Does It Spark Joy: Originals vs. Prints

Does It Spark Joy: Originals vs. Prints

Raise your hand if you’ve seen Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, “Tidying Up”? Okay, me too. I’ve been going through the process of cleaning out the things that don’t spark joy. I wouldn’t call myself a collector. I’m pretty good at always getting rid of clothing before I bring in new pieces of clothing. However, as I’ve become a homeowner, I’ve noticed my collection of original art growing.

I’ve recently been looking at the art on my walls with a more critical eye. I have pieces of ancient Chinese rice paper paintings given to me by my grandmother, that if I were to reframe them, the paper would disintegrate (they probably need to be professionally restored). I have original pieces from fellow artists that I want to support and loved the story behind the work. I have prints that I bought in college to just fill a space when I couldn’t afford original pieces. There are a couple of prints I’ve decided to pass along in the pursuit of only having original art in my home. It is a personal goal of mine to only have original works in my home. Why do I only want originals? A few reasons.

  1. No matter how good the quality of the print, an original feels different. When bringing an original into a space, the energy is different, you can tell there is history, there is something more than merely décor. There is a detail to an original painting that simply isn’t there in a reproduction print. It’s the stray brush hair, it’s the little imperfections that make an original more beautiful and more of a story than a print could ever be.
  2. Originals are always more valuable than prints. Buying pieces from artists that are aware of their brand voice and value in the market means I can choose artists that I believe will only go up in value.
  3. Buying original art from artists, means giving more profit to the artists. When you buy a print from an artist, or third party, the artist is only getting a small percentage of that sale price, it’s usually 10% or less. So if you’re buying a $23.00 print from Wayfair, the artist is only making $2.30 or less. 10% is considered a high percentage in the licensing world. When you buy and original from the artist they receive 100% of the profits after taxes and material expenses. The margins are much greater and more meaningful to artists when collectors buy originals.
  4.  Living with an original changes the way I think about myself. When I look at the Chinese rice paper paintings that are hundreds of years old, I wonder about their creators. I want to honor their art by creating beautiful pieces that will well outlive me. I want to pay homage to their practice and techniques in my own work.

And that is what is most important about originals instead of prints. Originals have a real connection to a human being. Living or dead, someone lived and labored over something I have hanging on my wall. Despite the artist’s intention, the artist made the piece for a reason. Each painting is a part of an artist’s story. Each original painting is a fragment of time from an artist’s life, hanging on my wall. A print is made for profit, to provide the artist margins, and an income beyond the immediacy of what they can produce. An original is made from love, labor, high quality materials, and with a purpose beyond profit.

So thanks Marie, for inspiring to make hard choices when it comes to my art collection. I’m choosing originals that spark joy while tidying up and cleaning out my art collection.

Did this post spark joy for you? If it did, share it with your friends and family. Follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead Facebook @ceolmstead

How to Support Artists & Small Businesses Without Spending a Penny

How to Support Artists & Small Businesses Without Spending a Penny

Photo by Tori Watson Photography, check her out here!

It’s the season for giving and the season for spending. I don’t know about you, but when I do my Christmas shopping and find gifts to give I’m always left feeling bad that I can’t support all the small businesses and charities that my friends own and run.

There are so many artists, makers, and small businesses that I want to support every year, but it can’t always happen for financial reasons, or maybe I just don’t have the right person to give their gift to. So this year, I’m creating a support guide.

A support guide is different than a gift guide because you can support any business owner, or any artist using these methods WITHOUT SPENDING A SINGLE PENNY! You want to know how? Keep scrolling….

  1. Like their Content
    Due to algorithm changes that we have all experienced, likes and comments are more valuable than ever. The truth is that networks like Instagram or Facebook, don’t serve a post to all of someone’s followers. They serve a post based on how much engagement it gets within the first hour. One of the kindest things you can do for a small business or artist is to “like” their content to boost their post.
  2. Comment on their Content
    The same engagement algorithms apply when people comment on a post. When someone comments and likes a Facebook or Instagram post, those algorithms will serve it to more people. It doesn’t have to be a long comment, just a word of encouragement or something you like about the post will suffice. Get your double tap on!
  3. Share a Post
    Repost a photo and tag the business in it (always ask permission first). Share a blog post, shop page, or photo on your own social channels, making sure you tag, and link back to them. Re-sharing the content of artists or small businesses makes a huge impact on business. Even if you can’t afford to spend more on gifts, you never know if one of your friends may enjoy the products or services offered by that small business you are supporting.
  4. Re-pin Their Pins
    I’m constantly pinning images on Pinterest from the websites and content my fellow makers and small biz friends have created. Repining an image might not seem like much, but every re-pin counts. Pinterest is such a helpful tool to support small biz, so much so that Pinterest, on average, drives 3 times more traffic than any other paid service, or social media platform. For my business personally, Pinterest drives 85% of my web traffic and sales. Becoming a pinning ally for your favorite brands goes further than you know!
  5. Write a Blog
    If you have your own blog, consider writing a blog post roundup of some of your favorite makers and small businesses that you want to support. Always link to their website and/or social media links. This helps their SEO and will further legitimize their business and website in searching engine results!
  6. Send a Note of Encouragement
    It doesn’t have to be an actual note, it could be a comment on a post, a direct message, or an email. For many small business owners, this is our busy season where we are working overtime to satisfy our clients and make sure everyone receives what they ordered. The holiday season can be exhausting, frustrating, and downright discouraging sometimes when you’re an artist or small biz. Sending a small business owner, a quick note saying, “You’re doing a great job!” Simply telling them one thing you like about what they do or the way they run their business can go a long way. Spread that cheer, far and wide!

There are so many ways to support artists, makers, and small businesses without breaking the bank. It’s time to get over the guilt of not being able to support everyone and take charge by supporting them in the ways you can! Can you think of other ways to support small businesses without spending a penny? Share your ideas below in the comments or send me a message!

If you learned something or liked this post, share it with a friend or repost it to your feeds. Follow me on Instagram @christineolmstead Pinterest @christineolmstead Facebook @ceolmstead

Meet My Intern!

Meet My Intern!

Tovala Olmstead is a 16 year old high school student and has been working for Christine since last summer. Tovala is Christine’s sister-in-law. Tovala is somewhere in between and intern and part time employee. She doesn’t have an end date in mind like a semester long intern, but she only works part time.

We are so excited to have Tovala working around the studio with me and her skills are invaluable. Tovala does a range of computer work for Christine. Mostly pertaining to Pinterest and managing products in the print shop.

Tovala wears many hats both literally and figuratively. Working several part time jobs, running her own photography business and keeping up with school full time. In addition to working with me part time, on weekends she is a sous-chef at a wedding venue. She even has a collection of cookbooks.

In addition to being multi-talented Tovala has a great sense of personal style. She’s probably going to way over-pack for her next trip. Her dream is to be a traveling photographer and create her own unique style! She loves capturing people’s personalities and and unique styles. She’s constantly dreaming up photoshoots in different countries. She has a photoshoot planned for all the places that she wants to travel to. She spends a lot of her free time scrolling through Pinterest and saving pins that consist of travel, photography, art, style, and food. She loves scouting out the best coffee shops! If you’re road tripping with her, just know you’ll have an ample supply of coffee and expect her to DJ the ENTIRE way.

We are incredibly thankful to get to work with Tovala and are always looking for future interns to apply email!

Spruce Up Your Home Before the Holidays!

Spruce Up Your Home Before the Holidays!

Nothing says adding holiday sparkle like freshening up the art on your walls. Let’s be real, most people hang art on their walls, and leave it for years, even decades. Nothing dates a room faster than old, outdated decor. This year spice up your living room without breaking the bank.

Piece of Cheer 5 Framed Art Print, $72


Shop these art prints all under $100 and get them delivered and installed before your mother-in-law and all the guests come over. These modern abstract art prints are called “Pieces of Cheer,” made for the holidays in mind. Don’t worry about creating the perfect gallery wall, it’s already been thought out for you. Simply order the framed prints with your choice of frame and in the size you need. Once they arrive hanging is a breeze.

Piece of Cheer 4 Framed Print, $72

These prints are high quality prints on paper. They come framed in your choice of frame color and style and sizes from small to large. This year, I’m tearing down the prints I printed off from my home printer and framed myself in favor of professional, affordable, high-quality framed prints. This project literally took 15 minutes in total. Once I ordered these three prints in the size and frame color that I wanted, I got them the next week and hung them in ten minutes. This is the fastest update I’ve ever made to a living room, for such a big impact.

Piece of Cheer 3 Framed Art Print, $72


Take the stress out of a gallery wall and order one ready to go. No need to worry if these pieces will go together or not, they’ve been hand made to coordinate. This is the easiest home decor decision you’ll make all year, maybe in your whole life.

Click the image of the print, to choose your size and frame and start planning the room you plan on updating before the holidays! Happy Holiday Prep to you!

Sensory Deprivation: My Experience

Sensory Deprivation: My Experience

This fall is shaping up to be a little bit insane for both me and my husband, Joel. We both have a lot of very long, strange work hours. Earlier this week my husband surprised me with the news that we were trying Sensory Deprivation as a fun date.

Sensory deprivation is something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. If you don’t know what it is, essentially you lie in buoyant saltwater at your body temperature in pitch black and complete silence for 90 minutes. The goal is that you are completely disconnected from your bodily senses.

I’ve heard all kinds of crazy things about it. I heard of people having polar opposite experiences. I’ve heard some people say that it’s like being on drugs and they hallucinate, that it’s more relaxing than a massage, that it can heal injuries, provide pain and stress relief, and unparalleled mental clarity and spiritual transformations.

On the other hand, I’ve heard some pretty negative things too, like giving people panic attacks, inducing severe stress, and causing strange hallucinations.

With such mixed reviews, I was really curious to try it for myself, and Joel knew it would be the perfect date. We went to OM Float in Ashburn, VA. Where they offer 90-minute float sessions. I read some of the philosophy behind the theories of healing just to prepare for the day.

Putting everything I knew aside I was going to try and see if I could have a positive experience. The reasons we wanted to go was to see if it would be relaxing and to try something new. We weren’t going to try and get bodily healing, or have a super spiritual experience. This is what my experience was like…

Our appointment was booked a couple of weeks ago (because who knew, they fill up so fast.) Before you come, they send you an email reminder of your appointment. Our appointment was for 9 a.m. They recommended we only eat a small, light breakfast and go light on any caffeine. They like you to get there a few minutes early and are very kind and welcoming when you arrive. After arriving they offered us tea and water. We waited in the sitting room while they made sure our rooms were ready.

After about 5 minutes they lead us back to a hallway with about six different float rooms. Each client gets their own room, Joel and I did not share a room or a tank. Each room has low, calm light, a shower with body wash and shampoo, a float tank with adjacent filtration system, a towel, washcloth, bathrobe, sandals, waterproof earplugs, and Q-tips.

Here is what they told us to do. They ask that you shower with soap before you get in the tank. Each tank is filled with ten inches of very, very salty water. The water is set to the temperature of human skin which is about 94 degrees F. They advise that you float naked, but I brought a swimsuit anyway.

There is soft, spa-like music playing when you enter the room and that music lasts for fifteen minutes before you’re in silence. They tell you to lock the door to your personal room, and make sure you know that there are no locks on the float tanks.

With all of the info on the table I was lead into my private room where the fifteen minutes of music was playing. I locked the door, stuffed the earplugs in my ears, took a shower and jumped in the tank. I would say that the first 30 minutes was torture, mostly because I didn’t put my swimsuit on, because I was trying to embrace the whole experience.

In the first 30 minutes the music had stopped and it sort of felt like I was floating in space but I also felt like I was spinning to the right in a circle and I got really really nauseous. I also was super uncomfortable without any clothes on and my mind was racing at the speed of light no matter how I tried to calm it down. I jumped out of the tub, put my swimsuit on and jumped back in.

The nausea and spinning feeling came back but I was finally able to relax and focus on releasing all the tension in my shoulders, neck, lower back and jaw. I started to focus on my breathing and looking at the bursts of color I was seeing under my eyelids.

I fell asleep for almost the rest of time, bobbing around in the nothingness.

I awoke with a jolt and almost had a heart attack when one of the strings on my swimsuit brushed against my arm. I thought I was going to die and there was something in the water with me till I realized it was my swimming suit. I started to calm back down when the music started playing and the low lights started to come on inside the tank.

I got out of the tank, showered again (but had to shower when I got home too because wow there was a lot of salt still stuck in my ears and hair). I got dressed and Joel and I left.

Overall, I would say bizarre. It was one of the strangest experiences I’ve had, but I’m glad I tried it. Here is what I enjoyed.

The facility was clean, and I felt good about that. The service was great and the people were kind. I liked the lighting and how they really try and set the mood. I do feel like I could and still can feel some of the tension gone from my shoulders, knees and feet.  I liked the way the salt made my skin feel and it still feels super soft today, it also helped heal up some bug bites that had been irritating my skin the last few days. I liked the smell of their soap (it was lavender). I liked the feeling of weightlessness and floating through space, but I think I’d rather do it under the stars not in pitch blackness.

Here’s what I didn’t like. I didn’t like how nauseous I got at the beginning. I didn’t like floating without a swimsuit at the beginning. I didn’t like how there was salt all over my clothes afterward. I didn’t like that water got stuck in my ear even though I used the earplugs (got it out with rubbing alcohol). I left and spent most of the rest of the day feeling exhausted and out of it. And maybe this is wrong of me, but I’m sort of disappointed I fell asleep? I don’t know.. it sort of felt like an expensive nap?

What did I get out of it? Well I can say I’ve tried it. I do feel like tension was relieved from my shoulders, knees, and feet, but not more than a massage would give me. I don’t feel like I had any spiritual revelations (but I wasn’t looking for any). It was sort of crazy how wild my mind felt and colorful visions were throbbing under my eyelids.

Conclusion, would I do it again? Honestly, probably not. Not because I had a bad experience, on the contrary, I feel like I had a very mixed experience. Overall I feel like it was more positive than negative, but for the money, and for my goals, I think I would choose a massage, or a facial over sensory deprivation. To me, those are more relaxing experiences.

So that’s it. Let me know if you have any questions, and I encourage you to try it once for yourself. I won’t be going again, but I’ll never forget the time I had! Hope you enjoyed this post!

Music to Paint To

Music to Paint To

I have synesthesia. All it means is I associate colors and moods with letters, numbers, words, but mostly sounds. I see colors when listening to music. Sounds strongly affect me and usually locks me into a mental state of deep thinking and creativity. Listening to something always invokes visions of color and a mood. Listening sparks a memory or deep thought or new experience. Sound is something that greatly impacts my life, mood and artwork. I’m usually listening to music I would describe as chill, relaxing, calming, or soothing. I’m the person who wears ear plugs to concerts, movie theatres, and even church. Loud or music that is too hyper really stresses me out and gives me real anxiety.

While painting you can find me listening to music like that or an audiobook, or podcast. I always work better and get into a better flow state when I am listening to something. I can do a comprehensive list of books and podcasts I listen to later, but one question I get asked a lot while painting is, “what are you listening to?” People will frequently ask how I listen to music and whether or not I have playlists?

Yes, friends I do have playlists. Here is the comprehensive introduction to the music I listen to on Spotify. Each of these are curated playlists for my life and I listen to all of them while I paint too.

There really isn’t a method to the madness. I usually just put on the playlist that I am feeling the most. I usually start with a specific song in mind that I know is in a specific playlist and just let the playlist shuffle from there. You can find my Spotify Profile Here.

Here are the playlists in definitive ranking of what I listen to the most:

Little Picks:
This playlist is sweet, calm, and melancholy. It’s probably my favorite of my playlists and often find myself picking around in it or just letting it run from beginning to end. This playlist is 8 hours and 40 minutes of pure reflection and calm. If you’re a melancholy person like me, or just enjoy a good downer, this is the playlist for you. Put it on shuffle and soak in all the feels.

New Beginnings:
This playlist is more upbeat and playful in comparison to the last playlist. The beats are little faster, it’s more lively and puts you in a good mood. This a positive, forward looking playlist that I always turn on for a pick-me-up.

The Divide: 
This was the playlists I was listening to/creating while I was working on my last collection, The Divide. It is a mixed bag and it have different meanings in my mind, but if you haven’t been burned out with those two previous playlists then you should give these a listen too.

I have several other playlists, but I’m going to let you choose your own adventure there. One is all French music, one is just classical music, there are a couple of Christmas playlists, and of course my favorite 80’s music (because 80’s music is basically my all-time favorite). Those main three playlists are what I listen to on a regular basis. Here is the link to my Spotify Profile.