Q&A: Questions from my Coach & My Answers

From: xxxxx

Sent: 1/25/2005 11:47:24 PM

To: xxxxx

Subject: Creativity Coach

Dear Cindy Ann,

You’ve given me a good picture of how you have spent your days this week. I like the fact that you made time to create this weekend. You moved forward on your sketches for your children’s book and on your sketch for Illustration Friday. Yes, there was inner struggle. I agree with you that it will subside as you continue to work. But even if it does not, do continue to work.

I am going to pose a number of questions so I can better understand your situation. Please do not feel you have to answer all of them or that you have to act on them right now. I just want to get a better understanding of how you find time to work and who you work with on your art.

You reorganized the kitchen cabinets. While you were reorganizing, what were you thinking about? Were the illustrations for the book running through your mind as you organized?

While you planted the seeds in the dixie cups, what were you thinking about?

When Jay is out of town, is there anyone you talk to about your day? A friend or relative? Do you have artist friends you bounce ideas off for your work?

What kind of day job do you have? You talked about a director being in town? Is this job art related?

Do you like cooking? What do you think about while cooking? Do you think about your creative work a lot while doing tasks?

Are you an active person? Do you find it difficult to sit still? Does your mind race from one idea to another?

What is Illustration Friday? Is it over the Internet or is it a place where other artists gather to share their work? How does it work? Do you critique each other’s sketches? Are the people there the same each week, month? Do you find it helpful?

Are you working with an agent or editor on your children’s book? Is there a deadline for the second illustration sample?

What do you think is causing the inner struggle?

I know I have given you alot to think about. No pressures here. Just want to help you sort our your priorities and encourage you to keep going. You sound excited to be working on your illustrations again. I looked at your website. Your characters have personality.

I am enjoying your e-mails. You are really thinking about how you spend your time. Being aware of yourself is a good step.


From: Cindy Ann Ganaden CiNdY MeDiA .com

Sent: 1/26/2005 3:36:17 PM

To: xxxxxx

Subject: Re: Creativity Coach

Ok, I’m gonna take a stab at this. Let me see if I can answer all of your questions:

1) You reorganized the kitchen cabinets. While you were reorganizing, what were you thinking about? Were the illustrations for the book running through your mind as you organized?

I was thinking that I have a lot of time on my hands before I go to bed I better use some of it up. I was procrastinating from going up to my studio. So I guess I was thinking about my work as “what can I do to avoid it”.

2)While you planted the seeds in the dixie cups, what were you thinking about?

I was daydreaming about what my garden was going to look like in the middle of summer. Very lush with a short white picket fence around it so Penny wouldn’t be able get into the garden and rip up the veggies. I was thinking about how great it was going to be to cook with fresh vegetables and herbs. I was thinking about all the things that I needed to do to actually get the garden running.

3)When Jay is out of town, is there anyone you talk to about your day? A friend or relative? Do you have artist friends you bounce ideas off for your work?

I have a good friend Heather that I often hang out with. However her husband has just started this new job where he travels all week, so she really wants to be able to spend her weekend with him. (which is totally understandable).

Other then that I have a few friends but none that are really close. They are just friends that I occasionally hang out with but none on a regular basis. (wow- that actually sounds really lame of me. I guess the truth hurts.)

On an artist basis I am part of a critique group that meets once a month. I started this group over a year ago and it has been helpful in keeping me motivated. But I do have to admit that I often find myself cramming right before a meeting to get some work done so I have something to show. A few members of my critique group are published or are in the process of getting published so it actually is very inspiring.

Here are the web links to a few of the members of my group:

Peter- (is the most seasoned and has 3 books published with Philomel) – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=books&field-author=Peter%20Holwitz/103-5217505-7326202

Sara-(is from Iran and has a lot of her work published internationally, but has not broken into the US market yet) http://www.sarakahn.com/

Sue- (is in contract with her 1st picture book with Chronicle Books) http://rdo.cc/

Liz-(is working closely with Piccadilly Press on her book and should be getting a contract soon) http://www.lizcunningham.net/

Mike- (Has sent his book proposals out to a ton of publishers but they have not been accepted yet. It’s really just a matter of time for him. His work is really good.) http://www.maystead.com/

Christina- (just left our group because she moved back home to San Diego) http://www.christinaortega.net/

4)What kind of day job do you have? You talked about a director being in town? Is this job art related?

Ah the dreaded day job. For the past 5 years I have been working in the production department at Business 2.0 (www.business2.com) a Time Inc. business magazine. (Sounds big and exciting, right? Well it isn’t.)

When I was talking about my director being in town I was referring to my director from my day job, so nothing to do with my art, well…not unless you want to include the hindrance of my art and creativity. For her visit I had been asked to write out my professional goals for the year. This happens every time and I always have trouble with this because my job is just that, a job. It’s a means to an end. I don’t think of it as a career and I certainly don’t think I’m on a “career path” at least not the one that they think I ought to be on and I’m certainly not a “TimeInc Life’er”. This is just a job for me. So how do I create professional sounding goals that don’t increase my workload but still seem like I’m aiming for something? I can say stuff like “I will improve upon X” but then that can get translated into “Why do you need to improve? Were you not doing a good job to begin with?”

So what do I do- Me and one other person are in charge of getting the magazine printed every issue. Which is very stressful. This includes working with the printer to meet the deadlines. (If we miss a deadline or are running late it can cost us upwards of $500 an hour) I personally check all the ad materials to make sure that they print correctly. I work with the sales reps to hunt down any missing ad materials and work with the agencies on any inserts and special units. We have to work out the pagination of the book (page order). Some of our advertisers have strict requirements. For example Xerox has to be the 1st copier, they need 10 pages of separation from all of their competitors and will only run on a right hand page in the 1st 33% of the book. If we don’t meet these requirement or perhaps if I make a mistake and put 9 pages away from a competitor they then will ask for a “MakeGood” which is a free ad page and could lose the company aprox 40K. (thank god I haven’t had any makegoods last year. Hopefully I’ll be just as lucky in 05)

Most of the stuff I do is directly tied in to the revenue stream so if I make a mistake there are a lot of people to answer to. Which puts on a tremendous amount of pressure, that I don’t necessarily deal with very well.

I pretty much hate my day job. I have been saying that for the entire 5yrs that I have been working here. Mind you I have made some steps to get out of my current situation. I have updated my resume and written multiple cover letters for different scenarios but haven’t sent anything out yet. Why you might ask? Because I feel like I need to update my website with more design work before anyone will consider me for a design position since pretty much all my “professional experience” is in production. Have I mentioned how much I hate production? It’s the most uncreative environment anyone can ever work in. So why did I ever take a production job to begin with? Well I graduated college and needed a job. It sounded like it was kind of creative besides it was the only job that was offered to me. So I took it and now I’m making really good money at it. This should make me happy right? But what it really does is back me up in a corner.

If I apply and take an entry/mid-level design job I will certainly be taking a pay cut. This is a very hard pill for me to swallow since my husband is working on getting his photography career off the ground and my current salary is a majority of what we use to pay the mortgage and live on. Jay has been very supportive and wants me to look for another job but if I am making less money it will most definitely strain us financially and put more pressure on him to make his photography business more profitable to balance out our finances. I want to give him the time he needs to grow his business but at the same time I feel like a piece of me dies everyday I have to step foot in the office.

I work way too many hours and thought I do get compensated with being paid overtime, it’s not like I have the option to refuse to work late. Some days I don’t get home until 9-10 at night, this tends to happen when we are printing. So then I go home, eat and pretty much go to bed in order to get up and do it all over again. It is a vicious cycle. I am always tired when I get home from work even if I get home at a reasonable time. But hopefully no longer having the TV will help me get motivated when I get home from work.

5)Do you like cooking? What do you think about while cooking?

Sometimes- I like baking. Does that count as cooking? I’m not really a good cook I experiment too much and it usually winds up tasting weird (meaning I should of just followed the recipe.) I don’t do a lot of the cooking for dinner usually Jay winds up doing that. Though I know he would like me to take on some of that responsibility as well. I will how ever do big meals like Thanksgiving. I make a really good homemade chicken soup (it’s my grandma recipe).

6)Do you think about your creative work a lot while doing tasks?

Yes, my mind wanders a lot.

7)Are you an active person? Do you find it difficult to sit still? Does your mind race from one idea to another?

I like to think that I am active. But really not so much. I snowboard in the winter and I like to hike, do yoga and rock climb, but I don’t really do any of them other then snowboarding on a regular basis. Jay has encouraged me to join the rock climbing gym, but I’m concerned about the cost and really don’t want to go alone.

8)What is Illustration Friday? Is it over the Internet or is it a place where other artists gather to share their work? How does it work? Do you critique each other’s sketches? Are the people there the same each week, month? Do you find it helpful?

Illustration Friday is over the internet.

Here is the link:http://www.illustrationfriday.com

It’s a weekly illustration challenge. A topic is posted every Monday and then participants have all week to come up with their own interpretation and post their link. Topics are picked each week from a list of suggestion that have been emailed by participants. Illustration Friday also has an art forum. Which basically is a community board. It’s a place to discuss creative issues, ask questions or just get feedback from other illustrators.

You do get some feed back on your submission for IlloFri. from other illustrators but basically it’s to give me weekly assignments to keep me active and thinking. So I definitely think it’s a helpful exercise to do every week.

There definitely are definitely see a lot of the same “Faces” week after week. Which is kind of cool cause it allows you to get to sort of know people with out knowing what they look and sound like. Illustration Friday has also put me in touch with some illo. friends that I haven’t talked to in a while.

9)Are you working with an agent or editor on your children’s book? Is there a deadline for the second illustration sample?

Nope not working for an agent. But I have had an editor at Chronicle books look at my work and I did receive a lot of really good feedback (4 hand-written pages worth!). Now I just have to act on it, which is the hard part so that I can make some of the changes and resubmit before they forget about me. So there really isn’t a deadline per say but I would like to do it pretty soon. My next critique group is Feb 13th and I would like to have most of it done for my group to look at and make comments before I resubmit.

10)What do you think is causing the inner struggle?

Sometimes I just don’t know. But probably fear of failure.

Balance- In Color


I thought I ‘d share with you my color version that I completed for Illustration Friday of “Balance”.

What I got to check off on my list this weekend

I feel good about this weekend. I think I got a lot done. Not everything on my list but a fair amount.

So here is a little outline of what I did over the weekend.

Friday Night:

Surfed on the internet for a while. Ate dinner and changed into my pajamas. Then I sat down on the couch and vegged out for a while. After all it had been a tough week. I woke up at about 2am and dragged myself to the bed to go to sleep for real.

Saturday (started off good and then went downhill):

I woke up early and took Penny for a hike in the morning. (this was very nice and I should do it more often as I have a bunch of hiking trails near by.) We came home, showered and changed and went back out to the grocery store to pick up Dixie cups for my garden seeds along with groceries for the week. I came home and baked 2 punkin pies and planted my seeds in the dixie cups. While the pies were cooking I felt like I couldn’t leave the house to go up to my studio so I turned on the TV (this is where things started to go down hill). When the pies were done cooking I decided I need to take a little afternoon nap and before I knew it, I was hungry and it was dinner time. So I ate punkin pie for dinner in front of the TV and got comfortable on the couch for the rest of the night.

Sunday (this was a genuinely good day, very productive):

I woke up early and the first thing that I did was unplug the TV and disconnect all its extra wires and cords. I took the TV off the stand and placed it on the floor.It was ruining my weekend and had to be stopped. It was a fairly easy task but the way I’d been acting all weekend you’d think somebody was asking me to shovel manure. That’s how much I had been avoiding the task.(The TV is currently still siting on the floor. I’m just waiting for my husband to carry it down to the garage and find a home for it. But at least it’s not inoperable and inaccessible.)

After the big TV drama Penny and I took a trip to Pet Food Express to replenish her puppy food supply. It was running a little low and of course I was avoiding going up to my studio. We returned from the pet store and I decided that it was the perfect time for a piece of pie and some tea. So I had my pie and tea and then begrudingly headed up to my studio. It had to be done there no more avoiding it. The way I was behaving one might think I was going to the dentist. Once I got to my studio I dilly-dallied a bit. Did some straightening up and then finally got started working on my illustration.

Once I started working, I was in the grove until I realized that I had pretty much finished the background and that I really needed to start working on the figures. Then anxiety hit and I avoided the figures like the plague and continued working on the background, even though I knew I just need to dive in and work on the figures.I was just having that fear thing that I often get. It went something like this:

“I have the background perfect,what if I mess up on the figures?”
“If you don’t work on the figures you will never finish the illustration”
“I know but what if I mess the whole thing up”
“You can fix it if you mess it up and besides the illustration is really about the figures not the background”

I often argue with myself like this.

So finally this got to me and I heading back to the house for an early dinner and some more tea. Since there was no TV to watch I read a magazine article ( I only allowed myself one article) and then I headed back to the studio. I dabbled on the background a bit, got interrupted with a phone call and then I finally dove into working on the figures until it was time to go pick up my husband at the airport.

All and All I have to say it was a good step forward in the right direction. There was definitely some inner struggle going on this weekend but hopefully that will subside as I continue to work more. I feel good about the progress I made with my illustration though I definitely have to rework one of the figures as her facial expressions just aren’t looking quite right.

So tonight what am I doing:

I came home played with Penny and made dinner. Then I proceeded to reorganized the kitchen cabinets not just one all of them (My husband is not going to know where to find anything). I ate dinner and surfed at the same time.(Now thats being efficient, right?) and then I started writing this. Not so bad at least it more productive then what I usually do. For the remainder of the night I plan to take penny for a walk, pick up my husband from the Bart and work on sketches for Illustration Friday. The word of the week is Gluttony.

Well that’s it for now.

Correspondence with my creative coach

I thought I’d share my correspondence with my creative coach from this week.

From: xxxx

Sent: 1/14/2005 7:02:43 PM

To: cindy@cindymedia.com


Subject: creativity coach

Hi Cindy,

I was just opening your file when you e-mailed me. I love your website, by the way.

Yes, I will be working with you. During the time we work together, you may e-mail me as often as you like. I will e-mail you twice a week, Monday through Friday. All of what is discussed in our e-mails is confidential. I am the only one who will be reading your letters.

My job is to help you achieve your creative goals. I will do this by listening, helping you think of ways to overcome any obstacles you feel you may have, and encouraging you to allow yourself time to create.

I recieved your list of goals. It is great to see that you have already thought through what you would like to work on this year. You wrote that you would like to finish the children’s book you have been working on and submit it to publishers as your number one priority. How can I help you with this? Do you feel you are progressing on this project?

In regard to cutting back on TV: taking walks again (one of your goals) is a great way to unwind (your doggie will love you for it). I, too, use walking time to think and create ideas for my stories. If it is in the evening, dark and cold, perhaps a hot bath with a good magazine or book will help you relax. If you want to relax, yet still be productive in your work, reading material that inspires your work can be relaxing. I often read “The Writer” magazine in bed before I go to sleep. Music is also a good substitute for TV. It does not require you to sit and pay attention to a plot.

Participating in Illustration Friday is a great idea.

Starting a garden will not only help you eat healthier, it is another way to relax. If you have the space, you can begin planting seeds in small containers near a sunny window and then transplant in the spring.

I too have a sweet tooth. I find foods such as sugar snap peas, crunchy and sweet, a good substitute.

The next 16 weeks are for you to work on whatever you wish. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,


From: Cindy Ann Ganaden CiNdY MeDiA .com

Sent: 1/21/2005 4:21:21 PM

To: xxxx


Subject: Re: creativity coach

I’ve been a little off key this week. My director at my day job is in town, and so as you can imagine, things have been a little stressful. I have to act like I have career goals and that I am on a career path when all I really want to do is get a new job. Beside that my husband has been out of town so I haven’t been eating very well this week, he does all the cooking. So you could say that this week I’ve been a little down in the dumps.

SO what have I done this week (or more appropriately what haven’t I done):

1) Again I have watched too much TV – But I have a solution for that. I’ve talked it over with Jay and we are going to remove the TV from the living room. I tried just unplugging it and taking the batteries out of the remote but I always plug it back in and then change the channels manually, if only I was that persistent with my art work. So I am going to just have to take extreme measure and remove the darn thing. (at least for a while) SO that’s the plan this weekend remove the TV and put it in storage. Just as an FYI this is how I normally operate- All or none, it a problem I have to work on.

2) I have not done any illustrations work all week- So this weekend I plan to finish the second illustration sample I need for my children’s book. (so essentially I will be making up for my lost time sitting on the couch watching TV)

3) I have done a sketch for Illustration Friday and started to work on a finished piece, but I haven’t finished it yet. -SO I haven’t submitted anything yet. Perhaps I will work on that this weekend as well.

4) I’ve thought about going to the store after work a few times this week to pick up dixie cups to start planting some of my seeds for my garden, but I never made it there. So I think this is something I will try to do this weekend.

5) Also in the same vein I wanted to take Penny (my puppy) out for a walk this week as well but as soon as I stepped into the house and took off my shoes all aspirations of going for a walked died at the door. (Usually on the train ride home I go through in my head all the things I want to do when I get home. And what always seems to happen is the minute I walk in the door all my energy get zapped and I forget what it was I wanted to do. I change out of my work clothes and plop on the couch. I’m embarrassed to say that this happens so often that I can’t even keep count. But perhaps with out a TV I will be less inclined to stay on the couch all night.)

6) No progress with the job hunt- I looked on line a little but haven’t really taken any steps. I first need my husband to get me an internet connection up in my newly built studio so I can update my site. (If I’m honest with myself that is really just an excuse – causes I can still work on my site without tan internet connection and do all the prep work. It’s not ideal but it is doable)

So hopefully I will be really productive this weekend and get a fair amount of stuff done. We shall see.


Illustration Friday: Seasons


How I wish it was summer already.

I want to wear flip-flops and tang-tops.

Not sweaters and heavy socks.

I want fresh watermelon and strawberries.

Not frozen fruit.

Keeping up with Illustration Friday

I posted this in the Illustration Friday Art Forum but thought I’d post it here as well.

How do you guys all do a finished illustration every week? I am trying to figure out how to keep pace with all of you, but I just don’t seem to be able to keep up. You guys are just too good. How much time do you give yourself to complete an illo for Illustration Friday? Do you give yourselves a time limit?  When do you typically start you illustration if you do a finish? (I’ve been starting on Thursday, so maybe that’s part of my problem) Any tips for some one who wants to keep up with all you fantastic Illustrators? tks -Cindy Ann

Ilustration Frinday- balance


Here is my submission for illustration friday. I was hoping to get the finished version done in time to post, but that didn’t happen. So here is my work in progress sketch. I hope you like it.


Online Portfolio Sites

All Freelance Work.com/ All Creative Portfolio.com


Artist Portfolio.net

Design Firms.org

The Art List.com


I’m up for review at:


Creation Flux.com

Children’s Illustrator.com

San Francisco Society of Illustrators

Urban Design Collective

Creative Hotlist


Marketing Tools.com

Ren Center


and still want to add myself to:

Media Bistro