Jennifer Lee is the founder of Artizen Coaching and the author of Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way and the bestseller The Right-Brain Business Plan, which has helped tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world launch their creative businesses.
After spending 10 years climbing the corporate ladder and getting tired of living her dream “on-the-side,” she took the leap to pursue her passions full-time. Jennifer has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, U.S. News & World Report, Whole Living, Family Circle, Cloth Paper Scissors Studios, and Choice.
Carrie: Welcome to Artist Strong Jenn we are so happy to have you here. How do you express your creativity?
Thank you for having me, Carrie! I express my creativity through the way I live my life and run my business. Both are ways for me to share my authentic self and honor my values of beauty, creativity, and self-expression.
Carrie: When did you first realize the arts were an important, integral part of your life?
Ever since I can remember I was always drawing or painting to entertain myself. I was perfectly fine spending hours alone in my room doodle characters from TV, books, or my Hello Kitty collection. In kindergarten I loved painting in art class.
Carrie: How was Artizen Coaching born?
In 2003 I started taking my coach training while I was still in my corporate job. I would coach clients on lunch breaks and right when I’d get home from work. It wasn’t until 2006 when I mustered up the courage to leave my day-job and dive into my own business full time. I rebranded my business to Artizen Coaching in 2007 as a way to combine both my love of art and coaching.
Carrie: What’s one piece of advice or practice on your blog that you find indispensable for your own artist practice?
A message that I keep coming back to again and again in my own creative practice and in my business is to “stop trying to be someone else.” In my book Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way, I share one of my favorite guiding principles “Be Uniquely You.” As a creative, you have a unique voice and perspective that helps set you apart. Let go of what you “think you have to do” or are “supposed to look like” to be “successful.” Instead lean into your creative intuition and authentic expression – that’s where the real magic happens. When I’m doing my colorful, wall-sized intuitive paintings I don’t care that the images don’t make sense or are even ugly. What’s most alive for me is being in touch with my inner muse.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Today I love my home office and my studio space, but I didn’t always have a workspace I was proud of. My current office has bright white walls and furniture and is decked out with colorful accessories and art to help keep me inspired and organized. When I first started my business, however, I shared an office with my husband in a dark corner of what was basically a downstairs “man cave” complete with piles of dirty clothes and trash. Yep! For someone who has a value of beauty, I was way out of alignment!
Eventually I turned our guest room into my own office but it wasn’t until we moved into our new house a couple of years ago that I finally had a room that I could make my own from the get-go. Earlier in 2015 I also signed a lease to a studio near my house so that I would room to paint my big intuitive paintings. My studio is really all about having blank wall space so there’s not much in there.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
I’ll specifically talk about my intuitive painting process here. I just start with a blank piece of paper and ask myself, “What color? And where?” and then I let the brush do the work. I let my intuition guide me. I don’t have a preconceived notion of what the final piece will look like and I’m often surprised where the painting takes me. I go where I feel energy and aliveness (which could be in the form of excitement and fun or even resistance or fear that I need to let myself move through).
My creative process is similar when it comes to my business. The only difference is that I usually have some idea of the intention or vision for the next offer or product, however I hold that lightly so that I can let the product evolve as I honor my intuition and learn throughout the journey. My books and my programs develop iteratively and it’s a lesson in patience and trust as I wade through the messy, mucky middle to eventually find my way to the end product.
Carrie: Do you use goal-setting in your career as a creative? How so?
Yes, I absolutely use goal-setting in my career as a creative. From a right-brain perspective, I like to do vision boards to help me connect with the big vision of my business and to plan out the details I like to use colorful sticky notes, mind-maps or doodles. From a left-brain perspective, I will create spreadsheets to help me track my financial goals and other metrics. I like to look at things quarterly and plan out my year that way. And for me the goals need to make my heart sing, otherwise, what’s the point?! 😉
Carrie: You offer all kinds of amazing resources for creatives. Does one particularly resonate with you or excite you right now? Tell us more!
What’s really resonating with me right now is the idea of Embracing Ease that I talk about in one of the chapters of Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way. It feels counter intuitive to press the pause button, especially when you have a lot going on, but it really can be the best thing for you and your business in the long term. If you’re operating on overwhelm and stress you’re likely to make poor decisions because you’re exhausted and emotionally spent and you won’t have the stamina to maintain sustainable success.
When you create more space in your life you increase your capacity for innovation, creativity, and accessing your intuition. I have a fun illustrated play sheet that helps you explore the aspects of Embracing Ease including Self-Care, Simplicity, Spaciousness and Support and Systems (you can download that play sheet and all the others from both of my books here).
Carrie: Can you please share one story of positive outcome from one of your programs?
Gosh, we have so many folks doing amazing things in our Cohort Circle right now. I’ll share one story from a long-time Cohort Katherine Carey. She is a milliner (hat designer) and she just launched a new e-magazine. I’ll let Katherine share her success story in her own words…
“I am so thrilled to be launching Millin’Air, an e-magazine about fashion, business, and wanderlust. It amazes me that I am bringing forth a magazine and yet it feels so very much an extension of myself.
Truthfully this cycle I launched much more than just Millin’Air. I first shifted my hat business from a retail venue that was mediocre to running a very successful crowd-funding campaign called The Triple Crown Project. I had help and inspiration from my Cohorts with every detail from the platform to the name itself. I received help in the lay-out, how to present it, did it make sense….all of this. I also had the honor of ‘hatting’ several of my Cohorts through the campaign.
I use the collective power of the Cohort Circle to its fullest and this cycle has been amazing. The Triple Crown Project was just the start. It launched me to France for 7 weeks this summer where I birthed the concept of Millin’Air from high up on a mountain top where I was creating my next Big Vision Board. (Yes, I am the one who hikes a mountain with magazines, glue sticks, pens, scissors, and file folders.) And the campaign itself raised over $11,000. So blessed and so amazing.
One thing that became apparent this cycle is that I had so much more to bring the world than just hats. As an artist and maker I have real-life experience to share and learnings along the way. I have skills I hadn’t even tapped into and expertise that was just surfacing. Many of my Cohorts have seen this in me and nurtured these skills to where they are now on the forefront, ready to shine.” – Katherine Carey, www.katherinecarey.com
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Since 2010, I’ve been a devoted fan of the Paper Source Wall Calendar. I religiously tape up all 12 months on one entire wall in my office and plan out my year using colorful sticky notes. Seeing all my main launches and key dates in one giant visual helps me see the big picture and wrap my mind around how things will flow together. I’m always referring to it throughout the day to orient myself.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Creative people who are authentically living their vision and values. Also being out in the beauty of nature is totally inspiring to me.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is an authentic expression of your true self.
Be Courageously Creative: What is something you feel you are SUPPOSED to do to be “successful” as an artist? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
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