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06/05/2011


Finally Found My Niche • by Carrie Clayden


Hip-chickMy Niche
Hi, My name is Carrie Clayden and I am an artist. I can finally say that. I'm an artist. That is a real breakthrough. Funny enough I even got an art degree from a University and when I graduated I didn't consider myself an artist. Now I do. I make art and sell fun repurposed vintage treasure at my shop Hip Chick Designs in Benicia, Ca. I finally found my niche.

Now What?
Art was not always a part of my life. Growing up I didn't craft with my Mom at all, it wasn't even on my radar until I tried an art class in high school, mostly thinking, "easy A". There I discovered the fun of creating. For me art comes and goes in my life, I was much more interested in partying than in making things and I didn't get back into art until I was married and had a child. I finally wanted a Bachelors degree at the ripe old age of 27. So I took all my undergraduate classes and transferred to UCSC in 1993 and declared myself an Art/Women's Studies major. I worked in oils and tried a few other mediums like ceramics and watercolors but primarily oils stuck with me. When it came time to graduate you could opt to have a show of your work or a private critique and I opted for a critique, not valuing my work enough to have a show. Now I look back and wish I had the show, but that's not where my head was at the time. I never really felt like an artist,! I would compare myself to others and always feel like I came up short. Therefore they were the real artists and I was just sort of good enough at it to keep trying. After I graduated I quit art for about 13 years while I was a stay at home mom to two kids. I always wondered what my niche was, and I feared I would never find it. I even took Interior Designs classes and obtained a certificate (I"m great at school) and then didn't know what to do with it once I was done. That was my pattern. Go to school and get educated and then when I'm finished wonder, now what?

Hip Chick Found
The thing that really helped me the most was Julia Cameron's The Artist Way. I read that book with a group of women and we weekly reported on our experiences, our tasks, and our pages. Julia is a sober woman of AA and so am I, so I could really sink my teeth into her writing. It's like she was writing this book for me. I had to answer questions like " What do you like to do in your free time?" "What would you do if fear was not in your way?" etc. and as difficult as it was for me to answer these questions I found myself finding the answers. What happened is I rediscovered my love for art. It was always there but fear crippled me. Fear told me I wasn't good enough. Fear said "Art is fine for fun but what are you going to do for real?". Julia addresses the 'critic' that sabotages our art, and by recognizing it's presence we can overcome it. This was earthshakingly profound. I decided to tell my critic to "Shove it" and I took an art class. I reacquainted myself with paint and I blossomed rapidly. From taking that one art class, the following happened. I dreamed of having an art studio and I found one. I started painting again. I was able to expand my studio space and in doing so I blended my love of antiques with my love of art and opened my store "Hip Chick Designs" in January 2010. I painted a portrait of my dog Chester one day and discovered I could paint pet portraits for income. I learned how to run a small business. I started meeting other artists and hosted Anna Corba's collage workshop in February. Now I offer art classes. The journey continues and I am amazed all the time. I finally found my niche. I had a real "AH HA" recently when I thought "This is what a Women's Studies/Art and Interior Design degree all add up to-Hip Chick Designs. An eclectic art studio and store with a fantastic vibe for women to come and create together." It has all come full circle and I couldn't be happier.

Learn more at www.hipchickdesignsca.com.

Comments

I am so happy your found your circle; I am working on connecting the dots to me. It is funny because they are encompassing what I loved to do what I was around age 10 and what I wanted to be. Fear has derailed me a few times, but I am learning it is just a word, that is larger than reality. Thanks for sharing a facet of your brilliant self! xXx

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