Hi, everyone! I’m here to share my newest Crafty Q&A with Marissa of Marissa Bowers art * design * photo. She’s one multi-talented woman, and I’m excited to share her inspiring work with you all!
Tell us a little bit about your art, photography, and design business and how you got started.
My business started officially last February 2010, but had been a freelance business (in addition to a full-time career as a Design Manager for a craft book line for a publishing company) since 2008. I went to college in Chicago and received a degree in graphic design, but had always had a secondary interest in photography. I kind of ‘curbed’ that interest in photography because I wanted to be focused on getting a degree in something I enjoyed (I knew what I really enjoyed was design + layout of things visually; whether it was logos, publication design or posters) and be DONE with college. Little did I realize at that time that eventually my path in design careers would lead me back to my love of photography and would spark in me an interest to combine both into a business I could do on my own. From Chicago, I moved to Nashville (one of the greatest creative communities you could be in as a young artist)—and from there, I moved back to my hometown area of Cincinnati in 2003, when I had my daughter.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your own creative business?
I think the challenge for most creatives is to identify what it is you do really well and channel that into an effective business model that will give you enjoyment in doing it on a daily basis, while also providing the salary you need to live with. In other words, I need to build on my past key successes and use those successes to branch out and make me successful in new areas and with new clients. Having your own business relies on networking, finding new and interesting clients, and marketing yourself when sometimes you just don’t feel like tooting your own horn, but you must, in order to make it known you are “out there.”
Currently, I am loving the diversity I have created with my client list and the diversity of the things I work on on a daily basis. Over the course of a year, I’ve designed numerous craft books, designed a catalog of used medical books for a book distributor, made posters for my local theatre company, and photographed five weddings. But I’ve also found time to begin the inklings of new projects that are particularly focused on expanding my abilities and pursuing my dreams even further; I’ve started a big idea photography venture with K9 police officers and their partners that I hope will one day turn into a gallery collection for me to raise funds for honoring their service in some way. I’ve also begun to work with creating artwork with my photography and designs—together—which is a dream come true in and of itself, and giving first dibs at this artwork to local small businesses to sell through their stores. My goal for 2011 is to build that business idea even further and offer more creations.
Any advice for others who have a creative dream they want to pursue?
I always love the quote from Alan Alda that I found years ago when thinking about starting my own business. I keep it close and read it often.
“Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has even been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful. What you will discover will be yourself.” -Alan Alda
This quote sums up to me, at least, exactly what it is that is so scary and unknown about leaping out and having faith in yourself to start your own dream. A dream like living a creative life is one that is usually frowned upon (first by parents, then by peers). It is not innately “secure,” but can lead to the most rewarding experiences of your life. It is a pathway that is meant to grow on, and not always necessarily know the answers to.
What inspires you?
My children, definitely. I began the photography adventure with my business because when they were born, I really started to fall in love with what I created behind the lens—pictures of them. I still think I do my finest work when my focus is on them, even though they typically get me the most frustrated now that they are older and give me the silly faces or are just kind of “over” being in front of my camera.
I love being inspired by others, whether it be through crafters, other photographers, or design (graphic, interior, fashion). Particularly why I’ve fallen in love with the website Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com) as of late. It is all of those things combined!
Do you have any must-have supplies?
My Apple computers (an iMac and a MacBook laptop) where I do all of my finished creations, my camera (a Canon 50d), my favorite lens (a Canon 50mm) and various and sundry craft supplies and papers (although they are completely unorganized right now in my office and just piled up in stacks and boxes).
Share three random facts about yourself. :)
When I was in grade school, I had awesome cursive handwriting—all of my 4th grade friends wanted me to give them lessons. (I should hone this skill even further and make my design services include hand lettering, but in actuality, I don’t really like my handwriting that much and fear that I would get frustrated at myself if a job relied on me ‘liking’ my writing.)
I started out as a journalism major in college and was editor of both my college and high school newspapers. It was my found love of laying out the paper in college that made me realize I would much rather have a career in design than journalism.
My daughter Hope was born in July 2002. I found out I was pregnant with her in October, 2001 just one month after the 9-11 attacks. Up until that point, our firstborn daughter’s name was going to be Kayleigh. But the moment I found out that she was going to be, I knew her name had to be Hope. I love that her name brings life to exactly what this country had to have to get through such a difficult time.
Thanks for participating, Marissa! :)