CATEGORY: Freelance Life
Sun kissed and full of inspiration to just get shit done I am back from my second year attending DesignerVaca. For those of you unaware of what DesignerVaca is you can check it out here, but in short, it’s like a huge three day meet-up with a bunch of graphic designers all eager to get to know each other and share their knowledge. Plus, it’s hosted at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs which is a huge plus! Chill poolside vibes all around!
When I attend last year I was honestly a little overwhelmed. I am not the most social person and there was just a little too much going on for my little introverted self, however I left having made a few great new friends and a ton of new knowledge to apply to my new life as a fulltime freelancer. Attending deisgnervaca this year was less stressful; I had a better idea of what to expect and knew a few of the girls already. While I learned so much last year, this year it was more about making really amazing in-person connections. It’s so weird how you feel like you know someone online and then you meet them in person, sometimes even with a little bit of hesitation, and they turn out to be 100000 times more amazing when what you had ever anticipated.
I think my biggest takeaway from this year is that we are all in this together. I guess you could consider us all to be competitors but that isn’t the case or vibe at all. We each have our own unique backgrounds, expertise and experiences, which we are more then happy to share. If you’ve had a sticky client situation in the past or don’t know how to handle a certain part of your business there is a very good chance quite a few of the other girls have either gone through the same thing or are currently going through it too. The truly amazing part was that everybody was so open and willing to share everything. There was no such thing as secrets, everybody was super open to just laying it all out there and helping each other out. This transparency and honesty really energized me to go home and just get shit done. I have so many ideas and clarity on what I want to do with my business, where I want it to go, and most importantly, how I want to use it to also help fellow designers.
That pretty much sums up the magic of DesignerVaca. There seems to be no other event or conference or meet up out there that has this same vibe. If you are a freelance designer, whether you’ve been doing it for a few months or a few years, DesignerVaca is the place to be.
Everybody who attended DesignerVaca (see a full list here!!) is amazing and talented and although I didn’t meet everyone I did have a few really amazing in-depth conversations with a few ladies that I would like to highlight. First of all there was my three roommates, Becky Murphy, Kate Wong and Laina Miller, with which I discussed everything, including design processes, exercising and that awkward stage in your early 20ies when you are trying to figure out who you are. Then there was Jessa Stevens who I just feel like I connected with right away and who I would like to add to my BFF list, as well as Sian who I got to travel down with and who has an awesomely adventurous attitude towards life. I got to catch up with Shauna Haider, who after admiring for a long time I got to meet last year and am so happy to call a friend. I got to meet Anelise Salvo with whom I talked about surfing and traveling and raising a family while doing both! I got some quality poolside chats with Azalea, a fellow vancouverite who I am looking forward to hanging out with more often and Emily Leclerc who gave me a ton of healthy cooking ideas. The fan-girl highlight was meeting Jessica Hische again and getting to soak up plenty of her wisdom, in areas such as design, lettering, book deals, acupuncture and overall health issues/solutions, a very resourceful girl indeed! And lastly, there was Patti Murphy, with whom I had chatted online a few times and who, upon meeting, I realized I have so much more in common then I would have ever known. Unfortunately all these amazing ladies live all across North America, making it difficult to stay in touch. However, this does add about nine new cities to my list of places I want to visit at some point in the near future!
Below are a few images from the weekend, it wasn’t easy narrowing it down :p If you follow me on instagram you may have noticed that I took a day trip to salvation mountain. Since this post is getting lengthy and salvation mountain is a rather special place I will save that story for another post.
If you are curious about what my biggest takeaway from last year was click through to read this post.
It can be pretty stressful at times, not knowing how much work you have or are going to have next month, next week, or even tomorrow! What I have learnt however is that you should fully embrace your slow business days.
My last two-ish months have been on the slow side and I have taken well advantage of it; spending some time vacationing in Europe, attending Designer Vaca in Palm Springs and taking some awesome skillshare classes. I’ve also started working on few new and exciting collaborations and personal projects. Up until a few weeks ago we’ve had a beautiful fall so I gave myself the luxury of getting out of the office early and enjoying the blue skies.
When you work for yourself you make your own schedule so make sure to make the most of it. If you suddenly find yourself with a free afternoon take full advantage of it, work on that little project you’ve been wanting to get to for so long, edit the pictures from last weekend, meet up with a friend for coffee or work on designing some new elements for your own brand.
The reason I write this post now is because I can feel the calm before the storm. I’ve been having many meetings and long conference calls over the past few days and with christmas just around the corner things are about to get crazy busy. I’m making sure to take advantage of these last few slow days to tie up loose ends and get ready for the refreshing flood of work.
This post is part of my on-going “Freelance Life” series.
The biggest thing I was looking forward to before heading to Designer Vaca was to get a chance to meet a whole bunch of ladies who are pretty much just like me. As a freelancer you can get pretty isolated in your little home-office-cave and forget what it actually feels like to socialize with other like-minded people.
I am still in touch with some of my design school friends but most of them are working full time as in-house designers for a variety of companies. Although they may occasionally freelance on the side they just don’t “get it” sometimes. It was so refreshing to talk to some of the girls about my struggles and ideas and have them react with a huge energized smile, totally getting where I was coming from.
I’m going to try to make an effort to stay in touch with some of the ladies I’ve met, and most importantly, try to attend meet ups and events in Vancouver and meet more freelancers.
I’d love to hear how you find like-minded people in your community. How do you stay social as a freelancer and make sue you don’t hide away in your rabbit hole all winter?
This post is part of my on-going “Freelance Life” series.
I was having a really hard time focusing on work yesterday. I just got back from designervaca, a design retreat in Palm Springs. The retreat was set up as part vacation, part soaking up some sun by the pool, and part seminar, with a few creative panels throughout the day on a variety of design and freelance related topics. To be honest my head is still spinning from all the networking I felt the pressure to do, not to mention all of the resources and information I picked up while there.
For a while now, I’ve felt a little lost; like I am not sure what I am doing. On one hand, I’m impressed with myself for how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learnt in the past year, but at the same time I still have so many questions and insecurities. That being said, it was really great talking to all these like-minded ladies and realizing that we all have similar struggles no matter what stage of our career we are at.
I think one of the most valuable things I learned (as echoed by this vedahouse post) was that we’re all faking it to make it. There was a general feeling of relief especially on my end to know that I’m not alone in feeling like this. It’s an important reminder to know that, although I may not know where I am going, I do know that I am heading in the right direction.
I have more tid bits of the weekend I’d like to share but I think I will split it up into a few little posts throughout the next few weeks. I think I may start sharing more “advice” or “things I have learned” kind of posts relating to design and freelance (I’ve decided to go with the name “Freelance Life“). I often find myself enjoying these sort of columns on some of the other blogs I follow. I can either relate to them or learn from them and I’d like to give my readers that same opportunity.