Last April I took a risk. I resigned from my job without much of a plan except a strong belief that I was going to be ok no matter what. While contemplating my move I mapped out a dream list of what I would need monetarily in order to survive fairly comfortably for the next six months.
To survive? Just six months? That's pretty small thinking, huh?
What happened in the weeks and months that followed the conception of my risky decision blew me away. My survival, ahem, dream list was smothered to smithereens. Not only had my goals been surpassed, but I was offered opportunities that I couldn't even imagine would come in a lifetime let alone within weeks of my resignation.
So here's what I learned. I was dreaming way too small. That financial survival list that included what kind of work I needed to do as an artist/designer to make sure I could pay my bills was too narrow-minded. Why was I dreaming in survival mode? That's not what dreaming is for. Why not think beyond my wildest dreams? Why not imagine changing the world and perhaps getting compensated to do so? What if I had thought to dream bigger then? What might the results be now?
The great thing about dreams is that it's never too late to make new ones or edit the ones we've already established. Dreams are supposed to be magical. It's not a time for us to think about how but simply think about what if.
So as I challenge myself I'd like to challenge you. No more safe dreams, the ones you've seen others accomplish or the ones you already know you can achieve. Try a powerful dream that blows your mind when you say it out loud, one that gives you goosebumps when you write it in your journal, or the one you have no idea how to make happen but just believe that it will. Those are the big dreams.
Then share them with people you trust and who wish you well.
But don't say all apprehensively, "Hey I'm thinking about maybe moving to Tunisia someday and opening up a bed and breakfast if this money comes through. What do you think? Crazy, right?"
You don't need permission or validation to pursue your dreams. Share with people who can add power and encouragement. Tell that friend who's most likely to say "what are you waiting for" when you tell her, "Girl, get ready because next year I'm moving to Tunisia to open up my award-winning eco-friendly bed and breakfast."
Then take action and make incremental goals (this is the how part), because like Denzel Washington said recently to a group of novice actors, "a dream without goals is just a dream."
So dream big. I can't wait to see/hear what happens for you.
This is for everyone, really, not just folks in creative industries.
I frequent many gatherings and events and meet a lot of folks, which usually involves an introduction that begins with a handshake. Being a germaphobe I don't really like handshakes, but do feel that they're necessary, and always try to give the best when I do shake hands. It just feels like a great way to initiate a conversation with someone new.
One of my biggest pet peeves: limp handshakes, which often feel un-welcomed or unintended from the other party.
There are tons of studies about it, and the phenomena has probably been discussed somewhere in business magazines and articles, so I'm sure there are all kinds of resources on a why a good handshake is important. So no need to bore you with theory. Instead, I thought I'd share why it's important for me to give a good one.
I like to give good handshakes because:
1. It's a great way to be present and command attention. We all bring something of value to any space we occupy. A good firm handshake is a great way to remind ourselves of this and to make sure the other person is aware of that energy, too.
2. It's a moment to acknowledge the other person. I love the basic tip: shake the hand firmly and look 'em in the eye. Kind of like in the film Avatar, where the Na'vis from the planet Pandora, greeted one another with the statement, "I see you," as they take a moment to look in the eyes of the other person. Here on planet earth, it's a simple way to remember that no matter who you're meeting, on a very basic level, we are all human beings. We should always acknowledge that fact, and a good handshake is great way of doing so.
3. It's a great way to make a good first impression. The first two can really be rolled into this reason. It sucks that we can be really amazing people but that a first impression can make for missed opportunities or bad experiences. But in this standard western greeting, that's just how it is. Therefore, knowing this allows us to be prepared when starting an introduction with the intention of being great — even if it's for a fleeting moment. Because in every moment we should always be awesome and a lame, disingenuous, limp, finger-only handshake is not the best we can do.
Those are my thoughts. What are your experiences? Are you aware of your handshake? Does it matter to you if you give or receive a bad handshake?
This delicious collection from Tata Naka is blowing me away! Most of the AW 14/15 interiors inspired designs are covered in boldly mixed bold prints and photographed with a patterned wall and floor as a backdrop. It's so beautiful and inspiring. I'm adding the photos, shot by Becky Maynes, to my mood-board immediately.
The other day, ok yesterday, I discovered soulster MNEK when AfriPOP posted some beautiful screen-grabs from the singer's latest music video "Wrote A Song About You." When I played the video my creative neurons started jumping all over the place. The graphic animations and colors are gorgeous! The animation is like the opening of Saved By the Bell married the opening credits to In Living Color, had a baby, and named it Keith Haring 2.0. Oh, and I dig the song, too! Check it out and let me know what you think.
Exciting news: in the fall I will be continuing my career in design education as a fulltime instructor at Maryland Institutie College of Art (MICA). With that, about a month ago I was invited to visit the senior thesis exhibition at MICA to see the caliber of work the students are doing. I was blown away by everything and left feeling even more excited and inspired.
21 Guns was a senior thesis project that really stood out during my visit. Starting with a reflective lens on her own life, this project by Nina Q. Allen resulted in a poster series honoring various women in pop culture. I love what she has to say about 21 Guns:
"A 21-Gun Salute is one of the highest military honors. My 21-Gun Salute pays homage to women's rights, highlighting the beliefs in the political, economic and social equality of the sexes. My design emphasizes beauty, diversity, & femininity through bold type, imagery and color. The use of music has also been influential to my design process, as direct lyrics are utilized to assign a specific misperception given to each iconic woman. 21 GUNS is an autobiographical journey into womanhood, individualism, and artistic expression."
The scale of these posters (at 21"x37") and bold colors in duo-tone and tri-tone will stop you in your tracks and pull you in to read the copy. I immediately fell in love with the series and started imaging how I could get a copy of the Grace Jones poster to hang in my studio.
Check out all the posters right here.
Here are a few things I'm into right now, some of which are on my wishlist and one that is on it's way to my home!
clockwise: I totally need a pair of these fun Open the Gate shoelaces for my all black Converse sneakers; this dress from Demestiks is too cute; I love this Rifle Paper temporary tattoo for Tattly; The Spirit of African Design is an oldie but goldie design book of inspiration for the home.
When you're creating art as a business the "starving artist" philosophy doesn't work. Business is business, and regardless if it's your full-time career or a side-hustle, it's important to create a system of compensation that is professional and fair to both you and your client.
There are tons of perspectives and ideas on how to run the finances of a business, but I'd like to share three tips I feel are important in regards to getting paid for your hard work. They seem pretty obvious but even in my many years as a freelance designer (12 years!) I'm still learning and taking heed to these very basic tips.
1. Always start projects with a contract.
It doesn't matter who it is (family, close friends, and the like) if there is an anticipated cash transaction then there needs to be a contract. Don't worry about offending anyone, help your potential client understand that it's not personal, it's business. (I talk a little about valuing yourself and your work here.) There are great books out there (like the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines for graphic designers), industry websites and blogs that offer guidance and tips, and even sample contracts. You can do research or consult with a lawyer. It's a pain in the beginning (well, it's not really that hard) but so worth it because once it's in place it's done.
2. Start a project with a percentage of the full amount paid upfront. (The go-to is usually 50%).
This practice does not guarantee you won't get burned, but it usually provides a sense of commitment and investment on both parties. If the client resists this requirement then this gives you an opportunity to decide if this is the right collaboration for you. It also allows you to be compensated in some way for any work done even if a project is at a standstill or is cancelled.
3. Have a plan in place if things do go awry.
Things happen. Mis-communication, the client's payroll gets messed up on their end, or the project falls through — anything can happen that can impact the schedule and/or you getting paid. But according to your contract you still must get paid. It's hard to anticipate what could go wrong but think about your options if you can't reach the client or the client suddenly cannot afford the balance. You can determine how rigid or flexible you want to be as long as you get paid. Payment plans, contacting the accounting department (if it's a big client), or getting your lawyer involved might be part of your action plan. Hopefully, it doesn't get to that point but it's important to be prepared.
This just speaks to the surface of being compensated for your business. I'm curious, though, what "get paid" tip would you offer based on your experiences? Do you have a story where you had to learn a lesson the hard way? Please share.
No matter what, even if you are taken advantaged of or mistreated, you never have to be rude, disrespectful, or unprofessional. Always handle any situation with integrity, you have to hold up your end of the bargain. Approach "invoice challenges" with firm grace and professionalism. Always stand up for yourself and your rights.
Cheers to artistic and creative wealth and abundance!