"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.
Are you feeling a bit stagnant in your work and desperate to get around like minded creatives?
If so, then it’s time you attended a conference like Creative South.
Here in a few weeks, April 6-9 to be exact, hundreds of people will invade the tiny downtown Columbus, GA area.
When you arrive, there is a buzz in the atmosphere as you know you’re around the right people. Shit, the tagline is even “Come as Friends, Leave as Family,” and this couldn’t be truer.
In 2015, I attended Creative South for the first time it sparked a massive swing of momentum in my life.
There were several reasons I purchased the ticket because I:
All three of these were accomplished and Creative South has become an annual affair for me. I’ve built so many amazing relationships that I’m actually bringing my wife, Emily Russell, this year so she can see what the hype is about.
If you’re attending for the first time, this post is for you.
Here is a list of Do’s and Dont’s to ensure you experience Creative South like a champ in 2017.
The speakers Mike Jones and company bring in are the real deal. They’ve built or are building a name for themselves in their respected industries. Their focus is to provide you with something to act on when you leave the conference.
Each year I’ve made an effort to reach out to several speakers who inspired me. It led to great conversations over lunch, dinner, etc. and resulted in some great relationships.
Listening is great, but these speakers are dropping gold and you’re going to want to refer back to some of the bombs they dropped.
You can even take sketchnotes like Emily Carlton who I’ll plug in the workshop section. You can then share your notes on social media with the Creative South #CS17 and let people know what they are missing!
In 2015, I shared my sketchnotes with Jason Craig after his talk. This led to a screen printed coffee poster collab and he also became a great friend and a mentor to me.
He even hung out with me back stage last year to help me prep before my talk.
Thursday’s opening mixer party is absolutely ridiculous and sets the tone for the conference.
They shut down an entire bridge and deck it out for one epic party. There are food vendors, drinks, fireworks, great conversations and Ink Wars…
Ink Wars is held Thursday on the bridge. It’s a setup of about 5 artists who are equipped with only a small sketchbook, a large white canvas and a massive black sharpie to go to war with.
The artists have 1 hour to create something based off a random topic. These constraints unleash some pretty wild concepts that’ll blow your mind.
Alright, this one is new to me and its’s replacing the beloved Type Fight...RIP.
Adobe Creative Jam is an event series where creatives share a behind-the-scene peek into their processes and projects. Meanwhile, teams compete in a tournament that puts their creative skills to the test using Adobe Creative Cloud.
Be sure to check it out wherever it’s hosted. The vendor hall is my best guess.
Some of the best value comes from attending workshops which range from hand lettering, passive income, sketchnotes, etc.
Here’s a little shameless plug. This year I’m actually co-teaching a workshop with the homie Brian Manley called "Crafting Your Killer Talk." If you’re looking to get into public speaking, podcasting, vlogging or videos in general, then this workshop is for you.
Sharing your brilliant and strange ideas publicly can be difficult but our workshop will:
I remember watching people on stage my first year wishing I could grow a pair and do the same. The following year Mike Jones asked to speak and it was the most terrifying yet life changing experience.
This workshop is about getting you on this level too as you have something valuable to share and you can make an impact outside of your art as well.
You’ll find a ton of other booths sporting posters, t-shirts, pins, stickers, etc. You even will have the chance to screen print your own tee with Real Thread.
I have no doubt you’ll leave with plenty of swag to plaster in your office, on your sketchbooks, laptop, skateboard or pretty much anywhere.
If you want the full experience you gotta ditch your introverted tendencies. Being reserved and escaping to your hotel room will extinguish any chance of having any impactful conversations and epic relationships.
While I’m an extrovert, I still came here all by myself in 2015 and didn’t know anyone. My anxiety was through the roof like a new kid from a small town in a massive high school.
However, I forced myself to mingle and now my best friends who I talk to the most are the people I met here.
You’ll get back what you put into it!
When you arrive, it’s going to be like you’re around hundreds of familiar Instagram avatars. Start connecting names and faces beforehand through social media so you can jump right into a conversation when you meet in person.
Doing this will make getting out of your comfort zone and building relationships that much easier.
Again, the speakers are so down to earth so don’t be afraid to approach them. Oh ya, try not to gush about how great they are—it’s awkward so treat them like the normal people they are.
There is so much great food in downtown Columbus and you have to make the effort to try it all.
My personal favorites were Iron Bank Coffee Co. in the mornings, Picasso’s, 11th and Bay, Tommy’s BBQ, The Black Cow and the Loft just to name a few.
I promise you will not leave hungry.
For the love of everything good on this earth, please do not show up throwing your business cards to as many as people as possible. This isn’t the place for that shit.
Build relationships and hand out some stickers, patches or pins. Get to know people and their story. I’m not even bringing business cards this year but if I did, I would only hand them out to someone if they asked me.
Along with throwing your business cards out to people, don’t go pushing your products and services on people either.
This place is about building community. It’s not a breeding ground for you to sell your stuff. Sign up for a vendor booth if that’s the case.
By hanging back during the day and going to your hotel each night, you can't experience Creative South like a champ.
Even if you don’t drink, that’s totally fine! This is an intimate setting and you will get your full money’s worth by investing in yourself and taking every precious moment possible to engage in deep conversations.
Many people hand out cool things like stickers, pins, patches, coasters, etc. Don’t feel the pressure of needing to go all out on swag to hand out to people. Soak up the Creative South experience instead.
People won’t remember you necessarily for what you handed out — they will remember you from the connection they made with you.
Party away, I know I will be, but don’t miss out on speakers, panels, vendors, conversations, etc. because you were too hungover and need puke in the comforts of your room.
This is a sure bet to waste your money and your experience. I understand taking a nap or recharging for a bit, but being a hungover mess isn’t going to impress anyone.
I was a bit reserved my first year, but last year and this year are far from the case.
There will be plenty of opportunities to embarrass yourself for awesome prizes. You can let loose, do karaoke, hug strangers or dance freely because seriously, no one cares and you’re even weirder playing the “too cool” game.
Alright, so if this is your first year then I can’t tell you how excited I am for you. As you can tell, I’m driving home the point that this place is all about the people and the motivation you will take home with you.
Be yourself, but also break out of your shell and do things you normally wouldn’t like introduce yourself to one of your favorite speakers.
Follow these guidelines and you'll be sure to experience Creative South like a champ!
ps. Definitely, make sure to come say hey to me as I have 2 types of pizza stickers to dish out.
Finally, if you need some more reasons to attend Creative South in the future, check out my friends Lenny’s Top 10 Reasons to Attend Creative South.
This week I have one of my good friends and role models on the show, Bob Ewing. Bob and I go back a couple years and he’s been someone in the creative community that really shines as an example of one who shows consistency, craftsmanship and is all about building relationships.
Currently, he is an Art Director for Element Three, Co-Founder of Inch x Inch, a talented letterer and illustrator, kick-ass dad and husband and you can catch him speaking at Creative South here in a few weeks.
Bob is the man and I think you’re going to soak up a lot of gold that he has to offer in pushing your creativity to that next level.
He committed himself to letter something every day whether it was 5 minutes or 5 hours—it didn’t matter except that he was drawing and lettering again.
Instagram became his tool of choice to hold himself accountable and to build an archive. His account started off private but eventually, he shared his work every day with the #hashtaglettering tag.
I first discovered Bob as he kept popping up in my feed and the consistency is what I noticed. When I talk consistent, I mean he extended this lettering daily commitment to a whopping 534 days in a row! Incredible right?
fell in love became obsessed with the process and now everything he does starts with pencil / pen and paper.
Bob's goal was simple and attainable, draw and post to Instagram—that's it. He made it winnable and not complex which so many of us seem to do the opposite when starting off. The continuation of the goal clearly made him better, but there were challenges along the way.
Mainly these issues revolved around:
Many times he reluctantly posted because he wasn't happy with the piece, but the goal was simple: get it posted. This wasn't about perfection.
Finding time was a factor as Bob is a family man with 2 kids and a wife while still trying to squeeze in freelance in there too. However, Bob is a great example of scratching that creative itch while still having a family and day job.
Sometimes he would be searching for words and inspiration which would waste time he could be working. He solved that problem by building an ongoing word list he could pull from each day without thinking. Similar to the Collecting Your Ideas & Building a Gold Reserve Episode 29.
No matter the challenge, Bob stuck with his commitment and it paid off in his craftsmanship and career.
His consistency I feel has skyrocketed him into a household name in the creative community. He now speaks and teaches workshops at conferences and events. He collaborates with some of the biggest names in the industries through Inch x Inch as mentioned in Episode 27.
It all stemmed from a consistent commitment to drawing again.
A theory from the book Art & Fear exclaims that your best work is found by doing your work and doing a lot of it.
This was the case for Bob.
He states, "Whatever you’re starting isn’t going to be great, it’s rare you’re going to be great from the start." You can see this in his day 1 #hashtaglettering to day 534.
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="1c1c1c" color="" class="" size="32"]It takes a lot of bad work to get to your best work and by making an effort to improve ever day, you'll get to your best work much quicker.[/perfectpullquote]
It seems like Bob is chopping it up with pretty much every I idolize in the creative industry. He's an extrovert and a people person and it shows in his commitment to building relationships with people in the creative community.
He's in this for the people as he states, "It's amazing the relationships you make in the design world. We are lucky to do this for a living. A lot of good comes from feedback and connecting on a deeper level and building relationships."
However, building relationships outside of the design community are just as important as well. You need those escapes and outlets from the creating world so he puts a lot of time building relationships locally too.
I asked Bob to leave you with a parting word of advice to a fellow creative who get's wrapped up in comparison.
He states, "You can’t compare yourself to otter’s as no one will create or look at work the way you look at it. You have your own experiences that no one else has."
Instead of dealing with jealousy and the envy of comparison, he flips it on its head by celebrating others and their work. He does this by sharing people's work through Dribbble which counterattacks the comparison trap.
A concept he pulled from Chase Jarvis talks about so many of us looking for outside answers to create our best work. When in reality, the answers to our questions are inside of us.
At the end of the day, it all begins and end with you.
Creative block is the worst, especially when you forget that great idea you had when driving on the highway. How awesome would it be if you never had a shortage of ideas to draw from so you can spend more time creating? (that’s a drawing pun)
I can safely say that I rarely deal with creative block because I collect practically every idea that comes my way.
Someone on my newsletter recently asked me how I went about this and I felt my reply could make a helpful episode in case you struggle with a lack of ideas.
Having a gold reserve of ideas has helped me battle creative block with:
I’m going to give you 4 ways to collect and build up your idea gold reserve so you can spend more time creating. This will help you easily come back to that idea you had when waiting in line at Chik-Fil-A.
I keep a handy little sketchbook with me wherever I go so I can jot down a thumbnail sketch or write an idea on the fly. Usually, I'll roll with Field Notes brand or with something my friends produced like my friends Tinlun Studio or Cuttink Studio.
Keeping it beside my bed at night is crucial as my head is constantly swimming with ideas when I try to sleep. I’m not taking any chances of forgetting it in the morning.
This has been the most productive way of collecting ideas and I can’t recommend it enough if you struggle generating ideas on the spot.
The gold reserve I’ve built up to battle creative block is buried in all these sketchbooks--perfect for referencing when I need inspiration to punch me in the face.
Sometimes you need to be a bit more thorough with your idea through writing and lists--especially if you have shitty handwriting.
In this case, I love using Wunderlist which is a task manager app for desktop and mobile. There are plenty of other things out there like iOS Notes app, Evernote, Omnifocus, etc.
Right now, the free version of Wunderlist is suitable for what I need.
For example, I have a Perspective Podcast category. Here I’ll store an ongoing list with subtasks that contain episode ideas which I can also add notes and dates to. I love that I can add to it on the go when I’m not on my laptop.
Other ways I use Wunderlist are to track a list of maintenance tasks I need to do on my website. I even have a shared list with my wife for things to get at the store because I’m always forgetting shit and lose everything I put on Post-Its.
It’s too easy to forget these things but a Task Manager App never forgets.
If I’m on the go and I can’t draw or write my idea, I turn to my homegirl Siri on my iPhone.
I tell her to “set reminder in X hours for me to write down or draw this specific idea.”
Sometimes she will butcher my idea but gets it close enough to spark the memory for me to collect it.
An example I recently had was, “Remind me in an hour to draw pizza on a skull.”
She came back with, “Remind me in an hour to drop pizza in schools.”
Why the hell would I intentionally drop my pizza? She obviously doesn’t know me that well.
Regardless, she is pretty helpful most of the time so I’ll give her a break.
Finally, I get some of my best ideas in the shower….
I’m usually listening to a podcast or audiobook through my Bluetooth Speaker when inspiration strikes.
It just so happens that I have Aqua Notes in my shower to “never let another idea go down the drain.”
Cheesy tagline but damn it’s the truth. I’m able to make a quick sketch or write a note and then transfer it to my sketchbook or Wunderlist.
To be honest, there’s really no excuse to why you can’t battle creative block by collecting your ideas and building a gold reserve.
In episode 26, Efdot gave some great ways to stay inspired, and now you have practical ways to collect and store those ideas for a rainy day.
If you’re taking your work seriously, I would recommend utilizing these 4 tactics in your game asap. Especially carrying a sketchbook with you at all times, that’s mandatory.
Collecting your ideas and building a reserve will help you spend less time thinking and more time creating when it’s time to throw down.
Have you heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee before? Chances are you probably have if you’ve been paying attention to the social media / entrepreneur scene.
I feel like he is a dude you either love or hate due to his bravado or profanity. One thing is for certain, people know of him because he made his name mean something.
As an immigrant from the Soviet Union, Gary helped his dad transform his notable Wine Library business to a powerhouse though YouTube vlogging.
From there, he’s gone on to build the multi-million dollar social media business, Vayner Media.
Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee wouldn’t mean anything to anyone if he didn’t bust his ass and pour his soul into what he was passionate about.
Picking a name for your brand or business can be hard and really frustrating, I can totally relate.
I’m here to convince you that you can make whatever name you choose to operate under mean something over time.
You have what it takes.
We were steadily building for 4 years and had:
However, I was creating so much work on the side and not all of it fit the style of the brand. I needed a way to share this work separately.
During this time, I was getting heavy into hand lettering. I thought maybe I could become a big time freelancer and I needed a business name to house all my work.
The first thing I went to was the typical Scotty Russell Design, Russell Studio, Russell Graphics, Russell Design Co. but they all sounded super douchey.
I despised having my name a part of it as it didn’t have a nice ring to it. All my colleagues I knew at the time had their names a part of their brand but to me, it never clicked.
I decided to explore a more abstract route instead.
I had a massive brain dump session (I love using that phrase) and began throwing words I liked on paper. Anything that came to mind I put it down and started to make connections.
The words Collective, Collection and Perspective kept coming up.
First, I was sold on the word Perspective first for 2 reasons:
Next, the word Collective and Collection sounded cool as it could mean all my drawings fell in this collection. Otherwise, down the road, it could mean I have a team under me.
After a month of throwing ideas around, Perspective-Collective was born in April 2014. However, it wasn’t until a month later in May when I gathered up the courage to announce it publicly with the branding I had created.
When you’re just starting off, it’s easy to feel stupid and doubt yourself.
If you’re like me, more specifically the old me, you want everyone to love your work and you’d be crushed if someone thought it was stupid.
I feel that’s what holds so many of us creatives back is we are afraid to have someone not approve of what we are doing. We see it as failure and that we don’t deserve a slot within the creative community.
I hesitantly began sharing through this moniker on Facebook and Instagram. This was the same time that my partner and I had some issues coming to agreements with shares and the future of Daydreamin’ Clothing.
Reluctantly, I stepped away from the brand and began putting all my spare time into Perspective-Collective. In the early days, I heard crickets when I posted my work. It sucked but I was having a lot of fun pursuing my work with no limits.
Over time, things began to pick up.
The obsession took over from there.
I started noticing that my increased quality of work and consistent dedication to the creative process is what was making my name actually mean something.
My point in sharing my story is that you can make whatever name you choose to operate under mean something through the enthusiasm and dedication of your craft.
You never know what it could evolve into.
Looking back on it now, it blows my mind what’s happened in the course of 3 years. Hell, a lot can happen in one year when you decide that you’re going to commit to something no matter what others may think.
I vividly remember my girlfriend (now my wife @theoilshelf) and my parents questioning my pursuits of self-employment as an artist.
Why couldn’t I work a safe job like everyone else and relax in the evenings?
In my head, I knew that I’m not like everyone else.
One night, I remember balling to my wife the day I decided to step away from Daydreamin’. I felt like a quitter but I remember telling her that, “I have this feeling that I’m meant to do something special with my life and my art. I don’t know what it is but I feel it.”
3 years later and both her and my parents see what I saw in myself in that moment. I feel it, even more today as Perspective-Collective has turned into something more than just a name to house drawings.
Perspective-Collective is the main side project that houses my other side project geared towards encouraging creatives like you.
These channels of the brand are:
Once I thought the Collective portion could mean future employees and I could scale it to be something huge. Now I realize the collective is really my best friend and me together.
Recently, it dawned on me that I would be nowhere without my wife’s support, ideas and constructive criticism. She is what makes this a Collective now as we slowly carve a role for her to do what she does best…which is pretty much everything I suck at!
Having her officially on the team fuels my ambitions to push this project even further.
If you’re like me, it’s going to feel super awkward putting yourself out there when you decide your name.
You’re going to overthink it and feel dumb, especially if you don’t get the response you want.
Shit, leading up to this past year my dad was still calling it Collective Perspectives. People are going butcher it or not understand where you’re coming from and that’s okay!
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]As long as it means something to you and it allows you to pour your soul into your work, that’s all that matters.[/perfectpullquote]
Gary Vee didn’t mean shit until he made it mean something.
Perspective-Collective didn’t mean shit until I made it mean something.
Now, it’s a part of me and I love it…aside from the fact that its length makes it non-username friendly across all social media. (Hence the name PRSPCTV_CLLCTV)
Regardless, you have the power to make a name for yourself no matter the name you choose.
Don’t let doubt and fear rob you of that opportunity.
The preface of this episode stems from some recent free work I was selected to create. I feel this could yield some value to you if you ever get stuck in the same situation.
Recently, a local pizza joint, Urban Pie, opened up close to me and they put out a call to local creatives through Facebook. They asked for help in designing their massive chalkboard menu as well as their cornerstone quick bake pizza oven. By now you need to know that I’m weirdly passionate about pizza art so I figured why not inquire for more details.
It came back as exposure work…
If you’re like me then you’re not a fan of crowd sourcing artists and paying them in exposure. A lot of companies do this to try and position it as they are benefiting the artist when in reality; they are the ones who are winning.
Before you go rolling your eyes I want you to hear me out.
After consulting my mastermind group and asking the question, “When do you think it’s okay to do free work?”
I got a ton of great responses. I thought packaging up their answers would make a great episode incase you ever got in this position yourself.
Safe to say I took the job. I couldn’t be more excited about it because of several factors that I share in this episode that benefited me in doing free work.
I get it, you want to build a career of doing the work you love. Why would you ever want to do work for free?
I’m at a point in my creative career where I’m making a big transition in taking my freelance game to the next level. There are plenty of bills and loans laying around that need paid and my time is sacred outside the day job.
A part of me tells myself that I shouldn’t be donating any of my work for free as it’s not paying the bills.
Then again, there is another part of me who sees the value you in it…depending on the situation of course.
I’m not telling you to do free work all the time and get taken advantage of—I respect the creative hustle.
Not everyone is going to agree with me on these and that’s alright.
This is about the 7 ways free work may be in your best interest. I’m looking for the win-win scenarios here.
A great time where free work helps you out is when you’re just beginning to pursue your work seriously.
During this time, you’re still developing a style and name for yourself. It’s rare that people are going to throw a lot of money at someone who doesn’t have a body of work showing what you’re capable of. You have no leverage.
Doing projects for friends, family or other acquaintances can help you:
You have to start somewhere, and that means doing free work in the beginning.
If there is a specific style of work you’re already doing in your spare time, this could be a great opportunity to show what you’re made of in a more professional setting.
For me, I already create pizza art on the regular and the project I took on gave me a chance to do this with more intention.
This was a driving factor for why I chose to take on the project.
I have a list of goals written down and it just so happens this projects hit 3 birds with one stone:
When something aligns with your goals, I’d take the opportunity as you don’t know what it could lead to next.
This plays off #2 & #3.
If you aspire to do something and you’re already doing it for yourself in your spare time, doing it for free could open the window to do more of this same work, but paid.
Getting an opportunity to show off my pizza / mural skills in a highly trafficked public setting could lead to bigger pizza or mural projects (as of this writing, I’ve already received 4 local requests for murals and it has only been a week since I completed this project).
For even larger reach, I highly recommend:
This will dramatically improve your odds for attracting similar clients that will pay for this style.
Sometimes having complete creative freedom can be a mind fuck.
Restrictions have a way of breeding creativity, but sometimes having the freedom to do whatever you want within reason is amazing.
It circles around to showcasing your skills that you’ve been crafting behind closed doors in your sketchbook. Now you can let your creativity explode on whatever canvas you’re asked to create on.
In my case, this was a chalkboard and oven.
There may be times where you believe in the cause that a charity or organization promotes. In this case, your work could serve a larger purpose that surpasses the value of money.
A great example of this is my brother Terance Tang of Tinlun Studio. He donates his time and artwork to a local Chinese Youth Camp in Houston, Texas.
Terance states, “The first year I volunteered at CYC, I immediately saw the enormous positive impact it has on the kids - personal growth, teamwork, leadership experience, social skill building, and most of all, unforgettable memories. I knew then and there that this is a special organization that truly makes the world a better place. I definitely want my kids to have the CYC experience.”
Another great example of how artists donate their work for a larger, and in these case a smaller cause is with Inch x Inch.
This is a monthly button club operated by Bob Ewing and Drew Hill that features well-known artist’s work. The duo believes small things (like buttons) can make a big difference. 65% of the proceeds of each monthly subscription go to funding youth art education programs.
Some of the design juggernauts they’ve featured include Draplin, Allan Peters, Clark Orr, Brian Steely and Kendrick Kidd. What’s even better is that is that they recently donated $5,000 split between Art with a Heart (Indianapolis) and 826CHI (Chicago).
Creating free work for a good cause makes a bigger impact than you think.
When you become a known design source, your friends and family will inevitably hit you up for work. You can’t help everyone—saying no is just as important as saying yes…unless it’s your mom asking then you have to say yes.
However, sometimes you may be in a position to help someone get that break they deserve.
A great example of this is Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. and his logo design for Cobra Dogs. Cobra Dogs was a food cart that used a copyright logo and was on the verge of losing everything. DDC came in and created a new logo for them, helping the entrepreneur recover and do what he loves: selling dogs from his food cart.
There will be random opportunities when you could doodle on a kids cast, create a logo for your little cousin in-law’s youtube channel or create some branding for your friend's music festival.
Making time to lend your time and gift could be another person’s blessing.
You see, there are times where doing free work can be a win-win scenario.
I feel when you look at an opportunity from this perspective, it can be worth doing it for free.
Again, I’m not saying to do this for every project. You have bills to pay and exposure doesn’t put food on the table.
As an artist, you have to pick and choose those right situations where it makes sense.
Consult people close to you if you’re unsure like I did. It brought a lot of clarity which let me package this up and share with you if you get in this situation.
Not all free work is created equally, but sometimes that exposure or person you’re helping out just may be worth it.
This week is a very special episode as I’m doing my first interview on the show with my good friend Eric Friedensohn also know as Efdot. He knows how to stay inspired to create for his personal side projects.
Eric is a talented hand lettering artist and designer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He’s worked with the likes of Pat Flynn and taught lettering workshops for Vayner Media. He’s work at We Work and is the creator of the Optimist Project.
He’s big into skateboarding and traveling and it’s an honor to have him as the first guest on this show.
Steven Pressfield states, "The best way to fight the resistance is to do you work."
He encourages the artist to "Go Pro." This mean going from being an amateur hobbyist to becoming a professional because pros don’t make excuses—they do the work.
Many search for motivation when Motivation comes from the act of doing, but one may need inspiration in the first place.
Refusing to give into the resistance and doing the work isn't always so simple and straight forward.
Everywhere you look there are endless things to pursue and they are designed to be addicting distractions.
I find myself uninspired to create when I:
It's important to always remind yourself why you got into creating art in the first place.
If you're always in taking in the same stuff, you're going to end up outputting the same stuff too.
If you’re feeling really uninspired to create art, find something to create totally different like a wild recipe.
Do you ever get in creative funks where you lack the drive to create while feeling invisible to the world?
There are those sinister inner voices that try to convince you that your work doesn’t matter and that you can’t make a difference.
I’m pretty sure everyone goes through these phases whether they admit it or not.
This episode is me admitting this to you in hopes you don’t feel alone in the times you feel invisible as a creative or life in general.
There is light at the end of the tunnel as I’m learning that this is part of the struggle of pursuing something that’s important to you. In due time, it will be important to others as well.
It’s okay to feel this way at times, it’s natural. However, you are capable of pulling yourself out of this creative funk and pushing forward to the next phase on your creative path.
I say this because I’m pushing through one of these phases myself.
From mid-December through practically the month of January, I’ve been in a depressed state of mind and it’s been physically and mentally draining.
There are a lot of variables in play here:
While I still kicked out some uplifting art during this phase, every drawing carried a dark undertone which I feel was me crying out in creative pain.
Scroll through the episode artwork at PerspectivePodcast.com to see what I’m talking about.
During this stretch I felt invisible, like what I created and said through my podcast landed on blind eyes and deaf ears—the new Instagram algorithm doesn’t boost self-esteem either.
I doubted everything I was trying to build with Perspective-Collective and was even attacking my physical appearance.
Growing up I got picked on often for being chubby and those hateful voices still haunt me today. Looking in the mirror during this stretch disgusted me after no gym sessions and polluting my body with holiday shit.
This self-pity mode I was in was really self-sabotaging. I’m not saying this for your pity, I’m saying this because I realize this was a phase and I am able to climb out of this hole.
Here is what helped me.
Usually, an inspiring podcast, audiobook or YouTube video can snap me out of this “woe is me attitude.” Honestly, during this stretch, I could give a fuck less about these forced remedies.
The emotions were too strong and overpowering.
If you’re like me, you’d rather bottle up all your emotions as showing any type of weakness will ruin your “perceived reputation” as a badass.
I’ve come to realize I’m no badass and openly talking about the things I struggle with helps me push through these creative funks—hence the reason I started this podcast.
About 3 weeks into this state of mind, I sought out my best friend which is my wife of course. I told her I just didn’t feel like Scotty and that I’m not sure what’s going on with me.
It was relieving to share what I was going through to someone who cared, even if it didn’t change how I felt.
Next, I consulted a few close members of my mastermind group. Again I was met with encouraging words as they shared their creative funks with me.
The more I talked about it and heard other people admit they deal with this too, the better I began to feel.
Once my nose and throat were almost fully healed, I turned to my Instagram stories to show my face and share what I’d been dealing with.
This wasn’t a cry for help tactic, it was meant to let whoever the hell was watching know that they aren’t alone in these dips of depression.
I didn’t expect any responses as it was more it was therapy to get it off my chest. Surprisingly, there were waves of replies I got from strangers that deal with the same feelings of invisibility.
Your replies are what inspired this show to compile my thoughts and struggles into something more personable and transparent with you.
Sometimes people need to know that they matter and are making a difference.
This brings me to Diane Gibbs. She is an amazing individual who does so much for creatives whether it’s through the Design Recharge show or by teaching her design students.
She showed me the importance of how encouragers need encouragement too.
Outside of creating art, I know I exist to serve and encourage people like you. After sharing my work and receiving support from others, it showed me my potential and it’s my duty to pass that opportunity on to someone else.
It’s a powerful feeling when you know someone took a time out of their existence to reach out and let you know that what you do matters.
This is what Diane did and I think it was the final measure that pulled me out of this dark place. She first text me then called me out of nowhere on a Saturday and it really made my day.
She could’ve been a distant onlooker of my art or listener of my podcast. Instead, she lifted my spirits and shared her own creative struggles as well.
My point here is that you have the ability to boost someone’s spirits when they need it the most, whether they are a friend, family or a stranger.
Sure, your words of encouragement may land on deaf ears. I can’t tell you how many of my “heroes” I’ve sent an encouraging message to and get no reply back. Then again, you should see some of the replies I’ve gotten in return.
Sometimes encouragers need encouragement to pull themselves out of a creative slump and to not feel invisible.
If you’ve had an urge to reach out to someone, then act on your intuition and do it. I’m serious; you could make a lasting impact on someone like Diane did for me.
I want to force this into your head every episode, you have something to offer even though you may feel like no one is listening or watching.
You could be affecting that one person that stats and analytics fail to show. All it takes is one person at a time to make an impact.
You also have the power to impact others through encouragement. There’s enough shit going on in this world and you can be a part of the solution.
Everyone deals with creative funks and feeling invisible whether they admit it or not. You are not alone and I’m in your corner cheering you on.
If you need someone to talk to hit me up at Scotty@Perspective-Collective.com. I’m happy to listen.
Please don’t give up pursuing something that’s important to you. You are not invisible.
It may feel impossible getting exposure when you’re just starting to pursue your creative path.
Believe me, I’ve been there.
I spent over 25 years of my life believing that having a successful art career was impossible. As I’ve become more intentional with my side projects and have seen the potential, my mindset has drastically shifted.
Think about it, technology is in your favor if you start today.
It’s so easy to connect with someone on the opposite side of the globe within seconds. Not to mention that more and more people in the world are getting access to the internet every day.
I really do believe that you are one scroll or swipe away from having your life changed.
Creating the right side project(s) and following these 3 ingredients will aid you in getting more exposure for your work.
These ingredients are:
Obviously, you could say there are more ingredients, but I believe these 3 are great to keep top of mind.
You might get lucky and stumble across an audience waiting to devour your style. However, I’d recommend doing a bit of research to have a plan.
I feel the best, yet the most saturated market out there is Instagram for getting your work noticed. It’s the top platform for engagement right now and I’ve seen many friends blow up and create a thriving creative career from it.
No matter the social platform you choose, research the best ways to utilize the strengths of the platform as you share your work.
I started using Instagram seriously close to 3 years ago when I first became addicted to hand lettering. It started off with me throwing work out randomly until I noticed there were specific accounts and hashtags that surrounded this type of style of work I was producing.
For example, there is the monstrous account of Goodtype that has well over 725K followers curated by my friend Brooke Bucherie. I remember when she had under 10K!
Just to note, Goodtype started off as a side project and has evolved dramatically to become more than just an Instagram account.
I noticed that she featured people’s lettering work who used the profile hashtags of #Goodtype and #strengthinletters on their lettering posts. I began using those hashtags and pushing my skills every day and ended up catching my first feature.
Safe to say I was hooked.
Another way I approach my research is with analytic tools such as Business Page Insights through Instagram and Iconosquare. These tools show you metrics such as your:
Understanding these metrics lets you know what type of work people are engaging with and when you should be posting.
With some research and experimentation, you can begin formulating a strategy while creating your own style that speaks to you and your future audience.
We live in a microwave era where people expect instant gratification and get discouraged when they don’t see immediate results.
The reason many creatives get exposure is because they are consistent and people know what to expect.
I follow people or accounts on social media strictly because they post work I’m inspired by and are posting daily or at a consistent time weekly.
Starting with Bob, he began hand lettering around the same time that I did as he took on the 365 daily challenge. Meaning he hand lettered a word for every day of the year.
Not only did he reach his goal but he ended up extending it to a whopping 534 consecutive days!
Not only did he improve his lettering skills, but he is now considered one of the revered names in a thriving lettering community. This has led to him getting great lettering projects, public speaking and workshop opportunities while building amazing relationships within the creative community.
The other great example of consistency is Charli. She built her career on Youtube by pumping out insightful content targeted to designers on her Youtube Channel: CharliMarieTV. Over this period of time, she’s amassed a following of over 40K subscribers.
On top of her drive, she is just a genuine and funny human being. Her hard work has landed her major opportunities such as her recent job of joining Nathan Barry’s ConvertKit staff.
As you can see, being consistent over time can make some pretty incredible things happen.
First off, I’m not talking about focusing on creating trendy work to go viral.
What I’m referring to is creating genuine work that is:
Instead of worrying about expensive targeted ads to force feed people your work, product or services; focus on creating something that can spark an emotion.
If you can immediately make someone stop and:
You know you’re doing something right.
Awhile back I posted a video called Ketchup Calligraphy. I made a quote saying “You’re the Ketchup to my Fries” while spelling ketchup with a ketchup bottle and fries with actual fries.
I use a lot of ketchup and this was just a funny concept to express my love for it.
This ended up getting featured by million follower accounts like Art Worldly and by the entrepreneur influencer Tai Lopez. What made it even better is that they prompted people in the description to “tag” someone who is the ketchup to their fries.
Next thing you know you have hundreds of people getting tagged to see this post and then all the traffic directs back to my account.
Here’s a quick tip, when you catch on to your work that is getting shared the most on Instagram, you can start giving prompts for people to tag someone who can relate below in the comments.
I think you’ll be surprised with the results if you experiment.
By focusing on work that is shareable, it may very well go viral across social. However, don’t create solely to go viral as you’re setting yourself up for defeat. Don’t force it—create work that resonates with you that can leave an emotional impression on an audience.
I’ve seen people blow up over a year and then there is people like me who have been chipping away over the course of years.
These things take time but I’ve noticed that the ones who blew up more quickly than I knew their research and audience and they posted more shareable work more often than I did.
More power to them, but I’m learning more and more as I go and sharing with you what I learn along the way. I wish I would’ve had these 3 ingredients top of mind when I started sharing art under my side project of Perspective-Collective and that’s why I share it with you now.
It’s rare to watch a side project blow up over night. That’s why I stress the long game as I’ve found the most fulfillment within the creative process and I enjoy the daily challenge of building this into something greater than myself.
So what’s that project you’ve been wanting to pursue?
What’s holding you back?
There’s never been a better time than now to start and technology is playing in your favor down the road.
Scratch that creative itch and start your side project today.
How many times have you saw someone’s work and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I could get paid to do something like that.”
Did it cross your mind how could anyone know to hire you if you’re not exploring the type of work you want to be known for and better yet, get paid to do?
This is your queue for starting a side project in 2017.
Let’s hit on it a little more on how side projects will help you attract the kind of work you want to get paid for by telling you a bit about good friend Ben Hagarty, aka BenRealVSWorld.
My friend Ben Hagarty has been creating music and playing with cameras since late junior high. This obsession has elevated him to a level 53 Wizard at producing amazing video content around music.
Basically, I’m just saying he is a pro but getting to where he’s at now all started with side projects.
His passion for making music, especially hip-hop, resulted in some side projects with one being his group called Skool’d. This project led to them opening up for some of the biggest names in the industry like J.Cole, Big KRIT, and Timeflies just to name a few.
His passion for video led to him always creating the content for the music they made. He made music video singles, weekly YouTube videos, promo and hype videos which allowed him to flex his video skills along the way. He learned early that consistency was key for building a reputation.
Ben’s also big on quality. You could always find him studying other music videos, vlogs and countless tutorials on how he could improve upon what others were doing.
Not everyone he worked with in his music projects shared the same vision as him so he created the side project identity of BenRealVsWorld that could house all of his personal projects.
He started building relationships and networking with others in the industry trying to get his foot in the door to pursue his solo writing and rap career.
Creating videos and his love for music opened the doors of opportunity. He got a gig shooting a SXSW festival and then got a chance to fly out to LA to shoot some behind the scenes footage for a Chris Brown project.
From there he realized he needed to be in the middle of the action and took the risk of flying to LA to start his music career.
Ben was hustling his ass off in LA making all of his Iowa family and friends proud. His hard work continued to pay off because the relationship he built from his SXSW gig landed him his biggest dream job / client yet.
He was contacted by the TDE group to be Schoolboy Q’s main photographer and videographer on his worldwide Blank Face Tour.
As the tour just wrapped up, it’s safe to say Ben killed it by catching praise from the likes of Macklemore and Tyler the Creator for his high-quality work. His vlog edits for Q dominated the huge hip-hop sites like WorldStarHipHop.com and he even did a Reddit AMA takeover recently.
If a dude from a small town in Iowa can start a side project and get paid off the work he loves to do, why isn’t it possible for you?
I believe in one rule for building a successful side project: You have to pay the price to get paid.
For Ben, it started with finding something he was passionate about and was good at.
From there, it took research, deliberate practice, perseverance and the ability to believe in yourself even when things didn’t always break your way.
Pursuing a side project isn’t all fun and games, you have to pay to play. However, when you slowly build momentum and see a few wins, you start realizing that you’re onto something.
Everything starts small and it grows by taking it one day at a time.
I repeat you grow by taking it one day at a time.
Turning your side project into a paid dream job isn’t a sprint—it is a marathon and it’s all about pacing yourself.
Ben has been working on his craft well over 10 years. Nothing happened overnight.
There were countless times he had to pull all-nighters to shoot, edit and meet deadlines. There were countless times of sleeping on floors, not making a lot of money and getting stressed out for him to finally get that first of many dream clients.
These things don’t happen overnight as big rewards and wins need to be earned.
People like Ben and all the other people you look up to in the creative industry understand that you get back what you put in.
So what side project do you want to start?
Do you want to be a successful hand lettering or visual artist with big clients?
Do you want to run your own jewelry or clothing line?
All of this starts with beginning a side project. Landing the dream job or the dream client happens by starting and sticking with it.
Side projects are your opportunity to master a new skill or medium on your own terms with no one handing down an agenda to follow.
Side projects allow you to attract the type of work you want to get paid to do.
Side projects start with you.
You have a fresh slate here in 2017 to get started, what’s holding you back?
Next week’s episode we wrap up the series with the 3 ingredients for getting your side project exposure and attention. You don’t want to miss it!
This 3 part series of starting a side project is inspired by Lauren Hom's initiative of starting a side project in 2017. She has found massive success in her young career all from creating the type of work she wants to get to paid for with side projects. Her Side Projects: Your New Secret Weapon blog series along with a free mini email course are a great place for you to check out if you need some additional inspiration after this podcast series.
Would you believe me if I told you I have a friend who bought a Russian spacesuit on eBay and began photographing himself as just an everyday astronaut in public?
What if I told you this silly project is now becoming his full-time business pursuit?
This was just a little experiment that exploded with creative potential.
I’ll get back to Tim later, but the point I’m trying to make is that you never know what side projects can turn into.
You get the picture.
This is the beginning of a 3 part series which covers the benefits to pursuing a side project in 2017:
Let’s get started.
I recently read a Medium article by Busy Building Things and it summed up perfectly how a side project should be perceived.
It states, “Side projects are much more than simply hobbies, they are indicators of what you are capable of building.”
My hobby used to be drawing which led me to creating the side project of Perspective-Collective in April of 2014. It started off with me just needing a name to house all the art I was cooking up.
The thought of calling this 'brand' Scotty Russell Graphics was sounding pretty douchey and I reluctantly went with Perspective-Collective (I wasn't a fan of this name at the time but I rolled with it).
What I didn’t realize is this new side project was providing me the platform to create whatever the hell I wanted. I had no idea it would grow like this.
Over 2.5 years, this side project has led me to:
During this span, I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of what I’m capable of building. I fully believe that I can turn this into my full-time dream job someday if I continue to push it.
It’s funny because it all starts with an idea but can rapidly change when you decide to act on it.
That little idea you’ve had swimming in your head could change your life.
My friend Chuck Means told me a phrase that he heard the other day that went along the lines of “Creating Something Dope In Your Own Lane.”
I’m a big advocate for pursuing your own creative path by doing work that resonates with you. If you’re creating work that you're enthusiastic about, then you are making dope work by your own standards.
No one else’s definition of “dope work” applies here.
Over time, if you consistently share this dope work, you’ll give others the opportunity to think it’s dope as well.
It’s easy to feel you have to follow the footsteps of other creatives. However, I encourage you to be inspired but stay in your lane because your creative DNA and story are unique.
Going back to Tim… I mean Everyday Astronaut. He matched his greatest strength / skillset (photography and space knowledge) with his greatest passion (outer space and dreams to become an astronaut) and started a little project that he thought was dope.
Clearly, he’s in his own lane because this is an insanely clever and refreshing idea.
He started by taking spectacular photos of himself in his space suit doing normal things non-astronaut individuals would be doing like washing the car.
He hit it hard for about two years and next thing you know he's been featured by:
I’d say he's gotten some solid indications that this side project has some great creative potential.
It’s now to the point where he is taking the risk of setting aside his successful wedding photography career so he can pursue this full-time. His goal is to begin speaking and teaching his knowledge of photography and space while maintaining his quirky character he created.
If this can happen for Tim, why can’t it happen for you?
What is something that you’re interested in pursuing?
As Gary Vee puts it, “What is it you wish you could do every day and get paid for?”
Stop seeing your side project as only a hobby when it could blossom into something much bigger.
If you want it bad enough, anything is possible.
2017 is here and you have a fresh opportunity to make it happen.
Next week’s Part 2 episode will hit on how side projects allow you to attract the kind of work you want to get paid for.
Are you one of those people who is claiming 2016 to be one of the worst years yet?
This seems to be the overwhelming perspective judging by the media.
Yes, 2016 had some low points:
I could keep going and I’m sure you have a few things on your mind that sucked ass too.
However, what are some of the good things happened, specifically in your life?
If you reflect long enough I guarantee you could find some high points to balance out the rollercoaster year we’ve experienced.
I mentioned it in the previous episode 20 but it’s hard to appreciate the good without the bad.
Seeing the horrible things going on in the world like the suffering people of Aleppo should make you stop and appreciate every little thing that you take for granted.
How amazing is it to have a roof over your head?
How great is it to sleep without having bombs going off all around you?
How freaking lucky are you to have access to food and clean water?
See my point?
So ya, 2016 wasn’t the greatest but you have a choice of which lens you choose to see the world through.
Going into 2017, my message is to encourage you to find the light within the darkness. Appreciate when things are going right in your life as you can’t appreciate the good without the bad.
I believe in the Law of Attraction and have watched it work many good and bad things in my life.
It boils down to the concept of “Like Attracts Like.”
When you focus on the negative, you’re going to attract more negativity in your life. Your mindset and the thoughts you vibrate into the world manifest more of what you’re thinking of.
Think about it; you wake up one morning and it feels like nothing is going right:
After all this you think to yourself, “What’s next?” or “How could this get anything worse?” and the next thing you know your day is spiraling out of control.
Did you ever think that maybe you’re doing this to yourself with your mindset?
Seriously, this used to be me. I held a grudge against the world for the majority of my life and I self-sabotaged myself for a long time.
Imagine the kind of day you could have if you took a hit on the chin and chose to keep moving forward?
What would happen if you chose to see through an optimistic lens and appreciated the good whether it be small or large?
On the opposite end of the spectrum of “Like Attracts Like” you have positivity and gratitude.
Life is always going to throw you haymakers but why be in the mindset of constantly looking over your shoulder and waiting for the blow?
When you can find light in the dark times, you begin to appreciate the little things that go right.
It doesn’t always have to be something major like hitting the lottery for things to go right. Something as simple as someone complimenting you or opening the door for you can change someone’s day completely.
This can spark a whole chain reaction of positivity for someone if they choose to be in that mindset.
Positivity and gratitude allow you to find the light within the darkness.
As I stated in the intro, there are times where finding the silver lining may not feel possible right away. I’m not telling you to be a positivity robot.
Be a human but also realize you choose how you see the world—everything is perception.
If the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up is spill your coffee, shake it off and be thankful you can afford to have it.
When you see negativity shining in your Facebook feed, don’t give into it and go to YouTube and watch some cat videos.
Appreciate the good and enjoy the creative process of your life.
Make 2017 your bitch and choose to find the light in the darkness.