* Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway. Corrine is the winner!*
A few weeks ago, my friend, Sam, posted this comment and pic on Insta:
This workbench covered in paint makes me so happy. I’ve thought about sanding it down and painting over it for a cleaner look, but in reality, I want to see the remnants of all the signs I’ve created. I love looking down and seeing where I’ve swiped my brush or practiced my lettering. It’s layers upon layers of hard work and creating beauty and I wouldn’t change it. Do you have a piece in your home that is imperfect but tells a beautiful story?? I wanna know!!
Her post got me thinking in the middle of NaNoWriMo about how words are only one way to tell stories. Paint tells stories, too. I suspected that though I write books and Sam paints wooden signs, there are a lot of parallels in what we do, and Sam took a break from painting to tell me more about the story behind her signs and shop, Place In Progress. Hearing how others go about their work helps me make sense of mine. Sam’s story reminds me of how our stories start in different places. Sam’s story reminds me that it takes time and trial and error to discover the story we want to tell. I hope you’re as encouraged by her honesty, courage, and creativity as I was. Read on – there’s a give-away of one of her pretty signs waiting for you at the end of rainbow.
How does your work table tell a story?
It shows me all the phases I’ve gone through. There are bright pink stripes from a color I used when I first started but would never use now. There’s green stripes from the pines I’m painting for my Christmas signs. You can see where I scribbled my paint pen to get it going or to practice names or lettering. There’s one corner that my kids always draw on and use my stamp on.
Now, it’s mostly black, white, gray, and navy. The table shows my evolution in finding who I am as an artist and what’s true to myself. I feel more confident about my work when it’s neutral.
When did you start your business?
It’s been 3 years this November.
Describe to me that first year.
It was a hodge-podge. I used to do paper and wooden signs. I used all different colors. Whatever came to my mind, I made it. I didn’t really have direction for it. I was just doing it for fun to see if I could pay for my supplies by selling my stuff on Etsy
When did that change?
In Fall 2016, I realized I could hardly keep up with the orders coming in, and I didn’t have a system in place to handle the orders. I started to notice the signs people were ordering over and over again. I got rid of some signs and designed new ones to fit in. I wanted everything to be cohesive.
How did you make those decisions?
The driving force behind editing my design selection was color. When people ordered signs in orange, I’d dread painting it. That color is just not me; I would not put it in my house. For a sign to be in my shop, it has to be something I would buy if I wasn’t making it myself.
How do you decide the wording of the signs?
If something strikes me, and I can’t get it out of my head. If I feel strongly about it. If I feel a connection with it. If it’s applicable to life. If it can speak to someone and make sense to them to put it on their wall, then I’ll make it.
What’s the hardest part about what you do?
I do everything – go to Ace, buy the wood, cut it, sand it, paint it or stain it, design the lettering – and it’s mostly in-between taking care of my kids and making dinner. The hardest part is juggling everything. It’s not a full-time income, I can’t put my kids in daycare, but I have to find time to work on it because people are trusting me to get their signs to them on time.
And then you’re putting your work out there. It’s from your heart, and you don’t know if people are going to like it. Sometimes people don’t like it, but you get over that, and you keep moving on. Overall, I love it or I would stop doing it.
Give-away time! I asked Sam to choose one of her favorite signs from her holiday shop, and she couldn’t. She pushed back on me to do it, and I couldn’t. So it’s up to you, my readers! Leave a comment on this post about which of the following four signs you’d like to have for keeps (or to give away yourself as a holiday gift). Drawing closes at noon this Friday, November 24.