Lisa Quine is an illustrator who specializes in large-scale murals and has worked for clients like Facebook, Aveda, Mercedes-Benz, DoorDash, and Hilton Hotels.
Lisa joins us to share her experience leaving the corporate world to start her own business and how she found her first few clients.
We talk about how to get started in large-scale murals, how she ended up with her own book deal (!!), and planning to take time off in your business.
Lisa also shares her best tips on how to become a well-known name in your industry.
Visit Lisa’s website to view more of her work.
If you liked the show, please subscribe and leave a review! The more subscribers and 5-star reviews we have, the more people we’ll reach, and the more content we can create! Your reviews will also help us know what kind of stories you’d like to hear.
Hello, hello and welcome to Seriously Creative. I’m. And I’m Gwen, and today we have the absolute pleasure of talking with Lisa Klein, who is best known for her lettering, illustration, and large scale murals. She has worked for big name people like Facebook, Aveda, DoorDash, StubHub. She has done work all over the country and even internationally, and we just had the best conversation.
It was so interesting getting to find. How she got started, how you even get into creating large scale murals, how she got jobs with these big companies like Facebook and like what the actual tools are that you use, like how do you get an illustration that you drew on your iPad onto a wall. She also has published a book.
Um, so we ask her about how that came about and what that process was like. All right. Enjoy Lisa Klein.
Normally when we’re doing this in our studio, we are on, um, west 33rd, and so there’s these people who think it’s, I’m gonna sneeze. Hm, you can keep talking. We’re not , but there these people who drag race down the like 25 mile an hour. Oh my gosh. So there was this one episode where I can just hear somebody drag race and then I can hear like a construction truck pull up and going like, beep, beep.
Like half. I haven’t noticed. Like I listened. You haven’t heard this one yet, but we’ll see. Well, but I’m just like, who cares? Like I’m listening to what they’re saying. Not it sounds like you’re recording like somewhere urban. There’s a lot going on. That’s really funny. Okay. Yep. That’s something. And I don’t listen to our podcast episodes until we actually release ’em.
I’m the editor. Um, okay, so tell us what you do right now and what your business is. Just like give an overview. So right now I’m a creative consultant. I use that title just because I feel like it captures like an overall picture, but specifically I specialize in murals, lettering, and illustration, maybe some graphic design on the side.
And what’s like, the split, do you think, right now of like how much you’re doing murals versus you’re doing illustration? Um, I would say, uh, 60% murals, 40%, a bunch of random projects on my iPad, . Okay. And I saw recently that you did the Cleveland magazine, best of Cleveland cover. Yeah. That was wild. And it, it, it happened at the, like exact time I needed it because a couple murals had been pushed out for construction schedules.
So I almost went a whole month without installing a mural. And this like, kind of took its place. So it, it was just like perfect timing and turned out an incredible opportunity. Yeah. so. Funnily enough, I actually, my first job out of college was working at Cleveland Magazine. Oh my God. I was an art director.
I never did the cover, but I did like some of the inside stuff. But I always wondered like, what goes into the, like creating the cover, how many, like back and forth there is whose idea it is, like what was that process like? So even backtracking, um, before that, Dylan Stewart works there and he was someone that went to my high school.
So we’re both alumni from Lake Catholic all the way out in Mead. Um, but he brought me on to do a cover for landscape manage. I, I believe that’s what it’s called. Okay. So we had worked together like years ago, God, this was probably back in like 2017, like when I was first getting started in lettering. And so they’re getting ready to do their best of Cleveland cover and Erin and Dylan were the team from Cleveland Magazine that, um, , they, we set up a phone call, they walked me through like a mood board of what they’re thinking, like they wanted it to be, uh, celebratory and really decorative lettering, um, which I haven’t done in a while.
So it was, it was nice to like get back into lettering like that. But um, yeah, so they kind of gave me the art direction and then I gave them a sketch. I gave ’em like five color options and they picked one. It was really easy, like great, like picked the direction. And then we worked on the other deliverables too.
Isn’t that wonderful when it works like that? Amazing . Oh my God, it’s so nice. It’s always like when you send that first, I don’t know if you still feel this or not, but you send that first draft off and it’s just like the fear of it coming back and being like, you totally missed the mark. Like, so when it comes back and it’s like, yep, sounds great.
Are you sure? Yeah. Anything ? No, it, yeah. I’ve learned over the years, like the first couple meetings, the first couple mood board sessions and all that are so crucial it, to make everything else like smooth sailing and, and does tip like normally it goes like that. That’s so great. It’s, it’s, that is like once you get like a process down, that’s what you can, I mean that is the difference and we’ve like freelanced a lab, but like working with somebody who is more seasoned or even who is, there are some artists I think that, uh, cuz we’re artists, so we know this.
are a little more in the clouds or like not as good at the process part. Right. And when you work with somebody who’s really good at like, oh I know from like beginning to end how to get the result is like so refreshing. Right. And concept is something I have struggled with like right out the gate, out of college.
Like I’ve, um, I went into advertising and I was an art director and I always struggled with the ideas like starting from scratch. And so I think just doing art on the side and figuring out my own style really helped because now people like will see an example of my work and say, oh, we want something like that, which makes everything so much easier, so.
Right. Yeah, definitely spend time experimenting for sure. Okay, so going back to like your childhood, was art always something that you were interested in? Yeah. So, um, I loved Disney World, Disney movies, like everything Disney. I wanted to be an animator. But then when I started doing flip books, like, and got junior high and stuff, I’m like, this takes forever.
I don’t want to do it anymore. . That’s totally fair. And like motion design. I took a couple classes in that I’m like, ah, I don’t think this is for me. I have zero patience. It’s like, I am in sync gratification now, now, now. So, um, yeah, it, it, it just kind of fell into lettering because I really liked lyrics and music and I was totally a NEMO kid in high school.
Oh, that’s amazing. That’s where the lettering aspect came from. . So did you see something like, did you see lettering and that’s how you got into it? Like how did you go from I really love music and I wanted to animate to like lettering lyrics? Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, because back in the day I didn’t know where to go to look up, like fonts and stuff.
Mm-hmm. to like, kind of, you know, do decorative letter. I didn’t know what lettering was. I didn’t even know the word typography, . Um, so what I did , I had CD booklets and I was like obsessed with those. And then man, I get the disco, their second album pretty odd. If you see that, um, CD booklet, it is all lettering and really decorative, but it combines like turn of the century artwork, like, okay.
Kind of the stuff you see around Cleveland, like the Cleveland architecture and a mix of like turn of the century flourishes and all that detail work, florals and stuff like that. That’s like my sweet spot. I love that kind of stuff. Oh, that’s amazing. That’s so, it’s so awesome that there’s like a specific something that you loved and connected with.
It’s, it’s usually like more broad than that, but now I like wanna go look that up, , exactly what it looks like. There was like a moment in the mid aughts where stuff like that was weirdly popular, I think like Mulan Rouge like kind stuff. Um, and you would see like the band t-shirts with the old, um, God, what’s it called?
The, that used to play music before records and radio’s. Like you’d have to spin it not as a record player, but like the big Amplifier girl. I don’t know what that’s called. It’s me neither. Okay. But we all know, we’ll try show notes, , whatever that’s called. . I think it ends with graph or something like it.
It’s, we’ll call an audio graph. How about that ? That sounds like it’s right. Oh my gosh. And then you ended up going then to college for advertising, is that right? Um, gr graphic design. I went to. You did? Okay. The University of Dayton and . Yeah. That was the 12th college I looked at. Cuz I didn’t know if I wanted to do math or art.
I wanted to do, oh my gosh. Lacrosse too. So those are very different. Can you talk about how you possibly wanted to go for math or graphic design? Like Yeah. I’m, I’m not a right brain person. Okay. At all. Okay. Like, I am very good at just like, here’s A, B, and C. Like, just follow the equation. Um Okay. Because that’s kind of how I do art too.
Like, okay. Again, I’m bad at the concept is, but I’ll pull inspiration like, here are five images. I’m gonna like, combine all those images and create something like there’s an equation behind it. Um. Okay. So I think the art and math, like, yeah, they seem so different, but they’re very related. Like I’m finding patterns with both.
Um, but yeah, I just, I wanted to go do something I knew I was good at and those were the two places I excelled in like high school. I’m like, okay, maybe since I’m good in math and art, I can like pick one of those. And what de deterred me away from math was talking to the, like the dean of mathematics at each school,
Oh my gosh. Like, no offense to them, but it was just so dry. Yeah. And then talking to the art dean is like, Hey, come explore like all these magical ideas. Yes. Like, okay, I think I wanna do that. Yeah. I have a high energy personality, so I think I fit into that box more. Oh my gosh, that’s so interesting. So you knew from when you started college that you were going for graphic design.
It’s not like you had to wait a year or two in before you figured it out. Right. And God, I feel very lucky for that , because I went for business psychology, journalism, child psychology, and then graphic design. It was all, luckily it was all my first year. I was like, really? They have like an exploratory major made for Exactly.
People like me who can’t make up their mind. But it’s, you went right, Gwen, you went white. I went right into it because I excelled at like other things, but like I didn’t really. , I feel like anything fit and I knew I didn’t wanna be a starving artist. Mm-hmm. . And my mom kind of was like, here you could be a graphic designer.
And she had me meet with like a designer from KeyBank and I was like, this is so boring, so boring. But I was like, I don’t know, there must be something cool that I could do with it. So I just went straight into it and I was like, I have no idea what I’m doing. I had no idea what graphic design even was it.
I just signed up for the program. It is funny how when you’re, I don’t know if this is the same as your experience, but like I do feel like there’s a lot of talk about what it looks like to be a graphic designer, like a bank or an insurance company. Like there’s a lot of that and then there’s a lot of like spending a week on one letter.
So it’s like to you, very different things we’re like, Oh, there’s like boring jobs and then there’s like these really intricate, artsy jobs that I don’t feel like are really jobs. It’s just like skills that you’re learning. And like when I got out and finally found, there are some really fun art jobs that you can do where you don’t have to be working for like a boring, like American Greetings was great for us for to be able to do that.
Like obviously what you’re doing now is fun and bright and colorful. It has so much personality versus. Some of the corporate jobs out there that are a little rough. Right. Right. But I like, I definitely appreciate my time in like, sort of the corporate world. It taught me so much about how to make it as a freelance artist Yeah.
Or freelance designer. Right. And stuff like that. So what, how did you get your first job out of college? . I interned at Broka here downtown. Oh yeah. And um, A family friend actually reached out to them and wrote this hilarious email, um, because they’re like, they’re known for their humor. Okay. And so luckily they’re like, okay, we’ll like bring her in and give her a shot.
Um, but yeah, they, they hired me on as a, um, an intern and after the summer was over, they brought me on as a junior art director. And I was like, ah, that’s awesome. This is my first big girl job, and I absolutely loved it. And what did you do? I . I worked on Olis a lot. Like that was like my, oh, Oli. Are they still around?
I don’t, I dunno. I forgot about phs. It’s not because like, one of their dishes is probably like 2000 calories. Oh my God. It’s probably not great for you. . But their breadsticks were great. . But yeah, I got to go on photo shoots like and such. Awesome. Early age and just, just like, see, you know, how the sauce was made, but, um, doing literally how the sauce was made.
not indebted, but yeah, just doing like drive-through signs, window clings. And I, I got to work on a lot, a lot of other stuff. Like when First Mayor Bank was around, um, university hospitals, so just little bits of everything and I like died seeing what was on my computer screen up on a billboard. I was like, oh my gosh.
Like that was on my computer screen and now I’m like driving past it on the highway. That’s so exciting. Yeah, I like took it all in. I was like, this is the coolest job ever. Even though it was like, Hospital building. Yeah. Yeah. Not really great graphic design, but it was still kind of cool. But seeing your work, like literally up in, I mean, not in lights, but at night, you know, there was spotlights on it.
Like that’s exciting. Like, yeah. I mean, I got to design stuff at like my first job, but I never got to see it. It was always, I just on my screen because it was for like things in different states. So that’s really cool that you got to see it in person. Yeah. It like, it is cool to see it like right there and versus out of state where like, who knows where this is?
Yeah. . Yeah. It’s so funny how that mimics your mural design. It’s like, I loved making something on my computer and seeing it up on a billboard and now I’m make things and then I put them up on a wall like . Yeah. It’s, it’s nice when someone else is putting up the billboard. Yeah. not less manual work. Right.
But it, it keeps me active. Yes. Oh my god. So, Since you were designing billboards and like having them go up, did, do you feel like that set you up for success in designing things like now where you’re kind of designing small. Becoming like large. I think that the networking was the biggest help, uh, when I was in advertising, because I worked at two different places.
After Broca, I left to go, um, be an art director at Global Prairie, which is a lesser known kind of marketing chapter. Oh, cool. But yeah, so you just like get to know people that work there and they have friends who are like, you know, see your work through Instagram and I don’t know, it just like slowly spreads.
I, Cleveland is such a small, big city. Mm-hmm. . And I think that’s what really helped too, like, you know, going to a a f event. Okay. Get that acronym. Right. And like a I G A events too, outside of work. Like, you know, I’m, I’m going there on the company dollar and conferences and stuff. Okay. So like trying to build my way as a, um, as a art director, but also kind of thinking about freelancing in the background too, like, Yeah, just getting out there, talking to people talk, like hearing their stories.
How did they make it? Like mistakes they’ve made, like and just absorbing all this information really helped . That’s amazing. Okay, so speaking of A I G A, that’s how I found you. Like a million years ago, I think you were, I don’t even know if you would remember this, I think it was an event in like Asia Town and it was like an evening event and you were selling like hand lettering lyric posters.
So I’ve been following you since then because I was like, who is this girl? And like I think I had just found lettering. Oh my gosh. And I was like, oh my God, she’s so cool that she’s coming out. Cuz you were really young at this point. Like, I mean this was, I mean, I don’t wanna age either one of us, but I think this was almost like 10 years ago.
Oh yeah. . That’s right. And so you must have been. on the side then, cuz it was an evening thing and it was like your art. And I was like, how did she get, like how did she get into this event? I was on the board and I was like, how is she here selling her work? Like what did you do? And I remember I told you, I was like, you’re selling this for way too cheap.
Oh, . Yeah. That because we were like dirt cheap. And I was like, I think I bought three of them. I really appreciate it. . Um, yeah, that pricing work has been a 10 year journey, to be honest. Oh my goodness. Um, but yeah, I, I think for a I G A I would always like volunteer to work the door too, so I could get in free.
So smart. So smart. I’ll you And then I’m meeting people too, like remembering their names. I’m like, yeah, definitely work the door at events. Okay. , we had that same experience though, that like the contacts and the relationships that we made mm-hmm. during our decade in corporate, like, were the most meaningful relationships and connections that we had in like, growing our business Yeah.
In this city. Because it is like, like we just realized when you walked in, like it’s so small and it’s easy to like, like, oh, you’re doing a project over there. Like, I know so and so, and just being able to like make connections is one of the biggest like superpowers. Yeah. Mm-hmm. , especially if you’re doing stuff that’s local, I think.
Absolutely. And there’s just like this sense here that like if you’re trying to make it or like bring your idea to life, the whole city is behind you. Like, I don’t know, that’s how it’s always felt, always felt for me. And what I like try to give back to when I see, you know, up and comers, like trying, you know?
Yeah. Just trying to do their thing here. I’m like, yeah, go you . Right. So let’s talk about pricing for a minute cuz that’s always a super interesting conversation, especially with other creatives. So when you first started out, like what was your. Approach to like, obviously you had a full-time job, so you were doing this on the side.
You knew probably that you wanted it to be a long-term thing, but like how do you start out? Were you doing it pro bono? Were you charging? Um, so I was mainly working for friends and family, um, who were just seeing stuff on Instagram. They’re like, Hey, I want this for like a wedding shower gift. And I’m like, okay, like.
What do I feel comfortable with? I totally base pricing on feeling, I don’t know why I didn’t just like Google it. Like what do other artists do? Or like, I would look it up on Etsy too and it, those always, those numbers seem so low and I’m like, well it’s always cuz they’re selling at scale, right? So it’s like when you sell that thing to like 50 people, you make a little bit of money, but when you’re only doing it for one and it’s custom.
Yeah. Right, right. So, and I thought like, oh, they’re probably doing the same thing I’m doing and looking at Etsy numbers, so I’m just gonna like, keep this lower. And I felt so bad, like charging up upwards of $50 for like someone my age who, you know, it has an entry level job and stuff. So I’m like, okay, like we’ll just do this for like $15 maybe like a Starbucks gift card, like, you know.
Right. Oh my gosh. So that’s how pricing worked. for like five years, probably like just doing it on the side. Very, very cheap. Like I just, God, I think at my hourly rate at that point was like 20 or 30 bucks an hour, which is so low. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ugh. But you have to start somewhere. Right. You know, and the, the fear of just like saying the price out loud, sending the price is just so awkward.
And I remember when I was doing stuff on the side at the beginning, it was always like, Well, what do you wanna pay ? Yeah, if you put the number on, I don’t have to, it’ll be easier. So when you were doing it for friends and family, were you just like creating the art and they were like, I wanna get it printed here, or were you like helping them figure out where to print it and getting that done?
Great question. It was always a one-off. Um, okay. So I would just like, you know, have the paper, the canvas. Paint the thing and just like give it away. It’s always like an original God. Oh my gosh. Those people, they have like gold . They do. The work was not that great. I, to tell you the truth, . But yeah, what really like changed my perspective was when like, I was serious about going full-time freelance.
So I hired a business coach, Stephanie, she’s not in Cleveland. Stephanie Sheldon, yes. She’s not in the country anymore, but I saw her at a Creative Mornings talk. Mm-hmm. , uh, she just spoke about pricing and I’m like, oh, I need to hire her. Like, and, and smartly she like had a promotion after the talk. She’s like, you know, I’ll do two business calls for like 500 bucks.
I’m like, that’s what she ate for. Like, I, I have $500, like yeah. For her. Um, so I talked to her right after and she actually got me a couple projects, like after our coaching session, so Oh, nice. It was another big networking, like amazing opportunity. That’s amazing. Amazing. But, um, she spoke about it like, Take emotions out.
I’m like, okay, yeah, this is so step one, I’m not doing great . Right. But, um, you have to think about what you wanna make that year, break it down to the month, the week. Mm-hmm. and like that’s how much you charge, like, to make it your goals. I’m like, oh, math so simple. I love it. Yeah, yeah. Like, let’s do that.
So I just, you know, I got an Excel sheet or Google Sheets going and I kept track of how much I make a month. I’m like, okay. And then like just slowly upp it over the years, like each year just up to a little more and more. And, but yeah, I’ve had clients come to me and say, this is too low. We’re gonna up you like a grand.
I’m like, wow. Oh, I’m really charging low if like, clients are like, overpaid me that much. So what a great feeling though, that you’re like working for the right people if they come back and like, wanna make sure you’re compensated. I. I have had some of the most awesome people as clients over there. So yeah, just like knocking away, counting my blessings there.
But, um, hopefully, yeah, like hope the artwork is like bright and energetic, so hopefully I’m like attracting those types of people too. Yeah, we always say that too, like we’re clearly doing something right in terms of branding because the people that we get to work with, they’re so lovely. It’s like, don’t, we can’t start making things that are gonna like attract the wrong type of person.
Yeah, yeah. , right, right. So then how did you move in? Like what was your first mural? Um, my first ever mural. Okay. So. back at Broka. I was really close to a copywriter. Trish, her girlfriend, was at Find a Way out in Solan. Okay. And they were looking to, um, revamp their lobby. And so they’re like, okay, can you draw an ice cream truck and let her this like, quote that’s like a core value for our company.
So that was my addition. And I like just, you know, took up my sketchbook, sent them a picture of like the sketchbook and I’m like, okay, here’s an ice cream truck and here’s a quote. And they’re like, great, you have the job. Um, here’s a hundred more items and you have to do it on like four walls. Oh my gosh.
Didn’t have an iPad or Apple pencil, like those weren’t invented back then. Oh my God. And so did your life get like 1000 times easier when they iPad, apple pencil were not, and projectors like honestly projectors made by life easier. Wait, so you did your first mural without a projector, right. And like didn’t do the grid system, like how do you That I didn’t like started at the edges and worked my way in and then like a puzzle.
Yeah. . Yeah, exactly. Go with what you know. Yeah. But I just, and I would fill the spaces with like stars and dots, but actually I did the whole sketch in pencil, which was so dumb. I’ve never used pencil since this project, because on the wall raping it off the wall was like, A nightmare. So what do you do sketches with then Chalk.
Oh, it’s so much easier. Like you still, like the paintbrush will pick it up a little bit, but Okay. It’s still so much easier than a pencil, which like shows through, oh my gosh. I was at Facebook, um, installing a mural over the summer and they were telling me, oh yeah, we have a mural. And you could totally see the pencil lines.
I’m like, you guys are baseball. Like you shouldn’t. Oh my gosh. You shouldn’t stand for that. But like, I don’t know, , it’s like, yeah, but they’re not mural artists. Yeah, they don’t know any difference. They’re just like, oh, this is what comes with your MUR mural. It’s a bunch of pencil marks. Right, right. So how did you learn like.
to go from pencil to ch. Like how do you learn the tools of just make the mural mistake, it sounds like. Exactly. Yeah. Like I made the, the mistake at my first mural and I’m like, okay, I’m never using pencil again. And then like, as murals became popular, people put out so many videos on like how to install a mural and tips for murals.
Yeah. So like if you look it up, it’ll like come to you . Okay. The answers will come to you. Okay. Good to know. . So after that first mural that you installed, that it was a paid, paid job? Yes. . Okay. So did you then start advertising yourself as a mural artist or like trying to get more of those jobs? Oh man, these are all great questions.
Like, I did not feel comfortable calling myself a mural artist after one, but I, that did lead to other projects. Um, I just by like sharing it. Absolutely. Yes. And people visiting that office and seeing like, oh, who did this? We want something like that for our office. So were you signing it with your Instagram handle at the bottom from the beginning?
I don’t think I signed that one. Okay. Like I, again, I was just so scared. Of course, everything, but that has been, that’s how I found you, is just like, I kept looking at all these coal murals and then I would be like, oh, I’m gonna follow the person who made this. And then I would go down, I’m like, I’m already following her.
And then I would see another one. I’m like, why is she doing all the new ? But there’s like so funny. What a great like advertising method. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s definitely sounding my work now. And I think I’m gonna take away the handle just because who knows how long Instagram is around for, you know? Yeah.
You just wanna put your name. Oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t even think about that. I know, I, when I was first starting, I’m like, Instagram’s never going away. . It can’t because it’s, it’s much, it’s an easy way though. Like, I don’t know if the Instagram handle wasn’t there, if I would’ve thought to Google you.
Ah. It’s like such a, it’s like a call to action. It’s a good, easy way. Yeah. You have to be like, put your name and then put like Google me when Google goes away. Oh God. I dunno. So then getting, sorry I interrupted you, but getting your next mural jobs after that one. So now, now I, my brain is mush, but I know the one after that was for, um, a company called Gbx.
I always do these offices I’ve never heard of before. And then you go and you’re like, wow, this is in Cleveland. Um, so they were doing, um, they were building their new headquarters on Superior Avenue, like just like east of downtown. Okay. Which apparently, like I learned all this history from, they, it used to be like the fashion capital of like Cleveland.
Wow. At, back in the day, like in the 1920s, our fashion and garment district was like booming. Oh. And so they wanted to like, you know, bring that in. They, their whole company, like restores historic buildings. And so like, it just made sense to put the history of that area in the mural. Yes. But, They wanted 6, 7, 7 walls.
Wow. It was my first like, five digit project. And it was also like the sign from the universe, like, okay, you have to go full-time freelance if you want this project. Yeah. So when they, so she can’t do it within and do your full-time job. Right. Okay. Right. So when they confirmed like, yes, you’re, um, we’ll bring you on for this project.
I’m like, okay. Like since in the universe, quit my job. And then like, that was my first mural project. Wow. Like as a full-time freelancer. So talk about that. What. . So what was that experience like to leave your full-time job? Like were you, did you already want to when you were like, waiting for the sign or was that like, oh, I have to make this really hard decision, but I still love my job?
Yeah, I loved doing what I did and I, I saw myself like becoming a creative director hopefully one day. But, um, yeah, it was like the best of both worlds. But also, like I knew I was in my twenties and if I didn’t do it now, it would only be harder the more I prolonged it. So I’m like, okay, I’m gonna, Figure out what my monthly cost of living is.
Save like six months cuz I’m a psycho and I need that like safety net. You’re not a psycho. That’s just a smart thing. And that’s the, the, is that the right brain side? Left brain. I always get that. That’s the left. Left. It’s the left. That’s a left brain side. That’s your math brain. I am not that. And I would not have done, I’d be like, I can figure it out.
I know. I You have a lot of confidence in yourself though. No, I would, that’s why I didn’t do it for many, many years. , it’s, it’s hard. Like that leap is so scary. But then once you make it, you’re like, why didn’t I do this sooner? Like, . It’s, yeah. You just have to like live through it. Yeah. Um, but yeah, so I saved some money, hired a business coach, so I like, could figure out the business side of things.
Uh, my first meeting, like day one of like being a full-time freelancer, I met with an accountant. I’m like, it’s so good. Yeah. So organized. This . Well, yeah, I just, I wanted to like get out the business side of things. Yeah. Um, yeah. I was at LLC at the time. She was like, we’re gonna make you incorporate it, like it’s helpful with the taxes.
I’m like, it’s so smart. Yeah. I was just like, I will do whatever. Just, um, but uh, yeah, so, and then I installed that mural. That was my first project. Someone that was furnishing their offices like at Ohio desk, saw that mural. I’m like, okay, we want that at Ohio desk. So I got a mural with them and then actually I’m working on the Cleveland Food Bank and that.
Contact at Ohio desk is like at the food bank now. And so it’s just like, oh my gosh. Such a small world. So be nice to everyone and like try to do your best on the projects because it will like keep feeding the machine . Yeah. So would you say that, like, if you had to give a percentage of where you find, I’m assuming it’s mainly either people find you on Instagram or it’s contacts, right?
Like what’s the percentage of that? Um, I should be more on top of this. No, no, no. You don’t have to know exactly. Just I, well I never ask people like, how’d you find me? Oh yeah. So yeah, I definitely need to do that more. I’m just a little too tunnel vision. Like, okay, what do you want for this mural? I mean, they’re finding you so you’re doing something right.
Probably just don’t dip, don’t change anything . Right, right. Like, yeah, if things start to fall off, I’m like, okay, now I really gotta look at like my methods. But I, um, It’s either word of mouth, they saw a previous mural or Yeah. Instagram. So those like three things. But um, so you’ve never had to do like paid advertising or anything like that?
The one time I did serious outreach work is when I moved to Texas, cuz I was like in a new city. Yeah. Um, and I was eight months pregnant, so that was like, oh my gosh. Fun to juggle. Yeah. My goodness. And so we get there. I’m, I’m not doing anything cause I don’t have any projects. So, um, or I was releasing a book at the time.
Oh God. Okay. We need to back up and tell what that did. . Yeah. Just like a lot of stuff was going on anyway, so I made a list. Um, his, I would go to Instagram accounts, like what to do in Dallas and like, just like stuff around Dallas. I know we have stuff like that here in Cleveland. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. Like Cleveland vibes and stuff.
So I went to those, um, Accounts in Dallas and I would do the businesses that they would feature. And so I just like cold emailed out 70 different companies. I sent them a pdf. Wow. So like when they got my email, they could see the attachment right there. It was just like, Hey, these are my murals, these are my prices.
Um, let’s work together. And I got three jobs based off of that. Great. Wow. So it, it works to like pull an email. Okay. And then did the same thing happen there where you were getting jobs off of those? I’m trying to figure out. So one was like the Dallas Symphony, which was just mind boggling. She’d said she knew me previously and I’m like, I couldn’t figure out from what.
So that was always a mystery to me. But, um, the other ones just really, really artsy shop pretty close to where we lived. Um, sell handmade goods and she was really good about like seeking out creative. So she actually found me through Instagram, installed a mural for her and like people saw that and like reached out based on that mural.
So it’s almost like the mural is a billboard for your work. Yeah. And it’ll lead to other projects. Wow, that’s amazing. That’s a little bit how we have done it as well. Our, our thing is websites, but yeah, once you do a website for someone, it’s like, then somebody goes to their website and they’re like, who did your.
Like it’s kinda Yeah, exactly. Which is helpful. It’s versus doing things that are like internal and nobody sort of ever sees them. can be helpful. What is your favorite project to work on? Like it, it sounds like you do a lot of websites, but like logos, branding, is that probably your favorite? I mean that’s like our bread and butter is doing like the branding and the websites, but it’s my favorite is when we do like the whole thing when someone comes to us and they’re like, I’m ready to grow, like my logo doesn’t fit anymore.
And then we just like dig in and we do the strategy, we do their brand, and then they’re like, okay, I want this to be like when they’re ready to go all in and they want like everything to be cohesive. So they want their website to like match their branding and they want social templates. So like when they go out on Instagram, like those are my favorite people.
And when they also just like come, they’re like, I’ve been looking at you guys’s stuff for like a few months and it’s just like, now’s the time I’m ready to invest. And we’re like, okay. Oh my gosh. Like it feels like really good because they’ve been thinking about it for a while and then they’re coming to us to trust.
You’re making people’s dreams come . That’s amazing. Well, that’s when we see the people get the biggest results too, which is so like, we always want people on the back end to be like, that was such a worthy investment. Mm-hmm. . Um, and so to be able to really do the whole thing, that’s when people see the biggest return on the investment.
They’re like, oh my God, I’m getting so many more people who are the type, and this is part of like, the strategy that we do is like, we want the type of people you want to be reaching out to you. So if you’re just getting a whole bunch more inquiries of people who are not like your dream clients, yeah.
Then that’s like not a successful job. But being able to see that. And then the biggest thing for us is when people are like, I feel confident now to raise my prices. So we do website updates and we’ll get all the time for my clients, like, can you raise our minimum spend from 1000 to 2000? Can you ra? And we’re just like, that’s the ultimate like payoff.
Even my, one of my favorite, favorite things is like they’ll have in their copy, like, here are my prices. And then they see it come to life and they’re like, , um, before we even launch, can you raise this price? Like they are like, they already have that confidence even before it gets launched. They’re like, okay, yeah, I can do it now.
Yeah. They probably say this like beautiful branding and website and like, oh, that’s, that number’s too long. Yeah. , if you’re legitimate, which is the whole, yeah. That’s the whole thing with branding is that when, and it’s probably the same for you two, when you’re doing a piece of artwork and you’re giving it to somebody and it’s so professional, it’s like it elevates everything.
It makes it feel more legitimate, more professional, more like, I don’t know, just very cool. I, with murals especially because they tend to be a little more expensive. Like you do want your client to feel comfortable like, okay, I’m putting all this money behind it. Yeah. Like it better benefit me in the long run somehow, but like when it does, it’s, yes.
So I dunno, just feel good feelings. Yeah. Do you ever feel like you have to sell the benefit of a mural? Or do you feel like there are enough people who are just seeing your mural knowing they want one and coming to you? Like you’re not really having to like talk about how murals benefit the end. Client.
I, I luckily, I, there’s just something in the water in Cleveland, like, I don’t know what it is, but I haven’t had to feel the need to like sell it. That’s great. That’s amazing. That is amazing because it, it, I do think that there’s probably a confidence that comes from people already inherently knowing the value and coming to you and like, because when you have to sell them on the value, then sometimes it can feel.
insecure about the deliverable because like, oh, well, I promised that it would get you this end result, versus being able to just be like, oh, you already value it, and you came to me like that’s the best kind of client to get. Absolutely. Yeah. , if you’re a creative and you’re feeling like you have to take every job you can get, let us just tell you we have been there.
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Grab your spot today at this free firstname.lastname@example.org slash freelance. So would you consider yourself like an extrovert? ? I, I remember taking the test in college and I was a, I. Fj. Okay. And so introvert. Okay. Um, and yeah, I, I think just finally finding, like, finding what I like to do and making that my career like, kind of pushed me to be extroverted and like networking with people and going to events.
I’m like, oh, like I do like talking to people. I get my energy from people. So, short answer, yes. I’m an expert now. . Well, I, I ask that because like, I’m definitely like a behind the scenes person. So like, Jess focuses on like our marketing and getting, she makes me, I shouldn’t say, makes me, she pushes me to like do the reels and then like get comfortable doing those things, but I’m like, no, no, no, I’m good.
I’m just good. Like, behind the scenes, like making the websites and stuff like that. So as I hear you telling the story about how you went to networking events and you talked to all these people, and like obviously, like I know it’s super important to build those relationships mm-hmm. , but I’m like, How did you get the energy to do that?
And like the bravery to do that? Cause I’d be like, oh God, I’m too scared to like, go talk to people network. Which is one of the reasons network is hard. I just feel it is hard. It’s so hard. Yeah. It’s so hard. That’s so why, like when I saw you at the EIG G event, I was like, oh my God, this girl. And you went by yourself, didn’t you?
Um, yes. I knew one other person going, but like I, she is very much an extrovert and very much in like the American Greetings kind of community Yeah. Which a lot of people there were in. Yeah. And so she was off doing her thing. So I’m like, okay, like, let me just interject somewhere and like, I don’t know, I, I just wanna know like what other people are doing because my job is to stand in front of a wall and paint and I don’t get to talk and I don’t get to like be on social media.
Yeah. And like I, there’s no connection to humans there, so I think I’m just like craving that at the end of the day. Yeah. And networking events. Like I could, you know, be a normal person again. Yeah. Totally. Gwenny, can you hand me the, um, power cord? Oh yeah. My computer’s Ted. , this is what we do. We share power.
We have been in business for three years and we haven’t bought a second power cord yet, but we are going to our, in our new studio, we’re gonna upgrade to two. We’re just like, for so long, we’re like, I mean at this point, like why get another one? We’ve been making this work, but we sit right next to each other and so we just wait till one computer goes in and then we plug it and, but just the other day we realized neither of us were plugged in and we both went dead.
So then it was like, are you at five? I need it. five from the God. Oh my goodness. Pure laziness. That should have been when we went online and purchased another power cord, but we still didn’t. Soon. Soon we’ll do it. I totally understand. I get very lazy when it comes to murals. Like I don’t prep the wall ever.
Really like it just, Put the pain on. Yeah. Oh my gosh. I know I probably should make my life easier, but I am the laziest hard worker. . So, yeah. Wait, I wanna talk about that . Like what does that mean? Like there’s just certain, like I cut corners. I really Okay. Cut corners. And it’s out of pure laziness and lack of patience.
Okay. I’m trying to look for other examples like priming the wall. I never do, I’m trying to think of other things. Like sometimes I just won’t do a time lapse. I don’t feel like setting it up. Okay. And I know that I’m like, there’s a lost opportunity. For real. Yeah. But like I’m just so focused on getting the job done.
Yeah. Okay. But Well, if I had to guess based on seeing your work, you’re probably cutting corners on things that might. . Mm. Like a reel is something that’s like additive on top of it, but like probably not cutting corners in ways that compromise the work. Right. So you’re like, is now I’ve gotten all the things done that are gonna make this product great.
Yeah. I can like, cut around the edges. That’s how I feel at least. Yeah. Like, I mean, is priming the wall necessary? I have no idea. Sometimes . Okay. So when it’s like exposed brick, I’m looking at a brick wall right now. Um, that probably should be primed, like the older buildings around Cleveland. Okay.
Probably should be primed. I’ve done it where I just don’t prime it. Um, okay. And just put the paint right on. And it’s usually like just one more coat I have to deal with. That’s okay. . So do you, is it like a faint because I do this sometimes I think I’m also similar in that I’ll be like, uh, it won’t matter if I don’t do it, but like, when you’re doing the second coat of paint, are you ever sometimes like, I should have just primed
I should have just primed so I shouldn’t have to do this . Oh, okay. And like, why didn’t I just spend a little more money for the better quality paint? Like there’s just some colors that are gonna need another coat no matter what. Yeah. And you’re never gonna get away for from that. So I’m just like, okay, whatever.
Okay. So. The process of doing a mural, obviously there’s like a sketch that happens. I’m sure at some point you’re showing colors like colorways and then what is, like, what are the steps after that? Because it’s just such a strange thing that like somebody can paint something that they sketched on that big of a surface.
Yeah, I mean typically once the concept is done, that’s where it’s like smooth sailing from there. Okay. Kind of. Um, so once we have an approved design, I just set up the projector, project it on the wall, sketch it out with either chalk or paint. If it’s an exterior wall, I’ll use paint because rain, rain will wash the chalk away.
Oh, oh yeah, that makes sense. And you’re paint, you just like paint over it so it’s so easy. But yeah, once the sketch is on the wall, it’s paint by numbers. It’s so easy. It’s just very time consuming. Okay. So you got a ladder out there and you’re just going. left to right or whatever. Yep, yep. Yeah. I usually go background to foreground.
Oh yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Just like you would in a normal painting, . And then have you ever had an experience where you get it done and the person’s like, I don’t love it, or like, oh my God, . ? It usually looks pretty close to the concept. Okay. But yeah, it is always wild to see like in real life, um, I’m trying to think.
I mean, there have been color corrections, very minor, um, this one time. Um, the lettering I did wasn’t straight, so they were able to get a crew to like do the white background again and I just like needed to straighten it. That’s another thing I’m lazy about. I don’t use a level and sometimes I don’t even use painter’s tape.
I just like paint, just trust my arm to paint a straight line. Oh my gosh. And it looks straight in photos, like maybe up close. You just see like it slightly dip, but it looks fine from far away. Right. Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. What, have you ever used like a lift? Yes, I’m assuming. Okay. So like what was the first experience having to like, get a lift?
Like did you have to go and rent it or like learn how to operate? Like how do you do that? Um, so the first time we used to lift was, um, through, uh, it was my dream big mural in Gordon Square. Okay. And, um, beautiful. Right away. Love that one. That one like set my career off. I feel like it’s amazing. It was so much fun.
But I’ve, I’ve learned a lot. One, I’m scared of heights and I can’t go to the stop of the building. That’s why it’s like a lot at first, but then it trickles down. And I did that on purpose cuz it wasn’t an alleyway. Yeah. But like my husband painted that pink flower on top, . Oh my gosh. I’m terrified of heights.
Wow. Yeah. Okay. But, um, using a lift. So they showed me the ropes, um, Aaron at Land Studio. Land Studio was the one who brought me on for the project. Okay. And they’re like a middle man for some of the public art projects around here. . And so they showed me how to use the lift. And I, you get comfortable, like it’s like driving and riding a bike.
Once you do it like for a day, you know how to use it. Okay. But at the very last day of painting, I drove the lift over a gallon of hot pink paint. And so the whole wheel was like hot pink . And I was just like, like so nervous that I would get in trouble. Like I was like, I’m so sorry. Like I didn’t see it there, but they were able to wash it off or something.
Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. Here you go. It’s exactly how you delivered it. Here’s a big manly lift with, um, a hot pink whale. Oh my gosh. That’s the thing. are most of the jobs that you get through a third party, like an interior designer or someone that’s like facilitating it or are most of them the direct company?
I would, I would say half and half. Okay. Yeah. Um, cuz there’s Lance Studio, there’s graffiti heart, which I’ve worked with too. And again, they’re like a middleman that brings in the artist and already has the client. Um, but yeah, interior designers are great to work with too. Um, any preference between having a third party?
I love it cuz it takes the pricing out of it. Like they dictate the price. I’m like, yes, that sounds great. . Interesting. So do they, like, do they find you via networking or Instagram and then they reach out? Or is it something that, like you’ve made the connection with them? I, I think they’re really good at like, discovering the artists in the city.
I’m trying to think too, they have their own events too, so. Okay. You know, if they’re hosting an event and you wanna get into murals, definitely show up and introduce yourself. Yeah. But, um, yeah, I, I, I do love working with third parties sometimes. Okay. Uh, I forgot to mention this too. I’ve gotten a lot of murals at the start of my career from call to artists, and I know that’s like heavily debatable right now.
Okay. Because it’s not always the best like paid opportunity. Yeah. , but when you’re just starting out, it’s, it, it, that’s how you build credit. Yeah. If you win and you get this project, like it can lead to so much else. So I’m, I’m for it. If you are starting out, yeah. It kind of hurts like the more season.
artist. But yeah, it’s so hard. I, I kind of want, like, I want it to exist for people that want to get into it. It’s such a great opportunity for them if you have, especially if you have time to invest in your, like, concepts and stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s like the, the mix message, like when you’re just starting out, everyone’s like, don’t do it for free, cuz it like hurting the industry.
But at the same time, like it’s, there’s a little bit of like, what’s the difference between Matt and doing like a passion project. Then you’re, which you’re then posting on Instagram and, but at that point you’re just like hoping someone will see it versus if you’re doing one of these, like, that’s usually in front of an audience.
So it’s, it is like a hot topic and there is, I don’t think there’s like a right answer. I think cities benefit from it too. Like a lot of ’em tend to be municipal projects and they’re not allowed to like, you know, discriminate and mm-hmm. like they. Choose from a diverse pool and doing a call for artists is a way to like, you know, include everyone.
Yeah. Can you just explain what a call for artists is, just in case anybody doesn’t know who’s listening? Oh, it’s almost like a competition. Like let’s say a city is looking to have a mural put on the side of a building. They have, um, a business owner that’s willing to do it. Um, they will, um, make an announcement like we’re collecting submissions.
Um, if you either give us three samples of previous work, sometimes it’s set up like that, or it’s come up with a concept and submit it. And we will choose the one, like the city and the business owner will all decide on which artist they want for the spot. And when you say concept, is it like a finished piece of art?
Oh, that’s a good question. It it, it does depend on the competition. Usually they want like a fully all colored in concept. Yeah. So they can like really see what it’s gonna look like. Right. Have you ever had the fear of like, Submitting something and then they’re gonna steal your idea. Because I know I’ve seen like some other creatives out there, they’re like, I don’t wanna do that, because then they got my idea without having to pay for it.
If it’s a private owned business, then yes, I probably would be more cautious about it. But I think the way to get around that for the business is to ask for examples of your work, because that’s already out there, that’s copyrighted and all that jazz. Yeah. So they can’t take that and put it on their wall.
So how do you determine, like when you’re Okay, doing like a concept for something? Like do you have anything where you’re like, okay, this project feels like they’re not going to do that. Like is that something where it is for like a city or something like that? Where like if there’s a project that I don’t feel comfortable doing?
Yeah. Like when they’re asking for a finished submission versus just pieces of your work. Like do you have anything, like a gut feeling or anything that you determine when you’re comfortable? Or have you even done one where you’ve fit, done a final concept for one of these? Or is it always like, I’m only comfortable giving previous work?
So I think at this point I, I wouldn’t do a concept for free. And if they’re looking for examples of password, then I will submit. Um, it depends on who is asking. Like if it is a city, I totally understand and maybe I will submit to something like that. Again, if it’s a company though, it’s a little bit different.
They have a budget, like they can Got it. Do the research. Yeah. Okay. Take out and I don’t know, but again, I don’t wanna take projects away from up and comers like Yeah, there’s such a fine line . Yeah. But that’s really interesting. Okay. I wanna know more. doing a live mural. Oh, God. Because that sounds incredibly stressful.
Yeah. So doing a live mural, that’s always nerve-wracking. And I always, uh, go like the night before, I’m like, why did I sign up for this ? Um, but after having done a few, I’ve learned, don’t talk to everybody that like comes up to you during, because you won’t finish. Yeah. Like the one I did here for local cro gang, when that was the thing, I ended up not finishing because I was just talking to too many people.
So I’ve learned, okay, we’re gonna prep beforehand. Like the sketch is gonna be on there and I just have to fill it in. Okay. Or, um, sometimes, uh, the person putting on the event will want other people to participate and like color it in. So again, sketch it beforehand and like I’ve learned, maybe pick out the colors and where they go rather than letting people kind of do their thing.
Yeah. Yeah. . Yeah, I mean it. Or like, it’s just me installing the mural by myself, which I feel comfortable doing now, but, um, there is pressure. Yeah. Once the sketch is on there though, it’s good. Whenever I ran into issues, it’s because I was just drawing it on the spot. Okay. Well I have to imagine too, if you have people around, you don’t want like the projector out while you’re trying to draw the sketch.
So like just being able to put that away and have like be working off the sketch. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. better. Okay. So you at some point moved to Dallas, you said for your husband’s job, right? Right. What was that like? And then talk about, you know what, hold on. That’s not the question I wanna ask. What was the book?
Tell us more about the book. Yeah, so a publishing company approached me and, um, they do tutorial books, so like, how do you play the guitar cook books? Like they just find, uh, artisan that has a niche and like, Has, they have a template for how to write a book. So that’s what I was like, oh, so this is just gonna be like, follow their equation and then And they reached out to you?
Yeah. Okay. Um, I’m like, oh, this is super nice, . Well, a, I got pregnant, um, and I just wasn’t expecting it to happen that quickly. And it was due during my first trimester when I didn’t know anything about being pregnant. Like I didn’t realize that the first trimester was hell. Well, for some people there are some lucky women who they’re like, oh, it was so easy.
Right. That was not, and you hate them . Yes. Oh, you’re very jealous. . Um, yeah, I definitely wish I had that experience, but I also, um, am a terrible procrastinator and I procrastinated this Me Too project. Um, so I wrote the book in a month and then I illustrated all the stuff in it for another month. Which during your first trimester, while you felt horrible.
Yes, I am amazed. I just like knew it had to get done. I knew like, it’s almost like the, the weight of the opportunity is like, what pushes you to keep going. Yeah. But yeah, it, so it was, they wanted it to be like very specific and not like any other lettering books out there to like, you know, help build a niche audience.
And so I was like pulling things out of the air. I was like, we’ll do a circus font. We’ll do like a flower font and just like art deco, art New Vo and just like, , I was naming these fonts and stuff, or typefaces, whatever you want to call them. Um, like naming them and creating backstories, why I like them and like the, a little bit of history and stuff.
And they were like, yeah, just, um, make sure you’re writing voice. Um, I, I’ve never wrote anything this extensive ever before and I hated writing papers in college. Oh, oh my gosh, what did I get myself into? But they’re like, yeah, just pretend you’re teaching a friend and it like, kind of write it in your own voice and write it like you’re talking, make me get conversational.
So I did exactly that and they’re like, oh, we love it. I’m like, this feels too easy. Yeah. Like, yeah, weirdly easy, but they’re like, yeah, well you made minor at edits, but it was fairly easy. So it set up like, here’s A through z. And then, I don’t know if I did numbers, I don’t think I did numbers, but A through Z capital and lowercase 20 different alphabets and then a quote at the end of each chapter.
So there were, wow, two, two fonts per cha. 10 chapters total, two fonts per chapter, and then a quote at the end. Whoa, there’s a lot of work, . Oh my goodness. And you did that in two months? . I would not recommend it to anybody. Did you not sleep? Um, I was sleeping during the day. I think I was, um, working on it in the morning and um, at night and then sleeping in the afternoon.
Cuz I’m just like dead. Oh my God. So do you work fast? Would you, you know what? I, I think so. I’m a very quick little busy bee. Okay. And I probably, you know, some art creatives kind of sit with it and really edit it, work out the kinks. I’m just like, oh, that’s looks good. . That’s so interesting cuz like when I was pregnant with my daughter, I felt awful.
The first trimester also, and. . I definitely was procrastinating, but I also was just like, I can’t do anything. Right? Like I, so I, there would be like time where I’m like, I can’t do a thing and then I would just like, probably, I’d have like a chunk of time where I’m like, I ha I have to do this. I have to do this.
So I’d push through it, but like, I don’t think I could have written and illustrated a book in two months. People need to be nicer. Too pregnant. Yeah. Yeah. They really do. They really do. So then you didn’t. Really pre, I mean, not saying that you didn’t, but like the marketing of the book wasn’t really up to you.
Right. It was totally on them. Um, which was super nice. But, um, I’m trying to think of what that process was like. I, I should have, you know what I, this is the part that trips me up. So it was released in April, 2020. That was like the scheduling of it. My daughter was born in, it’s a great time of history.
Right. April 21, . Right. Wait, and when was your daughter born? March of 2020. And so was it before or after the world shut down? During the week. The weekend of the, when I was in the hospital, the two days I was in the hospital, they shut down the n b and that’s when we were like, oh, this is serious. But your husband was able to be with you?
Yes, but not for one of the, so he was there like the first 24 hours and then he had to go home to set up the nursery because we had just moved in our house like that day. Oh my gosh. I know she came a week early. I was like, One week. . One week, my gosh, . Um, it was just like a lot. But anyway, going back to the book, so it was released in April, 2020.
They said like, you know, make a push for presale orders. Like all books are like, um, do well with presale. Mm-hmm. , like that’s a huge thing in the publication world. Um, I did not, I was like focused on, you know, moving into a house. Mm-hmm. having a baby. Yeah. Having a baby and all that. But by the time April RO rolled around, I didn’t feel comfortable at all asking people to buy a hand lettering book.
I was like, we’re supporting our essential workers. Like, just stay inside, keep everyone safe. Like, I, I mean, people didn’t, my husband got furloughed too, so we were like, you know, a little shep for money. I’m like, who else is getting furloughed out there? I’m again, not asking the world to buy a lettering book.
And so, yeah. I did like no outreach and I didn’t really put it out there. That’s why people are surprised they even have a book because they don’t know . Yeah. They don’t really like put it out there. And I think it’s because it’s just like such a weird spot in the whole timeline of it things, you know? It was just such a weird time in the world.
Yeah. And that book is a reminder of that time. Yeah. So did you get paid from the book just for writing it? Or was it like based on sales? Th that’s a great question too. Um, so , there’s not a lot of money in the publication world at all. And, uh, I mean, if you have ever done book covers for someone like, you know, it, this, that’s not where the money is.
Really? Yeah. Oh, really? But, um, I, I know Jessica Hich. Mm-hmm. , uh, she talks a lot about it, like could, she’s put out books before children’s and lettering books and she’s like, yeah, you don’t do it for the money. Yeah. You, you don’t really see a return on that. Oh, I didn’t know that class is like out for years and it sells really well.
so did for you as the reason that you decided to do it, just because it seemed like a great opportunity to like have a book out there versus like, oh, I, this is a great, like, monetary opportunity. So I think they paid me, it, it was somewhere between 6,000 and 8,000 just for making the book. And I was like, that’s a good chunk of change come to realize, like, you know, for, I mean, for two months of grueling work.
Yeah. Maybe that’s a little low. Yeah, yeah. Um, but yeah, you, you would have to sell a certain amount of books in order to see that, like residual check. Got it. And I got it. And I never hit that and like I didn’t expect to anyway. But yeah. So it was just the fee for creating the book so far. Okay. Okay.
That’s super interesting. That’s so interesting. Right. Um, okay, so how did you end up getting a job with Facebook? You got me wrong. I think they found me online. So I was living in, uh, Dallas at the time and we were making arrangements to move back to Ohio when a guy from some company called moca, who does furnish like Facebook offices around the country, it, it’s wild.
He was like, Hey, there’s like, um, we’re opening a new data center in Iowa and I’ve been looking for a Midwest artist and like, you popped up, so would you be interested in doing this? I’m like, yeah, thank God I’m moving back to Ohio, so I’m officially like a mid Oh yeah. I felt like an imposter in a way, but.
Yeah. So I, I did a couple of murals where I just had to do the artwork and they printed it on vinyl. Okay. And installed it so nice because the concept was a bunch of mazes, like it’s in Iowa and they called the Cafe Maze Maze. And so I did three like mazes you can actually do. And they, it took forever to illustrate and figure out the puzzle and stuff.
I’m like, thank God I’m not painting this. Yeah. This is crazy. Oh my goodness. But yeah, that led to, um, a couple projects in Columbus too, and I’m actually going back there next month too. Install one with like a nineties shopping mall theme. Oh, that’s, oh, that’s fine. Fun. I’m excited for it. Yeah. My. Yes. Okay.
So I also saw that at one point you went to France to, is France the right? Yes. Yes. To France to do a mural. How did that come about? That was a call for artists. Um, Cleveland put it out that they were looking, you know, someone from Roland, I always say it wrong, Roland France, came to Cleveland and did the one n right next to West Side Market.
Yeah. Um, the one with the eggs in the sky and stuff. Yep. So, okay. It was to celebrate 10 years of being Sister Cities. And so the end of the, our bargain was to send someone out there. Well, they had artists in France that were gonna paint the mural and they were looking to collaborate with someone, and that’s when they’re like, oh, lettering.
Like you could just put a quote on top and call it a day. So I think that’s why they chose me. They’re like, oh wow. You know, like we already have this concept. We just need someone to add to it. I’m like, okay, this is a perfect opportunity. All I had to do, like they really painted the back and it’s like detailed and colorful and stuff.
All I had to do was sprinkle lettering on top. . So, but did you get to go over there to do it? Yep. If two. Um, over there. Wow. And it was crazy. That was the tallest, like it was on the side of a gymnasium, so it was the tallest mural I’ve ever installed. And like I made someone go on the lift with me to like get the very top.
I’m like, I can’t do this. . So did you go by yourself or did you Yep. . Oh, wow. I know it, it was so last minute. Um, my husband couldn’t get off of work. I’m like, yeah, I’m gonna be in France when you’re ca coming, but, so that was like the sad part. I’m like, we have to go back. . Yeah. Have you ever traveled by yourself other than that, like internationally?
Nope. And that was my first time overseas, Jennifer. Oh wow. Oh my gosh. Was that like terrifying? It was, but like, it just like adrenaline too. Yeah. Rushing and like, it was super exciting and. Wild. Um, I’ve never taken a French class either. I didn’t know the language. Yeah. I said everything wrong. Like I would say like things like, could I have a baguette like in French?
Or try to, and they’re like, what? ? Yeah, just like blank stare. Sorry. Did a lot of people speak English in France then? Um, sometimes I would find people that did not know English, cuz this was like at two hours outside of Paris. Oh. And so, Kind of rural, kind of not Yeah. But wild, wild experiences, . Oh, that’s so interesting.
So how has working for yourself changed since you become a parent? Yeah. Um, it has taught me that boundaries are very important and sticking to a schedule that’s not dictated by you. , like, yeah, I do everything. I work around my daughter’s Rennie’s schedule. Like she goes to daycare eight to four, Monday through Friday, which is like heartbreaking.
But she, she loves it. Yeah. And she’s learning so much. And so like, that’s the trade off there. But, um, we did the numbers. I’m like, okay, if I was a stay at a home mom, how much would we be losing? And like, how much is daycare versus how much my salary is? Mm-hmm. like, okay, she’s going to daycare. . Yeah. Yeah.
It’s so good for them too. Like, I have that like experience with people who. have chosen not to take their kids to daycare. And I, there is some, I think, so many social benefits that they gain from it and so much, um, I don’t know, just like maturity and growth that comes with that. So even though it’s such a guilt thing for everybody who, like every day when I, oh yeah.
Pick him up. My used to pick my son up. He’s not in daycare anymore, he’s 11 . Um, but every time I would pick him up I would just be like, I’m so sorry, but like, no, he had the best day. Yeah. With all of his friends and, but we will say, Doesn’t send their kid to child to daycare. That is like, you’re doing an was shaming.
Yeah. I was like, you’re doing an amazing job. We’re all doing the best, doing great. The best job that we can . Seriously. I mean, yeah. Each, each situation is so different, but, um, oh my god, I’m getting a lot of kicks right now. baby number two. Very active. Like you’re talking about daycare. I wanna go home.
Yeah. I like my, I, I’d never had a schedule before. Like I would work around the clock. Mm-hmm. til two in the morning. But it, doing stuff I love. Um, now there’s very much a schedule. Uh, I’ll, I’ll work eight to four during daycare hours and then sometimes after bedtime, but sometimes I just take advantage.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Did you, um, so pre-kids? Yeah. Like when you were working like into the night and everything like that? Like, cuz I know I used to consider myself a night owl. Um, and then after kids, like I found that I had to kind of. Like channel a different creative time. Did you find that shift too, or are you like, like how are you juggling that when you used to work whenever and now having to work in a schedule?
Yeah. Like sometimes you experience burnout and stuff. Like, I, I feel like there were two solid years, maybe two and a half, um, where I was just like working. It was almost like I was addicted to it, like getting bigger projects. Mm-hmm. slowly over time. And I think that just like motivated me to keep working and I actually didn’t experience burnout until like I, I was a mother and stuff, so I, I think that was just emotions too high.
Emotions getting less sleep, like covid when you, and like other things Yeah. , lots of things. Yeah. There’s just like all at once. Yes. But um, yeah, pre that. It’s almost like I didn’t have an off switch. It was just like always on. And I, I think I was just hungry to succeed. Like, that’s all I wanted as a freelancer.
Like I knew I was the only person that could make it happen. Mm-hmm. . And so I was just like, okay, I, I need this project to like, do well. Yeah. And like every other project. So like, that’s what kept me awake and I felt like robotic . What about, um, maternity leave for this one? Are you gonna be able to take some time off?
Yes. Um, I I keep trying to like put it out there. I, I had it in my Instagram bio, but then I took it off. Um, just that like a booking spring 28, 23, like vague timelines. So how do you build that in, like as a business owner build in the ability to take off when obviously. Income is gonna take a hit. Yeah. Um, so I am just like hustling hard right now.
I, the first trimester was a little rough again, and I was doing some murals, but they were taking me forever. And so now I’m in my second and third trimester. I’m like trying to take on as much as I can. Like I’m doing a journal cover where I probably wouldn’t have done that, but like I’m just saying yes to everything right now.
Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, figuring out like budgeting and like maybe, okay, like if I work hard these two months, I’ll have enough to like get us by for like a month or two. And then maybe I could take on like lettering work at home. Oh yeah, that’s, that is a nice way to be able to do something while still like being at home.
And cuz obviously you’re not gonna take your baby up on your lift. . , our baby will. Yeah. Probably not . So did you try to maximize like the, the time period during like, the second trimester where you get that like, burst of energy? Yeah. I, I felt fatigued though. Like, I’m in my second trimester right now. Oh.
Having a, another little one at home. It changes everything, doesn’t it? a little one that like, again, also doesn’t have an off switch. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Oh my gosh. She like, we’ll take her to parties and she’s the like, least chill child running around. I’m like, how do you, so much energy. Yeah. Why are you like this?
But it keeps us active. . Yeah. I, I I feel you on that. I, that’s, uh, very much, I feel that a lot with my, uh, he just turned three. Oh my gosh. So, So if you were to look back at like before you were doing this full-time and what you thought it would look like to do this full-time versus what it’s really like, like what’s the difference between that or what have you noticed?
I didn’t have expectations. Like I know I probably should, like I had financial goals and stuff, and I think I, I played it off too low too. I’m like, okay, like this is way better than anything I could have expected. Like the clients I’m getting, the people I’m working with, the projects like, and being able to be a mom and do that at the same time, like, yes, there’s like struggles there too, but it’s way better than I thought.
That’s amazing. That’s awesome. What a good outcome. Like a amazing outcome. Yeah. This is like such a positive close story. , I mean it matches like your personality, like your career sort of just kind of matches you. Yeah, I’m probably like positive to a. And I don’t know, I just like look at the, the little things I’m doing.
I’m like, how cool, like to wake up and just like go paint, like it, it just feels awesome. So I’m, I’m also trying to like, after hearing people talk about it at conferences that have been doing freelance for a while, maybe like 20 plus years, like yeah. There’s, you know, dips and it is just like a hill, like Yep.
Low points, high points low. Yeah. So I’m like kind of always waiting for the other foot to drop. I’m like, you know, it hasn’t in a while, so. I’m just gonna like appreciate the high point right now. Yeah. So you don’t have like that dip that happens where it’ll be like a month or two and you haven’t gotten any work and you’re like nervous, like that sort of hasn’t hit you.
I think with, with payments, like, you know, those always lag. Some companies are, God, they can be net 60 days too, which that always hurts. It’s so rough. Yeah. But, um, I think having a partner who like has a steady paycheck. Yes. That’s very helpful too. Yes. Like, and I hate to be that person, like, you know, independent women go out like and do your thing, but like, it’s so helpful, especially when you have a family, like mm-hmm.
I, I salute single moms that are like, I know doing their thing. I, because I could not, I am not built for that. Well, we love talking about that on here because a lot of people do assume that everybody just like did it on their own. And if you’re str you’re out there trying to do it on your own, you’re like, why is this so hard?
Like to know that having a supportive partner who does have a salary can make a huge difference in how you’re able to take the leap or just how like you’re able to support your family during that. Yeah. Well and we just like to be transparent about that too because like we’ve talked to designers who like want to have a business like ours and do that thing and we try to be like very clear, like we were very fortunate that both of us have supportive partners that allowed us to be able to do this thing.
There are plenty of people who do it without, but having that safety. Is huge and I think the, a lot of people that we talked to did, were like very proactive about saving up money while they had their corporate job on the side. And so knowing that you had like five months put away or Laura DeFranco a free period press, we talked to her recently and I love her.
I know, my God, she’s amazing. And she was talking about how she really built up her business on the side. It was before she had kids. And like just knowing that there are a couple different ways we even have, we have. One that’s coming out. I don’t know if it’ll come out before this one or not, but if someone who bought their business and it’s like, that’s a different way to get started.
Yeah. Like, it’s just so interesting, like all the different ways that you can get started and it like, there isn’t like one right way. Right. You gotta figure out what works best for you. Right. And yeah, I knew I wanted to focus on the art as much as possible and not worry about like, if I could cut out admin, that’d be great.
But, um, yeah, same. Yeah. Trying to figure out healthcare and all that. Yeah. I, I waited to go full-time freelance when I got married and I could hop on my husband’s healthcare. Yep. So that took that outta the equation. Yeah. That’s a big piece. Um, and I’m trying to think of like, other things that he helped or like where Oh, um, agents.
So I’ve had two agents. Oh. How do you go about doing that? American Greetings. I got my first set of agents through them. Um, I was, uh, working on the same level as other illustrators and I got like to be friends with them and a couple of them used the same two like six year old ladies in New York City and I absolutely love them.
It was, uh, Piper and God. Now I’m forgetting the names, but. They were amazing. Um, I didn’t get a ton of work. I got like Baylor University greeting cards, like really odd projects like that. Yeah. Okay. Um, but I mean, it was, it was another source of income. It was another way to get my name out there. Yeah. And they did all the like, you know, stuff I didn’t wanna do.
So I had no problem with them taking a cut of like, what I was making. I stuck with them and then like 2020 happened, I moved to Texas and I wasn’t freelancing as much, and so I’m like, okay, like I think we could go our separate ways. Then, um, we moved back to Ohio. One of my Instagram friends, his buddy is starting at agency, so I signed on with him and then, It didn’t really work out.
Um, so I think I’m too high energy and I like quick response times and I just wasn’t getting that. So Yes. Yeah. I break up with him. Yeah. I’m like, wow, am I hard to work with? Or ? We always think that too, like we’ve had a struggle. Over time with accountants and like, are we hard to work with or is, and it’s just like you have to have the right match of Yeah.
Energy and, and expectations. And sometimes it’s hard, but Yeah. Yeah. I, I wasn’t the only one that left. Yeah. Either. So I’m like, okay, maybe it’s not me. So, so are you working with an agent now at all? Nope. I’m just like doing, and because I’m pregnant, because I have a toddler, like I’m trying to keep everything simple.
So when it comes to pricing, like I used to do, okay, how many paint colors are you reusing? And I’ll like itemize that. Now it’s just all one big fee. It’s per square foot. It’s uh, like hiked up a little higher mm-hmm. . So it’s including the design time and the sketch time and stuff. That’s the way I do it.
Yeah. It’s so easy. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so going back to the agent, because we have talked to several artist friends that we have who are always like, how do you go about doing that? Like, would you recommend that for people especially who are just starting out and have like an illustration style, that they want to get more projects?
It’s a great way. Yeah. It’s a, it should be a great way to get projects with big names because, um, you know, if you’re a big company, you wanna go to someone you trust, you go to an agent who will find you an artist and everything is kinda, you know, there, there’s structure there. There’s, um, integrity or, I, I don’t know, like it just, it’s a good way to get big names on your client list roster.
Yeah. Okay. Um, so yeah, I, I would say, yeah. Short answer, yes. Um, I would do it just for the experience, but if you come to find that you don’t love it, then you could always like Right. Break up with them. . Yeah. What would, what should people expect to pay an agent? Like what percentage? I think the number that’s out there, like on online is 20%.
Okay. 25, which is high. Um, I’m trying to think of what I was at, I probably should know this. Um, I, I think it was like 15, 20. But like you said, you’re, they’re doing like all the admin, like you’re just actually doing the projects, so that’s where that cut comes from. Right, right. Okay. And get probably getting the Yeah.
Contact stuff too. Yeah. What I loved about the, um, American greeting agents were that like, I, I could still do my projects. I didn’t have to, um, like I, I could do the work by myself that I was getting Oh. And I wouldn’t have to exclusively go to them like, oh, this person reached out to me. That’s really interesting.
Yeah. . Okay. So that’s something to, like, someone might want to look into to make sure Yeah. That they don’t have like, exclusivity with that agent, that everything has to be through them. Right. Because I, I had a lot of people still coming to me. Mm-hmm. , I just wanted like, bigger projects Sure. To get my name out there.
Just to clarify, the agents didn’t work in American Greetings. You just found them through American Greetings. People. I just wanna make sure , thank you for your people are gonna look up American greetings and be like, hi, I’m looking for these agents. Yeah, , right? Yeah. I don’t know if they’re retiring anytime soon too.
Right? I know. Anyway, that’s amazing. Um, okay, so if there are other people out there listening who like dream of being an independent artist, whether it’s illustration or murals or graphic design, like what would be your best advice that you can give them? Keep putting the work that you want to be working on out there.
Um, that’s what I think worked for me. Like I was doing almost all passion projects with some commissions on the side and I just like kept doing it, kept exploring, kept trying to figure out what I liked working on and by putting it out there online and just like being social, getting my name out there, networking.
You’re selling yourself at the end of the day, but you’re also trying to put out work that you want to be working on. Right. Is there any vulnerability that comes with that idea of selling yourself? Like, oh, I’m putting myself out there and if people don’t like it, they don’t like me, kind of thing. I think advertising told me to, taught me to be detached from the work.
Oh, that’s so interesting. Yeah, that is interesting. I remember like two traumatic experiences where I like cried on a call and both jobs and it like that experience just taught me, okay, don’t get too attached to the work. You’re selling a product. You’re not selling, you’re. Self kind of like, yeah, it’s hard.
There’s a fine line, but, um, at the end of the day, I save personal projects for the stuff that I really want to work on, and the client work is a product that I’m selling. Okay. That makes sense. Okay, last question, at least for me. How do you come up with passion projects? That’s a great idea. Um, or great question.
I, you just stumble about it. I’m like, they’re shower thoughts. They’re like, when you’re walking your dog, you think of stuff. So what, when I’m doing something that’s not working is when the ideas just like come. I know the, the one thing I do wanna work on next is painting my empty paint cans in my garage.
Oh, that’s so cool. Like trying to upcycle them a little bit because they’re just sitting there, they’re terrible for the environment. Mm-hmm. , I’m like, how? But I, I can’t get the paint out of them. So what I’m working on now is like using all to the last drop the paint and not just like, letting it sit in there.
Yeah. Oh, that’s so smart. But yeah, like, um, trying to just like paint the exterior of the can and sell it as like, um, you know, a container or a planter, whatever. Yeah. That’s a great idea. It’s fun cuz like, I, I love textile design too. Yeah. And so it like helps me come up with ideas for that too. amazing.
Anything else? Yeah, I kind of wanna just. Like, as you’re planning to have your second kid. Yeah. Do you think about the future? Like do you have thoughts of like what you wanna do in the next, you know, I don’t know, two years, five years, whatever? Yes. Um, so I, I just wanna dedicate myself to like motherhood first priority until both kids are in kindergarten or like in a school system mm-hmm.
and then I could go back to like, hustling. So right now I just feel like I’m kind of plateauing a little bit. Like the way I’ll push myself is trying to get really, um, detailed in the projects, but not taking on as many projects as I used to be. Yeah. Like, Picking the right one where I could like focus on the design of it, but like not trying to, again, hustle hard because I can’t right now.
And yeah, for the next like five years, I just want to kind of coast. And then after that maybe I’ll get back into hustling and like trying to put myself out there speaking engagements around the country. Like just all, all that jazz . It’s so good to like know that you’re going through a certain season of life and then like respond to that or, or, Make the way that you operate fit into that.
And so you’re, those two things aren’t at odds. Yes. And hopefully, like the work that you’ve done up until this point will, and it sounds like you’ve made so many connections that you will, but just kind of be able to like coast a little bit, hopefully. Yeah. Yeah. And again, just like counting my blessings, hoping things like ha go the way they have been going.
And even with life’s curve balls, I know those seem to be temporary. We get over ’em, especially like my little team of me and my husband. Like we’ve gone through a lot already. We can go through like whatever’s next . That’s amazing. So if people want to follow you, tell us where they can find you on Instagram.
Um, at lisa underscore coin, and I’ve got my website too, lisa coin.com, um, that’s probably more comprehensive than scrolling through an Instagram feed . Um, but yeah, those two places are, uh, where, um, the most, where can people buy your book? Um, on my website. Okay. It’s Lisa kwe slash book. Perfect. All right.
This has been so fun. Thank you so much for being here, and we hope to talk to you soon. Thank you guys so much. It was so fun to talk to you at the a I g event. Yeah. And like I’m just so happy to like, sit down and actually talk to you guys and not like Yeah. Have same other things before we got in the car from that event, we’re like, we have to have her do something.
Well, thank you so much for having me. Yeah. Thank you for Thank you. All right. Bye. Bye.