• Quick and Dirty Guide | Side Hustles for Artists
  • Featured Artist Interview | Nikki Moddelmog
  • Asian Skin Care: Routine and Review
  • Quick and Dirty Guide : What to Do About Design Theft

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Featured Artist Interview - Amy Sharp

Amy Sharp is a bright and energetic photographer from Hesston Kansas. She and I sat down recently to talk about her photography and what inspires her. We had never met and at first had attempted to do our interview over Skype, but quickly came to realize that we had to meet face to face. 

AT: How long have you been doing photography and how did you get started?
AS: I'm relatively new to photography, I've been working for 3 years - it's my 3rd season as far as wedding and portraits. I started in the fall of 2013 with a passion for sustainability and art. Sustainability was at the forefront of my brain at that point. I was thinking that I would start a blog about simple living and small scale homesteading. You know, big garden, edible landscaping, no TV, make my own yogurt, etc.
So I planted things like goji berries, which by now have died. One year I made my husband help me preserve freaking 91 quarts of applesauce.  I bought my camera with the intention of making all that happen.  But it never manifested totally - except for the pictures. I had been posting my photos on Facebook and there was this low key wedding - it was like the Wednesday before the Saturday wedding when the bride messaged me. She said, "you know my mom says I should have a photographer." So I did, and it was my first paying gig.
After that everything was very organic. My vision swung that way and it stopped being about the blog and more about - you know, what is this photography thing? I realized that I have a pretty strong aesthetic, and I started to wonder: what kind of photographer do I want to be? and how do I make pictures look good?

AT: As far as making photos look good, do you have any one that you follow that inspires you?
AS: The fine art photography has a 'look' to it. There's a sort of wedding soft, over-saturated look - Jose Villa is the person who started that look. He's the best of the best! He is so good, completely cliche and famous - but he is always on point. Compositionally he is just sooo good. All my life I've perused, you know, like Harpers Bazaar and W Magazine - just pored over the pictures wondering why do I like this? What makes this a good picture? What's the angle, what's the light, what's the mood? Jose Villa always hits those points with complete accuracy and has just got the whole thing down. My photography doesn't have that same look at all, but it has always been my goal to direct my subjects with just as much skill. Trying to attain that high level of perfection has always been my goal.

AT: Looking at your pictures I can tell that you're not going for that - your photos have this sort of organic feel to them, kind of home grown. Where do you think that comes from? Do you have an art background?
 AS: I have always liked beautiful things, and I'm from a family who likes things to look 'just so.'  But I'm also from a very small farming town in Nebraska, a Mennonite community. There, the artistic lifestyle is not the norm.  Art is within me, and it's the lens through which I view the world, but it was never innately a viable option as a career. I mean, my dad's a mechanic, my mom's a nurse. One of my earliest memories is seeing the final gasp of the old homesteading tradition.

When I was like 5 years old I remember my extended family getting together and butchering a pig - and it's ironic to me that doing that now would be so hipster and blog-worthy. I grew up with all of that.  I feel like you can call it extremely modern, or you can call it old school. A lot of my early life I spent outside, tending the chickens, growing our own produce - all of which is very novel and hip right now - and it's something we did normally as a family. What's great is that now I can be  the silly, overachieving granola-mom type that I am, and it's now highlighted and promoted in our culture. But when I was growing up, and even where I went to college, art was never highlighted. It was never on my radar as something an option that one studies. So it wasn't until my 30's that I truly even considered it.

AT: What has changed now that you're doing photography? You're not just a mom in a garden anymore!
AS:So after my son was born 8 years ago I was so glad to take the time off and be around. Now I work part time - a shift or two a week and doing photography on the weekends - and striking a balance is always a struggle. It's hard to transition from muse mind to get-dinner mind - they're very different head spaces for me. My husband is very validating and is totally like 'YES! let's help you get you where you want to go!'  But at the same time, his job, being the one with the steady paycheck, takes priority.  So he'll have the kids a lot when I'm doing shoots, but during the fall he's very busy with coaching and sometimes it becomes hard to exit out of work mode for both of us. We have to remind each other to slow down.

AT: So it's been three years since you started doing this and people are paying for your aesthetic - how has that affected you mentally? Has photography been helpful in your world?

AS:  Can I say - that it's debatable whether it helps or not?! It's really quite the Pandora's box I mean, photography has opened up this whole new thing and for that is wonderful and exciting and it's what I want and love to do. But at the same time, I have to admit that, more than it should, it turns into obsession versus a healthy balance. But I can't really say that doing photography has changed who I am. The artist Georgia O'Keefe said something that resonates with me:
"Filling a space in a beautiful way.- that is what art means to me." 
Photography has shown people that I have an aesthetic - that I have the ability to fill space in a beautiful way (-) and that I'm not just a friend with a camera. Reaching my mid 30's and starting something new has been very good.

AT: You're in your 30's? I thought that you were my age and I'm 28, so good job!
AS: Thank you! I'm freshly lotioned! It's been great getting older. THIS is who I am. I feel good. All my life I've struggled with bouts of depression and a sort of general melancholy, but being properly treated and feeling emotionally even has been good. As as kid, I remember being honestly fearful of the next time depression would set in. When I was depressed it felt like the clouds would come down and choke me, and I couldn't find words - and words are my thing - so it almost felt like this sort of dementia  I have been on a generic form of Prozac for five years and those feelings, thankfully, have vanished. It doesn't feel false or like I'm medicated.
Kids don't always get a depression diagnosis though. I think people just saw me as an intense and kind of stubborn kid. Then in high school and college I suffered from bulimia.  Although, I don't think people really knew.  I was outgoing, jovial, but it was fake.  It was so weird to have this secret, dark part of me but at the same time to live this false popularity - like, see everybody, I'm fine! I have a ton of friends and blah blah blah! But over the years I've gotten healthier - therapy, good friends, faith - all of these have helped. I believe that the tiniest nuggest of truth/hope/love have the power to add up to big life altering change. I haven't had any issue with bulimia for over 15 years and the depression was finally fully treated.

AT: If you had not gotten treatment do you think you'd be doing photography today?
AS: No. No. I don't think I'd be doing photography. I would be living a sad life aware that I have a lot more to give. The feeling of being a person that was loving life was in there during that time, but it was stuck inside. I'm empathetic and hyper sensitive which serves me well when relating to people but can also be overwhelming and social anxiety inducing. Taking medicine has helped with that.

Amy Sharp's photography can be found both online and on her Facebook. You can follow her on Instagram. Amy would like to thank her husband for his support. Also thanks to Genny Werth and Liv Grant of Haute Handmade Pop Up Market and Justin Lister for recent opportunities. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Quick & Dirty Guide - Mo' Money Mo' Problems P2: Sales Techniques for Your Side Hustle

In Part I of my 'Mo' Money, Mo' Problems' guide I talked about what side hustles artists can do, but didn't really expand very much on how to get actual buyers of your products.

So today we're going to chat about all the different things that go into selling your side hustles.

 1. Who is the Ideal Buyer?
An idea buyer is not 'everyone'. For example, if you would normally do illustrative art with watercolors and soft pastels you are not going to target industrial businesses for your side hustle coloring pages. You might instead target women's blogs to see if they'll feature your art as a paid download. Selling coloring pages to local bookstores and boutiques. Identifying your style and it's best market will increase the chances your side hustle will be profitable.

2. What is the Benefit to the Ideal Buyer?
Going with the first example, let's say that you've decided to go local with your products and have decided that the highly popular women's boutique downtown is your Ideal Buyer.
You've done some research and discovered that they're already carrying a line of professionally printed mandala coloring pages. So you decide to offer them a coloring book of your home town's most iconic sights to sell at their check out line. It's a unique product and will sell well due to hometown pride.

3. What is the Price?
One of the biggest problems that artists have is knowing what their pieces are worth, and a lot of times the formula that has been around for years produces prices that people in our current economy aren't willing to pay without some kind of assurance that what they're buying is worth it. Now, a color page, a quick logo, or anything else you're doing with your side hustle is not fine art. Don't sell it that way.

Decide on a price point for yourself. Let's say we want to sell our coloring pages at .99 cents each. Well, that's fine and all, but if I'm just offering one page at .99 cents, what is the value to the customer? They can literally go online, download a whole bunch of pages, and have each one printed off at kinkos for 10 cents a page. On nice paper no less!

So instead lets offer a VALUE: An entire 20 page coloring book unique to your hometown for $13. Offering more pages gives your product more heft and more value. Making the product about your town makes it unique, at the $13 wholesale price point, you've given your buyer the ability to price it well and make a profit. (Also, for one reason or another odd numbers tend to sell better. No idea why.)
This idea could easily be applied to any town, any where, so when you're thinking about your side hustle, always think about how you can scale it up.

4. Make the sale:
Okay so we've printed up a run of 10 coloring books for $20, maybe $30 if we went fancy on them and decided to have them collated and stapled, so now it's time to sell them. You can do this two ways - you can either do a cold call, cold message, or cold drop by. You'll have to figure out what is the most appropriate for you and for the business. Some owners are never at their place of business, and some don't answer the phone. It may take awhile to figure out who you need to talk to and when.

So let's assume you've cleared that hurdle and have the owner engaged with you. What do you say?!

Talk about the benefits of your product, the price you expect to get from it, and then let them figure out what they want to charge their customers. Something like this:

"These coloring books will be great for your customers since local pride is so huge right now. As you can see on the cover it says 'MADE LOCALLY' which immediately sparks the curiosity of the customer, regardless if they intended to purchase a coloring book or not. If you put these by the register they'd sell very quickly. Don't you agree?"

Don't you agree? 
Bam! You just sold 10 coloring books! Congrats!

Now, if you're not into making coloring books but have a question about selling your own side hustle, comment below or feel free to e-mail me at hello@snarkandstring.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Aaaand We're Back!

Okay, technically I got back last Thursday, but I wanted to take a little break and get settled into work and home life before returning to the wonderful world of the internet! Before Matt and I left he had an issue with his house leaking and now his apartment is pretty unlivable. We've been moving some of this stuff over to my house, ehem, our house and it's taken a bit of mental energy trying to Tetris everything! Hopefully he'll be all set to move in by the first of August! Exciting!

On top of that I'm working on a project called Big Brave Dream (you can find it on Facebook and IG!) that I'll probably end up pushing back until September.
Aaaaand I just applied to take some online college classes.

Life is always exciting.

As far as Snark and String - everything will return to normal next week. Check back for Part II of Mo' Money, Mo' Problems , an artist interview, and at least one guest post!

Thanks for keeping up with me!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

I Love The List of Ziusudra by Scott Dean Taylor

Dear readers, as you know I'm on vacation this week! Hurrah! During this time I've decided to feature the thoughts of my friends. Hope you enjoy and don't forget to leave a comment! - Arcadia

I love The List of Ziusudra. It’s five hundred years older than our first poem, and one thousand years older than our first story. 
Ziusudra, the first essayist according to D'agata
D’agata calls it the first essay:

“it’s a mind’s inquisitive ramble through a place wiped clean of answers. It is trying to make a new shape where there previously was none.” 

I like to believe art has an infinite number of definitions. If you have to ask if something is art, then art it becomes. If you believe in a god, then nature is art. When I am analyzing anything, these beliefs are never far from my mind. It’s important to note that these statements keep me in a constructed view of reality that presumes every thing I sense is art.

Everything I experience is elevated and more fulfilling to analyze through this lens. Everything is art; not everything is great art.

And but so now, we live in Wichita, Kansas. 163.59 square miles and 382,368 people. It’s the 48th largest city (by population) in the US. We have local art. Painters, musicians, poets, writers, directors, and actors have worked and will work here forever. What is the point of this local art? Kansas City (36th on the list of Largest Cities) is only 3 hours away. Oklahoma City (27th) is even closer. With the internet and cheaper traveling costs Chicago(3rd), L.A.(2nd), and New York(1st) are easier to access than ever.

We don’t need to create.

 From their couch Wichitans can comfortably consume wonderful works from world class artists in L.A, New York, and Paris instantly. We don’t need to create. Maybe we shouldn’t. But wait, we have good art here. Don't we? 

• A Goldbarth essay. 
• Samuel Ramey’s voice. 
• A Bodo show. 
• Anything the Love family does.
 • Maria Elena’s voice (and her guitar player).
 • A Dale Black bass solo. 

So, great art is made in Wichita. These people prove that. Now we just need to nail down the point: Why should we, in Wichita, create art?

I could quote a million great authors with answers to this question but David Shields, in his great collage book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, quotes Nietzsche as saying,

“It is my ambition to say in sentences what everyone else says in a whole book — what everyone else does not say in a whole book.” 

Wichitans should create art for the same reasons 
everyone should create art. 
1. To raise the consciousness of humanity. 
2. To find an objective good. (or, you know, see god).

 Art is here for us to find freedom together. It is our greatest tool for achieving universal enlightenment together. We might be able to see god together. But only through great struggle and friction. “We live in difficult times; art should be difficult.” - Shields himself this time.

There is the key. In this instance, struggle and friction manifest themselves through criticism. We owe it to our community to have multiple analytical conversations about every artistic venture carried out in this town. Most of the time this will mean talking shit. Bad is out there; it’s recognizable (sometimes even more than good).

Critical thinking (and speaking) creates filters for artistic development. An artist that is critically analyzed is forced to stare in the face of that censure and make a choice about future creations. Whether the artists says, “That’s bull shit. That analysis is way off,” or, “Well, there is merit to that analysis.” the artist is required to make a decision in order to move forward. The more decisions like this - and they add up fast - the better the art is.

Wichita deserves a rigorously scrutinized art world. We deserve the one and two star reviews so we can get to our five star reviewed work. There is a lot of positivity for positivity’s sake in the weak world of Wichita art and culture reviewing.

I mentioned Ziusudra’s list earlier to show how people commented on society in the list form at the beginning of recorded art. Making a list of the “25 Reasons I Love Wichita” is a warm (cheap) and polite (pandering) way to get some likes on a blog or status update. It gives pride for a moment, then we move on. Where Ziusudra’s list “is trying to make a new shape where there previously was none,” lists of the best things about or in Wichita just comment on the shape of things that have always existed and will always exist in almost every town on the Earth.

We also have “critics” who pump out positive thoughts about local art under the guise of support. This does nothing. It might get some people out to the art gallery, or out to a concert, but positivity without negativity is meaningless. Wichita is in desperate need of shit-talking. So, here is what I hope for.

I hope English grad students get off their 6th floor Infinite Jest hideout and start wrestling with Goldbarth. 
I hope we start having positive and negative conversations about the state of local writing in a public way. I hope more music students put bands together and start playing non-paying gigs of original music so we can make them suffer through our criticism. 

I hope someone starts bravely publishing reviews of local art shows.

 I hope we all grow up to be critics some day.
 Through struggle, to beauty. 

Curious about Scott's other thoughts? Check out his interview and leave a comment below!

Monday, June 27, 2016

ARTLESS - A First Friday Event at CityArts that You Will Kick Yourself If You Miss.

Starting this Friday, July 1st  at CityArts, the first night of the event ARTLESS will take place. The focus is on public collaboration with Wichita artists which will allow for participants -aka you and I, the Artisanal Plebs – to hangout, create, and make mistakes with seven of Wichita’s best known artists, as well as an opportunity to participate in a collaborative mural by the ICT Army of Artists - the collective responsible for Avenue Art Days and the North End Urban Arts Festival.

So here’s the lineup for the event:
Wade Hampton - the creator of the current WU Shock Logo, 
Steve Murillo – who is responsible for the solar calendar in Riverside Park
Kathleen Shanahan – whose work has graced billboards for Wichita Ballet and 89.1 KMUW
Charles Baughman – a nationally known artist and long time educator of the arts
Dustin Parker –  Mixed media artist and Producer of Proteus Mag
Chuck Dooms – a celebrated digital artist
Josh Tripoli – an up and coming artist as well as the producer of the event itself.

That’s right. 
You will get to hangout, make art, and high-five some of the most prolific Wichita Artists our generation has ever seen.


I haven’t seen half as many people talking about this event as I’d like. This is an opportunity that should not be missed by anyone who is even remotely interested in art because you get to really engage with the artist about every level of their process, technique and even their history.

Do yourself a favor and just go see this at the very least. Even if you're shy, are afraid to pick up a paint brush, or are expecting a migraine that evening - do yourself a favor and make yourself go. Do whatever it takes, and at the very least take the opportunity to see these artists in action. 

And please, for the love of god, take pictures! I won't be able to attend - Matt and I will be hanging out with family in Maryland - and I'm super bummed that I can't go do this! So, do it for me! Take pictures, learn some stuff, and then tell me what it was like!

If you are also on vacation then we'll just have to check out the Final Friday exhibition, July 29th, at CityArts of all the work that will be created on the 1st Friday, and maybe even buy a piece! All the pieces will be auctioned off and the proceeds for the show will be used to benefit Wichita arts.

Don't miss this!!!

More info can be found on the Facebook event page, Artless: A Community Art Experience or by contacting Josh Tripoli,  jtripoli13@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Featured Artist Interview - Johnny Sutton

Johnny Sutton is an international traveler and artist that occasionally comes back to Wichita to visit his daughter Georgia, his friends, and do interviews with curious young people such as myself. Johnny has been an artist for as long as he can remember, "I started painting - well the first exhibit I had was actually in high school - but I've been doing artwork every since I was tiny." Johnny's lifelong commitment to art has taken many forms over the years - painting, writing, photography - and recently has taken a turn into the realm of mixed media.

A: When did you first get into doing art?
J: I had a lot of exhibits in Wichita during the 70's and 80's, but stopped for awhile in the 80's get married and start a family. In 2000 I started doing photography - my hands were damaged in an explosion, and I couldn't paint for several years, but I could push the button on a camera
so my creativity went towards that and away from painting. Photography just became something that I liked. I still have a bunch of stretched canvases at home in the closet that I take out every once in awhile and put right back.

A: Are you not painting then at all anymore? Or are you doing a little of both?
J:What I've been doing lately is really starting with a blank canvas and putting together bits and pieces from photographs - dozens, sometimes 40 or 50 photographs - I'll take parts of the photographs and then create my own image. It's more like painting because I'm creating my own thing instead of just documenting an object or taking a picture of an object. I know a lot of photographers, but I don't feel like I have much in common with photographers. I feel like I have more in common with sculptors and painters because they're more of the mindset that you start with nothing and then create something. Some of the pieces I end up with are recognizable images, but the image that I've made doesn't exist in reality . Other times I put them together in a completely abstract way.

A: I read a little of your 1st book and know that it was a lot about a certain town and people in Italy, is the second book a continuation?
Johnny takes out his favorite parts of a book, puts the cover back on and only keeps what inspires him
J:  The second book, Stone the Crows, isn't written as a sequel, I call it a parallel story, and the third one is the sequel to the first one. The second book is set entirely in a four towns in western Sicily that continued the feudal system at least up until recent history. The story is about power and a how just a few elite people have the power and are in control. There's no education, no middle class - there's just the upper class and the worker bees. The people in that situation really have no rights or hope of getting out of it. There were a few instances where someone would send their son to overseas - which to them was mainland Italy - and he'd get a construction job or something and would finance his brother to come, then the neighbors would see what was going on and try it to. So then the bosses got wind of it and passed a law that no one could leave. I wanted to know what kind of history would lead to a society like that and I started seeing there were forks in the road, red flags, that lead them to that. Then I began to see there have been some of those same red flags here. It's a story about a few extremely wealthy people having control over everyone else.

A: These stories are insanely dangerous to write, and I can understand why you wouldn't publish them, but why would you keep writing them?!
J: I expect to send Stone The Crows off to agents and publishers to see if anyone is interested in publishing it. But there could be problems with publishing the first one, and I'm just sitting on it for the time being. In fact, I wasn't even thinking of publishing it while I was writing it. The challenge, once I started, was to get it finished. I know a lot of writers who would give their right arm to call themselves a published author, and I've never felt that way. I don't have as such of a big drive to get it published as I've had to get it written. Because of all of the exhibitions I've done in Italy, Croatia and other places - those places have been my outlet to the public. I just don't feel as compelled to do that with writing.

A: You've traveled a lot in your life - your last show at Fiber Studio here in Wichita was of Italian Street art - how has traveling effected your overall outlook?
J: At one point I had an old Volkswagen bus and I was going down to Galveston - there was a cold front in Galveston by the time I got there - so I went on South to Corpus Christi, and it was cold there, so I just went to the border. They wouldn't let me cross because all I had was my drivers license - I was just going to Galveston! So there was a little place down the road that had a notary so I swore, yes I am myself, took that piece of paper to the border and they let me through. It ended up being a 5000 mile trip that I didn't plan and it was great. I've been Italy several times, Greece, Ireland, Malta, Croatia - a lot of other places.
When I was in my 20s, I traveled all over Europe for half a year with nothing planned ahead of time. I landed in Paris and found a room after I got there and then just took things a day at a time. I loved it. Rambling around isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it suited me fine. It taught me that I didn't need to be afraid of the unknown, that I could handle any problems as they came up. I've run into travelers along the way who told me they would be afraid to travel that way. I've never had that fear. I've done so much traveling and started so young I guess I just assume that everything is going to turn out. And it has. When my daughter Georgia was, I think 17 or so, we went to Europe for 3 months together and we traveled that way - we didn't plan anything - half the time we'd sleep on trains. We'd find a good over night route to a town, explore a it for a week or so, then go on to the next one. It happened a couple of times where we'd be in a town for awhile and just look at each other and say "let's get out of here" and we'd just go back down to the train station to see what trains were going where, and get on one.

A: Do you think that your experience with traveling, learning patience, and your 'it'll turn out okay' mindset have influenced how you approach your art?
J: I learned to let the process just carry me along for the ride in hopes it would turn into something worthwhile.

A: Are writing and the art world similar things to you?
J: Writing and making artwork are two totally different things. When I'm doing photography or painting, it feels very natural. I'm running on instinct, and who knows where the ideas come from....

A: You're about to leave again for Italy, what are you looking forward to artistically?
J: I've had opportunities in the past to work with different galleries but never really had any interest in it.This last winter, I don't know but something just clicked, and I decided to start working on some of those projects. I've been working with a group in Venice, Arzana, it's a group of private people that got together to rescue, preserve and save historical boats. There are a lot different types besides the gondola, which is what most people are familiar with, and this group is preserving them in a museum setting. I did a series of artwork that was based on boats - I call it the boat series - I had a big showing of the photographs about four years ago and the Arzana society was interested some of the photos. They invited me into the museum and let me take as many pictures as I wanted. It's in an old boat works and it was really pretty cool.

A: What has changed that made you want to start doing these projects?
J: It makes me feel like I'm part of the community. It feels like home there, I got out of the tourist boat years ago. There's a lot of frustrating things about the business of art and the way the bigger galleries out there, not here, about how they work. There's a lot of reasons why people want to be a visual artist - fame, fortune, to fit in with your peers, oh probably a 100 reasons - none of which have to do with the work itself. I know I could've done a lot more as far as having an art career if I had ever felt driven to. I know I've missed a lot, but a lot of what I've missed out on is the stress and worry that it takes to be in that world. You can't just set it aside and go to Malta. For example when I stopped painting for awhile in the 80's, I got to start a family. Even now I can go where ever I want and when I come back I usually don't pick up where I left off. I come back my artwork and photography are at another level. There's all that world out there, and getting in touch with that through art lets me connect with something bigger than myself.

You can connect with Johnny Sutton on Facebook, check out his work at Emprise Bank and Oeno Wine Bar here in Wichita, and wait with me for his next exhibition when gets back from visiting Italy over the summer. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Quick & Dirty Guide - Mo' Money, Mo Problems Part 1: Side Hustles for Artists

Google 'side hustle' and you'll get suggestions for everything from dog walking to starting a drop shipping business. It's pretty hilarious actually to see all of the suggestions because the writers of those articles know that about 98% of people reading them won't actually start any kind of business at all, so the suggestions can be pretty far-fetched.

Let me tell you, anything that sounds like an actual job is not a side hustle. I mention this because the 2nd hit on google is for a website that suggests that being a barber or cosmetologist is a side hustle.

 Those are actual professions.

If you're reading this blog chances are you're an artist or have a creative talent. So while I have no issue with artists of any sort walking dogs or selling magazine subscriptions, it's important to remember that as an artist you have a certain set of skills that no one else has. Sure, there are other graphic designers, writers and musicians out there but they don't have your eye, your ear or your imagination. Knowing that your are a unique individual with specialized skills is key to making your side hustle profitable. 

In the first interview I ever did for this website Zach Rathbun said that most people thought of his skill as some sort of magic. And he's not wrong.

As an artist you have a unique gift that a lot of the people in your community do not. If you're still working odd jobs, or even have a regular 8-5, starting a side hustle can be a lucrative way to a) build your resume and b) get some beer money.

There's always the possibility that you'll be able to turn your side hustle into a regular gig.

So what are some good artistic side hustles?


- Face painting at birthday parties and events
- Mural Painting for chidren's bedrooms
- Children's portraits
- Self Published Adult Coloring pages
- Chalk Board Artist

How to get started: Design yourself a flyer, get it copied at Fedex Office and post it everywhere. Don't be afraid to talk to people with children and offer your business card. Protip: Talk to parents at high-end casual places like the waiting area of nice restaurants/coffee shops. Opening line: "Your son/daughter is so cute! How old are they?"


- Advertising Copy for small and local businesses
-  Ghost Write articles for niche businesses
-  Self Publish an e-book to the Kindle Store, this could take you awhile depending on the topic!
- Resume Writing
- Press Releases

How to get started: Think about the major industries in your area and google search for small businesses that have lack luster websites. Find their e-mail contacts and shoot them a quick e-mail selling yourself and your plan for their need.


- Voice Overs
- Jingle Writing
- Busking
- Weddings
- Proms/Reunions

How to get started: Locally you could connect with a photography studio and trade 'name drops' for wedding packages. Search out 'Class of [relevant year] [name of city] High School' on Facebook and contact the group with an offer to play. Put an ad on Craigslist and on your artist Facebook page about jingle and voice over work.

Graphic Design

- Business Branding
- E-book Covers
- Infographics
- Product Mock Ups
- Social Media Header Designs

How to get started: This is pretty much the same as getting started in writing locally, all you need to do is offer your services to local businesses - especially ones that have crappy websites and logos. Even if you know nothing about how to build a website you can offer your services to make a company a sleek Facebook page or a new logo.

But what about just doing what you want? What about your original creative ideas? How do you get people to appreciate your original art, and more importantly...how do you get them to buy it?

E-mail me and we'll talk about it! I'd be more than happy to discuss strategies for getting your product in front of potential buyers - though I'll be honest here and let you know that for questions about music I'll probably end up linking you people who are more versed in that industry.

Friday, June 17, 2016

My First 60 Days of Blogging - What I've Learned So Far & FREE E-Book

First 60 Days of Blogging
I started blogging on April 11th 2016 with a simple 'hey folks, this is what I'm doing!' 
It has turned into something a bit bigger and a lot different from what I expected.

Here's what I've learned:

There Are No Haters
What has kept me from writing a blog and writing in general in the past has been a lack  of confidence and a fear of people being mean. True story. When I started the blog I prepared for an onslaught of rude comments, shit talking, and haters in general.

They never came.

Surprisingly, they never friggen came! I don't think that's because I'm a great writer or spectacular at blogging, rather I think it's because a) the 'haters' only existed in my mind b) most people are too busy to actually 'hate' on people.

Deadlines Are All In Your Mind
If you've been reading this blog much since I started you know that I've changed the schedule on it a couple of times. At one point I was posting everyday and running myself into the ground with phantom deadlines. It wasn't until Matt said, "there comes a point where you can't do anymore' that I realized I was making myself sick. Literally sick. 
The idea that I would disappoint my 'readers' if I wasn't posting every day was totally an idea concocted in my brain. Another fear concoction if we're being honest.

At about the point that I hit 20 posts, writing actually became easier. When I started I made an entire 'editorial calendar' (Pinterest told me to!) and wracked my brain trying to come up with ideas on what to write. Once I stopped following that everything was a lot less stressful. It does help that I have my bullet journal on me at all times to write down ideas, but for the most part I just write about whatever topic is interesting to me that week.

Building a Blog Does NOT 'Take Just 5 Minutes'
Could someone PLEASE tell all the jerks on Pinterest to take a hike?! Setting up a blog takes a good week, maybe longer if you don't know how to code. It's just not even a fraction as simple as they'd like you to believe. Do you know why they want you to believe that?
So you'll visit their site.
That's all it is. Just pretty, dressed up click bait and a lot of people fall for it. Then the next thing you know you've paid for a year's worth of hosting and bought a domain name and have no idea what to do with it. Don't do that.
If you want to blog, do your research. Find out what the best platform is (I use blogger - it's not the best or the most user-friendly) and weigh your options. 
Once you've decided, let me give you a couple of hints:

Step 1.Use Unsplash and Pexels for free stock photos.
Step. 2.Use those free stock photos with Canva.
Step 3. ???
Step 4. Profit

Gaining Views is More Work Than Writing
Another thing they don't tell you is that getting people to actually read what you write is seriously hard work. If you take a week to set up a blog, do yourself a favor before that process even starts - before you buy your domain - to find out if you have what it takes to do the actual 'marketing' for your blog. Though, to be sure if you're okay with shouting into the void, by all means - do you honey.

For the most part what I do is repost to Google+, my personal Facebook page, and Snark and String's Facebook page. From there I'll repost on relevant Facebook groups, Google+ groups and very occasionally I'll comment on another blogger's article with a link back. I don't do that very often and should probably try to connect with others more. 

There's a shit ton of other things I've learned and I'm sharing them with you in my free E-book '10 Days to Starting a Blog'. 

There is so much to stuff to do when you want to start a blog: choosing a name, registering it, finding a host, and then the whole actually making content! If you're curious about how to start a blog in 10 days, sign up below and you'll get a link to view the book for FREE!!!

If you have any questions about the above and want some in depth answers, just shoot me an e-mail. I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Featured Artist Interview: Nikki Moddelmog

Photo by Paula D Moore Photography

Nikki Moddelmog is a great musician, a talented massage therapist, and is profoundly relaxing to be around, which is why I was amazed to learn that there was a time that she dealt with intense stage fright:"My choir teacher had heard that I was doing a small show at Borders, when Borders Bookstore was still a thing, and drove all the way from Moundridge to see me play. She said to me, "I didn't believe it when they said you playing all by yourself. I had to come see it with my own two eyes."

A: How'd did you go from being nervous on stage singing in front of people in high school to playing guitar and doing shows?
N: I was married for about a year and half during that time met some really amazing people who were musicians. When they came home from work at night they didn't watch tv, they just played music - just every evening, come home, play bluegrass music.

So I was fascinated -  I thought, man, I want to do that, that sounds awesome! So 'she' showed me my first 5 chords and I bought a guitar at a pawn shop for $150 - the action was so high, it hurt to push the strings down, just terrible - literally no name on it at all. I still have it, but literally there's no brand, it may actually be a kit guitar. Anyway, Elderly Woman Standing at the Counter- I was in love with that song at the time, so I learned how to play it and I just fell in love with it. All I did was sit in my living room and sing. And then I got divorced.

A: What happened then?
N: Well, when you get divorced your social groups change. I didn't have a whole lot of friends, so for 6 months I'd come home from work every night and just play and started getting really into it. I was just learning covers by getting online, looking up the chord, and then listen to the recording. Then I came across this singer songwriter duo Terry Quiett and Guinn Walker and just adored their music, went to all their gigs. They're both very sweet. At one point I thought 'wow you're normal, and you guys are writing music and you're just normal people'. At the time I thought of songwriters as being people like Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan - famous people, but Terry and Guinn were normal people writing music and doing gigs - so I thought if they can do it then I can. So I wrote a song and said 'Terry I wrote this song' and he loved it and was so supportive. So then I wrote another one, and another one. It became something for me to do, and I ended up meeting all these people and making all these friends and support network. They just embraced me completely.

A: How do you think music has helped you?
N:  Music has always served as a coping mechanism. I think everyone has an outlet - painting or writing or whatever - but it's a way of expressing yourself and maybe saying the things that you can't maybe in real life. For instance maybe you can't just sit across the table from someone and say 'I'm totally in love with you', but you could write a song about them, and maybe not look at them while you're singing it! Falling in love is a very broad example, but whatever experience you have with another human being - or as a human being - happens across the board. We're all designed to go through the same experiences- humans fall in love, they deal with death, they lose their job, they get a job, they travel - all these different experiences that humans share are the key to songwriting. It's really finding a way to connect those experiences that isn't too specific to your own thing, yet is applicable across the board.

A: When you're writing a song how do you convey that connection from yourself to your audience?
N: Lyrically it's about writing things that everyone is able to relate to, about the experiences that everyone goes through from birth until death. That whole spectrum of emotions.
Sometimes its really hard to realize that everyone is connected though these experiences, especially when you've lost a loved one or are going through something traumatic - why me, why do I have to go through this - everyone goes through it, but you just get to go through it now at this very moment. How you cope with it, how you deal with it is going to shape the way you experience it the next time - we're all going to die, and we're all going to-if we let ourselves- fall in love and hopefully multiple times. Writing music helps me process whatever 'it' is. To me, you either deal with it or you stuff it and some people just stuff it, others journal and write all out, some people drink, or write songs. I don't think I'm different from most people.

A: How does writing songs to connect with others help you personally?
N: The last song I wrote was called 'Let Go' and it's all about - I'm too busy with details/too busy with friends,/fantasizing about a future I don't have yet - that's a lyric in it, because it's very real. The social aspect of being out, there's always something else to do because I don't want to look at it yet. The last song I wrote was 6-8 months ago, so this song is just a reminder to me to let go, let things be, quit trying to schedule everything - I've gotta go here, I've gotta go there - I'm very wound up inside and this song was me coping with that. So, the last verse is take a deep breath/I keep singing my song/realized the answers were there all along. Just reminding myself to just look and quit waiting for answers that aren't there, quit trying to be busy all the time, and writing helps me to focus those feelings, while actually playing helps me get over some of the social anxiety that I have. It gets me out in the world. Performing for people and them relating to it is a really cool thing for me. I've had shifts because of songs, where I've been listening to a song and realizing that 'oh I need to look at that' so helping someone in that way, makes me feel like I've done something good for another human.

Nikki has a website you can check out and catch her at Tanya's Soup Kitchen on June 18th with cellist Susan Mayo at 6p. Find out more about Nikki and follow her other project The Mischief Makers on Facebook.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Featured Artist Interview: Annie Bananie

Featured Arist Interview - Annie Bananie
Annie Bananie is a musician who plays in Domestic Drone and her solo project Evasive Flowers. She is a rare breed who is comfortable being completely upfront with the darkest parts of herself - quick to give a sardonic grin while talking about death and sadness. Her commitment to honestly sharing herself and her depression shine through in a mixture of beautifully raw and emotive songwriting. To be sure she possesses one of the strongest and most gorgeous voices I've personally ever heard.

AT: Tell me a bit about what you're currently working on.
AB:I started doing my solo project, Evasive Flowers, a few years ago which is all just me doing vocal loops - then I was invited to do some work with Domestic Drone by Matt Clagg who is also the drummer for Mystery Blood, Blood Tide and Tantric Shakes - he has done so much for this community. All of my bandmates are such incredibly talented and adorable people. It took a while for me to actually get over there because I didn't realize when he asked me to come sing on a song that he was inviting me to join the band. They're amazing and were my favorite instrumental band before I joined it and added vocals. So it didn't even occur to me for a while that I was being invited to actually do that with them.

AT: Has being in Domestic Drone changed the way you write music?
AB: When I write for Domestic Drone verses Evasive Flowers it is different. With Domestic Drone I'm immersed in all the different frequencies of everyone around me and what everyone else is doing - so I'm writing off what they're doing. Whereas with my own project - whether I write the lyrics first or start with the vocal loops - it all comes from me. So they're different because I'm going off what they're doing and I write based off what they're making. It's a wider range of sounds - I don't have a lot of bass like they do.- Which is changing because I've gotten better equipment.

AT:How is Domestic Drone different from Evasive Flowers for you personally?
AB:I have more fun with Domestic Drone. It is more fun to be in a room full of people who're all doing the
Domestic Drone at Barleycorn's
darkest shit ever and then we're all giggling in between. When I'm working on my own shit I'm surrounded by my own loops and my own sadness and  half the time I'm just - crying while I'm writing or singing - It's easier to laugh at yourself and have to a good time when you're with other people and making things with other people - whereas you're by yourself you just, you know, wallow. I wouldn't say that I like one more than the other, they're both about suffering and I like suffering!
Around this time last year Toby went to China and I focused more on Evasive Flowers, but as soon as Toby got back though, I was like alright - this is your center, this is your purpose. I missed it so much - it's funny - I don't know how I got along before being in that band. Even though band practice is only once a week it keeps me afloat and it's such as great source of positivity. They're all so fucking talented and I'm honored to work with them. It gives me - I don't know how to describe it - it makes me feel like I am the musician that I want to be, and I must be otherwise why would these amazing people give me the time of day? That's not a feeling I can get by myself. I don't know that writing makes me feel any better, but having to go outside and into the world because I created these tasks for myself.

AT: What inspired you to work with sound loops and vocalizations - your music isn't something that I see a large amount of women in Wichita doing.
AB: My influences are woman who make music, who are progressive and have a sort of indie vibe - Grimes, Bat for Lashes, Tori Amos. So, what I hear in my head and I try to make my solo work representative of are in that same tone - but the medium I work in, pedals and vocal loops are not what a whole lot of other women in Wichita are doing. They're not in the same scene, they're singer/songwriters as well, but they work in a different medium.

Annie Bananie
AT: Being a female in a scene that's mainly dominated by men have you ever gotten any shade for that?
AB: It's an issue in the same way that it's an issue to be a woman. It's an issue in the same way that people call Living Ghost hip hop because it's a black man doing something that is solo but is so far from hip hop that it's ridiculous. The most annoying thing I've ever been called was a one woman band - I'm a solo artist - I don't have a bunch of pulleys and I'm not, like banging a drum while playing harmonica or what the fuck ever. I can't play guitar - and I find it offensive to people who ARE one person shows. Like I use an ironing board, it's really a utilitarian table and sometimes I play shows on the floor because I've forgotten it - which you can't do with a band - it's weird. So I bring my ironing board and I'll get like 'Oh what's up little missy, you gonna iron my shirts?' and shit like that.

AT: I would punch. I would seriously throat punch if someone said that to me.
AB: My general response is 'music is women's work as well'. You gotta laugh at it!
AT: That should be on a tee shirt. I would buy that tee shirt!

AT: Is Evasive Flowers more personal than your work with Domestic Drone?
AB: I wrote this song about a guy and I had only played it about three times, but I was like - god dammit I don't know if I'm ever going to see you again you're going to hear this! So I brought him to a show and then I just completely just fell apart on stage - I got the loops out just fine but then I was crying while singing the lyrics - it was amazing - but I have to perform things for awhile to get them out, not because I don't have them right but because if someone is there to throw me off kilter - and someone often is - then I'm just going to do the worst job because I'm going to be that upset about sharing it with this person who I care about and am intending to impress.

AT: So with that is your music then a cathartic avenue or is it your naturally emotive state?
AB:  When I was younger, like 24 or 25, my mom would say to me 'Annie, you're an artist and you're not making anything and that's why you're crazy.' So I know that making music helps me and I finally feel like I have a purpose - not to make money or to start a family or anything like that - it's just about getting songs out. Creating a new song and feeling accomplished, having a good band practice, getting out of the house because you have a show - I show up to shows even when I'm sick or am wanting to kill myself. It's like, do you go to work or do you kill yourself? Well I don't want to disappoint people so, I can do the death thing later! I said I'd be at this show, so that's what I'm going to do. My word is my bond, so I have to show up. You're accountable to more than just yourself when you're in a band or have set up a show.

Interview with Evasive FlowersAT:What's been going on lately? I saw that hilariously dark screen shot on Facebook about boys not liking you and it cracked me up, but damn! Shit was dark!You're one of the few people that I see who is very upfront about your depression on social media without any vaugebooking or whatever it's called - and it's actually super nice!
AB: Ha! Thank you! I actually just heard that term recently, someone said to me 'I can't tell if you're vaugebooking about me' and I was like, 'girl if it were about you, you'd know. You'd be tagged in this post!'
I feel like I'm feeling right now mainly because I'm not recording. I feel like my whole life has been an emotive state, especially the last year, but I've always been an open person - you'll never get an 'I'm fine' out of me unless I mean it. I am releasing Ice Queen on a tape- so that's good. Kyle Cramb released it like a year ago online, but those songs are so far from anything that I'm doing now. I'm so ready to record - I guess I have about 20 unrecorded songs - so I'm kind of frustrated with myself about that. It's been a really, really rough year. I was seeing someone who I was very, very in love with and it didn't work out. So the songs that I write for Evasive Flowers now are about moving on, letting go, and progressing. This last year will -the heart break - will always be something that affects me. Just like everything other thing that's been hard that I've ever been through it's all making my music better.

AT:What has this past year been like for you?
AB:I look back - Facebook memories -I've always posted on there super actively and when I feel like 'I've never been this sad before' and then I'll see a post from 2013 about just the same sentiment and I'm like 'Okay, bitch you are depressed and it's not because of this breakup - it's you. It's who you are.' I feel like every time I've gotten my heart broken it's been worse than the last time. My friend Travis has said as you love more your ability to love increases and so it hurts more every time it doesn't work out because your capacity for love is greater - and that feels true.

AT:Have you ever thought about being on medication?
AB:I took Prozac during high school for a few months and I couldn't write. I've written poetry since I was 12 - and everything I wrote while on medication was just shit, so for me it's not an option. I didn't like it, I wasn't any less sad, the sun didn't shine any brighter - I was numb and there are more fun ways to feel numb if that's what you're going for. I would never tell anyone not to take medication, but for me any kind of medication slows my process in healing, where as making music speeds it up - sometimes to rates that can be uncomfortable at times.

I feel bad for people that love me and are in love with me, having to see me you know, just bawling and them thinking it's their fault. It's hard to explain to someone 'no baby, it's not you, I'm going through this thing because it's me.' So I'm very open in relationships about it, I'm not going to be in love with someone and let them think that they're the reason that I'm ultimately sad. I think it's harder for them though because I'm used to it. I feel like lovers struggle with it because they feel like they can't make me happy, but they do make me actually very happy when I am able to feel that.

AT: What do you think has been your biggest realization related to playing music?
AB: Being in plays, active in theater, choir - I was always trying to get a band together too when I was younger - but if I had I wouldn't have been forced to work out these songs on a loop pedal. I really like that I can make entire songs all by myself. I know that I'm not the first person to do it, but when I make what I make it's my shit and that's why I do it. I have people send me videos - one of my favorites is Arianna Grande covering Imogen Heaps' Just for now' - I'm pretty sure the original is all vocal loops - then Arianna Grande does it on her little loop station and even though those two songs are the same song, with the same methods -they sound completely different.

AT: We're all unique fucking snowflakes
AB: We are also the same decaying organic matter as everything else.
AT: I knew you were gonna take it there!
AB: Ha sorry! You said Fight Club, I said Fight Club.

Keep up with Annie via social media - Domestic Drone and Evasive Flowers  and follow her on SoundCloud - also check out Vegan Wednesday at R Coffee where Annie makes tasty vegan meals. (Next Wednesday she's promised a sassy and fresh mushroom dish! "Go Vegan and stop killing everything!") Let Annie and I know in the comments if you have any questions - I don't know if she'll give up her recipe for Vegan fettuccine Alfredo, but you can ask!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Budgeting 102: How to Live Cheaply

Budgeting on Less than 25k

So in the first post I covered how to make a budget. Let's say that you looked at that and realized that you make less than the average income for someone your age, or roughly $24,062 for someone under the age of 24. Assuming you get taxed at 23% like the rest of us, we'll say you take home $1,423 a month, or on average $355.76 per week.

Seems pretty low right?

Let's look at some guidelines to increase our quality of life while living within our means rather than having a victim mentality. If you make $355.76 a week and have student loans I highly recommend you log into your account at studentloans.gov and get going on some payment plans. While I advocate paying down your loans as quickly as possible, $1400 a month is not going to go very far if you're sticking 10% of your take home pay into debts. Look into consolidating if you have several open student loans and get onto a plan that takes your income into consideration.

So, car loans...What about those?
On $1400 a month car loan isn't feasible unless you have a way of making extra income outside of your normal job. It just isn't, because we want to survive and thrive, not just live paycheck to paycheck. This may mean that you won't be able to go out of town much on your own, but maybe you could help with gas if someone else drives.

Getting places: Having a car is expensive. It's one of those big purchases that you'll never get your money back on. Consider living close to work to cut down fuel expenses, riding a bike multiple times a week vs driving, riding with a co-worker, or using the bus (if you work 5 days a week in Wichita it comes out to around $60 a month to get to work.) Or you know, stop driving all together - which admittedly is pretty dang inconvenient, but

Drop your cell phone bill pronto. In this day and age you can get by on a burner phone for emergencies - I promise you'll live without access to Facebook all day, though honestly you'll find that a lot of places you go during the week have free WiFi and that your current smart phone works pretty dang well on it. Google has a phone app that can be used to make local calls on Wifi, but let's be honest...Who the hell calls anyone anymore? And instead of paying for Wifi at home use the library, or ask your neighbor if you can borrow their WiFi for a small fee.

On average most people spend about 30% of their take home pay on the place they live. At $1,423 a month this means you'll want to spend $426 or less on rent. Let's go with less. Way less. Get a roommate. If you're lucky and live in the Midwest like I do, apartments can be found at around $350-$400 a month if you'd like to live alone.

Find a place where you're paying only electric and one other small bill, or gas and one other small bill. Trying to pay both (with out roommates) will be a huge challenge and you'll fail - trust me on this one as I've been there and it was not a good time.

There are multiple ways to stretch your dollars here. So many in fact that I'm just going to name a few and link you to the rest. Learn how to cook, how to find deals, shop at places like Aldi and Sav-A-Lot. Big chains like Dillions and Kroger are not your friend unless you're sticking to the manager's special items. Consider getting a Costco membership if you're able to. For the rest, check out this article in Time from 2014, while it's a little dated it's still super helpful.

So let's line this out shall we?

Monthly Expenses: $1423
Rent: $365
Electric/Utilities: $60
Health Insurance: $129 (average cost for KS)
Groceries: $300
Commute: $60
'Fun' Money: $210 - (Averages about $6.77 a day, look for happy hour specials and invite friends over for dinner)
IRA: $100
Savings: ~$199

Weekly: Averages between $352 and $355 depending on how you (in this case me) average the above out to find your weekly totals.
Rent: $92
Electric/Utilities: $15
Health Insurance: $33
Groceries: $75
Commute: $15
'Fun' Money: $48
IRA: $25
Savings: $49

And there you have it. Obviously you can pull money from your 'fun' money category without worry, and even move some of your weekly savings into other areas. You'll notice I didn't put in a category for a phone. This is because I believe they're a waste of money. The cell phone was invented in 1973 and the crime rate has gone down since (funny story, some people attribute this to women being able to get abortions) so you'll be just fine without a cell phone. Though if you commute more than 5 miles between work and home in a remote area - go ahead and buy that burner phone.

I also did not account for children. If you're making this much money and you have kids definitely jump on government aid, live with your folks, or consider living with people who also have children in order to share childcare responsibilities. I personally have no experience with what it takes to raise children, but let me know in the comments what you're struggling with and I'll see what I can do to help you out with finding resources.

Extra Income:
Also think about what you can do as a side gig for more money. I am one of the only bloggers that will tell you NOT to do a blog. You'll notice I'm not trying to sell you an ebook on how to make money blogging, because the truth is those bloggers that do make money are selling you a guide on 'how to make money' - one of the oldest scams in existence. While I personally am working on an ebook to sell on this blog, it'll be about things like this post - not bullshit.

If you are interested in online commerce why not just dupe a website like thisiswhyimbroke.com? Or learn how to make Facebook quizzes and sell adspace?  While I haven't done this yet, I've looked into being a reseller of goods from China. Check out Alibaba and price some things that you think you'd be interested in, then open an Amazon store. Typically you can mark up the items around 60% and most consumers won't blink an eye.

Let me know in the comments what incomes and housing are like in your area - especially if you live in San Francisco where I hear the median rent for a 1bdrm apartment is close to 2k a month!

***The Amazon link for starting your own store is an affiliate link. If you start an Amazon store let me know! I will buy things!!**

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