So many of us have what it takes to be successful. But we struggle to get traction because we just don’t know how to advocate for our work in the real world.
We may believe there’s too much competition and worry about others having more talent or experience. Or we tell ourselves that we don’t have enough art to start reaching out to companies, so we stay stuck in a constant state of indecision.
The tragedy is that this can lead to us giving up on our dreams too early, believing our work just isn’t good enough.
Over the past decade, I slowly transitioned to my dream job as a full-time surface designer working for myself. Before that, I had a career as a graphic designer in email marketing (which was as boring as it sounds).
And when I say “slowly transitioned”, I mean it! It was definitely not an overnight success.
One thing that did help? Though I’m an artist, the other part of me is a total numbers nerd, so I thrived on testing different approaches, documenting my results, and creating streamlined systems for myself.
Ultimately I arrived at the methods that led me to collaborations with brands like Papyrus, Cloud9 Fabrics, Pyrex, and Trader Joe’s — and seeing my designs on products in stores I shop at!
I took ancient Greek as my language in college (not the most practical choice… but it was a whole lot of fun!).
I inherited my love of numbers and analytics from my mom & grandfather who were both engineers – I credit this for a lot of my success as an artist.
In my opinion, silliness and weirdness are two vastly underrated qualities. It’s probably why I’ve always loved the expression “Let your freak flag fly!”
My path to where I am now has been long and messy. Out of college, I couldn’t find a full-time job (it was ’09) so I did freelance design and worked part-time at a scrapbook store. It wasn’t until 2017 that I got anywhere close to a full-time income doing my art (believe me, I understand the artist’s struggle!).
I’m a lifetime member Girl Scout! My mom was a troop leader and summer camp director, so Girl Scouts was my LIFE growing up.
I inherited my boisterous laugh from my dad (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever watched my courses or classes!). My dad actually has two settings: loud foghorn and “the silent muppet”. I wish I inherited the silent one. 😜
Hello! I’m Jena. I have a background in biz admin and graphic design and have learned all about the ups and downs of running a creative business through my freelance work.
When I’m not checking surface design feeds on IG, you’ll find me scrolling through architecture and mid-century modern hashtags.
I have received numerous licensing contracts since Pitch Your Portfolio and found out a few days ago my dream of getting into Hawthorne Fabrics has come true! Your PDF layouts, advice, and Airtable all made it happen for me. So thank you!
As someone who is getting into the freelance side of this industry much later in life than many, I have gained the most benefit from all of your well-thought-out, informative classes that actually give real answers and roadmaps to getting things accomplished.
It’s not preachy or overly optimistic where one feels encouraged by still gets lost when trying to do it…I started sending out my portfolio to clients and within a month got 2 licensing contracts and 4 inquiries. I know I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start thinking on business terms if not for you.
I’m really grateful for your time and generosity in looking at my work and giving me such valuable feedback. I'm super motivated and excited about focusing more on licensing my watercolor artwork and am already starting the classes you suggested. I think you did sort of give me the permission slip I was looking for!
After taking the course last year, I am so grateful to have signed four contracts, my first ever as a surface designer… I really feel that your course has given me everything I need to prepare for these moments and to enter negotiations from a place of confidence.
I used to get nervous pressing send. Well, 378 emails later, I am now an email savant. I can literally whip out an email like it’s no big deal – practice is everything! Thank you, Shannon, for our course which gave me the push I needed.