When you see big time work for big time players, it's easy to jump to conclusions thinking there's a team of designers, copywriters, project managers, accountants, creative directors, etc. However, little do we know that sometimes behind the scenes pulling strings is a one man / one woman army wearing each hat kicking out mountains of highly crafted work.
Usually these are just normal blue collared beings with a superhero drive to make shit happen in their lives. Their tenacity is fueled by family, bills, coffee and in this case, Bourbon.
If you’re a sucker for branding, typography and want some guidance in slaying great work for great clients then buckle your seat belts as Austin Dunbar of Durham Brand & Co. joins us today on the show.
Austin has a gritty and delicately crafted style and his typography, compositions and texture game is on another planet. Let’s just say he’s not human but he works for brands us humans recognize like Hershey’s, Adobe, Michelob, Pop-Tarts and a few thou shall not be named but they are heavy hitters.
In this fast pace episode we peel the layers back on:
The road to making a name for yourself is seldom smooth and sunny sailings. There are treacherous open waters and plenty of storms one will deal with along the way. While someone you look up to is crushing it by sharing their gift with the world, you have no idea what they overcame to get to this point.
Sometimes you get stuck in a shitty situation and it takes kind people to lift you up and invest in you. From there, you're hopefully able to see what they saw in you. You eventually learn the importance of self-belief and having a drive that allows you to remove the limits we so often place on ourselves.
We need the adversity to fuel our drive to navigate these open waters. The more you show up and invest in yourself, the more you'll find value in what you do and how you can provide it to others. This is a huge part of what allows us to thrive as creatives and use our gift to make an impact on people.
This leads me to today's guest. James Lewis is a hand letterer, logo and type designer, social media influencer, workshop leader, public speaker and all at the age of 22 out of Cardiff, Wales.
He’s amassed a large social audience while managing the popular Ligature Collective Instagram page that’s amassed over ¼ million followers.
James is wise beyond his years but his successful hot start out of university didn’t happen overnight. His incredible story of losing both his parents and being legally homeless at the age of 14 molded James into a driven individual. This drive allows him to combine his passion for creating and surgically finding a need for it in the world.
James has an infectious personality and in the episode, we dive deep into:
And that’s just a snippet of everything we cover.
So put on your life jackets and hold on tight James brings a ton of energy to this fast-paced episode.
Are you the type of person who wings shit each day and wonders why you're not making consistent progress?
If you are, it's okay because this used to be me too.
Over the past four years, I've slowly gotten to the point where I approach each day with intention like Tony Diaz mentioned in episode 52. Each day I have a focused plan of attack and I'm always going for the jugular.
Hands down, the biggest question I get asked by people on my newsletter, Facebook group, emails or social media is: "How do I find balance and make time to work on Perspective-Collective with a day job, wife and other commitments?"
By no means am I even remotely close to being an expert at time management and productivity, but I've found what works and doesn't work for me. I hope what I share can help you find what works for you.
The following are the five biggest tips that got me the biggest results in pursuing my side hustle:
When we get started, it's easy to fall victim to comparison and feel like you're not doing enough when you see someone else crushing it.
Often, our ambition is larger than reality and we think we have to eat a whole pizza in one bite.
While it's great you want to start a blog, a podcast and add video all at once, I think it's best to slow your (pizza) roll. I feel you're biting more than you can chew and setting yourself up for defeat if you're:
When I started over 4 years ago, it was simply posting drawings consistently on Instagram. Once I locked down that process I took on blogging. I slowly added a newsletter on top of that. Two years later I added the podcast and somewhere in between, I would take on some freelance.
I suggest taking things slow and steady as you don't have to climb Mt. Everest in a day. Start with one bite at a time with realistic expectations even if it's only 30 minute to and hour a day.
A little bit each day adds up.
Once you lock down your process, take a bigger bite and add the next thing to your plate.
I've learned the most successful people don't just roll out of bed and just shit productivity. They schedule their success.
When I stopped winging it and actually planned my daily attack, it made decision making so much easier. While I still over commit myself from time to time, saying NO is slowly becoming a secret weapon.
Here's how I plan my attack.
Sundays I jot down in my planner all the tasks I need to get done in the week and when they need completed by. I then prioritize them with the A1 Steak Sauce Method.
Throughout the week, I plan that A1 category task the night before which I share later in My Weekday Routine section.
I've always been a night owl, but waking up early has been the key to my productivity the last few years.
The book My Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is definitely a worthwhile read if you need a kick in the ass to try it.
I believe in doing the most important task first that will scale my business when I have the most willpower.
The most important tasks for me that require the most willpower usually revolve around writing or editing for the podcast, workshops or speeches.
Working a day job and opening myself up to the world's distractions takes a massive toll on my willpower. There's no way I have the focus nor desire to do my best writing when I punch out.
Getting up early and eating the worm sucked in the beginning and can still be hard today. However, I started slowly getting up 10 minutes earlier each week which helped me adjust.
Working before the world wakes up provides the best focus for me and I usually devour that A1 task before I get to work at 7am.
That productivity high is addicting and makes getting up early easier when you see the progress.
Playing Uno is just a fun way of saying focus on doing one thing each day that will help get you the most results.
Looking at a massive to-do list can be overwhelming and can paralyze you from taking any action.
By focusing on doing the one thing (generally the A1 task) you planned the night before, it makes things more objective and manageable.
When you knock out that one thing, you will no doubt feel accomplished. If you have leftover margin time aside from life priorities like family and work, you can then proceed to attack your A2 task or B1 task.
I can't recommend enough reading / listening to the books The One Thing by Gary Keller and Essentialism by George McKeown. These two will definitely help you sort out what's most important to focus on.
It's so easy for us to get distracted as we've become addicted to checking our phones, computers and tv's so we don't miss out on anything and everything.
When it's grind time, I eliminate all distractions so I can get into the zone.
For me, I kill all notifications on my phone in general except for texts in case of emergency. You do not need social media notifications on your phone. That shit will distract you from keeping the main thing the main thing!
I always have Do Not Disturb mode set on my phone from 9pm - 6am so nothing bugs me while I try to wind down through when I eat the worm and play Uno. I'll even turn it on when I need to practice a speech, record the podcast or get lost in a drawing.
If you're looking for more ways to cut distractions, I highly recommend reading or listening to Deep Work by Cal Newport.
Everyone is different and no one's life is the same. This is what works for me and I'm always fine tuning it and open to new suggestions.
Maybe your willpower is best at night with the type of work you focus on? That's totally cool.
I think the most important thing is to be intentional, schedule your success and attack each day with focus. We need to gut check ourselves and seriously consider how badly do we want to make things happen in our lives?
It's possible to make time to work on yourself and your creative dream. Maybe you need to chill on the Netflix binging and mindless hours scrolling through social media?
If you're solo dolo in life, there is little to no excuse for finding and making time.
However, with having a significant other and a family, communication is key. I've learned it's hard for them to support you if you don't:
There's probably more but these are the hard lessons I've learned along the way that can save you a lot of fighting. 😊
It's going to take some experimentation, determination and enthusiasm to figure out what works for you.
Remind yourself that this is a marathon. Strap in, buckle down and enjoy attacking your creative side hustle.
You have a lot of cool shit to create and great people to impact ahead of you.
In life, you often have to experiment over and over again until you find the right thing that works for you. Some may refer to this as failing while others refer to it as progress.
You may find "your thing" at a young age or you may discover it randomly later in life. Whenever or whatever it may be, it's never too late to find that thing that lights you up that can be shared with others.
This is how it happened with today's guest, Ian Barnard. Ian is a letterer, calligrapher, workshop leader and content creator out of the UK. Not to mention an amazing human being who pours himself into our community and would give you the shirt off his back.
I’ve watched Ian grow his audience from a few thousand to over 200k. He’s a wizard at audience building and creating viral videos, but he’s 100% open about his process and sharing his tips and tricks through his Youtube and Instagram tutorials and his Honest Designers Podcast.
He has an incredible story of how he went from getting by in freelance to making a self-sustaining passive income by creating products that help creatives like you and me elevate their work.
Side note: I created the episode artwork with his Chalk Dust Procreate Lettering Kit.
In this episode we discuss:
If you’re looking to grow your audience and make your work stand out than this episode is for you.
When you hit rock bottom and are backed into a corner, you’re forced to make a choice.
How do you respond?
I feel it's easier to throw in the towel then it is to raise up and face adversity. It's take a lot of guts to get back up and attack life from a new direction.
Then you have Lenny Terenzi, who's went from extreme highs, to extreme lows only to climb his way back up to the top. Not only has he made a huge name for himself in the creative industry, but he shares his story and his Professor Dumbledore like wisdom alongside it.
Lenny is an expert at branding, illustration, screen printing, teaching workshops, speaking, organizing events and whatever else you can think of, he probably does it. He's a pretty squirrely and lovable character who operates under the name Hey Monkey Design.
Not only has he been a huge role model to me, but he has zero issues opening up and being transparent in order to help someone else avoid the mistakes he’s made.
In this episode we chat about:
If you think someone can find value in this episode please give it a share on social media. It’s because of your word of mouth that the show keeps growing and you know I love you for it.
Sometimes there is more going on behind the scenes than you could possibly imagine.
While many people see only see the surface, it's those putting in the work when no one's watching that really get ahead in life. My guests today are a shiny example of putting in the hours behind the scenes and it's paying off.
Hold onto your biscuits as today I have the most bad ass female lettering duo in the game, Roxy Prima and Phoebe Cornog. You know them as Pandr Design Co. where they crush branding, murals, speaking and teaching. They are also the hosts of the popular Drunk on Lettering Podcast where they interview the biggest letterers in the game and show the personalities behind the work all while being drunk.
Genius I know right?
Behind their upbeat and entertaining personalities you see plastered on your social media, these two ladies grind harder than most of the creatives I know. They set massive goals, work their asses off and inject an entertaining and much needed spark into the creative community and industry.
In this episode, we go deep in the weeds of:
You’re going to be blown away by listening to how much work these girls actually put in and how they achieve results.
Sometimes we get down on ourselves and lose our way. Today's episode is in response to an Instagram friend of mine named Gosha Bondarev. To wrap some context around this, Gosha is a young illustrator and letterer from Saint Petersburg, Russia who aspires to be a full-time freelancer. I've watched him amass a following over 20k followers in the 1-2 years.
While someone may have a large follower count, this doesn't always translate into confidence and happiness. With Gosha's permission, the following is a message he sent me reaching out for advice followed by my response.
Note: I decided to write out a more thoughtful response for this episode based on the raw audio file I sent him which you can listen to here.
While I can't respond with audio to each person who sends me an email or message, I felt particularly called to respond to this one as it felt like my old self-talking through him.
I hope this wave of vulnerability and encouragement hits you when you need it most.
Hey man. Sorry if I am bothering you, but I need advice. I re-listened to episode #25 again because I wasn't able to do anything creative for the last month. After that, I felt like I should ask you.
The ugly truth is that I gave up, I started learning programming because it seems that I need some valuable skills to pay the bills. I have some pictures to post on Instagram from the last year but I'll run out of them soon and not sure what to do next.
I'm realizing that maybe four years of hustling is enough to understand this area isn't for me. I don't fit in here because I see what others are doing and how much more creative and interesting their stuff is. I feel I'm only progressing in using Instagram a little better but my drawing skills are on the same level as years go by.
I'd rather I realize it as soon as possible and try to apply myself in a different area. I asked a couple of friends from the creative industry and they tell me that, "If I'm not sure I want to do it than it's probably not for me."
I know that I should decide it by myself but I was hoping you'd have something to say.
Gosha, I'm glad you're able to be vulnerable and trust me not to judge you. What's funny is that I deal with this inner voice of doubt every day as I push the limits of my creative dream.
I feel sometimes we get to a point where we suffocate our dreams because we expect so much from ourselves. It causes us to not only lose sight of what we love doing in the first place but maybe miss the signs the universe is trying to guide us towards.
When I started Perspective-Collective almost 4 years ago, I had my heart set on becoming a full-time freelancer. I wanted financial freedom, time freedom and the bragging rights of working with the biggest names in the industry.
I saw people older and younger than me living out this dream. While I held and still hold a day job, it was hard to see past the $50 logo commissions people were willing to pay me. This slowly killed my freelance dreams.
However, I'm lucky that somehow I caught a sign from the universe and I began blogging. I've mentioned this before but blogging radically changed things in my career, even though my blog never blew up.
As I've made progress, this new path created new challenges and provides new waves of negative thoughts. I'm most envious of people like Andy J. Miller who hosts an incredible podcast for creatives as he has seemed to find his voice and unique artistic style. Not to mention his client list speaks for itself, but Andy has probably dealt with these same struggles finding his way.
I realize these moments of doubt and comparison are normal. Yet dwelling in them suffocates the passion making me forget why I do this in the first place.
I do this because I fucking love to create and I am passionate about pushing people to find their best creative selves. It's the coach in me that has lived on after football.
So I ask you, why did you pursue art in the first place?
Did you put pencil to paper in the beginning to land a client?
I highly doubt it.
You're incredibly talented, young and full of potential. It seems from my perspective that you're putting so much pressure on yourself to have each post land you a client that you're killing the fun.
Who knows, maybe you need a small break from art just to refresh and refocus. This is totally okay and it's totally normal. Maybe take a month off to pursue other interests.
Whatever you do, I feel very strongly that you'd regret quitting when you're on your deathbed. You have too much talent to throw in the towel and honestly, I'd be disappointed in you for wasting your gift.
You never know who you could've impacted with that next post that was never published.
If you're like me, you enjoyed Instagram in the beginning because you loved creating and you posted because it meant something to you. You created and shared because you found joy in it.
Somehow things shifted. We now post because we need the engagement, affirmation or job inquiries to feel worthwhile and purposeful as an artist.
Maybe you do need a day job like programming that can pay the bills. I rock a day job and while it makes me discredit myself sometimes, I know it's fueling the means to pursue Perspective-Collective without the financial stress.
I should note, don't just get a job in a field because it'll net you the most money. Usually, that comes at a cost of killing the passion and adding more pressure. Get a job delivering pizza if it means you can still come home and find time and enjoyment in creating.
When you do find your groove again and want to attract clients, here's a few things I'd do differently.
First off, have a legit website that is a hub for all Gosha on why they should hire you. Show off your personality and show the work you want to attract. Right now, Behance and Instagram are your tools but you need a home base that doesn't rely on a social platform as you are playing by there rules.
Next, maybe do some type of outreach. It may be uncomfortable but hit people up locally that could use your services and offer them out pro bono at first. I did my first 3 murals for free before I attracted paid gigs. It sucked but it was worth it in the long run.
Make sure to document the process from beginning to end. Not only should you share it on your social platforms but take it another step further and create case studies on your site. This will allow future clients to see your process and how you get an end result.
Finally, always remember that the inner critic is going to attempt to convince you that you don't have what it takes. Other people may agree with the critic and tell you maybe this isn't for you. I say fuck 'em.
I have to talk myself off the edge from quitting all the time. It's all apart of taking the shit in stride which makes you appreciate the sunny days when things go right.
You certainly have what it takes and you've barely scratched the surface of what you'll accomplish down the road.
Maybe full-time freelance isn't in the cards for you like it's not in the cards for me anytime soon? That's totally okay.
Don't let the inner critic block you from seeing the signs the universe could be sending you.
Whatever you do, don't forget why you began creating in the first place as that's what matters most.
Much love from Iowa,
I get it, sometimes it's hard to show your true self in your work. We live in a world where we are taught that hyper-curation is the key to success.
However, what if people want to know the human behind the account?
What if a business wanted to hire a specific personality for their brand that created that work?
I think these are strong questions you should ask yourself to see if that is the missing factor in building your brand. This can also help attract an audience that cares not only just for your work, but for you as well.
Someone who I think is an absolute pro at this is my friend Adam Vicarel who operates Vicarel Studios out of Denver, CO. He's amassed a large audience from his design, direction and outdoors vibe he pours into his lettering and branding.
Adam and I go back to the early days of Instagram lettering where both of our work was dog shit. We become good friends over the years and I've watched him blossom to a point where he's full-time freelance landing clients like Lennox Air and Sharpie to name a few. He also does public speaking and teaches lettering workshops all while making sure he has ample enough time to disconnect from the daily hustle to enjoy life at a slow pace traveling.
I felt spoiled and humbled to have this conversation as he vomits a heavy dose of value that I know you'll enjoy as much as I did.
In this episode, we dive deep into:
Also, be sure to follow him on Instagram and say hello. He's quite the pleasant fellow.
In a world clouded in a mist of negativity, sometimes you find a bright pocket of positivity. That bright pocket (really I'm thinking hot pocket) of positivity is no other than the terrific trio of the Master of One Podcast.
I met Luke, Patrick and Andrew a few years back at Creative South as they had a sign-up sheet that filled up fast for podcast spotlights. These jolly souls bring a lot of niche knowledge from their respective sources of mastery.
Every week they bring you the latest in games, design and film from their world and they have some of the biggest names in the creative industry drop by to share their process and advice.
Listen each Tuesday as they talk about the latest happenings around the community and what cool new items you should be spending your money on. Then listen again on Thursday when they talk with a guest celebrity artist from one of our industries.
Not only will this be entertaining because these dudes love to give each other shit, but In this episode we discuss:
I have no doubt you'll enjoy what they guys put into the world. Definitely, check out the Master of One Podcast and continue the conversation with them in their Slack Channel.
Content tells stories and everyone has a story and has the ability to tell a story. The means are there to learn. Find the best way that YOU can tell a story whatever medium that may be.
If you're a content creator and this doesn't set you on fire to make something that matters than what the hell is wrong with you?!
My buddy Ben Hagarty, aka BenRealVsWorld knows a thing or two about creating content. He’s been creating content on Youtube before it was big and now he’s in LA as a content creator for the likes of Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, EA Sports and Madden Football.
I could keep that list going but you get the point, he's the real deal.
Ben is a local legend in my stomping grounds of Cedar Falls, IA. He's a role model when it comes following your dream and taking a risk when you catch a glimpse of what you’re capable of creating.
From creating music in his parent's basement to crashing on air mattresses that needed bubble gum to fill holes, the road to where he is today hasn’t been easy. It's been a slow and steady climb and I guarantee he'd have it no other way.
He’s an insanely talented individual but most importantly, a humble down to earth dude who doesn’t forget he came from a little town in bum fuck Iowa.
In this episode we talk about:
Ready for some down to earth advice and have your face melted with mind-bending letterforms? If so, you're in for a treat as I have a very special guest on the show today none other than Mark Caneso.
Side note: I'm currently loving the shit out of his custom Apple Pencil wraps.
Not only does Mark create amazing typefaces you can find on Adobe Typekit like Hatch, Quatro or Neplus, but he’s made a name for himself pushing letters to the extreme.
His Instagram will make your brain hurt in the all right ways with his ambigrams, encrypted messages and wild experiments.
Not only is he crazy talented, but he’s a genuine down to earth guy who shows you behind the scenes of his process which I highly respect.
In today’s episode, Mark gives you a permission slip to:
I think you're going to find a lot of value in this episode. I was a sponge the entire time and there were multiple areas I found that I can push my boundaries more instead of playing it safe.
When you're done listening, ask yourself how you can take that piece of work you created and push it to the next level?
What did you accomplish in 2017?
Did you build or work on something you can be proud of?
If so, you have a chance to build on that momentum in 2018.
If not, you have a clean slate to get your hands dirty and put in work.
I say it all the time, but you have insane amounts of potential buried inside you. Yet the road to mining it won't be easy.
You're gonna deal with plenty of shit to get to the sunshine as mentioned in last week's episode.
This year is your opportunity to rise up to the challenge of taking initiative, being prepared to say yes and knowing when to say no.
Opportunities are out there to be had, but they won't knock if you haven't built a door. This one is straight from Tony Diaz of Industry Print Shop on episode 56.
It all boils down to being proactive instead of reactive.
I wouldn't be where I am today had I not gotten uncomfortable and started sharing my art on Instagram.
I'd be stuck in my last miserable day job had I not busted my ass working outside of work to build a stellar portfolio.
You can't sit around expecting opportunities to be wrapped up in a Gucci bow and gracefully fall into your lap.
Nothing in life worth having comes easy and to achieve something you've never had, you have to be willing to do something you've never done.
Creating your own luck by building a door looks like:
Get out of the bitching and complaining business. Be proactive, hire yourself and join the door building business.
Back in June 2015, I took the initiative and started blogging. To be honest, I sucked ass in the beginning, but little did I know I was launching my public speaking career.
Only a year into blogging, I was offered my first speaking gig by my good friend Diane Gibbs in February 2016. Diane is a door builder for other people and she makes things happen. The opportunity she gave me was a keynote at a conference called Flourish in Mobile, AL with attendance ranging from 100-150 people.
When she asked if I was interested, every bone in my body wanted to scream out "no."
Looking back on it now, this was a monumental moment in my creative career. If I would've declined the challenge, I wonder where I would be today?
Thankfully I said yes as I practiced my ass off and gave a solid first speech.
A few weeks later I got a call from Mike Jones, the creator of Creative South. He offered me a speaking slot at a conference that sells out at 800 people each year. Again, every bone in my wanted to scream no, but I rose to the challenge.
Blogging and speaking have since led to teaching workshops on how to prepare and give a killer talk.
Side note: I'll be teaching a workshop on this both at Creative South and Crop Conference in 2018.
If you're showing up and investing time into your self and your work, you're bound to manifest some opportunities. The question is, will you be prepared to act on them?
Something valuable I learned in 2017 was the power of saying no, even though I wasn't the best at applying it.
Simply put, "if it's not a Hell Yes, it's a definite Hell No."
That's an easy way to measure opportunities that come your way you'd think?
However, I got to a point where so many things felt like a Hell Yes. This caused me to grind myself to exhaustion and neglect relationships.
November was a hard lesson learned as I:
This was all outside a 40 hour day job too. While these all seemed like Hell Yes opportunities, I could've said no to a few of them for the sake of my sanity.
Learning when to say no to a great opportunity isn't easy. It's hard to see past it and realize this isn't the last opportunity that'll come your way.
Something I'm also applying is writing down a short list of focus priorities within a season. In Q1 of 2018, my focus is solely on building the podcast and delivering killer speeches in February and March.
That means saying no to great freelance opportunities, teaching lettering workshops and anything else that pops up.
Knowing what's most important to focus on should hopefully make saying no to Hell Yes opportunities a little easier.
No matter where you are on your creative path, I hope you constantly mine for that potential buried within you.
Stop looking for the easy trail and seek out mountains to climb in 2018.
It all boils down to how badly do you want it and what are you prepared to do to make it happen?
Rise up to whatever challenges come your way this year. Prepare for your opportunities that manifest from climbing mountains.
Remember, don't expect a damn thing in this world to be handed to you. Stake your claim and take it.