Abundance…

As much as I admire simple, curated space – there’s a case to be made for abundance. Let me ask a question first- which organ of the body uses the most energy, the Heart or the Brain? The brain uses a full 20% of the human body’s energy. Sight, sound, scent and taste – these senses originate in the brain, That’s why visual images are so important in design.

The same brain that loves order also enjoys abundance. Half full or mostly empty are generally unattractive. In any type of brand or campaign for products- balance is key. A product page needs to be simple and curated. A special display benefits from negative space. Your physical store, the cover of a catalog, a travelogue or business blog even newsletter are the perfect places for abundance. And don’t get me started on our homes and gardens.

Abundance -without looking cluttered, stuffy or just plain messy- which is universally unappealing. Where to use it? Abundance is a design principle and when selectively, the human eye finds it appealing. Abundance is that satisfying sensation we feel when we see a good harvest, a basketful in fact!

Set an abundant bowl of fruit on a simple table and it immediately becomes more attractive. Common food displayed in rustic basket or a bundle of garlic on burlap speaks abundance to the eye. A well stocked store is far more appealing than empty shelves.

In the landscape, abundance is what we enjoy seeing. An ornate bench is a type of abundance. Used in just the right setting or proportion is beautiful. Generous bouquets are always a welcome sight and tends to warm a simple space up. Green plants generously added to even the most curated space, have a calm, cooling effect in an overly sunny space. Fresh flowers and plants always add to the experience of a home or an event.

I’m convinced one reason grazing boards are so popular is we like a generous spread and selection of food.

Coco Chanel loved her many ropes ..and ropes of pearls- her simple designs were often set off with generous strands of pearls.

And isn’t that what we really want? Generosity? Without saying a word- abundance is generous, satisfying and ‘no worries there’s enough to go around’.

Yes, abundance as a design principle is amazing. You can do this! I know you can- finding the right balance is key -with a bit of practice you’ll find other folks will appreciate it too!

Love y’all, Brenda

Simplicity…

Simple. Curated. Space. The concept of simplicity is at once easy and difficult to achieve. Ask any realtor the difference between the way a buyer sees a property is often a simple matter of getting rid of clutter. A simple, curated space is visibly more attractive.

Neutral paint colors actually help the buyer’s imagination as to how the place can be made their own. The mix of simplicity and abundance in landscape design is also highly prized. Though a cluttered, unkept yard is off putting. So, how do we choose? There’s an art to abundance and an art to simplicity in almost any design.

Businesses, large and small, are turning more and more to online shops to support the loss of in-store purchases. If you’re setting up an a product page, a website, an online shop or even an in store display- simple and curated helps your customer decide, then imagine your products as their own. Simple isn’t boring. The vintage wooden spoons aren’t lined up like soldiers, they’re artfully arranged with simplicity. Simple table settings may seem plain, yet the color will come from the food and personalities around the table.

If you’re a seller of unique one of a kind pieces- a simple display on frayed fabric is a simple charming display. I once wrote about my favorite small and useful kitchen tools, On white foam core board, I snapped a pic and the tools were easy to recognize. In store or an online shop, this sort of display is easy on the eye, very little explanation needed and easy to price.

Often a product needs a bit of interest, the black striped napkins and ladle become the stars. It’s simple and curated. Cooling racks might not look inviting on their own, add simple cookies- the buyer sees the advantage of owning one.

Often cooked food isn’t as pretty as the ingredients- my grandmother’s egg plate with a single egg sets the scene for deviled eggs. An iron skillet is simply beautiful- a pone of cornbread on a wooden table tell a story.

Before spices are blended- they’re more beautiful than the mix itself as a display. Pretty vintage white linens, a bowl, simple utensils only need a sprig of lavender for me to write a story!

Simple. Curated. Space. Works for almost anything. Simple, neutral and calm space is easy on the eye. It’s a subtle, yet Top Design Tip. Avoid overwhelm any time, now more than ever. Go easy on the eye as often as you can. Simplicity is at once easy and difficult to achieve. It’s doesn’t have to be perfect, just really good. This is one tip I’m confident will boost sales and with a little restraint- you can do it!

Love y’all. Brenda

*Easy Spice Blend:

1-2 Tablespoons Granular Coffee 3-4 Tablespoons Kosher Salt 1-2 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns 1 Tablespoon Paprika 1/2 – 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional) 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder 1-2 Tablespoons Pure Cane Sugar

*Grind spices together into a rough chop. Store tightly. Perfect as a rub for grilled Meats.

Time…

img_5706Whether we like it or not- Time passes. Think of a clock… before we can say Tick- it’s already become Tock. That’s how fast time goes by. Being busy is a good thing- yet as Thoreau said- ‘It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is- What are we busy about?’ I’ve asked myself this question almost everyday in the past few months…‘What will you do with this time?’ Some days my mind is sharp and I’m clear on what I’ll do with the time…other days seem like a blur. Some days I’m busy and yet it seems nothing gets done. Other days, I’ve been less busy, more focused and gotten more done in one hour than a whole day through. That’s the problem isn’t it? Our minds are often so overwhelmed, then when the noise is turned down, we filter out the urgent and are focused and productive on the important.

I think my best gift is to be on the support team. I’m never happier than when I’m cheering on others. In my immediate family, one was responsible for the adoptions of 1000’s of children, another is an excellent reading specialist- untold numbers or children will benefit from her work, still another is a software engineer working to keep our country safe, and another is an environmental engineer. What they do might look like luck or magic- yet,  I know it’s a combination of intelligence, imagination, making the most of their time and hard work.  To say I’m the underachiever in this bunch wouldn’t be an understatement. Still. During this pandemic, what we’ve found out is that those who are the support teams are the most essential workers now.  Hopefully cheering my family on, being their personal support, made a difference in what they’ve been able to achieve.

img_5705So! In an effort to support creatives, here’s where I’m spending some of that precious time.

  • First, let me give you a critical piece of advice– if you write a blog that’s great, just make sure you’re active on at least one other social media platform.
  • Post about what you love, at work and having fun. History will be very curious about what ‘regular’ folks were doing this pandemic.
  • Just be yourself, show up in your feed- even if you’re like me and hate to show my face or take selfies, thank you very much! Don’t try to perfect- that’s not a thing anyway. Put as much of yourself out there that’s decent. ( That’s what Momma would tell you anyway)
  • Work and also have fun.
  • Connect with people. That’s what being social is all about! Engagement with others helps you and helps them too!

img_5703If you’re interesting in growing– here’s my Rule of Four plan I’ve had in place for a while now, I try to do it everyday and uses barely any time at all:

  1. Like and leave at least 4 comments on accounts you follow. I no longer believe just leaving a “like’ is quite enough.
  2. Follow at least 4 hashtags- leave at least 4 comments on accounts you don’t follow. 
  3. Like and comment on at least 4 Stories or Videos. If they leave a message for you- please make a remark!
  4. Find 4 small accounts per week that you aren’t currently following- like and comment on their feed. This might be my favorite of the four! When someone’s starting out of beginning something-  leave a short appropriate comment. *And please don’t confine yourself to just one age or type, find folks who are creating things you aren’t, who are living lives in different ways.

Years go by so fast, we’re never sure what we did with the minutes- we only see the results when if we look back.  Here’s what I know for sure- so much more is happening in the minutes than in the hours, days, weeks or even years. All of it accumulates into something- hopefully, it adds up to a life well lived instead of well spent. Not that time doesn’t matter, it does. Yet, just like money- how you spend it or save it matters less than how you’ve lived.

Remember life rarely ever works out like we plan. We get sidetracked or distracted by all the setbacks, never realizing this- Life almost always turn out like it’s supposed to. Supporting others is never wasted time.

Love y’all, Brenda

Could we talk about Negative Space?

img_5640Could we talk about Negative Space? No, no, no- not that negative space of our mental states. Yet, that’s the point too- when we entered this time of lockdown and uncertainty- our minds were affected and overwhelmed. Still, I wondered – what will I do with this time to help others?  Those who are pursuing creative endeavors- product based or service based, yes even writing a blog. So, in an effort to put to use some of my experience in creative and conventional marketing. When I gave you Five Principles of Good Design–  The use of negative space Is hidden in three of those Design Principles-

  • Focal Point,
  • Light and Color,
  • Abundance and Restraint

Negative Space is a design principle, one so common that you’re apt to ignore it unless you’re looking for it. In fact, hidden in all 3 of those design principles is the use of Negative Space. Use it if you want your artwork, photograph or cupcake as the Focal Point. You actually use negative space- especially with Light and Color or lack thereof. And! Restraint might be the order of the day when Negative Space is employed!

Later, when I wrote a post forInstagram , the use of negative space was so apparent, I realized I had neglected a critical principle of good design. In fact, one photo in particular made me have that lightbulb moment. In collecting charming images of aging adults- some were in black and white- others were in color- to make the post flow as it should I had decided to convert all of them to black and white images. Here it is- see if you can detect negative space at work!img_5611

Yes, it’s the actual image of the lady herself! Not distracted by any other color, wording or clutter around her- she stood out in beautifully stark relief. Her image is the positive space. All around her is what is called negative space. And yes, it works with color also. Take this cupcake, if you’re a baker or food photographer- a tray of beautiful cupcakes cannot compare to a single cupcake pictured with the use of negative space.img_5623

After decades of working in product campaigns, on the selling floors of shops and stores and helping to reset the retail space- it was drilled into us that display space is highly prized real estate. What we put on those walls, in cases or counters hand how it was displayed made all the difference. The composition and balance created on those walls enhanced its appeal to shoppers.img_5614

You can expect these white blouses to be expensive, unique or that this is a new line carried by the retailer simply because of few blouses using up all of that valuable real estate! Think of a handbag display in a high end store– the wall has far fewer displayed than in a discount store, where everything is crammed in tight! High End Shoes are often displayed in this ‘set apart’ manner as well. The couture shoe is highlighted by the negative space around it. img_5626

The eye is able to rest precisely because of an often overlooked and basic design principle called Negative Space.

I wanted to talk to you about the use of negative space in your creative endeavors, one which will uplevel your products or services, make your space more notable and even appear more valuable. The grid of products on your Website or Instagram feed, for shoppers is much like a store front to display your array of products and services. And don’t think color can’t be used to great effect to expand what’s on your Virtual Wall – take a look at this beautiful one… the use of pink is the negative space, the eye rests and then sees the actual products!img_5616

Having to close a physical studio, workshop space or brick and mortar meant you had to up level your online presence with platforms like your website or Instagram (which is the favorite platform currently for inspiration and business.) Negative Space isn’t just an important tool- it’s now a critical design element, so that when anyone looked at your IG grid. With the use of Negative Space design, folks could see- not just a mass of beautiful images of your photographs, jewelry, garden, clothing or accessories designs, negative space highlights your designs and also gives the eye a chance to rest.  Overloaded minds aren’t just yours, the shoppers minds need to rest as well. Take a look at the difference between one image and another- see which one enables your eye to rest (both use negative space by the way)

If your grid is full of images, the eyeglasses will draw the eye far easier than the shoes and accessories image. The use of quotes on blank backgrounds – usually white, neutral  with black type is most effective. Even an image of a simple logo could be considered easy on the eye. img_5634

Use quotes or negative space images every 4-5 blocks also helps your grid – Breathe.  Another benefit of negative space! Closely comparted to the silence in a musical piece called Rest, even though in art, the use of negative space.

img_5503The point is, your customers or target audience, right now, is also as overwhelmed as you are! Regardless of what you’re selling- cleaning tools to soft leather bags even industrial equipment- the use of Negative Space is your insider tip! Try it, I think you’ll be amazed…

Love y’all, Brenda

* I’m going to show you two images- one is a Before I began to employ negative space in my grid on IG- the other is After… side effect was more followers! The first one is Before- the Second One simply adding negative space with the use of quotes-

 

1) Just a bunch of unrelated photographs- img_5628

 

2) Use of negative space-img_5629

 

A Map is Essential…

img_5482This old map hangs on the wall in pride of place, it’s a favorite here at the cottage.  Over 40 years old, it’s a map of our home county. A symbol of so many things, still- what I truly love is that it has the backroads, the railways, the river and streams that are so unique, right here. The towns are marked, the main roads that take you quickly from here to there and still has alternatives for ambling through the scenic routes too. It has a legend, a directional compass and pertinent information. Having a plan is one thing, having a map is quite another thing entirely, especially when times are uncertain. And, you may have to adjust the method by which you want to go, for part of the journey.

img_5481Did you know that it’s not uncommon for mapmakers who make maps for others, to have difficulty drawing a map for themselves? Good planners don’t always plan well for themselves.

And, while maps are helpful- the best mapmakers will tell you that taking the first step is the most difficult. So many choices! Still. Here’s what they look for- Landmarks, street signs, distinctive displays, prominent public buildings, lighthouses, natural streams, bridges and unusual landscape outcroppings. The main purpose of any trailblazing effort is to find a way forward and more importantly – to find your way back.

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A good starting point, for any creative venture is to ask yourself– Why did you decide to go on this journey anyway? And, if the answer is merely- to make money, it will never satisfy you or those who would do business with you. Again, I say – A Map is Essential. It’s your strategy. Some say of strategies- ‘If you can’t write it down, you don’t have a strategy.’ You need a strong plan A and a solid plan B, even the dream of a plan C.

Are you stuck, lost, looking for adventure or at a crossroad? Maybe, the road is blocked or you can’t see two feet ahead of you.  If your boat has gone adrift or run aground, you’ll be grateful for a lighthouse! And, what of road signs? This one always puzzled me- Beware of Falling Rocks. Now, what in the world are you supposed to do about a rock in the act of falling? A falling rock is like Hurricane Katrina and what this Pandemic is too. It’s those things that come out of the blue- fall out of the sky or silently, stealthily come at you when you least expect it. Fallen rocks never come marching down the road in full daylight or give much notice when they do. Right?

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That’s why your personal Map is Essential. It gives you options. The folks and businesses who do well, when trouble comes, move quickly to adapt. When fashion designers began making face masks, I applauded. When restaurants had to close- the ones who quickly adjusted to Take Out Only- may not have made as much- still going out of business wasn’t an option they considered. Others, who have adapted the best of all- had more than one stream of income.  You must create streams of income, or enhance the business you have with personalized service. After speaking with well over a dozen folks who are doing very well with their blogs and other creative businesses, here’s what I’ve found-  Bloggers and writers are adjusting their messages, some are using this time to create e-books, developing physical products they can sell, designing for others who want an online presence and even becoming course creators.

And, while a blog might be their home base, still -if they were offering workshops before- they adapted to workshops to be done remotely. If they’re designers, artists or creatives- they poured some of their time into helping parents with children at home- one is offering printable art for kids, exercises, games and more.  Others are doing podcasts, developing online classes for adults.  I’ve been taking one myself! In fact, I believe they work, because when I was first starting out, I took online courses from this platform, @wordpress every chance I had! It’s how I learned to blog and more. Other creatives have formed cooperatives and collaborations to keep their spirits up and found new outlets for their work. Some are learning to create personalized experiences with potential customers. Others are offering health and nutrition advice.  Instead of letting this pandemic be a roadblock, it is time well spent.

img_5298Some counselors are offering one on ones, even professionals who were already doing business virtually, were ready even before they saw it coming. Photographers are finding outlets with stock photo companies as a new stream of income. The printing company I use, quickly made masks and liners available, then sold out, rebooted and even sell replacement liners too. I purchased these and am very well pleased.

Others, began offering a free service to go along with their product, even if it’s waiving shipping charges. Still others who own physical businesses finally had the time to deep clean, re-paint and style their places to make them ‘magazine worthy‘ and are uploading photographs online, with a renewal of their customer bases and adding new fans regularly.

*This is worth noting, develop at least one social media outlet, now. Two might be better. When I started blogging, Facebook and Twitter were very active, basically for friends, family and opinion; now, Instagram is truly geared to inspiration and business! And… you’ll find plenty of it there. For me, it’s like taking the scenic view!img_5301

At least one course creator has a live Q&A every week, because she knows that having a personal experience is what keeps her students onboard and becoming successful themselves. *I know this is true because I’m one of her students!  I also predicted early on that delivery services and professional cleaning services will see a boom in businesses. Every surface will need to be cleaned and this is repeat business.

img_4819Those who have reliable transportation are becoming delivery services for other businesses.  And, did you know that podcasts are projected to develop into a billion dollar industry? According to AARP magazine- actor Alan Alda, at 84, even managing Parkinson’s disease, is still going strong with over 70 podcasts, if that doesn’t prove any age can do it? Nothing can.

img_5479When you feel like you’ve hit a brick wall- look carefully at that map of your business, be willing to adjust, take the scenic route- dream a little, be open to new possibilities. Who knows?  You might be the one who is a trailblazer or even teaches the ‘New Rules of the Road.’  If you resist change, it’s frustrating. If you change your outlook and adjust- you might find new ways of doing things are even better than before. A Map is essential. Remember, with a map there’s always more than one way to get where you want to go!

Love y’all, Camellia

*From Brenda: For the last few months, we have been accepting a few one on one coaching sessions from time to time, it’s been a wonderful experience!

*I am taking a course called, Instagram Makeover by Kat Coroy. It’s made a world of differnce in my feed and more! I was honored to be asked to help her with some course updates! Find her  @katcoroy and take that course! Xxx

*We also participated in a podcast at the end of 2019, honestly, this may be an option for almost anyone! look into it!