Posts tagged design
Moving from maker to mentor — with Jessica Barry

“A VP at SAA said they had a recruiting position available and wanted me to interview. I remember my first inclination was —absolutely not. I'm a designer, not a recruiter. This is what I went to school for.  

I went back after the interview (that I thought did not go well) and talked with my friends and said if I take this, this is the end of my design career... my design skills are going to die... but my friends kept saying 'just try it.'"

 

JESSICA BARRY, President & Owner, The Modern College of Design  

Jessica wanted to be a designer — a really good designer. And, like anyone with the talent and tenacity to fulfill that kind of dream, she went to art school, learned from great mentors, honed her craft, and eventually became that really good designer.

But what if there's more than that... more than just being a good designer? What if the dream was merely a stepping stone to something else despite the design skills she worked so hard to cultivate?  

Jessica recounts her journey from attending the small upstart School of Advertising Art in Kettering, Ohio, to the unheard of act of buying — fully purchasing — the same school she once attended. The move from maker to mentor wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't her expected career path. Jessica talks about weighing her new opportunities and rethinking what a career can look like if you take it one step at a time.

At the time of this recording, Jessica and her staff were preparing to officially open their doors to the new Modern College of Design — expanded and rebranded in time for the 2018-19 class. She talks about the risk and reward of these ambitious changes and the big, hairy, audacious goals she has for the school in the not-so-distant future.   

 

The Modern College of Design

 

Being patient & the gift of the unexpected — with Beth Stafford & Jeremy Slagle
 

“We (Ben and I) had this dream that we could be this couple team and do this, but we just kept hitting a wall. I would try to draw something and it wasn't quite right and Ben would draw something and it just wasn't clicking. We kept trying and stopping, and it was really discouraging because I knew there was potential.”

BETH STAFFORD, Author of Chin Up, Chinchilla    

“I've always wanted to write a children's book...”

Beth had a tiny, heartwarming story written on a single sheet of paper — and she had a vision of what it could become. It also would seem natural that her husband Ben, with all of his artistic capabilities, could bring her story to life visually. But here's the thing: sometimes you’re just too close to something. And sometimes you feel that there’s a different path that needs to be taken instead of the obvious one.

“I’ve always wanted to illustrate a children’s book...”

Jeremy has designed a lot of things in his career, but one opportunity in particular, a children’s book, just hadn't presented itself. After two years and no meaningful traction on the book design for Beth and Ben, a chance encounter on this podcast led to surprising collaboration. After all, the last thing Jeremy expected to do was illustrate a story written by the spouse of an already great illustrator.  

Chin Up, Chinchilla is proof that the amazing and unexpected really do happen when you least expect it, and when you're willing to be patient and open to inviting others into your joy. 

How to discover your joy

“If we could mute that inner voice telling us we're not good enough or smart enough, and instead listen to that person to the left or right of us that says, 'oh my gosh, you can totally do this' we'd find a lot more people discovering their joy.” 

—Thad DeVassie

“If you're feeling called to do something, don't put the pressure on yourself to make it your career. Just do it, make that thing.” 

—Jeremy Slagle

So you think you're ready to embark on a joy venture, but there’s still something nagging at you. You’re not sure if you’ve truly discovered your joy. And before you dive in, you want to be certain that THIS. IS. IT.  

Spoiler alert: it doesn't work that way. 

In this episode, we get practical about discovering joy — and how you might figure out what your joy venture looks like through the process of discovery.  

If you're looking for five foolproof steps to discovering your joy or three hacks to launching the perfect Joy Venture — this isn't it. There isn’t a right way or a wrong way. But there is one definitive way — and it requires that you take action.

 

PODCASTS & BLOG POSTS REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE:

Converting inspiration to action

Brittany Baum: Believing in and living out your authentic self

John McCollum: Designed to advocate for the world's most vulnerable children

Daniel McKewen: Life at the seams of product innovation and personal purpose

Brad & Krystal Woodard on what it means to "Brave the Woods" 

Bill Lilly: It's never too late to pen a new script

John Robinson on shifting gears

What is a Joy Venture?

“What you can't get back is lost time. If you're sitting on an idea or if you're sitting on capability that's not being used, and if you have the wherewithal to say I WANT TO DO THIS and I want to surround myself with people who are going to push me forward — that's what this is all about.” 

— Thad DeVassie

“But what this isn't is a call for people to recklessly abandon the jobs they have right now and start out on their own... before you realize you have something.” 

— Jeremy Slagle

A year before starting Joy Venture — and two years into it — we are still asking questions. The questioning isn't solely reserved for our guests who appear on the JOY VENTURE podcast, but of ourselves, our motivations, what we believed or intended going into this endeavor, and what we've learned along the way. 

Listen in on the discussions that we are constantly having even when the guest interviews aren’t rolling.

  • What is a joy venture?

  • How do you discover your joy?

  • How do you develop it?

This series of shorter podcasts are meant to supplement the interview series as we wrestle with the bigger questions about discovering and developing joy — and leading a life with intention and purpose.

Riding out your dreams — with Jeff Frane

“I like the idea of falling in love and having that object for a very long time, and that's what steel (bike) is for me. If I’m going to have something forever, it needs to be special. I don't like disposal culture. I like being intentional about what I buy and I want people to get value and years of happiness and experience out of each of our products.”

 

JEFF FRANE, Brand Manager, All-City  

Like most kids growing up in middle America, Jeff loved to ride his bike. But unlike some, it’s a love affair that's never waned. When he was old enough to drive a car, he chose to keep riding bicycles instead. Jeff is a bike guy and gearhead through and through, and you could say that his lifelong passion borders on the obsessive — although that would be selling his story short. 

Jeff isn’t an entrepreneur the way they’re often idolized. Rather, he’s the once-plucky kid from the warehouse with an idea and an email, who was given a green light to go build something. That something was his dream job, and it would evolve into All-City — a bicycle brand under the QBP banner and named after the All-City Championship bike race Jeff founded in his bike-friendly city of Minneapolis. 

Jeff takes us on an unvarnished ride that holds nothing back about the steep valleys (getting laid off from his bike shop job, living in van and being flat broke) that sometimes need to be traveled before reaching the peak.  

His story is a street-smart testament to grit and determination, building community and fostering culture, and believing that dreams are meant to be fulfilled if you have the tenacity to power through the trials head-on.  

All-City Bicycles

Bike Jerks

What it means to “Brave the Woods” — with Brad & Krystal Woodard
 

“The one thing weve learned about our business is that no one is going to come to you and say “Oh, you want to do a children's book, here you go” or “Oh, you want to teach or speak more, here you go.” If we want to do it, we've got to make it happen.”

KRYSTAL WOODARD, Brave the Woods

 

 

In order to brave the woods successfully, you’d better walk into them with a plan, some goals and the right tools. It’s not an analogy on how to work with Brad and Krystal Woodard, owners of Brave the Woods, but rather a mindset of how they look to build a family-run business that’s going to fulfill and stretch them in all the right ways. 

Brad is the face and accomplished designer behind their action-oriented moniker while Krystal keeps all things non-design running and mapping out the journey, quick to push Brad out of his comfort zone for the sake of growing. 

This Boise, Idaho duo stopped in Columbus as part of a cross-country workshop tour and talked with us about what motivates them and how they are motivating others. From Kickstarting a children’s book to support victims of Typhoon Haiyan in The Philippines, to crowdsourcing Artists for Education with educational design for teachers to use in the classroom — doing good and building community are part and parcel of their craft. It’s those brave and unselfish acts that are key to their success and opening up opportunities that fuel their business, which also reveal new ways to do meaningful work and have a positive impact on others.  

Brave the Woods

Artists for Education

Taytay's Gift (children’s book)

A master craftsman on the making of his craft brewery — with Kevin Ely

"I brew beer that I like to drink, and I like to share that. Not that we won't have 12 percent alcohol beers that knock you over, but that's not our forte. We're trying to brew delicate beers. I think simple and subtle can be very powerful."

 

KEVIN ELY, Founder & Brewmaster, The Wooly Pig Farm Brewery 

Kevin Ely knows beer. And now he knows how to build a brewery — quite literally by hand.

Kevin's story is a pivot of a different nature. Previously the brewmaster at Uinta Brewing, a nationally recognized craft brewery in Salt Lake City, Kevin and his wife Jael Malenke decided to move back to her hometown in Fresno and purchase a farm.

Fresno, Ohio that is.   

Armed with a degree in brewing science from UC Davis (yes, there is such a degree), Kevin is no hobbyist. Beer is indeed his career and he's a recurring judge at the annual Great American Beer Festival. Kevin shares with us his decision to start his own brewery in Ohio, the importance that family and community played in that decision, and why starting a farm brewery in a rural patch of rolling hills just made sense. Curly haired mangalitsa pigs ("wooly" pigs) that inspired the name actually roam his farmland and are visible from his taproom patio with cold beer in hand. It's both idyllic and intentional; it's also indicative of everything about this brewery. From the quirky name to the German-Bavarian style of beers he chooses to brew, down to his hand-made and hand-planed taproom — all of it is crafted with purpose and a story behind it.  

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

Building the Wooly Pig brand

Advantages of going small & going home — with Katie & Josh Emrich
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“I feel I've found this calling working with small businesses and I don't feel like I have to make excuses for not having these big clients. I've worked with big companies and I've just found it to be a soul-swallowing process because they are so risk adverse, so many people have to sign off on the work, and you're so far removed from the decision-makers.”

JOSH EMRICH, Emrich Office

 

“Design becomes other things. It's not just on a computer or on a piece of paper. It's how you see the world.”

KATIE EMRICH, Emrich Office

 

 

 

Emrich Office is perhaps best summarized as the artistic vision of Josh and Katie Emrich that is made full with their four kids and one rather spectacular basement studio in Indianapolis. It's also a long way from Colorado and the design mountains Josh was trying to scale just a handful of years ago. But as Josh explains, summits can look awfully good from the ground, but from the summit, base camp has a genuine appeal, too.

Josh and Katie share their journey of slogging through a recession-era climate in attempt to go big,  and keep the gears cranking. What they ultimately found was a greater reward in embracing the appeal of small — both with regard to their business size and those of family-owned businesses that comprise their client list.   

We learn that behind a great designer is... another great designer. And that's what makes this duo work so well in running a successful design business and designing a deliberate way of life for their not-so-small family.

Insight, wisdom and lessons learned abound in this third installment of our "Indy or Bust" series featuring Indiana-based creatives. 

The power in pursuing small things — with INCH x INCH
 
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“We didn't set out to create a business. It was more about how can we create something cool and possibly do a little good in the world.”

DREW HILL, co-founder, Inch x Inch

 

"It sounded just ridiculous enough for us to get really excited about it." 

BOB EWING, co-founder, Inch x Inch

When two longtime friends and artists decide to finally collaborate, naturally they land on... one-inch buttons?

As quirky as it sounds, Drew Hill and Bob Ewing gravitated to this tiny canvas with much a bigger purpose in mind. What if they could get other artists to submit designs? What if by buying a series of rad buttons from Inch x Inch, patrons would also be supporting arts education (which is continuously in danger) and fuel a future generation of artists? What if their own idea about collaboration turned into an organization that was fully reliant on collaboration and committed partners?

Drew and Bob talk about the importance of side projects, how theirs came about and ensuring it wasn't all about them, and how something as ridiculously inconsequential as one-inch buttons is actually making a tangible difference.  

inchxinch.org

Growing one word & sketch at a time — with Bob Ewing
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“There were lots of days that it sucked or I thought (the work) looked horrible. But it didn't matter really what the outcomes was, it was more about that I did it every day. If you're going to do something new, set attainable goals.”

BOB EWING, art director/designer at Element Three, handletting artist

Want to get better? Want to develop your talent or birth a new one that's been waiting to emerge? Then show up every day and do the work. That's exactly what Bob Ewing did for more than 500 days with his self-described "daily lettering project." Each day Bob would draw a new word and post it to social media — not for the likes and love, but mainly for the discipline.

That discipline has paid dividends for Bob as a designer. It's led to new opportunities, new collaborations, and deeper connection to community — something that's every bit as essential to his growth as a designer alongside his markers or stylus.

Bob shares his journey of perseverance and how, as a creative, he's had the opportunity to design a path for himself — as well as one that others can follow on and travel as well. 

Bob is the first in a series of Indiana-based artists we're featuring on our INDY OR BUST road trip.  

bob-ewing.com

Adopting new ways to live & work — with Ben & Beth Stafford
 

“There's much to be said about investing more in people than your business; and one may directly influence the other.”

BEN STAFFORD, Foxmeadow Creative

“It's something really important to us that we prioritize, family time and work time, and that's helped us keep our sanity. We don't work all hours of the night and day, we want to make sure we have time to spend as a family outside of work.”

BETH STAFFORD, Foxmeadow Creative

 

A move. A pivot. A layoff.  And a whole lot of pursuit into the unknown.

For many of us, this kind of change, disruption and lack of clarity can be unnerving. For Ben and Beth, they are choosing to see an alternative plan for how best to approach work and the art of living a purposeful life.  

Becoming familiar with their story, one could easily be reminded of the lyrics to Divine Intervention, the opening track to Matthew Sweet's classic 1991 album, Girlfriend.

I don't know where
I'm gonna live
Don't know if I'll find a place
I'd have to think about it some
And that I do not wish to face
I guess that I'm counting on his
Divine intervention.

Hopeful, heartbreaking, funny, honest and real— these are perhaps the best ways in which to illustrate a conversation with two big-hearted creatives that are pursuing a path less traveled with no regrets. 

Foxmeadow Creative

Ben Illustrated (illustration website)

Ben Stafford: How to Become an Expert (Making Midwest Fest)

It’s never too late to pen a new script — with Bill Lilly

I thought because of the skill that I had, I should make big bucks. When I turned it down (the White House job), the pay was equal to a truck driver's union-skilled job” 

BILL LILLY, International Senior Master Penman, nonagenarian and retiree

You might not know it from his gregarious laugh and unimposing stature that measures closer to five-foot tall rather than six, but Bill Lilly is a legendary character who pens legendary characters. He is regarded as the world’s foremost Master Penman — a title he’s held for the better part of three decades. Bill’s story is one of his incredible talent in scriptwriting and flourishing with a steady hand, and how his love of script has led to genuine surprises and unforeseen stardom. 

At a youthful 90 years old, Bill sits down with us in his humble in-home studio and weaves tales about serving in WWII, leaving college to improve his script, turning down a job at the White House, plowing through a career he never really enjoyed, and how he ended up becoming a world sensation long after his retirement from International Harvester. For the past 25 years, Bill has been showcasing his work while also giving private lessons to both young designers and hobbyists who desire to learn his technique and who actively seek him out from all over the world.  

Bill's story is a testament to finding one’s joy, honing a hobby into something more, and never abandoning that passion from within. His rise to unlikely fame reveals a remarkable journey that has spanned nearly 70 years in the making. 

Running from boredom (part 2) — with Andy Pizza

Until you see someone like you thriving, you don't think you can.”

ANDY J. MILLER (aka Andy J. Pizza / Dr. Pizza) illustrator, instructor, speaker, and chief motivator of the Creative Pep Talk podcast.

In this episode, we continue the conversation we started with Andy and explore the importance of transitions and transformations; work vs. play and open vs. closed mode; the brilliance found in side projects; the need for space to actually be creative; and why calling yourself a “commercial artist” is more of a badge of honor and not some misguided notion of selling out.

Andy also talks about why he’s not romantic about the podcast format, and the reasons for that point of view, in spite of hosting his own wildly successful podcast.    

You can check out Andy’s illustration work on his site andy-j-miller.com and listen to his podcast at Creative Pep Talk.

Running from boredom (part 1) — with Andy Pizza

From a young age, I always felt I was doomed... because I thought there’s no way I'm going to have a job that isn't boring.

ANDY J. MILLER (aka Andy J. Pizza / Dr. Pizza) illustrator, instructor, speaker, and chief motivator of the Creative Pep Talk podcast.

It wasn’t that long ago that Andy J. Miller was in need of a pep talk specifically for himself. His so-called “beginners luck” and initial momentum as an illustrator began to evaporate and the need to fill the income void came in the form of other important, albeit less creative, roles. But as they say: once an artist, always an artist. Getting back on the horse wasn’t easy, and Andy learned a lot of things about himself and his craft along the way — things he now imparts on the Creative Pep Talk to thousands of loyal listeners who need a regular dose of creative inspiration.

The “doctor” is in for a two-part podcast where he prescribes practical ways forward for creatives and relays his insights about main gigs vs. side gigs, being entrepreneurial vs. an employee, commercial art, the need to evolve, and on being an artist with ADD. He also ends the debate, once and for all, on which pizza version is superior: thin crust or deep dish.  

You can check out Andy’s illustration work on his site andy-j-miller.com and listen to his podcast at Creative Pep Talk.