Today I'm chatting with Bonnie Christine a surface pattern designer, blogger and entrepreneur who personifies joyful, creative living.
ab: Hi, Bonnie, I’m delighted to have you here today. Your motto is “to live an extraordinarily creative life”. Can you share a bit about what that means to you? Also, as my own focus is on choosing joy over darkness and I am passionate about the importance of paying attention to beauty and celebrating the joy in our lives, I’m curious about how you do that. You seem to embody that sort of living, but I know it certainly can be a challenge. What techniques do you use when darkness and negativity loom large?
bc: I’m so happy to be here - thank you for having me! Yes, my mission in teaching and blogging is to inspire people to live an extraordinarily creative life. I hear so often that people are afraid to ‘take the plunge’ even though doing something creative feels like their life’s calling. I want to encourage them to GO FOR IT, and see their creative dreams come to life. It’s so fulfilling!
I too am passionate about celebrating beauty and taking great joy in the simple things. I have found that giving myself intentional time away from work to do other things that I love (like gardening, hiking, cooking) refreshes my spirit and brings more inspiration to my work.
ab:Your mother is extraordinarily creative and you grew up surrounded by her creative influence, but she is also an entrepreneur and business owner. Practicality won out when it came time for you to go to college and you majored in business. Was this a hard decision for you to make? When did you realize that your true passion was linked to creativity? What helped you decide to pursue the dream of becoming a designer?
bc: I do come from an entire family of entrepreneurs! I always knew I was creative, just wasn’t sure where it would take me. So that’s why I decided to go to business school, hoping that it would give me the foundation to follow whatever path as an entrepreneur I wanted to follow. Turns out, it was a great decision! It wasn’t until I returned to work for my mom’s quilt shop after school that it hit me - I wanted to be a designer. My entrepreneurial soul knew I could do it (though it would be a ton of work!). Happy to say that I was able to learn the ropes on my own (meaning, without school) and realize my dreams.
ab: You are a self-taught surface pattern designer and it’s taken you years of hard work, sacrifice and determination to get where you are today. Did your faith and determination ever waver? How did you overcome your doubts and what helped you to stay on track and continue your creative journey?
bc: Of course! There were plenty of days that I wasn’t sure what I was doing and if it would all work out. Putting yourself out there is hard and so nerve-wracking. It still hurts to be denied and or to receive harsh feedback, but what I always say is that it is WORTH IT. Every negative experience has helped me grow and always gets countered with a positive one (sometimes LOTS of positives ones!). My biggest advice is to have courage and just do it. Starting is always the hardest part!
ab: You are very transparent about your journey to becoming a designer and you are also very generous with the knowledge that you’ve gained along the way, inspiring many. How and why did you decide to share what you’ve learned and to encourage others to follow their own creative dreams?
bc: This decision was important to me, but it was definitely met with some raised eyebrows. People can’t believe I share as much as I do, and worry that I’m only creating competition for myself. I disagree. Because I learned ‘the hard way’, I’m passionate about helping people learn what they need to as concisely as possible. I’ve had so many people say that they’ve learned more in my courses then in entire semesters at school (haha!). My point is that no matter what I teach, people are going to have to put in the work themselves, and that can’t be taught. A TON of handwork goes in to becoming a successful designer, so I help with the technical part of and leave the hard work up to the budding designers. :)
ab: It took me years to be comfortable with and fully embrace working in sketchbooks and I’m always curious about the role they play in other artists’ lives. Do you keep a sketchbook? If so, can you share a bit about how and why you use it? If not, why not?
bc: Yes! Most all of my designs originate from a pencil and paper sketch. It used to feel daunting to me, but once I just START sketching things begin to flow. I want to start hosting a ladies drawing night in my town and so many people have giggled at the thought because they haven’t opened a sketchbook in years, or don’t have a reason to sketch. Which in turn makes me giggle! I think we should all return to our childhood and get to doodling. It’s fun and inspiring, whether you’re a designer or not!
ab: You began your blog Going Home to Roost in 2009 and have been sharing beauty, joy and creativity on it ever since. How has your blog changed and evolved over the years? How do you maintain your enthusiasm and find inspiration for your posts?
bc: Wow, so much has changed with blogs over the last 5 years. I started out as a blogger in every sense of the word - churning out content and posting 10x a week for years. It’s a ton of work but really gave me a great place to launch my career from. I have since given myself a break and only post when I truly feel inspired or have something to share (which is still a few times a week). It’s been fun to take the pressure off and return to blogging for ‘fun’.
ab: In addition to your blog, you offer a membership subscription service called the Roost Tribe where you share “the secrets to [your] success”. Can you tell us a little about the Roost Tribe and why you started it? Do you ever find it difficult to manage your blog, the Roost Tribe, your newsletter, your surface design business and your family? How do you find balance and the energy for your very full life? What’s next on the horizon for you?
bc: Yes, the Roost Tribe is where I ‘share all of my secrets’! Basically, any time I learn a new trick, I dump it in the Roost Tribe archives (there’s currently over 2000 posts and 4 + years of content available for full access members!). I make time for it because these are who I consider to be ‘my people’. I love them and love seeing them bloom in all their different creative arenas. We have so much fun and even get to ‘hangout’ on live video from time to time!
Balancing it all is quite the act. I have two small children so I work while they nap. It has truly taught me how to be productive! I like to break things up and work on one thing at a time. My job is fun, because it’s always something different.
Next for me is some super exciting things! I’ve just launched a small line of 2017 calendars and have some new collaborations that I can’t quite speak of yet. Stay tuned! :)
Dear readers, I hope you've been inspired by Bonnie's story. You can find out more and connect with her in these places around the web:
her blog: Going Home to Roost
her my mom's site: Maxie Makes
*Photos in this post © Callie Lynch. Used with permission.