I've always wanted to pen a column. And for several years, I did. It was a quarterly column about research and its impact on practice for an esoteric psychology journal. Not exactly easy reading, but it worked for the journal. I got the chance to interview psychologists about the cool research they were doing, like relationship, design psychology, and creativity research. It was all part of my plan to develop my own research career. I figured while I was reviewing their work, I could hone my own research project and perhaps even collaborate with some of them. It was a solid plan. But after I made the decision to grow my business and blog, I stopped writing the column so that I could use the time to recreate one I'd be able share with the masses. One that would allow me to interview cool people, doing cool things. That's how The Truly Profiles was born (formally known as Truly Inspired By). My plan is to interview people with a wide range of interests and careers— the only requirement is that they must have a passion for what they do. So when I came upon the work of Dr. Tiffany Tuttle, I knew I was onto something. I was thrilled to find that she was a psychologist like me and still had enough time in her day to design products and run a shop, Spazz Happy Line Design. Her self-effacing humor sets her apart and reminds us all to relax a little and not take ourselves too seriously. When I reached out to her for an interview, she couldn't have been more inviting, and agreed to do the interview immediately! Read on to see what Dr. Tiff Tutt had to say about how she balances her roles as a clinical psychologist and creative entrepreneur. And I've included pictures of her book and designs for you to peruse while reading.
TB: So you're a psychologist, blogger, shop owner, and author. Let me first start off by saying I think it's amazing you have been able to pursue so many of your passions. What motivated you to make it all happen?
TT: Thank you for the kind words, I feel the same way about you and all you seem to be juggling, with so much grace and style to boot! About pursuing multiple passions... I am able to do so because I have always enjoyed the process of creating + completion. Be it an idea, a drawing, a piece of writing, a degree, or even a batch of cookies, no matter how big or small, I genuinely derive meaning out of creating/doing and the process of completion. I'm not always fast at making things happen, and at any given moment I likely have 5 things on the burner and 3 up in the air, but being in process is part of the process, and I've learned to be patient. It was also modeled to me early on to not half-ass anything and to take pride in your work, so part of what makes "making" rewarding for me is that I take pride in and value my work. So my motivation is from the feelings of joy, value, fulfillment and validation I get when I am able to work hard, vest my energies into something, creating that "something," and completing my vision to the best of my abilities.
TB: I totally agree. Like you, I spend a lot of time doing clinical work, and while I enjoy helping others, being able to create something for people to enjoy is really important to me. Your creativity is evident not just in your designs, but also in your writing, and you've described yourself as an atypical psychologist. Share a little about what that means to you and how it shapes your work?
TT: I often describe myself as an "atypical psychologist" because I'm pretty energetic and my language is not always PC. Not that I have a filthy gutter mouth all the time, but I am known to use some pretty vivid language when describing something, or offering a client an analogy. For example, I describe my latest self-help book as "taking the 'sigh' out of 'psychology' " and being "...a toilet of enlightenment that will teach you how to flush your problems away." I am goofy and I think that comes across as non-threatening to many. I mean yes, I have my doctorate and I know when to shut up and just listen, it's not like I'm doing stand-up comedy in my therapy sessions. I know it's not about me in there, it's about my client and the work which I can have some part in facilitating so that person can heal and grow. I find that using colorful language supports the client's process sometimes. Plus being quirky and goofy is who I am and I don't know how to be any other way!
TB: Knowing who you are and what you're on about makes life so much easier, and it certainly inspires others to be themselves. I don't know many psychologists who also own a shop so you certainly are an inspiration. How do you balance your role as a psychologist with your role as a business owner? Do you find that you use your skills as a psychologist to run your business?
TT: Thank you Sarah, you are truly an inspiration as well! I find that my work as a business owner and psychologist blend well together. Since I like to "create" and "complete" as I mentioned earlier, being able to come home from a clinical day where you don't visually see tangible "results" so to speak (because growth and change happen gradually), and use my hands to make something feels good. It's also great because while I'm making my designs, I am still able to think and process ideas— creative ideas or just process things from my day. Everyday things that we all think about, family, friends, plans etc. And sometimes I just don't think about anything and I just make. Of course some thought goes into structuring my designs and mathematics are involved, but I've been doing it for so long now that many of my designs are stored as rote memory.
And yes, indeed my psychology background comes into play as a business owner because when you're in business you deal with people and all sorts of human behavior can come out! Being introspective and reflective of my own tendencies is certainly something that the study of psychology has helped me learn about. I am more aware of how to manage my own feelings when dealing with the different personalities of people who contact me. Having a handle on my feelings helps me manage questions— be they kind hearted or blatantly mean, in a respectful manner. And doing so makes me feel good. So being a psychologist has certainly enhanced my ability to manage a business, and helped me learn how to "think like a boss."
TB: I've browsed through your lovely shop, and see that you sell everything from hanging planters, to frames, to holiday décor, all of which have a geometric, modern design. What inspired you to sell these particular products? Do you design them all yourself, and are they an extension of your personal style?
TT: My inspiration comes from the beauty of simplicity and minimal decor. I also love, as in totally LOVE, mathematics and geometry. Blending my adoration for these things helped me create all the various designs I fill my shop with. I love the clean lines, the negative space, and the shadows they cast as the sun goes down. Plus, as someone who constantly has loads of ideas swimming around her head— hence Spazz Happy (!), I've found that creating symmetrical designs instills a sense of balance. I find something very soothing about looking at a piece that captures symmetry with its balanced use of equal sized pieces. Those pieces are all precisely cut by hand by me, and they help to create a kind of mental peace and clarity. I do consider them an extension of my personality style, and having lots of variety for people to select from is definitely something I sought to do, because I like options myself!
TB: That's awesome. And speaking of Awesome, Congratulations on your self-help book Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad. How did you come up with the idea for the book?
TT: Thank you! I wrote my book "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad" because I wanted to be able to reach, teach, and empower all people. Since it uses the kind of humor I referenced above (non-PC) it is tailored to someone who is open to the idea of learning more about themselves— in order to be the baddest assed version of themselves, and can also laugh at seeing the word "weenie" or "dweeb" in order to illustrate a point. My goal was to take some of the most relevant topics I cover in psychotherapy and condense them into a useful handbook to humanize psychology and self-help (ie, make it approachable and non-threatening). Whether you think therapy is great, or you're not impressed with it, this book is designed to help anyone willing to help themselves.
TB: Sometimes when we have varied interests, we tend to believe we have to pick one career because we think no one can be a psychologist AND a shop owner, AND have a family AND... [fill in your and]. What is your advice to someone who may want to pursue multiple career interests?
TT: Great question, my advice for pursuing multiple interests is GO FOR IT! I am not totally delusional, I realize there are many things in our life competing for our time and energy, and that there are only so many minutes in a day, but I also know that life without art is dull! And "art" doesn't have to mean you went to art school. Art to me is the process of creating. Planting a garden, baking, taking a picture, and other things like interior design, sewing clothes, styling yourself, painting, welding etc., all qualify. You don't have to be the best at what you do, but I encourage you to do it because you derive meaning and happiness from it. It is important to stay creative, to stay hungry and to stay unique because losing track of these things can make life so mundane. I mean, vegging out and watching movies at home with my husband is certainly a great night in my opinion, but it's balanced out by the nights I spend up until 4 because I am in the mutha f*#%ing ZONE! And being in the zone is thrilling. Whether the world notices what I create or not, the meaning I get is from the process, and the process is from within. So don't ever stop being creative- it does a body good!
TB: Woohoo! (virtual high-five). And if that doesn't make someone want to get out and make something, I don't know what will. Thanks Dr. Tiff for taking the time to share.
TT: THANK YOU so much for reaching out and taking the time to get to know me!
If you'd like to see more of Dr. Tiff Tutt's work, just click on any of the links below:
*All photos can be found in Dr. Tiff Tutt's Etsy shop