Where Do You Find Inspiration?

I really wanted to make a big, cheesy collage for this post like I did when I started Miseducated.. remember those days?
I miss those.

Where do you find inspiration when you’re feeling overwhelmed?
I always ask the artists we feature here but I’ve never gotten to ask you!

When I’m feeling overwhelmed and can’t focus I like to flip through my inspiration drawers filled with old photos, papers and all sorts of useless things I’ve collected through the years. Useless to the onlooker that is but quite important to me! My favorite place for my brain to play is old magazines.. I love soaking up the eye-candy in 60s women’s zines most of all. I can’t get enough!

What can you not get enough of? What inspires you?

Getting Magnified With Nubby Twiglet

Visualize what you want out of life, big or small and work hard. Stay focused. It’s never supposed to be easy.

what i wore nubby twiglet fashion style outfit

Q.

Nubby! There are all kinds of creative people around the globe, but many of them find real difficulty in pinning down exactly what it is they would like to make a living doing. How did you take the plunge and commit to graphic design, and what advice would you give to people still ‘working it out’?

A.

It’s completely normal to experiment before committing to a career. I would start by asking yourself what you’re truly passionate about. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time? What’s the one thing that you’re willing to stay up late and do, no matter how tired you get?

In school, my two strongest subjects were always Art and English. I loved ripping up fashion magazines and making collages, playing with sheets of rub-on letters and flipping through old advertising and poster books. I knew that fine art is really subjective and that it wasn’t going to be an easy way to make a living right away. Graphic design combined my love of art and type with one of my other passions; advertising. The thing is, once your passion becomes a job, it’s not all about fun and leisure anymore. There’s a level of professionalism that goes into it and at the end of the day, there are certain things you have to do to ensure that you get paid. Even when you’re working for yourself, the money has to come from somewhere.

If you’re unsure of what you want to do, reach out to teachers, mentors and career counsellors. Take some classes for fun. The more things you try, the easier it is to realize what you DON’T want to do. When I was in college years ago, I did filing in offices, stuffed invoices into envelopes and worked retail. All of these jobs built character and made me appreciate the career that I have now.

Q.

You seem to have been incredibly practical in the pursuit of what many would consider an impractical or ‘risky’ career choice, is that how you see it? Did you face any naysayers along the way and, if so, how did you deal with that?

A.

I always felt that any career in art or design was really risky and that’s probably because my parents always worked traditional office jobs, doing sales. That’s one of the main reasons I went to school first for business. My mom encouraged me because she knew I had the potential and in a way, I think she wanted me to have something to ‘fall back on.’ After I completed that degree though, I just didn’t feel fulfilled. I had already started to do freelance design work but felt like I wasn’t as proficient or knowledgeable as I wanted to be. I had a lot of people around me who just didn’t get it…I was supposedly done with school and trying to go back for something completely different.

At 25, I didn’t want to waste another four years in school and this is why I chose to do a two year, limited entry graphic design program. I’d always dreamed of working at an ad agency and what I soon realized is that the combination of marketing and design backgrounds meshed perfectly for my career path. Listen to your instincts – there are always going to be naysayers. But, it’s your life. You know best.

magazine typofiles typography

Q.

Your work seems like so much more than a 9-5 for you, it is clear from your blog how intertwined your job, lifestyle, fashion sense and even home decor are! How important do you think it is to blur the lines between work, life and play in terms of career fulfillment?

A.

A career in design doesn’t necessarily have a starting and stopping point. Inspiration will hit you at completely random times and I think that as a designer, it’s a natural progression for your interests at that moment to seep into your outfit choices, home decor, blogging topics, etc. I’ve always strived to have a seamless line between my work, life, and blog. It’s definitely tricky because I am the face of my brand and my personality is interconnected heavily with my work.

I don’t think it’s necessary to blur the lines between your work, life and play – if anything, it’s probably a relief for most people to break away at the end of the day. I’ve done things differently because it makes sense in my life, but I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. It has to feel like a natural progression.

week in pictures

Q.

You’ve mentioned both your brand and your personality and how key they are in your career, how important do you think a ‘personal brand’ is for a career in the creative industries? What advice would you give to someone looking to brand themselves within their market – where should they start?

A.

Most of the time, a person’s work speaks for itself but in a flooded market, often what makes someone stand apart is their personality and ability to potentially relate to their customers. There are so many designers out there – the personal connection you make with your customers is going to be the defining factor that keeps them coming back. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter how good you are if nobody knows how to find you. Branding yourself in a recognizable, uncluttered manner will help you get remembered. Start by building an online presence through various social media platforms and showcase your work on your own domain, whether that’s a website or a blog. Reach out to people you admire – often, they’ll help you along and even show you the ropes, no questions asked. A simple logo that will mature with your work is also helpful. And, always have business cards handy! Some people think they’re extinct, but I promise you, there will be times where they pay off. You never know who you’re going to meet!

Q.

It looks like you’ve learnt a great deal about yourself and your field through your career so far, what one piece of advice would you liked to have given yourself, say, 5 years ago? And, conversely, where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

A.

I would have told myself that it was possible to work at an ad agency and that it wasn’t a pipe dream to run my own business full time. And, I definitely would have gotten started on my personal blog much sooner. It’s so easy now to look back and see things differently, but the reality is, life happens and we tend to just do the best we can at any particular time without knowing if the outcome is going to be what we hoped for.

And, five years from now… wow, that is a long time away! Five years ago, I hadn’t gone to school for design yet. I was finishing my business degree and had just returned home from a two month stay in New York. I hadn’t done my first solo art show yet. I was working at a shoe store and living with four boy roommates. My life was completely different! So, five years from now, I’m not exactly sure what I will be doing. I hope to be working at a fashion magazine (Elle!) in New York, working as an art director at an agency or running an agency with my brother. Though, he loves working at Nike, so he might be too cool to spend his days with me! I also want to write a how-to guide about marketing for designers and do workshops on what it takes to be a freelancer and how to build a portfolio. Oh, and I want to travel a lot. I guess I have a vague idea then…but life is meant to be lived. Setting anything in stone feels too rigid – I am just soaking up new experiences, trying to stay in the present and enjoying my life right now.

what i wore nubby twiglet pantone notebook design

Q.

You seem to have done things totally your own way, do you consider yourself Miseducated? If so, what makes you Miseducated and what final advice would you give to readers embarking on their own Miseducated careers?

A.

Since Miseducated is about embracing a unique, unconventional existence, I would say yes! Though I tend to make plans, set goals and keep a schedule, beyond that, I try to live the best life possible and to do things my way. You’re only going to live once so it’s important to stay true to your values and ethics – at the end of the day, you have to answer to YOU. That’s it. Do what makes you happy. When I was younger, I tried to fit into ideals, to do what I thought would make me happy by society’s standards. I quickly realized that wearing corporate casual attire, working at a mainstream office and living in the suburbs was not for me. I went to school for business because it seemed more practical. But, I wasn’t fulfilled so I went back for a design degree. Visualize what you want out of life, big or small and work hard. Stay focused. It’s never supposed to be easy. The things that you do that feel impossible and test your will do add character. If people tell you that something can’t be done, work even harder to prove them wrong. It’s up to you to create the life that you want.

Design Your Own Career: Part Four

“Starting out to make money is the greatest mistake in life. Do what you feel you have a flair for doing, and if you are good enough at it, the money will come.”
– Greer Garson

money
We’ve identified our passion, worked out the skills we will need to pursue it, and found that we must keep learning in any creative career. Now the tricky bit, the question of the ‘M’ word, the point when we realise just how difficult the creative career is to achieve, and why so many abandon it or never even try: how do we make money? Firstly, there are two vital points to keep in mind when embarking on or living the creative career, if you want it to work financially.

Two Principles for Making Your Passion Pay

Not only do you have to love doing it, you have to have a certain amount of love for the work involved in doing it. For example, I would really like to be a property developer; I’m interested in buildings, interior design and the pleasure that comes from renewing something tired and old. However, I’m not one for physical labour – a bit here and there, sure, but stripping walls, plastering, painting – it just isn’t for me; I’m an ideas person. Therefore, I would either need a great deal of start-up money to outsource this work, or I’d need to partner up with someone who wants the challenge – it’s just logic. Whereas, when it comes to writing, I love the concept, the materials, the result and the work involved – it’s win win.

You have to think about who will pay you, and tailor your work for them. Making money always involves someone else; you don’t make money as an individual unless you have a licence to print it yourself. Now, if you know you won’t get paid as an isolated entity, then you need to quit thinking of your ‘working self’ as an isolated entity – you need to start thinking about your customer: the person who will pay you to do what you love. When you think about them, you bring yourself closer to making money, because you can see things from their point of view, and know why they would or wouldn’t part with their cash on your behalf. For example, if I wrote articles purely for myself, made them all about me and only relevant to my life, it’s pretty unlikely that anyone would ever pay me for them. Whereas, if I wrote them, yes out of a love for the craft, but also with a target audience in mind (publishers as well as readers) then I’ve tailored my work and I invite payment.

What about money now?

This is all well and good, but I’d be lying if I said these principles alone will make you a living from your passion: there are many more sides to the coin. Firstly, it is an elite few who have the resources to start a business from scratch and live off of it, and I’m going to assume you are not one of them. So how do you get a financial head start with a creative career?

Start early. If you want a lucrative, independent career, you must be prepared to walk a long, toll-taking road to success. Because you are not relying on anyone else for that ‘big break’, you have to build up all the things that separate entity would offer you: reputation, credibility, contacts, experience, knowledge etc. The sooner you start, the better.

Do it alongside study. Study, particularly undergraduate study, is probably one of the best times you could start working out a creative career, whilst still feeling grounded. You have plenty of free time, you might have a student loan, and you are surrounded by other creative, young individuals to join forces with.

Do it alongside other work. Many creatives assume an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, refusing conventional work altogether – but you don’t have to be one of them. A part time job can fund your creative endeavours if you want it to, and work doesn’t always have to be a 9-5 desk job. Do something that keeps you fit like being a kids water sports instructor; do something in a creative environment like work at an independent cinema; or even do something that you can do whilst working on your career, like evening babysitting.

Research possible creative grants and/or young person’s business loans. These exist, and they are actually far more plentiful than you might think. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend commercial debt, there are many government-backed schemes to help the entrepreneurs of the future: after all, it is in the interest of any economy that you make money. In terms of grants, if you’ve got the talent, show people – they may be willing to fund your potential success. Type ‘creative grants’ or ‘arts grants’ or whatever is relevant to your dream career, plus the area you live in into Google and see what you find.

…Ask parents or investors? For some of you this will be the obvious choice, for some it will be unthinkable, but we’ll leave that debate for another day. If you think your parents (or other members of your family) will be willing to invest in you, make it worth their while. Like I’ve said, think about the person attached to that fistful of cash and ask yourself ‘what’s in it for them?’ Draw up a business plan and approach them like any other lender, and, of course, pay them back when you are in the position to do so.

Want to know just what you could be doing that’s creative and will earn you a crust?

Here are some examples of possible creative careers: Writer, Blogger, Graphic/Web Designer, Cabinet Maker, Painter, Interior Designer, Fashion Designer, Textile Designer, Property Developer, Musician, Life Coach, Personal Stylist, Photographer, Potter, Illustrator, Chef, Baker, Landscape Gardener, Florist, Window Dresser, Advertising Creative, Copywriter, Thespian, Director, Set Designer, Dancer, Greetings Card Maker, Knitter etc.

You can follow just one of these paths, you could weave several of them together, or you could carve out a new career especially for yourself. There are people in every one of these careers making good money, why not pick your guru and research how they did it? And, more appropriately, how they made it pay. Don’t be disheartened if you’re not abundantly rich in your chosen career immediately, it can take several years to get on your feet – the point is to get there and, if you give up, you never will.

Where to go next

Don’t let this series be a waste of your precious reading minutes; get started on your dream creative career now. However old/young/ prepared/unprepared you might be – there’s something you could be doing to make the mission of earning money one that is fun, fulfilling and freeing.

That’s it for designing your own career.

Please let me know your thoughts on the series and ask any questions/request follow up articles. Remember – you’re my customer and I’m here to tailor my work to your needs 😉 If you want to throw a tip my way, well, that’s up to you!

Miseducated Scrapbook: Online Art Journaling

Yikes! I’ve missed you so much lately and getting to be creative in both work and play. This past week was entirely draining but I left it feeling much more enlightened (..and slow ..and tired .. and pregnant).

I have never experienced happiness like this, absolute fulfillment.. Colette opened a new book of endless inspiration and motivation to create the world we want.

Did I tell you she’s kicking now?

So anyway, as of recently I’ve been getting back into keeping my sketch/idea book up to date and I’ve found out that still the craft of art journaling is still so fun and addicting. I decided to share it with you and inspire you to do your own journal, letters or scrapbooks! Big plans for these so if you’re interested in contributing please let me know!

So I’ve written you a little letter..

As for inspiration.. hit up your local thrift store and flip through the vintage magazines. When I feel uninspired I take a break with my magazine collection and then I imagine ways to translate home decor into web design and graphic art. It’s even great for inspiration to just relax and read as I’ve said before. Remember, a 20 minute break can help tremendously!

Until later, stay sweet, inspired and colorful.

letter

Finding Creativity in a Block

So you’re in a block? You’re staring at the screen, your sketchpad, a canvas, the keyboard with disgust. Why can’t your ideas spill out onto the paper as brilliantly as they did yesterday?

In having a creative job I’ve found quite a few ways of my own as well as received some useful advice which has helped me find my creativity when it seems to be lost.

nap

Take a Nap

Really?? I know this seems a little lazy but taking time out for a 15-30 minute break or nap can sometimes help significantly! If I find I’m stuck and getting no where on a project sometimes I’ll go lay down for a few minutes so I can start a new upon waking.

If you can’t imagine taking a nap, just take a break. Have a cup of tea or coffee and relax. Read a few pages of the current book you’re reading. When you come back you’ll be ready to tackle the project from a new angle.

Brainstorm

An absolute favorite of mine when I’m feeling uninspired. Grab a sketch pad, feel free to include one or more friends, and sit and ramble off new ideas — your great idea might just be waiting to be let out.

Music Session

Listen to music, take a walk, sing your favorite song. Sometimes getting into the rhythm can inspire you to get motivated on your project. Not only that but both music and walks are absolutely inspiring!

Sketch in an Idea Book

Grab a notebook and sketch some ideas out. If you’re a writer just start writing some text and see where it takes you. Often I have absolutely no idea where I’m going but when I start the project just happens. This is especially true when I’m crafting, it works on all levels. Don’t expect this try to be genius, just start.

Sketch any ideas you have and as you have them, paste fabrics and color palettes you find while you’re out. Check this book out later when you need new ideas.

Meditate

Again, sometimes the answer to your question is just waiting inside for you to find it. Clear your mind and think about things from a new perspective. Visualize the project and outcome. If meditation isn’t something you enjoy, try taking a long, hot bath and doing the same thing.

Don’t be too Critical

Many times if we could have worked out each of our ideas we would have learned quite a lot about the process and geared ourselves up for the next project. Don’t be too quick to say no, give it a try and see how it goes.