Creative, Inc. Book Tour

creative inc

Our good friends at Chronicle Books recently released Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business. Co-written by Joy Cho and Meg Mateo Ilasco, this helpful guide is packed with expert advice on finding agents, negotiating fees, licensing work and dealing with taxes. Also included are useful resources and interviews with experienced designers and illustrators.

I’m excited to welcome both Meg and Joy to Grain Edit today for a special Q&A session. Ok, here we go!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?  What led to your interest in freelancing?

Joy: I graduated in 2001 from Syracuse University’s School of Visual & Performing Arts with a major in Communications Design and a minor in Printmaking and Fibers. A few months after graduating, I got a job in New York as a graphic designer at a boutique advertising agency. It was a hardcore (super long hours) yet fun introduction to being a young designer in New York. I also got a lot of exposure to the fashion industry and had the chance to go to a bunch of Fashion Week shows (loved that!).

After a couple years, I grew tired of designing flat print pieces and wanted to make something more tangible. I transitioned into home accessories and textile design at Cynthia Rowley, designing a variety of home accessories {from bedding to pjs to bath products to stationery} for her Swell line at Target. It was there that I became much more comfortable designing patterns. It was a great introduction to designing products and it gave me the itch to one day design products of my own.

In 2005, I left NY to move to Philly. As I looked for new jobs, I also had to freelance to make ends meet. As I continued to interview, I wasn’t able to find anything that was the right fit. At the same time, the freelance work kept growing until I reached a point where I discovered that if I worked hard enough, I could freelance full-time. I had never really considered starting my own design business, so this really was an unexpected happy accident. So I decided to venture on my own and Oh Joy! Studio was born.

Meg: I graduated in 1997 from UCLA with a degree in psychology–but during my senior year, I began dabbling in graphic design. Up until then, I had never really considered a career in design. Two years later. my dabbling led me to start a small wedding invitation company. I even brought the business with me when I went back to UCLA to pursue a master’s degree in architecture. (Word to the wise: architecture + a side business do not mix.) The summer after my first year, the wedding invitation business took off. I had to make a choice to finish grad school or pursue the business. I chose the latter. I eventually sold that business to pursue a freelance career which covered my interests in writing, styling, illustration, and design.

How did the idea for Creative inc. come about?

Joy: After the success of Meg’s book, Craft, Inc., Chronicle Books wanted to expand it into a series. We began brainstorming for ideas and with our joint backgrounds as freelancers, it was natural to write about that topic. We also felt there wasn’t a go-to bible in the market for any creative type looking to go freelance.

Meg: We’re in a golden age of creativity. With fields cross-pollinating and blurring–it’s hard to be just one type of creative in a single medium. Many creatives, like Joy and I, are “slashies” (i.e., illustrator/designer, photographer/director/stylist)–so we wanted to create a book that encompasses different kinds of creative freelancing. There is a lot of overlap across fields as well as differences you can learn from and apply to your own practice. In fact, the most interesting freelance practices I learned were from photographers.

creative inc

In chapter 7 of the book you discuss ways of working smarter. Could you share some of the tools you use to increase productivity and manage your time more effectively?

Joy: I live for my Google calendar. I use it to schedule all of my projects and on any given day I know exactly what projects I need to work on. The great thing about it being online is that I can access it anywhere I go. Some people prefer a paper planner which is great too. Also, I use Excel (some use QuickBooks) to track all of my income–that way, I know how much income I’ve had that month, quarter, or year. Those numbers help me to know if I’m doing okay financially and up to par with my plans for the year or if I need to step it up and get more work.

Thanks to Meg and Joy for sharing with us today!

Creative, Inc. is available for purchase at Amazon and Chronicle Books.

This interview is part of the Creative Inc. Blog Tour. Follow along at the sites below:

8/23 Poppy Talk
8/24 Oh Happy Day
8/25 SFGirl By Bay
8/26 Mint Design
8/27 Wit + Delight
8/28 Cathy of California
8/29 Book By Its Cover
8/30 Not Martha
8/31 Frolic
9/01 Upper Case
9/02 Craft
9/03 Decor8
9/04 Kris Atomic
9/06 Make Grow Gather


Also available for your viewing pleasure: Dress Code Interview

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