Next in the #MarchMeetTheMaker challenge is to share the best decision I ever made.
Well goodness! I can think of several! Create Art 4 Good is not my first business. It is, however, the business I have taken most seriously. The first thing I did was to write a business plan, set goals, and do everything I could to attain those goals.
My first big goal was to have a brick-and-mortar in five years of beginning my business. I had it in TWO! I would say, the business plan AND taking the leap to have a gallery space were two of the best business decisions I have ever made! #grateful#CreateArt4Good#greetings4good#artistlife
I LOVE daisies, sharp Derwent Art colored pencils, microns with 005 tips, walking in the rain, water in general (lake, ocean, whatever!), tea, @goldenpaints, soup (it is the perfect food), mixed media art, fancy glasses (even if I am drinking lemonade out of them), cooking for people, and all things family.
In the #MeettheMakerChallenge- next up is Brand Values. When forming Create Art 4 Good, I worked really hard at defining what this was all meant to be. For me going into business was an opportunity. It was an opportunity to not only create art, and support the art of others, but it was also a way to be aware of the world around me and use my talents for good. I give a portion of every single sale to a local charity. It doesn’t matter if it is a greeting card from my card business – Greetings 4 Good, or a large painting, each piece I have created is used to pay it forward.
Toward that end, I created “the thoughtfulness project”. It is a project that seeks to pay it forward, give back, and create joy. It is a project that can be as simple as paying for someone’s coffee, dropping off hundreds of cards to a nursing home, or sending something to a stranger in need. Last year (2021) I sent literally thousands of cards, through the mail, dropped off, or otherwise. Most were sent to 97% strangers. The whole idea is to SHARE THE LOVE!
The best of what we are can be joyfully shared with others to support and celebrate! Life can be hard, but we as humans who care can make a difference. That is just what I seek to do.
Everyone loves a moment to be affirmed and a little proud of their accomplishments- This morning, Marketta Gregory shared a bit about my business and my mission! It is fun to see it in the newspaper- for sure!
Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. A. Lincoln
I have had to ponder this for a bit, it all felt too jumbled emotionally to share. I honestly couldn’t decide if I was happy or sad or both. At this point, I feel the emotion just “was” and defining it ultimately served no real purpose. It was instead an opportunity to move through it and find a way to the other side.
A few weeks ago, would have been my tenth anniversary having a studio at the Hungerford. I bring this up only because leaving the Hungerford marked a huge transition for me. I made note of the date literally the day before. As I said above, I wasn’t sure if I felt happy, sad, or otherwise.
The Hungerford was my first “real” studio. I made a studio space into a gallery. I embraced the esthetic of not so long ago industrial and created my own real-world gallery. I supported artists there. I had a new exhibit with a guest artist (or artists) every single month. I held workshops there. I held events that supported and reached out to the homeless, women in crisis, and those being treated for cancer. I held meetings to support small business Marketing, Artisan Socials, and more.
I worked so hard there… I grew as an artist and a person there… I made some dear friends there… it was home.
In January of 2020, I made the decision that it was time for a change. I love(d) what I was doing- but something in me knew it was time for a big change. I had a lot of time to think about this as I spontaneously drove to Florida by myself (after an invitation twelve hours earlier from my son and bonus daughter) to spend a week with them. I did it! (If you only knew how out of character this was for me)
When I got home about ten days later I knew that change was in the wind. It was happening, I just wasn’t sure how. ( The last time I felt this way I went back to college.)
Enter a Facebook post by Brandi Marino. Brandi shared about a new collective at the Piano Works Mall. I decided to go check it out. My original intention was to see it and if I liked it, consider opening a second site for Create Art 4 Good. Perhaps I would hold workshops there.
Two days later, after seeing the space twice, I made the decision to move from the Hungerford to Central Creatives. (My husband was not pleased, but thankfully he was supportive)
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this wasn’t just about changing location. It was about changing the business altogether.
The universe must have agreed because out of the thin air I had people volunteering to move me. SO many people! It was really quite amazing. (talk about grateful!) I moved in on February 23, and on February 29th, we as a collective had our first big opening.
Then… the global pandemic hit, and we shut down.
Why on earth am I telling you all this? Well… you see, I changed far more than location. I changed the business. While I still try to support my fellow artists, I do not have a new exhibit every month (who could in a pandemic?) This forced me to make some changes. I am certainly not suggesting that I love the pandemic, but as my mother would have said, “There’s always something to be grateful for.”
What I am grateful for is that I have found a way to prioritize my own work. I have taken quite seriously my art, my greeting card company, and my mission. I still pay it forward with a portion of the profits going to charity. I still support other artists- I am a pretty good cheerleader, but also I have taken over Rochester Artisans started by the ever wonderful Stefani Tadio. This is a group that assists other artists with all things business. It gives me joy to facilitate that group. I even still do a workshop or two. During the height of the pandemic- zoom became a very handy tool. So the changes are there, but maybe it is more of a shift. Perhaps it was time.
So, I might not be at the Hungerford. But I am celebrating a business that is twelve years old. I am celebrating my own personal and professional growth. I am celebrating surviving and even having moments of thriving in the pandemic world. I am grateful for the opportunity to take my own work more seriously, and the courage to do so. I am grateful for you.
(whew, this was a long one, wasn’t it?)
I believe, with my whole heart, I am in the right place.
Below is a blog post I wrote five years ago. It was a post to celebrate several years at Create Art 4 Good. It embraced the growth, the changes, and a big announcement. I am sitting here reflecting on this incredible journey that began over a decade ago, really appreciating all the lessons I have learned and the wisdom revealed. I am celebrating the fact that I have done what I set out to do. I am celebrating the incredible support I have been so blessed to receive. I am celebrating the revelation of my dreams. Each year seems to have brought growth and progress. Each year, the dreams became a little more refined.
Five years ago, I announced that I would begin formally Greetings4Good. Little did I know at the time that the mission was finally revealed. It is certain to me that I was absolutely meant to begin Create Art 4 Good as I did. I was blessed to support other artists, curate incredible exhibits, pay it forward with hosting charitable events, as well as financial contributions to local charities, facilitate countless workshops and other creative activities. This was all part of the process. I have learned so much, grown so much, and found perhaps a quieter mission.
Today, while I celebrate all the business of Create Art 4 Good has taught me, I celebrate more the direction this has taken. When I moved from the Hungerford in 2020, I dedicated myself to a new path, or perhaps just a more specifically dedicated one. I wanted and needed to create more, to honor all those millions of ideas swimming in my head. I wanted and needed to work more diligently on my greeting card business.
Greetings 4 Good has become my heart project. It IS my mission. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I have always needed to think I could change the world in some way. I feel that my “gift” is not necessarily art, but the ability to love. I feel that my affection for the underdog, the lonely, the uncelebrated has been the bridge to this business. Cards, especially for no real obligation brighten someone’s day, remind them that they are cared for, and well, it is a simple way to do so.
I have said for some time that I have been blessed to pick up tools and skills throughout my life that the purpose of which would later be revealed. When I went back to college for a graphic design degree, I thought it was to work on logos and business collateral for others. NOPE. It was so that I would have some sort of knowledge base to begin a card company. These skills coupled with my deep desire to paint and create seem to be the perfect marriage.
So today- I celebrate Create Art 4 Good. While I still do my best to support other artists through mentoring as well as Rochester Artisans (thank you, Stefani Tadio!), I am keenly aware that this was the foundational business that brought me to the mission of my life. I still support those in need through donations, the thoughtfulness project, and the 365 project. (in 2021 I set a goal of sending a card a day, and to date I have delivered/mailed/and otherwise nearly 940 cards to friends, family, and mostly complete strangers) I am completely determined to change the world… one greeting card at a time.
Thank you for listening… thank you for celebrating with me. (below is the original announcement of my card company just for giggles)
the best is yet to be.
Sending you so much love!
The Big Announcement (August 9, 2016)
Today is my anniversary! Create Art 4 Good was launched on August 9th. It will always be a “day” for me. I remember when I began, it was a dream in the making. I diligently wrote and re-wrote the business plan SEVEN times. YEP, seven. For me, it was about ensuring the success of my dreams. Today, I am celebrating with awe my successes and jumping with vigor into the next dream!
I could go on and on about how much I have learned, and that is completely true. I could share the changes that have occurred in the last few years, (not the least of which is celebrating my dream of a gallery at the Hungerford)- which is also true.
For me, this is a gigantic celebration that isn’t just about celebrating the success I feel in growing a small business. It is about the opportunity that I am jumping into with my everything. It is about the bubbling pure joy that is overflowing in my heart as I write this.
Let me give you the background information.
When I was little, my mom used to say when my father was feeling a bit grumpy he’d go to the hardware store. He would wander around and sort out his thoughts among the nuts and bolts and shiny new tools. When he returned, he was usually in much better spirits. As an adult, I recognize that this was sort of his time out. He didn’t have to talk to anyone, he just found himself in “the zone”- his zone.
I have a similar “thing”, however usually at a stationery store. I wander around, look and let go. My terrible mood usually turns into something proactive, I buy a card or two (or ten) not usually because I need them, but because I have thought of someone who seems to be going through something or someone who needs to be celebrated. My favorite opportunities are the ones that are not required. An encouragement, a thank you, or just a little bit of love.
Why am I telling you all this? In life we are given many messages, if we pay attention it seems that everything is revealed at the perfect time. My love of pretty stationery, beautiful cards, and fine papers isn’t just an artist thing, I would suggest perhaps it’s a vocation. (more honestly NOT just a vocation but a passion… maybe even obsession?!) I fully embrace the art of thoughtfulness. It gives me life and more importantly seems to positively affect those to who I send them.
One of the things that bothers me about our very fast-paced world is that we forget to take notice, to pause, to appreciate, to recognize. We don’t send cards as often as in the past. A recent survey that I posted on social media indicates that we don’t send as many cards, as we want to (which inspires guilt), we LOVE getting cards, AND we appreciate cards that are unique, and beautiful. The message is clear -it is vital to pause, to notice, to appreciate each other.
As an artist, it is a natural extension to make cards from the artwork I create. It is affordable for those who appreciate your work and it is a lovely way to share creativity. I have been honored by those who mention to me after sending some of my cards that they were not only proud to send my greetings, but the recipient was delighted as well. One person shares with me that she sends my cards to her “special people” because she likes to send beautiful art. I love it when I hear from someone I was inspired to send a card to sends me a message that my card positively changed their day, made them feel important or truly loved. I will admit, it is a bit of an ego boost when someone tells you that they exclusively send your images for every reason there is to send a card.
I have listened- and my next step has been revealed.
It is with great honor I announce the birth of GREETINGS 4 GOOD.
Greetings 4 Goodwill flourish under the parent company, Create Art 4 Good. It will use fine art images to create gorgeous stationery, greeting cards, and other inspiring products. Each week(from now until October) I will reveal the product line piece by piece. I want these images to be your very favorites, so I will humbling ask for your help in deciding which images should go to print! I will invite you to join Greetings 4 Good– which will have some really nifty perks! (free cards, promotions & special offers)
Are you in?
SAVE THE DATE! The official launch date for Greetings 4 Good will be October 7th, 2016 at my gallery – Create Art 4 Good. That night you will see the original images I have created married to the poetry I write to bloom into beautiful and unique cards for you. You will have the opportunity to view and purchase greeting cards that give back (just like with Create Art 4 Good- a donation is made with each sale) and help you to send a little bit of love to those you cherish. This opening will be the gala of a lifetime of making art and poetry and celebrating the bloom of thoughtfulness.
Thank you for celebrating my anniversary, your support of my work sustains me in ways you could never imagine. I appreciate your love and faithfulness.
with great joy, love & peace,
p.s. send someone a card today- for no reason- JUST BECAUSE – you will both be happy you did!
p.p.s. Starting in October, send a Greetings4Good card (just because you will send a beautiful art card- and make many people happy!)
Well, hello there! Welcome to July. I wanted to take a moment to share all the fun things going on in my life.
First, I am not (typically) one to make a big deal out of my own birthday, however, this year, this month, both my husband and myself are turning sixty. I admit, I kind of don’t believe it. There are days my body sure does feel at LEAST sixty, but I feel like I am just getting started in so many ways. But, regardless of what is ahead, I am celebrating. I feel like more than ever, I am in awe of the preciousness of life, the countless gifts I have received, and the love that I have in my life. I AM one blessed human. I am ever so grateful.
That said! I am celebrating with a one-woman show at Sylvan Starlight Creations. I have been creating for a long time (see above) and I want to celebrate that! I am grateful to Sylvia Serry who owns the gallery for this invitational. The opening is on the fifteenth of July and should be downright fun! I will be demonstrating mixed media art as it is my great love! (one of them anyway) Sylvan Starlight Creations is found at 50 State St bldg c, Pittsford, NY 14534. The opening will be from 4-8 pm. The show will be up through September!
Next, I have updated my workshops. At this point, I am very willing to facilitate workshops in person at the gallery or on a video chat. It is important everyone feels comfortable, but by all means, let’s be creative together!
Next up, (so much fun to share, isn’t there?) My beloved new home (well sorta new) is having an opening on July 30th! You can come to visit between 5-9 pm that evening. If that doesn’t work, PLEASE make an appointment- I would love to show you around! This is becoming my happy place! Make an appointment here: Susan Carmen-Duffy
Lastly, I HAVE SO MUCH FUN NEWS! I am going to press soon AND that means I will be offering a new subscription plan! Stay tuned! I think it is going to be really nifty and fun! There are several to choose from right now- find them @ Greetings4Good.org
REALLY lastly, I hope you are doing okay. Covid has paused the world in such an unbelievable way. I feel like the ramifications are far-reaching for each of us. Personally, there have been struggles, sadness, and loss. What has profoundly saved me has been the practice of gratitude, my art, my family, (chosen and gifted family as well!). Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to others. If never before we understood that we are all in this together – we sure as heck should now.
You have been asking for hours to visit- so here they are! Beginning in May- Mondays & Thursdays 11 am – 4 pm (except for Memorial Day)
I am beginning on the modest side, but please know that you are always welcome to make an appointment. Appointments are best made via email: Susan
Park between Ferrari’s and the Golf pro shop- enter our building through this red door! follow the hall to the elevator (there are also stairs) make your way to the second floor. The main central Creatives door is directly in front of you- Suite #2795. The main entrance to my gallery is to the right of that door. Please text when you arrive (as the hall doors are generally locked) 585.210.3161 – is the gallery phone!
Please wear a mask in the building. I have hand sanitizer available for your use!
Today the rain is falling steadily in Rochester, New York. Today, I love the rain, it is cleansing and can be so beautiful. The fresh scent fills me. It nourishes the earth- which seems especially important these days.
Spring has arrived. Those beautiful yellow-greens are popping up everywhere I look. Grass, trees, plants, they all seem to have the courage of spring.
This season feels more hopeful to me than any others have in quite some time. The path might not be linear but, I seem to have made peace with the “new normal”. I am diligently trying to function, grow, and even bloom. I am doing the work, both personally and professionally. It is not always pretty, I assure you, (have I shared about the painting I started about a month ago that now has about 37 layers of paint on it with seemingly no success?!) *insert frustrated face here*
One of the things I am working on is my greeting card website. (Greetings 4 Good) I am sure you have heard the story no less than a thousand times.
The motivation to begin a greeting card company began decades ago. (truth be told, it was about half a century ago!) It is funny how life sometimes brings you full circle. Since I was a young child, creating cards has been a “thing”. I remember being quite young and visiting my great-grandmother. She was gravely ill. I was convinced that making cards would heal her. While the idea might be slightly naive, I do believe there was validity in the intent. I made her several cards, some from folded paper, some from leftover Christmas cards, each was filled with great love. Each made that sweet woman’s lips part in a quiet smile.
For me, greeting cards are about thoughtful intent. It is about sharing my art and my heart. It is about creating connections. Celebrating victories, mourning losses, reaching out to those who might be alone (or just lonely), saying your sorry when you have been wrong; it is about reaching out (even and especially during a pandemic) to share your love. Greetings 4 Good is not just a way to share my work, it is about sharing my love. (and encouraging you to do the very same!)
I believe that my business life just finally caught up with my heart.
So today, I just wanted to check on you, while I spend the day working on my big dream! (I am up to eight pages of products!) I hope you are feeling warmth and of course, loved. I hope you feel your life is also full of the courage of spring. It might just be time to bloom my friends…