MOTHERHOOD

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Hello there!

I wanted to share a heart-to-heart post today about my experience (so far!) with motherhood...While I usually prefer to keep my personal life separate from work, I feel compelled to talk about this subject matter because it pertains to so many of us working creatives!

It has been 6 months since my husband and I welcomed our little guy into the world...and it's also been that long (plus a few extra weeks of being super pregnant!) since I've been working full-time at the studio.  That time away felt so long, but at the same time, so short (For those of you who are parents, you can relate to how contradictory, yet true, this is)!  I treasured those first few months with him and they were indescribably special.  I've always felt that it was important (it was a large part of why I wanted to work for myself) that I have a flexible schedule when it came time to start a family.  It's also something that I want to push for as a benefit to my employees, but that's a whole different subject for another day!  Anyway, it's a perk of running your own show and an opportunity that not a lot of people have with their jobs.  Therefore, I made sure I took as much time as I needed (without compromising my business) to be with him and I didn't regret a single minute of it.  Increasingly towards the end of those months, however, I was itching to get back to my other baby - my business - and be creative again.

I want to preface here that I'm only writing about my experience into motherhood.  There are so many ways to navigate these early years as a parent, and I respect all of our different methods for how we get there...But for me, that path didn't include staying home with my child full-time.  I admit, I did contemplate that option though.  It seems so ideal to be able to be there for every milestone, not miss a beat, and save on childcare costs (huge bonus!).  However, I also know the type of person that I am.  I knew eventually, I will need to feed my creative juices again and get back to this other livelihood of mine.  Painting has always been my way of expressing my thoughts to the world, and I have even more to say now! 

After 4 months of baby bliss, I started slowly coming back to work, adding a day or 2 at a time.  I have to add here, that this pace would not have been possible if I did not have a full-time employee who kept everything running at the studio!  Anyway, during the 2 months of transitioning back to a full-time schedule, I definitely struggled on many fronts, but I'm also glad to have gone through it. For one, because I wanted to take my time coming back, it was a constant guilt trip of how much time I am at work and how much time I was spending with him.  If there was a guidebook on how to best split parenting time, I wish I would have read it!  Should I have spent more time at work to generate more income?  Or should I have stayed home one extra day each week, because this time is so fleeting?  For another, I had some very tough questions to ask myself after this huge life change.  Did I still want to grow in the same way as before?  Shouldn't I keep this business super small to maximize flexibility for my family?  Will I be relevant still, after such a long time away?  Each day, as I drove into work, I questioned myself on these points and felt the true uncertainty of not knowing where all of this was going.  But each day, as I sat down at my desk to begin the day, all of those fears would dissipate because I realized that I still wanted all of the same goals as before when I see the kind of work we are making, and being relevant has nothing to do with time.  As long as I continue creating quality, meaningful work, people will notice.  Maybe adding "motherhood" to my list of titles has been a test to see how much I really love what I do.  There is no way anything can compete with how much I love my child, but this business comes in very closely behind.  I know it's going to be harder than before to do both, but I also know it's a must for me. 

I have also set aside some time during this transition to re-examine the backbones of my business.  I talk about this a lot during interviews or speaking events - how important it is to build a solid "foundation" on how you run your business, from the very beginning - and now is the time for us, while we ramp back up to full speed again with clientele projects and product releases!  Are there ways to streamline our production process?  How can our packaging be more clear, more pronounced?  And the most humbling of all questions - how can we strengthen our marketing to be more visible, intentional and creative?  You see, I've been incredibly fortunate in the last 4 years to not have had to put much time into marketing and still have a steady stream of projects coming in.  I don't take it for granted for a second, though.  It had to do with a lot of hard work and diversifying the marketplaces/clientele work so that they can market for us.  But now that I'm coming back to a business that has not been running at full speed for the last 6 months, it's once again necessary to go out and market on our own.  Coming face-to-face with these issues that were once swept under the rug has been scary.  I think this is because it has forced me to see the vulnerability of my success and how it doesn't just continue on its own and needs to be maintained.  

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Photography  //  Christa Kimble

Now that I'm back full-time, getting my hands into being creative again has rejuvenated my drive to continue exploring new ideas!  I come to work each day more focused than before, because my time is even more valuable now.  I don't spend a lot of time being distracted anymore, although sometimes I yearn for that luxury!  Anyway, I'm also learning to be more diligent about prioritizing my projects and to delegate even more tasks.  In some ways, I'm starting over again.  Becoming a mom has really changed me, so it seems only natural that the way I approach my business would be different too!  I've never been away from painting for this long before, and now my brain is buzzing with so many new ideas!  I think my interests in the type of work that I create will be different too (One idea that I've been thinking about a lot lately is children's books!).  I'm looking forward to seeing what this year will have in store for us...I know now that this is really where I want to be, and it makes me a better parent to have a purpose outside of being his mom.  I get to come home each day knowing that I spent my day doing what I love.

I hope to continue talking about this subject along the way.  I know there's much more for me to learn in how to balance all of these responsibilities.  If any of you guys have any advice or comments on how to be a working momma, please do share!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Yao

PAINTED COMMISSIONS

In addition to our online retail shop and design studio,  Yao also creates painted commissions for our customers & clients!  For those of you who are interested in a custom, original watercolor piece that perfectly encapsulates your style and color scheme, memories, feelings – everything and anything that makes you, well you! – this is a perfect fit.

Each of our commissioned paintings are hand-painted, signed, and dated by Yao, who works with every client from beginning to end.  She will work with you on everything from sizing to color schemes and will provide sketches along the way so that it's exactly as you have envisioned!

Below is a 30" x 40" landscape piece she created using watercolor with painted resist to capture the serenity of the client's favorite beach. 

A commissioned painting is also the perfect way to showcase a wedding bouquet or any other unique memory from that special day. We work with many brides on painted commissions and can even add Yao's calligraphy work to them. Whatever it is that you are envisioning, we will strive to make sure that you love the piece and it is something uniquely yours!

We usually ask our client's for at least 6 week lead time on most commissions, but this can vary depending on the subject matter! Our pricing begins at $350 for an 8" x 10" (although it can change based on the complexity of the piece).  We can work with you on any size up to 30" x 40"!  All of our original paintings come with an authenticity card and are shipped with insurance to ensure its safe arrival on your doorstep.  Feel free to get in touch with us for a custom quote or you can visit our commissions page for more information!

We look forward to working with you!

CREATIVE PEP TALK - INTERVIEW

Image courtesy of Andy J. Miller

Image courtesy of Andy J. Miller

This week, we are pleased to share a recent interview Yao did with Andy J. Miller, an awesome illustrator and the host of Creative Pep Talk Podcast to talk about her creative business.  It’s  titled “Finding Your Flow with Yao Cheng” and is available now through Soundcloud.

In this episode, Yao and Andy address the ever-present question in many creatives’ minds, “Making a good living and making great art – Is it possible?” 

They begin by discussing her creative process in detail, from how music is absolutely essential for an afternoon spent painting to how and why she often times makes multiple versions of an artwork.  With Yao’s distinct and beautiful watercolor style, she aims to capture a fleeting moment in time in her work, an idea she also delves into in the show. 

In addition, they talk about how she got into painting, developed her love for watercolor, and turned this passion into an up-and-coming small business.  As an artist, designer, and entrepreneur, many may say she is skillful at it all!  Together, Andy and Yao also discuss how she may (or may not) classify herself into a specific category, with her roles being so diverse, it often isn’t enough to say she is a small business owner, painter, or designer.    

So go and give this episode (as well as the others, we promise they are brilliant) a listen! Both Andy and Yao will be speaking at the upcoming Midwest Craft Con  held in Columbus on February 10-12. You can still purchase tickets to the weekend conference here.  As a special thank you, listeners to this podcast can receive a 20% OFF discount to this creative business conference with code PEP

Loved this podcast?  Be sure to also listen to Yao’s other podcast interview with How She Creates and hear her talk more in depth about how she paints with watercolor.

CLASSICS COLLECTION

Photography  // Christa Kimble

Photography  // Christa Kimble

As Yao is both a designer and a watercolor artist, it is very fitting that our art prints are arguably one of the most popular products in our online retail shop.  Through our wide selection of prints, such as abstracts, florals, and landscapes, among others, people are able to shop and find something that suits them (and their home!) perfectly. 

Over the past few years, our art print collection has continued to grow.  However, to make room for new work, we have discontinued a few older pieces, some that our customers would love to see back in our shop.  Huzzah! You’ve reached out to us, and after some consideration, we are happy to present to you: The Classics Collection!

The Classics Collection comprises of various art prints from the past (almost 5!) years that still continue to be beloved by our followings.  Their sizes range from 8" x 10"s to 16" x 20"s, and a select few are available all the way up to 30" x 40"!  They are printed on our archival cotton rag paper and individually signed by Yao.  You can read more about the production and distribution of our art prints on our "Product Info" page.  

This collection features “Colorful Dots Falling” and “Yellow Ginkgo” art prints from 2013, which continue to be fan favorites.  In addition to these pieces, we are bringing back “Blue Waves”, whose artwork was one of Yao's very first art prints that she created! This piece was not only featured on Designlovefest and on our stationery in the past, but it was a design that jump-started our product side of the business. It's amazing to see how one piece of artwork can have such an impact on what Yao's work is known for and how much we've been able to grow as a result of it.  Browse all of our Classics prints in our shop!

We would like to thank all of you for your continuous support and appreciate all of your suggestions.  It was through your requests for our older artworks you may have found online through Pinterest and other websites that this collection was made possible.

Cheers!

Left // Flower Bouquet Right // Colorful Dots Falling ©2017 Yao Cheng Design, all rights reserved

Left // Flower Bouquet Right // Colorful Dots Falling ©2017 Yao Cheng Design, all rights reserved

Photography  // Christa Kimble

Photography  // Christa Kimble

Left // Forest in Lush Greens Right // Green Rolling Hills ©2017 Yao Cheng Design, all rights reserved

Left // Forest in Lush Greens Right // Green Rolling Hills ©2017 Yao Cheng Design, all rights reserved