An overdue, sentimental update: Relocating to Seattle

Florida and My Professional Juggling Act

For the past two years my husband, Mike, and I lived in our first home together in a cute, mid-century neighborhood a couple miles outside of downtown Orlando. We loved our home, our neighbors and the close vicinity in which we lived to all of Orlando’s local places. Orlando is where Mike grew up, where we met and went to college and where many of our close friends and family are, but we didn’t want to stay there forever.

During those two years I taught as an adjunct at the University of North Florida, interviewed for an out-of-state job that I was honestly shocked to be considered for, and worked part-time at Rifle Paper Co., a stationery powerhouse located in Winter Park, all the while making artwork and weighing how I wanted to run my practice as an artist. It’s always been my number one goal to make my art for a living, so at the time I felt like my professional life was a juggling act, trying to keep everything up in air with too many commitments in the mix.

A New Opportunity

Bring us to May of this year. As I worked on my art and gained clarity in what I want in my career, Mike was working hard and excelling at his job. He received two job offers at the same time, one in Dallas, one in Seattle, and we had some decisions to make. We didn’t plan on leaving Orlando so soon, but both were very good opportunities professionally and as a family.

I went to grad school in the DFW metroplex (Denton forever!), so I knew we’d love Dallas, but I’ve had this inexplicable dream of living in Seattle for years. When people talked about moving to New York City or Los Angeles, I was always eyeing Seattle. Our gut wanted to go to there, but we also needed to look at things logically. 

After much labored deliberation, a visit to Seattle (to compare to what we already knew about Dallas), and factoring in cost of living differences (Seriously, that part is an energy vampire.), Mike accepted his offer in Seattle.

Our New Home

In August we sold our house (with several stressful delays and costly complications), sold Mike’s truck that we knew would not fare well in the mountains here, moved our belongings cross-country and unpacked in an apartment that’s less than half the size of our house. Property value (See, those draining cost of living factors again.) is probably close to three times higher here than in Orlando, so owning a home with a studio in the backyard is out of the question for the immediate present. 

So far we love living here and even with the physical downsizing, our life feels ridiculously abundant. Both of my presses made it here intact, undamaged and are up and running. We set up my studio in our detached garage downstairs and I’m currently finishing up projects I started in Florida. With our move as a catalyst, I’ve had time to reflect and appreciate the past two years as a time of development. Testing different aspects of a creative life to figure out not only what I can sustain, but also what sustains me. 

Now

In my little garage studio I am focusing on letterpress, relief and bookbinding. I’m creating stationery and greeting cards, an obsession of mine passed down from my mom, and creating new prints and artist books inspired by the shocking change in landscape from our move.

Today is a clear day, so I’m sitting outside as I write, enjoying the last bits of sunshine before the months of cold, cloudy days that are promised to arrive. I'll go in the studio after this and pack my recent custom letterpress stationery for shipping and start on new designs. You would think that after uprooting our lives I would still be settling down, but right now I'm feeling more grounded than ever. 

 

 

P.S.

After unpacking I realized most of my work from the past year isn't photographed, so I'll be updating the website soon.

Stationery out in the world

Sam writing Thank You's to the generous donors from DonorsChoose.org. Photo courtesy: Sam Bivens

Sam writing Thank You's to the generous donors from DonorsChoose.orgPhoto courtesy: Sam Bivens

The postcard triptychs in action! Photo courtesy: Sam Bivens

The postcard triptychs in action! Photo courtesy: Sam Bivens

My dear and close friend, Sam, sent photos of my stationery getting put to work! Sam is an art teacher at an elementary school and her classroom recently received supplies from DonorsChoose.organ online charity that public school teachers post classroom projects on, and donors can give to the projects of their choosing.

As part of projects receiving supplies, Sam and her students write Thank You's to the donors. The cards I recently designed and printed happened to be Sam's school colors... a perfect match! The art classes I took in public school were vital to me becoming an artist, so I'm happy to see my work included as a tiny part of Sam's success in keeping art fun and engaging in school!

 

To donate to Sam's (Ms. Bivens') class, click here!

 

A whirlwind week in the community!

I am just now coming down from last week's hustle and bustle out in the community! As part of Art31, I assisted Artist-in-Action Chris Ware teaching printmaking lessons at a local elementary and middle school. The lessons were part of the Art & History Museums-Maitland art outreach program and it was really fun to be in such energized classrooms! I applaud teachers who educate with passion all year- it's a lot of work!

Just a glimpse of one of the art outreach work stations! Photo credit: Chris Ware

Just a glimpse of one of the art outreach work stations! Photo credit: Chris Ware

Hye showing us delicate and gorgeous papers from Korea.

Hye showing us delicate and gorgeous papers from Korea.

Tuesday was the last day of a papermaking class I took with artist Hye Shin at Crealde School of Art. For our final class, Hye invited us to her studio to see where she creates, the process that goes into making her art and we learned a paper collage technique. It was a joy and an honor to see her work space and it inspired me to work on my own studio facelift.

Sharing the artist book love! Photo credit: Rachel Simmons

Sharing the artist book love! Photo credit: Rachel Simmons

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of visiting Rachel Simmons' Artist Book class at Rollins College. I brought some of my own books as well as the works of other artists in the hopes of inspiring the students as they embark on their final project. I loved seeing the awe the students experienced as they turned pages and opened boxes filled with artistic treasure. My favorite days in my artist book class in grad school were the days when our professor showed us all the books of previous students. Those days left me overflowing with ideas and motivation. Hopefully Rachel's students left class feeling the same way.

Talking to the audience about steamroller printing while setting up some of my patterned blocks. Photo credit: Art & History Museums-Maitland

Talking to the audience about steamroller printing while setting up some of my patterned blocks. Photo credit: Art & History Museums-Maitland

The week came to a close with the Art & History Museums-Maitland's monthly Culture Pop! event. This month's theme was Roll, Repeat and it was all about printmaking! Local screenprint, letterpress and design business, Mama's Sauce, live-screenprinted event posters and I was part of the steamroller printing with local artists Whitney Broadaway and Chris Ware. We each brought woodcuts and used an 8-ton steamroller to print our images on paper. It certainly was a spectacle for those came out and we got a lot of questions about printmaking and woodcuts... it always gives me the warm fuzzies to be able to share what I love with others.

Clotheslines of prints! You can see one of my prints on the left... lots of patterned blocks! Photo credit: Michael Lavoie

Clotheslines of prints! You can see one of my prints on the left... lots of patterned blocks! Photo credit: Michael Lavoie

Trapping our paper to print our 2nd run! Photo credit: Michael Lavoie

Trapping our paper to print our 2nd run! Photo credit: Michael Lavoie

Chris Ware, Whitney Broadaway and me with our collaborative print at the end of the night. Photo credit: Chris Ware

Chris Ware, Whitney Broadaway and me with our collaborative print at the end of the night. Photo credit: Chris Ware

It was such an awesome week and I hated to say goodbye to it, but I am looking forward to getting back in the studio this week and you can find me this weekend at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival teaching children's art projects with the Art and History Museums-Maitland!