At the end of June 2015, I was asked to travel from my graphic design studio in Westport, CT, to Nashville, TN, to be one of the speakers at the inaugural Designers Roundtable Retreat (DRR) (now the Creatives Roundtable). I was part of the panel Down and Dirty Interviews with Creative Experts. And, I headed a lunch roundtable discussion and a speed coaching table on marketing your creative business.
My co-panel cohorts were Jim Krause and Luke Mysse. Jim has written a slew of inspirational graphic design books, and he is also a photographer and illustrator. Luke is a creative expert who put his business on hold to help raise awareness for a cause that he and his family believe in. It was a diversified and interesting panel. We were asked questions from the creative business, to balancing business and families, to our greatest fears — my fear of inchworms got a great laugh — but seriously — they freak me out!
SO WHAT DID I LEARN AT THE DRR?
From the founder of the event, graphic designer Jenny Poff, I learned that you can put your passion on the line to do what you believe in. It might take a while for your passion project to grow, but it can be kick-ass in its founding phase. She gave us a unique platform where we listened to speakers and then worked with them on labs to put into action what they just taught us.
From the Marketing Mentor Ilise Benum I learned that asking the right questions for your graphic design business is more effective than talking, as well as the 4 C’s of Marketing: Choose • Connect • Cultivate • Credibilitate.
From Emily Cohen, consultant to creative businesses, I learned the value of Post Project Surveys, Best Practice Client Management Strategies, and a great idea that her client Sharon McMullen shared — that private Pinterest boards created by clients create great visual creative graphic briefs.
From the Million Dollar Message Expert Maurice DiMino, I learned to be crystal clear with my graphic design prospects. Do not assume they know what you are talking about. And develop a verbal business card.
From Creative Coach RaShelle Roberts I learned to hone in on the vision I have for my graphic business as well as why this matters to me. And, from RaShelle I am concentrating on my voice, my passion, and my niche.
I interacted with a lot of great graphic designers at the conference. Some I had met at previous design conferences; some who like me, belong to the Creatives’ Roundtable (a community of independent creative business owners focused on supporting, encouraging, and pushing the boundaries which make your business flourish); and some new ones who I am sure I will stay in touch with.
And Nashville spoke to the party side of us all. Great music, great barbecue, great graphic signage (we do love our type/font/lettering fixes).
WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
I really enjoyed speaking at the conference, and I welcome the opportunity to do so at other venues where people want to gain insight into the creative side of graphic and creative business. Graphic design will continue in both my Westport, CT, studio and the Luminary office I rent in New York City, but I am eliminating some of the work that is no longer part of my long-term plan and concentrating on what I love to do and do best: annual report design, logo design, ad design, and business-to-business print and digital design. And I will continue to mentor young designers as I have been doing for the past 10 years.
If you are a creative (graphic designer, writer, photographer, illustrator, web developer) I recommend you check out the Creatives Roundtable and join our great community! And if you need help with your marketing materials? Let’s talk!