1. When did you realize you wanted to be a designer/creative?
Around the age of 10 I began associating creativity with individuality and, frankly, popularity. That being said, I’ve never felt like I was pre-disposed to “creativity”. It looked natural when other people exhibited it, but I felt like an imposter when I did. It has taken nearly two decades for me to begin feeling both the freedom to lean into my creativity and the value of doing it.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
Being a beginner in anything is overwhelming; The comparison starts almost immediately and it’s hard to convince oneself to be patient throughout the (endless) learning process. Feeling the freedom to be a beginner was probably the biggest emotional hurdle. More tangibly, I went back to college at the age of 23 to pursue a degree in fine art (a degree that eventually morphed into applied computer science).
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Maybe surprisingly, “making the ask” has worked very well for me. In that same vein, confidence has been very important to bringing in new clients. To take a step back, there is a vast amount of talented creatives out in the world. Initially, it was very difficult to feel my worth in the shadow of other experienced artists.
The point I arrived at is, while I can’t guarantee I’m the most technically proficient, I can guarantee I will care the most and dream on behalf of the client. This outlook helped me reach out to potential clients in a confident way, make the ask for work and – I believe – be successful in securing new clients. It’s amazing how many people will say yes to you if you ask for the work in a confident way.
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
I’m a strong believer in relationship. The relational equity built with others can lead to jobs and make way for grace if a job hits a road bump. That being said, at the end of the day you have to execute well. Relationship will buy you forgiveness to a point, but beyond that point there must be a product to fallback on. Both product and relationship play an integral part and must be balanced in relation to the clients personality.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
I’ve actually been very fortunate to have clients pay on-time. Any difference I would attribute to my ability to stay in constant communication with a client and ask questions whenever there is uncertainty.
6. What does your typical work day look like?
I am late to rise which my wife doesn’t love since we only have 1 car. I’m normally catching up on messages by 8:30am and really getting into the project for the day by 9:15. Meetings are typically before lunch and my afternoon is open to work at my pace. I find it difficult and I don’t recommend trying to fit all of your productivity into a pre-determined timeframe.
If I’m fighting myself too much to solve a problem, I’ll go for a walk or grab a coffee or talk to the creatives in the Mof1 Slack channel. Once I regain focus I’ll jump back in. Some days that means I work through lunch and I wrap early for the day, and some days I waste away the afternoon and work until 12:30am. The reality is 4 hours of work in the right head space can be way more productive than 8 hours of forcing it. Certainly I have other commitments that I have to step away from work for (family, Master of One, church) which I totally recommend putting on a calendar and doing. Working hard is healthy and so is knowing when to stop.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?
- You cannot have success apart from others, so be open to learn and quick to be kind.
- Promote those around you.
- No one will ever take your work more seriously or value your work beyond what you do, so be confident.
- Communicate always and remove ambiguity even if it feels uncomfortable. People can handle good and bad news but they can’t handle uncertainty.
- Make the big ask because worst case you get a ‘no’ which means pre-asking you’re already living the worst case.
- If you don’t like what you’re doing, do something else. It really is that easy.