written by Christina Loff.
On June 7, we hosted a lively panel discussion featuring Minted Creative Director (and one of our first Minted artists) Annie Clark, Chronicle Books Design Director Kristen Hewitt, and artist and jewelry designer Lisa Anderson Shaffer. Here are the top five takeaways; view the panel recording here.
1. Cohesiveness Is Key
Do you want to build a website and create social accounts for your creative business? If so, focus on creating a cohesive body of work to share online.
“A lot of new artists and designers are all over the map, and it’s hard to understand where their focus is or what style they want to bring to the table,” said Kristen Hewitt, Design Director at Chronicle Books. She advises that designers and artists present a sense of who they want to be and what they want to make. Showcase a clear, cohesive body of work to attract clients and help them understand your vision.
Minted Creative Director Annie Clark said it’s equally important to keep your portfolio fresh and up to date. “It’s not important to share everything you’ve ever done in your career online,” Annie said. For example, you can keep those works from when you dabbled in oil paint during art school offline if it’s not something that will be central to who you are now as an artist and what you will be selling.
2. Hire Out Your Weakness
Often when you’re starting out, you have to roll up your sleeves and do everything yourself. But if you have room in your budget, hire someone to help you build your business.
“One of the smartest moves I made was to hire someone to do my branding,” said Lisa Anderson Shaffer. The artist and jewelry designer said hiring a professional to create a logo and branding elements polishes your online presence. The look of your brand will communicate who you are, your target customer, and what matters to your business, so it’s important to nail your aesthetic from the get-go.
Annie stressed the importance of understanding what you can and can’t do. “If you’re not great with hand-lettering and you want a hand-drawn logo, go to the person you know who can create one for you,” she said.
Maybe you’re strong at the creative but lack technical business skills. Don’t be afraid to hire someone to help with your accounting or other parts of your business. Learn your strengths and get help where you need it.
3. Community Matters
At Minted, we see the value of community daily. We’re fortunate to have such a generous community of artists who give and take feedback from one another often. Time after time we have seen ways the community has lifted itself up and made designs and artists better.
When we asked about the role community plays in building your online brand, Annie recommended leveraging your network to get perspective. When you’re designing something for yourself, it’s often personal and can be hard to look at your work objectively. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers for feedback, and don’t take their feedback personally.
The panel also discussed the benefits of a mentor. Kristen Hewitt suggested reaching out to someone you admire and to ask for advice. Attending events (like the ones held during Design Week) and making an effort to meet people online and off will help build your community.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Get Personal
Your fans and customers follow you on social media and read your blog not only to check out your most recent work, but to get to know you. “If I know more about the person who is making the work, it makes the content so much richer and more real to me,” Annie said. “I want to see your dog, where you get coffee, or what you’re up to on Saturday.”
You can show people who are you are by sharing photos of your pets and kids, or even letting them in on your process, this can include showing your messy desk or studio space. Make your work the star of the show but have a balance with the content you share and give your followers a chance to connect with you. Don’t be afraid to get personal—people want to connect with the artists and designers they like, so let them see who you really are.
5. Show Up
Wondering how to transition from part-time artist or designer to full time? The panelists all agree there’s no secret sauce, and full-time fine artist Lisa added, “You have to show up for work with passion every day.”
Sometimes to get to your dream of making your passion your full-time gig, you have to work a full-time job, go home, and put in your work on your side gig. “It takes time, focus, and dedication,” Annie said.