Goodbyes are always hard

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Some of you may know that’s I’ve been writing a business advice column every issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry for the past three years. I still remember when the invite to write a column came into my email from Cynthia Levens. It was one of those moments where you read something and then pause a moment because the news can’t immediately sink in. I clearly remember reading the email, tilting my head to one side because I wasn’t really sure she was asking what I thought she was (offering me a regular column!) and then looking about my studio to see if there was a hidden camera somewhere. I know it sounds very silly now, but at the time I was sure it was a cruel hoax. How could it be that my most favorite publication in the entire world wanted me to become a columnist?! After jumping up and down in my studio like an idiot with a huge smile on my face, I calmly and professionally wrote this amazing editor back with this very simple reply: “Heck, YES!!!!” (I figured a little enthusiasm and passion wouldn’t hurt me too much).

From that point, I submitted a year’s worth of column ideas to her and also came up with a name for it. I didn’t want something like Business Success, even though that is the gist of what I write about. Instead, I asked Cynthia if I could explore this idea that I had in my head for a long time. I call it Art Chooses You. What it means is that I’ve done enough interviews over the past (mumble mumble) years of writing that I have the firm belief that artists are simply born artists. There is no choice. It’s just part of our DNA and as much a part of us as our eye color or if we are right-handed or lefties.  Cynthia took a leap with me and allowed me to do my thing. She always supported me and she made it so easy and enjoyable to work for her magazine. I have truly loved every moment of writing Art Chooses You.

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This January as I was driving home from CHA, I knew it was time for me to give up my column. As much as I love writing it, so many things have changed for me in the past 3 years. Namely, ICE Resin is growing very rapidly and running my part of the company (marketing/education/sales) is demanding my entire focus and attention. I actually missed my December deadline because I was so eyeball-deep in CHA and Tucson preparations. It was the one and only time Cynthia had to come down on me, and rightly so.

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I care too much about all the Stampington & Co. publications and the personal friends I have made with the editors, director of photography and the manager of the Shoppe at Somerset to let them any of them down. So it was with a heavy heart that I resigned from my column. As I was writing my last one, I began to feel a bit free because I knew I was making the right decision. It’s time for the readers of Belle Armoire Jewelry to have a fresh perspective on business success. It’s time for me to set a few more boundaries on my time. It’s the ebb and flow of life and business, and I’m here to tell you it’s so worth it to listen to the small inner voice deep inside you.

This voice is the whisper of our soul. The whispers of our heart. They will continue to whisper to us until we listen. When we don’t listen, they grow louder until they scream. My decision was at the low, low whisper stage. But I know myself well enough to know that it was time for a change, and that change is good.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with all my past columns. Friends have asked me to make them available on my blog. There’s enough good stuff there that I think I’d rather turn them into an ebook. I’m not sure. Stay tuned!

Covergirl…

Belle Armoire Jewelry Cover March/April 2013

Belle Armoire Jewelry Cover March/April 2013

Remember when I said there were A LOT of big things in the works last year that I had to keep quiet about? Well, I finally can tell you the last of the secrets! My work is being featured in Belle Armoire Jewelry as the March/April issue Designer Showcase. The issue — with my necklace from my book Making Metal Jewelry on the cover (!!!) just arrived in subscribers’ mailboxes today and I’ve heard a resounding positive response from soooo many of my artist friends.

To say it’s an incredible honor to have my work featured is, truly, an understatement. I know there are people who will think that it was a natural fit for me because I write a business advice column for this magazine every issue, but the truth of the matter is that being a “regular” with the Stampington publications can actually make the selection process tougher. I liken it to being a mother and not wishing to play favorites to any of your children.

ICE Resin bezel by Jen Cushman in Belle Armoire Jewelry 2013

ICE Resin bezel by Jen Cushman in Belle Armoire Jewelry 2013

The editors go out of their way to judge every piece of art work that comes into the magazine based on some pretty high standards. That’s why I’m always impressed when I meet someone whose been published in Belle Armoire Jewelry because I’ve seen the editors at work during the selection process. It takes a considerable amount of thought and consideration on their part each month.

When Editor Cynthia Levens emailed me to say that she wished to feature me, I jumped up and down in my studio and couldn’t help but have a big smile from ear to ear. Then she told me what I had to do. Not much, just submit 25 pieces of jewelry (!) for photography and then catch up with Ricë Freeman Zachary for her to do the interview. I’ve known Ricë for a few years now, but it’s always nerve wracking to be interviewed, particularly for something as wonderfully big as a Designer Showcase profile.

Belle Armoire Jewelry Jen Cushman profile

Belle Armoire Jewelry Jen Cushman profile

I could not have asked for a better person to interview me. Ricë is a very accomplished mixed-media artist and independent writer/author. She’s been in the trenches teaching and selling her work. She knows when people who are being authentic with her and she can spot from a mile a way when someone is being politically correct..aka saying what they think they’re supposed to say rather than speaking their truth. I love talking to Ricë because she’s real and ensures people respond accordingly. I knew I’d have some tough questions, but that was part of the fun. The article is wonderfully written. After reading it through for the second time, my favorite part is this (page 23):

She (meaning me) turned her focus on the most salient detail of the life she wanted: learning to value her creativity and skills enough to give them the time and space to flourish, and then learning to value the concrete results of the process enough to share them with the world instead of putting them in a drawer.

I know I pulled this out of context, and I do hope you find the time to read the whole article, but every time I read this paragraph that Ricë wrote, I get chills. It’s an incredible thing to feel that someone “got me” and she really, truly understood what I was trying to say as a human being and an artist.

Thank you, Ricë and Cynthia and Christen for your faith in me and my work. This Designer Showcase is a major highlight in my life. Also, as always, my incredible appreciation to Susan Lenart Kazmer for making such gorgeous and high quality hobnail bezels and creating ICE Resin so myself and millions of other artists can explore their creativity.