Life & business tips for creatives

Find your own answers and solve problems through journaling

Find your own answers & solve problems through journaling

The habit of turning to outside sources every time we need an answer trains us to lose trust in our own judgement. It’s great to have mentors and teachers, but at the same time we need to be able to trust ourselves. So what’s the alternative? How do we find our own answers and become empowered decision makers? Let me share my secret tool with you. Except it’s not a secret. Read more...

Doorways of inspiration

Doorways of inspiration

How is it that sometimes I can be so full of inspiration and drive to create, but other times I can’t even get myself off the couch? Why is it so difficult to remain in the state of forward momentum? How could I reinvigorate that creative spark after the fire has died out? I’ve tried to answer all of these questions, and more, in this essay. Read more...

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

Fact-checking 13 MLM myths about business

I'm tired of seeing misleading claims that multi-level marketing companies are spreading about business, so I want to raise awareness of how damaging those myths are. Starting a small business from scratch is many times more likely to lead to profits than joining an MLM, and the small business ecosystem is way more supportive than any MLM team. Read more...

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How to get clients to see you as an expert

How can service based business owners convince clients to hire us, instead of someone else? One of the most persuasive ways is to claim an expertise in a narrow field. In this article I’ll explain what it takes to be an expert, and how to demonstrate your expertise to your clients. Read more...

How to balance personal and commercial creative work

How to balance personal & commercial creative work + Mixed media cat painting process

Finding balance between personal creative practice and paid work can be a challenge. Our jobs may not give us 100% of the creative fulfillment that we need, and we also may have our own inspiration and ideas we want to follow. Personal practice is an excellent way to stave off creative burnout, and it helps us keep our skills sharp and develop our unique style. In this episode of Nela's Art Chat, I offer tips how to justify spending time on creative practice, and incorporate more spontaneous creativity into your life. Read more...

Nela's ultimate list of freelancing tips

Nela’s ultimate list of 34 freelancing tips

I started freelancing when I was 19 years old, and for the past 7 years I've been a full-time freelance brand identity designer. There are many lessons I learned in that time that I wish I knew when I got started, but at least others can benefit from this experience. Here's my list of 34 tips that will help you avoid the common pitfalls of freelancing. Read more...

Overcome your fear of visibility

What will people think? 10 steps to overcoming your fear of visibility

I help clients who want to be seen and valued as experts in their field to increase their visibility and impact. Unfortunately, many people don’t feel emotionally prepared to receive attention, so they keep putting off their marketing activities. In this article I offer tips and techniques you can use to shift your mindset and prepare yourself before you step into the spotlight. Read more...

My favorite black, white and red mixed media art journal supplies

My favorite black, white & red mixed media art supplies (video compilation)

In this long 3-part video series, I share my favorite mixed media art supplies for sketchbooks and art journals, along with examples of how I use them. I’ve been keeping sketchbooks since 2006 and experimented with lots of different mixed media techniques. My approach involves a lot of drawing, doodling, and painting, usually of figurative and surreal scenes and creatures. I combine drawing mediums that allow for a lot of precise detail, along with some more fluid and expressive painterly techniques that add atmosphere, depth, and texture. Read more...

Client journey map workshop

Creative professionals: design your client process

Imagine there was one important thing that you could do that would result in better client satisfaction, higher productivity, attracting more ideal clients, more money, and less stress for you—would you do it? Who wouldn't, right? This magical-sounding method is designing your very own signature client process. In this article I’ll explain why I believe that any creative consultant would benefit from it, and how to get started if you don't have a process yet. Read more...

How young designers benefit from volunteering

How young designers benefit from volunteering

I often get asked by young, inexperienced designers how to find their first client. My answer is always: find a cause or a non-profit that aligns with your values and your interests, and offer to volunteer. Unless clients are already seeking you out, you need to put in more hours to improve your skills and build a portfolio that shows what you're capable of. Read more...

Creativity in digital isolation

Creativity in digital isolation

“Common sense” marketing advice for creators is to publish something every single day. I know many folks who show up daily or almost daily, and it works for them. It’s an excellent marketing technique if you can pull it off. I’m not doing it, and I don’t think it’s the right way for everyone. I want to talk about the positive side of not having to put on a show every day (or every week, or even every month) if you’re not the kind of person who can or wants to do that. Read more...

Coping when art turns out bad   Mermaid watercolor painting process

Coping when art turns out bad + Mermaid watercolor painting process

Sometimes you put in a ton of effort into an artwork and in the end you realize that it just sucks. It doesn’t look anything like you’ve envisioned it, and you feel like you’ve just wasted a lot of time on something that wasn’t worth it. In today’s episode of Nela’s Art Chat you can watch me paint a mermaid that did not turn out the way I wanted, while I talk about 4 different ways you can deal with similar “art fails” of your own. Read more...

How to get over fear of technology and learn anything online

How to get over fear of technology & learn anything online

Mandatory shutdowns have removed the only income source from many small businesses. Everyone keeps saying the answer is “technology”, but what if you’re among the people who find technology extra challenging? Sadly I don't have a magic wand that can make technology easy overnight, but I hope that this article can help you start thinking about it differently and open up more possibilities for learning and growth. Read more...

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal sketchbook techniques

My 6 favorite mixed media art journal & sketchbook techniques

If you’re interested in mixed media art journals, you’ve likely seen it all. YouTube is full of step-by-step techniques if you want to give it a try. But over the years I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t like about making art, and this has led me to develop my own methods which work with my style and personality. In this article, I share some techniques I use to bring more fun to my sketchbook/art journaling practice. Read more...

The Ramp and the Ladder - 2 methods for improving client experience

The Ramp and the Ladder – 2 methods for improving client experience

Our responsibility as business owners is to make purchasing easy for our dream clients. Of course we want our clients to be happy! On the other hand, you don’t want to make it too easy for people to hire you, because you want to make sure that only the right clients get through your sales process. Read how making things easier, or purposely more difficult on prospective clients—what I call the Ramp and the Ladder—can be used to improve your client process. Read more...

12 uncomfortable truths about doing creative work for a living

12 uncomfortable truths about doing creative work for a living

I started earning money with my creative skills when I was 19 years old, and have been running my own design consultancy since 2014. I admit that I got into this career with some unrealistic expectations, and I learned many lessons that no one warned me about. If you’re still early in your career or studying in a creative field, consider this post as a warning so you can decide whether this is something you’re willing to accept as a part of your life. Read more...

Mermay 2019 - How it went and what I learned

Mermay 2019 – How it went & what I learned

As I announced in my previous video, I took part in this year’s Mermay challenge and attempted to draw and paint mermaids every day during the month of May. In this article I’ll show you my favorite mermaid drawings from this challenge, and share how I felt about the whole experience and what I learned from it. Read more...

Should you do an art challenge video

Should you do an art challenge? + Mermaid drawing process video for Mermay

Inktober, Mermay, Drawing August, 100 days project, 36 days of type... there's no shortage of art challenges, and many of us are asking ourselves "Should I do one this year?" If you've never done an art challenge, in this episode of Nela's Art Chat I give you some of my tips on how to decide, and how to prepare if you do end up doing one. You'll also be able to watch a time lapse of my ink mermaid drawing from start to finish! Read more...