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.
"Your identity is not in what you do, therefore fail often, fail freely, learn and experiment. And take your successes in each of those failures because there is one." This is the kind of encouragement Alicja Colon (yes, like the fragrance) brings to the table.
Not only is she an epic photographer / paper crafter extraordinaire, but I think her strongest traits come in prioritizing what’s most important to her in life like family, friends and guiding other creatives.
Alicja works her magic in Savannah, GA and is also the Commerical Photographer at Focus Labs who build thoughtful identities and experiences to elevate and empower organizations.
She brings timeless advice to this episode and this is the deepest conversation this podcast has delivered to date.
We go in depth about:
How many times in life have you talked yourself out of something?
How many times has that inner critic convinced you, “there’s no way you can do that, it’s impossible.”
I spent the majority of my life letting my inner critic drag me down.
It’s taken a long time for me to get to the point where I can object and stand up for myself.
Why not me?
Why can’t I be a successful artist / designer in my tiny corner of Iowa?
Why can’t I become a professional podcaster or a traveling keynote speaker?
Why not me?
On those days where I’m convinced, it just feels like I’m going in the right direction.
There are some days you’re just feeling it like the universe is this divine source of creative intuition and it’s nudging you along the path you’re supposed to follow.
I’m pretty sure this is how Kobe was feeling the day he dropped 81 points on the Raptors (I’m a huge Laker fan if you didn’t know).
On most days, however, it doesn’t come so easy.
My mind automatically defaults to doubt so it takes A LOT of effort and A LOT of repetitive self-talk to convince myself it’s possible.
I shit you not I will stare intensely at the inner critic in the mirror and repeat to myself, “Why not me?” until I'm convinced…or until I creep myself the fuck out.
Self-talk is important, good self-talk I should say because we are already pros at the negative self-talk.
Try it sometime even if it feels weird.
Why not you?
Why can’t you make these things happen in your life?
Why can’t you be happy building something you love?
If it’s something you’re good at and it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s not impossible…but it’s also not easy.
My coach, Rick Willis. during football at Wartburg College used to drill it into our heads that, "If it was easy, everyone would do it."
This sounds so cliche but it's completely relevant to practically every aspect of life.
Because it requires effort, many people are hesitant to pursue whatever "it" is for them. It’s much easier to let that inner critic run every minute of your life and passively exist or complain about the circumstances that supposedly hold you back.
From my experiences of letting the inner critic be in the driver seat, I personally feel you pay the cost of living with regret.
So I want to challenge you to challenge yourself.
When you want to do something and that inner critic injects doubt into your mind, talk to yourself…preferably in your own head if you’re around other people.
Repeat to yourself, “why not me?” and mean it.
Say it to yourself as many times as necessary until you start believing it.
Once you start believing it, act on it.
The mind is a powerful machine and it can either be your ally or your enemy.
After letting my inner critic kick my ass for well over 23 years, not mention the past 4 years of dealing with anxiety, I’ve learned one valuable thing:Having the proper mindset and some type of belief in yourself or your abilities can get you to practically anywhere you want to be in life.
Having the proper mindset and some type of belief in yourself or your abilities can get you to practically anywhere you want to be in life.
When I started convincing myself that I could become a great artist in the middle of bum fuck Iowa, everything changed.
When I decided I’m going to try and make a name for myself through blogging, teaching, speaking and podcasting, everything changed.
None of this would’ve happened if I wasn’t challenging that inner critic with reaffirming self-talk.
I had to change my way of thinking.
I had to change my perspective.
For things to change, you have to change. It’s all in your mind.
You are more capable then you will ever realize and you have a lot more going for you than you think.
Why not you?
Why not now?
This week on the show we have the talented designer, illustrator, speaker and just a kickass friend, Jason Craig.
Jason operates out of Augusta, GA and currently is the Senior Designer for the Westobou Festival in Augusta.
He and I go back 3 years as we originally linked up through Instagram and then met each other at Creative South 2015. That year he was a speaker and I was blown away by his story telling and presence on the stage, let alone his artwork.
Fast forward to today and he's become a mentor and someone I can rely on to give it to me straight and cut through the bullshit.
In this episode, we dive deep into:
Jason has a gift for drilling home his points through metaphors and analogies and I really think you'll enjoy his setup and delivery.
He's always making appearances at your favorite design conferences but you can catch him speaking next at the Crop Pop Up Conference in November in Austin, Texas.
I don’t want to be the guy who stands on a soapbox giving advice.
Rather, I want to be the person who shares what works and what doesn’t work for me as I figure things out on my own creative path.
Maybe you’ll find something that you should or shouldn’t apply to your own method of madness.
If you’re listening to the show then I’m taking a stab at the fact that you’re like me.
You want to build something, something that’s your own. Something you can be proud of and enjoy doing along the way.
Something you can leave behind for other people to enjoy.
Finding time to build for yourself can be difficult. Especially when you are building something for someone else full time with a day job or have kids and other commitments.
When you sign up you get an onboarding email question asking “What is your biggest struggle when pursuing your creativity?”
I love getting responses to this because it:
Shane’s response was, “My biggest struggle is balancing the little time I have with a focus.”
This has been a repeating theme and deserves addressing as I know someone listening deals with the same thing.
To Shane’s credit, he works in IT for the day job but comes home and creates amazing custom wooden cutout lettering. I highly recommend you check out his Instagram at @Rustic_Overtones.
Thanks for this week’s topic Shane. Before I get into the show, if you want to influence the direction of an episode or get my newsletter designed to give you a mid-week creative boost, then join the team atPerspective-CollectiveTeam.com.
Let’s get into the show.
If you’re listening to this show, you obviously want to build something for yourself, something on your own terms where you call the shots of what you create.
You want this so badly but maybe the day job or tending to your family makes it hard to find the time, motivation and energy to focus.
Maybe you’re unsure where to start or had little results in the past so you’re hesitant on where or how to invest your time.
I’ll admit, watching cat videos on YouTube or playing video games to escape in is quite tempting. Currently, I’ve been low key binging on Game of Thrones while I draw.
So here’s the question, how do you balance the little time you have with a focus?
By focus, I mean working on your own side project or even your own business.
While I can’t relate to having kids, I would say I’ve become pretty efficient in managing my time outside of the day job and husband duties to focus on Perspective-Collective.
Regardless of your commitments, here are 3 practical things I focus on each day that allows me to build something for myself:
How often do you give yourself a massive, daunting to-do list of a million things and find yourself unsure where to start?
It’s like giving yourself the assignment to climb Mt. Everest. It’s easy to feel defeated before you start.
For me, I get stressed out and discouraged too easily if I feel I have to take on the world all at once.
Instead, I need to break things up into manageable chunks as it helps to be objective and realistic. This makes the game of building Perspective-Collective winnable and most importantly, enjoyable.
So what is it you’re working towards or trying to build in your rare spare time?
If you have that massive to-do list, what’s one thing on it that you can knock out today to get you started?
Knocking out one thing a day is progress.
Progress is addicting and when you string together a couple days you begin to build momentum.
A few days turn into a week, a week turns into a month, months turn into years.
The more progress you see, the more you find ways to create more time to invest.
Are you a routine person or do you prefer to take life as it comes and react?
I used to be the one who would wing it and see what happens each day. Without a plan, I made minimal progress in a million directions.
While I can be a cluttered person, I thrive on the structure and knowing what my next move is going to be. Getting shit done and being productive is a high like no other and I’m always itching to get that fix.
If shit doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done in my world and it’ll sit on my to-do list.
That’s why at 9 pm each day, Siri reminds me to plan my next day which literally takes under 5 minutes.
I schedule open pockets of time in my Passion Planner to get that one thing finished whether it’s:
Without planning that one big thing during those times, my mind strays and I find myself mindlessly scrolling through social media.
One big thing a day for me could look like:
What could that one big thing a day look like for you?
What are those free pockets of time in a day that you aren’t taking advantage of?
I believe anyone can accomplish one thing a day with this approach and you don’t have to be as hyper-structured as I am to see the benefits.
This may be the hardest one as we live in an era where we are wired to love distractions.
As a culture, we are addicted to notifications, emails, DMs, text messages, features on Instagram, etc.
I’m guilty of letting these distractions take me away from my work once in awhile, but it starts with being aware of what you’re doing.
If you are serious about building something for yourself, hold yourself accountable and kill the distractions.
Go into that scheduled pocket of time you planned the night before and get your shit done.
For me, there are a couple things I do to handle this I:
Really the only times I allow myself to be on social media while I work is when I’m sharing the process of a drawing on my Instagram stories.
Try to focus on getting into deep work and start off small by doing 20–30 minutes of uninterrupted, distraction free time.
Work your way up from there and shoot for an hour. Gradually add more time as it fits within your schedule.
If you want to dig deeper into working distraction-free I recommend checking out the book “Deep Work” by Cal Newport.
I get it, finding time to work on the things you want to isn’t always easy.
Rarely is it convenient and we are all experts at coming up with reasons why we can’t get to this or that today.
A lot of the time people say they lack the motivation even when they do have the time. I believe motivation comes from the act of doing and it's hard to find the motivation if you only do things when they are convenient.
Be honest with yourself, you have pockets of time in a day even if they are 10-minute spurts.
Those moments are gold and you’re capable of knocking out a quick sketch, writing 200 words, recording video or audio on the go.
You don’t have to be hyper-structured, you just have to be intentional with the sacred time that you have.
You have what it takes to build something for yourself. Find the time and get to work.
Momentum and progress will find you.
This week on the show I'm stoked to bring you Lincoln Design Co.
I’ve been following these dudes work religiously since I discovered them on Instagram about a year and a half ago. I was lucky enough to meet up with them at Crop Conference and get them on the show with their crazy schedule.
Lincoln Design Co is a Brand Design & Creative Agency who works with the likes of Nike, Element Skateboards, Harley, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Disney, Nerf, Hot Wheels, Tony Hawk, Nickelodeon, yadda yadda I could keep on going but you get the point.
These dudes are the shit and I feel very honored to get to share a bit of their story and background with you today.
In this episode, Dan Janssen and company talk about:
Their team is made up of 6 people:
In 2017 I started the year off the with the motto, "Do Less But Better."
Unfortunately, I am human and have been horrible at sticking to this mantra.
Over the past 3 years, I've been putting out weekly content like a drawing, blog post or audio. Weekly content is all I know but trying to manage this with:
has begun to take a toll on me, not to mention all the other things I seem to fit within my schedule.
Sometimes it can feel like an endless cycle, like when do I get a break?
This past April was absolutely ridiculous with all the traveling and teaching a workshop at Creative South and speaking at Crop Conference. The months and preparation leading up to it were intense as well.
I told myself that May would be different and I would slow down and enjoy myself. Next thing you know, I book up any free time I have with freelance and side projects.
Safe to say, May went by in a flash and I can barely remember anything that happened. It's making me realize that I keep my plate full unintentionally and it makes it difficult to "live in the moment" even though I've improved at celebrating all wins...or at least acknowledge them.
There’s just so much going on that I can’t stress myself out trying to hustle to make all these things happen in the week.
I’m infamous for being too hard on myself and that’s why I’m giving myself a break and ditching unnecessary stress.
The podcast is my #1 priority as it’s the most fulfilling but it’s also the most demanding.
Sometimes I don’t feel like I have enough time to pump out the best quality in the episode or the show artwork as I'm rushed.
This pains me but for the short future I’m going to take the show to an every other week for my sanity and to free me up to:
I'm making this choice to ditch unnecessary stress I get when trying to rush out an episode each week. There's too much going on and especially in the summer time to effectively manage it all to the quality I expect from myself.
The show will eventually return to a weekly format as I know this is what has the biggest potential in my short creative career. However, I need to pace myself and play long-game mindset so I don't burn out in the short term.
While it'll be hard to adapt to this new format, my life and productivity revolve around routine.
I know this will allow me to reflect and understand how I can improve and evolve the show to a higher level.
I hope you know how much your respect, understanding, encouragement and support mean to me as I slowly figure things out in my personal and business life.
Thanks for listening.
Do you deal with projecting defeat and tell yourself:
We all want to be successful but this foreshadowed failure can stop you from even starting or sticking with it.
How can you silence that inner critic and pick a road to start down?
Honestly, I think the majority of us creative have no idea where we are headed—me especially.
Each year, the road seems to drastically change but the hardest thing I ever did was to start. The second hardest thing I’ve done is stick with it.
With a defeated mindset, it makes it hard for things to ever change and evolve if you don’t take the first step and begin in a blind direction.
I think when you’ve made up your mind that you have to be successful and make money off your creative pursuits that you’re setting yourself up for defeat.
I want to give you 3 ways to take the pressure off yourself as you pursue work that lights you up. The success, money and recognition are by-products when you continue to show up and improve your skills.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of professionals didn’t start off immediately successful in their line of work.
I’d wager to say that your heroes probably started off with their work as a hobby and it blossomed from there.
In my case, drawing was a hobby my entire life that I didn’t think I was very good at. However, once I started sharing my work and experimenting with different mediums and styles, I began to find my grove and my voice...and slowly getting paid to do it.
Even today I’m constantly experimenting— I’m afraid to get stagnant and content with my skills as I believe that caps your potential.
Avoid the pressure of needing to be a Bob Ross or Doyald Young right out of the gates.
Treat your early stages of your work as a hobby that’s just for you and nobody else. Dip your toes in the water and experiment in work that you’re not only good at but that you enjoy as well.
This is basically the underlying message to my show. If you’re creating work that you don’t enjoy, you could be slowly suffocating the excitement of your talents.
For the longest time, I was doing client work that involved me trying to recreate other people's styles.
Other times I was creating to please others and jumping on trends hoping people would like my work.
Sadly, when I shared this work that wasn’t true to myself, I slowly found myself becoming less satisfied, more frustrated and more apt to quit.
With the exception of client work, I encourage you to create from a place that is for you and nobody else.
Pursue the road of chasing work that lights you up and that you enjoy.
Transforming that hobby into a successful creative career generally lands into two buckets:
By creating and sharing work you enjoy and are good at over time, you’re bound to slowly attract an audience around it.
It will seem like nobody's paying attention in the beginning and this may be true. Remind yourself that you’re not doing it for other people and that you have to give it time to grow as Matt Dawson says.
Think about it, more people are getting access to the internet each day.
As of April 2017, Instagram has over 700 million users and you know what that could mean for you?
You never know when you’re one scroll or swipe away from having your work discovered by that one person who can open the flood gates of opportunity.
You’re boosting your odds when you continue to show up and put out your best work.
To be honest, I don’t think you and I will ever completely silence that inner critic. Yet we can be mindful on how we approach our work.
Putting pressure on yourself to be successful and make money from your talents is unnecessary, especially in the early stages. That is the quickest way to suffocate the joy from even starting or sticking with something.
When picking a road to follow:
I have a gut feeling that if you follow these steps, you’ll set yourself up for some pretty spectacular opportunities to come your way.
Scratch that, according to Marc, design panels suck so they turned it into a quirky session about 70ish Life and Business Lessons for Designers.
What made it even more enjoyable was the Always Sunny in Philadelphia theme music in the background along with the energy and humor they injected into the presentation.
One of the biggest takeaways that punched me in the gut was when they said: “If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a Hell No.”
This spoke volumes to how I used to take on work simply out of financial scarcity or due to feeling obligated.
I want this episode to drive home the fact that saying no creates more time for the work that excites you.
Listening to this episode better be a hell yes to you.
Why is it so hard to say no to people?
For me, it always landed into two buckets:
Letting these guide my decisions of saying yes got me into some shitty commitments that held my time and excitement hostage.
Only in the last two years have I discovered the power of saying no. To be honest, saying no has allowed me to stumble across exciting new work that let me evolve as an artist.
For example, in September of 2016, I randomly got the chance to do my first mural. The only reason I was free to take on this new challenge was because I turned down a not so exciting job the week before.
Murals have easily blossomed into the work that excites me the most. Who knows when or if I would’ve stumbled across this new medium had I committed to the other project. There just wouldn't have been time to take it on.
That brings me to one of my main points: your most valuable asset isn’t money, it’s your time.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day and each hour is sacred.
When you say yes to mediocre things you don’t really want to do, you’re saying no to the things you really want to say yes to.
By filling up those open gaps in your life with low budget t-shirt designs for unaccountable clients who take forever to pay, your killing those spontaneous opportunities that could be an instant “Hell Yes.”
That’s where saying no comes in.
When something isn’t a Hell Yes, it should be a Hell No.
If you’re taking on work solely based on scarcity or guilt, I really think you should reframe your thinking
To be clear, right now in life I choose to take on freelance but I don’t necessarily have to and I realize this doesn't apply to everyone.
I make enough at the day job to cover bills, groceries, gas and the occasional pizza to treat myself. However, I’m not bringing in enough to save for a kid, take Perspective-Collective full-time and attack student loans.
This is why I choose freelance but more intentionally than before.
I’ve grown to be selective now and target one “Hell Yes” project per month. Only one as I still have the day job, podcast and husband duties that take priority.
If no “Hell Yes” opportunities present themselves, my wife and I will be fine and I can focus on other things to push Perspective-Collective forward.
The old me would have settled for the first project that popped up due to scarcity mindset. I was willing to trade my sanity and satisfaction as I felt this opportunity would never come again and neither would the small chunk of change that accompanied it.
Always remind yourself that there are plenty of more projects coming your way if you happen to pass on one.
On the other end of the spectrum is feeling guilted or obligated to do work for friends and family.
I have zero problems doing pro-bono work for family or friends when it’s:
However, the people closest to you seem to always want a hookup or some type of freebie.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had some family or friends guilt me into doing work for them. Other times they get outraged when I tell them my pricing or simply reply with a professional / polite no.
Especially in a small town of Iowa where $50 for a logo is the going rate, people act like you’re crazy and proceed to talk shit about you behind your back.
As you continue to invest your life, effort, sweat, blood, tears and money into your craft, you'll realize the value of what you produce and how sacred your time is.
Over time you'll see that true friends and family will understand and respect you, even if they don’t like your response. The rest don’t matter and it’s cool to trim the fat and reduce your circle.
I get the feeling of wanting to please people but you’re better off saying no to free you up for bigger “Hell Yes” opportunities coming your way.
It feels like a ton of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders after adopting this motto.
Pulling the trigger with decision-making is so much easier in my opinion when you operate based on a simple Yes or No.
You’re always going to be faced with tough decisions, but if you can get by without taking on a mediocre project, then do it.
If people want to judge or talk shit because you quoted them “too high” or because you said no, who cares—that’s their problems.
Simplify your decision-making and free up your time for the projects that excite you.
Function from a mindset of “If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a Hell No” and keep moving forward.
This week on the show we have a very special guest who just got done hosting an amazing conference called Crop in Baton Rouge. Matt Dawson is a talented designer and connector who creates under the name Stay Gray Ponyboy in Atlanta.
He is a shining example of someone who put in the work and used the power of side projects to build a name for himself.
He’s not only an insanely talented individual but he’s grown into becoming a really good friend of mine and I can’t wait to share his story with you.
Growing up, Matt was always involved with sports, music and drawing. As he approached college, he thought landscape architecture sounded appealing and was involved in that for 3.5 years out of the 5-year program.
Outside of class, he found himself constantly using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to make band collateral like posters and merch. Little did he know he was getting started in a career of graphic design.
It finally dawned on him that he wanted to switch directions and pursue graphic design. He was in a new relationship with the wonderful Ariadne at the time and he approached her saying they needed to have a talk. The funny thing is she thought he was going to break up with her when really he was just switching majors.
Of course, she was 100% on board as he states she always is whatever he chooses to pursue.
Over the last 4.5 years, he's been working under the moniker of Stay Gray Ponyboy and the business name of Studio Gray. His situation was like mine when I talk about Making a Name For Yourself in Episode 28, using his first name like Matt Dawson Design didn't fit so he went a more abstract route.
There are a few reasons he chose this name because of the word gray:
While he stumbled into graphic design and built a name for himself, Matt clearly is a workhouse and has put in the work behind the scenes.
Something that really stood out to me from Matt's interview is when he said, "Am I going to build something for myself or am I going to build something for someone else?"
He's put in the grind at the day job of exchanging hours of his life for pay. He's been in positions where they worked him to the bone for 40-50 hours a week and he'd still find time to pour another 30 hours or so into building his side projects and freelance.
When you start having ownership of something, the scale begins to tip in your favor and that was the case with his story. It's all about perception as the amount of work he was kicking out under Stay Gray Ponyboy appeared like he was doing his thing full-time and eventually, that grind paid off.
Matt has now been working for himself full-time now for close to two months, and honestly it's all because of the time he invested into letting his side projects grow.
Let's face it, Matt is a typography nerd and I say this with the utmost respect.
His love for type led him to have type talks as he worked for Lamar Advertising. His passion for type sparked an archive of typography combinations that he would help other designers use when they were in a pinch.
Around the same time, he began using Instagram and sharing these combinations he built up under the catchy name of #TypeComboTuesday.
He understood the power of consistency and kicked out Type Combos every Tuesday for 2 years! In 2017 he scaled it back and focuses on it once a month as his freelance career began to blossom.
What's funny about speaking and seeing the behind scenes of these events held by Lamar is that it sparked one of his biggest ideas yet...
Matt was inspired to take these talks from Lamar and grow them to a larger scale for people in and outside of Louisiana. A patio sessions with a few beers ended up spawning the name Crop.
Think about it, cropping a photo is meant to bring out the best part of the composition into the frame and I feel this conference brings out the best part of us creatives.
There were a few hurdles he's dealt with and still deals with today in building Crop:
If you ask me, I feel like he is crushing it in every category.
The conference has been so successful that he is planning something special with it in between it's normal time in April. This November, he is doing a satellite event called a Crop Pop Up in November. It'll be a one day gig the Friday before MondoCon 2017. There will be a few workshops, speakers, a big party and plenty of fun with the Industry Print Shop fellas.
Q. What' one piece of advice you would give to creatives starting a side / passion project or stuck in a creative funk?
A. Having the patience to nurture your side project is important. You have to put in the time and give it time to grow.
Q. Serif, San Serif or Script?
A. San Serif
Q. Who's your current favorite artist you're vibing to lately?
A. Alvin Diec who is capitalizing on making new things look old.
Q. What's your favorite kind of pizza?
A. Pepperoni, mushroom, feta cheese and banana peppers at Peace Love and Pizza - Atlanta
In 2016 I had one of the biggest career shifting experiences…in which I vaguely remember.
It was my second time ever public speaking and this time was in front of a packed house at Creative South. I’m talking about 600–800 people.
Safe to say I blacked out for the majority of the 45-minute talk as my nerves were at an all-time high.
I brought a lot of energy, was really vulnerable and shared a part of me that many didn't know.
I can humbly say that when it was done, I got an unexpected standing ovation as the 9 am opening slot could be considered the hangover spot.
Sadly, to this day I can barely remember that moment. When I got home, I immediately went to work on the next project I had lined up.
It was a huge win in my life yet I was so focused on what was next that I failed to enjoy and reflect on the moment and it passed.
Honestly, it kind of haunts but it made me realize I’ve been horrible at celebrating wins in life—big or small.
Its been hard because I see people doing things at a much larger scale. In my mind, what I’m doing is just small potatoes compared to them so I rob myself of any credit.
To this day, I make it a point to celebrate even the smallest win as it:
I encourage you to see your small wins as milestones while grinding toward the trophy.
Keep your eyes on the prize but give yourself some credit along the way.
I can’t remember the wave of emotions that I felt as that should easily be one of the most recallable, happiest days of my life.
The only way I can slightly relive that moment at Creative South is due to my brother Terence Tang (Tinlun Studio) patching up some video and audio together.
When you take the time to celebrate even a small win, you create another moment to pair with that feeling. It allows you to remember that time stamp in life where you had a victory.
Small victories like selling a print online to something big like landing a huge freelance gig.
Find ways to celebrate like ordering pizza, buying that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing or just giving yourself permission to binge on Netflix for the day.
Give yourself some credit and find a way to remember that moment.
When you string together a few small wins, it begins to build momentum and confidence.
Think about those teams that catch fire leading up to the playoffs. They rattle some wins off, find a groove and end up getting the trophy.
Even the smallest wins on your end deserve some type of celebration or pat on the back.
Don’t take the good moments and small victories in your life for granted—they are pointing you in the right direction and you can't rely on other people to notice it for you.
During those creative funks in your life when you feel invisible, it’s easy to forget how many great things you’ve accomplished large or small.
When you don’t allow yourself to celebrate and remember small wins, it’s easy to get caught up in the low moments.
Doing this creates a breeding ground for that inner critic to thrive. This critic makes you feel like you haven’t accomplished shit in your life.
However, the lows don’t seem so low when you can string some small wins together. Having some attainable small wins like updating your portfolio or Behance can help you snap out of that funk much quicker.
Being a creative isn’t easy as you’re quick to compare yourself to others who are making bigger waves than you.
However, you’ve done some pretty amazing things on your creative path—things you should be proud of.
I would hate for you to forget those moments because you didn’t think they mattered.
Celebrate all wins, especially if they are small.
Keep your eyes on the prize and give yourself some damn credit already.
Imagine you’re on the highway taking things at your own pace. On your left, you notice one lane seems to be moving faster. Obviously, this intrigues you because who doesn’t want to get to their final destination quicker?
As you merge into that left lane, other cars seem to notice the quickened pace as well. Soon many cars swerve into that lane to get around the slow pokes who are just cruisin’.
It’s chaotic following so many cars at this high speed and next thing you know you miss your exit.
Now you’re on a new path competing with everyone else to get to someone else’s “desired destination” quicker.
Sometimes on your creative path, it’s easy to swerve into someone else’s lane. You see them blowing up quickly so why can’t you jump on the trend too?
I admit I’m guilty of this as I saw someone else’s success as an opportunity to get in the fast lane for similar success.
It got me to the point where I wasn’t creating for me like I had my entire life before social media—back when I would draw ufos, dragons and pizza in my private sketchbook for my eyes only.
When I stopped creating for me, I merged into someone else’s lane and began creating for the masses because people seemed to like that style they produced.
Sadly, it wasn’t just me as a lot of other people with the same idea swerved into that lane too and it just created noise.
Looking back on it now, it was a necessary learning curve. The experimentation of imitating and regurgitating other people’s work was helping me find my own style, process and voice.
While I still get inspired by others work and experiment with my own twist at times, I’m not following the tire marks they created.
I’m also not trying to create to please the masses.
I’m staying within my own lane and creating for me at my own pace.
What do I mean by staying in your own lane?
Staying in your own lane means creating work that you think is dope and that you’re enthusiastic about.
It means injecting your own DNA, heart and soul into your work that no one else can replicate. Anyone can bite your style, but no one can duplicate these.
It means not merging into someone else’s lane because it seems like the faster path to your desired end goal.
Everyone’s path is different and trailing someone else’s tire marks won’t get you the same results.
By staying in your own lane over the years, you’ll begin to develop your own voice and range of style.
When I think of creatives who stay in their own lane, I think of those who:
Some talented artists who come to mind first are:
While they never create in one distinct repetitive style, I can still pick their work out of a sea of noise on social media.
That’s what we should all strive for.
While the faster lane may tempt us, it doesn’t always lead to the destination we want.
Stay in your own lane and create for you.
You’ll find over time that you’ll attract the right people around your work, voice and style.
These are the people that will happily enjoy the ride with you.
4 years ago, my girlfriend (which is my wife now :) ) and I got into a mini argument late one night. It was nothing really, but when I was alone getting my mind off it, I started feeling weird.
First, my throat felt like it was swelling shut. Next, I had the overwhelming feeling of having a pallet of bricks on my chest.
My heart felt like it was about to explode and the room began to go black all around me.
Safe to say I was freaking out and Emily had to run me to the emergency room.
Turns out I was having a massive panic attack.
Looking back on it now it seems a bit silly but I thought I was dying. The stress and pressure I had put myself under for years finally caught up with me.
For months I kept this to myself as I thought I was going crazy. I felt I would be considered weak and any reputation I had built for myself would crumble.
Sadly, many of us bottle up these demons as we pursue a creative career.
At the end of the day, you’re a human being. It’s okay to feel not okay. It’s perfectly normal to feel inadequate at times as everyone deals with demons whether they are visible or not.
This episode is a friendly reminder that you’re not alone with your struggles and it’s important to not suppress them.
Recently I’ve been reading Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.” Honestly, its really clarified this topic of vulnerability that I dealt with in the past and in the present.
The early years of life getting bullied led to me thinking I needed to be a badass in order to be cool.
When I started getting prescribed medication to treat my anxiety, I felt like I would get torn to pieces if this side of me was exposed.
The months I spent trying to hide it were the worst as it tore me down from the inside out. The more I held it in and felt I needed to struggle in silence, the more I was losing the game of controlling my mind.
How I felt at the time reminds of this quote from Mark in his book:
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]“The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. The avoidance of struggle is a form of struggle.”[/perfectpullquote]
This is what I believe many of us creatives do, we bottle up our emotions and avoid the elephant in the room.
In my unhappiness, I realized I had to ditch the armor, swallow my pride and accept that I was not a badass.
I took action and responded by starting one of the hardest conversations of my life.
I’m paraphrasing a bit from the book but Mark states something along the lines of:
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]“When you feel shitty, it’s your brain telling you there is a problem that’s unresolved. Negative emotions are a call to action. When you feel them, you’re supposed to do something.”[/perfectpullquote]
The more I held in these emotions, the worse my issues got. However, I finally consulted a few close individuals around me who dealt with anxiety. What they had to say drastically changed my perspective on the matter.
Having the hard talk and getting if off my chest let me know I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t crazy.
The more I talked about it the better I began to feel.
About a month or so of talking it out to people I brought it publicly to Facebook and asked how other people, especially creatives, dealt with their anxiety.
The empathic and helpful responses I received blew my mind. I had around 100 comments of people stating how they fought it. This ended up becoming a community of encouragement on that little status.
This manifested into a blog post which I hope others find when they need a boost.
I feel by sparking that hard conversation, it let more people than just myself find a little more peace in battling their demons.
As a creative, I still deal with anxiety every day. My biggest fear isn’t to put a podcast into the world to be judged or to be on stage in front of hundreds of people. My biggest fear is getting caught up in my own head and losing control.
Keeping this to myself used to put me in some dark places. The new me is working on accepting these funks as part of being a human. This is my body signaling something needs to be attended to.
Maybe this approach will help you too?
You’re human and you’re not a badass and this is okay.
Give yourself permission to feel shitty for a bit but don’t avoid the situation—you just may be making things worse.
I encourage you to ditch the armor and get it off your chest with someone you feel comfortable with.
The low moments in our life make us appreciate when things are going right...and believe me, things will go wrong.
Use it all to your advantage and channel it into your work and your story. You never know who you’ll make an impact on when you embrace that you’re human.
Brooke Robinson is an Austin, TX native who fell in love with letterforms. Over the years she has taken that love for letters and type and transformed it into a global type powerhouse Instagram account called Goodtype.
Her love of letterforms started after taking a class in college. From there, she began collecting resources around her, not to mention the art around Austin played a role in her interests as well.
This love led to her wanting to surround herself with the amazing work she would find online and throughout social media. She began screenshotting all these beautiful works to come back to later. Her phone began to fill up so quickly that it sparked the idea to unload all of these images onto an Instagram account.
She would share those images and credit the artists. It started as a thing just for her but it quickly grew into something much more than that as the #Goodtype hashtag began to take off. There was an evident interest in the world in hand lettering and her Instagram page quickly became the hotspot as creatives would make a piece and begin tagging Brooke to catch a feature.
Next thing you know, she has a following of over ten thousand people and that's when I became aware of the account and got one of my first features. From that feature, it sparked the validation I needed to know I could do something with my art and I'm certain it was the same spark that many other creatives received as well.
It's safe to say that starting and curating Goodtype has changed her life.
It's allowed her to:
It's been pretty awesome to watch her build this successful platform that was once just for her. Now she is in a position to give back to so many creatives who are looking to take their work to the next level.
Things haven't always been easy as there is plenty of stress that comes with working a day job and trying to pursue your side project. She's dealt with plenty of issues that usually revolved around time but when you love something, you find a way to make time to pursue it.
One of the most recent struggles was figuring out how to create, curate and ship the first Goodtype Book Vol. 1. She had to figure out how to internationally ship these as sometimes it would cost $60 for global shipping which is insane.
However, she made it happen and is already in the works of creating Vol. 2!
At the heart of Goodtype is its motto: "Strength in Letters."
The tagline was inspired by someone who created a quick drawing that used the hashtag and it caught her attention. She marinated on it and knew that it needed to be the motto.
Brooke states, "We truly are strength in letters in our work and communication within the lettering community. The positivity and encouragement that takes place within this lettering world are amazing."
With the growth of this community, it's recently given her the opportunity to bring Goodtype to SXSW in 2017. Here she got to be on a panel discussing "Good Type and its Influence on Style" and how the history of typography and lettering played a monumental role in our modern design.
Along with the panel, she organized two hand lettering workshops which were taught by the homie Adam Vicarel. The panel and workshops were a hit and there will no doubt be a bigger Goodtype influence in future SXSW.
When asking Brooke what she had planned for Goodtype in the next 5 years, it was clear she had a vision.
Due to the awkward void of accessibility in the education side of things, she wants to transform Goodtype into a physical space where creatives can:
With know Brooke and her drive, I have no doubt this will all take shape.
In closing, I asked Brooke: "What’s one piece of advice you would give to creatives just starting off or in a creative funk?"
Her answer is one that can resonate with any creative from amateur to pro.
She states, "Stop comparing yourself and focus on yourself and what you’re doing. If it’s making you happy then keep doing it because if you don’t stop, you’re going to improve. Stick with it, and if you have to compare yourself, do it from a way that you’re learning and improving. If it makes you happy then why would you ever give up?
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking you don’t have the best tools, resources and skills at your disposal. It’s even easier to let these “obstacles” hold you back from pursuing or sticking with something that’s important to you.
When in reality, it’s rare that someone has the skills or resources right out of the gate. I know I didn’t.
At the end of the day, it’s about doing something instead of nothing and realizing you’re doing the best you can. That’s all you can and should expect from yourself.
When you stick with it and look back on the progress you made, you'll realize that imagination and resourcefulness are a powerful combination.
This episode is a daily reminder not only to you but to myself when I get caught up in letting that inner critic convince me that I’m not doing enough.
One of the most challenging thing in pursuing something important like your creative career is that you don’t always know the exact direction to go.
What medium should you create?
What style should you share?
What should the name you create under should be?
On the flipside, one of the most exciting things is that you don’t know the right answer.
As a creative, you’re a problem solver and this is what you do best.
You have to experiment and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, you’re figuring out yourself along the way too.
Something I struggle with is showing the true foolish side I have in my writing and speaking. I feel this is due to my extensive background in sports, coaching and training because I’m a coach and an artist at heart.
Sadly, I’ve had “anonymous” emails telling me that I’m trying too hard and it cuts deep because I am trying. I’ve been blogging for over 2 years now, speaking for 1 year and podcasting for about 8 months. There’s still a ton of room for improvement and I’m far from being an expert.
I’m still figuring out how to inject my humor into my monologs while getting my point across. It’s easy in my art because I don’t have to speak or write and I've been doing it my whole life.
I want you to know the goofy side of me:
You know, I’m a downright fucking fool sometimes but you don’t always see or hear this side of me. I’m still learning how to blend all of this together...but I’m doing the best I can.
I’m guilty of thinking that I needed the best pencils, pens, paper or equipment to get me on the level of the people I look up to.
No longer do I think my drawing utensils are the key to unlocking artistic greatness—I could create a masterpiece with a crayon because the tools don’t make the artist.
However, I’m still hard on myself for not having the money nor resources to have the video / photo equipment and skills I feel I need to stand out.
I have to constantly remind myself I’m doing the best I can right now with what I have.
I saw a post recently that convinced me there are plenty of ways to shine without the fanciest equipment.
Extremely simple yet extremely creative.
However, the video was not high quality and there was a lot of flickering which can be distracting.
You think that stopped this video from going viral?
I’m literally seeing this all over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
This is a prime example that you can use your phone and your creativity (resourcefulness and imagination) to stand out amongst the sea of noise on social media.
Right now, I’m a content creator and artist on a budget. I would give anything to have a high-end camera and an amazing rig setup to record my work but it’s not in my budget.
For my podcast, I have a very basic setup too. I don’t have all the fancy equipment I thought I needed and my office is far from soundproof. However, I put a lot of attention into getting the best audio quality out of my mic and learning how to edit properly so this doesn’t sound like turds on your end. :)
What I do is far from perfect, but I can’t let not having the fancy tools and resources hold me back from starting or sticking with it. At the end of the day, I’m showing up and doing something rather than nothing.
Give yourself permission and accept that you’re doing the best you can with what you have at your disposal. Imagination and resourcefulness are your secret weapons during these stages.
Please remind yourself that you’re human. You’re going to deal with these phases of doubt and feeling you need more to stand out.
I deal with them all the time.
During these times where you want to quit or feel like you’re not doing enough, remind yourself you’re doing the best you can.
You got this.