I am reflecting on four years in business as Olive Juice Press! Four! This is the first year I almost forgot to stop and celebrate those years. Likely because I took quite a bit of time off to Mom. And after jumping back in, business has been slow. But this is allowing me the opportunity to rethink and restructure. Having a baby has shifted my perspective.
Even though I have been in business for four years, I still don’t feel like I have my “thing” figured out yet. I have felt on the brink of something many times, but it hasn’t ever really been THE thing. I have put myself in a creative box. I will have an idea for a really cool product, even order letterpress plates to print it, and then they will sit on the shelf never to be seen by the world. I have tried and tried to explain this, and have fallen short. But then, I read the below quote by Ira Glass and it is exactly what I have felt and have been trying to say for so long. You know how sometimes hearing what you’ve been trying to express can feel liberating? This is that for me.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.
Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions.
I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes a while. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.
Yes. Yes. So much clarity.
I have played around with variations of my handlettering over the years, but I haven’t shared much of it because it didn’t “flow” with my wedding portfolio.
And the mindset that I had to limit myself to this one particular style of design and calligraphy for weddings is one I am moving past. In the past I have tried to make my work fit onto those beautiful blogs and those perfect moments, but doing so has limited my creativity. I am so grateful for the “calligraphy movement” in the wedding industry because it has allowed me to learn a skill that I am so proud of and to create work for some awesome clients. But I feel like I’ve been trying to make my work something it is not and I am ready to break out of the box I put myself in.
Finding this quote by Ira Glass has encouraged me to keep fighting to find my creative voice. It has given me the validation I really needed at this place in my career. One thing I am doing differently now is sharing more of my work. It may not be perfect or exactly that “thing” I want to put out into the world, but it is my story of how I am finding my creative voice.
If you are a creative entrepreneur, can you relate?