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Kathy Murillo

Have you been creative since you were a child? Or did your creativity develop as you got older? When did you realize that you wanted to do what you are doing now?

I remember getting goose bumps in first grade when it was time for art class and especially when the teacher would hang up our finished pieces in the cafeteria. I was so proud of that, and really hammed it up when my parents came to school to visit. But for second grade my family moved to a new neighborhood and I changed schools. At this school, the teacher only selected the "best" work and hung them up. Season after season I'd look in the cafeteria and mine were never chosen and it was heart breaking when my parents came to conferences and would say "Is something of yours up here?" And I'd be like, "Um, no."

So I pretty much gave up on art (except for my addiction to markers and doodling) until I met my husband at age 21. I was the manager of his reggae band and I used to make all kinds of beaded necklaces and bracelets to sell at his concerts. When we got married we decided we wanted to live an artful life with art, writing and music. I loved the feeling of making things with my husband and also for myself. Ever since I had my first art booth, I knew that's what I wanted to do with my life.

Who are some Daring Females who inspire you and your work? What are your other inspirations?

Like so many other artists, I adore Frida. She was such a rebel and it tickles me that she was an artist alongside her husband, just like Patrick and I. I loved the dynamic between them. I'm also inspired by novelists like Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez and Jennifer Weiner who wrote these fabulous books out of nowhere and made a life out of writing. Also, the women who founded all these wonderful community sites like Jean Railla of GetCrafty.com and Debbie Stoller of Bust, Tsia Carson of Supernaturale.com and Leah Kramer of Craftster.org, etc. I can only imagine how much time and energy they put into those web sites!

My other inspirations come from people who write me and are always asking about my next project. I feel like they've come to expect great stuff and I worry that I'll let them down so I try extra hard to whip up something cool.

I'm also inspired by family in a weird way. My husband and I are the only ones on both sides of our families who don't have fancy houses and shiny new cars. I figure if we vowed to give all that up, we better make the most of enjoying life as artists and inspiring others. For karma's sake!

I'm also inspired by my Mexican-American culture. There aren't enough cool home accessories on the market so I make my own. And then I discovered that there are many others who feel the same way.

What is the most challenging part of your work? Do you ever feel stuck and out of creative ideas? How do you get passed this creativity block?

The biggest challenge is having to always be "on". The creativity machine. By day I'm a features writer, and then I come home and write. Also at my day job Iím a crafts columnist so I have to make something new every week for people to reproduce, and then I also have to fill orders from our web site. Sometimes I get frustrated because I just want to go paint a canvas or sketch something crazy, but first I have to fulfill my responsibilities. That's why I always tell people, be careful what you ask for!

However, there are times when, even if we have a zillion orders, I'll set it all aside and paint something just for myself. I have to get that out of my system, and then usually once I do that, I can dive back into production. I'll also go read in a quiet place or take the kids out to the park with the dogs or see a movie or go shopping. After I do that, I'm ready to dive in again.

Do you enjoy writing or crafting more? What is different about each process?

It changes so often. I'm definitely a stronger crafter than a writer, but I don't let that stop me from working the keys. At my day job it's all about feature writing, present tense, second person and working two weeks ahead. Currently at home I'm working on my new novel, so it's all past tense, third person, fiction. There are times when I mix the two up! At this moment, I'm loving the fiction writing. I honestly feel in my gut that this will be my next path, so I'm working on it every moment I can.

I think it is good to just take a funky turn in your life and pick up a new hobby. Something you never thought you'd do in your wildest dreams. Something that is the complete opposite of what people expect of you. Life is too short to follow the same route day in and day out. Why not shake things up a bit and do something weird, like "Hey, I'm going to write a novel!"

At my day job, I'm surrounded with very talented writers. I used to read their pieces and get depressed because I knew I could never do such a killer job like they do. And I felt they thought that of me too. And then one day, I thought, what the heck? I'm going to prove I can be spectacular too - just in ways they never thought of. I zoned in on my strongest attributes (arts and crafts) and made the most of it from every angle possible! Now I feel like I can stand among them and they are so supportive of me and because of the whole karma thing, I like to try and motivate them to do something outside of work (like writing a book) as well.

What is the biggest creative risk you've ever taken? What is the biggest personal risk you've ever taken? What did you gain from the experience?

EVERYTHING has been a risk. Choosing this lifestyle. Every time we are strapped for cash, I think how easy it would be if we both went to work for marketing firms or a bank, etc. But then I remind myself that nothing good comes easy. We have so much to be thankful for and more goals to reach.

My biggest personal risk started last November when I began my novel. I had to give up time with Patrick and the kids, our income went down because I had stopped painting - it was hard. I finished my novel and my agent read it over the summer and gave me revisions. I went from FT to PT at my day job (scary move) so I could devote more time to it and still get some sleep. Now I'm in that fiction mode again and I know it is hard on the family. So every day I pray I'm doing the right thing and not wasting my time. Usually I can be very diplomatic and responsible, but fiction writing has become such a guilty pleasure habit. I had the same feeling when I was working on my earlier projects and they worked out great. This is the hardest, longest, scariest, mysterious project I've ever worked on, so when it *does* hit pay dirt, it will be all the more rewarding.

What do you consider to be your greatest success?

My marriage and family, by far! My husband and I work so well together and the time we spend in the studio is magic. We share stories (the same ones over and over), we talk about the latest headlines, the kids, family gossip and help each other out with our art projects. The kids see all that and know the importance of affection and communication. We are a very tight knit group!

If you weren't writing or crafting, what would you be doing?

I often think about this. It's Patrick who really motivated me in this direction. He nudged me into recognizing and celebrating my talents. I come from a family of brainiac engineers, so I always felt like the dork holding the Crayola markers. But art and writing is something I have that they don't, so I go overboard with it all! Who knows what I would be doing, perhaps marketing or PR? I think I still would have found my way to the arts though!

How do you manage to be a mom, a wife, a writer, a business woman and a crafter? What hints can you offer to other busy moms who are trying to pursue their personal goals?

The main thing is to prioritize and sacrifice. When it comes to things that take up space in my mind or schedule I ask myself "How does this fit in the big picture of my life?" Usually, I can trim off the waste that way. As far as time, my personal working hours begin when everyone is asleep. That's when I write. It's the only time I have peace and quiet. If you want to do something badly enough, you will find the time, even if it means waking up at 5 am or staying up until the late night showing of Oprah is over. If you can't do that, you don't want it badly enough...

What advice would you offer to other women who are considering pursuing their creative ideas and passions?

Keep a journal to organize all your ideas and break the list into mini-goals. And then try to knock out one mini-goal a week. It can be as small as buying a domain name or checking out a local art show.

Don't go into this business expecting to make a lot of money, it won't work. You have to do it from your heart and put passion into it, otherwise you won't be able to hang with the others that put all their passion into it!

Stop saying "Sometime I want to..." Sometime is now time! Stop putting it off and just do it already, no one is going to be watching or grading you. If you don't like how it comes out, try again. No one ever gets anything right on the first try, don't put that pressure on yourself. Expect to get crunched now and then and use emotion that to fuel your ambition to succeed.

Check out www.CraftyChica.com to learn more about Kathy and her many passions and projects.

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