this baby new and improved for February, and start my freelance career! If you have any work inquiries, please shoot me and email at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you (really).
Cheers to 2013!
I’m leaving my job at the end of January to pursue my dream of freelance! It is most definitely a huge leap of faith, and I have a lot of work ahead of me this month. Also big: I’m moving to Austin!
It’s going to be really hard to leave my Waco pals, but I’m grateful to already have a community in Austin. Most cliché move, right? I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so…scared. Just kidding. I really just wanted to link to that Saved by the Bell clip. Yes, I’m apprehensive, as I have abandoned security and routine. But I have to at least try.
I have a lot of great things to say about Hole in the Roof and Waco, but I will give that a post of its own. For now I just want to give you this save the date because I need your help.
I am going to need clients. I’m still working on my portfolio, but I’ll be sure to post it as soon as she’s ready. I’m available for hire in February. Print, web, illustration, etc.
Also, If you are an Austinite, freelancer, high fiver, pie maker, creative cat, illustrator, fun-times-welcomer, totally not creative, but loves bloody marys, etc, let’s be friends!
Thanks for all your support along the way. I’ve gotten more than my share of positive happenings this year, and it’s because of those that I am brave enough to take the plunge. Exciting times ahead for us all!
*above pic is my work on my tumblr.
Cryptic posts build interest, and I haven’t done this since I found out the book was getting published. I think two per year is a fair number. That’s the same amount of workout brags we’re allowed per quarter, and bad puns per hour.
Hint: if you know me in person, I’m talking about the you-know-what-I’m-talking-about stuff.
(Recap from trip two weekends ago)
Mexico was great. I did the same kind of thing a couple times in high school, so I vaguely knew what I was getting myself into. The quick summary: it was just what I needed when I most needed it. (You probably already heard that because that’s what I told everyone.)
About 10 of us drove from Austin to Acuña Thursday night and arrived home on Sunday. Short trip. I visit Austin all the time and spend more money than I did on this quick trip to Mexico. I’m grateful my boss let me have that Friday off at the last minute so I could surround myself with a community that I want to be more like. We woke up at 6:30 every morning and worked until it was dark. We completed the house in 2.5 days.
I’m glad I went and thankful they invited me. It was a good reminder that the world still turns when I’m not working on the book, blog or work. I detest how much Americans work, and I am among the worst. It wouldn’t be this way if I didn’t love it, but seeking balance is important. It was good to step away from clocks, mirrors and technology.
We love because he first loved us. —1 John 4:19
Please excuse my lack on action (ON THE BLOG). I’ve been enjoying friendship time over dinner, wine, Christmas parties, and working on gifts. IOU updates on Mexico (when the photos are ready) and the book (lookin good).
Happy day, y’all.
*photo by Kristina Demant
Sometimes I post stuff on this here blog so I know where to find it later. These things have been sitting in my inbox and I’ve been meaning to share individually, but I want to get that inbox clean. Today is a threefer!
3. A few weeks ago, Gizmodo published these Gmail hacks. Worth a look.
*Marc Johns is still the man.
*via Oh, Pioneer!
I still love this.
Headed to Mexico tonight. I jumped in at the last minute to help some friends work with Casas por Cristo to build a house over the weekend. This is the same organization I worked with in high school; it’s going to be a good time. I know the border towns can be a tad…dangerous. Please be praying for our team that we will use our God-given abilities and humble spirits to do something bigger than ourselves.
The rich and poor have this in common: the Lord made them both. (Proverbs 2:22)
p.s. I’m loving this illustration by Marie Bergeron via Dribbble.
Sometimes I stumble across a twitter bio that makes me say, “Damn, that’s a nice bio.” I’d like to create a safe place to recognize those bios in my life.
1. @sarahschneider: I put the ‘fun’ in this sentence.
2. @SHAQ: VERY QUOTATIOUS, I PERFORM RANDOM ACTS OF SHAQNESS
3. @bjnovak: One time Larry David was seated at a table behind me at a restaurant.
*Illustrations by K. F. E. von Freyhold for Hasenbuch (Germany, 1908) via 50Watts
Those Half Orange cats are at it again! Katie and Stancy are hosting another killer photography workshop. I helped out a bit last year and I was so impressed that I’m going again — this time to learn. Extra loaded and jam packed value in those two days. Spots are filling up, so be sure to contact them if you’re interested. Click here for details.
*photos & flier by Half Orange
There will be words at a later date, but right now I must reslish in my joy.
Right now I’m listening to “Some Nights” real loud because 2012 is all about FUN.
I’m filling out my book logs. Before submitting to Penguin, you have to copy and paste all of the captions and write descriptions for what goes with what. Not bad, just busy work.
But now I’m at the end.
That means my book is basically done.
(Keep in mind that “Some Nights” is still playing and I feel like I’m in a movie.)
I want to cry.
*Photo from Ameile (Bande à Part – Dazed & Confused September 2010)
Life lesson acquired from said article: life unfolds only in moments.
You never have to deal with more than one moment at a time. Your embarrassing moment from middle school is no longer a moment; it is a memory that you are reliving in this moment. One at a time. Breathe deep and relax. David writes, “Moments can be observed with clarity, and can be navigated deftly, but our whole lives are just too vast to be managed at all, no matter how strong or organized we become.”
Just read it. I promise it will be worth your while, or your money back.
*photo taken in Meghann’s apartment when I visited Chicago this summer. Yes, I’m digging into the archives.
I’ve had it. I did this a while ago and it went so well that I thought I’d never go back. It was amazing! Life changing! I was actually living the way I already gave myself credit for living! I realized how much time I had wasted and how much I was saving!
I’m an internet addict. Partially understandable due to my job, but it’s been ridiculous lately. Maybe my (mostly) four days off put me in withdrawal? Hope not because that would be sad, but it’s already sad so I need to move on. This isn’t about Facebook, in particular. I’m checking my email, Twitter, I’d Rather be Short Twitter, my Instagram, my I’d Rather be Short Instagram, blog stuff, etc. WAY TOO MUCH. It’s just a ranky habit that needs to stop. It doesn’t have nicotine, so I should be fine.
I’m going to go back to checking these sites twice a day. No more. I will report early next week and we’ll see where to take it from there. It’s embarrassing that I have to make a blog post about it, but it was the greatest when I followed through last time. One nice thing about the blog is I have people to hold me accountable. If you find yourself compulsively checking email or _____, please join me. I need to separate myself from my work and online self because those are secondary, and mustn’t get any more credit than just that.
God is so good! One year ago I was in Asheville spending Thanksgiving with my BFF Alicia. We ate at Cracker Barrel and had a great time hanging out in that cool city. I remember I was designing the Chipper Things header and I think I experienced the greatest biscuit of my life. Never did I think I’d be where I am just 365 days later.
Today my brother and sister-in-law fly into Waco. We are going to feast until we pass out (fingers crossed). 14 lbs. of turkey for three people; we best do some damage. We’re headed to Austin tomorrow and San Antonio Saturday and Sunday. If you have any must-do suggestions, let me know! I’ve got some ideas but we’re still down for more.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. If you’re reading this right now then you are the reason I do this more than once a month. I hope your day is full of blessings and thankfulness. Our creator is so full of love — let’s remember to give Him the credit for our bounty of joy.
*photos with the fam in Chicago, July 2012
Something I knew but didn’t know:
Progress is like a diet. I’m in the design world, so I am able to see progress with my eyes. (Note: design isn’t just aesthetics)
If you are generally a healthy person and you’re trying to lose weight, you know you have to hit the gym hard. You opt for the smoothie over ice cream. Fruit becomes a treat. You rarely splurge, so when you do, you know it’s going to be the best damn cupcake in the state. Time + good habits + baby steps will make a difference, but the harder you go, the faster you will hit your goal.
Why are our vocations or hobbies any different? Perhaps some of us are healthy and in no hurry to improve. Maintaining the same pace will inevitably lead to expertise years down the road. But when I see people like Jon Contino or Jessica Hische going balls to the wall to perfect their craft, I realize that why everybody fawns over their work. They weren’t born with a magic gene; I think they just work like mad dogs. They have young faces and old sensibilities.
The book constantly has me evaluating my rhythm and flow. I never ever thought it would be this much work, but it’s 100% worth it. I look back on the earliest drawings and I see a completely different illustrator: charming, but not stretched. It’s amazing to know that when the book is finished, I also get to keep the best version of my craft. I have so much to learn, but what a beautiful thing practice is. Moving in fast forward was the boot camp I didn’t know I needed.
*Photos of Swan Lake by White Worm
It was another book weekend. We’re so close! Book time = extra long Spotify sessions in my tiny apartment. Friends were Instagramming the heck out of that crazy Baylor game. But I, I was jiving with my aloe vera plant to some good tracks on repeat while triple checking caption titles. It was an oldies-hip hop-folky gospel kind of time.
1. Mamas and Papas. MVP: California Dreamin’
3. The Welcome Wagon (produced by Sufjan Stevens). MVP: But for You Who Fear My Name
Mina has done it again! Check out this boss outfit she put together for all of us short folk!
I’m not a shopaholic. I don’t buy clothes or shoes without thinking twice — but it happened. I fell in love and as every head over heels woman does, I had to share. Today’s look is pretty basic. It’s black and classy. It leaves room for the coat to shine. It’s glorious. — Mina
Read the Mindset by Carol Dweck. It’s awesome. Then you’ll say, “Don’t tell me what I am capaple of!” or “I don’t need your affirmation!” or “I have everything it takes!”
Then you’ll ironically tell people they have to read it and so the cycle continues.
Still a fool for such portraits. I can’t wait for my new Ebay camera to come in the mail. I impulsively bought a new Pentax, because, well, I was tired and in the mood for taking pictures. I was using my mom’s from college, but the lens went bad and I knew it would be cheaper to just order a new one. I’m also wanting this guy from Urban. I should really use my digital SLR more, but I’d rather mess with the few settings on film than the endless possiblities on digital. Maybe I’m thinking backwards, but I do wear short sleeve sweaters, and I can’t find it in me to get excited about microwaves. I suppose none of this should be a surprise.
P.S. Keep up the great work, Jeana Sohn. Your photos are what make the internet a happy place.