Monday, June 14, 2010

A Dozen Details with Mindy Tsonas...

This month's artist interview is with Mindy Tsonas, the creative genius behind the Wishstudio blog and the newly launched Wishstudio website. I've mentioned here before how much inspiration I found at the Wishstudio years ago when I first began looking for online what I wasn't finding in eleswhere in my life.

When Mindy agreed to this interview, I was thrilled! I had so many questions that I had wanted to ask her for years. And her answers...well, let's just say that her openness about her life and her process is refreshing and beautiful! I hope you agree...

1) What (specifically) was your dream when you began forming the Wishstudio so many years ago? 
my dream in the beginning was simply to share inspiration within a creative community.  i had no idea then that this endeavor would actually create a community of its own!  i simply wanted to surround myself with like-minded women and offer a place for others to come and share and be inspired.

2) How has that vision changed over the years? 
the vision has grown and expanded in so many unexpected ways.  the scope of the wishstudio has become more dynamic than i ever could have imagined in the beginning.  the offering of workshops, collaborative projects, and having a space where i, along with my community,  can help encourage others to take a creative leap they might not have otherwise is really so rewarding.  this entire project has changed the landscape of my life and filled it with opportunity and so much beautiful energy that now fills my every day.  the parallel journey of creating this space and finding my own creative path has been so incredibly magical.
3) I would think that managing all that goes on in the Wishstudio takes a tremendous amount of organization. How do you manage while simultaneously being a SAHM? 
yes, there is a lot of organization that is involved, but that is part of how my creativity shows up for me - as an organizer!  so the whole process of making things happen in the wishstudio is really joyful second nature to me. 
like all moms, juggling all the parts of my life is often tricky.  but i think about what my life would be without the wishstudio and my amazing creative community and i honestly can't imagine things any other way.  it is a big part of my life that takes a lot of time and focus, but it has also become a part of who i am.  it's not just work that i have to do, it's fuel and a path for me to connect with the best parts of myself every single day.  without it, i know i would not be as present and happy as a mother, a wife and friend so it's a virtuous circle that grows and sustains all the parts of my life.  is tons of work?  yes.  is it worth the time and sacrifice?  with out a doubt.  

4) Can you explain to us how ‘virtual art retreats’ work?
i just wrapped my first ever wish*full virtual art retreat, and it was such an incredible experience.  i wanted to recreate a retreat experience that people could access online and not have to travel and commit tons of time and money to be a part of it.  it was a really a unique and exciting event!  i brought together 14 talented artists to teach all kinds of different studio and creative classes, and over the course of a long weekend we all dived into making art as a fabulous online group!  it was an amazing way to connect and create together, cheer each other on, and meet new creative friends from around the world.  i think this was the first virtual retreat of it's kind and i was so happy to be able to bring people together in such a new and exciting way.  don't miss next year's wish*full retreat! 
5) How do you find such amazing people to feature and/or write for the Wishstudio? 
i get this question all the time, and really the honest and simple answer is i just ask.  most artists are so excited to contribute and share their work.  if your enthusiastic and passionate about your project, chances are they will be too!
6) Have you always been a creative person? How long have you been living a creative life? 
i've always been creative in one way or another ever since i was little, and creativity has always been a part of my life in one way or another.  it hasn't really been until fairly recently that i realized that my creativity could be a way of living, and that it could infuse and integrate my life with everything i love to do!  
7) What type of creating do you like to do in your personal time to relax and unwind? 
i love to make gifts for others.  i've found that when i am most inspired to make something it is because i want to put the time and thought into creating something special and unique for someone else... it's always been my way and how i express extra tlc.  i make cards, tiny pieces of art, collages and photo books, and quilts.  i love quilts and even make them out of paper sometimes when my sewing machine cooperates.

8) How do you fit personal creating time in between being a full-time mom and managing the Wishstudio? 
the time i spend creating for the wishstudio and my personal time creating is most often one and the same.  it all overlaps... when i'm working on wishstudio things, making something as a thank you for a contributor, crafting with my son and playing around with new ideas and supplies, it's all a part of my creative life.  it's not quite so compartmentalized and i fend that is the easiest and best way for all of it to fit in and to flow.  i do have to say that i have an incredibly supportive husband who helps me and encourages me to embrace this life - he knows it's what fills me up and makes me happy.  without him, none of this would be possible. 
9) You recently launched the Wishstudio website. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of getting that up and running? 
creating the new home for the wishstudio was a tremendous amount of work and took a huge amount of time and heart, not just on my part.  i had the help of a fabulous team, christine castro of darling design and brianna privett of 
i had a pretty good idea about the vision for the new website, but christine was really the one to take all my ideas and inspiration and turn it into a well designed and beautiful virtual space.  the design process took about 3 months which entailed shooting photographs (the wishstudio homepage is a photo i actually staged and shot at my kitchen table!), sharing and fine tuning design ideas and layouts and getting the final pages created.  it was then brianna's job to take all the flat page designs and create all the moving parts to the site.  it was really exciting to see it all come together and be brought to life! i adore my new home. 
10) What made you want to create the website in addition to the blog…or was that always part of your vision?
the need for the website evolved organically over time. our community and all the collaborations that were happening was the driving force behind dreaming bigger for the wishstudio.   when i began working on bringing the wish*full virtual art retreat to life, which was part of that progression, the need for studio space where the workshops could be shared was what really ignited the idea for the entire wishstudio concept - that it would become an actual (virtual) place that you could come and visit, sit in the cafe and chat, take or teach a class, meet up with fellow creatives and gather inspiration and creative resources.  it was modeled after a real brick and mortar artist's community that i was once a part of and that i thought the wishstudio would exist in.  
11) How does your strong belief in the importance of creativity affect you as a mother? 
creativity is such an important grounding force in my role as a mother and in the relationship i have with my kids.  i nourish, connect, dream, and believe through my creativity, so that is in everything i do as a mom.  we don't necessarily make things all the time (though there have been many days when having creative time has saved the day!), but i find that the simple definition of creativity - to make something where nothing was before - every act can be an act of creativity and a way to move through the world expressing beautiful bits of who you are.  creativity is the tool i use to navigate my way through even the toughest days of motherhood.    
12) What does success look like to you?
for me, success = happiness.  if i am happy in what i do and with who i am, then that is success to me.  it's not about the money or the accolades or the accomplishments, it's about connecting with my authenticity and helping others to discover theirs - as a mom, as a wife, as a studio director.  i have the opportunity to be successful every single day!


I hope you enjoyed hearing the behind the scenes nitty gritty as much as I did! {I'm a total sucker for that type of thing!} Please do pop over to the Wishstudio, have a good look around, and please do tell Mindy that I said hello!


Corinne June 14, 2010 at 9:04 PM  

Wonderful interview :) Off to take a look...

Jamie June 14, 2010 at 10:11 PM  

I loved this profile. Haven't heard of wishstudio and now I can't wait to check it out.

Hyacynth June 14, 2010 at 10:57 PM  

Great interview! I love hearing about how other artists who are moms find good balance. Thanks for sharing!

Feather June 14, 2010 at 11:03 PM  

gosh! thank you for sharing mindy with us. i'm falling in love with her writing!

that picture on your new header is just classic. classic!

Charlotte June 15, 2010 at 3:09 PM  

Thanks for introducing me to this brilliant site!

Blue Skies
Charlotte xx

Jennifer June 16, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

That last question really hit home. "What does success look like to you?" That is one I've visited over and over in the last two years. My definition today is extremely different than it was 20 years ago (money and fame at all costs), vastly different than 10 years ago (money, forget the fame, I want I want I want) I showing my age underwent a radial change just a few years ago (my boys are healthy, my husband loves me, we have food, clothing, shelter, bills are paid so by all conventional definitions I am a success) and yes it has even been tweaked from just a few weeks ago. Amazing how experience and circumstances change how you define ideas in your life.

mindy June 16, 2010 at 7:18 PM  

thank you maegan and thank all of you lovelies for your insight and kind feedback. i'm excited to see you all in the wishstudio! keep wishing BIG!