Life & business tips for creatives

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. Watch, listen, or read the transcript

How to get over fear of technology & learn anything online

How to get over fear of technology and 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 & what I learned

Mermay 2019 - How it went and 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? + Mermaid drawing process video for Mermay

Should you do an art challenge video

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! Watch, listen, or read the transcript

Sketchbook Adventures: Sketching with fountain pens

Sketching with fountain pens

As a hoarder of art and stationery, I frequently dip into creative obsessions. Lately it’s been going on with fountain pens, which are my new go-to note taking and doodling tool. In this post I share why I switched from ballpoint pens to fountain pens, which pen models I’ve bought so far (there’s quite a few), and my impressions after writing and sketching with them for a couple of months. Read more...

How do I know what I’m buying? – Logo design & spec work

How do I know what I'm buying? – Logo design and spec work

I’m fully aware of the risks my clients take when working with me. I used to think I should be offering money-back guarantees, endless revisions, or doing exactly what they tell me to do to make sure they’re happy. Thankfully, I learned quite a bit over the years and I no longer think that. I do one revision within the scope of the project, and only offer a refund in case I cancel the project. I know where the real value of my work lies, and I want to share these thoughts with you today. Read more...

The challenge of (re)starting a creative practice

The challenge of restarting a creative practice

It’s no secret that sometimes I don’t do art for months. There are objective reasons, and emotional reasons, and totally silly reasons, but whatever they are—the result is the same: no new art, guilt and shame because I’m not making art, and overall grumpy feeling and lack of enthusiasm because I need my art. In the interest of documenting my methods for the future when it’s bound to happen again, but also to help others who have the same problem, I’ll talk about what I’ve tried and what helps me start again after a long period of not creating. Read more...

Real friends pay full price

Real friends pay full price

If you own a business or do creative work for a living, it’s very likely that some (or a lot) of your clients are friends and family. That’s great, right? However, some of your friends and family might think they’re entitled to a discount just because they know you. My stance on this is that friends and family should pay the full price like everyone else, and in this post I explain why that is. Read more...

How to stay motivated while working on long-term projects

How to stay motivated while working on long-term projects

Working on long-term goals is hard. Our brains are not exactly wired for it—we carry biases that undermine our efforts to become successful at whatever we’ve chosen to do. If we want to achieve something bigger than we’ve ever accomplished before, we need to support ourselves better because willpower alone is not enough. Here are the methods I’ve used to overcome my own unproductive patterns and self-publish my book. Read more...

How to encourage constructive design feedback (video)

How to encourage constructive feedback in design

Tired of hearing things like “Make my logo bigger” or “I don't like that blue color” from your clients? Here's what designers and project managers can do to encourage constructive and useful feedback that will make your designs better. This is a video recording and transcript of the talk I gave at the Project Management Zagreb Meetup on February 14, 2018. Watch or read the transcript

If you love your work, charge more.

If you love your work, charge more.

Often people that do administrative, service or technical jobs think that creative careers are glorified hobbies, and make derogatory remarks about them. Dismissing the specialized skills creative people bring to the marketplace is harmful and unfair. In this article, we'll dissect this pervasive myth that people who love their work shouldn't charge for it. Read more...

Business tips for people who have “too many passions”

Business tips for people who have too many passions

Having multiple passions is wonderful—you never get bored, and the world looks full of options. What could you do with your career? Who could you be? So many possible answers to that question. It's exciting! But it's also challenging. Multi-passionate folks aren't held in high regard by anyone but ourselves, it appears. In this post, I'm sharing tips for overcoming challenges that multi-passionate people experience, based on my own 13+ years of work experience as a creative professional. Read more...

What if people think my idea is stupid?

What if people think my idea is stupid?

Too many creative projects never see the light of day because their creators fear that their idea is stupid. This is a tragedy. Creating anything is an emotionally vulnerable experience that makes us question everything. I’m not immune to this, and neither are artists whose work I follow. If you’re experiencing this problem as well, in this post I share my thoughts on overcoming this mental block so you can finish and publish your thing. Read more...

What’s in your Creative Wellness Toolbox?

What’s in your Creative Wellness Toolbox?

Artists are intimately familiar with our physical tools—but today, I’m talking about a different type of toolbox. The toolbox you need to keep yourself in optimal mental and emotional shape to be able to create not just any kind of work, but your best work. Read more...