February 16, 2016

How to Be a Wildflower

Today I celebrate the release of my first published book, “How to Be a Wildflower: A Field Guide.” This book is my very heart and soul translated to paper. It’s a glimpse into my past and present, and the enormous amount of the beauty I have encountered in the natural world.

This book is largely inspired by a handful of my favorite memories:

Driving my orange VW van along the California Coast to Big Sur, 

Marveling at a dusk firefly extravaganza in the Blue Ridge Mountains,

Looking for The Mystery Lights in Marfa, Texas,

And getting lost (but pleasantly so) after a 10 mile canoe trip down the Mississippi River. (I can still feel the warm rain of that day and smell the tall green grass we waded through to find the trail.)

It’s moments like these that I hope never fade. So I paint them. I write them out. I make lists of moments, of flavors, of words that stir up these memories like a wild Midwestern thunderstorm. But goodness no, it’s not all about the past. The reason these moments are so memorable is because I was completely and utterly present for them. I was fully alive and enraptured by the simple beauty of the moment: stumbling upon a secret patch of wildflowers, my canoe paddle dipping into still water, or having my hair tangled from swimming in the hot summer creek. 

I created How to Be a Wildflower as a reminder to take note of this beauty and magic that surrounds us — To harness the present moment and savor all the rich simplicity that abounds… if only we can open our eyes and hearts to it. 

I believe this art of savoring bloomed from my rural Illinois roots. As a child, I was constantly enveloped and embraced by nature. It was easy and natural to be present. There would be daily tromps through cornfields to the creek, hours spent gazing up at cloud animals, half-afternoons of plucking 4-leaf clovers from the yard, nights filled with coyote howls and stargazing… it was a beautiful and wonder-filled existence. As an adult, I can see this same wonder in my son's eyes as he watches a caterpillar or studies a single leaf.

I almost lost sight of this magic upon moving to Minneapolis to go to college. I was eager to start a new chapter, but I dreaded moving to a big city, away from the fields and rivers I’d known as home. What I didn’t know at the time was how the move would only strengthen my love for nature and uncover the fact that it is absolutely necessary for my well-being and creativity. I was soon taking note of all of the natural beauty within the city: the Icelandic poppies that sprouted up nearby the coffee shop every spring, the huge oak trees across from my apartment, or the lush ivy that created a screen across my windows. Beauty was everywhere once I opened my eyes to it. 

I’ve since moved some 2,000 miles away from my hometown and have experienced the most jaw-dropping, epic sights in nature. From cliffside sunsets on the Pacific Ocean, or standing so tiny beneath giant Sequoias. I’ve also encountered smaller, simpler bits of beauty, which are arguably just as grand as the sweeping views and giant trees. 

How to Be a Wildflower is full of these simple, yet magical things to take note of… ways to find that magic, ways to keep that magic, and ways to make that magic useful in your everyday life. 

The world is so full of noise and chaos that we must often find a way to retreat and recharge to a simpler way of life. We need to get back to these beautiful sacred spaces among the trees and tall grass and summer rainstorms. We need to remember that life is still beautiful and still sacred. We must not lose our eyes for seeing all the wonder that surrounds us. 

It is my greatest hope that my book will be your field guide to uncovering beauty and creating your own type of magic in life. We all have this ability inside of us. Some of us use it on a daily basis, and others might need to find it again. But I do know, deep in my heart, that it’s there.

Life gives us daily opportunities to be enchanted by our surroundings. Let's make a vow to notice this beauty and live in awe. 

Here's to 
many adventures,
miles of wildflowers,
& being completely overwhelmed with joy.

Katie Daisy

Purchase How to Be a Wildflower here. Published by Chronicle Books.

How to be a Wildflower Book Trailer from Gabriel James on Vimeo.

January 11, 2015

I have a brand, I have a soul.

Hey. We need to talk. 

I have some stuff I need to get off my chest.

But before I do, let me first say this.

Thank you.

Thank you to my fans and followers who have supported me for years. Thank you for buying prints from my Etsy shop. Thank you for supporting my decisions of who I decide to partner with in business, and above all, thank you for the heaps of love and encouragement I receive on a daily basis. For this, I am immensely grateful

With that said, I need to address a few comments I received this week along with my big Barnes & Noble launch (a branded end cap in stores nationwide.) 

"Beware of becoming a 'stuff' artist."
"Becoming a brand is soulless." 
"Find a better [partner] or your work will become yesterday's news."
"I hope you appreciate your gift more than fast cash." 
"No more big box stores."

Yeah, I could just shake these things off, and believe me, I do, but this is bringing up some things I'd like to share.

I get it. I get how you could be worried. 

But guess what? (here's where I stand on my soapbox.) 

1. I'm constantly aware of the fact that I could be deemed as a "stuff" artist. Some people make "stuff" for a living and that's just fine. For me, I'm a painter first and a commercial artist next. It's a fine line to walk. It's a balancing act. I am constantly evaluating the amount of licensed goods I have in the world and balancing that with how much I paint. If wanted to become an exclusive "stuff" artist (goodness, I just love that term so much.), I would have shut down my Etsy shop a long time ago and moved the whole operation to a factory. But here's the deal. I paint what I want. I paint what comes to me. Then I sell prints of it in my online shop. And if someone inquires about using that art on a notebook, journal, or planner, they get put through a rigorous test. It's called, "Are you my ideal client/licensee?"  I ask them and myself: Are you a good fit for me and my brand? Will my art be honored on your product?  Will this product better the world or inspire someone? Can I sell the product in my Etsy shop directly to my fan base? If all signs point to yes, then YES! We might be able to work together. Contrary to some folk's beliefs, I don't just sign any agreement that comes my way. In fact, saying NO has been a trend this past year. 

2. I'm aware that becoming a brand could zap the soul right out of your business if it's not done right. But I'll let you in on a little secret. My brand is an extension of me. It's an extension of my soul. "Katie Daisy" was born one day on a sketchbook page in my product design class. I wrote down all of the colors and words associated with my brand. What does the brand "Katie Daisy" feel like? Well, obviously it feels like a summer breeze in a small midwestern farm town. What does the brand Katie Daisy smell like? Purple clover, of course. The colors? Sunflower yellow, asparagus green, strawberry red, twilit-sky blue. What type of packaging works with my brand? Brown kraft mailers and baker's twine - anything that looks "of the prairie." It has been so easy to "brand" and market my work because it's an extension of my spirit. It's an authentic, soulful business, rooted so deeply in the earth. I've also defined my brand's values (love, oneness, positivity, beauty, freedom) and anti-values (fear, hate, cynicism, anger, aggression). This helps immensely when deciding whether or not to work on a specific project. Becoming a brand is not soulless. I absolutely love branding. For me, it's taking everything I love so dear (the art, packing materials, smells, flavors, sounds, words, fonts, etc.), and wrapping it up with a big bow. 

3. Five years ago when I was fresh out of college, I was contacted by a big box store to do a page of spring-themed art for them. I did it for a flat fee and zero artist credit on the product. Despite that, I was elated. My art appeared on 15+ products in every one of their stores across the country. I was proud. But part of me felt cheated. Why couldn't I have credit? How will anyone know to contact me for further deals? I wish I had more control of where they positioned that butterfly... From that point on, I knew that I wanted to be known and not anonymous. I wanted control of my art. Becoming a branded artist isn't necessarily easy, but it is possible if you remain true to your vision and work hard. Don't follow trends, start them. Paint what you want, what feels good. Be true to YOU.

4. Things are changing with big box stores. Have you noticed the endcaps in several big chains devoted to designers or "small," independent artists? Have you noticed hang tags that actually credit the artist? Have you seen artist lines in big-named catalogs? If you haven't, try looking a little closer. They're everywhere, and will only continue to grow. I wholeheartedly believe that larger corporations are seeing the value of the independent artist.  Consumers want something more these days. They want something original. They want something with soul. They want something that can't be automated or mass-produced. They want independent. They want small. And boy-oh-boy is that good news for us, the independent artist. I personally think it's AWESOME that places like West Elm and Anthropologie are teaming up with Etsy artists so they can have a broader reach. Which brings me to my next point...

5. So you want to support me until I am too big? This is something I just don't get. People who cry "SUPPORT INDEPENDENT ARTISTS!!" and then when that artist actually does have success, there's uproar. "you're a sellout!" But wait, I thought you wanted me to have success? You'll only support me if I'm struggling?

6. This is the one that really stings... but mostly makes me laugh. "I hope you appreciate your gift more than fast cash." Really? Really...? I am incredibly appreciative of the fact that I can do what I love for a living. I would never choose an opportunity just because the cash is good. In fact, I turned down a gig a couple years ago that could've made 100k. Why? Because I strive for authenticity. That client didn't pass the "are we a good match?" test, and could've hurt my business down the road. Also, I'll let you in on another little secret... I make more money selling direct-to-customer than I do with any of my "big-name" contracts.  

So... To the few of you out there who have harsh words and feelings about what I'm up to: Please don't be so quick to judge. There is a whole hell of a lot of thought and love and soul put into every single decision I make in my business. And not to sound too proud, but I think I'm doing a pretty good job. I am a business. I will continue to grow. Please trust that I'm doing that in the truest way I know how. 

And again, thank you to those who have stuck with me since my early days. I could never have gotten this far without you. 

With Love and gratitude, always:

Katie Daisy. an artist. an individual. a brand. a business. a soul. What's the difference?

June 5, 2014

The Journey

Well guys, it's been two years since my last entry. You could say I'm a pretty awful blogger ;) Besides the little snippets I share on Instagram and Facebook, I'm pretty quiet about my personal life on social media. I guess that's both intentional and not, but tonight I felt the need to share a little more. I want to share a bit about the incredible journey I've had so far in my 26 years.

First off, let me apologize if you see Papyrus headers on this page. They're definitely not supposed to be there. I wouldn't use the font Papyrus in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 years. (I don't even know how many that is, but even then!) My headers used to be a really lovely font, but I think my typekit subscription probably expired in the two years that I've been absent.

Ok. Now for the good stuff:

I want to catch you up on my story, if you're not familiar. Around this time four years ago, I was feeling the need for a change. I had recently graduated from art school and was living in Minneapolis. I often felt pulled to Asheville, North Carolina although I had never been. Heck, I didn't even know anyone who had been. I just felt a magnetism. I decided to take a huge leap of faith and GO. I packed up my car with all my possessions (watercolors, sundresses - you know, all the important things) & moved to the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.

I decided to try my luck in a great big cabin in the country, sight-unseen. The entire upper floor was mine - equipped with a claw foot bathtub, cathedral ceilings, and my own private balcony that overlooked a meadow & the misty mountains. At night, the breeze would dance through the windows and sounds of frogs, bugs, and other nighttime critters lulled me to sleep. This was around the time my Etsy shop started to boom and way before I even thought of hiring an assistant. I filled oodles of orders from my bed.

This fairytale, out-of-a-dream house was built and inhabited by Leah, a kindred spirit who I now see as one of my guardian angels. I remember when I first stumbled out of my car at the house on the hill - it was magic hour and the sun turned everything into gold. Leah could tell I was exhausted from my 17 hours on the road & handed me a glass of white wine. She then showed me my room. For the next few months I literally thought I was in a dream.

Living in the basement of the house was the bright and sunny Pamela who taught me a great deal about loving the planet and all the critizens that inhabit it. She took in many-a-stray critters to rehabilitate them or find them new homes. She is a beam of light and anyone who encounters her is lucky indeed. Loveeta lived next door on the hill and offered a wealth of knowledge when it came to baking, sewing, gardening, and so many other things. I remember picking blackberries with her near the horse pasture and being inspired by all her crafty endeavors. For the next 2 years of living in North Carolina, I grew as an artist and woman, uncovering my authenticity and finding my true voice. Being around these strong, creative women really pushed me to dive into life and follow my dreams.

One day in September (I think), Pamela found a stray kitten behind her studio in nearby Weaverville. She scooped him up and tried to find his owners by putting up posters around town. “Why don’t you just keep him in your room until we find who he belongs to?” She suggested to me. Though I knew exactly what she was up to! My intention of moving to North Carolina was to feel “free” and untethered… as much as I absolutely loved cats, I didn’t think I was ready to take on the responsibility of caring for another living being. Days went by and there were no signs that this kitten ever had a home. I became more and more attached to this little feline until one day he told me his name. It was Basil! I can’t even begin to describe the amount of joy Basil, an unexpected gift, has brought me throughout the years. My life wouldn’t be the same without him.

Today I find myself in a similar position, four years later. I’ve taken many big leaps (some scary ones) since moving from North Carolina. Leaps in business, relationships, and most recently, the leap into motherhood. I remember the day I left. I was a blubbering mess and my heart was heavy. Something, however, guided me to the Pacific Northwest. It was in Oregon that I first met Melanie, my full-time Etsy shop maven. I couldn't ask for a better assistant! She is positive, cheerful, hard-working, and loves cats ALMOST as much as me. (haha, if you're reading this Melanie!) Not long after moving to Oregon, Basil told me that he needed a companion. Clementine became part of our family.

It was also in Oregon that I met Eli, an unexpected blessing who is now my fiancee and father of my baby-on-the-way. We met at my dear friend Sarah McMurray's art party during one of the most transformative summers of my life. That summer, I made more friends than I could have ever imagined... I'm usually quite introverted, so this was a surprise. A few of us took a roadtrip to Big Sur, CA to see Beach House perform at the Henry Miller Library. We explored the Redwoods. We jumped off of cliffs and into water. We had stargazing parties. We slept on rooftops. We had house shows. We swam in lakes and camped in the forest. We just were, and it was so beautiful.

image on left by Joy Prouty

And it still is so beautiful. Even more so. Fast forward a year to October 2013, the month I found out I was pregnant. Eli and I were so happy to learn of this blessing. Wow how things can progress in such a short time. Upon learning of the news, we decided to leave our lovely Bend loft and move to a magical cabin in the woods. I have a studio right next to a rushing river and now, with the warm weather, everything is starting to turn green.

Being pregnant has been an amazing journey into the unknown. To be honest though, I've been in such an emotional haze. This is uncharted territory for me and I don't think any type of planning can truly prepare someone for what's to come. I've read so many books on pregnancy and labor, taken a prenatal yoga class, talked to oodles of moms, read countless baby blogs, and listened to so many Ina May Gaskin talks that I feel like I could make The Business of Being Born pt. 2 (just kidding of course!) As much as I love filling my brain with knowledge and information about this very important subject, there is something deep within me telling me to just be still. To gather my own strength and listen to my intuition. Women have been birthing for eons. I keep wondering why this completely natural process has become so fear-based. I do have some apprehension of what's to come, but I'm learning to transform that anxiousness into strength and power.

I can't even tell you how excited I am to meet our baby in a few weeks. I had a dream that I saw him as an infant and then through every stage of his life - all the way into adulthood. He had long curly brown hair, brown eyes, and a dimple on each cheek. He was (and is) beautiful. Intuitively, I know there will be challenges in parenting that I can't even imagine right now. I also know there will be moments of sheer joy and depths of love I have not yet been to. Eli and I are so ready to shower our baby with love and see the world through his new eyes.

So here's a warm thank you to my friends, family, and even those of you I've never actually "met." Your encouragement and support has propelled me into places I once only dreamed of. I am so happy to be alive and experience heaps of beauty, love, and wonder on a daily basis.

With gratitude and so much love,
Katie Daisy

July 2, 2012

Magic Summer

Hello beauties, how are you? How is your summer shaping up? I must say... mine is turning out to be rather magical. There's a certain enchantment swirling around my days, and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. Cumulus cloud canopies? Naps in the grass? Serendipitous encounters? A combination of it all, perhaps? I've been compiling a list of sweet summer moments that I've experienced throughout the years (and some that I haven't yet) and I'd love to share them with you. Maybe one or two might inspire you to embrace your magic summer.
  • Camping on the beach
  • Hiking through the Redwoods
  • Cliff jumping into a lake or river
  • Driving hwy 1
  • Iced coffee & journaling at an outdoor cafe
  • Eating strawberries straight from the vine
  • Finding giant moths & tiny toads at dusk
  • Sleeping during a wild storm
  • Mineral baths with the windows open
  • Moonshine out of a mason jar
  • Getting lost in an unfamiliar town
  • Canoe trips that creep into the night
  • Making love in a pasture
  • Digging carrots in the sun
  • Raccoons in your backyard
  • Rosewater & lavender cocktails
  • Snapping turtle ponds
  • Unlikely friendships
  • Sheer, gauzey dresses in the breeze
  • Delicious solitude
  • Reading Walden on a pier as the sun goes down
  • Muddy feet & messy hair
  • Dimly lit apartments & sweet summer air
  • Walks with your lover down a dirt path
  • Kissing in the pines
  • Dreams that become reality
  • Driving through the desert
  • Wild Maine blueberries
  • Firefly extravaganzas in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Skinny dipping & back floating in a cloud painted lake
  • Packing up and heading out
  • Iced maple latte 
  • Naming constellations from a rooftop
  • Daydreaming under giant sequoias 
  • Summer night playlists: Beth Orton, Nick Drake, Iron & Wine
  • Receiving a bouquet of wildflowers
  • Taking a train to Montana
  • Hiking the Appalachian Trail
  • Diving in
  • Strawberry pie
  • Outdoor showers
  • Full moon adventures
  • A car full of camping gear
  • Farm stands in the middle of nowhere
  • Barn kittens

Tell me how you're spending your summer