H. B. Anderson

blogging and freelance writing

Welcome to the first ever “small business spotlight” featured on H. B. Anderson Writing! Small businesses are a subject I am passionate about, making this segment a welcome addition to my other writings. Small Business Spotlight will only feature my tried-and-true personal favorite small businesses whom I want be recognized and celebrated as the unique entities that they are. They are meant to give you a good introduction or a deeper look at the business in spotlight.

Our first small business spotlight focuses on Salty Jo Art which sells art in many forms! Salty Jo Art is a creative business that opened in 2020 specializing in custom stickers, skate decks, longboard decks, and prints that can be found on http://www.saltyjoart.com . “Skate decks and illustrations” is how Joanna Bookamer sums up her business’ focus on the website’s home page (Salty Jo Art, 2020). It takes mere seconds of observation to become impressed with the wide range of ability and imagination showcased in Joanna’s portfolio page. You get much more than bargained for by purchasing from this Ringling Art School-attended artist.

In this slideshow, you will see many creations by Joanna, herself. Most pictures are products on her site http://www.saltyjoart.com or pictures from her Instagram @saltyjo.art and others are pictures from her large and growing portfolio. (And, if you look closely in this slideshow, you will see my very own custom-made Salty Jo Volkswagen longboard). All of my likes and interests were included on my board: ukuleles, dachshunds, cats, the colors yellow, orange & blue, and the ocean.

Salty Jo Art offers free shipping on most of their products, as well as timely and friendly service. Custom orders are welcomed! Bounce some ideas off of Joanna or describe your ideal vision to her for any of your art needs.

During this first segment, I had the pleasure of interviewing the artist behind it all! Let’s recall the interview, shall we?

Hannah: Joanna, I’m delighted to write this article today and shine the spotlight on one of my all-time-favorite creative businesses! It’s nice to have the opportunity to interview you in a more serious and formal light as we explore some of the inspirations behind your art and the processes by which you work. It’s not everyday that I get to make a blog post with one of my closest friends, so I know we are going to have fun with it! First off, Joanna, what is the sole mission behind Salty Jo Art? What do you specialize in?

Joanna: Originally, Salty Jo was started because I wanted to make a living doing what I enjoy. At the job I was working before, I felt like I was going nowhere fast, so I finally just quit and opened up and online shop/gallery. I love to draw and paint and create, and people seem to enjoy seeing what I come up with. I figured if God’s given me these hands and this head, I want to use them. I want to be excited to get up in the morning, and trust that income will be provided.

Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of requests for stickers and custom portrait paintings, but I also sell painted longboard and skateboard decks, as well as illustration prints.

Hannah: What better way to go about life than to pursue your God-given talents! I especially love how you emphasized that it is God that ultimately will provide for you while you do your work, Joanna. That shows that desire to work until God, not just humans.

Now I know there are a lot of questions in the psychology community concerning the nature vs. nurture debate. This particular debate analyzes how the influences of environment affect them vs. the genes that they were born with. I’m going to indulge these questions for one second and ask a few questions about where exactly you noticed your love for art originate.

Was your environment something that played a part in your artistic abilities? If so, who particularly encouraged or influences you in this way? Or was it perhaps natural inclination, practice, or a little bit of both? Did you always want to become an artist?

Joanna: Yeah, trusting God was a long internal conversation that I needed before I was able to let go and quit my job.

Growing up, my sisters and I read a lot of picture books, watched a ton of cartoons, and played make-believe every second in between. We were constantly using our imaginations, so drawing was just a natural outlet. My mom has a folder somewhere of my drawings, and likes to remind me of the little stories I would illustrate before I could even write. My family very much had a role in directing my interest, whether or not they’re aware of it. And there were also a few select teachers over the years who encouraged me and made me feel potential.

Hannah: So very interesting. It think there is a famous Pablo Picasso quote that is very applicable here, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up.” I think this very much is the case for many individuals.

And, Joanna, in particular…what you said about teachers is very relatable, as well. I, for one, never even considered the possibility of becoming a writer until certain teachers encouraged me to. This goes to show the responsibility that everyday encouragement and influence can have on us as we grow throughout our lives.

Joanna, you mentioned that you paint longboard and skateboard decks. Did the desire to do this stem from your own experience longboarding and skateboarding? When did you begin? Also, what particular methods/inspiration are needed while painting these decks?

Joanna: I think I’ve always looked on skateboarders in awe. I admire the skill and nonchalant attitude of skaters in general. I spent a year at Ringling College of Art and Design, and that year was very lonely for me. I ended up watching skate clips and ‘how to’ videos to pass the time, and eventually bought a longboard. Painting it made sense- I kind of marked it as my own. And then I thought, ‘you know, I wouldn’t mind doing this for a living,’ which is also when the idea of SaltyJo started to form.

As far as inspiration, I don’t really have it down to a formula. Looking at other people’s art helps to get excited about a project. Sometimes I’ll leaf through my sketchbooks to see if I want to turn a doodle into a painting. Also, I’ve learned that I can’t just crank art out nonstop. Sometimes I have to spend a week away from art and just be outdoors, which seems to help fill my invisible inspriation basin. I think to make something, I just need a starting point, and that doesn’t come on my own. It’s always from a memory or a song or people-watching or some mangled tree from a hike. I guess it’s more to say, it’s necessary to have a spark of inspiration, but there’s not always a particular spot to find it. It’s a matter of looking for it.

Hannah: That’s a very poignant outlook on the atmosphere surrounding boarding and the solace that it gave you away from home. I find that your view on the creative process is one that I admire, because it has a realistic realization that art cannot simply always be forced. It takes time, effort, and inspiration. The process is never perfect or even linear, per-say.

As you know, I am in my own process of starting up a creative business. For one, my writing business Hannah Anderson Writing and secondly my business HannahMade where I share the items and designs that I make by crochet, sewing, or paper. What advice would you give other young women and men that want to start a business? What are some good attitudes to bring that first year of operation?

Joanna: First of all, congratulations! I’m proud of you, and I’m excited whenever I hear someone decides to start their own business. Know that just because you are new in the game, it does not make you or your product less valuable. Don’t undersell yourself. Your time and ideas are worth investing in. You may not see a lot of interest immediately, and there will be lulls, that’s normal. Don’t get discouraged. Keep making stuff and use the lulls as time to recharge or branch out with your creations. Use social media and post as often as you can to keep people updated and interested. Be careful, though. I, for one, get sucked into social media super easily, so post and close the app; don’t let scrolling steal your time. Also, accept that you’re going to make mistakes and learn from them. Accept any feedback, but take criticism with a grain of salt. I know a lot of people who mean well and ask if I’m looking for a job or if I’m still doing “that art thing.” Your small business is a job! Don’t let small comments get under your skin.

And, finally, do not feel guilty for enjoying your work. I so often feel guilty for spending an afternoon out with my sisters because I feel like I haven’t been working. In reality, I’m probably spending more hours a day working than I would have at my previous job. Your schedule may not have the structure of a 9-5, and you may not dread working on a commission (I hope you don’t!), but that does not mean you haven’t been “working”.

Hannah: Jo, in conclusion, is there anything we should be looking out for in the future with your shop? What excited things should we expect?

Joanna: Thanks for having me, Hannah! I’m working on new sticker packs and prints that will be available on http://www.saltyjoart.com

This concludes our very first small business spotlight! It was so fun getting to talk to Joanna about her business and sharing it to the readers of H. B. Anderson Writing. If you are interested in anything you see, or if you have a custom order in mind- make sure you check out the links provided to Salty Jo’s website and follow along with Joanna’s newest creative endeavors on the @saltyjo.art Instagram.

Until next time, my friends,

Hannah

Just imagine for one minute that you are back in the days of your early childhood- crazy, new, awkward youth. These were the best days for questions brimming to the surface, days filled with new ideas and new experiences, and days where curiosity was the overarching theme. Learning held a unique enthusiasm.

We have grown from these times of stardust and wonder, haven’t we? Mostly it is the change of our insatiable search for answers to a certain gnawing complacency. I came to terms with this recently as I read one of my college textbooks. One word held me back from moving onto the next page. You see, it’s not that I was upset I didn’t know this word; it would be incredibly mistaken to assume us fallen humans should know everything on the first try. However, it was the realization that I read this particular word hundreds or thousands of times before without caring enough to look into its meaning. What’s even worse is that this was not the only word in my book that I was familiar with only by glance and not by depth. As I looked through the pages, I was glaringly conscious of the need to research- to start asking questions again.

In my earliest years, I distinctly remember bombarding my parents with questions daily. If I ran into an unfamiliar concept, I never hesitated to discuss its meaning as soon as the opportunity arose. If I read a word I didn’t know, I immediately needed to know it. If I wanted enlightenment on any terms, I sought it out like it was my quest. And when I think back on those times, it seems meaning was at the center of my tiny mind. Do not get me wrong; meaning is still a profound part of my seeking. It’s just that the questions are just a little harder to answer now.

This textbook occurrence made me reflect deeply. How was it that I familiarize myself with so many words and concepts yet still do not fully grasp the significance of their defining qualities? I knew the setting that these words fit and where they may relate. However, I was content in not knowing. I’d rather ignore and take the easy route than do what would be good for me in the long run. It made me ask a question again- Why have I stopped seeking this vital sense of perception?

A sneaking little word crept up in my mind. It is a word widely struggled with for many in this modern age. That word is “apathy.” Merriam-Webster online describes apathy as “a lack of interest or concern: INDIFFERENCE.” It was this kind of attitude that produced the predicament I was in, and many other life struggles men and women face today.

Apathy is preying on modern generations in significant ways. Where previous generations found their sense of community and fulfillment in church, in intentional get-togethers, in letters of length, in books of meaning, and people with deep thoughts and interests, we all-too-often replaced with immediate gratification. Social media imitates fellowship by displaying the best or worst of others’ lives. Shows replace books. Texts are sent instead of letters. Video games are played instead of art made.

Things have become brief. And while these things can offer a lot of good, they cannot possibly fulfill any long-term happiness or goals for us. In their base nature, they do not promote long-term peace, nor do they fill any void in our soul that needs things of consequence and substance- faith and meaning.

How then must we fill this gap between amusement and long-term goals?

One thing we cannot do is continue not to care. 

First, we must be willing to throw off bad habits or attitudes that encourage this apathy that tries to entangle.

Think of the things you hold most dear: the people, the goals, the places. Now take the time to make a list of what you think is holding you back from them. When we know the common enemy of our motivation to learn and to do, we can start small with the practical replacement habits and attitudes to encourage our growth again. We, of course, cannot become reclusive to the modern world altogether (the whole point is the OPPOSITE). It should be the inspiration for your creativity and interest.

Minimize distractions.

Blame my Reformed Baptist roots, but “everything in moderation” is a phrase that I’ve heard all my life. Adopting this philosophy, especially in media and entertainment, could be the best guard against this nasty apathy that sneaks upon us. Go on a media detox for a few days, or be especially cautious about what kinds of media you consume. While doing this, ensure you are incredibly observant in this time of the hobbies and interests you pick up to replace your typical entertainment overload.

Journal about it, if that helps you. Did it take a while to snap out of the urge to fill the noise? Your search for more unique and beneficial ways to use your time might be frustrating at first but will be overwhelmingly fulfilling in the end. You might even have found yourself with a little more pep in your step or a bit more perspective on what you wish to be doing!

Begin asking questions again.

Regard the little things as your mission. If you don’t know a word in your book, underline it and look it up in a dictionary. If you do not understand a concept, do all you can to research until you do while making sure you are using solid resources. Let curiosity be a burning force within you. Another important aspect of this is to remind yourself not to be discouraged if you don’t entirely understand right away. What we have forgotten is that all things of importance do take time.

Make sure the media you do intake is worth it.

Those who believe it is “sheltering yourself” to be conscious of the media you absorb are sadly mistaken. In truth, those who are mindful of how they use media can find themselves much happier than most in their day-to-day lives. The simple reason is this: media can affect everything from your mind to your mood to your worldview. Being selective is simply saying that you, yourself, are worth wisdom over irreverence and peace rather than chaos.

I now try to replace a majority of the fluff/gossip YouTube videos that I used to watch with reliable podcasts filled with history, theology, science, and any other topic of interest I may have. Make sure whatever you are watching is of worth to you. I quickly realized that when I did this, instead of my mind feeling numb by the time I finished videos or music, it left me feeling more passionate and excited to learn. Once you find the things you are passionate about, it will not be as much of a chore to read, write, or find better media.

Of course, this will not happen ALL of the time, nor does it have to be. Just make sure it is the overarching theme of your pursuits.

Comparison Kills Contentment

In the pursuit of an excited and passionate existence, we MUST realize our individuality’s value in our projects. The age-old quote, “comparison kills contentment,” is a phrase that is a comforting quote to me in just about everything I do. It is wise to get constructive criticism of your finished works. Though, there needs to be balanced, and make sure you know that the beauty in someone else’s work does not take away from the unique beauty in yours.

Experiment To Find What Works for You

You’ve heard it a billion times, but IT’S TRUE! I can give you all the tips you’d like, but it all comes down to your trial and error. For me, my perfectionism is the wild enemy that tries to come between me and my goals. For me, improvement is making myself finish the things I’m working on, whether they are up to my high standards or not. Find out that enemy that will try to step between you and the excitements of life. It may be pessimism, anxiety, some perceived weakness within yourself.

I cannot emphasize this enough. Just being aware is the first beautiful step to change! And news flash: I’m writing this because I need to work on these things, as well!

There’s No Room for Perfectionism

Do not be frustrated with the time it takes to learn these principles. Every day is a blank slate that we will be filling with new observations, new insights, new TRIES. You will have days where you feel really great and passionate about your life. You will have other days where you feel like you’re in a slump. Though, the difference is you try to build those habits that encourage growth and not self-sabotage. You have more control than you think in your life by building these small positive habits.

We cannot rely on pure feelings to buoy us or even help us make the right decisions. This is because feelings can be deceitful. Feelings can not want the best for us, at times. This is why we need to learn a good balance of logic and growth in what is good for us. These steps, if used as a starting point, can aid our abandonment of all the apathy that hold us back.

 Some Questions for You

  • What are some habits that help you stay engaged in the life around you?
  • What have you noticed about yourself when you are more productive or interested in your life/work?
  • Have you noticed your creativity expand as you become more in tune with good habits?
  • Have you tried journaling through your creative/growth progress?

Until next time, readers.

H. B. Anderson

References

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Apathy. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved April 6, 2021, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apathy

Poetry, my dear,
Poetry all-day
Poetry to keep the bad feelings away
I grab up my pen and scrawl to convey
My inmost thoughts and feelings- all in wordful array


Words upon words
I print, and I prod,
Wonderings and workings
Workings and thoughts


For what is a writer without their writing?
They are a shell of a being
Who has so many feelings
They wallow in them endlessly


But a writer who acts upon the words in their mind,
Is a wise one indeed, for now, it is less of a fight
To live in a world such as yours and mine


Expression, to a writer, is a saving plight

© H. B. Anderson and https://hbandersonwriting.com/, 2021 Copyright © H. B. Anderson 2021

Whether we are conscious of it or not, everyone is an influencer, in one capacity or another. The range of that influence revolves around who you are and what particular things you find interest in. You may encourage your husband to watch that new show that you just discovered over the weekend. You may suggest a new restaurant to your parents. Or, perhaps, like myself and my friends, you send custom-made song playlists to each other to share the music and lyrics that you love! In many ways, you and I influence others. 

Right now, I am going to use the same powerful everyday influence to suggest a book to you that I have found great value in. The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner is that book. 

I quite literally stumbled upon Eric Weiner’s book two summers ago as I perused the book section of a small Ollies in Pennsylvania. What began as a slight curiosity of the book’s plot quickly and unexpectedly turned into an obsession: a page-turner that I could not put down. Being the history and travel intrigued person that I am, I could not keep my eyes away from the stories and knowledge that Eric intricately wove together.

The Geography of Genius follows its author Eric Weiner throughout his travels to some of the world’s best “golden-age” locations. While traveling, Weiner analyzes the histories, themes, differences, and similarities of these unique locations and the everyday genius of the people who lived there. The author dissects the different traits that cultivate intelligence and creativity, with chapters exploring golden-age Athens, Hangzhou, Florence, Edinburgh, Calcutta, Vienna, and Silicon Valley. With each chapter, the author presents his material with a humorous and conversational tone. Like a good teacher, Eric Weiner makes the content he covers clear and engaging to readers.

The Geography of Genius delves into many different facets of creativity while also showing the potential for creativity in our day-to-day lives. I especially appreciated one specific part of chapter 3 and am reminded daily of what was said about the creative process. Eric Weiner (2016) suggests that instead of just a typical museum that displays successes and masterpieces, there should also be a museum of mistakes, remarking,

“…W. H. Auden observed, “In the course of his lifetime, the major poet will write more bad poems than the minor.”

There’s a simple reason for this. The more shots you get at the target, the more likely you’ll eventually score the bull’s-eye, but the more misses you’ll accrue, as well. The bull’s-eyes in museums and on library shelves, not the misses. Which, when you think about it, is a shame. It feeds the myth that geniuses get it right the first time, that they don’t make mistakes, when in fact, they make more mistakes than the rest of us (p. 116).”

If you are wanting to give this book a read and see what you think for yourself, I am inserting a link to it on Amazon. ON ONE CONDITION- that you come back to me once you’re through to tell me all about it! 😉

Amazon link- Amazon.com: The Geography of Genius: Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Places (9781451691672): Weiner, Eric: Books

Here are some questions for you once you finish the book-

  • What inspired you the most about some of the different locations of genius?
  • What places did you connect with the most?
  • Will this impact the way you see traveling, or better yet- will this book impact the way you see your daily life experiences?
  • Does this change your view on the impact of your choices where you are placed?
  • What current habits do you think you will change after reading to pursue a more intentional and creative life?
  • I truly enjoyed sharing this gem with you all! I apologize for not writing for so long, though I promise I have some very good reasons! Some, I will sure to be sharing soon!

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this gem with you all! Trust me, I have some excellent reasons for not posting in so long. Some I may touch on soon in future posts!

Until next time, readers!

Hannah Anderson

References

Weiner, Weiner Eric. The Geography of Genius: a Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley. Simon & Schuster, 2016.

Sitting on a counter

Sat a vase with different flowers

Not many paid attention

Most went about their hours

Though, hidden among the petals was a secret little verse

That another spy would soon decode

And act on what he’d learned

Some were messages of battle

Some were messages of strife

Each flower told a story

Each code, a different plight

And no one would have thought a thing from that innocent little sight

Though, much the same, we have much to gain

When we observe the little things in life

Welcome to the new blog “H. B. Anderson Writing”! Brew yourself a cup of coffee (or tea, better yet) and stay awhile to chat! Today is this blog’s birthday, and that is an event worth celebrating if I knew any. I’m sure the blog will live a glorious and wonderful life serving its purpose as my little corner of the internet, but first, we will need to make our introductions.

As with any in-person introduction, one must first get to know a person before deciding if they are worth calling a friend. Similarly, I wish for you to get to know your writer before considering yourself a reader. Naming off some facts about an author helps a little. However, it does not entirely paint a picture of literary style or interest quite yet. Though, there is no better way to start!

My name is Hannah Anderson, and I am a twenty-one-year-old writer and teacher’s aide living in the United States. I live with my husband Ben and kitten Ruby (who are both quite the handful, though they never admit it). The authors’ writing styles that I look up to most are F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louisa May Alcott, and Charles Dickens. All are brilliant writers that display tales of love, adventure, fortune, and loss vividly. The subjects I draw the most inspiration from are life, literature, history, poetry, and nature. My hobbies include photography, music, reading, and crocheting.

Just as there are many different sides to a person, there are many different sides to a writer’s style. It only takes some time to get familiar with them. This fact is why I will, within reason, not limit the topics that I will cover on this blog. I am an observer of the world in many ways, shapes, and forms. Subjects involving life, history, creativity, and literature interest me profoundly, which is why submitting myself to one niche topic would be a disservice to my hand. As any good reporter reports on the facts, any good author paints a picture of many different aspects of life to their readers. 

One aspect you can be sure of in this blog is the narrative form that will always be present. You can distinguish this narrative as my literary voice.

Some of my poems will occasionally make an appearance. If you are not a poem person, I’ll let you in on a secret- that’s okay! Poetry is not for everyone. Though, the ones that poetry is for connect with it deeply. You can expect all kinds of different posts on this blog. Usually, they will surround life, history, and literary topics that we can learn about together. This blog also hopes to explore my photography, which is why you may sometimes see my photos alongside articles or poetry. Any photo of mine will have mark on the bottom right corner showing my ownership.

Now, with a much clearer picture of what this blog’s mission is and where we are going, I hope you will decide to follow along and see it through! Here’s to the beginning of a beautiful journey of writing, reading, and growing together. May we gain more insight and wisdom than we had when we began.

Until next time,

H. B. Anderson