Maybe this is something you can relate to.
Over the years, you've busted your ass behind the scenes to build a name for yourself.
You've lost track of all the countless hours you poured into your craft as you strive for that "10,000-hour mastery."
You've invested boatloads of money into school, books, online courses, workshops, and conferences to put yourself in a position to thrive.
Now you're to the point where you're steadily building a monetized side hustle or full-time business doing what you love (if you're not there yet, stick with me).
Here's the kicker—not everyone outside of your bubble will understand where you are in your creative career. Many people will perceive what you do as a hobby. They don't fully understand the value of your time and craft and feel they are doing you a favor by offering you the chance to work for exposure.
Maybe you also don't fully understand your own value?
Today's topic was inspired by two things:
My goal isn't to convince you that doing free exposure work is an evil game for fools. In fact, I'll actually mention when doing so could be beneficial.
My intentions are this:
I'm no expert, but I hope my perspective on this topic can help you make a decision when you find yourself in this pickle.
Trust me, getting asked to work for exposure gets almost as old as getting asked #whatpenisthat?
(It seems to be local businesses who are the repeat offenders.)
What really grinds my gears is seeing people, who produce far more jaw-dropping work than I do, get asked by brands or companies who could easily afford it.
I'm lucky that my day job provides the essential income for me to survive.
However, taking on freelance is necessary for me to:
Many of my talented friends work for themselves full-time, and they survive off paid gigs. For them, working for exposure may mean not being able to put food on the table or pay the rent. However, the situation might be favorable for them if it's from a dream client.
Before you become a Judgey McJudgerson and think that I'm too good for free work, please digest my 7 Situations When Free Work May Be in Your Best Interest episode.
As I mentioned in that episode, there are moments when doing work free exposure work or work-for-a-good-cause is totally encouraged. However, let's stick to the free exposure work scenario for the moment.
When you're transitioning from hobby to side project, working for exposure is great—especially if you have a day job that covers your living expenses.
I've said this before, but I did my first three murals for local businesses for free. Why should someone trust that I do good work if I've never shown I could crush a large-scale mural before?
Sometimes you need to prove it to them—and yourself—that you can deliver.
Not only did these exposure opportunities show proof of concept and bring attention to my work, but these opportunities also built some solid relationships that attracted paid jobs in the future.
When you've proved you can do the work and start to monetize your craft, this is where things can get tricky.
When you're at that phase where you're elevating those side projects to a side business, exposure work doesn't cut the mustard anymore.
Face the facts: free exposure work doesn't pay off student loans, mortgages, maternity leave, baby doctor bills, groceries, gas, etc. You know, the things you need to survive.
You'd never ask a plumber or a doctor to work for exposure, would you?
How ridiculous does this sound? "Hey, Mr. Plumber, if you could hook me up and fix my bursting water pipe beneath my cast iron sink, I'd tell ten friends about how great your work is."
Someone may be crazy enough to pull this stunt, but expect a harsh and appalled reply.
Over time, you'll unlock that level where you've proven you can deliver, and you'll slowly monetize your craft.
When you reach this point, speak with conviction, politely say no, and/or firmly stand your ground on your pricing.
Simply put, YOUR TIME HAS VALUE.
It's taken me almost 30 years to believe this about myself and the value I can provide others.
If you're not monetizing your work yet and are in the hobby and side project phase, stay persistent and hungry. If a little fish like me from a small town of Cedar Falls, Iowa, can make a name for myself over the years—then you are more than capable, too.
Keep working on your craft and value your time and work, even if that means taking on exposure work early on in the process. In good time, others will value it as well.
Let’s start today off with a little bit of tough love. We all have dreams and wish they could manifest as quickly as it takes to put leftover pizza in the microwave, and voilà!, you have the best lunch in all the land.
Unfortunately, we live in this microwave society, and it’s easy lose sight of the long game—and the slow and steady grind that goes with it.
However, within that grind, we learn a lot about ourselves. We find our voice, our style and build relationships and hone our craft. The process allows us to grow on the way to the destination, but hopefully, we never fully arrive and cap our potential.
To pursue your hobby and elevate it from side project to budding creative career takes courage, sacrifice, and risk. It requires late nights and early mornings. It requires saying yes and figuring it out along the way, learning to say no in the midst of it, and pushing your story forward even when it isn’t convenient—especially when it isn't convenient.
I feel you’ll eventually get to a point in your journey where you've busted your ass and are now faced with a fork in the road. Do you take the safe path you’ve always known, or do you take a leap of faith and risk it for the biscuit?
Queue today’s guest, Lisa Quine, one of Cleveland’s rising creative talents. She's built quite a name for herself over the years, and I often wonder when she sleeps. This chick is a machine and is constantly kicking out new work to carve out a small path of the universe for her own.
She is not only a successful letterer, but she is also a teacher, speaker, product creator, gallery curator, and a go-to muralist in her world.
Lisa knows what it’s like to build that creative career outside a day job. However, this past year, she was faced with that fork in the road and had to make a choice. She’s been risking it for the biscuit as a full-time freelancer ever since tagging up all of Cleveland with her sick murals...legally, of course.
In today’s episode, we chop it up over topics like:
While we were preparing the mural to go in Little Dougy Fresh’s room, my wife brought up this quote by Ursula K. Le Guin:
“The creative adult is the child who survived.”
I’ve heard it before, but this time, it really got me thinking. Kids pour out their ideas with crayons onto paper—and sometimes walls—without ever second-guessing it.
They have no agenda. Kids strictly play and create when the mood is right.
They don't stress about curation or Instagram's algorithm. They seek validation from their parents only, not everyone else, and work so their ideas grace the frigid front of the refrigerator.
Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in our pretty Instagram feeds that we don’t give ourselves permission to be curious and play as creative adults.
We often restrict ourselves from pushing our limits, from branching out to different styles and mediums. It’s not only uncomfortable—but, holy shit, it may not perform well and cause you to lose a gaggle of followers!
Queue today’s guest: lettering Goliath and child-at-heart Erik Marinovich out of San Francisco. Not only does Erik’s playful-yet-crafted letterforms scream FUN, you can also tell he is enjoying every minute that goes into his work.
Of course, he slays projects for the biggest names in the game: Sprite, Nike, Google, Target, and the NBA. However, what sets him apart is his imagination and curiosity that allows him to play and always experiment.
In today’s episode, we go deep into topics like:
I’ve learned, over the years, that sometimes being obsessive over something is a good thing. It allows you to have tunnel vision and focus extraordinary effort in one direction.
Obsessiveness with your goal or dream can radically transform your mindset and life—possibly for the better.
On the flip side, being obsessed with too many things can spread you too thin. This can cause you to make minimal progress in a million directions—or worse yet—make you lose sight of what’s really important.
There are priorities and limits in life. You can’t do all the things, and you can’t be everything to everyone. Saying no becomes just as important as saying yes.
You’ll also learn that you can’t control everything in life. Yes, having ambition, a vision, and a mission is needed for your inner compass. Other times, it’s healthy and beneficial to be open to the unknown and swim with the current of the universe.
Queue today’s guest: my brother Nick Sambrato from the behemoth print shop Mama’s Sauce, a top-notch spot color printmaking shop specializing in letterpress, hot foil, and screenprinting reigning from Orlando, Florida.
You know I have mad love for my boys Tony Diaz and the Industry Print Shop crew, but you can’t sleep on the work Nick and Mama’s Sauce bring to the table over their 10-year history.
Not only is Nick obsessive about creating high-quality products, but the entire team is addicted to building relationships and geeking out over the work designers and artists like you print and put out into the world.
So, gather around the table, as I hope you brought your appetite. Today, Nick and I cover a buffet of topics such as:
I know you'll feel full and satisfied after gorging on this episode.
From the outside looking in, we tend to think the rockstar creatives we look up to are living a perfectly curated life through the social media lens. However, when you peel back the curtain, things aren’t always what they seem.
We all deal with adversity whether you see it or not. At the end of the day, it’s about how you respond.
Are you the type of person who cowards in a corner when you take an L? Or are you the type of person who dusts yourself off and takes the blow to the chin as a learning experience?
It all boils down to a choice.
Queue today’s guest: branding, design, and Illustrator Goliath Adam Grason of Grason Studio out of Orlando, FL.
Adam has crushed projects for design brands like Google, Vayner Media, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Target to name a few. Behind the social media lens, he’s just a normal, down-to-earth, genuine dude who deals with his own adversity as a father, husband, and designer.
In this episode, Adam serves up an enthusiastic and transparent cocktail of topics like:
I have a feeling you’re going to want to take on the world after hearing this one.
Sometimes, we get so stuck in our way of thinking because of what’s been force-fed to us. Often we must unlearn what we’ve been taught and reteach ourselves to see things from different perspectives.
Perspective is key. When you reframe the lens you look through, you can better deal with issues in both your creative and daily life.
Simply visualizing yourself in someone else’s shoes can radically change the way you think, speak, and act on a certain subject. When you are able to see a bigger picture at stake, you begin to find ways you can contribute to a greater cause.
That’s what this show is about. I’m no one special, but I feel I have a special privilege and duty to invest a large chunk of my existence into pouring something “good” into this world. I feel called to be a player on a star-studded team that’s going to accomplish something phenomenal in the grand scheme of things. You could be a pivotal role player, too.
Queue today’s guest: Jason Petty, a Hip Hop and Spoken Word juggernaut who slays under the alias Propaganda. While I see myself as the role player, like a Derek Fisher or Robert Horry of 2001-2002 Lakers, PropHipHop is a superstar—say like Shaq or my all-time favorite player, Kobe Bryant, in this greater picture.
Before I heard his music, I was captivated by his Keynote talk at the AIGA Thrive Conference in Raleigh, NC, back in late February. The way he commanded the stage, plus the ideas and critical thinking he showered our brains with, left me speechless and inspired. I knew I had to have him on the show to share his perspective with you.
Once I started listening to his music, it only elevated my respect for him as he’s a master at crafting a visual picture with his words.
He’s a down-to-earth dude who can inspire you to get into the boxing ring with the gloves laced up and to start putting more intention behind your work and actions.
Today, Prop and I peel back layers and go deep into topics of:
There's a lot of hype built around this episode and I promise it won't disappoint.
A wise philosopher once said,"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you." This wise soul was Dr. Seuss.
We live in a society where you are brainwashed to feel like you're missing out if you aren't jockin' the latest trend.
Sorry bruh, but you're doing it wrong if you don't have the freshest $120 Supreme t-shirt or the top of the line headphones that break within a month.
This culture can also parallel the creative world you and I operate in. There are waves of trendy work being featured and many of these geniuses are being hired by the big wigs with deep pockets.
Who doesn't want to catch features and have these businesses make it rain dollar bills on you?
This fear of missing out or being irrelevant causes us to lose sight of who we are at our creative core.
More than ever, I feel it's crucial to get back in touch with your weird quirks that make you you.
It's time to stop being a vampire trend sucker.
It's time to stake your claim on your small unique pixel patch of the internet.
Here are three super convincing reasons to show your weird and wave your freak flag with pride..
It's easy to get wrapped up in thinking you have to be a curated robot who creates for validation. Vanity metrics become your oxygen and you can't breathe if the internet doesn't like the work you created to please it.
However, when you allow yourself to play, experiment and fuck up, you create a breeding ground for your imagination to surprise you. You'll learn new techniques, styles and a deeper understanding of you and your process.
Getting to know yourself through your work can be frustrating, especially when you don't rock that first, second or tenth attempt of what's in your mind. Over time though it becomes rewarding as you begin finding your voice and unique style.
My strange obsession with pizza, cats and outer space have slowly found their way in my work over the years. I was hesitant at first because it broke "curation." Oddly enough, these weird quirks have become my highest engaging work and my best sellers in products.
It let people see my true colors and get to know Scotty, the human behind the work.
If a certain song or quote hits you deep, express it by creating some work.
Letter out that stupid pun or dad joke that only you laughed at.
Show your weird obsession for gummy bears or goat cheese in a abstract illustration.
Whatever it is, don't be afraid to experiment by finding and sharing yourself in your work.
Sometimes you scroll through your feeds and all you see is the same style of work or composition.
Yet once in a while you stop scrolling and have to pick your job off the floor due to someone's brilliant and original work.
That person is the black sheep, and you should strive to be that untamed beast.
Being the black sheep has always had a negative connotation to it. You're essentially the oddball in the family who sticks out for the wrong reasons.
However, in the magical creative realm, I'm learning that living the black sheep life is what helps you stand out and rise above the noise.
Instead of trying to fit it and mimic the waves everyone is riding, why not swim against the current?
A few people that do incredibly unique work that makes me pick my jaw off the floor are:
"Be brave enough to show your weird and OWN YOUR FLAVOR. The weird will be rewarded as you give permission to others to find and show their weird."
I totally paraphrased this but I believe I heard this from Lauren Hom's episode on the Creative Pep Talk Podcast with Andy J. Miller.
It's crazy how often I hear creatives tell me that they are reluctant to share their work at all due to the comparison trap and the fear of being judged.
I know this feeling all too well as it took me till the age of around 20-21 to claim I was an artist and to share my work publicly.
Regardless of your audience size or track record, publicly showcasing your weird can spark a ripple effect. When people see you comfortably sharing something that's out of the norm, I feel one can absorb some self-confidence through osmosis to do the same.
You never know who's paying attention to what you're kicking out and the impact that it could have.
I get it, it's hard to shake things up and put yourself out there. However, it's hard to grow if you don't show.
We live in a world that tries to convince you that you should should want to be someone else. Hence getting out of your comfort and waving your freak flag is more important than ever.
Remember, nobody is better at being you than you.
Show your weird and be the black sheep.
How many times have you put yourself in a position to land an opportunity only to be rejected?
That shit hurts doesn’t it?
It not only leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but it also makes you reluctant to get back on the saddle and try again (I’m not a country fan but always wanted to say that).
That’s the curse of being a creative. You’ll always face adversity and fall on your ass from time to time.
It’s also the beauty of being a creative. It's an every day challenge and you have the ability to dust yourself off and keep fighting.
This is how breakthroughs manifest.
Queue today’s guest, Mr. Nick Misani. His one of a kind majestic Fauxsaic masterpieces has allowed him to quickly make a name for himself in the lettering realms.
However, that’s not the only style he excels at as he’s landed juggernaut clients such as Target, PepsiCo, Airbnb, Vanity Fair, etc with his diverse range of skills.
The only thing that matches his incredible work is his inspiring story as he’s dealt with waves of adversity and rejection to get to where he is today.
In today’s episode, we dive deep into the topics of:
So buckle your seatbelts, but not too tight though to restrict air circulation. Let’s dive deep into Nick’s story and work.
I pursue this podcast because I love it.
I pursue drawing and creating because I love it.
Being a creative, you got into this whole mess because you tried it, you loved it and you figured it out along the way. Sometimes along the way you forget why you loved it and you can steer of course for a season or even a few years.
I’ve been there as it’s also easy to get wrapped up in the validation of creating for others on social media instead of creating what you’re vibing too. When you give yourself permission to play, fuck up and experiment, amazing things can happen.
Queue today’s guest, Brian Steely of Steely Works. Brian is the most chill, down to earth rock stars in the creative game right now. He’s done work for big brands like Element, Toyota, Nike and big bands like Phish, Mumford & son and My Morning Jacket to name a few. However, he’s not too proud to throw down with your average Joe brand looking to make a splash.
He’s made a name for himself with his monoline badge work that’s take the internet by storm.
In this episode, we cover topics of:
He’s a rad dude, a great friend and he drops a goldmine of takeaways that light a much needed fire under your ass.
Somedays you just lack the spark. You know, that feeling or reason that gets you stoked to jump out of bed and work on shit that lights your soul on fire.
Often it’s hard to see the gold we have buried within us. The inner critic blinds us from catching a glimpse of our potential.
Sometimes having an outside voice of reason can help break through that wall and give you the needed push to light that spark again. Sometimes you just need a champion or cheerleader in your corner.
While it may not be easy to be your own champion, you always have the ability to champion someone else.
People appreciate being appreciated. You never know the impact you can have on someone by spending a few moments of your existence to pepper them with a verbal pat on the back.
Maybe it’s just my background in coaching as I’ve had some asshole coaches who would destroy my confidence when I played sports. Its shown me the power of building someone up to help them perform at their best.
Someone who is a champion for creatives and does so much for our industry is Diane Gibbs. There’s an endless list of reasons why Diane deserves recognition as she:
I could keep going but honestly, Perspective-Collective would not be where it’s at today without Diane.
True story. after writing shitty blog posts for almost a year, Diane offered me one of the biggest breakthroughs of my life when she asked me to be a Keynote at a conference she was hosting in Alabama. It scared me to death as doing your first talk in front of over 100 people isn’t easy, but reluctantly AND thankfully I said yes.
That opportunity jump-started my speaking career which then got me into teaching workshops and most importantly, starting this podcast.
Diane is a champion for creatives like you and me. I’m absolutely honored to have this brilliant woman on the show and I know you’re going to love her as much as I do.
Let’s get real for a second…
We live in a digital age where human zombies are glued to their screens and expect instant stardom after hitting publish.
When overnight success isn’t unlocked, It’s easier to quit and hop on board the next trend that may help them strike gold.
One of the harder lessons I’ve learned in life is that there are no shortcuts—everything takes time. I’m talking countless hours, days, weeks, months and years obsessively hammering away at honing your craft.
Something we have to remind ourselves is that continuing to show up when it’s not convenient and going that extra mile in your work can help you edge closer to catching that looming breakthrough.
This brings me to today’s guest, Matt Vergotis AKA the Verg. Matt is the prime example of being surgical with practice, having patience while knowing when to disconnect from the digital world.
When he’s not surfing the Gold Coast and spending time with his family, you can find him crushing Corporate Identities, Branding, Logos, Type Design, Calligraphy and Hand Lettering.
It’s a trip when I listen to Spotify and know that I’m looking at the titles he crafted on some of the most popular playlists, it makes the music I’m listening to that much better.
Matt is a down to earth, super energetic dude but knows how to throw down and get to work.
In today’s episode, we surf around topics such as:
My expectations were shattered with this episode and his transparency on pricing is what I think you’ll sink your teeth into the most.
Hopefully, you know by now that I’m all about experimenting and pushing things to the next level. I realize many people in my audience are focused on lettering as they found me on Instagram. However, I know the majority of my audience wants to learn how to improve their craft and get more eyes on their work.
That’s why today, I’m switching things up with a collaboration blog post / episode with my brother Max at @Lettering_Daily on Instagram. Not only does he curate a successful lettering feature account, but he also loads up his website full of education, inspiration and resources for aspiring or seasoned lettering artists.
He reached out to me in March asking if I wanted to publish a tutorial on his site, but I had a different idea. I’m not one to do tutorials because everything I would basically teach is done by someone else who probably did it better. So I figured why not create an in-depth resource to help lettering artists grow an Instagram audience and potentially land client work as well?
Don’t worry if you’re not a lettering artist, there is so much value in here that no matter what medium or style you create in, this can help you grow an audience and elevate your craft.
Below I'm listing a brief overview of what is covered in the full blog post and podcast episode. I strongly encourage you to read the full 6 Tips for Growing Your Instagram Lettering Audience blog on Lettering-Daily.com. It's loaded with resources, people to follow, links, images and bonus material.
If you think someone can find value in this episode please give it a share on social media. Your word of mouth is the reason the show keeps growing and you know I love you for it.
The following are the 6 tips I cover in the blog post / episode.
Yes, these tips will this help you develop your craft and grow an audience. More importantly, it'll help you stand out and land work doing what you love.
Do you struggle creating and promoting work that puts a pep in your step?
Do you want to learn how to create an engaging side project that people can’t resist sharing?
I get it, this shit can be difficult and stressful. It’s easy to overthink and take the path that you THINK people want to see. However, creating to please others is a slippery slope that can suffocate the joy of what it feels like to create work that lights you up and resonates with the right people.
What makes you different and what interests you could lead to a goldmine of work that generates a massive breakthrough in your creative career.
Instead of trying to fit in, why not try to stand out by being you?
Queue today’s guest, Lauren Hom of Hom Sweet Hom. Lauren’s built quite the reputation of combining her lettering, illustration, unique ideas and quirky sense of humor into side projects that takeover the internet and go viral.
It seems she’s cracked the code for creating work worth sharing while having the business chops to market herself and her projects.
With her weekly #HOMwork prompts on Instagram, she helps thousands of people create work that stands out amongst the noise. Not only that but she has a Passion to Paid course which dives deep into helping you create and market a side project that interests you. It’s currently taking place as we speak so sign up for the winter waiting list in the mean time.
In this episode, Lauren dishes out:
Overall, this one will get you jazzed to get out of your comfort zone and dip your toes in a new project that excites your soul.
Our past experiences have the ability to positively or negatively impact and shape the future versions of ourselves.
So many times we let the bad things we’ve done or the things we don’t like in life define us. In reality, we should push our story forward by using those experiences as a guide to strive to do the best and to be the best we can.
As creatives, I feel we should constantly experiment, share our weird and let our freak flag fly. Your experiences, interests and quirks are the secret ingredients that’ll help you rise above the noise. Sprinkling in a dose of kindness will really add gas to the fire.
Rogie King is a prolific coder, developer and illustrator who can name every Disney character from A-Z.
Justin Mezzell has built a stone solid reputation for his illustrations and witty yet whimsical copywriting. His love for Pokemon and people are second to none.
Together this dynamic duo makes up Super Team Deluxe, a collaborative funhouse that churns out merch that speaks to your soul.
Within this whirlwind of a ping pong conversation that feels like it’s fueled by your favorite caffeinated childhood soda JOLT, there is an abundance of value, encouragement and vulnerability tucked between the humor.
Hold onto your biscuits as we navigate topics of:
Most importantly, they let you see the value of why it’s okay to work at your day job while grinding on your dream
What if I told you, that you had the ability to contribute to something bigger than yourself?
What if I convinced you that you could leave your mark and impact our future?
Jamal uses his ambition and curiosity to constantly reinvent himself. He's evolved to where he now pours his wealth of knowledge of design, entrepreneurship, social media and character building into the youth of Cleveland.
He serves as an educator, mentor, consultant and most importantly a role model to our future generation who often lack encouraging influences around them.
In this episode, we discuss:
Jamal is the real deal and the things he teaches can inspire you at any stage of your life to become a creative free thinker and make something happen in your life.
I’m stoked to bring you his story as his mission is something I can stand behind.
When you’re pursuing work that’s important to you, you’re going to take a few hits to the chin and get knocked down a few times.
The real question is how do you respond?
Sometimes in life, you have to roll with the punches, dust yourself off and fight to create another day. You don’t get wrapped up in the adversity because you realize some people have it way worse..
Someone who is a champ at this is my brother Colin Tierney of Tierney Studio. Colin and I met in 2015 for the first time at Creative South back in 2015. He’s become a close friend who always bails me out of a pinch when I need help with pricing, pitching, delivering or providing honest feedback on my work.
Lets just say he's a pro at branding, calligraphy, lettering, teaching, starting interesting side projects and most importantly, puns. The dude is also the magician behind Crayligraphy which we will talk more in depth about in the show.
In this episode, Colin shares:
I want to leave you with some parting words from Colin that I hope will simmer in your soul: "When you leave this earth, will you regret you didn't start or stick with it?"
You and I live in a world where so many people expect a hand out with minimal effort required. Then there are those who believe everyone else is catching a break while they constantly get dealt the short end of the stick.
Sometimes you gotta take the shit in stride and make something happen in your life...sometimes you gotta get uncomfortable and hire yourself.
Today’s guest did just that and have a reputation for being badass humans who make their own opportunities through self-initiated side projects
I’m talking about Amy & Jen Hood of Hoodzpah Design, a branding agency with moxie.
They went from working at a Coupon Clipper to slaying work from some of the biggest names we interact with on the daily like Google, Disney, Facebook, Vox Media, and Target...I’m sure you’ve maybe heard of some of these…?
I was lucky enough to meet them at Circles Conference last September and their big personalities complement their big work.
In today’s episode, they serve up a buffet of advice ranging from:
They will be a keynote speaker at Creative South in a few weeks so snag your tickets asap. They also have a new book dropping soon called Freelance, and Business, and Stuff: A Guide for Creatives that will help you elevate your freelance game. You can be the first to get updated on its release by signing up for their Newsletter (signup located at bottom of their homepage).
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.