Congratulations, you’re creative.

Now get to work!

At DragonCon 2014 on Friday night at 7pm, I’ll be giving a presentation in the Hyatt Hanover A – B called “Congratulations, you’re creative. Now get to work.” I invite all creative types to visit and have a chat about your creative career.

I meet so many people telling me they’re an artist, creative, and have a passion for what ever it may be. Great, welcome to our creative circle of trust. Now get to work. I’m sharing with you my professional philosophies that have brought my success in a happy, healthy art and design career. 

If you just need a job, everyone needs to be born, to be educated, and to die.
There will always be jobs in those three areas.

Power of your people

  • Funny people are successful.
  • Smart and funny people are more successful.
  • Being pretty doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t always work.
  • Drink with friends. Don’t take drinks from strangers.
  • Good sportsmanship is always admired. Bad sportsmanship is always recorded.

Self-marketing Skills

  • Embrace your unique style. 
  • Take pride in your work.
  • Never give someone the stick to beat you with.
  • Wolves smell weakness. Present yourself in a manner that is kind, strong, confident, and prepared. 

Interviewing Techniques

  • Work for knowledge, not money. 
  • Ask weird questions. They get the best answers.

Design Industry Business Practices

  • Don’t just stand there, do something or get out of the way.
  • Don’t say or THINK anything close to “oh, I don’t know that software . . “Oh, I only do ____________.”
  • Learn, take chances, and learn some more.
  • Get lost just to learn how to find your way.

Always, always, always changing. That’s the one thing in life we know for sure – things change.

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Energy Audit

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Honoring your Truth and your Craft

This workshop is to help you discover your core values and then empower you to speak your truth and respect your craft as a creative professional.

Your Creative Truth

Files for you to download and use as needed:
creativetruth_lrh2017v2
creativetruth_core values handout_v2
  1. What do you do as a creative person? (ex: artist, writer, actor)
  2. How do you it? (ex: paint, perform music)

Core Values

Highlight all the core values that are most important to you. Put an asterisk next to any that are aspirational. Next, review the ones you highlighted and pick out the top five.

Authenticity Achievement Adventure Authority
Autonomy Balance Beauty Boldness
Compassion Challenge Citizenship Community
Competency Contribution Creativity Curiosity
Determination Fairness Faith Fame
Friendships Fun Growth Happiness
Honesty Humor Influence Inner Harmony
Justice Kindness Knowledge Leadership
Learning Love Loyalty Meaningful Work
Openness Optimism Peace Pleasure
Poise Popularity Recognition Religion
Reputation Respect Responsibility Security
Self-Respect Service Spirituality Stability
Success Status Trustworthiness Wealth
Wisdom

Write down your top 5 core values

What do you believe is your true motivation as a creative person?

After reflecting on your top five core values, what do you think your true motivation is as a creative person. Why do you do this?

Grow Your Creative Truth

Next, make a list of actions to take to grow your creative truth. Think of the actives and/or people you may need to reach out to, and commit to a date – this week, this month, this year.  (ex: learn how to be a better public speaker, join Toastmasters)

Action Goal Contact Complete By
 

 

 

Navigating Rejection and Relationships

DragonCon Art Show Program, Grand Hall D, Fri 07:00 pm
The DragonCon Art Show is be located in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Grand Hall West on the Exhibition Level. For more details, check out artshow.dragoncon.org.

This conversation is focused on creative professionals and how they manage rejection and relationships in their life and profession. Rejection in our creative careers comes in some basic forms – whether it’s submitting art to shows, a draft of your latest book, or pitch for a design solution. There are also more complicated forms of rejection that show up due to team dynamics or environmental changes. We’ll take a look at both layers.

Our relationships with others in our creative circles, professional careers, and even personal life can have a HUGE impact on how we manage rejection. Do you believe in the power of karma? Are you loyal to your people and are they loyal to you? Is there power in your ability to give credit out loud to someone and everyone listens? OR are you speaking ill of others? Are you gossiping about your colleague and tearing him/her down? Your negative or positive karma will return to you. Be ready to check yourself.


Before we move on, I need you to realize you own both the rejection and the relationships. My goal is that you leave this conversation more aware of your actions towards others AND aware of how to best take care of yourself. Your words and actions are more powerful that you realize on making or breaking others. Your ability to surround yourself with trust and love is important for bouncing back from rejection. 

ACTION: Take this time to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know in the room. Make a connection in this moment. 


Basic forms of rejection

With basic forms of rejection, consider being strategic in avoiding it the best you can. Let’s unpack that.

Plan for your audience and the situation

  • Do your homework and find out who is involved – do you know one of them already?
  • Don’t just think about yourself. What’s in it for them?
  • Build a calendar or spreadsheet to keep track of where you applied and to who. Seeing the frequency can help make it less scary and more strategic.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.20.40 PM copy

Quality vs Quantity

  • Are you applying yourself to the right art shows or all of them? Consider using application tools like ZAPP or Café. They can also help you keep track of what you’ve applied to and open your mind to other opportunities.
  • You want to see at least about 30% return on your entrees. You’re not going to get everything and would you really want to anyway?
  • What’s the best use of your time and what’s your motivation?
  • Take the time to love on them. What I mean by that is write a note to the key decision maker.

Get back up

  • Okay, so you didn’t get it – so what. There are other shows to apply for, publishers to take your book draft, and you could come up with another design solution.
  • It’s not if it happens, it’s when it happens. And it’s not the end of your career because you didn’t get into some show.
  • Invest your love and don’t worry about the return rate. You love making art! Keep going and get better as you go. Getting organized wouldn’t hurt you.

Things just got complicated

Change Happens

  • Sometimes big changes happen that we have little to no control over. I’ve seen situations where a pack of people will outcast an individual because somewhere along the line, the leader let that be okay.
  • Your boss left and you didn’t realize how much he/she was your advocate. Your new boss isn’t as supportive and doesn’t understand you as a creative professional.
  • You and all your colleagues got laid off or impacted because of a corporate re-org.
  • Point being in these examples, sometimes things get messy and that usually involves people. You may be able to recover or there may be enough damage done that it’s time to move on.
  • You may even realize or feel that the rejection is justified because of some of your own behaviors or actions that returned to bite you. Learn from this and move on.

Let’s stop here for just a moment. Take your hand and put it on your heart. Feel that heart beat on? You’re going to be okay and life is going to move on. I know it’s hard on you when the people around you hurt you or reject you in some way. When you’re having a moment – put your hand to your heart, realize you’re still here, and you’re loved. Even if that’s just you loving yourself in this little moment. 


Is it time to move on?

  • Hey, that’s okay kiddo. That’s why it’s a career. I always liked that word “car” is at the beginning of career. You can drive on.
  • If you are not being respected or treated well – you must handle this. Never give someone the stick to beat you with. Never.
  • Always have a bag ready to leave right now.
  • You always have a choice. Always.
  • Freedom has greater value then all stuff you’ll ever own.

Let’s look trouble straight in the face and deal with it.

  • Take back control. Get your resume updated, review all the great work you did and update your portfolio.
  • Reach out to those favorite colleagues and clients for references. It may be the positive shot in the arm you needed.
  • Taking time to review your career and portfolio can be a healthy and uplifting check-in that you needed.
  • Reach out to your network of people to let them know you need help.

If you are the one being reached out to, best take care of your people. This moment of love and positive karma will be returned to you. I’ve seen it happen again and again in my own career. 


There are some great tools out there to help you:

  • LinkedIn is where it’s at when it comes to sharing your resume and career journey.
  • Glassdoor can give you the inside scoop on what the culture is really like at your next stop. You an also leave feedback about your employers.
  • Behance is a great place to showcase your creative portfolio.
  • Wix.com is great if you’d like to step it up and make your own website.
  • One Fantastic Workshop is November 15-20, 2017, in Nashville, TN. I have the pleasure of being one of the instructors there this year. Join us to help take your business and your art to the next level.

Get back out there and do great things. Be kind.

Expert Negotiation as a Creative

November 17, 2016
One Fantastic Weekend

Who am I, what I do, and why I’m talking to you

  • I am an artist, a graphic designer, and an educator
  • History | agency designer; freelance artist, college professor; design consultant
  • Current | solution principal of experience design practice at a consulting firm in Atlanta with clients such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, IHG, Chep, and RaceTrac.
  • Negotiate | as an artist, as a designer, as a leader on behalf of the business and our clients. This usually involves time, resources, space, and money.

Who are you?

  • Do you run your own business?
  • Are you also on the two-career track?
  • Are your day jobs creative?
  • What things do you have to negotiate?

Today we’re going to focus on the power of negotiations in the creative space. You may say to yourself “I’m an artist, I don’t negotiate.” False! You have to negotiate on a regular basis and today we’re going to get a little better at understanding it.

Motivation of Negotiation

There’s interdependence between negotiation and relationships. These aren’t one and done situations to focus on a task. These are your clients, your buyers, and your colleagues. I see negotiations more about understanding yourself and others, valuing the relationships, and leveraging your network of people and resources as needed.

It’s important to understand the motivation of why you’re negotiating and the core needs of each party. It is our job to ask why again and again until we understand the client, the business, and the audience. When we understand the motivation of each party in the negotiations, we are better equipped.

What are we negotiating for?

  • Time
    • start date
    • deadlines
    • paid time off
    • working from home
    • external responsibilities
  • Services
    • space to work
    • bringing in assistance
    • access to equipment
    • perks
  • Deliverables
    • revisions
    • final documents
    • assets
    • supporting materials
    • presentations
    • working files
  • Money
    • payment time
    • inclusion
    • price range
    • percentage

Know who’s negotiating?

Know yourself

  • Be your professional self at all times. This is the clean, posed version of you.
  • Take pride in your work, yet stay humble. It’s a balance.
  • Know what your existing expertise is
  • Understand your professional value
  • Embrace your unique style. You’re fabulous!
  • What can you live with once it’s all said and done

Know your peers

  • Understand the talent of your team
  • What’s the value your team has to offer?
  • Take consideration of your peers weakness and strengths so you can be a good advocate.

Know your audience

  • Research the client or audience to better understand the history, role, and goals
  • Know the company structure and business model
  • Who has authority, budget authority, and the actual money
  • Listen closely to what they say AND what they don’t say
  • Ask thoughtful questions
  • Challenge them like a good friend

Tactics you’ve likely encountered

  • Time Crunch
  • Flinch
  • Garbage on the Lawn
  • Limited Authority
  • Nibble

Time Crunch

As deadlines approach, clients get more and more serious about making a deal happen. You will find that with a client that has a real need and also values your skill set, they become less and less inclined to negotiate as their deadlines approach. Take your time, but use it to understand the need and qualify yourself while remaining ready to close.

Flinch

Sometimes unconscious, other times used with intent, the Flinch is just what you imagine. You give a number and the audience acts shocked. Give this physical expression little consideration. It’s one of the more dramatic tactics and can be rather amusing. Don’t feel the need course correct or flinch back. Remain confident in your negotiation needs and move forward.

Garbage on the Lawn

The client knows your team does great work and that is why they keep coming back to you. The client then attempts to devalue your services by throwing out seemingly inconsequential negatives, like “You changed your inventory list before the show” “You got sick right before the deadline” “Your consultant doesn’t wear socks!”

They know they can’t negotiate your real value down, so they attempt to throw garbage on the lawn, hoping that will reduce the price. This is fine as feedback and nothing more. Don’t let it affect your numbers.

Limited Authority

When shit gets real, clients may attempt to shut down negotiation by saying, “I have to ask my boss.”

This can either end the discussion or lead you to a meeting with the person with real budget authority. That is always the person you want to talk with.

As artist, we use Limited Authority as well. “Oh, I’m just . . .”

Initial negotiations are happening all around us, everyday. We see and hear about all sorts of opportunities for our creative businesses and other artist in the community. We’re better together! Gather information and pass it on to collaborate.

Nibble 

There’s a man negotiating the purchase of a suit. He spent hours getting measured, exploring options and picking his fabrics. As the tailor was finally writing up the bill, the customer asks, “Which tie are you giving me?”

A tie was never part of the deal! The Nibble is an attempt to leverage the seller’s willingness to finally close the deal, just to get it done. This happens for us, all the time. Just at the last minute, the client attempt to increase scope. Or, even once we’re on site, the client will try to add in services that were never part of the original discussion.

Always say, “No!” Accepting the Nibble sets precedence, with this client and perhaps others. They all want something for nothing. Of course, we are always interested in increasing scope — as long as the price increases along with it.

Back to you

What questions do you have that I can help with?

 

 

Part II: Congratulations, you’re creative. Now show me your work.

September 4, 2016
DragonCon Panel | Part II

Today we’re going to focus on you as a creative body of work and the three areas you need to be aware of when presenting your work: self-marketing, interviewing techniques, and design business best practices.

Self-Marketing Skills

Everything we’re about to cover applies to any creative person pursuing their career goals. This rules of engagement can be used in person, in social media / communications, interviews, and in the work environment. So pretty much always keep these things in mind:

Be you

  • Embrace your unique style. You’re fabulous!
  • Be your professional self at all times. This is the clean, posed version of you.
  • Take pride in your work, yet stay humble. It’s a balance.

Sticks

  • No one gets to beat you. Never give someone the stick to beat you with. You are allowed to be in this space, you are allowed to pursue your goals.
  • Let them point out the path. Letting them use the stick to point out opportunities for you to grow is acceptable. This kind of feedback is very valuable. You may gather some really important information to make you more successful.
  • Understand the truth vs perception. Things will happen and people will have a perception of you. This perception may or may not be the whole truth. However the perception can really have a big impact on your reputation.

Wolves

Wolves smell weakness. Present yourself in a manner that is kind, strong, and confident.

  • Be kind, which means not defensive. The conversation will stop if you’re fighting every step of the way. NO ONE wants to work with a jerk or a little brat.
  • Be strong, like a tree in the wind. Things will not go as planned and the wind will blow. You got this, stand strong like a tree with your roots firmly in the ground.
  • Be confident. True confidence is calm. Cocky confidence is aggressive and loud. Understand the difference? If you haven’t found your calm confidence yet, please take time to do so. It may be a journey, so pack a snack.

Interviewing Techniques

The interview started before you even walked in the door of the office. We’ve gone straight to your LinkedIn page, to your Facebook, to your website, and anything else we can find out about you.

  • Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. Have your social media cleaned up, your portfolio up-to-date, your resume up-to-date, your stories prepared, and know that being prepared will help you survive whatever may come.
  • The portfolio addresses the target audience. Whatever work you bring in needs to address the target audience / needs. Again, be prepared and have this together before hand.
  • Craftsmanship. The details of your craftsmanship speak for you. Have your work together and flawless.
  • Your appearance matters. The way you physically represent yourself is part of your brand. You do need to look put together, healthy, and clean. Can we put you out there to represent us?
  • Ask questions. When you ask questions you’re showing interest and that you’ve been paying attention. Even if you’re not getting this gig, you still have a great opportunity to learn something new.
  • Work for knowledge, not money. This is a big one. If you want more money, go get a job. If you want to be a successful creative career driven person, work for knowledge. Trust that the money WILL show up.

Design Industry Business Practices

The creative and design industry today is deep in the digital revelation. The one thing we know for sure is it will keep changing. With that said, you too will need to keep changing in order to keep up.

  • Take ownership. Don’t just stand there, do something or get out of the way. You are the professional being hired because you are the expert. Really take ownership in knowing your craft deeply.
  • Learn, take chances, and learn some more. Don’t say or THINK anything close to “oh, I don’t know that software . . “Oh, I only do ____________.” Google it! Pick up a tutorial and figure it out. You got this.
  • You’re not lost, you’re just finding your way. No one creative person knows everything in your space. It’s okay to have to keep finding new things, information, and ways of doing things.
  • Follow through with your commitments. A big complaint from clients is that creative types don’t follow through. This is an epic fail when it comes to business. Make it a good practice to follow-up with your clients.
  • Be a good partner. This is not just about making money. You are a partner with clients and colleagues. Be a good partner and someone who they all want to work with again. What does that look like?

Part I: Congratulations, you’re Creative! Now get to work.

September 2, 2016
DragonCon Panel | Part I

Today we’re going to focus on you as a creative person and the three areas you need to be aware of: yourself, your relationships, and your process.

Yourself: What is your motivation magic and your core values?

Motivation Magic

What are you creative about and why? What magic keeps your creative heart beating? What motivates you to keep going?

Core Values

What are your core values?

Activity: Take a look at this list and check all that apply to you. Then go back to the ones you checked and circle the top five. 

Authenticity Achievement Adventure Authority
Autonomy Balance Beauty Boldness
Compassion Challenge Citizenship Community
Competency Contribution Creativity Curiosity
Determination Fairness Faith Fame
Friendships Fun Growth Happiness
Honesty Humor Influence Inner Harmony
Justice Kindness Knowledge Leadership
Learning Love Loyalty Meaningful Work
Openness Optimism Peace Pleasure
Poise Popularity Recognition Religion
Reputation Respect Responsibility Security
Self-Respect Service Spirituality Stability
Success Status Trustworthiness Wealth
Wisdom

Relationships: Power of your People 

Who are the people you surround yourself with? Do you have a powerful circle of people?

  • Funny people are successful.
  • Smart and funny people are more successful.
  • Being pretty doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t always work.
  • Drink with friends. Don’t take drinks from strangers.
  • Good sportsmanship is always admired. Bad sportsmanship is always recorded.
  • We don’t have to like you to respect you.
  • Always know where the lines in the sand and sticks are.

Activity: Take a moment and introduce yourself to a person in the room near you that you don’t know yet. From here forward, start to become more aware of who you allow into your life and what power they bring. 

Process: Just because you take a different road does not mean you’re lost.

  • Art is an adventure of the mind.
  • The creative process can be the best part of the artistic journey. Do you really understand yours?
  • What do you do that gives you back motivation or makes you start to think of creative ideas? Are you making that a part of your process?
  • It’s in the details sometimes: What do you eat? What do you wear? Where do you go? What are you listening to? Who’s in the room with you?

But really, here is the process:

  1. I have an idea!
  2. Record it now. (ex: write it down, draw it out)
  3. Plan how to get there.
  4. Start. Start again. That’s okay, start again. You got this.
  5. Follow through.
  6. Accept it.

Make space for art in your life.

From small to big, you can always make space for art in your life. In this lesson, I’ll talk about realistic and affordable ways to make some space for art supplies and to work.

X Small on the go: pencil bag and drawing pad | working space is a drawing board

Small: toolbox and storage portfolio

Medium: desktop easel and storage unit

Large: use the walls to work and store your equipment | invest in a nice easel


Art supplies to get the party started!

  1. Portfolio | portfolio, approximately 30″ x 24.” large enough for your biggest pad of paper
  2. Paper | bound sketchbooks. 8.5″ x 11.” 50-100 page; large drawing newsprint pads. 18″ x 24″; XL Mix media pads;  tracing paper pad
  3. Drawing Media | One each Graphite pencils: B, 2B, 4B, and 8B; boxes of vine charcoal; white charcoal pencil; Sanford Ebony graphite pencils Soft 14420
  4. Other Drawing Supplies | kneaded erasers; Magic rub erasers; straight-edge; Clip/clamp light: (available at hardware stores); plastic Oval palette; roll of 1″ masking tape (not blue tape!); ruler; pencil sharpener; Xacto knife; standard T-Square 24″; dry cleaning pad

Resources

Dick Blick | http://www.dickblick.com

Sam Flax | http://www.samflaxsouth.com