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dream.create.inspire: courtney khail – artist.

April 4, 2011
i met the lovely courtney khail at the lavish conference her in atlanta in december, and her friendly smile became immediately infections. and then of course once i found more about her and her work – i was in awe. i simply adore flowers [if you i did not already realize that] and seeing courtney’s interpretation of botanicals in here watercolor masterpieces were pure inspiration + knew she had to be shared.

what is your company’s  mission?

With my invitations and stationery, I aim to provide one of a kind, hand painted, water color artwork that truly reflect my client’s personality.  In a world where mail is already a rarity, to me nothing can make someone feel more special than opening up an invitation to find it’s a piece of art hand painted especially for them.

what are some images that inspire you , represent you or what your brand is visually inspired by?

what was your childhood dream?

My mom and dad like to remind me that when I was 4 I wanted to be a movie star. Of course, I was shyand can’t act so that didn’t come to fruition. Oh! And I wanted to be a vet until I learned I would have to work with animals besides dogs.

your dailies (job)
My day to day changes day to day, but I’ll try to give a rough outline. First, our alarm clock (also known as our black lab) wakes me up to go outside and feed her and I attempt to eat some sort of breakfast as well (many times breakfast = 2 chocolate chip cookies. Yep, I’m healthy.) Then I sit down to answer my personal emails, tweet about a new blog post (which I try to have finished the night before so it’s ready by 8a) , answer work emails, and then spend roughly an hour reading blogs and working on future posts.(It is right about this time that I tell myself I need to be showered and dressed like a grown up so I stepaway from the computer and get to that.)

The rest of my afternoon varies but consists of some or all of the following: Checking emails (I’m a constant email checker. I think it’s rude to have people wait longer than a day for a reply. If nothing else, you’ll get a short response to let you know I’m not ignoring you.) Cutting paper, sketching designs, inking new designs, trips to my printer, phone calls to my printer, painting orders, stamping orders,addressing envelopes, boxing up packages, attempting to say something witty on Twitter, and trips toFedEx (I know they can come to my door, but I like the people who work at my FedEx.)

And because my office is in my home, if I’m lucky I’m also able to throw in a load or two of laundry, make the bed (childhood habit, but I also think it feels better getting into a made bed at night,) and maybe even starting dinner so we can eat at a reasonable hour.

what is your favorite thing about your job?
The creativity and flexibility it allows me. Whenever someone would ask me what I would do with my life if money didn’t matter, I always answered “paint” and that’s exactly what I get to do every day. And because I work for myself, if I want to stay up late and get work done so I can take a long lunch with a friend or chat with my family on the phone, I can. Combine those two things with the amazing people I get to meet (both clients and other creatives) and I’m one happy girl.

favorite quote(s)

“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain one when he grows up”- Picasso
“Whatever you are, be a good one”- Abraham Lincoln
And one from a card a friend from college sent me – “Some days you’re the dog, other days you’re the hydrant.”

favorite flower:

I can’t pick a favorite, but I love tulips, Gerber daisies, poppies and anemones a lot.

how do you stay motivated daily?

Getting dressed. Seriously, if you’re in pajamas all day you are not going to be productive. Also, if I’m ever having an unmotivated day I talk to my husband, Jordan. He’s amazing at giving me feedback and pushing me to achieve my goals. He’ll even give me deadlines if he thinks I need them!

toughest challenge upon working towards your dream?

I think the hardest challenge has been forgoing having a steady paycheck.

how did you work through it?

There is a level of independence and security that is forfeited when you give up a salary, but at theexact same time there is a whole different type of independence and security you receive by earning your income by doing something you truly love. The funny thing is, after giving up a steady paycheck I think I actually appreciate life more. You learn to appreciate quality over quantity- in food, in clothes, in moments. Our life is much simpler now, but it’s a lot richer as well

how many times have you heard no?

Oh, I’ve heard it plenty of times!

often times hearing “no” can be very demotivating, how have you turned no’s into yes’s or find the silver lining?

A “no” can actually be a gift in itself and can help your business grow. It makes you evaluate how you present

yourself and exactly what you want. For me, I realized that I wasn’t always reaching out to the publications and people that attracted my type of clients and therefore, we weren’t a good fit for eachother. So instead of continuing to submit my work to places where it didn’t fit, I sat down and wrote out places I thought my work would be a good fit and only submitted my work to those places. Once I stopped trying to be what I thought was “right” and just started being me, the “no’s” started turning into “yes’s.”

i find it very important to recognize your accomplishments, while you set new
goals to have a sense of achievement. list your favorite accomplishment this year?

The year has just begun, but so far my greatest accomplishment this year has been having my workfeatured in C Magazine (California Style) and then in Rue Magazine. Given that I do my own PR, it was ahuge honor to be recognized and published both in print and online!

balancing free services vs paid while building your business:

I think there is a place for free or discounted work, but it’s incredibly important for you to price yourselfcorrectly and stick to those prices when possible. For me, I had to remind myself that this was my careerand treat it like such. In the beginning I almost told people my prices with an invisible question mark-as though I was asking if my prices were reasonable. What I didn’t realize though, is that by doing so Iwas saying my pieces weren’t worth the full price. I had to step back, remove the emotions, and focus on what I was offering, what a fair price (for both me and my client) was, and then trust that. (A tip for creatives is to create a pricing guide. It looks a lot more professional to potential clients and eliminates any awkward pricing questions.)

what is the one thing that has given your company a big boost?

My blog (and the blogosphere in general.) Specifically, after creating an editorial calendar and bringing on more original content, readership picked up like crazy. As for the blogging community, it’s providedme with a positive community to share my work and bounce ideas off of. Plus I’ve met some exceptional people through blogging who inspire me every day!

as we grow + learn more about ourselves, evolution may be necessary. how do
your dreams evolve as you do?

New ideas are constantly swirling through my head. I just try to keep up, continue learning new thingsand always remember to remain true to myself and my vision. I think this keeps my dreams to grow withme instead of becoming stale.

when do you know when its time to let go of a goal and move on to another?

I think that’s different for everyone. Personally though, I don’t think you should ever give up on your goals. If one method isn’t working, try another, and then another and then another. Rewards aren’t always instant and you have to put in the work and time to succeed. I think the worst thing you could do is set a goal, try one method to achieve it and when met with failure, just give up. Success isn’t always easy.

what inspires you?

More often than not, nature. It offers ever color scheme and composition you could ever wish for,you just have to look for it. I also like to flip through décor and fashion magazines, wander around thefarmer’s market or a museum, or just have a great conversation with someone. Inspiration normally hits me the moment I stop looking for it and just experience what’s around me.

creatives tend to have numerous passions, how did you hone in your focus to
keep your creative-self satisfied?

I try to combine as many as possible into my work and life! If I only did one thing, I’d get really dull and boring and uninspired. Luckily my work allows me to combine a lot of my passions, while still remaining focused on my overall goals. I get to paint (whether for an order or just for me,) I get to take photographs (for the blog and for inspiration,) I get to write, I get to do advertising/self-marketing, and I get to listen to music whenever I’m in the studio (I’m not really musically talented, but I have a deep appreciation for it.) Outside of the studio, I cook and/or bake daily (there is something so relaxing about creating food and you can’t beat the instant gratification,) we go to a ton of concerts, and I sew when the mood strikes (the last thing I made were pillows for our couch, and now I really want to make a dress. We’ll see how that turns out!) In the end, I think it’s all about balance.

your favorite go–to books/magazines/brands that you adore?

I love looking at the photos in Harper’s Bazaar and Food and Wine- the styling and images are so beautiful. As for books, my encyclopedia of flowers and plants is a constant go to (I studied scientific illustration and can never get enough of guide books, botanical texts, etc.)

persons you have looked up to for drive + inspiration?

I never know how to answer this, mostly because the people who inspire me most are rarely famous.With the exception of Coco Chanel (she stayed true to what she believed as beautiful and has become an icon in doing so) and Martha Stewart (whether you like her style or not, you have to admire the influence she has on just about everything) the people who have been most inspirational to me are my dad (for his strength to overcome obstacles,) my childhood pastor/the man who married Jordan andme (for his kindness, compassion, and ability to relate to anyone,) my US history teacher Anne Handley(for teaching me the importance of being myself and standing up for what I believe in) and a ton othersI won’t write out right now. Honestly, I think the “normal” people- the people who have served as rolemodels and confidants throughout my life- are the most inspirational.

what do you recommend for creative, budding entrepreneurs working to create their dreams?

Meg (from a Practical Wedding) once told me I had to ask for what I wanted. Seems simple enough, but I realized I wasn’t always doing that. Want to get featured? You can’t just email jpegs of your work and hope for the best. You have to be proactive. So that- to ask for what you want- and then to not be afraid if you actually get what you wish for.

information on this series

images via
courtney khail stationery
sarah of saipua

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