When you see big time work for big time players, it's easy to jump to conclusions thinking there's a team of designers, copywriters, project managers, accountants, creative directors, etc. However, little do we know that sometimes behind the scenes pulling strings is a one man / one woman army wearing each hat kicking out mountains of highly crafted work.
Usually these are just normal blue collared beings with a superhero drive to make shit happen in their lives. Their tenacity is fueled by family, bills, coffee and in this case, Bourbon.
If you’re a sucker for branding, typography and want some guidance in slaying great work for great clients then buckle your seat belts as Austin Dunbar of Durham Brand & Co. joins us today on the show.
Austin has a gritty and delicately crafted style and his typography, compositions and texture game is on another planet. Let’s just say he’s not human but he works for brands us humans recognize like Hershey’s, Adobe, Michelob, Pop-Tarts and a few thou shall not be named but they are heavy hitters.
In this fast pace episode we peel the layers back on:
The road to making a name for yourself is seldom smooth and sunny sailings. There are treacherous open waters and plenty of storms one will deal with along the way. While someone you look up to is crushing it by sharing their gift with the world, you have no idea what they overcame to get to this point.
Sometimes you get stuck in a shitty situation and it takes kind people to lift you up and invest in you. From there, you're hopefully able to see what they saw in you. You eventually learn the importance of self-belief and having a drive that allows you to remove the limits we so often place on ourselves.
We need the adversity to fuel our drive to navigate these open waters. The more you show up and invest in yourself, the more you'll find value in what you do and how you can provide it to others. This is a huge part of what allows us to thrive as creatives and use our gift to make an impact on people.
This leads me to today's guest. James Lewis is a hand letterer, logo and type designer, social media influencer, workshop leader, public speaker and all at the age of 22 out of Cardiff, Wales.
He’s amassed a large social audience while managing the popular Ligature Collective Instagram page that’s amassed over ¼ million followers.
James is wise beyond his years but his successful hot start out of university didn’t happen overnight. His incredible story of losing both his parents and being legally homeless at the age of 14 molded James into a driven individual. This drive allows him to combine his passion for creating and surgically finding a need for it in the world.
James has an infectious personality and in the episode, we dive deep into:
And that’s just a snippet of everything we cover.
So put on your life jackets and hold on tight James brings a ton of energy to this fast-paced episode.
Are you the type of person who wings shit each day and wonders why you're not making consistent progress?
If you are, it's okay because this used to be me too.
Over the past four years, I've slowly gotten to the point where I approach each day with intention like Tony Diaz mentioned in episode 52. Each day I have a focused plan of attack and I'm always going for the jugular.
Hands down, the biggest question I get asked by people on my newsletter, Facebook group, emails or social media is: "How do I find balance and make time to work on Perspective-Collective with a day job, wife and other commitments?"
By no means am I even remotely close to being an expert at time management and productivity, but I've found what works and doesn't work for me. I hope what I share can help you find what works for you.
The following are the five biggest tips that got me the biggest results in pursuing my side hustle:
When we get started, it's easy to fall victim to comparison and feel like you're not doing enough when you see someone else crushing it.
Often, our ambition is larger than reality and we think we have to eat a whole pizza in one bite.
While it's great you want to start a blog, a podcast and add video all at once, I think it's best to slow your (pizza) roll. I feel you're biting more than you can chew and setting yourself up for defeat if you're:
When I started over 4 years ago, it was simply posting drawings consistently on Instagram. Once I locked down that process I took on blogging. I slowly added a newsletter on top of that. Two years later I added the podcast and somewhere in between, I would take on some freelance.
I suggest taking things slow and steady as you don't have to climb Mt. Everest in a day. Start with one bite at a time with realistic expectations even if it's only 30 minute to and hour a day.
A little bit each day adds up.
Once you lock down your process, take a bigger bite and add the next thing to your plate.
I've learned the most successful people don't just roll out of bed and just shit productivity. They schedule their success.
When I stopped winging it and actually planned my daily attack, it made decision making so much easier. While I still over commit myself from time to time, saying NO is slowly becoming a secret weapon.
Here's how I plan my attack.
Sundays I jot down in my planner all the tasks I need to get done in the week and when they need completed by. I then prioritize them with the A1 Steak Sauce Method.
Throughout the week, I plan that A1 category task the night before which I share later in My Weekday Routine section.
I've always been a night owl, but waking up early has been the key to my productivity the last few years.
The book My Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is definitely a worthwhile read if you need a kick in the ass to try it.
I believe in doing the most important task first that will scale my business when I have the most willpower.
The most important tasks for me that require the most willpower usually revolve around writing or editing for the podcast, workshops or speeches.
Working a day job and opening myself up to the world's distractions takes a massive toll on my willpower. There's no way I have the focus nor desire to do my best writing when I punch out.
Getting up early and eating the worm sucked in the beginning and can still be hard today. However, I started slowly getting up 10 minutes earlier each week which helped me adjust.
Working before the world wakes up provides the best focus for me and I usually devour that A1 task before I get to work at 7am.
That productivity high is addicting and makes getting up early easier when you see the progress.
Playing Uno is just a fun way of saying focus on doing one thing each day that will help get you the most results.
Looking at a massive to-do list can be overwhelming and can paralyze you from taking any action.
By focusing on doing the one thing (generally the A1 task) you planned the night before, it makes things more objective and manageable.
When you knock out that one thing, you will no doubt feel accomplished. If you have leftover margin time aside from life priorities like family and work, you can then proceed to attack your A2 task or B1 task.
I can't recommend enough reading / listening to the books The One Thing by Gary Keller and Essentialism by George McKeown. These two will definitely help you sort out what's most important to focus on.
It's so easy for us to get distracted as we've become addicted to checking our phones, computers and tv's so we don't miss out on anything and everything.
When it's grind time, I eliminate all distractions so I can get into the zone.
For me, I kill all notifications on my phone in general except for texts in case of emergency. You do not need social media notifications on your phone. That shit will distract you from keeping the main thing the main thing!
I always have Do Not Disturb mode set on my phone from 9pm - 6am so nothing bugs me while I try to wind down through when I eat the worm and play Uno. I'll even turn it on when I need to practice a speech, record the podcast or get lost in a drawing.
If you're looking for more ways to cut distractions, I highly recommend reading or listening to Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Everyone is different and no one's life is the same. This is what works for me and I'm always fine tuning it and open to new suggestions.
Maybe your willpower is best at night with the type of work you focus on? That's totally cool.
I think the most important thing is to be intentional, schedule your success and attack each day with focus. We need to gut check ourselves and seriously consider how badly do we want to make things happen in our lives?
It's possible to make time to work on yourself and your creative dream. Maybe you need to chill on the Netflix binging and mindless hours scrolling through social media?
If you're solo dolo in life, there is little to no excuse for finding and making time.
However, with having a significant other and a family, communication is key. I've learned it's hard for them to support you if you don't:
There's probably more but these are the hard lessons I've learned along the way that can save you a lot of fighting. 😊
It's going to take some experimentation, determination and enthusiasm to figure out what works for you.
Remind yourself that this is a marathon. Strap in, buckle down and enjoy attacking your creative side hustle.
You have a lot of cool shit to create and great people to impact ahead of you.
In life, you often have to experiment over and over again until you find the right thing that works for you. Some may refer to this as failing while others refer to it as progress.
You may find "your thing" at a young age or you may discover it randomly later in life. Whenever or whatever it may be, it's never too late to find that thing that lights you up that can be shared with others.
This is how it happened with today's guest, Ian Barnard. Ian is a letterer, calligrapher, workshop leader and content creator out of the UK. Not to mention an amazing human being who pours himself into our community and would give you the shirt off his back.
I’ve watched Ian grow his audience from a few thousand to over 200k. He’s a wizard at audience building and creating viral videos, but he’s 100% open about his process and sharing his tips and tricks through his Youtube and Instagram tutorials and his Honest Designers Podcast.
He has an incredible story of how he went from getting by in freelance to making a self-sustaining passive income by creating products that help creatives like you and me elevate their work.
Side note: I created the episode artwork with his Chalk Dust Procreate Lettering Kit.
In this episode we discuss:
If you’re looking to grow your audience and make your work stand out than this episode is for you.
When you hit rock bottom and are backed into a corner, you’re forced to make a choice.
How do you respond?
I feel it's easier to throw in the towel then it is to raise up and face adversity. It's take a lot of guts to get back up and attack life from a new direction.
Then you have Lenny Terenzi, who's went from extreme highs, to extreme lows only to climb his way back up to the top. Not only has he made a huge name for himself in the creative industry, but he shares his story and his Professor Dumbledore like wisdom alongside it.
Lenny is an expert at branding, illustration, screen printing, teaching workshops, speaking, organizing events and whatever else you can think of, he probably does it. He's a pretty squirrely and lovable character who operates under the name Hey Monkey Design.
Not only has he been a huge role model to me, but he has zero issues opening up and being transparent in order to help someone else avoid the mistakes he’s made.
In this episode we chat about:
If you think someone can find value in this episode please give it a share on social media. It’s because of your word of mouth that the show keeps growing and you know I love you for it.
Sometimes there is more going on behind the scenes than you could possibly imagine.
While many people see only see the surface, it's those putting in the work when no one's watching that really get ahead in life. My guests today are a shiny example of putting in the hours behind the scenes and it's paying off.
Hold onto your biscuits as today I have the most bad ass female lettering duo in the game, Roxy Prima and Phoebe Cornog. You know them as Pandr Design Co. where they crush branding, murals, speaking and teaching. They are also the hosts of the popular Drunk on Lettering Podcast where they interview the biggest letterers in the game and show the personalities behind the work all while being drunk.
Genius I know right?
Behind their upbeat and entertaining personalities you see plastered on your social media, these two ladies grind harder than most of the creatives I know. They set massive goals, work their asses off and inject an entertaining and much needed spark into the creative community and industry.
In this episode, we go deep in the weeds of:
You’re going to be blown away by listening to how much work these girls actually put in and how they achieve results.
Sometimes we get down on ourselves and lose our way. Today's episode is in response to an Instagram friend of mine named Gosha Bondarev. To wrap some context around this, Gosha is a young illustrator and letterer from Saint Petersburg, Russia who aspires to be a full-time freelancer. I've watched him amass a following over 20k followers in the 1-2 years.
While someone may have a large follower count, this doesn't always translate into confidence and happiness. With Gosha's permission, the following is a message he sent me reaching out for advice followed by my response.
Note: I decided to write out a more thoughtful response for this episode based on the raw audio file I sent him which you can listen to here.
While I can't respond with audio to each person who sends me an email or message, I felt particularly called to respond to this one as it felt like my old self-talking through him.
I hope this wave of vulnerability and encouragement hits you when you need it most.
Hey man. Sorry if I am bothering you, but I need advice. I re-listened to episode #25 again because I wasn't able to do anything creative for the last month. After that, I felt like I should ask you.
The ugly truth is that I gave up, I started learning programming because it seems that I need some valuable skills to pay the bills. I have some pictures to post on Instagram from the last year but I'll run out of them soon and not sure what to do next.
I'm realizing that maybe four years of hustling is enough to understand this area isn't for me. I don't fit in here because I see what others are doing and how much more creative and interesting their stuff is. I feel I'm only progressing in using Instagram a little better but my drawing skills are on the same level as years go by.
I'd rather I realize it as soon as possible and try to apply myself in a different area. I asked a couple of friends from the creative industry and they tell me that, "If I'm not sure I want to do it than it's probably not for me."
I know that I should decide it by myself but I was hoping you'd have something to say.
Gosha, I'm glad you're able to be vulnerable and trust me not to judge you. What's funny is that I deal with this inner voice of doubt every day as I push the limits of my creative dream.
I feel sometimes we get to a point where we suffocate our dreams because we expect so much from ourselves. It causes us to not only lose sight of what we love doing in the first place but maybe miss the signs the universe is trying to guide us towards.
When I started Perspective-Collective almost 4 years ago, I had my heart set on becoming a full-time freelancer. I wanted financial freedom, time freedom and the bragging rights of working with the biggest names in the industry.
I saw people older and younger than me living out this dream. While I held and still hold a day job, it was hard to see past the $50 logo commissions people were willing to pay me. This slowly killed my freelance dreams.
However, I'm lucky that somehow I caught a sign from the universe and I began blogging. I've mentioned this before but blogging radically changed things in my career, even though my blog never blew up.
As I've made progress, this new path created new challenges and provides new waves of negative thoughts. I'm most envious of people like Andy J. Miller who hosts an incredible podcast for creatives as he has seemed to find his voice and unique artistic style. Not to mention his client list speaks for itself, but Andy has probably dealt with these same struggles finding his way.
I realize these moments of doubt and comparison are normal. Yet dwelling in them suffocates the passion making me forget why I do this in the first place.
I do this because I fucking love to create and I am passionate about pushing people to find their best creative selves. It's the coach in me that has lived on after football.
So I ask you, why did you pursue art in the first place?
Did you put pencil to paper in the beginning to land a client?
I highly doubt it.
You're incredibly talented, young and full of potential. It seems from my perspective that you're putting so much pressure on yourself to have each post land you a client that you're killing the fun.
Who knows, maybe you need a small break from art just to refresh and refocus. This is totally okay and it's totally normal. Maybe take a month off to pursue other interests.
Whatever you do, I feel very strongly that you'd regret quitting when you're on your deathbed. You have too much talent to throw in the towel and honestly, I'd be disappointed in you for wasting your gift.
You never know who you could've impacted with that next post that was never published.
If you're like me, you enjoyed Instagram in the beginning because you loved creating and you posted because it meant something to you. You created and shared because you found joy in it.
Somehow things shifted. We now post because we need the engagement, affirmation or job inquiries to feel worthwhile and purposeful as an artist.
Maybe you do need a day job like programming that can pay the bills. I rock a day job and while it makes me discredit myself sometimes, I know it's fueling the means to pursue Perspective-Collective without the financial stress.
I should note, don't just get a job in a field because it'll net you the most money. Usually, that comes at a cost of killing the passion and adding more pressure. Get a job delivering pizza if it means you can still come home and find time and enjoyment in creating.
When you do find your groove again and want to attract clients, here's a few things I'd do differently.
First off, have a legit website that is a hub for all Gosha on why they should hire you. Show off your personality and show the work you want to attract. Right now, Behance and Instagram are your tools but you need a home base that doesn't rely on a social platform as you are playing by there rules.
Next, maybe do some type of outreach. It may be uncomfortable but hit people up locally that could use your services and offer them out pro bono at first. I did my first 3 murals for free before I attracted paid gigs. It sucked but it was worth it in the long run.
Make sure to document the process from beginning to end. Not only should you share it on your social platforms but take it another step further and create case studies on your site. This will allow future clients to see your process and how you get an end result.
Finally, always remember that the inner critic is going to attempt to convince you that you don't have what it takes. Other people may agree with the critic and tell you maybe this isn't for you. I say fuck 'em.
I have to talk myself off the edge from quitting all the time. It's all apart of taking the shit in stride which makes you appreciate the sunny days when things go right.
You certainly have what it takes and you've barely scratched the surface of what you'll accomplish down the road.
Maybe full-time freelance isn't in the cards for you like it's not in the cards for me anytime soon? That's totally okay.
Don't let the inner critic block you from seeing the signs the universe could be sending you.
Whatever you do, don't forget why you began creating in the first place as that's what matters most.
Much love from Iowa,
I get it, sometimes it's hard to show your true self in your work. We live in a world where we are taught that hyper-curation is the key to success.
However, what if people want to know the human behind the account?
What if a business wanted to hire a specific personality for their brand that created that work?
I think these are strong questions you should ask yourself to see if that is the missing factor in building your brand. This can also help attract an audience that cares not only just for your work, but for you as well.
Someone who I think is an absolute pro at this is my friend Adam Vicarel who operates Vicarel Studios out of Denver, CO. He's amassed a large audience from his design, direction and outdoors vibe he pours into his lettering and branding.
Adam and I go back to the early days of Instagram lettering where both of our work was dog shit. We become good friends over the years and I've watched him blossom to a point where he's full-time freelance landing clients like Lennox Air and Sharpie to name a few. He also does public speaking and teaches lettering workshops all while making sure he has ample enough time to disconnect from the daily hustle to enjoy life at a slow pace traveling.
I felt spoiled and humbled to have this conversation as he vomits a heavy dose of value that I know you'll enjoy as much as I did.
In this episode, we dive deep into:
Also, be sure to follow him on Instagram and say hello. He's quite the pleasant fellow.
In a world clouded in a mist of negativity, sometimes you find a bright pocket of positivity. That bright pocket (really I'm thinking hot pocket) of positivity is no other than the terrific trio of the Master of One Podcast.
I met Luke, Patrick and Andrew a few years back at Creative South as they had a sign-up sheet that filled up fast for podcast spotlights. These jolly souls bring a lot of niche knowledge from their respective sources of mastery.
Every week they bring you the latest in games, design and film from their world and they have some of the biggest names in the creative industry drop by to share their process and advice.
Listen each Tuesday as they talk about the latest happenings around the community and what cool new items you should be spending your money on. Then listen again on Thursday when they talk with a guest celebrity artist from one of our industries.
Not only will this be entertaining because these dudes love to give each other shit, but In this episode we discuss:
I have no doubt you'll enjoy what they guys put into the world. Definitely, check out the Master of One Podcast and continue the conversation with them in their Slack Channel.
Content tells stories and everyone has a story and has the ability to tell a story. The means are there to learn. Find the best way that YOU can tell a story whatever medium that may be.
If you're a content creator and this doesn't set you on fire to make something that matters than what the hell is wrong with you?!
My buddy Ben Hagarty, aka BenRealVsWorld knows a thing or two about creating content. He’s been creating content on Youtube before it was big and now he’s in LA as a content creator for the likes of Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, EA Sports and Madden Football.
I could keep that list going but you get the point, he's the real deal.
Ben is a local legend in my stomping grounds of Cedar Falls, IA. He's a role model when it comes following your dream and taking a risk when you catch a glimpse of what you’re capable of creating.
From creating music in his parent's basement to crashing on air mattresses that needed bubble gum to fill holes, the road to where he is today hasn’t been easy. It's been a slow and steady climb and I guarantee he'd have it no other way.
He’s an insanely talented individual but most importantly, a humble down to earth dude who doesn’t forget he came from a little town in bum fuck Iowa.
In this episode we talk about:
Ready for some down to earth advice and have your face melted with mind-bending letterforms? If so, you're in for a treat as I have a very special guest on the show today none other than Mark Caneso.
Side note: I'm currently loving the shit out of his custom Apple Pencil wraps.
Not only does Mark create amazing typefaces you can find on Adobe Typekit like Hatch, Quatro or Neplus, but he’s made a name for himself pushing letters to the extreme.
His Instagram will make your brain hurt in the all right ways with his ambigrams, encrypted messages and wild experiments.
Not only is he crazy talented, but he’s a genuine down to earth guy who shows you behind the scenes of his process which I highly respect.
In today’s episode, Mark gives you a permission slip to:
I think you're going to find a lot of value in this episode. I was a sponge the entire time and there were multiple areas I found that I can push my boundaries more instead of playing it safe.
When you're done listening, ask yourself how you can take that piece of work you created and push it to the next level?
What did you accomplish in 2017?
Did you build or work on something you can be proud of?
If so, you have a chance to build on that momentum in 2018.
If not, you have a clean slate to get your hands dirty and put in work.
I say it all the time, but you have insane amounts of potential buried inside you. Yet the road to mining it won't be easy.
You're gonna deal with plenty of shit to get to the sunshine as mentioned in last week's episode.
This year is your opportunity to rise up to the challenge of taking initiative, being prepared to say yes and knowing when to say no.
Opportunities are out there to be had, but they won't knock if you haven't built a door. This one is straight from Tony Diaz of Industry Print Shop on episode 56.
It all boils down to being proactive instead of reactive.
I wouldn't be where I am today had I not gotten uncomfortable and started sharing my art on Instagram.
I'd be stuck in my last miserable day job had I not busted my ass working outside of work to build a stellar portfolio.
You can't sit around expecting opportunities to be wrapped up in a Gucci bow and gracefully fall into your lap.
Nothing in life worth having comes easy and to achieve something you've never had, you have to be willing to do something you've never done.
Creating your own luck by building a door looks like:
Get out of the bitching and complaining business. Be proactive, hire yourself and join the door building business.
Back in June 2015, I took the initiative and started blogging. To be honest, I sucked ass in the beginning, but little did I know I was launching my public speaking career.
Only a year into blogging, I was offered my first speaking gig by my good friend Diane Gibbs in February 2016. Diane is a door builder for other people and she makes things happen. The opportunity she gave me was a keynote at a conference called Flourish in Mobile, AL with attendance ranging from 100-150 people.
When she asked if I was interested, every bone in my body wanted to scream out "no."
Looking back on it now, this was a monumental moment in my creative career. If I would've declined the challenge, I wonder where I would be today?
Thankfully I said yes as I practiced my ass off and gave a solid first speech.
A few weeks later I got a call from Mike Jones, the creator of Creative South. He offered me a speaking slot at a conference that sells out at 800 people each year. Again, every bone in my wanted to scream no, but I rose to the challenge.
Blogging and speaking have since led to teaching workshops on how to prepare and give a killer talk.
Side note: I'll be teaching a workshop on this both at Creative South and Crop Conference in 2018.
If you're showing up and investing time into your self and your work, you're bound to manifest some opportunities. The question is, will you be prepared to act on them?
Something valuable I learned in 2017 was the power of saying no, even though I wasn't the best at applying it.
Simply put, "if it's not a Hell Yes, it's a definite Hell No."
That's an easy way to measure opportunities that come your way you'd think?
However, I got to a point where so many things felt like a Hell Yes. This caused me to grind myself to exhaustion and neglect relationships.
November was a hard lesson learned as I:
This was all outside a 40 hour day job too. While these all seemed like Hell Yes opportunities, I could've said no to a few of them for the sake of my sanity.
Learning when to say no to a great opportunity isn't easy. It's hard to see past it and realize this isn't the last opportunity that'll come your way.
Something I'm also applying is writing down a short list of focus priorities within a season. In Q1 of 2018, my focus is solely on building the podcast and delivering killer speeches in February and March.
That means saying no to great freelance opportunities, teaching lettering workshops and anything else that pops up.
Knowing what's most important to focus on should hopefully make saying no to Hell Yes opportunities a little easier.
No matter where you are on your creative path, I hope you constantly mine for that potential buried within you.
Stop looking for the easy trail and seek out mountains to climb in 2018.
It all boils down to how badly do you want it and what are you prepared to do to make it happen?
Rise up to whatever challenges come your way this year. Prepare for your opportunities that manifest from climbing mountains.
Remember, don't expect a damn thing in this world to be handed to you. Stake your claim and take it.
Wanna know one thing that terrifies me? It's looking back a year later and realizing I made no significant growth in my life.
For me, the best way I know how to measure this is by setting goals, reflection and by documenting or journaling it—whatever you want to call it.
2017 was a massive mind fuck yet it provided some of the best highlights of my young creative career. I like to call this shit and sunshine.
One month I'd feel depressed and worthless. The next month I'd feel loved and fulfilled.
There were plenty of times I felt lost and hopeless only to turn around the next week and feel driven and hopeful.
2018 is going to be a massive year, I can feel it but it'll have its challenging times...especially when I turn the big dirty 30.
Something I want to encourage you to is to take the shit in stride so you can appreciate the sunny days when things go right. Take a moment to reflect, celebrate and even document if it helps you see the growth.
Ensuing are 12 lessons I learned in 2017. I know for a fact some of these will benefit you too.
I grew up terrified of sharing my work. However, getting uncomfortable and sharing my work through Instagram at the age of 25 changed my life. From there it challenged me in blogging, speaking, teaching and podcasting.
In 2017 especially, I started intentionally seeking or taking on opportunities that not only challenged me but scared the shit out of me.
If something you want to do scares you, I believe it's your intuition pulling you towards the person you're supposed to become.
They say it's not about what you know, but who you know. This is a hard fact. Yet many people approach this in a skeezy car salesman fashion.
Don't, I repeat don't see people as connections and stepping stones. Pour your full self into a relationship. Find ways you can provide value to them without expecting anything in return.
Be a good listener, encourage others, share others work or provide insight / advice whenever you can.
You have no idea what that relationship or interaction can lead to. You could make a lifelong friend, a customer, a brand ambassador or even get hired by them someday down the road.
Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. You can't whine and complain that people don't notice what you're doing when you're showing up only when it's convenient.
You have to stay in front of people especially on platforms where the attention is at.
Focus on kicking out content, building influence and finding your voice a minimum of once a week.
The catch is to enjoy what you create, pour your most authentic self into it and discover how you can deliver value.
Your goal isn't shit until you write it down. Amplify that goal by attaching a deadline to it.
Writing your goal down adds a new level of accountability and adding a deadline creates urgency.
Make your goal measurable by having milestones along the way so you can track your progress (i.e. 5 speaking gigs by mid-December = 1.25 per quarter).
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is crucial.
I'm extremely good at prioritizing and scheduling my day. Essentially I thrive on chaos—or so I think.
My top weakness is having Superman Syndrome. I feel like I can do everything which results in above average results, unnecessary stress and neglecting people who matter most.
I'm aware of this more than ever now, but acting on it in 2018 is the next step. I'm a constant WIP and Doing Less But Better while focusing on the essentials is my main objective.
When you invest in yourself it'll either be with money or time. Money isn't always available but you can always create more time to invest in yourself and your future.
When money is available, you know I'm all about seeking out conferences, workshops or events whether locally or out of city or state.
Money will also help you pay for online courses, books, new equipment, etc.
When money isn't abundant, you'll need to invest your time. For example, listening to free resources like podcasts, watching tutorials on YouTube or reading articles or blogs on the interwebs.
Investing time into daily practice is really the key to benefiting the most out of your money or other time investments.
This is a big one I'm guilty of in 2017. I've been bitching about the Instagram algorithm all year. My "following" actually decreased pretty significantly even though I was consistent, increased quality and value.
Instead of nutting up, adapting and evolving with the platform, I complained publicly, especially on social media.
Over the last month, I've done my research, changed my strategy and started growing again. However, it took investing time and being open to change.
The only thing certain in life is that things will always change, will you be the person complaining or evolving?
In my first year of lettering on Instagram, I sought out other artists to collaborate with that had similar audience sizes to mine.
It taught me how to be proactive and work with someone on the other side of the globe. Mostly, it showed me the value of tapping into each other's audiences.
In 2017, I had the opportunity to team up with Deneen Pottery in Minnesota. They had a massive coffee mug enthusiast community which I was oblivious to. We had back-to-back mug releases of 200 then 400, all which sold out in 30 minutes and 20 minutes.
Not only have they acquired business and followers from my audience, but I've been able to tap into this coffee community and build some amazing relationships.
They've not only become friends, but many of them have supported my cat and pizza-related products as well.
Keep in mind that collaborations should always share a mutual benefit.
What value is each party providing the other?
Remember that when you reach out to someone for future collabs.
This one ties into self-awareness as I noticed my circle of local friends was getting smaller and smaller in 2017.
When you become laser focused and obsessed with your dream, you tend to forget and neglect those around you. This is something I'm guilty of with my family and my closest friends as I mentioned in Episode 48.
If someone comes to mind you haven't talked to in awhile, reach out and reconnect with them. Ask them to coffee or jump on a FaceTime call.
Don't get so wrapped up in your internet life that you lose sight of your real life.
I've been trying to find my voice for a few years now. Early on, I mimicked the voice of people who had a heavy influence on me.
I'm a complete goofball but that rarely shines through in my writing and speaking. Yet it's all too easy to show in my artwork hence why I draw so much pizza—it's fun and allows me to not take myself too seriously.
Finding what makes you unique and embracing your weird quirks will help you rise above the noise.
Try to not take yourself too seriously all the time and let your freak flag fly.
It's okay to not pigeonhole yourself into one specific set style to work in. Having a perfectly hyper-curated Instagram feed isn't necessary but if it works for you that's great.
I'm consistently inconsistent and over time I realize that's okay and is a style in itself.
Don't be afraid to color outside the lines and switch things up.
This should go without saying but you're gonna get a lot farther in life by being a kind person.
I know dick heads can excel, but that doesn't have to be you.
Choose to be empathetic, encouraging, respectful and appreciative. I feel these are the true ingredients for accomplishing great things while enjoying your life and the people in it.
For me, documenting and journaling my progress helps me see where I was, where I am now and where I'm going.
As you close out 2017, I want to challenge you to look back on the year and see where you made growth. Also, acknowledge areas of where you can improve.
If your year is like mine, it's a mixture of shit and sunshine. I'm pretty sure that's how it supposed to be to keep us humbled and challenged.
Whatever growth you had or wish to see in 2018, focus on putting your best self into your work and get after shit.
Oh ya, and don't be a dick.
How many times in life have you felt that internal urge to pursue something yet you're hesitant because it differs from what you currently do?
Sometimes it's okay to be a jack or jill of all trades instead of a master of one.
Each one of us is a passion weaver and each passion thread we weave has a similar underlying structure to it all?
Maybe it's just our job to connect the dots and see how everything aligns together?
This is a deep concept but it makes so much sense if you think about it.
This week I want to present to you Dominique Falla, HBIC of the Typism Global Lettering Community. It has blossomed into a massive Instagram account, a conference, a book and an online summit which you’ll hear more about in the show.
She’s also a Passion Weaver, Speaker, Author, Typographer and has completed tactile string typography commissions for brands like Google, Bing, Penguin, Random House and Woolworths, among others.
She will have a new book called Creative Fitness coming out in 2018.
Dominique is a straight up rock star and some of the things we cover in today's episode are:
This is just the tip...of the iceberg that is of what we talk about in this episode.
I have no doubt you're going to want to take on the world after listening to this one.
Typism originated from the idea that Dominique went to a conference to see Seb Lester. She found the other speakers all boring and wondered what it'd be like to host a conference of 7-8 Seb Lesters?
Behold the Typism conference which started in 2013. It followed an every other year fashion following in 2015 and 2017.
After speaking and teaching a workshop at Creative South in 2017, she decided she wanted to go all out and make Typism an annual event.
Each Typism accompanies a book that typically is based on worldwide artists submissions. They are then put through the ringer of judges which leads to a curated book full of quality lettering and calligraphy.
Typism 2018 will be held in August at the Gold Coast. You can get your tickets here.
When you catch a big break, it usually means a little bit of luck was sprinkled in the mix. However, sometimes in order for you to have an opportunity to be lucky, you have to build your own door to be knocked on or down.
That's the case today with guest Tony Diaz. Tony is the head honcho of the artist-run, award-winning screen print shop specializing in apparel and flatstock, Industry Print Shop in Austin, TX. They work with some of the biggest names in the industry like Goodtype, Morning Breathe, James Victore and Draplin to name a few.
While it says printshop in their name they do far more than that as they are in the business of creating experiences for creatives like you and me. Tony and his crew are also in the business of building doors as you heard in the intro sound byte which we dive deeper into on this episode.
He’s a punk rocker turned screen printer turned business owner. Not only does he have an incredible story to tell but he has a ton of wisdom and bravado to motivate you to keep pushing your work to the next level.
In this episode we talk about:
Listen to the end of the episode to hear how you can get a fat ass discount on their website which is loaded with some killer merch.
It’s funny how a change of events can spark a radical shift for the better in your life. Dustin Lee went from rock bottom and desperation to kicking out amazing vintage based designer products for creatives under his business Retro Supply Co. His shop specializes in brushes, textures and fonts inspired by historic vintage materials. That's just the tip of the iceberg.
Dustin found a need in the world and invested the extra effort in order for his products to stand out on Creative Market. The rest is history he changed his life with a new source of passive income.
Over the years, he's carved out a niche in this field by giving talks and teaching workshops on building side income with your creative projects. The response was so massive that he eventually created a side brand called Passive Income for Designers which is structured around his newsletter and Facebook Group.
In a competitive world where people tend to keep knowledge to themselves, Dustin goes all out and shares it all. He is also a co-host on the growing Honest Designers Podcast where he and 3 other creative talk about business insights and how they push each other to the next level.
In this episode we talk about:
All listeners of this episode are gifted with a coupon code for 30% OFF your first order on his Retro Supply Co. website. Use PIZZAROLLS30 and take advantage of everything he has in his shop, including bundles!
Keep an eye out for his workshops or speaking gigs in 2018. In the meantime, connect with him via social media, his newsletters, podcast or Facebook Group below in the show notes section.
After college, I went through 3 years aimlessly drifting. During that span, I almost quit on art and thought fitness would be my profession. Throughout that year and a half experiment of personal training, I saw a world that mimics the creative world you and I operate in.
Many of my clients or gym attendees were looking for a quick fix. Most wanted something that could manifest immediate results with little effort.
They were searching for that magic fat burning pill that'll melt away that stubborn extra flab from eating too many plates at Thanksgiving. It was hard to hear the truth that "70% of any fitness goal is what you put into your body with the other 30% being exercise and resistance training."
The same principle applies to your creative career. There is no magic pill that is going to make your Youtube video or Instagram drawing go viral.
There may be best practices, but there's no quick fix or guarantee.
Like any fitness goal, building a successful creative career takes time.
It may be tough to hear but these three things are meant to encourage you to enjoy the slow and steady grind you're about to endure as a creative.
Your creative empire isn't a microwaveable tv dinner you can create in about a minute.
While it may seem that some people blow up overnight, I can guarantee you the majority of these cases are far from the fact.
That 22-year-old Youtube star is probably the same person who was cutting up film and making shitty videos as a kid.
That person with over 100K followers on Instagram is most likely the same person who was drawing on every scrap piece of paper they could find since they were five.
Comparison and the culture we live in convince us we need to accomplish everything yesterday.
What's the rush?
If you reached the top overnight, where is the fun of the challenge along the way?
Give it some time and have a little patience.
I talked about how Focusing on the Next Play in episode 51 was one of the motto's our coaches in college drilled in our heads.
The one they stressed even more than that was "If it was easy everyone would do it."
To attain something you've never had, you have to be willing to do something you've never done. This typically involves putting in some work and getting your hands dirty.
Growing an audience isn't easy. Putting out a daily or weekly drawing, blog post or podcast episode isn't easy.
Showing up when it's not convenient isn't easy, but it's all necessary to get to that future version of yourself you dream of.
If you've been showing up for a few months and no one is noticing, don't beat yourself up and get discouraged.
Finding something you enjoy the shit out of doing and that you're good at should be one of your top priorities.
As Jason Craig stated in episode 43, passion is what you're willing to suffer for.
To build your creative empire, it's going to take a lot of passion and suffering.
I promise you it's worth it when things start to click.
The granddaddy of them all is consistency. It's one of the biggest reason I've had any type of success over the last 3-4 years.
Consistency is key when it comes to reaching any type of goal. Getting that perfect body you have in mind is only achievable by consistently showing up in the gym and at home in the kitchen.
There's no room for bitching if you show up once a week and rely on that magic pill you saw on an infomercial.
Unlocking that creative status you want is possible through consistent creating, sharing your work, building relationships, sacrifice and persistency. There's a lot more that goes into too but you get the point.
It's hard to get noticed when you put something out every once in awhile.
It's damn near impossible to get to your best quality work without consistently kicking out a heaping pile of shitty work over the course of yearsssssss...but many don't want to hear that.
To be honest, no one paid attention to my drawings on Instagram for the first year of posting consistently.
No one read my weekly blog posts when I started over 2 years ago for easily 6-8 months.
No one listened to my weekly podcast for the first 6-8 months.
People began paying attention because I stuck with it and constantly had something in front of their face.
This episode was meant for the old me who dreamt of the magic pill. I didn't want to invest the effort and expected things to be handed to me..
I've grown to realize, everything in life worth having requires some type of effort on your end.
You have something great within you that you have to mine and cultivate over time.
I want it so badly for you but it boils down to how badly do you want it for yourself?
Understanding that it takes time, knowing that it won't be easy and that consistency is key shouldn't discourage you.
These are building blocks for the slow and steady grind ahead of you and it starts by showing up with the right attitude.
All it takes is one scroll, swipe or click to attract a new fan. A few of those clicks each week adds up to a lot over the years.
I want to challenge you with the question, "Are you investing the effort or are you cutting corners?"
Use that as your fuel for finishing off the week and 2017 with a bang.
I'm the kind of person who will tell you thank you twice for something then proceed to tell you again an hour later.
Not only that, I have zero issues with dishing out a hug or two when someone makes my day. You've officially been warned so be prepared to get uncomfortable if we ever meet.
This may annoy people, but I'd rather be the person who says thank you too much than the person who doesn't at all.
With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I not only want to show some public gratitude but also want to challenge your way of thinking as we close off 2017.
What I talk about many people won't be open to nor agree with and that's totes okay. This show is meant to challenge the lens of how you see the world, hence the name Perspective Podcast.
I'm a very open-minded person. However, growing up I was extremely narrow-minded. Believing only what people closest to me influenced me to believe.
I was closed off to anything that challenged my way of thinking.
Yet I was always a thankful person. While I never came from money, I realize that I had a lot of things going for me. There was always a support system of family and friends around me.
Fast forward to today. While I may not accept everything, like how someone can support Trump, my goal is to understand and form my opinion from there.
So today, I want you to be open-minded about a concept of gratitude and the Law of Attraction. You don't have to accept it but seek first to understand than to be understood as Steven Covey states.
Until I hit my early to mid-twenties, I had spent my life playing a victim. My mind was wired to expect nothing significant to come my way and that's exactly what manifested...nothing.
It seemed I could never catch a break as I was lost drifting day-day-to with no purpose.
I needed a change.
But in order for me to change, I had to change my way of thinking.
I was introduced to the Law of Attraction from my Aunt Margie when she gifted me the book The Secret.
The concept seemed a bit crazy but I figured what did I have to lose? I had only everything to gain.
Being skeptical, I dug a little deeper and found a ton of scientific evidence tied to this theory.
What sold me was some of the biggest celebrities I respect such as Will Smith, Jim Carey, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington swear about how they've applied this to their lives.
There are flaws in The Secret that understandably create skeptics. Yet this book opened me to a new way of thinking that has benefited me throughout the years.
Over a year ago, My good friend Scott Biersack (@Youbringfire) recommended two books by the author named Pam Grout.
The second book was Thank & Grow Rich: A 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy.
The principles I learned from The Secret were amplified upon reading New York Times Best Seller E-Squared.
Pam gives you practical steps and tests for changing how you think in order to attract positive change in your life.
Her book Thank & Grow Rich relates specifically to attracting things into your life through gratitude.
I believe 100% that it works after the abundant amount of opportunities that have come my way the last 3 years.
Here's a brief excerpt from a blog post of hers relating to her theory of gratitude:
"Ferocious gratitude, as I wrote about in my last book, is causative energy. It literally brings things to life. Knowing and acknowledging that you live a blessed life makes things happen. It draws in even more blessings. In other words, gratitude is the foundation for all manifestation.
There are two steps for using it most effectively.
First, give thanks that whatever reality appears to be true right now is one of a gazillion possibilities. Struggling to pay your bills or flying solo may seem rock solid and an absolute fact, but it’s not. Not even close. It’s literally one tiny superposition in the quantum field.
And we must start by celebrating the infinite (that’s so huge we can’t even get our minds around it) number of other potentialities that exist. Already. Right now. When we get really jazzed that whatever we have now is far from the final answer, the new can come quicker. Many people forget this first step. They build an altar to the reality they have now. They actually forget that it’s no more true than any other option.
I say throw a party for the countless options available to you. Get out of problem state. Dive into possibility state.
The last step, you already know. Say thanks for whatever new cool thing you plan to draw into your life. Say yes that it’s barreling your way. Jump for joy. Throw streamers."
Steve Harvey is another person I admire for the way he thinks. He's on record in multiple instances of supporting Pam Grout's claim of using the power of gratitude.
An excerpt from his blog post states:
"You cannot run out of things to be grateful for.
When you start fine tuning your gratitude, it's amazing.
It changes your focus because now your focus is not on what you don’t have, your focus is on what you do have.
When you change that focus through gratitude you then open up the path ways for more stuff to come to you.
A lot of us are blocking our blessings today because we aren't grateful for the ones we have.
We’re so busy telling God and putting out in the universe what we don’t have, that we're no longer receptive to things that we could have. You have now blocked all of your blessings from coming because your focus is not on the coming, it’s on the what you don't have."
Before you dismiss this, all I ask is that you're open to understanding.
How could you be more intentional and genuine in showing more gratitude in your life?
It's a challenge not only to you but to myself as well.
While I believe our thoughts create our reality, I think there are a few more ingredients in the mix as the dough alone can't make the pizza.
I strongly feel grit, work ethic, tenacity and being a good person increase the chances of manifesting these opportunities. Thinking alone I don't feel will be enough, there needs to be action.
This leads me to some public thank yous (which I still would've done even in my narrow-minded days).
First off, I need to thank you, the listener. It took me 4 months to nut up to start this podcast as I was afraid failure and being scrutinized
You have no idea what it means to me that you spend even a fraction of the limited time in your life to hang with me. I don't take it for granted and I cherish every share, comment, message review you've ever sent my way. This show would not exist without your support.
Along with the listeners, a huge thank you goes to those who back the show over on Patreon.com/PerspectivePodcast. Your investment in the show is never lost on me and I'm forever grateful.
Next, I want to thank everyone who has been on the podcast, hired me for a project in 2017 or invited me to any type of event to speak or teach. It's people like you who allow me to continue to find my voice and in turn share something I feel is valuable to the world.
As of late, there are some people that have helped me excel with some pretty large projects. I would be lost without advice from people like Colin Tierney, Ray Mawst, Roxy & Phoebe from Drunk on Lettering, my best friend Joey Bearbower and my mastermind group. The advice you've given me has helped me find my stride going into the New Year.
I especially need to thank my family and friend for always believing in me, especially when I didn't believe in myself.
Finally, my biggest thank you goes to my wife Emily. This woman is so supportive, patient and understanding. If anyone wants me to achieve my dream as much as me it's her. Thank you for being the most important person in my life.
Check check, my final-final thank you goes to Nick Jenkins of Blookah for all the dope theme music you hear on this show. You can find more of his work at Soundcloud.com/Blookah.
I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving and finish out the week strong. Keep showing up, keep putting in the work and keep creating. You got this.
I'll level with you, I've been a bit of a conference whore in 2017. All for good reasons as I mentioned in episode 49, conferences help you find your people. Another reason is to scope out conferences that I'd like to speak at one day as not all conferences are the same.
As I wrap up 2017, I just attended my final conference of the year in Austin, TX. The event was the first Pop-Up Crop Conference held by my good friend Matt Dawson of Studio Gray / Stay Gray Pony Boy along with his wife, Ariadne. I've talked about Crop Conference in Baton Rouge in the past and had Matt on to tell his story in episode 37. Pop-Up Crop is a different story as it was a one-day event filled with powerhouse creatives who either spoke or taught a workshop.
The lineup was stacked with speakers like Jason Craig, Lauren Dickens, Steve Wolf, Brian Steely and Aaron Draplin. I had a chance to speak on the Goodtype Panel with Brooke Robinson (Goodtype creator, Bobby Dixon and Drew Lakin. Industry Print Shop not only sponsored the conference and afterparty but taught a workshop as well.
Plenty of good times were had and I'm always one who wants to channel my reflections into a summary. I feel the best way to do that is to relay some takeaways you can apply to your creative practices.
Here were my top 3 that I think will resonate with you too as you finish your week strong.
Jason Craig is another friend of the podcast and his episode 43 visit has been a listener favorite. The way he weaves his stories and analogies together is legendary. He finds a way to punch you in the gut with his humor yet still drop a ton of jaw-dropping value.
The one that stood out the most when he talked about "Minding the Gaps." Throughout your life and especially in your creative career, you're going to have plenty of times when you get knocked on your ass. These are the low gaps between the moments when things couldn't be going better.
Without these gaps, it's hard to appreciate when things go right. Those shitty times in between the highlights are the moments who shape who you become.
So when things aren't working in your favor, mind the gaps and know that better times are ahead of you.
Next up was my brother Tony Diaz, who's the head honcho in charge of Industry Print Shop. Tony is legitimately one of the most generous souls I've ever met and has an incredible story. I'll be having him on the show sooner than later as you need to know what's he's doing for the creative community.
Before he led a screen printing workshop, he gave a brief talk and dropped a little nugget.
Tony talked about how approaches each day with intention. This has helped him scale Industry to one of the biggest print shops in the nation.
Approaching each day with intention means having a plan and being focused. It also means having some enthusiasm and being ready to attack that goal or vision.
I want to challenge you to think about how you're approaching your work each day.
Are you winging shit or attacking it with intention?
The final takeaway comes from the insanely talented designer, Lauren Dickens.
She dropped a smorgasbord of takeaways accompanied by some of the most polished designed slides I've ever seen. To be frank, I've never been more jealous of someone's slide deck.
Her talking points ranged from:
The one that caught my attention the most was "Break the Borders Between Life & Work." Basically stating that the things that make you unique make your work unique.
It parallels what Andy J. Miller preaches about finding yourself in your work on his Creative Pep Talk podcast.
So I ask you:
What are those things that are different about you that nobody else can replicate?
What are those weird quirks that make you you?
Those are the things that need to be showcased in your work and it's something I'm working on revealing more of as well.
I've talked about this in the past, but get outside of your little bubble. Attending conferences has easily been the one thing I can safely say has brought me the most opportunities.
The relationships you'll cultivate and the new skills you'll manifest will launch your creative career out of this stratosphere.
Pop-Up Crop was special and they have some big plans for the second one next year.
In the meantime, the full Crop is happening in Baton Rouge this April. The lineup just got released on CropBR.com and it's money.
I may or may not be teaching a workshop there too...
Back in the day, I played wide receiver for my high school football team. On a cold Friday night under the lights, we hosted the Cedar Rapids Kennedy Cougars. It was a big game for me as it was one of my final senior home games and I was trying to get recruited to play college ball.
Everything started off great for us as I caught a few catches on the opening drive and we scored on the first possession. After that, things started to fall apart.
On the next drive, I dropped an easy pass and began getting in my own head. I dropped the ball again a few plays later which was completely out of character as I had around two drops the entire season.
Finally, I had a complete breakdown. They punted it on 4th down and as I was back deep to receive the kick. I remember watching the ball hang in the air forever as it soared toward me. It felt like an eternity and gave me plenty of time to psych myself out that I could drop it...which is exactly what I did. I ended up muffing the punt which Kennedy recovered for a touchdown.
I remember laying on the ground embarrassed, wishing that I could sink into the ground and disappear forever. My confidence was destroyed and my self-destructing behavior was contagious as we got routed like 50-7. While most people don't remember that night as vividly as I do, that was the moment I realize I could get in my own head and let my mind run rampant.
Despite this game, I still got recruited to play football at Wartburg College. Throughout my four years, something our coaches drilled into our heads was "focus on the next play." If I would've had this mindset back on that Friday night under the lights, I would've been able to bounce back after that first dropped pass.
"Focus on the next play" is something you'll hear the greatest athletes of all time refer to. Whether it's Micahel Jordan, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant or Peyton Manning, it holds true for all of them.
You don't have to be a hall of fame athlete to adopt this mentality. It's so simple and I've slowly begun to realize how this mantra can impact my life (and yours) as a creative.
I've been blessed to experience both worlds of being a hybrid jock and creative. There's a lot of overlap when it comes to showing up and becoming the best version of yourself on the field or in your work.
In football, focusing on the next play meant letting go of what I
possibly probably screwed up in the past and aiming my attention at the next opportunity.
If I dropped a pass, missed a block or screwed up an assignment, I have the ability to respond and make up for it the next play.
As an artist and designer, focusing on the next play means learning from and improving on the last piece or project I kicked out.
If this drawing flopped on Instagram or the client didn't vibe to any of my first mocks, I have the ability to get back to the drawing board.
If you're like me, you often get caught up in the "what ifs" in life.
Like "what if" I wouldn't have dropped the first pass against Kennedy? Would I have avoided self-destructing and helped my team make it a closer game?
More recently it's like, "what if" I would've posted at a different time, used a different lettering style or different idea all together? Would it have gotten more engagement or would the client have loved the first mock?
I'm slowly learning that dwelling on the "what ifs" in your past will get you nowhere. To me, it seems to only depress and discourage me from focusing on the next play.
If you're like me, your past is littered with failures. Getting your hands on the Neuralyzer from Men in Black would be great to erase those mistakes. However, this is the real world and unfortunately, that doesn't exist. In the meantime, do what Tara Victoria suggested in episode 50, "Fuck up and fuck up often."
Adopting this next play mentality as a creative encourages you to fuck up and fail as much as you can.
It's about constantly kicking out work with the goal of experimenting, evolving and growing throughout the process.
It's not about getting caught up in the "what ifs" and chasing perfectionism.
Focusing on the next play is about bouncing back and responding. Especially when something didn't go the way you had hoped or planned.
I'm a believer that sticking with it even when it isn't convenient will present another opportunity. Even if you muffed the punt the first time around.
I want to encourage you to adopt a 'sportsball' mentality and focus on the next play.
It's hard to catch your big break when you're dwelling on the "what ifs."
As you know I want this show to encourage you to carve out time to build something for yourself whether that’s outside a day job or other life commitments. This show also exists to have the hard conversations we as creatives find it easier to neglect.
Today is definitely one of those hard conversations but I think it’s extremely important to bring to light. As you know I deal with anxiety every day, but other times I go through episodes of brain fog and depression. These used to be things I never talked about, but sharing it helps me work through them and allows people like you to know you’re not alone.
This is the exact reason for having today’s guest Brad Weaver and Tara Victoria on the show.
These two are partners that live in Atlanta doing Content Strategy, product design and branding for lifestyle brands through their business The Banner Years. Recently we linked up at Circles Conference as they were the keynote closing talk.
The focus of the talk was to bring awareness to their new side project, The Shore. The Shore is a metaphor in which we’ll talk more in depth about in this episode. They spoke about the hard topics of being a creative and dealing with vulnerability, comparison, anxiety and depression. Safe to say their talk had the room captivated and left the attendees leaving on a note of solidarity.
I jumped at the opportunity to get them on the show so we could continue this conversation.
In this episode they:
I hope this episode lets you know that you’re not alone while giving you steps towards working through whatever it is you’re dealing with.
I'm a small city dude from Iowa and I need to get out of my bubble to find my people. I find my people by getting out of my comfort zone and heading to conferences across the United States.
This past week, I flew solo to Creative Works Conference in Memphis, TN. I heard great things about the conference last year so I kept it on my radar. When they finally dropped the lineup, I literally bought my attendee ticket along with workshops within 10 minutes.
In my personal opinion, this lineup was stacked. Josh Horton and Dan Price did an incredible job putting this together. I got to take workshops with lettering legends Ken Barber and Erik Marinovich for only $5o a piece! The speakers were some of the people I looked up to most including Ken, Erik, Andy J. Miller of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast, Ghostly Ferns, Rogie King & Justin Mezzell of Super Team Deluxe to name a few.
Did I mention outside of pizza that BBQ was my second favorite food because I smashed a ton of that too?
As the cool kids of our country would say, this conference was lit.
While I'm worn out from travel, I wanted to make sure I documented some of the biggest takeaways I got from the speakers. Here are my top 7 that I think will greatly benefit you as well.
Let's get started.
Leading off to bat was one of my biggest inspirations, Andy J. Miller of the Creative Pep Talk Podcast. Andy's talk was witty, funny and emotional. Basically everything great that you've come to expect from him on his podcast.
His talk was powerful, but the biggest call to action that stood out to me was from his "Get Off the Floor" segment. We have to face the truth that we're always going to get knocked down and constantly doubt our creative abilities. You can either lay on the floor and take it, or you can get up, make stuff and keep going.
You have to get off the floor not only yourself but for others as well. He followed this up by stating: "You can't help the world thrive if you're not thriving."
Safe to say he put a creative pep in all of our steps and set the tone for the conference.
Next up was Odin Clack from Odin Leather Goods. What stuck out to me was his self-awareness, patience, commitment and work ethic of running his own side hustle outside of his day job.
Something I struggle with is feeling I have to have it all figured out now, but what am I rushing for? Odin reminds himself daily to focus on the slow and steady grind and enjoy the process along the way.
Austin Dunbar of Durham Brand & Co. filled in due to a last-minute speaker conflict and he absolutely murdered his talk.
One of the things that stuck with me was when he said: "Pioneers take all the arrows." As creatives, we are called to take risks and we have to be willing to make sacrifices. When you share your work or take a stand for something you believe in, people will be waiting in line to scrutinize and critique if they don't understand or accept what you're doing.
As a pioneer or someone who is trying to build something bigger than themselves, it's important to keep pressing on and pathing the way for others.
Jesse Bryan of the Belief Agency had one of those talks that spoke to my core. I admit it, his storytelling and well-timed statistics he peppered in choked me up at times.
His talk was all about service and that we need to put our focus on the relationship instead of the reward. For example being motivated for the quick sale instead of over-serving and creating a loyal customer relationship.
He instilled in us that we all have the ability to be great through the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: "Anyone can be great because anyone can serve."
Not only are Rogie King & Justin Mezzell extremely talented and know how to party, but they are insanely generous and empathetic individuals.
Their talk centered around building friendships and not "networks." Cultivating meaningful friendships is a by-product of getting uncomfortable and reaching out to people.
They also drove the point home that putting yourself out their takes guts and that you're never done making bad work. I definitely left their talk ready to hug everyone and take a shot of Bourbon.
Erik Marinovich is one of the coolest cats and down to earth people I think I've ever encountered. Everyone loves this dude not only because of his work but due to his infectious personality and how he lifts everyone up around him.
I'd have to say his talk was my favorite as he combined lettering with the evolution of hip-hop culture. He gave a lot of great takeaways but what hit home the most was his point of, "Never settle and constantly change your style."
I struggle with the fact that my work is all over the place and I don't have a set defined style like you see on hyper-curated Instagram accounts. It was encouraging to know it's perfectly okay and that I have to keep pushing my limits with experimentation.
If I draw small all the time, I need to push myself to draw bigger. If I use ink pens all the time, I need to push myself to experiment with a paintbrush.
Between his workshop and talk, he left me determined to push the boundaries of what I'm able to create and to keep developing my style.
Confession, I've never been to a talk where the speaker didn't use a slide presentation and it raised some concerns. However, Ashley Ford definitely didn't need them as she held the audience captivated with her storytelling and moments of comic relief.
The key to her talk was about being vulnerable and sharing your story. Something that really stood out to me was her point about loving the worst thing about yourself and others. She called it "Learn to love the crust of a motherfucker."
She closed the conference down encouraging us to tell the story that you're scared to tell. No matter what, you're affecting somebody's day.
Do you feel alone with your struggle?
Do you feel isolated in your own world with no idea how to push your creative career forward?
If so, you need to find your people at conferences.
See this as an investment in yourself and your creative future.
There are people out there dealing with the same demons as you.
There are people out there who nerd out obsessively over the same things as you.
You can find these people at conferences.
You owe it to yourself to get out of your comfort zone and find your people at a place like Creative Works Conference.
I feel I’m pretty in touch with my audience at times. I know the majority of my listeners and readers are trying to figure out where to start or how to continue pursuing their creative work. I basically just said it in my intro.
The reoccurring pattern from my newsletter shows people like you want to know how to make time to focus on something outside of your daily commitments.
Today, I was going to write about the power of focusing on a project that you both enjoy and are relatively good at.
I wanted to write about how to get started with experimenting and catching a pulse to see if it was the right direction to pursue. However, this ended up turning into me possibly oversharing how my split focus has guided me to the current roadblock I’ve found myself at.
Yes, I’m going to share the benefits of what focus can do for your creative pursuits, but I'm no expert. I fell I can best share how split focus and doing too much can negatively impact your life as well.
I’ll admit it, I’m a wizard at piling shit high on my plate (I can't help but imagine a poop emoji on a plate). It’s been a blessing and more recently a curse in my life.
I’ve had this Superman Syndrome mentality that I could do it all dating way back to high school.
It started with a car accident my sophomore year resulting in me having to get a job at the age of 15. From there, I held down that job of pushing in carts at Hy-Vee while attending after-school programs and playing multiple sports.
I was excelling in school, standing out in sports, getting awards all while making some side cheddar. What couldn’t I accomplish in a day?
This mentality carried throughout college. My crazy ass was holding down my job at Hy-Vee, working an internship, playing / coaching football while having an overloaded course schedule with night classes.
With how much this private school was charging per semester, graduating in 4 years was my only option. Bring on the challenge and premature grey hairs—I can handle it.
Doing all the things and succeeding in them was my definition of success. I caught hits of dopamine chasing that ‘productivity high’ and I wanted people to know how busy I was.
I was the king of focus, split focus that is and it was a blessing in the beginning.
Here is where I want to tell you the value of finding one thing to focus on that you not only enjoy, but you’re good at too. (I can't recommend the book Essentialism enough if you want to learn more.)
Yet, somewhere in there, I’d be full of shit as I’m horrible at focusing on only one thing as I’ve wired myself to think I could do it all.
When it boils down to it, yes, it’s extremely important to have something to work towards each day. Giving your attention to something you both enjoy and are good at can radically impact your life and others in a positive way.
The thing I pour my soul into every day is Perspective-Collective. It started as a small side project back in April 2014 for me to create art under as I talk about in Episode 28: Make Your Name Mean Something.
Over the years it began to take on a mind of its own. It's since opened up new paths of opportunity such as blogging, speaking, teaching, freelancing and now podcasting.
Having something to focus on used to be an issue in the past. It had me feeling lost in my lackluster day-to-day routine. That lack of focus has since blossomed into an issue of split focus and spreading myself too thin.
Imagine the smallest slice of butter that you're trying to cover a massive piece of bread with and that's me.
There are so many things I like to do and want to accomplish, but there’s never enough time to pursue them all equally outside the day job...I'm sure you've said this a million times to yourself.
Queue the dreaded elimination game or as Stephen King says, "Kill Your Darlings."
Here’s a breakdown of everything I do under Perspective-Collective. I’m trying to be as transparent as possible so you can see how I struggle to find the essential thing(s) to focus on while eliminating the non-essential.
You have no idea how badly I want to get back to doing the podcast weekly. I feel if I was 90% all-in on the podcast, I could significantly grow it at a faster pace. Yet going all in on the podcast has its consequences that I’m not sure I'm ready for.
While my day job covers the basic costs of my day-to-day living, taking on freelance with the right projects is too hard to pass on. I have an absurd amount of student loans and other debt looming over me. Making time for freelance slowly works me toward some type of future financial freedom.
Personal work is what keeps me sane and allows me to find myself in my work and experiment. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of time for it.
Speaking gives me the largest platform to share my ideas and connect with people like you. However, the amount of time I invest in planning, preparation, practice and traveling takes a lot of time away from other things.
Teaching allows me to discover things I like to help people learn and possibly monetize with an additional revenue stream.
I realize I'm doing too much and one of the darlings I had to kill recently was my weekly Fresh Slice Friday pizza drawings on my @pizzadrawingsonly account. It was personal work but it was taking too much time away from the podcast, freelance and time that could be spent with my wife.
Killing my darlings is hard, but the essential tasks matter most. This is something I battle against daily as I want to do it all.
I'm only 29 and I need to remind myself that it's okay to not have it all figured out yet. Everything I’m doing is one massive experiment in trying to find ways to elevate Perspective-Collective to my full-time job...and dammit, I'll make it happen someday.
Progress is progress. If my experiments with teaching aren’t catching the right pulse, then that’ll be on the chopping block to narrow my focus and free up time. Right now, I don’t know so I’m going to continue to dip my toes and test out the water.
I share this with you so you can see the various levels of focus and the opposing side of focusing on too much.
While me venting about split focus may seem like a very basic issue, it goes a lot deeper and does more damage behind the scenes.
Let's peel another layer of the onion and get real. This is probably the oversharing section...
Funny story, I started the New Year off with the motto, “Do less, but better.” I even wrote that shit large as hell on a whiteboard as a daily reminder. That whiteboard was then stashed in my closet 4 months into the New Year...whoops.
While I’ve become increasingly aware of my Superhero Syndrome, changing and acting on it is another story.
It’s safe to say I’m borderline obsessed with Perspective-Collective and the multiple channels of what I can create under it.
I want to do all the things.
I tell myself that I got a late start in discovering what I was capable of so now I need to double down on my ‘hustle’ to catch up.
There’s that buzzword ‘hustle.’ That word is trouble.
I was blinded by the 'hustle' and the progress and possibilities of Perspective-Collective. It caused me to lose sight of the bigger picture of what was at stake.
I’ve learned the hard way that I was neglecting and damaging relationships with people that mean the most to me like Emily, my family and close friends.
There grew an absence of date nights and being physically, mentally and emotionally present with my wife. My family began to expect me to not show up to functions anymore. The phone calls and invites to parties and gatherings with my friends slowly disappeared.
Here I am, trying to convince myself and Emily that I’m 'hustling' my ass off now in the present so we don’t have to work so hard in the future.
Who am I kidding, this was total bullshit.
In reality, this was an excuse for me to disconnect from the real world and work on making my dream job a full-time reality.
It doesn’t feel like work.
People shower me in affirmations sometimes when I share my work.
I'd be crazy to not invest all my time in this pursuit right?
This Superman Syndrome has created a trap and I’ve been trying to claw my way out of the hole I dug for myself.
Progress started by admitting to myself then owning up to it with multiple long conversations with my wife. She wanted to be supportive and not be the person to tear me away from my dream, but hearing her side of things really put things in perspective of how selfish I’ve been.
With my hectic travel schedule lately, we’ve been making more intentional date nights and uninterrupted time together. She’s been amazing and insanely forgiving...I owe her everything for that.
I’ve since been attending every family function possible to reconnect with everyone. That means even all the niece and nephew birthdays no matter how many hours away they are on a weekend. Editing the podcast can come at another time.
I’ve also start reconnecting with my local circle of friends who I hadn’t seen in months. Making time for football on Sundays, drinks, dinners and low-key hanging has been great.While some friendships are gone, the ones that matter are still around.
I still have a hard time accepting that I can’t do it all because if I have open time, it takes everything in me not to schedule something to fill it.
I share all this because I want you to find something to focus on that lights you up. However, I want you to see that there's gotta be a balance as tunnel vision on a dream can do damage.
You can’t do it all.
Trying to do so comes at the expense of neglecting other things in your life.
Imagine building an empire for yourself only to turn around and have no one to share it with?
That’s the shit that scares me and what I try to keep top of mind each day.
With a motto like “Show up until there is nothing left to do,” it's evident that the Forefathers Group aren't afraid to get their hands dirty.
They have a distinguished style that peppers both vintage snake oil and Americana with a hefty dose of creative steroids. It's helped them quickly begin to carve out their corner of the design industry while working thousands of miles apart.
The Forefather's trio is made up of:
Working remote can have it's challenges, yet somehow they offer a buffet of design services such as:
Today on the show, we go deep on a wide range of topics such as:
The other day I was listening to the Joe Rogan podcast and he had Jamie Foxx on as a guest. I’ve always been a fan of Jamie because well…it’s Jamie Foxx. What can’t that dude do?
However, what really blew me away was when he shared how he got into music. He used to throw these huge parties for people like P Diddy which led him to linking up with rising artists like Jay-Z and The Neptunes.
This then led to him building a studio in the back of his house and artists had to perform any time they were new and visiting.
One day some kid with a backpack on came in and killed his session. He then proceeded to tell Jamie he had the perfect song for him to sing on. This surprised Jamie because he never saw himself in that light before.
This kid was Kanye West and the song was Slow Jamz in 2004.
Jamie thought the song was a bust, but 6–8 weeks later it was the #1 song in the country.
Following this song, Jamie blew up in the rap and R&B scene.
He goes on record stating, “When your opportunity comes, if you prepare for it, now you can jump into it and grab it.”
Jamie was unknowingly preparing himself for that opportunity with Kanye by:
It’s so simple, prepare for your opportunities, but I feel many opportunities don’t come without getting out of your comfort zone.
I used to be the type of person who played it safe and refused to get uncomfortable.
I’ve found over the past 3–4 year, doing things that scared the shit out of me usually led to life changing opportunities.
When I got those opportunities, I prepared my ass off so I could deliver.
How Jamie Foxx got into music reminds me how I got into public speaking.
A few years ago I wanted to share ideas and encouragement but I never saw myself as a writer. Yet, I got uncomfortable and started blogging not knowing what would come of it.
About a year into weekly blogging, my good friend Diane Gibbs offered me my first speaking gig because I mentioned on a phone call months earlier that I wanted to try it someday.
To be 100% honest, when she asked me, every bone in my body wanted to tell her no because I was terrified. This wasn’t your typical group of 15–20 people like back in school speech class. This was a Keynote at a conference of about 100–150 people in a state where I’ve never been before.
However, I wanted to be a speaker and that’s exactly what I became.
I prepared my ass off and crushed that opportunity which changed my life. It has since led me to speak at conferences like Creative South, Crop and WMC Fest.
Little did I know that writing and sharing ideas through blogging was leading me to the next stage of my life in speaking. Wild enough this brought me to podcasting.
All of these things that made me uncomfortable radically changed who I was as a person and the creative path I’ve been chasing.
Looking back on life, playing it safe never made me worthwhile. I felt invisible instead of feeling alive.
I think this is how a thrill seeker functions, they need to constantly be doing something insane like sky diving to feel alive. Well finding comfort in discomfort lets me feel alive and evolve to the version of Scotty I'm supposed to become..
Getting uncomfortable has opened the flood gates of opportunity for Perspective-Collective, but it’s up to me to be prepared for those moments so I can crush them.
When I get those “Hell Yes” opportunities I mentioned back in Episode 38, I pretend like they will never come again and that this is my one shot.
It's taught me to never half ass anything and to pour all my soul and energy into nailing that shot.
Even if things don’t turn out the way you expect it, you can be proud that you:
As you finish out this week, I want to challenge you to try something I learned from writer / influencer Jon Acuff: when you find yourself saying “I want to,” swap it for “I’m going to” instead.
You want to start drawing, blogging, photography or writing but it makes you feel uncomfortable?
Change your thinking to I’m going to start drawing, blogging, photography or writing because it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Your mindset slowly begins to change with a simple swap of words.
Following the discomfort nudges you toward the creative you're supposed to become.
Challenging your fears present and prepare you for the opportunities that can change your life.
Find comfort in discomfort and prepare for your opportunities.