Inspiration

Growth + New Brand Identity!

 

Identity work by dschwen

I am super excited to share the new identities of all of our companies! This is our eleventh year of business and as our work and businesses grow and become more refined, so do our brands. Last year, we took on the big project of updating all of our websites and this year brought along the next phase of that project, which was to unify all of the brands. We worked with the brilliant mind of David Schwen of Dschwen to bring the new identity all together and I am SO happy with how it turned out! Each company still has it's own individual presence, while still feeling cohesive with all we do here in the studio.  Lets break it down. 

 

The logos for ELIESA JOHNSON and ELIESA CONSULTS are very much the same. A lot of my consulting work comes from freelancers who are mostly connecting with these brands. The old logo use to feature my full signature, but we simplified it to how I actually sign my prints, which is with an 'e'. The new font is still simple, clean, professional and compliments the vibe of our imagery. We have a lot of ideas on how we are going to incorporate these logos in various design elements, printed materials and portfolios, so stay tuned! 

eliesaconsults.com

New social icon for eliesajohnson.com

 

The next brand I would love to share is Photogen Inc. This company is focused on luxury wedding photography and our clients have taken us around the world. Creating a logo that feels high end and still maintains a little bit of an edge was important to me. Our wedding clients are people who take risks, travel often and live a big life. I think this new logo is the perfect fit!

  New social icon for Photogen Inc. 

New social icon for Photogen Inc. 

 

Last, but not least, is our Rivets and Roses brand. Rivets is the sister company to Photogen Inc. and is a wedding photography studio that features the work of 6 talented artists. The new branding for this company is probably the biggest change of all the brands! We entirely changed the look with a bolder, clean and more approachable font. It's friendlier and great for everything this brand stands for. It's also super strong and inviting. I am so very excited about this update!

New social icon for Rivets and Roses

I want to give a HUGE thank you to David and Jess and Dschwen for all of their hard work on this! We are in love with our new look and hope you are, too!

LOVEe

Oh, Hey! I'm Proud of You!

I am currently sitting here editing and my mind was wandering thinking about all of the really RAD things that the people around me are doing. At the same time, I was texting my editor, who is currently kicking ass on another project we have going on, and I was thinking about how hard the behind-the-scene people in our industry work so hard, too, for little recognition. In fact, we all could use a high-five now and again from one another. 

This all really got me thinking that I should give a shoutout to those people who I think are making some great work and doing some great things right now! So, here's a little shoutout to the people who I currently think are doing some rad shit:

  Image from @nateryanphoto on Instagram

Image from @nateryanphoto on Instagram

Nate Ryan // Staff Photographer for 89.3 The Current

If you haven't seen Nate's portrait work as of recent, it is really hitting it's stride. Nate is the staff photographer for our local favorite radio station, The Current. This guy hustles REAL hard - and beyond the in-studio portraits and live shows, he also keeps up with his own personal work.

Check him out: nateryan.com @nateryanphoto @thecurrent

  Image from @caitabrams on Instagram

Image from @caitabrams on Instagram

Caitlin Abrams // Staff Photographer for Mpls / St. Paul Magazine

I remember when Caitlin was an intern at Mpls / St. Paul Magazine and in the last couple years, not only has she risen to Staff Photographer for this publication, but her work has also elevated and she is making some really great photos. I'm always happy when our paths cross and we get to both have images alongside one another in their feature stories. Again, this girl is out and around the city on the daily capturing photos for various stories - and that hustle is REAL. It's looking fantastic though, you go girl.

Check her out: caitlinabramsphoto.com @caitabrams

 

  Image from lizeditsphotos.com

Image from lizeditsphotos.com

Liz Hardt // Retoucher and Photographer

It takes a lot to run this ship. Day in and day out, Liz is working to help myself and all of her clients to stay on top of our editing, production and workflow. I can't say enough of how efficient and amazing she is at her job and I always feel SO lucky to work with her. She is also an incredible film photographer who's work should be seen. 

Check her out: lizeditsphotos.com, lizhardt.com, @lizhardt

 

  Image from amykuretsky.com

Image from amykuretsky.com

Amy Kuretsky // Acupuncturist and Holistic Health Coach

I came home today to a reminder e-mail from Amy, saying, "Hey girl! Remember to book your next appointment - it's going to be great for you to stay on top of this during your busy season." It wasn't a pushy reminder at all, in fact, she clearly knows me. My point is that Amy is so in-tune with her clients and so thoughtful with her practice. She recently shifted her business into not only acupuncture, but also as a Holistic Health Coach for those of us who NEED that in our hustle. 

Learn more about her here: amykuretsky.com, @amykuretsky

 

  Image from reece-law.com

Image from reece-law.com

Wynne Reece // The Creatives Council 

Wynne is not only the most bad ass lawyer in town, but she also had the foresight to start the Creatives Counsel, which is a branch off of her practice at Reece Law. The Creatives Counsel is made to give affordable legal advice to creatives and entrepreneurs. I attended her Legal Seminar last weekend and it was *quite* impressive and informative. 

Check her out here: reece-law.com/creativescounsel, @wynnecatherine

 

  Image from theminnesotaspoon.com by Matt Lien

Image from theminnesotaspoon.com by Matt Lien

Jon Wipfli // The Minnesota Spoon

My friend and amazing chef Jon Wipfli is literally killing it these days while writing his first cookbook. It's going to be built upon his Slay to Gourmet article that he regularly writes for the Growler and between being a full time chef, catering events, hunting and cooking - his hustle is strong right now. I'm so excited to see this book! 

Check him out: theminnesotaspoon.com, @theminnesotaspoon

Thoughts on Creative Process //

 
 Ramen Kazama

Ramen Kazama

I came across the image above on my desktop and it got me thinking about my creative process - and the weird, but helpful 'systems' I've created over the years to make our work. When I'm editing a shoot for a client, I have to see the overall scope of the shoot and how the images flow together. Have I told a story? Have I done it well? Is there an energy to the work that fits the client? Is there moment and beauty and expression? Are all of the colors on? 

Putting together a little random screen shot is super helpful to me, because I'm a visual person. Part of what I love about consulting is tapping into what makes each person successful and what their creative process is! I think it is both fascinating and brilliant how we each develop such a personal approach for making the things we do. Most of all, that process shifts, changes and grows over the years so our work gets stronger.  

I found this quote below that I love and speaks to the creative process:

"The creative process is not like a situation where you get struck by a single lightning bolt. You have ongoing discoveries, and there's ongoing creative revelations. Yes, it's really helpful to be marching toward a specific destination, but, along the way, you must allow yourself room for your ideas to blossom, take root and grow."

- Carlton Cuse, screenwriter

What is they key to your creative process?

Group Consults // March 2016

During the months of March, April and May, we are offering Group Consults in our studio. (You can find details here + sign up for future dates.) March marked the first round of these full-day workshops and it was a great success! 

This month, we came together with three freelancers - one graphic designer, one ghostwriter and one wedding photographer. Collectively we went over some hot topics that effect all of our industries, then we broke off into individual sessions for more in-depth critique and goals. 

I am personally very excited to see the idea of Group Consultations work out. There are so many of the same struggles and victories that we share as freelancers, no matter what industry we are in. It is also very cool to see different perspectives and approaches to each industry and the possibilities of crossing over. 

Some of the common ideas that we talked through were: 

  • Social Media Marketing + Strategy

  • Having a Healthy Relationship with Social Media

  • Business Structure (specifically with time management and taxes)

  • When to say No and When to say Yes to projects

  • Strategy to go 100% Freelance

  • Creating for your Dream Client

  • Branding

We are currently offering two more Group Consults this Spring - on April 22nd and May 20th. Each day is limited to three freelancers, so make sure and reserve your spot quickly!

The investment for a Group Consult is $650/day (a $1200 value). These days begin at 9am and wrap at 4:30pm, so you get a full day of inspiration! 

 

Real Talk // with Ashley Mary Art + Design

 

YEARS AS A BUSINESS OWNER: 3

Ashley is an artist that I have always admired. I have had the pleasure of working with her and her collaborative and positive spirit is contagious. Last fall Ashley launched her first line with Target, introducing her designs to a line of cosmetic bags. 

COMPANY

Ashley Mary Art + Design

 

 

 

 

 

You have been inspiring those around you with your paintings, collage, and mixed media art. Last fall you launched a line of cosmetic bags with Target! How long did you work to actually become a freelance artist?

Once I switched careers in 2012, I would say the process to doing freelance overall wasn't super long. I eased into it within one year. I am a freelancer at KNOCK inc where I spend on average about 25 - 30 hours of my week. The means all of my other freelance work happens outside of this. I designate time in the mornings, nights, and weekends to my art. Many-a-hats I do wear. 

 

You have had a formal design education. Do you think that prepared you for being a full time artist?

I don't know if I ever feel super prepared! I was a religion major coming out of my undergrad where I studied a variety of theologies, so going into making / selling art was a slow and snow-balled process. Later in life I did go back to MCAD for a post-bachelor certificate in graphic design. 

School expanded my understanding and access to the world of design and gave me language and tools around the things I already enjoyed doing. It opened a lot of doors and the freelance work has been a learn-as-you-go experience. 

I ask a lot of questions and try to connect with folks who can answer them. I am still learning and enjoying the process. 

I wish I knew this advice when I first started:

There are so many things! I have learned a lot through trying and screwing up. Here are a few chicken nuggets I have learned:

1// How to say no. To the things I don't like doing, but also the things I am not good at doing. It won't be the best work for either the client or myself. I understand that sometimes you need to pay the bills and suck it up. However, I have found that the older I get, the more I sign up for things that will allow creativity to come from a good place inside of me. The outcome is better overall. 

How to say no (kindly) to someone's creative direction, when you know it's going to turn out less-than-ideal, is also a valuable skill. When you are confident enough, then sell what WILL work and show how it can be done right. 

2// Don't show work that you don't want to be considered as an option. (This kind of goes back to my first answer). If you don't like the work and aren't proud of it, make sure no one else sees it - hide that shit! You can control what the client sees.

I've made so many logos that I didn't actually like in the beginning and I was eager to show the client a lot of options - too many options. I ultimately made something in the end that I was not personally happy with. Sometimes too many options can tell the client that you don't know what looks good. You know what looks good. 

3// Track those miles. 

 

How do you actively seek inspiration?

This is a hard question for me, because I'm not the best at thinking proactively about seeking inspiration. I can't say I'm delegating specific space to it, but rather it works itself into my daily habits naturally. There are the usual digital suspects like Instagram, blogs and Pinterest. I tent to focus on looking at other painters, illustrators, stylists and interior designers, because that is where my work revolves around and where I tend to drool the most. 

It is important to drool when being inspired. 

I started listening to more podcasts this year. I wanted to have space to actively learn while I am sitting in front of a computer screen for most of the day. I can usually find some juicy take-aways. I also shop a lot at vintage and resale shops where I always find lots of goodies that I draw inspiration from. 

Visual inspiration is at my fingertips with the internet, so I try and pay attention. 

 

Lets talk about social media. Do you love it or hate it? What value do you think it brings to our world-of-art these days?

Love + hate! I love the inspiration it connects with others. I know SO many more artists and designers because of social media that I would never have discovered otherwise. I have also been able to raise awareness of my own brand to people who would never have seen it or gotten to know me. The flip side is that sharing your work requires vulnerability and that can feel scary or have negative side effects, such as your work being copied or whatnot. 

Anytime you are showing your work a lot, there is a higher risk of insecurity to rear its ugly head and to juxtapose that with the fact that it is a necessary business tool. I have stopped trying to figure out why people don't like one thing and like another, so I am just going to keep trying to make work that I am proud of. Ultimately social media makes art, design and creatives more accessible to the world. I think that is a win!

 

What makes you happy with your work? 

Trying new things and learning new techniques. I will often paint over my paintings as my style changes. Some of my favorite pieces are the third draft of an original painting. 

I love being open to change and saying yes to the new. 

My favorite days of work are when I am super busy, running around and using my best set of skills. It all feels exhausting in an energized way. 

What has been a game changer for you? 

I've been a painter since 2008 but it wasn't until 2014 that I started to imagine my work outside of a flat surface. Once I started to play with my artwork as a surface pattern, it brought so many more opportunities to share my art with a larger audience. It was an ah-ha moment that turned into fun projects, like my cosmetic bag line for Target. But that world is fucking hard, too. It's very saturated. 

I've also had a few folks reach out to work with me on jobs that I may be newer at or have less experience with. These always end up being marking moments for me. I work hard to show what I can bring to the table and I think that contributes to someone trusting my eye. When anyone is willing to see your potential, without you necessarily having 10 years of experience or a giant portfolio, that can become a turning point in your career. I feel like I've had a few of those opportunities in my life. 

Probably most creatives have, right? Where you say "yes" and then work your ass off and make it happen! 

 

The best part about being a freelancer is:

Doing a lot of different jobs and owning my own time + schedule. No one job could satisfy me as much as the variety I get to do being a freelancer. The mix of people, places and projects is really fulfilling and keeps me on my toes. 

 

The most annoying part about being a freelancer is: 

Keeping track of expenses :\

Not having clear boundaries with work. You can technically work every waking minute if you want Even if you don't have client work, you are asking yourself, "What could I do to expand my work? Start a new project? Update my portfolio?" The list literally. never. ends. 

 

What does success mean to you? 

It depends on a few factors. today, in this moment, success is when I have a full day of doing what I am best at and what fills me up. (Preferably laughing while tackling the above). I think a lot about feeling "whole" in what I do and I think that is success for me.  

 

Check out more work at ashleymary.com and follow Ashley @ashleymaryart

The Day Job vs The Dream Job

There is a moment in every freelancer's career when they have to make the shift from clocking in at their day job, to jumping off the cliff into their dream job. (It might sound dramatic, but that is what it feels like for everyone.)

In today's world of social media, it seems like everyone is pushing forward - doing big, creative things - while you are still sitting at your cubicle from 9-5 and then clocking in at your dream job from 5-9. You know what? GOOD. FOR. YOU. 

You're actually doing everything right, because there is an in-between moment when you are actively working towards #livingthedream that seems redundant, but it is oh-so-important. This time is actually a luxury - you probably have a 2 week paycheck and are able to pay your rent - heck, maybe even be provided health insurance. This all creates a safe space and foundation for you to build your business, save some cash, and set yourself up for future success. 

I worked at IKEA for 3 1/2 years during the start of my business, so I could pay my bills and start investing in good equipment. If we are being real, it was more than that, because I was also investing in both my dream job and in myself. Those days are long, but it's also a special time. If you are really making it all happen, the hustle is exhilarating and fun. 

Now, one day, I do encourage you to take that leap and pursue your passion. If anything, just to try it out, push yourself, and see what the possibilities can be! If being a freelancer isn't for you, but your creativity is something you need, simply make that a part of your life. 

"He didn't quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his everyday life."

- Elizabeth Gilbert

Real Talk // with Raoul Benavides

 
 Yes, Raoul and I like to share a few glasses of champagne while working. Thats how the best work gets done, right?

Yes, Raoul and I like to share a few glasses of champagne while working. Thats how the best work gets done, right?

YEARS as a BUSINESS Owner: 23

Raoul is a linchpin of our photo industry and his company Flashlight Photo Rental supports us for many of our shoots throughout the year. More than that, Raoul is an entrepreneur, always chasing new ideas. He's about to open his next venture - a record shop called Flashlight Vinyl. 

 

You've been around the photo industry for a long time. What's the most common mistake you see freelancers making? 

The beauty of being a freelancer is that you can use your resources (money) now to set up the business life that you want to have in five years. 

If you have a vision of what you want your life to be, you can invest in it and lower your tax bill at the same time. The mistake is in the shortsightedness that comes with youth. 

 

How long did you work before you became a business owner? 

I did not actually work to become a freelancer. I did my first photo internship when I was fourteen and learned quickly that I did not want to be a staffer. 

 

I wish I knew this advice when I first started:

Invest in yourself and use every financial loophole that you legally can as a freelancer / entrepreneur. 

 

You're about to open a record shop, which is a complete departure from running Flashlight Photo Rental. What is the importance of this new venture for you and why you chose to do it?

I love music and I have been trying to find a new business that was ultra tactile and stress reducing. Photography, Food and Music are my passion centers. I use to DJ as a teenager and a  record shop is the perfect fit for my life right now. 

 

What makes you happy with your Work?

My work now is a product of my creative needs and a personal vision. I wake up to work in an environment that I created or better yet - that I want to create. It's very satisfying. 

 

How do you view your competition?

I wish my competition thought more nationally. It seems like a lot of photo companies are use to thinking small and not investing into their businesses emotionally or completely. 

 

After all of this time, what is your definition of success?

My thoughts on what is successful has changed a lot over the years. I thought we all wanted the same thing. I think that success is a way of life that is authentic to your creativity and your heart. 

 

 

Welcome to ELIESA Consults!

 

Woo hoo!

I am so excited to finally launch ELIESA Consults! Business consulting for artists has been a part of my business for the past 7 years, but I never had a space for this to live until now. One of my business goals for 2015 was to unify all of our brands and create a home for our consulting clients + workshops. This new site offers information about both hourly and full day consultations, as well as speaking engagements

When I started mentoring  photographers in 2009 it seemed like a great idea for me to have this branded as a fluffy-feel-good company. Running your own business isn't all pretty, but it's also not all fear based. I grew out of this old branding quite quickly and realized that I had a lot more to offer and wanted to bring a real-life-perspective to those I mentored. I wanted to take it to the next level and create a serious consulting company. Over time, I started giving more speeches + talks to colleges and private organizations, contributing to magazine articles and having more hourly consultations - both in our studio and over skype. The last couple of years has brought along another shift. Our consulting clients have expanded from photographers to freelancers and small business owners alike in the creative world.  

Consulting has become one of my greatest passions. I feel that it is an honor to guide, mentor and teach our clients and these people equally empower and inspire me. If you are interested in a consultation, send me a note and we can get you all set up

Along with this new site, I will be starting to offer more workshops + learning opportunities. As we gather our ideas for these moving forward, I would love to hear what you are interested in learning about

Back in 2008, I was at a Brother Ali concert and he happened to say this quote that I have always drawn inspiration from. It was in that moment that I knew I had to teach others around me:

This Industry should not be a competition, but rather a collaboration. 

So here's to creating a positive community, filled with empowering one another to create successful businesses!