Meet Lindsay Ponta, the creator behind the Shrimp Salad Circus blog. This seasoned blogger is mostly known for her DIY projects, but you’ll also find hand-lettering, cooking, baking, and photography on her blog. Her goal is to show everyone that creativity can fit into their lifestyle no matter how busy you are and perfection is definitely NOT a must when creating.
Introduce us to you.
Hi there – I’m Lindsay Ponta, the short attention span behind the DIY and lifestyle blog Shrimp Salad Circus, where I teach busy women how to live a perfectly imperfect creative life! I live just outside Washington, DC with my husband, our daughter, two cats, and a dog. I’ve been blogging for 10 years (since before Pinterest and Instagram!) and am always elbow-deep in at least five different projects!
I’m that person *cue eyeroll* who loves to say I’ve been creating since I was big enough to hold a crayon…
But honestly, it’s true. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment that really fostered my creativity, and it’s something that stayed with me – from selling friendship bracelets from the end of my driveway at eight years old to running a pre-K art camp at 18 and everything between and since.
I started taking it more seriously when I started Shrimp Salad Circus in 2009 as a creative outlet and a place to share everything I was making.
Oh, and what do I make? Well, what don’t I make?! Kidding – mostly… But the hodge-podge factor is what has kept me in love with my blog for more than 10 years now. I make whatever my lifestyle calls for at any phase. I made jewelry and upcycled thrift store finds in my grad school days, created rental-friendly home projects before we bought our house and more permanent projects after, and now that I have a daughter I find myself creating for little ones. Hand-lettering is my constant love, though. I started with traditional pen-and-ink calligraphy and then brush lettering and now do a lot with my iPad.
I’ve always been creative, which I attribute largely to my mother. Since before I can even remember, we were constantly making – paper plate fish, salt dough ornaments, popsicle stick people – and always learning new techniques. I always had the encouragement and freedom to explore my own creativity, and that really empowered me early on.
Have you turned your passion for creating into your day job?
My creative endeavors have given me the freedom financially to stay home two days a week with my daughter – an opportunity for which I’ll be forever grateful. But I do still have a “day job,” and I love that, too. I manage social media for a national nonprofit, and I think it gives me some much-needed balance.
I won’t lie – it’s very hard to juggle a day job, my blog, and my family, but it’s so worth it! Sometimes I worry that if my creative pursuits become my career, it’ll take some of the passion out of it for me. So for now, I spend my nights and weekends doodling, crafting, and constructing away. I have a backlog of dozens of finished projects that I just haven’t found the time to edit and post, but one day I’ll catch up! *crosses fingers*
I feel most guided by trends when I’m struggling with creative block. Checking out what’s popular in magazine or on Pinterest is a great way to get the creativity flowing and catalyze new ideas.
Typically, I like to come up with projects I feel excited about and steer them my own direction, potentially letting a beautiful trend help shape it along the way. Polymer clay earrings? Throw some terrazzo on it!
What trends are you seeing pop-up right now?
There are so many trends I love right now!
I feel like there’s been a real shift recently toward all things earthy and natural: rattan, succulents, bare wood, sustainable bamboo. Bold, earthy jewel tones are giving rainbow a run for its money – rich mustard yellow, forest green, cobalt – it’s a nice change of pace from the all-white everything we’ve been seeing.
DIY bath and beauty has gone crazy recently, with everything from bath bombs and sugar scrubs to homemade makeup and hair products. With the rise of clean beauty, going the DIY route lets makers save some money while knowing exactly what’s in their beauty products.
Statement pieces continue to be huge. I’m thinking of the gallery walls of bold, abstract, organic and the bright, timeworn vintage rugs all over Instagram. Makers are block-printing or hand-dyeing textiles like curtains and bedding for big, bespoke décor. And why paint an accent wall color when you can wallpaper it or add vinyl for a bold pattern?
My fellow creatives and makers inspire me more than anything. Some of my friends and acquaintances are published authors (The Crafted Life, Delineate Your Dwelling, Flax and Twine, Lulu the Baker) television personalities (Craft Box Girls, Damask Love), and artists with their own studios and storefronts (Amanda Evanston, Bobo Design Studio). What could be more motivating than watching other women out there absolutely crushing it while doing something they love?!
Their success makes my growth and evolution as a creative and as a businesswoman feel attainable. Plus, on the days when the burnout is dialed up to 10, it’s such a breath of fresh air to celebrate somebody else’s wins!
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Don’t be afraid to try a dozen things until you find the one for you. And know that might change. It might change in a month or a year or a decade, and then you can try a dozen more until you find your next passion. I firmly believe that it’s better to love doing something than to be perfect at doing something. So if you don’t love it anymore, shift gears. Give it a break, and maybe you’ll love it again one day!
Everything teaches us to hustle all the time. We often start stressing over the next milestone without stopping to celebrate the one we’ve just reached.
Our culture has grown very numbers-driven, and I feel like it’s really impacting peoples’ mental health and wellness. I’m a recovering perfectionist trying my best to focus on balance over growth right now, but it’s a daily struggle.
So, as counterintuitive as it seems in our instant gratification world of likes and shares, I’m working not toward more followers and more views but rather toward getting back to the roots of creating. I want to want to post to Instagram. I don’t want to feel like I have to. I hope that social media and blogging will continue the shift back to its roots – to authenticity and meaningful conversation – and that the growth will just naturally follow.
So, what are my goals, then? Well, I’d love to take more of my business offline. I love to host and teach workshops and meet my readers out in the real world. I’d also love to launch some products with my lettering and illustration. So, who wants to be my new assistant?! 😉
What’s your creative mantra and why?
“Perfection is overrated.” Shrimp Salad Circus exists to empower busy women to live a perfectly imperfect, creative life because the beauty is in the satisfaction of having created something from nothing.
I’ve lived with an anxiety disorder for a long time, and I can get caught up in “perfection paralysis” and never finish a project because I’m not happy with it. Nobody should feel that way, so I’m all for the halfway-handmade and the looks-like-your-toddler-did-it handmade and the spent-more-than-it-costs-to-buy-it-because-I-messed-up-so-many-times handmade.
Life isn’t Pinterest. It’s not Instagram. It’s not perfectly curated all the time. It’s okay – hell, even fantastic! – to hang the mistakes on the wall or serve them up at parties. We need to meet ourselves and one another where we are rather than trying to one-up our last accomplishment or their current one.
I’m on a music kick from my high school and college days right now: The Postal Service, Wilco, Death Cab, Iron & Wine. My anxiety can get super amped up when I’m working late at night on a deadline. So lately I’ve been all about the mellow music and chill vibes!
When you’re not creating what are you up to?
I just got back from a trip to Portugal and Romania, which combined two of my greatest loves: my family and travel! I’ve been to 31 countries, and we’re always planning our next trip. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to do so much in my life. Travel is such a great cure for creative block, with inspiration literally around every corner.
My time at home is spent with my soon-to-be two-year-old daughter, fostering the next generation of creative chaos. Nobody can embrace imperfection quite like a toddler with a paintbrush!
Makers make the crafting world go ‘round. Are you a maker who wants to be featured on Darice? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re looking forward to meeting you!
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