The Month Of Elul: A Time For Apologies

The New Year Is Here!

Are you spiritually prepared?

The month of Elul is not only about self-reflection and finding our inner-selves. It’s also about apologizing for every time we “missed the mark” this past year.

Apologizing can be hard. The more time that passes, the more difficult apologizing gets. We don’t want to bring up the past and open old wounds, I get it.

Have you considered that apologizing is empowering?

Growing up, I was taught that admitting when I’m wrong is an admirable thing. Swallowing your pride and being vulnerable with the truth is an admirable trait. Personally, I’m brutally honest (just ask my friends and family) and am the first to admit when I’m wrong and these are all values that are very important to me.

So why have I never given myself this courtesy?

I thought long and hard about everyone I’ve wronged and could have treated better, only to realize the biggest apology I owe is to Myself.

After a (few) long and painful meditation sessions I was prepared to get it all out… So here it is:

I’m sorry for mistreating you
For distrusting you
I questioned your ability and doubted your intelligence
And made you feel powerless.
I told you you were worthless for so long
You turned into nothingness


I’m sorry for starving you from light 
For so long
Now your heart is too dark
For your mind to wander
I turned your dreams into demons
And left your heart too barren
For any love to grow.


I’ve done nothing but wrong you
I made you feel small and weak
Convinced that you were incompetent
I’ve mutilated you
Enslaved you 
Denied you and
Cast you out from your people
I filled your soul with doubt
Bitterness and sadness


I’m sorry for making you believe you’re not strong enough to 
Weather the storm and
Work through all this pain I have caused you
I deemed you unworthy of anything good and
Made you think your life is not worth living
I know apologies will not heal these deep wounds
I’ve afflicted you.


It’s time to thank you.
Thank you for having the strength to still be here
For never giving up on me
I hope you can forgive me and 
We can fix things together.
I don’t know how I will ever repay you but 
I will spend the rest of my life trying

This being my first Elul, I had a lot of reflection to catch up on. It’s been an intense few weeks of attempting to revive my soul (and I’m happy to report that it’s working.) I thought I would have a lot to apologize for, but looking back I am proud of how I’ve handled confrontation, avoided drama and been honest with myself this past year and would not do anything differently.

I encourage you to also spend some time with yourself. What should you apologize for? Who has wronged you? What should you thank yourself for? Maybe even write yourself a letter too.

Stay soft,

Joey D.

Rosh Hashanah Greeting Card on RedBubble
Click the image or text for my Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) Greeting Cards!

How To Prepare Yourself For Taking On New Design Clients

Taking on new clients can be a dream for fresh freelancers… or a dreaded endeavour for the inexperienced.

You don’t know your worth, your clients’ expectations or even what your edge on the competition is. It’s very easy to undervalue yourself when you’re first starting out!

But what if you knew what to ask these higher-paying clients? Would you still be intimidated by taking on higher-paying work—work that feeds you, while building your dream portfolio?

I’m going to share how I started asserting my worth as an artist and exactly what to cover with your new client to give them the best product possible!

Establish a budget upfront!

I ask for their budget in the same motion as about their idea, but that’ll take practice. Asking for their budget upfront establishes your worth and asserts that you expect proper compensation. You then showcase what you can provide for them based on this budget, not based on their expectations—that’s where you get into abusive territory.

Clients have grand visions, sometimes expecting way too much. You need to establish boundaries with who you’re working with right away—because ultimately you are working with them, not for them—ensuring your time isn’t abused. You don’t revise things half a dozen times for no extra compensation.

To avoid any future confusion or altercations with new clients, I religiously go through these questions to get a full picture of my clients needs and expectations, the scope of the project and how much time you’re devoting to the project. An individual or brand with a logo budget of $200 will not receive the same product as one with a budget of $1000, for example (and yes you can make that much for one licensing deal, just not on Fivver).

Why waste time doing this? Why can’t you just start getting paid right now on Upwork or Fivver?

Well, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that, but if you want a sustainable income that pays you what you’re worth as a craftsman you need a niche group of regular clientele that will be fanatical about everything you say (and sell)!

Viewing this intimate conversation about your clients passions (and ultimately their project) as a waste of time means you’re probably reading the wrong blog and should just go scavenge across abusive job-boards that undercut the value of every other freelance worker out there then just go on ahead and “make that bank”.

But if you want to get paid by people who value your work and will hire you over and over again—and recommend you for more even more dream projects—then you need to read this!

Establish A Budget With New Clients Upfront With These 8 Questions:

  1. What is the Company/Product/Service name to be used in the logo/branding?
    • This may seem silly, but you wouldn’t believe how often I’m brought onto a project thinking it was a rebranding job and found out it’s for a new/different/offshoot brand—wasting my notes and sketches, as well as their time.
  2. What is your Tag line (if any)?
    • Whether or not you need this for the design, it will give you a better picture of what your client’s message is
  3. What are you selling?
    • Get them to tell you as much about their product or service
    • What is the message they’re trying to convey with your work?
  4. Who are you selling to?
    • Describe the audience you’re targeting as best as possible.
    • Dig deeper (age, gender, interests, income, geography, etc. are only the basics)
  5. How do you want to be known in your industry and when compared to your competitors?
    • Competitors, fellow creatives or whatever you wish to call them, you are comparing both aesthetic and ethos as well as products and content.
    • Where are they at vs. where they want to be and how your work will get them there. Getting them to show you their “Dream Aesthetic” and favourite brands/pages from social media is usually the easiest way to involve clients in this part of the conversation.
  6. Do you have an idea of what you want? If so, describe your visions in as much or as little detail as you’d like.
    • Sometimes less is more here. Setting your boundaries early on is important and you have the right to know what you’re being hired for. In most cases, you’ll have already told them your niche or they have approached you because of your existing work (or even by recommendation from a fan!)
  7. Are you currently working with any time constraints? Ideally, how soon would you like to have your project completed?
    • This is another step where you need to set boundaries for yourself. If you’re having trouble keeping up, be transparent about your current work-load and be honest about how quickly you can complete a project.
  8. What is your budget?
    • The burning question that no artist has the answer for. I’m not going to pretend to know how much a human is worth, but I know how much money I need to make to pay these pesky bills: start there.
    • Talking about money is difficult for millennials. It’s okay to talk about money.
    • Feeling your skills should be compensated properly is not a crime. Don’t allow them to devalue your worth or make you feel you’re being unreasonable.
    • If you can’t justify the cost of your work by breaking it down for your client, you’re still too unclear on your self-worth and just might be over-selling yourself if you’re constantly being rejected at the “final sell”.

It can be a scary to take on new things. Just remember this for your next call on Zoom:

We didn’t become self-employed only to go broke.

We did it to become self-sustainable—to cope with chronic pain and illness, find employment as marginalized folks, to survive in tough times—while still doing something that breathes life back into us, rather than drain us.

If you produce a variety of content, you need to establish your niche and specialties for them right away—to set the boundaries in this new relationship at the beginning—not half-way through, when you realize you’re no longer working on what you signed up for. Unlike a romantic relationship, you’ve (hopefully) established some sort of written agreement via (at minimum) a paid invoice.

Whether you’re still navigating where you fit in within your field or are geared up to grab the new opportunity right now, you can download this unique and professional questionnaire I designed: print it off for your next new client here!

If you would like more coverage on drafting an invoice and red-flags freelancers should look out for on job-board websites, let me know by commenting on this post!

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

Why Instagram Stats Are Ruining Your Artwork

My best tips for dealing with “posting anxiety” as an artist on Instagram:

Creative and emotional people: Don’t look at your statistics!

There’s a new phrase I’ve heard recently, as I was speaking with a friend and colleague about social media management — and mainly the stress of constantly creating content. After a while, we arrived at a common major issue: posting anxiety.

Posting the right content for Instagram — to be picked up on the explore page and gain traction — can feel like the most important thing sometimes, especially in content marketing.

The truth is, “how to get famous on Instagram” is a mystery to most people trying to grow a following or business. I know this because too many other artists that have cried out to me, “I have no idea how Instagram works!”

Even worse, I know people who don’t post their artwork at all!

Why?

They’re scared! Rightfully so, the Internet can be a mean place. Someone who wants to casually show off their hard work doesn’t necessarily want to be subjected to the same scrutiny as a professional artist open to critique.

artist painting watercolours
Image by Free-Photos on Pixabay

Brand new artists need to know — the internet doesn’t have to be a scary place!

Instagram is perfect for artists as a digital marketing platform! Filled with beautifully spaced and cropped photos, there’s so many creative ways to lay out your feed.

I’m not going to tell you how it works — no one truly knows how these social media algorithms work and I’m not going to pretend I do.


Today I’m going to talk about why you SHOULD NOT check your statistics on Instagram.

This article is intended for artists and crafters with a small following of less than one thousand. That being said, an account with less than 1000 followers can still get their art sold!

Do not obsess over your Instagram analytics yet, if:

  1. You have less than 1000 followers
  2. You have poor-quality engagement
  3. You’re still self-conscious or intimidated by posting

Why shouldn’t I care about my statistics?

As artists, it is our job to feel — don’t force it.

  1. Your following is too small to give an accurate picture of your target market, unless you already have high-quality engagement — people liking, commenting, and BUYING your stuff! You’re just going to unnecessarily bruise your ego if you pay too much attention to numbers too early — and you’re going to make less art.
  2. Your followers aren’t engaging with your posts, giving you poor-quality engagement. In most cases, it’s because your followers can’t see your posts! A caption with only a couple sentences and 4 hashtags doesn’t cut it anymore. You need to get creative with your posts and do some story-telling or you’re going to be drowned out by higher-quality posts. Try experimenting with different post layouts, emojis, and hashtags — Instagram allows up to 30 and I suggest using all of them.!
  3. You’re still scared to hit “post” on your work, even more-so when you care about it. This is where I want to help you — I’m going to share my tips on posting your work and growing your following without obsessing over statistics every day!

6 Tips On How To Grow A Strong Following, Organically, And Without Losing Confidence In Your Craft

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Top Tips For Free Marketing Online
  1. Comment on at least 10 posts a day. I’ve read social media gurus suggested leaving 50 comments, but I just devote an hour to Instagram every day and see how much I can do in that hour.
  2. Be genuine on the platformpost about yourself, show your face, and leave comments with 4 or more words and an emoji.
  3. Share to Instagram like you’re already “famous”. Carry that energy into your posts with consistent colour and lighting in your feed — it makes a huge difference you wouldn’t think. If you’re new to social media marketing, there are many feed-layout planning apps out there to get started, but I have not yet found one I would recommend.
  4. Spam your story and share your latest post there! Instagram’s story feature is great for flooding with content. Followers are more likely to see your IG story than your post, since it’s always at the very top when you first open the app. The feature is hard to ignore, so take advantage of it! I wouldn’t post more then a dozen times in a day, unless you’re actively engaging with people (via a Q&A, a poll, livestream, etc.)
  5. Have a master-list of all the hashtags you like to use — keep them in the notes on your phone. This way, you only have to pick those 30 hashtags one time, and then simply paste them into your posts later.
  6. Have a pod. You may have heard of Instagram-pods before, but if you have a small following you might not be in one yet. Start one with other artists on the platform, especially people your fans of — it can be a nice safety blanket to know a handful of people will engage with your posts. Feel free to follow me!

7 Big And Bad Mistakes That Will Ruin Your Instagram Reputation:

  1. NEVER BUY FOLLOWERS! Period. Apps that say they’ll boost your account’s numbers, or give you more “authentic followers” are feeding you BS.
  2. Never give anyone any of your personal information, account information, or money! This should go without saying, but seeing people’s readiness to login into an unknown app with their Facebook information (which is now also Instagram too, folx) scares me. If you’re at all serious about this, you’re putting the security and ownership of your business on the line by doing this.
  3. People might also pray upon you via direct messaging, saying they love your account and will feature it on their page… for a cost. DO NOT GIVE THESE PEOLE YOUR MONEY! (See #1 and #2)
  4. An app for instagram statistics reports is probably the worst thing you could do right now, for your self-esteem and content quality. It’s important to know who your target market is, but checking the numbers more often than once a week will leave you most likely disappointed. In my opinion, I have not found the best app to track Instagram statistics because I haven’t found a single one with terms of service that aren’t sketchy AF (See #2).
  5. Follow other artists with a similarly-sized following — they’ll probably be interested in your work too. I have also made so many friends this way! Some of which I now collaborate with. Don’t expect artists with over 5000 followers to follow you back.
  6. The internet is a democracy — you can delete rude comments and block whoever you want. I fully support this, especially when you’re first starting because the odds of receiving valuable criticism is so low.
  7. Turning off comments is a nuclear option that I only see huge accounts doing: models, adult content creators, public figures, and other people who receive inconceivable amounts of awful harassment. If you’re still very sensitive about your work you can do this, but don’t expect your following to growengaging with the people in your comments is probably the most fun, too.

How are you feeling? Inspired? Empowered? Overwhelmed?

I want you feeling equipped to take the next step. Whether you feel ready or not, I suggest working through my journalling prompt sheet for your best year yet! I feel like it will really help you find some confidence and clarity for what you envision this year looking like for you and your art.

I would also love it if you shared a time you experienced posting-anxiety in the comments. Starting conversations about these kinds of things is how we learn and grow with each other!

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

How Artists Can Use Their Art To Improve Their Self-Care Routine

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

I have trouble making time for my art these days — I bet you can relate. 

Something about having to find the right lighting and drag out all my supplies has me constantly putting off my painting. The thought of sitting down for 3 hours to illustrate sometimes has me hiding my pens away.

We make excuses, sometimes without noticing they’re excuses at all.

An uninspired mind creates a lack of energy for the body, resulting in a lack of performance filled with excuses.

Farshad Asl, The “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity

To bring back balance to my days, I’ve been making an effort to incorporate my creativity in my self-care routine.

femme punk inspirational graphic
“Lace up your Doc Martens, get out there, and kick some ass.”

Some things I love to do to destress:

  • Play video games – I’ve been live-streaming video games online for about a month now and have been enjoying getting back into my favourite games while connecting with my audience in a relaxed and personal environment, while still able to moderate content.
  • Journal my thoughts, goals, and brainstorm new ideas for art, design, writing and just life! Dotted journals are my absolute favourite. I haven’t found accessibly priced notebooks anywhere but Muji, and they only have one size — it’s very tiny, too. It can be handy, but limiting! My best solution has been with Notability on my iPad pro, it’s an amazing paid app that I’ve been using for almost 4 years now.
  • Try new cleaning and beauty DIYs on Pinterest – this can be a great instant confidence booster by making you feel handy by making yourself something and can be totally unrelated to your work if you’re feeling totally burnt out. 
  • Learn how to make my favourite foods for myself. This is also another one of my favourite non-work-related things to do — while listening to a podcast or my stereo.
  • Doodle – lately I’ve been doing doodles on sticker paper and been live-streaming on Instagram
  • Follow watercolour tutorials – I still feel my watercolour skills have a long easy to grow, so I push through artist block by practicing watercolour tutorials. Lately, I’ve been playing with different kinds of tea for different washes! I’ve found chai and green tea are especially my favourite and a nice subtle colour combo!

Having an air diffuser in my home has been amazing!

I love having one of my air diffusers going in the two main rooms of my home with my favourite essential oil blends.

I’ve collected many essential oils over the years, but my simple energizing go-to blend is geranium and grapefruit! I do 5-8 drops of each, depending on the size of the room (and who’s in it). Remember to check which essential oils are okay to use around pets and people with scent-sensitivities/allergies.

The best part about the diffuser in my bedroom studio is it goes for about 4 hours — a big chunk of time I could be working on something. When it shuts off, I know I can take a break!

Creative Ways To Beat Artist's Block in red
Creative Ways To Beat Artist’s Block Faster

Taking care of yourself during these cold and dark days will help you better enjoy this season!

Winter can be a difficult time of year for everyone — whether it be loneliness or stress — and some extra self-care during your daily life will help you enjoy more moments.

How are you feeling right now? I hope you’re feeling up to work through my journalling prompt sheet — you still have time to plan your best year yet, it’s never too late to start! If you’re feeling stuck, I urge you to go read my piece on working through burn-out.

Until next time,

-J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.

How To Keep Working On Your Art When You’re Burnt-Out

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

Let’s face it — we all get burnt out.

It can look like working over-time and living off take-out for a week, or for me it looks more like eating pizza in bed with my cats and not contacting another soul for days.

Winter is known to worsen our mental health (or “steal your spoons”, as I like to say) — between the pressure of holidays and the physical stress of the cold, it’s easy to lose track of ourselves. That’s why I want to talk about prioritizing self-care and self-compassion this time of year.


The most restorative thing I can do for myself is feed my body.

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

I’m the worst for skipping meals, saying I’m “too busy” to tend to my physical self. So when I do, I fill my bod with soul food!

One of my go-to feel-good snacks is milk and cookies. When I was a kid it was 2% milk and chip-a-hoy — these days it’s unsweetened vanilla almond milk and homemade cookies of a much more nutritious and filling variety.


My second go-to for instant relief is a hot bath

Photo by Hanna Postova on Unsplash

Lush Bath Bombs are nice, but I make my own relaxing bath concoctions. I throw in a big dollop of coconut oil, my favourite essential oils, and epsom salt for days.

I’m always playing with different combinations of essential oils as well, but I have two favourites:

An unexpected duo I love is tea-tree and grapefruit essential oil! The tea-tree oil is an amazing natural anti-septic, which is great for when I feel like I need a deep-clean. The grapefruit oil is to overpower the scent of the tea-tree oil, as it‘s not the most pleasant.

aromatherapy, essential oils, diffusers

Thirdly, I recharge my soul by doing things for myself.

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

― audre lorde
Photo by Analise Benevides on Unsplash

Here are 5 quick, restorative practices I’ve picked up that help manage burn-out:

  1. A short sun-salut yoga-routine forces me to focus on my breath and clear my head. This is usually when I get my best ideas (as well as the shower, of course). 
  2. A really intense work-out. If yoga isn’t your thing (and I totally get that, sometimes I can’t bear to be on the mat for more than 5 minutes), tire yourself out and take a nap. It’s another tool I use to clear my head. Be sure to eat properly before and after so you don’t end up feeling even worse!
  3. Spoil yourself with your favourite food — I told you food was my favourite! Bonus: order from Skip The Dishes to relieve yourself from any additional effort aside from putting on pants to open the front door. Although, I like to save a bit of money by getting pick up. It’s great to spoil yourself in moderation.
  4. Journal. Journalling my thoughts, goals, and roadblocks really helps me ease my cluttered mind. Maybe try doodling something to go with it. Even if you don’t think you can draw. You may be pleasantly surprised!
  5. Make something for yourself. I make things for a living, but I rarely make things for myself. If you’re in a similar position, taking the time to do a personal DIY can feel very rewarding.
5 minute journal

Working through burn-out is tough — if you’re truly having a hard time, take the day off. It’s the easiest and fastest way to relieve exhaustion. The world will keep turning.

How are you feeling? I hope you’re feeling equipped to work through my journalling prompt sheet for your best year yet! Feel free to let me know what you like to do to re-charge your soul in the comments.

Until next time,

-J

Artist Journal Initials circle logo

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How To Make People Care About Your Art

Connection = Caring

So I was perusing the Internet yesterday thinking up a new side-hustle, when I found someone else had already taken my idea!

This happens to me all the time, but this time was different.

The blog I came across was featuring an artist — the artist with my idea — and all they talked about was their childhood and how it’s affected their current work.

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
How to make people care about your art – Instagram Post

They neglected to give any contact info, despite saying they’re open (and desperate) for commissions numerous times.

This artist even neglected to list their subject matter, themes, or any mediums they used.

To top it off, the few pictures included were poorly lit snapshots of some comic sketches and sloppily edited photos of a few paintings. You could tell they were all taken in their poorly-lit NYC apartment.

They didn’t have a Website, Twitter, Instagram… nothing. All they had was a Tumblr page they posted to every week or so making it basically impossible for clients to reach them. There wasn’t even an email address listed, what a PR disaster!

I can’t imagine being a showcased artist in an article — the opportunity to meet hundreds, if not thousands of new clients at almost no cost — and not providing any contact information!

It’s artists like this that get stuck in that “starving artist” mentality, thinking you need to beg everyone to look at your work. They advertise themselves as a walking mess because they don’t take themselves seriously enough to be credited as anything else.

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Andy Warhol

Employers can smell this desperation, and will most often write you off as inexperienced, or try to talk down your rates.

Making art has never been about the money, money is merely what we use to obtain the things we need to survive (if you’re in the art world looking for money, let the rest of us know where you find any).

Making enough to survive as an artist is challenging, but not having a website is like shooting yourself in the foot with an arrow before your Olympic 100 m dash. You’re fucking yourself over.

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Top Tips For Free Marketing Online –
Pinterest Post

An artist website is incredibly important for gaining new clients. Someone who has never heard of you or what you do should be able to see all that on your site, preferably clicking through your about page, portfolio, and social media links. I’ve had almost all of my button-pressing inquiries via email, from my contact form on my site.

Most employers won’t spend the time clicking through your site; make sure to keep that in mind when setting up your home page.

Maybe you have a drop-down menu to access your archives? Perhaps you want everything on a single minimalist landing page?

Just as when making art, there’s more to consider than just “what looks good”.

What (or who) is your website for and what do you want out of it? It can be intimidating, but a little thing called Design Thinking can make answering these questions a bit easier.

This also opens up a dialogue to talk about your design process and how you make art! The more questions you ask, the more connections you can make between your work and your experiences.

Adding more real-world connections to your work makes for more opportunities to engage with your audience.

Our struggles define us as artists, but let’s face it nobody cares you were bullied in elementary school (who wasn’t) and are still bitter about it 20 years later. No one wants to read about your parents divorce or your father’s drinking problem.

I especially don’t care where you went to school, if at all. And you guessed it, neither does anyone else!

So what makes people care about art?

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
5 Easy Marketing Tips for Artists – Pinterest Post

You need a kick-ass story.

Your story needs to be compelling, original, and have substance. You’re not writing an essay about your life or a bland biography for your grade 12 History class.

You don’t start at the beginning.

You start when you first became unique. When you finally started making different art — art that stands out, has a style — is when you’re worth people’s attention, or even worth mentioning. Before that, you are just like everyone else who says they’re an artist on the internet.

Your art is beautiful, but words will always take your work to the next level.

Craft a dialogue for your work of art.

People love stories. Words have effect, emotionally impactful effects that can generate inquiries, discussions, and (most importantly) sales. You’re literally adding a new dimension to your piece by giving it the soul it deserves through written language.

Another effective way to communicate what you and your art is all about is through branding.

The idea of branding, or becoming a brand, is seen as a bad thing by many artists I talk to… but guess what? It is the most important thing. Period. You, as an artist, are a brand. You represent your art business and your art represents you in return.

Shying away from branding yourself is holding you back. Embracing it will make you flourish!

A simple social media strategy could be the breakthrough marketing plan you need. With a bit of creative discipline and vision, your social media feeds could look calm and compelling. This creates a great energy, putting your work in the spot-light.

Developing interpersonal relationships on social media is also another great way to receive free exposure from authentically engaged audiences. Hyperlinking to other people’s work is a great way to make connections with people whose work you admire. Make sure your links are all clickable, meaning none of them are broken links!

Easiest branding tips for artists | Best marketing tips | How to promote your art when you have no time | How to market your art on a budget | an artist's guide to marketing without being salesy | How to sell art online without selling your soul
Stop hurting yourself, start embracing your brand.

Here’s 5 things you can do right now to improve your artist branding and online presence:

  1. Have a website. Make sure your website acts as a tool for your viewers. Make everything clearly identified and easy to find. Be sure to include EVERYTHING! Bonus: Get your own domain to look like a total pro.
  2. Have a custom colour pallet to use for everything. Subtleties like custom colour themes across all your platforms can create a cohesive feel for all your online work.
  3. Display the same logo/profile photo everywhere! You want people to recognize you and your work and the best way to do that is with a killer logo or clear headshot. Whichever you choose is based on your audience and niche.
  4. Bump up your social media profiles right now! Use every word to mention the coolest things about what you do. Take the chance to make an impression. Convert a stranger into a follower simply by writing yourself a killer bio!
  5. Most importantly, keep it consistent; post content every day! Keep your content consistent in quality. As in, use similar lighting, fonts, editing presets, and filters on your photos. Bonus: If you can make your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and website all visually similar and still compelling… I forgive you for all your previous discretions because this is some next-level shit!

In the meantime you can keep up with my creations on Patreon, follow my artist travels on Instagram, and see me live-stream video games on Twitch!

Until next time,

-J

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About the author title card: Joey Dean
About Joey.

A Minimalist Tidying Up With Mari Kondo

*Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission to fund my coffee drinking habit if you use these links to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in caffeine. It’s a win for everyone, really.

Despite reading similar or related information from many other sources, reading the life-changing magic of tidying up first hand was a whole new experience. 

The night before this project began, I had cracked open the life-changing magic of tidying up by Mari Kondo. 

After reading the first 55 pages that Friday night — like all the cool kids do — I knew I had to start then and there.

That, and I had gotten an email indicating the book was due back to the library on the Tuesday and I couldn’t renew it…

I decided to embark on the challenge: to apply the KonMari method of tidying to my entire space in a single weekend.

If you’re not familiar with the KonMari method, it is the Japanese style of tidying up. The idea is to tidy everything in your home, in totality, and your mess will never relapse. It’s become more widely read thanks to the popular Netflix show, Tidying Up With Mari Kondo.

Starting off as someone who already considered themselves a minimalist, I wasn’t sure there was much for me to take away from this book that I hadn’t read somewhere else already. Everyone in the community references Kondo and I figured I knew it all by proxy.

I have been down-sizing since 2015 and I was at first apprehensive about whether this idea was a good one. Was this project even worth my time?

Does the KonMari method actually work? Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash
Does the KonMari method actually work? Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

I was open to learning more about the lifestyle I had adopted, but I didn’t think there was anything left for me to get rid of… I was very much wrong.

Clothes are always first in the KonMari method, and the most fun in the tidying process.

30-day minimalist wardrobe challenges are the most popular minimalist content in mainstream media (other than this book). As fun as those are, they’re ineffective and contrary to the KonMari method.

I spend much of my time taking care of my house, entertaining friends weekly, and host clubs and workshops out of my home. After establishing this vision, I awoke that Saturday morning feeling far more excited than I anticipated.

My first goal was to fit all my off-season wardrobe into a single carry-on bag to free up my closet space to create more breathing room in my closets. I was sick of struggling to find properly-fitting linens and hanging guests’ coats on the armchair because the closet is overflowing with the households’ Canadian winter gear. My hats, scarves, flip-flops, swim trunks… Everything scattering amongst 2 closets, as well as a full-size suitcase and 2 carry-on bags. My partner seemed unconvinced when I first revealed my plan, but they were then bewildered when I met my first goal.

Transform your home in only one weekend using this method!
Learn the top tips I used to transform my home in a single weekend!

My second goal was to fit my entire wardrobe (underwear, socks, hats — everything) onto a rolling clothing rack. I’ve had this goal for more than 3 years.

During my first big clothing-cull in 2016 I got rid of over 6 113L [24 Gal.] garbage bags of clothes. In 2017 I let go of about three more. Each time, this task took me over 2 days and I never accomplished my goal to only have one clothing rack of items to choose from every day.

This year, following the KonMari method outlined in her book, I still filled an entire 113L [24 Gal.] garbage bag — I had clothes I loved that were three sizes too big for me, and a size I never wanted to be again! The amount of baggage that went with those clothes lifted a weight I didn’t know was there, thanks to following this book.

This time around, it only took me 5 hours to fully sort my entire wardrobe and I finally met my first minimalist goal ever!

Saturday night, I went through my books. 

The next day I didn’t get to start working on my KonMari project until about 3pm, which was a huge set back. How could I finish the rest of my project in only 7 hours?!

On top of that, I still had the most difficult categories left to organize: papers, komono, and sentimental items. Kondo defines komono as miscellaneous items Pg 106.

As someone who takes great pride in their home — especially my office-space — I gazed bewildered by my desk overflowing with papers. I watched as they spilled onto the floor in a comical fashion.

Papers spilling off my desk, onto the floor in a comical fashion.

My desk with all of my papers, before sorting (and my dog). I would of been too embarrassed if anyone knew how many more filing systems I thought I needed for all this meaningless “stuff”.

Where I determined to keep my papers.

It took all day Sunday to go through my papers. I ended up with another garbage bag in the hall, 4 vacant storage devices, and a half-dozen empty folders. I now finally have 3 portfolios filled with work I’m proud of rather than a pile of binders and folders of sketches and prints I “have to go through one day”.

My desk with all of my papers, after sorting. 4 full portfolios and an empty filing box sit under my desk (until sorting them away).

Despite my many successes and visual results with this project I’m disappointed I didn’t finish in the time-line I set, even if I felt I had completed it.

I asked ,“Does this spark joy?”, throughout the entirety of cleaning out my late-grandmother’s house in spring 2017. This question helped me only keep valuable essentials I would use throughout my life. It turned a burden into a process of closure and acceptance. The things I ended up keeping out of guilt left shortly after they arrived.

A minimalist in 1 weekend Pinterest card
Click to see more pins like this one!

After going through all my miscellaneous items in summer 2018, we ended up moving only about a third of our belongings to our new home.

I’m sure Kondo would think going through the same process again with the same items would be redundant — especially timeless, important things after already deciding they “spark joy”. I will consider it for the future, but I’m more than satisfied with the single Rubbermaid tote of photo albums, scrapbooks, and other komono that still bring me joy as I flip through them. I’m curious, do you think this counts? 

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10 Key things I took away from the life-changing magic of tidying up by Mari Kondo:

  1. We should be choosing what we wish to keep, not what we want to be rid of. Pg 41
  2. Vertical storage is key; stacking is a spell for clutter . Kondo mentions this throughout the book (folding shirts, storing papers, etc.)
  3. Do not over-categorize as this complicates things and results in keeping more than you need. Simplicity is key. Pg 84
  4. The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. Pg 95
  5. Presents are not things, but convey someone’s feelings at the time the gift was given. If you don’t use or enjoy what they picked out for you, the gift-giver wouldn’t want to burden you with it and it has served its’ purpose (of being received and conveying one’s feelings).
  6. Have a defined location for everything you own. I’m already a master at this, but it’s information you must know!
  7. Pursue ultimate simplicity in storage and do not scatter storage spaces. I was guilty of this one, but it was an easy fix.
  8. Don’t underestimate the “noise” of written information, especially in your native language. It can feel like some is whispering cleaning instructions to you whenever you open a closet.
  9. Letting go is more important that adding healthy habits. Letting go, in itself, is a healthy habit of its’ own.
  10. At last, thank your belongings. They support you in some way, sometimes the entire day. Practicing gratitude for your possessions will help reinforce what is important to you. You might also see what is unessential to you.

Overjoyed Sunday evening, I was rid of the two dozen sketchbooks I had been standing knee-deep in. I was taken aback at my car trunk full of baggage I didn’t know I had.

The most important thing to me was shaking off my minimalist Imposter syndrome. I did what I set out to do in only a single weekend, accomplished many of my personal goals, and am eager to see the ongoing impact of tidying up. I’ve also just finished reading through and practicing Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport, another fantastic book I plan on covering soon.

Finding Minimalism in one weekend
Transform your space into a peaceful place in only 2 days!

If you’re interested in how I manage my artwork archives or even my wardrobe, let me know. I’m always curious about what you’re curious about!

Whether you’re new to minimalism or you think it’s a dumb trend, let me know that as well! I’m always open to interesting dialogue from different backgrounds. You can find me active on Facebook and posting more blog content on my personal Patreon page, I respond to all comments and questions!

Until next time,

-Joey @ The A/J

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joey Dean, painter & Designer
About Joey.

Use Your Doubts And Fears To Find Future Success: 2 of 2 articles

In my previous post: How To Use Your Doubts And Fears To Build Your Business, I brought up something that makes us all a little uncomfortable: our biggest doubts and fears.

More specifically, insecurities that have you stuck in your situation, or are hurting your ability to set effective goals for yourself.

I covered how improving your mindset will improve your productivity;

How to build the confidence to believe in your business, and the questions you need to ask to get better at what you do.

I introduced the idea that quality thought creates quality work.

Pretty deep stuff, but it’s just another way of saying that your thoughts combined with a healthy growth mindset can shape and improve your output.

Last time we also began to address our jealousy and insecurities. If you made the time for some deep thought on the topic, I’m glad you’re back. If not, you can still follow along!

Coffee mug reading "hustle" sitting on a desk with an iPad and Apple Pencil.
Build your confidence as a new entrepreneur by asking all the right questions.

Now thinking back on it (or if you’re anything like me you wrote it down and you’re looking at it right now), what were you thinking about?

What stood out to you the most, or what struck a chord for you? Use these to get back into a deep thinking state. I highly suggest recording your thinking process to refer to as your company grows.

In other words, what pissed you off the most? If the jealous feelings you were having before are more complex, odds are they’re not vain, and valid. The causes or solutions just might be too hard to see at first glance.

It must be 2005, because you may now pull out your burn book. You’re going to write why you hate that witch so much. Everything, don’t hold back.

Now that you’re left with some unbiased observations of your insecurities, you can now use this new information for good!

You’ve boiled this list down to the point where you can now clearly see your doubts and fears laid in-front of you. It’s daunting.

If you’re not a chaotic personality like me, I’m sure this can even be a bit scary. Our primitive monkey brains are programmed to do the easiest thing every time. To avoid confrontation and change, but that gets you nowhere really fast.

Using your simplified list of descriptive words, expand upon those words and state the real problem. Then you can create constructive solutions on how to tackle your problem.

An example would be if you’re jealous of how someone is better at you than something, you’re probably just not confident in your ability. A constructive alternative though would be that your skills maybe aren’t up to snuff. A constructive solution would be to enrol in a class or workshop to improve your abilities and confidence in what you’re doing.

For instance, when I’m having trouble getting started on a painting, I watch someone else paint for a while because it inspires elements of new ideas for me. If I’m feeling bad about my drawing abilities, I’ll visit the @IARTHAMONT private studio for Monday night life-drawing and get more practice in.

Reinforcing your knowledge can be the confidence-builder you need to keep moving forward, whether in your career or life or personal life.

Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

I’ve done many revisions of my list and so you will need as well, as nothing in life is static. Skills grow while not being measured, there’s a human need for gradual change, and our values and emotions evolve with age.

This entire exercise was a big one in helping me start out when I decided to “make things work for me“ almost 4 years ago. It clearly helped.

You’re never too young to plan, or too old to dream.

But more specifically, this kind of thinking helped me first start to envision where I wanted to go in life and what I needed out of it, at 20 years old. I only mention my age because you’re never too young to plan, or too old to dream.

The points I listed in my own exercise also led me to look toward more positive role models in what I refer to broadly as my field in “content creation”. Whenever I have self-doubt or feel like my work is going nowhere I will put on one of their videos/podcasts/songs and remember why I started “making things work for me” in the first place.

You may not think spending the time with your thoughts helpful, but I hope after this two part series I have convinced you otherwise. What I call, deep thought or deep thinking, is such a useful tool that we should be making more time for and I will be mentioning continually going forward.

I think you can do it. If you apply what you’ve read today, you #canhaveitall just like every social media influencer you admire, youtuber you respect, or even another artist you envy.

Having your cake and eating it too may sound too good to be true, but I’ve been eating my cake for over a year. And that’s why I believe in you, because I’m doing it to!

Out of fear of not sounding gimmicky enough, just do it! 

Joey @ The A/J

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How To Use Your Doubts and Fears To Build and Motivate Your Business: 1 of 2 articles

Have you ever wanted to start over? Hit the reset button on your life? Quit what you’re doing and go for your dream?

Or you might even be in the situation where — as most people I know — you have a stable job that you don’t have an intention on leaving. You’re satisfied with where you’re at right now, even content. But, haven’t you had the urge to do more?

What if there was something you’ve always wanted to dabble with, or even profit from? And what’s the harm in making an enjoyable part-time income on top of a job you already enjoy?


A huge part is of getting comfortable with your fears is mindset.

  • “I don’t have enough.”
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “That’s not for me.”
  • “I’m no good at that!”

These are not what productive and successful creative minds think. These are limiting doubts, and we don’t have time for these!

I have enough. I am enough.

This is my biggest mantra I pass onto you, young grasshopper. Because once you are enough, you will be able to accomplish things you once thought you never could.

But, this all does not come by just believing in yourself. You can do as many self-love rituals and as much bullet journaling as you want, but if you never ask yourself the right questions you will not find the answers you need.

The human brain needs specific, measurable goals. An abstract concept such as mindfulness and dreaming are far less likely to have the same, lasting result. I have some better alternatives to get you in the right mindset to figure out where to go.


Can you tell me why don’t you believe in yourself? Are you simply lacking the skills you need to succeed?

Look at what relevant skills you are lacking, by locating where your insecurities stem from. This means look at those around you. The best way to see your own insecurities is to notice what you’re jealous of. If you’re jealous of someone, pinpoint why. This was a huge eye-opener for me.

This change in perspective helped me realize: how much I want to help others in their creative careers; that I needed to start my (third, cough) blog, that I’m Transgender…

So, what makes you jealous, and why?

It’s quite transformative thinking,(pun intended) and can help open your eyes to what you feel you’re lacking in your life and in your self.

That being said, some of these enviable attributes are healthy to indulge, but some are toxic. Looks, money, and fame are not qualities to be jealous over — they’re unproductive time-sucks and career-enders.

Instead, focus on a person’s credibility, influence in their field, the success of their online store, skills acquired through hundreds or thousands of hours of practice, or having the dedication to devote that amount of practice to something. Look for qualities in their work and practice as well as their lifestyle choices.

Some more constructive questions to ask yourself are:

  • How did you meet/hear of them?
  • What do they do in their career, or lifestyle?
  • How much more skilled are they than you?
  • What are they known for?
  • What qualities make you the most jealous, and are they vain/shallow?

You might posses a few of these qualities and you just can’t see it. You should ask some friends words they would use to describe you. Some things I have learned from others is that I’m brave, giving, loyal, strong, and confident; some of these things I would have never called myself.

You may find you have some baggage and honestly, you need to let that lie or deal with that shit later because we have bigger fish to fry today. I’m a big believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Today we’re only talking about how to get up off your ass and take control of your thoughts and feelings, not a therapy session!

An amazing concept I’ve come across this year is;

Pretty deep stuff, but basically it’s saying that quality thoughts create quality work. Your thoughts combined with a healthy growth mindset can shape and improve your output, which in this case would be whatever you’re trying to sell!

This has probably been a lot to take in. Having conversations with people like this in person, I find many get overwhelmed with being confronted by their insecurities. We so naturally hide from them, so don’t feel bad if this is you.


I really want to help you get more confident in yourself and about your work!

That is why this is only Part 1 of 2 articles! After writing and formatting this piece I found it to be too much to digest at once, so I want to give you some time to think about everything we talked about here. I also want to hear how opening your Etsy shop has been going.

Speaking of, do you want to know how I increased my Etsy sales after freeing myself from my desk? I know my Etsy shop workflow and more will benefit your small business practice and make you feel like the badass boss you are! 

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Read about what live-streaming is and how it boosted my art at The Artist Journal.ca + download a FREE printable to get your goals ready for 2020!

Stay tuned for the next Artist Journal by following on Facebook or Instagram!

Until next time,

-Joey @ The A/J

Joey Dean is an illustrator and artist lifestyle blogger.

Since starting his online art-based business in 2016, Joey has been writing educational articles to help other artists learn essential solo-preneur skills like time management and productivity and is best known for his ability to translate left-brained concepts for right-brained people.

Share his passion for comics and creative lifestyle on his blog, The Artist Journal, and catch him at @joeytoadstool across the universe.