Merchandise Your Ideas
Today we go back to the roots - design and writing.
Hey everyone 👋. I'm John. Welcome to Creators' Corner: a place where I share advice on writing, drawing & mindset to propel you on your creative journey. Here's the previous edition of the newsletter if you missed it.
Create your own merch
Have you ever wanted to design your own t-shirt or hoodie? Well today’s your lucky day.
Earlier this month we interviewed designer and online writerfor the 3rd edition of the Creating Visuals for Writing guest series.
During the workshop, Leslie took us through her visual design process and showed us how to merchandise our designs. Rad!
Leslie is a graphic designer of 14 years, a freelancer for 9 years, and the founder of a lifestyle brand centred around her illustrations, called Dynamite Starfish. She’s helped brands like Taco Bell connect with their audience through design and helped large and small businesses build culturally resonant brands.
She’s also a rock climber. Pretty badass.
Leslie worked as a graphic designer for a couple of years before quitting her job to go self-employed.
She wanted more freedom over her time and her body. Going freelance gave her the flexibility to work from anywhere she wanted when she wanted.
She also wanted to remove the upper limit to what she could earn. There would always be a salary ceiling in corporate. Going self-employed and selling her own products has removed the cap on her earnings.
Having made the move to self-employment myself earlier this year, these two reasons resonated with me. Especially the point around having freedom over your body. Not being tied to a physical location and being able to structure my day the way I like it has been a game changer for me.
Last week I spoke about the power of combining skills. Either you can try to be the expert in your field, or you can combine two (or more) things you’re good at, and create a new niche for yourself.
In a similar way, Leslie combined her skill (graphic design) and her passion (rock climbing) to start a thriving merchandise brand.
In the example below she traced out her hands that were battered and bruised from a week of climbing, coloured them in on Procreate and moved the design over to Printify (an online printing studio).
I had to know - does she sometimes see her shirts out in public being worn by complete strangers?
Apparently yes! Her designs have become quite popular in the rock-climbing community. She still gets a rush every time she sees one of her shirts in public. As would I! It must be so cool seeing your art out in the wild.
The best part? You can do this too -
While this might look difficult at first glance, it’s actually straightforward to merchandise your own designs.
To prove this, Leslie took one of my designs, an image I traced of one of my favourite books (The Pathless Path by) and stuck it on a shirt.
Go to online print shop printify.com.
Select a template. We went for the white cotton t-shirt here.
Upload your artwork and voila!
Good news for those who missed it (and are sobbing with regret) — we recorded the workshop. Here’s the link to the video and Leslie’s slides.
PS: Our next guest lecture is in the works. We‘ll be joined by research scientist and writerwhose doodles make machine learning fun.
PPS: If you’d like to stay in the loop on future events, sign up here.
Back to (writing) school
Personal update — it’s time to go back to school.
I’ve been picked as a Mentor for David Perell’s online writing school, Write of Passage, for the second time.
Write of Passage sparked my creator journey.
Back in September 2021, when I enrolled for the first time, I had never published anything online before. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have any followers or subscribers. At the time, I hadn’t written an essay since university. I just knew I wanted to create something with my life.
Since then I published over 70 posts on my website. I moved from being stuck in a corporate job to going self-employed. I went from not having an avenue to express my creativity to hosting creativity workshops (like the one above).
Make no mistake – I had to put in the hard yards. I had to pitch up, publish consistently and make some noise. But WOP gave me that initial spark and introduced me to a community that has kept the fire going.
This cohort I’m looking forward to 3 things:
Learning. This will be another opportunity to learn from the pros. In addition to David’s classes, I’m excited to see curation expert, info capture whizz and distribution boffin in action.
Connecting. WOP is a meeting of minds. Writing online has introduced me to some seriously talented and curious individuals. People from various backgrounds with one shared love - ideas. I’m excited to spar with them and talk writing and creativity for 5 weeks.
Teaching. As I wrote about in Those Who Can, Teach, teaching is the ultimate form of learning. Running my mentor sessions will force me to hone my writing skills. The mentor role has also changed this cohort: from writing guide to accountability coach. It will be a good opportunity to practice active listening and coaching skills.
I can’t wait for class to start on 17 April. Here’s the crew:
💬 Quote: Feeling this more and more after exiting corporate.
“Living coherently doesn’t mean everything is in perfect order all the time. It simply means you are living in alignment with your values and have not sacrificed your integrity along the way.” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Designing Your Life
📚 Book: I’m currently reading Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. In it, Epstein explores the advantages of starting as a jack of all trades before becoming a master of one later. He begins with a comparison of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. Tiger is heralded as an example of the 10,000 hours philosophy - you become a pro by repeatedly practising one discipline from an early age. But Epstein says people are often better served by the Federer approach. Federer tried various sports before settling on tennis in his late teens. Epstein advocates for an approach of experimentation and tinkering, something I’ve also become fond of on my pathless path. Combining skills (like writing, drawing, mentoring and actuarial training) has allowed me to create my niche instead of following a specialist path. Quote:
“If we treated careers more like dating, nobody would settle down so quickly.”
✍️ Essay: What I learned running 50 miles by fellow Write of Passage Mentor. Wes captures the lessons he learned from preparing for and completing a gruelling 50-mile race. I particularly like this takeaway:
“Find and push against your boundaries, regularly as a practice and through a practice.”
It reminds me of author and Stoic philosopher, Willam B. Irvine’s take on why people do endurance races - to boost our psychological immunity. This is exactly what I needed to read before I tackle the Paris marathon this weekend. Let’s do this!
📸 Photos of the week: I visited Madrid for the first time this week. What a city! Good food, spectacular architecture and pleasant people. Below I captured my morning run through Retiro Park and Pablo Picasso’s famous anti-war artwork, Guernica, at the Reina Sofia Museum.
Until next time, happy creating!
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