Sunday, May 29, 2011

G I V E A W A Y ~ spring & summer are for flowers.

 Hey guys, how was everyone's Memorial Day Weekend? The girls and I had an amazing time together for the bridal shower :)

While I am not going to be announcing my big news in this post (next one, promise!), I have some other awesome stuff to share - mainly, a giveaway! Yes, free stuff! There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there IS such a thing as free jewelry. And not just one, oh no no no.

Count 'em - TWO - lovely pieces of jewelry will be finding lovely new homes completely free of charge.

One lucky winner will receive a Spring Bloom Necklace in the colour of their choice! These necklaces are so much fun for me to make, and they're absolutely gorgeous; full of vibrant colour. I mix and match them into a ton of my summer wardrobe.

Another lucky winner will receive a never-before-posted Orange Swirl Cameo Ring! This ring is a warm orange hue, stamped with a vintage filigree piece, then swept shimmery with powdered gold leaf - perfect for summer beach parties, or looking forward to when we get into autumn. Head on over to CherishedBliss to check out some pics!

Please do me the favour of stopping by CherishedBliss to check out the giveaway! To enter, please leave a comment on THIS CHERISHEDBLISS BLOG ENTRY, for every time you enter. You can enter by following my blog (or let us know you're already following!),
following CherishedBliss' Blog,
and by hearting my Etsy Shop and sharing your favourite item,
and by facebooking/tweeting about the giveaway!
(Comments in this blogpost do not count as entries, sorry! Only comments left at the blogpost linked above will qualify!)

Giveaway ends June 4th! So hurry and spread the word, link up, and win some free summery jewelry! :)

Rock on, little birdies! Next post is big news; posts coming include "Six Things to Be Successful #3", and a story about my encounter with a ghost (yes, really).

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ladies & Gentlemen, we're experience technical difficulties...

 It's starting to become a well-known fact that something is up with blogger's "followers" app; a lot of people are not able to follow others, or be followed.

(This just in - if you want to follow - go to the toolbar at the top and click "follow" - I believe this works.) 

I'm a little bummed at the timing because I've got something fun up my sleeve for all of you, but I'm hoping Google will come through and fix the issue.
I'm getting ready to bust it out...

and there's something big I haven't told anyone (except my mom, lol) and I want to share it! 

But anyway, I just wanted to give a little heads up about the followers issue.
{ The silly little doodle is from my sketchbook }

For now, though... enjoy the calming, amazing inspiration of this gorgeous time-lapse.

El Cielo de Canarias / Canary sky - Tenerife from Daniel López on Vimeo.

Does anyone have any awesome plans for Memorial Day Weekend? 
My five best friends from college and I are getting together Saturday and Sunday for our lovely girlfriend's Bridal Shower! I am so excited for her! And you guys know how much I love brides ;)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Emperor's Garden

Been working on some new portfolio pieces, so I can be considered for more scholarship funds towards my Masters Degree down at SCAD this fall. Here are some more detailed thumbs for "The Emperor's Botanical Garden" concept I'm working on.

These are really rough, but mainly I'm just working on value and composition. Obviously, the third is the weakest, lol. The second is adapted from a graphite life study I did in my backyard a few weeks ago.

Lastly, I just discovered the treasury widget on CraftCult, and I wanted to show a treasury that I thought was just gorgeous (and the curator was kind enough to feature my Aqua Spring Bloom Necklace!).

6 Things You Gotta Be if You Want to be Successful: #2, Work Hard.

Time for another post on the "6 Things for Success" series I'm working on! But before we get to that, I have made myself some lovely new buttons on my sidebar for my Etsy Shop and Deviantart Page. I've had several people approach me recently for some illustrative blog elements, which I'm considering batching and theming (as well as customizing) and possibly offering for sale. Is that something you or someone you know might be interested in?

2. Work Hard.
"All of the secrets of success will not work unless you do." 

I belong to several communities and forum sites, and I always see people ask the same question: "Any tips for doing such-and-such?" When someone answers their question honestly, telling them that achieving a certain skill level will take hours and hours of study, suddenly the result becomes much, much less attractive.

We live in a culture (well, I can only speak to the American perspective on this) that is centered around instant-gratification. There are so many get-rich-quick scams, and "work from home and make a 6-figure salary!" gimmicks, that perhaps we forget that the things truly worth having - like our masterful creative skillsets - are worth working and waiting for.

Any skill in the arts is a life-time journey. Your skills need time, life experiences, and practice to mature. Rome was not built in a day. I always try to remind myself that achieving solid skill does not operate in checklist format. I cannot draw one hand and go, "Okay, check! Now I can draw hands." The very idea would seem silly to anyone. A professional illustrator needs to be able to draw hands at every possible angle - and needs to draw them convincingly. To do this, one needs pages and pages of drawing hands before they're even marginally good at it.

It's overwhelming for anyone to hear that a skill level they desire is years (and thousands of hours of work) away. The mountain always seems the most insurmountable when you're at the foot of it looking up. In fact, it can seem downright impossible. However, a mountain isn't tackled in one gigantic leap. Try not to think of advancing your skill in this way. My mother always reminds me, "You don't have to do everything by tomorrow." Especially as we advance, we're even more aware of just how much farther we still need to go, and sometimes it's natural to become overwhelmed by our own potential and desire to succeed.

But skill isn't always achieved in sudden, huge leaps and bounds. Working hard doesn't mean busting out huge projects every week and burning yourself out. It simply means being consistent, persistent, and proactive in your choices. Little choices to be active everyday can be the key to working hard.

Have 30 minutes? Package up some items instead of clicking through pictures on Facebook. Jot down some ideas or thumbnails in your sketchbook for fleshing out later. Take off your socks and draw your feet for some life drawing practice. Read that business article you've had bookmarked for the past week and make some notes.

Have 15 minutes? Organize some supplies. Respond to a few threads on Etsy's forums and make some connections with other shop owners (you might even come across a thread that's helpful for your business, or a question you may have!). Research market trends for upcoming seasons. Do some 2 minute gesture sketches. Update your facebook page or blog with a quick update.

Have 5 minutes? Answer that email to a client real quick and impress them with your timely response. Renew an item on Etsy and promote it through your twitter/facebook page. Comment on a friend's blog. Draw some simple, compositional thumbnails.

Like I was saying in an earlier post, most of the time, creatives are daunted by long to-do lists; especially if the tasks on that list are small, menial tasks. But these small tasks create a much larger picture of who you are and how your business operates. It's so easy to say, "Oh, I'll do that when I get back" or "I'll get to that later." You'll surprise yourself if you use your small chunks of "interim" time to accomplish these small things; later you'll come back and say, "Oh wow, that's already done." It's addictive, really.

I encourage anyone who may be reading this to try making small proactive steps in their creative goals. Tell me what you did and how it went! 

 First and third images from
second image (aqua & green screenprint) by Kathy Panton
small flower icons by me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Thank You

Just a little post to say thank you to all of my friends and teammates on Etsy who have supported me :) And some lovely people I have met recently. I am always impressed by how a community can come together when things get strange. Thank you.

We've been having thunderstorms and rain all week, but yesterday the sun peeked out for just enough time to give me a chance to take some photos of my new necklaces by my bay window. 

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that one of my goals for this week is to list 3 new items - well, I've got two in the shop now! I've listed this Elegant Daisy & Brass Cameo Necklace - I've been working hard to make my petals look softer and more natural. I love how delicate flowers are, and how this came out! I was also inspired by the beach vacation I so badly want to take with my new Mediterranean Lagoon Necklace, which is a lovely blend of exotic beads and gems in marine, aqua, and turquoise hues. And I am needing a haircut - guess who is booked for Friday? New bangs here I come!

Where are you guys in your goals that you had for this week? 
Hope everyone's making progress and getting results!

P.S. I am now on bloglovin! 
Follow my blog with bloglovin

6 Things You Gotta Be if You Want to be Successful: #1, Be Nice.

Lately I have been brainstorming and drafting a series that I've been wanting to address on my blog. After a little over a year in actual "business", I feel like I have learned so much (and still have so much to learn!). In this age, everyone is starting to be DIY, which is great. But I also think that it takes a lot of time and patience, and the right attitude to succeed.

I'm not trying to say, "I'm a huge success! Listen to me!" These are merely suggestions from a lady who's been around the block once or twice.

I wanted to start this a little bit later, but in light of certain events, this post is simply undeniable. I tried to go to bed without writing this. I turned on my light and went back downstairs. That's how important this is to me.

Without further ado...

1. Be nice; people talk.
The internet may seem a vast world, with many circles and different cultures; but in actuality, the internet is really more like a small town. And people talk.

It's important to be kind, have an open mind, and be respectful of others online. You never know when you're going to come across that one person who could be a great connection, and you're gonna want them to see you in a positive light. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Is there a time and place for honesty when someone's being a jerk? Of course. But what you say on your blog, on forums, and on your profile gives people a sense of who you are as a person. If you are perceived as unpleasant or difficult to deal with, people will choose not to work with you, even if your product or service is a great fit for them. Your potential clients or readers may not see your direct interaction with others - but rest assured - people talk. If you put forward a genuinely positive, helpful presence on the internet, people will recognize you as someone who is reliable and trustworthy; someone they want to work with, or someone who will come to mind when their friends ask for their advice.

How do most people choose what products to buy? What services to go with? They ask their friends. Being kind and respectful of others online goes hand-in-hand with good word-of-mouth marketing. If you are starting out, word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful allies to have in your arsenal. If you're a joy to work with and go above and beyond for your clients, people will tell their friends (I've seen so many referral sales, it's not even funny!); if you're a pain, or you seriously step out of line, you can be sure that you'll get some word-of-mouth, but most likely it won't be pretty. People tell their friends when they've had a good experience with a store or blog; but people are equally as eager to advise their friends on which sellers, commissioners, and bloggers to avoid.

At the end of the day, I'm still a believer in the good old elementary school mantra of The Golden Rule: Treat others the way that you want to be treated. 

Have a kind heart;
Go 150% for every client (you never know when that one sale or commission will turn into a long-term relationship, you also don't know who that client knows);
Be open-minded and be critical of yourself before being critical of others;
Be excellent at what you do, and take joy in it (it will be readily apparent and contagious in every aspect of your business).

Thanks for reading. I'll be coming out with #2 in the next few days. 
I hope this was helpful and insightful!

*All photos from Pinterest; I do not own the images. Font courtesy of, "New Garden"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

un Reverie ~ a dream journal

I have always been told that I have the weirdest, most vivid dreams of anyone I know. Last year, I started a dream journal to record select dreams (I literally remember my dreams every night), and as promised, I am sharing some here. 

These are pages right out of my notebook, written in my hand. I have changed some names for privacy - I don't wish to air all of my dirty laundry here (though I'm sure it'd make for an interesting read)!

Monday, May 16, 2011

There are two kinds of people: which are you?

Well first off, let me apologize for the near-week of silence. I didn't plan it that way - I simply wasn't sure what I wanted to say. And I don't really like writing blogposts just to write them, because I'm "supposed" to. I was also wrapped up in quite a bit last week.

However, in the last week, I was really challenged by a question posed to me by Marie & Laura of B-School, and I've been thinking about it non-stop.

What kind of person are you?
Are you the lady (or guy) with the results, or the lady with the reasons?

The lady with the results gets things done; no matter how much she has on her plate; because she sets goals that will help her grow her business, become happier, or move toward a larger goal, and then goes after them with tenacity. 

The lady with the reasons has multiple excuses (I mean, uh, reasons) why she didn't or couldn't get those results. 

I want to be the lady with the results.
For awhile now I've been feeling a great sense of urgency to accomplish something each day. While it may sound like a lot of pressure to put on oneself (and it is), it's also extremely rewarding when you see the fruits of your labour start to take root and grow.

Even if it's something as simple as doing 15 minutes of gesture drawing a day, adding one item to your Etsy Shop each week, or just trying to respond to emails the same day; it all starts with a small choice to be proactive - or even just active.

This week my goal is to update my shop with 3 new items, finish a set of commissioned paintings, and get a haircut (lol, really).

When you simply reduce your To-Do List to a few high-priority things, you ease your mind into realizing that is IS do-able. I'm guilty of having the never-ending ToDo List, and it just daunts me. So I've been trying to prioritize, simplify, and get at em.

So, what are your 3 goals for this week?
Tell me, let's keep each other accountable! I need a buddy sometimes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Just a quick little update... a work in progress for Jen, the winner of our Joint Art Auction for Japan, of her avatar, Tilty! Inspired by Rapunzel's hair from Tangled ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A wedding! I love weddings! Drinks all around!

Though I am not a bride-to-be, I love weddings. 
In my next life, I'll probably have to choose between Wedding Planner and Indiana Jones as my career path ;)

Weddings are becoming so amazingly hip and DIY; and with today's economy, every bride wants to watch her wallet. Like I said, I'm not a bride-to-be, but I eat up Etsy Weddings, DIY Bride, and always pull out the People Magazine on the celebrity weddings at the dentist's office. (Maybe I just like all the flowery, mushy photos!)

This summer I've had the honour to work with 3 brides so far, to create pieces for them and their bridesmaids to wear during the ceremony. I never imagined I'd be doing wedding jewelry, but now I am forever hooked. It is so touching to be a part of someone's day by designing them something that will serve as a beautiful, lasting reminder of their union.

As I said, I never imagined when I started my business that I'd have my eye turned towards bridal jewelry. I have my dear dear friend Lacey to thank for that. She came to me and asked me to design her something for her special day. Of course I jumped at the opportunity.

Every bride I make pieces for first gets a "sketch phase". I am an illustrator at heart, so there's gotta be some gorgeous doodling to get excited about! Lacey picked out the first design for herself to wear at her rehearsal dinner, and picked the third design for her bridesmaids. I truly had a blast, and have her to thank for helping me discover another passion. 

 Photography and Design (c) Erin McManness - not to be reproduced in any way.

Since then I have worked on quite a few weddings, including one just recently where the bride was inspired by the original design, and asked me to create a set for her in a gorgeous, royal purple. This design is quickly becoming one of my absolute favourites. The centers are stamped with a swirling rosette design from a found vintage filigree piece; then I sweep on a bit of powdered silver leaf for extra shimmer. I handcraft every single piece of the pendant individually - I never, ever use molds. In that way, every piece will be completely unique and special. And I think that's the heart of the DIY bride... to create something original and beautiful for your day.

H a p p y  W e d d i n g   S e a s o n  ~
As my other brides and I work together, I'll be sure to post photos of the finished works! 

* If you are interested in working with me (for weddings, events, or gift-giving), please be sure to check out My Etsy Store for some samples, and then shoot me an email over at!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The BoneWoman's House

Some environment concepts I doodled up to cure myself of itchy-painter-fingers ;)
Concept: The Bonewoman's House.
* If you read the Sword of Truth series, it's loosely, loosely based on the idea of Adie's house.
 I've learned love is like a brick you can
build a house or sink a dead body. Gaga.
Been sketching up some illustration-ideas surrounding this line from Judas. Lady Gaga inspires me so much. She creates such amazing, thought-provoking imagery; for me, she is the pinnacle of creating the fantastic and bringing it to life to influence and inspire others.
And how the heck do I get nails like that?! Is that velvet?!
 Gaga in Judas: all rights (c) Lady Gaga

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today I amassed an ARMY.

I stand here before you now as a woman with the regal command of an army of little sweet-themed clay charms! Okay, my goal today was to work on a consignment order, and to start to mass up my stock for Otakon.

I was aiming for at least 75 pieces before "bedtime"
(aka, whenever my face drops into my tea), and I got to.............. 67.

Okay, not quite there. If I was counting a little more closely, I would've just made the last 8 just to hit the mark. But I basically just went "Ehhhhhh that looks like 75!" and plunked them into the oven. I'm super-scientific and accurate like that with my charm-making strategies.

My favourite kind of charm to make is the cake slice. Why? Because you make it just like you would a normal cake. You make the cake layers, the middle layer of frosting, the top frosting, and then wind some frosting around the sides. Throw them in the fridge for 10 minutes, and then take your tissue blade, and voila! 6 charms in one go! Thank you ma'am!

Today I made a toooon of chocolates and donuts (and some little adorable blocks of tiramisu!), and I also made Red Velvet Cake, Pink Princess Cake, Chocolate Rainbow Sprinkle Cake, Double Chocolate Cake, and Lemon Pie. After I was done with making the whole cakes (because I do them all in one go), I almost forgot what I put inside!

Lucky for you, I took some fun little pictures of these guys. They were too cute not to share! I also like to make these with my 10 year old sister - once I went over the directions with her, she was busting out amazing cakes! It's really a cool activity to do with kids. Just supervise with the blades ;) That's the rule when you hang out with me: no trips to the emergency room.

So after you make the cakes and put them in the fridge, you can pull them out and slice them!
(The reason you put them into the fridge is to set the soft clay, so that when you slice, everything stays put, and nothing "smooshes" into anything else.)

It's okay if you can't resist squealing. Go ahead. 

These will then get some eyepins, liquid clay (to keep the eyepins from falling out), and then will join the legions of chocolates and things on the cookie sheet (covered in foil of course) and be put into the oven.

Tomorrow's assignment? Glaze them ALL. I better go get some sleep. Night, loves ~

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alexander McQueen at the MET... I'm SO wishing I lived in New York City! If I didn't have school to pay for, I'd be roadtripping!

See the full article about the exhibition (with tons of gorgeous photos); this was my favourite, for the amazing silhouette and the texture. Feathers are so in. And after the Royal Wedding, I've definitely had my eye on some fascinators ;)

This looks like something Gaga would wear. If I could be anyone for a single day, it would be her. To see inside of her glamourous life would be so incredible. 

 Design by Label Alexander McQueen

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Work in Progress + Adele Jam Session

As per usual, I'm updating my blog after 2am.
Funny how we just stay in patterns (read: bad habits).

I realize I haven't made much work lately... because I'm a bum. Not really, I've been working. Working for Cirque du Soleil was awesome every single day, and I'm going to miss it terribly; but I am so excited to tackle all the projects that are waiting for this week!

It feels so good to paint again. I literally just went through the worst art-block I've ever experienced. Thank God it's mostly over. Either it just goes away, or I kick it in the butt until it scampers away with its tail between its legs!

Here, have a work in progress. If you want a headshot like this, they're $35 and I will bust you out something full of kick-assery ;) This one is for an extremely kind and darling lady, who has supported me in my Etsy Shop, and then was kind enough to request art of her avatar. Seriously, sometimes the commissioners I work with make it such an enjoyable experience for me. It's super-appreciated, if any of you reading this are clients. ;) ;) ;)

Art/Work in Progress (c) Erin McManness / Miri-love 2011

Also, I pretty much listened to new Adele during the entire 4 hours I worked on this. I highly recommend "Turning Tables" (which is still sung best by Adele, even though Miss Paltrow took a fair shot at it on Glee) and "Set Fire to the Rain":

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