Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Sayings: Stay Inspired

I'd like to say I'm a recovering perfectionist, but I don't think my friends would agree. On the blog, perfectionism translates into an obsession to perpetually hone my skills.
Stay Inspired Bracelet from Yay Kindred
Before I hit publish on a post, I run through a checklist. When I started blogging my process was less refined, and honestly, was haphazard at best. Looking back at early posts, I cringe at the meandering prose. Topic sentences, strong leading paragraphs, correct punctuation, purposeful fragments, and more were concepts my writing sometimes lacked. I had focused on consistent publishing and quantity at the expense of consistent publishing and quality. I can say I'm proud of my writing today, even forgiving myself the occasional typo. Where I like my writing, I'm less excited about my photography and my styling.
Blogshop Magazine
This spring, I decided I would focus on the blog's visual branding. At the end of April, I attended Blogshop in San Francisco co-taught by Bri Emery and Angela Kohler, and I just finished The Style Lab co-taught by Maddie Hague and Shauna Younge of Confetti Pop. This workshop and class build on branding tips I learned from Kathleen Shannon and Tara Street of Braid Creative.
Working through an Exercise
Calligraphy Mini Kit from Blue Eye Brown Eye
You might be asking why I'd care about the visual complement to my prose. Yearbook. Specifically, high school yearbook. We were taught to look at a spread as a whole and edit. Anything that detracted from the spread's main theme was ruthlessly pruned. While my images support the text, I don't feel that the quality is at the same level. Hence my desire expand my Photoshop and styling skills.
In both Blogshop and The Style Lab, there were things I already knew being taught. For example, use templates and add contrast to your photos. Both had us look at blogs and at images differently, focusing on the individual details that when put together kept us coming back for more. This lens yielded my AHA moments such as how consistent image width alone makes a blog look more polished and how I recognize many of my favorite bloggers' work on Pinterest and elsewhere -- their props, specifically the color of their props.
BlogshopSF: Class is in Session
Besides learning to see, we had exercises that applied what we read and what we saw in lecture. At Blogshop SF, we worked through provided exercises and then used our own images and blog templates to really cement the new skills. Through these exercises, Photoshop shortcuts (command+0) that cut (and will cut) processing time immensely (my husband is very thankful) became second nature and styling techniques that should add a little more consistency to the images I take and share here on the blog, on Instagram, on Twitter, and on Facebook were personalized.
Blogshop SF Day 2: OOTD and Lunch
Of course I learned tons more, but if you're interested, you should sign up for Blogshop and The Style Lab yourself. The women teaching the classes are crazy talented and able to help you get past roadblocks you didn't know you had.
What keeps you inspired?
I've learned even when I *think* I know all there is to know about something, refreshing my skills yields new ideas and directions I hadn't considered before. Key to refreshing skills is keeping a beginner's mind -- doing the work and not merely nodding your head. Today's saying, stay inspired, is from the bracelet by Yay Kindred that we got in our goody bags from Bri and from Angela.
BlogshopSF Goody Bag
Notecards from Two Rubies
Over the past few weeks, I've started applying some of what I learned at Blogshop SF here on the blog. Most of the changes taken in isolation are small, for example, consistent image width. (I'll talk more about how what I learned in The Style Lab will be affecting the blog in a future post.) Taken together the implemented changes and the planned changes make my inner perfectionist smile. Looking at where this blog started, where it is today, and where it is going is fulfilling and exciting at the same time.
Ciao Bella!
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Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.
Sunday Sayings is a weekly series, published every Sunday, featuring an inspirational quote or a motto along with an anecdote of why I chose it.