Don’t get A Job… Make A Job

Don't get a job make a job by gem barton

It’s been nearly three years since I quit my safe and stable but totally toxic job. 13 years of dedicated service and all I got was a gift basket and a don’t forget to connect on linked in!! I sort of had a plan when I left, I was going to get a part-time job and then practice my craft and build a business in my spare time. Instead I spent two months recovering from stress induced illness that this job had given me and then just decided to spend full-time learning how to be self-employed.

Skip to nearly three years later, more ups and downs that a roller coaster, some steep learning curves, numerous ‘Oh you’re you still doing that then’ and I’m finally gaining some confidence in calling myself self-employed. I’ve even split my business into two separate entities now that I now consider completely different from each other.

But I digress, dream jobs do not come without its stresses.

Dream jobs come with a lot of compromise, you’re dream job is never going to be a total walk in the park, there are going to be things that you do that you will hate, that is until you earn enough money to hire someone else to do it, and even then that isn’t always perfect. So until then you do your taxes and admin yourself, you do all the listing and editing, marketing, promoting, packing and trips to the post office yourself. It’s a trade-off, some people seem to think self employment is a doss (generally those who have never been self-employed!) but as with everything it’s a compromise, you do the things you don’t like so much so you can do things that you do!

There are a lot do and don’t manuals out there, a lot of this content is repetitive and if you follow these guides you risk producing the same content as everyone else, and secondly if you follow it and it doesn’t work for you, you might end up feeling a bit of a failure and a lot are advertised as fail proof.

I’ve followed some of these and the thing they have taught me is that whilst they are good guidelines, ultimately you have to find your own recipe that works, especially in the age of ever-changing algorithms and social media trends.

This is why I found this book more helpful than the others that I’ve read because instead of dos and don’t of what to do in setting up a creative business, this book is filled with interviews with people who have made it in the creative field through unconventional methods, they had to get creative in order to land those creative jobs/contracts. They didn’t follow the rules, they bent them to their advantage, they saw opportunities and grabbed them, and most of all they took a lot of risks. Sometimes you have to let go of playing safe and take a gamble. Of course this is not always going to pay off but this book covers everything from going it alone, teaming up with other, collectives, putting yourself out there being true to yourself and lots more.

Although it’s more aimed at creative graduates in design, I think if you are self-employed or thinking of being self employed in a creative field, you definitely get some insight out of this book. You might not relate to all of it but there was definitely some helpful information especially as these days coming out of university and landing a job in your field is pretty much over, the competition is fierce.

It also seems that freelancing is very much on the up and a lot of these business/people set up their companies etc during/after the first wave of economic downturn in 2008. In the last few years more and more jobs that are created are under the self-employed umbrella and it is thought to a permanent shift rather than a temporary phenomena, it could be a direct result of the recession, I probably should have done some more research but more and more people are creating jobs for themselves whether it be kitchen table start-ups (craft businesses), rent a chair in a hairdressers or a tech start-up.

Jack-of-all-trades, master of none is quite simple an archaic and inaccurate idiom.

Over the last few years I’ve always thought my weakness was not finding or having a niche, everyone else seemed so focused on their path, they knew what they wanted to do, they knew what they were wanted to design. Meanwhile I felt a bit like a jack of all trades and master of none, when actually the fact that have so many interests and a lot work experience in different areas is actually my advantage and I’ve only just been figuring that out. You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket. I’m also a firm believer or reinventing yourself as many times as you need to until your happy. If you don’t like something or it doesn’t work, either change it until it does or move on.

Here is a link to my favourite ted talk on why some of us don’t have one true calling.

So yes I do recommend this book but not as a how to guide but definitely if you’re looking for inspiration on doing things differently. I picked up at La Biblioteka  on a whim and there are lots of advice on putting yourself out there (which is a priority when you’re self-employed and competing against others), trusting your instincts, being true to yourself and learning. The fact there are lots of interviews from people from different fields I feel, is much better than reading one person’s perspective on a subject. So if you’re a creative stuck in a bit of a rut and need to rethink your strategy through, then I think this will help.

*This is not a sponsored post, items was purchased with my own funds and all opinions are my own.





Lodestars Anthology: Japan

lodestars anthology japan issue

What with all the switches and changes I’ve been making, I had a little think about what I really wanted to write about on here. Now I’ve combined both blogs and have a little look through some old posts, I want to get back to writing about the things I like so that most making clothes and music but I also like reading and writing (hence why I have a blog). After nearly none years of blogging I’ve come to the realisation that I don’t have the discipline to be a professional blogger nor the content, so here it is all it’s nice and shiny writing about my favourite things and the things I do, which will probably be boring to most.

One things I do love is magazines, not your weekly gossip mags, though I won’t lie at one time I did read them a lot but what I guess are called periodicals. They’re released quarterly or biannually and on a specific subject. I’ve talked about this before how I draw on their aesthetic and writing for inspiration and I want to share some of them in a bit more detail with you.

I discovered Lodestars Anthology on their 5th issue about Canada and have been buying ever since, I’m even thinking about stocking up on back issues because not only do I like complete collections and make for great Instagram pics but they are beautifully curated and worth a read. Lodestars Anthology is a travel magazine is a tri-annual publication that covers one country each issue, so far they have covered England, Scotland, Australia, Italy, Sweden and Canada.

Japan is high on my list of places to travel to, I definitely want to visit with the next few years or so and definitely need to start relearning Japanese again. I ordered this copy from Stack magazine which are a small independent distribution company that specialise in independent publications like these. Each week Thursday they pick one to be a special offer and release it at an offer price. My order initially got lost but their customer service was brilliant and I got my order soon after.

Each issue is packed with pictures and articles about culture, food, traditions, nature, you really get a feel of what to expect if you ever thought of visiting these places. I really want to visit these places after reading these anthologies, they are definitely fuelling my wanderlust!

You can grab copies from the Lodestars website or other online retail magazine outlets and also selected museums, galleries and shops.

japan cover lodestars anthology

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, all goods were purchased with my own funds, all opinions are my own.


Aesthetic and Inspiration

Every year there is a new round of buzzwords or phrases that come into play, this year a word I’ve noticed being used a lot is aesthetic. This is not a criticism, in fact the opposite. Usually I have buzzwords, they get overused and applied to everything including when they shouldn’t be but then there are some words that I just love the sound of and aesthetic is one.
It is defined as follows
adjective: aesthetic; adjective: esthetic
  1. 1.
    concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.

    “the pictures give great aesthetic pleasure”

noun: aesthetic; plural noun: aesthetics; noun: esthetic; plural noun: esthetics
  1. 1.
    a set of principles underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.

    “the Cubist aesthetic”

So you can imagine that many creatives can relate to this word.
I’m not one really for trends, if something happens to trend and I’m into so it then so be it. I get recommended a lot of boards on Pinterest titled ‘my aesthetic’ and that’s good because I like to see how people define their own take on it where as I always feel that I struggle to define my own aesthetic when it comes to my work and in general and it’s something I want to work on. I know what I find beautiful and not but it’s a subjective matter and each to their own and all that.
However when it comes to my own work or social media I don’t find my work that pleasing or beautiful, I think it’s quite messy and lacklustre. My actual physical work I’m happy with, I wouldn’t sell it otherwise but my presentation sucks and most days I kinda just want to delete my Instagram and start over again but then I think am succumbing to pressure. I just want my work to look good because at the end of the day it’s kinda important in selling my work, am I right???
Anyhoo, moving on, one thing I do use as a resource for inspiration a lot is independent magazines, there are so many out there, I find it hard to choose sometimes but lately I’ve found myself heading to the Tate Modern shop to stock up on latest issues that catch my eye.
So I’ve picked out a few of my favourite latest finds to share with you.

So this is a new one to me but I thought I start with it for obvious reasons! It is an art and culture magazine so a wonderful source of inspiration and discovering new to me artists, photographers, designers etc. There are some wonderful articles but mainly I can’t stop looking at the pictures and it’s giving me a good idea on how I would like to present my photos whether it be for my blog or my shop.

I’ve always been a feminist but right now it seems even more important that I stand by this conviction and also that I educate and immerse myself more in this. Feminism is seen as dirty word and it means different things to different people, so I’m trying to get as many different perspectives as possible to understand how other people think and why. This is definitely a NSFW publication but I love the layout, it’s a little anarchic but definitely draws you in.

Okay this is an issue I picked up on a previous run to the Tate Modern shop but I got this because it’s about one of my favourite places in the world Vancouver Island.

Another new to me magazine, I just the love the bold and basic cover of this, it definitely leapt off the shelf. It’s full of interviews and articles that I can’t wait to get stuck into.

Loadstars is definitely one of my favourites that I included the last issue a bought which was on Sweden. You know how in the A-ha video where the girl gets pulled into the poster by Morten Harket? Yeah well I kinda wish I could dive into this magazine, it’s just to gorgeous it hurts! I mean look at those covers for a start and it’s just the same on the inside. This magazine gives me serious style envy.
Everyone is always talking that you need a theme for your Instagram, I don;t necessarily know about wanting a theme but I definitely would like it to a little less messy and a little bit prettier. I am not the world’s best photographer, I have pictures I take that I really like, mostly on my personal Instagram but it’s kinda hard to fuck up a nature picture when the sun is being boss that day! But my work I usually end up taking late at night under crappy lighting and now that I’ve set myself this 365days of stitching project I was hoping this would help improve my photography/composition skills a little, starting smack bang before Christmas was probably not the wisest of choices but at least I still have time to improve. I just think a little sit down and planning is in order and a hell of lot of practice.

Disclaimer: This is not a review, all products were purchased with my own funds for personal use.

The Knit Life!

I ordered a sewing mag the other day and was sorely disappointed especially as I’d paid £10 for it. I try to support independent as much as possible but I found the content more about people who sew than actually sewing or patterns, there were other issues. I know it was a first issue but first impressions stick, so I guess I won’t be buying that again.
But as you know I’m really getting into my knitting lately. there are a few knitting mags I’ve wanted to try for a while and I’m not adverse to spending £10 on a publication, in fact I’ve spend a lot more. Independent magazines/publications have been my go to source for inspiration and reading for a few years now. I love walking into the Tate Modern shop and stocking up on a few new issues to keep me going through the month, I’m a sucker for well laid out, informative publication.
So despite buying the sewing mag on a whim, these whimsical purchase that result in disappointment are far and few between to put me off buying first issue  on a impulse! So I saw another new publication for knitting called Laine and immediately followed their insta account and hunted a round for a copy. They are based in Finland but they had a list of worldwide stockists and even though my local London stockist was out of copies, I found A Yarn Story still had some in stock and I also purchased a copy of Knit Wit which I’ve been eyeing up since the first issue but have never got round to purchasing.

They arrived pretty quick, I ordered them on Friday, and they arrived on Monday. Knitting is pretty much becoming my new passion but I’m going to talk about that in a different blog post and don’t want to repeat myself here, so back to the magazines.

This magazine did not disappointed, it’s filled with patterns, articles and recipes. As it the autumn/winter issue there are range of patterns for all levels from a simple hat to a cable knit dress, all in all there are 11 patterns, which I think is a pretty good bargain for I paid for the magazine and I’m trying my hardest not to cast on a jumper from it until I have finished at least one of my other cardigans! The magazine seems quite female focused except for a n interview with Stephen West, maybe there will be some men’s patterns in future issues. The layout and aesthetic is spot on and I cannot wait for the next issue.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Knit Wit but I did end up liking it. It’s aim is to bring together fibre, textiles and the people who are involved in the modern craft movement together through curated articles and photography, which it does very well. Thy focus on ‘interest over instruction’ and cover many different areas of the fibre and textile world, it is something I would definitely consider buying again.

(Disclaimer: I purchased these magazines with my own funds and was not asked to do a review of any kind by any of the parties mentioned in this post)

Favourite Reads of 2016

Every year I do the Goodreads challenge and set myself a number of books to read. I always set it a little high just to give me an incentive to read more but I have yet to actually reach the number I set on any given goal!

Last year I managed 28 books and that’s been the most in many years. I actually set it for 52, which was one a week but come September I barely picked up a book thanks to work.

But here are some of my favourite reads from last year

Hunger Makes me a modern girl by Carrie Brownstein – I’ve been reading a lot of biographies this year and this one I enjoyed the most, I think mostly because I’m pretty much the same age as Brownstein and so I could relate to the era and empathize with what she was writing.

We should all be feminists by Chimianda Ngozi – Basically everyone should read this book, well actually it’s more of an essay and literally takes less than an hour to read but all teenagers should be given this to read, not just girls. In fact everyone just go and read it. I’ve always considered myself a feminist but more or so in the last year I’ve been become more and more apart of my indentity and so have been catching on my feminist related reading. After years of reading just angry white male literature (and by the way there is nothing wrong with this because a lot of it is really quite good) I feel personally I need to reconnect with some of the female authors out there. But then again I’m trying to broaden my reading all round into different genres.

Joyland by Stephen King – This is more of a murder mystery than your usual horror offering from King. Set in a theme park it can feel a bit scooby doo at times but still worth a read. It’s an easy read, it doesn’t get to bogged down in detail and is more character led which I liked.

Hello Kitty Must Die – If you like a humour dark and then covered with an extra layer of black, then this novel is for you. I don’t really want to spoil it but I found the ending hysterical but now I’m concerned what that says about me!

The Bees by   – This story is set in a beehive, from the point of a worker bee. It’s a sort of murder mystery thriller and although it takes a while to pick up, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch – This is the second of the Peter Grant series about a policeman training in the art of magic and investigating supernatural cases in London. I’m finding this series quite fun and am definitely going to try and get through another one or two this year.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – a biographical graphic novel by Satrapi about growing up in Iran after the revolution in 1979. This story is raw and very eye opening and at the same time funny and beautiful. I think this book is quite relevant to read right now especially with the ‘war on immigrants’. We only hear about what the papers report and not things what are actually happening.

Post Office By Bukowski – I haven’t read any Bukowski until now but I did like this book and can see why it’s classed as a classic. Bukowski has a distinctive style and will be definitely be reading some more of his books.

This year I have set my goal for 30, should be doable. I have also set myself the goal to read more of my non fiction books. I have a lot of fashion, style, burlesque and history books I want to read. These books are heavier and so not so easy to carry about and read, so fortunately my ever thoughtful husband got me a kindle for  Christmas so I don’t have to lug books around with me so much and also I prefer big print, so I can get my smaller print books in ebook format so I can read them easier. At the moment I’m reading The Complete works of Oz as I’ve never read them before and it makes for nice reading when travelling about on public transport. Plus it doesn’t get all crumpled and manky in my handbag!

So that is some of my favourite books from last year, what is on your reading list this year? Got any recoomendation?