3 Lessons From My Creative Journey So Far
Christine Herrin shares the lessons she's learned from her creative journey.
Christine Herrin is a graphic designer and letterer based in San Francisco, CA. She loves paper, coffee, and documenting her everyday adventures. Today, she is sharing with us the lessons she's learned so far on her creative journey. Read on to find out more!
I’m excited to be guest posting on the Society of Creative Founders’ blog today! I’m Christine, a graphic designer, hand-letterer, and small business owner originally from Manila, Philippines, and currently based in San Francisco, California. To say that 2016 has been a crazy (in the best way) year is an understatement — this is the year I joined the Creative Founders Intensive (yay!) and had the privilege of being one of the four Adobe Creative Residents.
So — where does one even start? When 2016 began, I made the commitment to finally take my business seriously and go all in. I was a freelance designer running a small side business selling clear stamps for scrapbooking since mid-2015, and I knew I wanted to grow my brand and product line. I joined the Intensive in March 2016 ready to dedicate most of my time to my business, until I got the opportunity to apply for the Adobe Creative Residency. I was accepted into the program (which runs for a full year) in May 2016, and while I had to adjust my plans slightly, it all goes back to building a creative business.
But first — what is the Adobe Creative Residency? It’s a one year program where Adobe (yup — that Adobe) supports creatives full-time (that means: a full-time salary, with additional benefits like mentors and art supplies!) to work on their own projects. I joke that even if I’m five months into the program, it still doesn’t feel like real life. The project I decided to work on was a line of journals and other paper products to encourage exploring and documenting, two themes that have been dear to my heart ever since. I was still focused on my business, but the Residency has allowed me to take things a little slower by focusing on product development and testing. In between projects and events for Adobe, I also followed along with the weekly Intensive sessions and lessons. I loved having accountability calls — these helped me make sure I was on the right track and asking the right questions, as well as planning properly to set up systems for success in the future.
I want to share three of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far — both thanks to the Intensive and the experience of being part of the Creative Residency — that have definitely helped me grow this past year:
1. Trust your curiosities.
When I was first starting my business, I didn’t think I could mix my love for the scrapbooking world (Clear stamps! Paper! All the crafty things!) with the design career I was trying to build. I live in San Francisco, and my idea of a “serious” design career meant working at a fancy tech company doing UI/UX/web design. I struggled with this for a while. I eventually had to admit to myself that I really just wanted to make and design paper products full-time, and decided to fully own that. I started talking about it more to designer friends, and even used it as the basis for my project proposal to Adobe. And guess what? They loved it! The designers I was so scared who wouldn’t “get” it absolutely loved the idea of documenting and were so curious about clear stamps. I learned that if you’re truly excited about something, it’s not only so much easier to talk about, it’s also easy to get others excited about it too. Trust that you like what you like for a reason, and that you will always find your people.
2. Know (and own!) your value.
We’ve heard this a hundred times — be confident that you’re worth the prices you set, and learn to own your value. It’s easy to agree, but there will be times you’ll try to compromise, especially with big clients or seemingly once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I learned this big lesson from the fab Jennifer Faught, who reminded me of this on one call after I was starting to panic about my pricing. A big retailer buyer had approached me wanting to talk about wholesale, and I immediately panicked because my clear stamp prices are higher than regular retail prices, and I was worried the buyer wouldn’t want to do business with me because of that. Jen told me to stick to my prices and remember what added value I brought to the table, in this case, it was my aesthetic and design skills. True enough, the buyer didn’t even ask why my prices were higher. She even laughed and told me that my target market will love and decide to purchase it anyway, even if it were a few dollars more, because of my style. Whew!
3. Be kind to yourself.
As the fab Emily McDowell says, don’t compare yourself to strangers on the Internet. It’s so, so easy to see another person’s highlight reel and feel like you haven’t done enough, aren’t enough, and are lagging behind. I struggle with this every single day — especially because the other three Adobe Creative Residents are amazing creatives doing so well in their different fields (and so social media savvy too!) that I fail to see what I’ve accomplished and instead keep looking at what hasn’t been checked off the to-do list yet. I have a constant fear of missing opportunities, not doing enough work (why do we need to be 100% productive all the time?) and being bad at my craft. Funny thing is, if one were to check out my Instagram account, they’d probably never guess that. Be kind to yourself! Get to know your patterns, your creative flow, and catch yourself before you fall into a downward shame spiral. Everyone’s on their own journey, and we’re all going at our own pace.
I’m looking forward to going through my notes from the Intensive again as I launch my product line next May (when the Creative Residency ends) — I’ve made so many plans during our accountability calls that I can’t wait to finally implement. Thanks for reading, and hope these lessons encourage you on your creative journey, too!
Thank you so much Christine for sharing your journey with us! Keep up with Christine on Instagram and at ChristineHerrin.com