LIVING PROFILE: ELENA STONAKER
How are the first hours of your mornings spent
My life is always changing and I really roll with that, so I go through periods where I will lay in bed for two hours and day dream or write. But I usually try to spend the first hours centering myself and not rushing into my day…I will make my coffee, go on a walk, that sort of thing. I feel like when you rush into your day you start your day in a panic. That is sort of the seed for your day. I give myself a chance to be inspired by what’s going on outside. Then I can slowly meander out into the world or into my studio.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given in life and then in business ?
I really struggle with the business end of things. I get by on a lot of luck thankfully. But with business I have learned a lot about reverse engineering, advice that my father gave me. He said to think about what the end goal is and then work backwards towards it, piece by piece, so you can bite the tasks off clearly. My dreams come and go and change all the time so having an end goal of sorts, even for the year or five , or even twenty years…helps me figure out how I can work out the steps.
You can get sucked into the moment and I think my motto right now is “Less Flapping more Gliding “…
Do you believe it’s possible to create your dream life and when did you realize you could create your own?
Totally - the first thing is to understand what your dream is. Once you have a clear understanding on what that is then you can , like I said , work backwards to make it happen. Also the attitude you have really helps with creating that dynamic.
I think I have always known I would live unconventionally. I always knew I would be an artist but I think that my attitude towards what that looks like has changed within the last five years. Growing up in Colorado, people feel you have to do things a certain way. Like, I would have to be a teacher to be an artist, or work in a restaurant, or do something else on the side. I always figured out ways to work around that. I am the best at being broke, haha. So I knew how to navigate. I figured it’s best to use my time towards my art rather than on someone else's clock. Once I shifted my idea that I had to do it on the side, I realized that there are a million ways to be creative. I think over the last year I have allowed myself to dream bigger. Why wouldn’t I allow myself to imagine how big and beautiful my life could be? I think I am letting go of a lot of self doubts on what I can have or deserve. I have had a lot of opacity on doing my work on which defines me but I am shifting on the size of what I can achieve. We are our worst nemesis. Fear holds us back on what we can do or achieve.
Does human interaction play a big part on what brings you joy in your work?
Hell yeah, for sure. I think that is one of the biggest things that brings me joy. I will spend so much time alone. The process is so tedious, though I don’t mind it, it’s hard! My body is getting more and more resistant to it too so having moments where I get excited when I make a piece that I know will be received with fun makes me happy. I do a lot of side winks in my work in hopes people will laugh. A lot of people will touch the work because it’s soft. It’s for hugging and holding, so seeing people really dive in there and have and experience it is really special for me. My pieces absorb a lot of energy so when people get to be around them, you watch them change a little. My work is very much something bigger than me. I don't try to claim it, I am a vessel for it to be let out so I get to share this energy that is coming through me. It’s really special.
What do you hope to achieve through your work?
I think that anything is possible. The mantra that “anything is possible”. Just by being a ridiculous person and by making ridiculous things. Both beautiful and bizarre things. I want people to shift their attitudes a bit, get out of the grind.
So then what does success mean for you?
I think it is moving towards happiness and being fulfilled. Feeling like I am spending as much of my time contributing from the bottom part of myself up. Learning how to feed into shifting conscienceness , human evolution into a positive direction from the moment that I wake up and until I sleep. I think that’s my whole lifetime process. I think success is really following your bliss and learning that that can change and accepting wanting different things at different times of your life.
Do you feel consumers are shifting in wanting to be more connected in how they are spending their time and money?
Yeah, I mean there is such a polarity because there is such a huge culture of throw away minds, and then I see such a beautiful shift in craft and farming, and seeing where the whole process comes from. I try to focus my energy in supporting that movement of conservation. I am encouraged to see that that shift is happening.
Was there a fear you had to get over in order to turning your work into a business?
Yeah there is always a handful of fears, but once I made the leap I realized the more important work will take care of you. The biggest fears are always in the stability of things. Like can I pay my rent, can I eat food that is good for me..the survival stuff. But there wasn't many other fears that would stop me. Honestly I am much more afraid of living in a way that isn’t supporting what I love to do.
Is there any advice you’d give to others following their own passionate lifestyle?
I think to follow your own intuition. I think we are so programmed to be so intellectual about everything. I think learning to see what feels good for you and trusting that is important. There have been times when I have looked at what others had to do in order to be successful and then I have attempted to follow that but then feel shitty realizing that isn’t me, it’s not how I want to do it. Then if I have an idea that is my own, it feels good even if it practically makes no sense but I follow it and it works. We are taught that everything has to be so hard and I don’t think things actually have to be. I believe we should work hard but things don’t have to be. Follow the path of least resistance. If doors are slamming in your face go a different direction. Don’t get discouraged, just go a different way. You really cannot depend on anyone else, you have to love yourself first. Figure out what the hell that means.