Eliesa Consults

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

Handling it All

 
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I get asked all of the time, "How do you keep up with it all? Especially in the busy season of summer." While I often feel like my head is spinning with the endless to-do list, I do feel like we have set up a great structure for all four of our businesses to run. 

Whether you are a freelancer with one brand or a few under your belt, here are some tips on how to keep it all together:

1// Self Discipline - Absolutely none of the other words in this blog matter without self discipline. When you run your own business, you simply have to be self-motivated. I laugh when people say "it must be nice to write my own schedule." It is nice and sometimes has its perks, but it also means that I have to be real with myself when it is time to rest and when it is time to continue the hustle. 

2// Work Smart - Creating an efficient structure around the studio has greatly helped with our workflow and the production time that it takes after a shoot is complete. Time management is essential (along with self discipline as noted above) and structure (yes, and all those google docs) really help our studio go-round. We try and stay focused, yet flexible with our work days. Lets break this down a bit:

  • Focus - Our production deadlines and turnarounds are quick. When I am working on a job, I definitely focus on the edit immediately afterwards. I like to turn around complete editorial projects in 1-2 weeks and wedding edits in 4-6 weeks. A strict timeline like this helps us to stay on top of the work and our clients' deadlines, but it also allows us to not get buried in production. I like to work in the present and not feel like I'm behind. This is challenging sometimes, because the various distractions in our lives (the internet, social media and phones) are just waiting to pull us away from the hustle. We're not perfect, but we do try and stay focused. 

  • Flexibility - Every day around here is truly different. We stay very flexible within our structure, so should a meeting, new job, or urgent deadline happen, we can accommodate accordingly with our clients. It is a WIN when we leave the studio feeling entirely accomplished. But we also know how those days go when you come into the studio, your internet is down and you need to re-think ALL the things you were going to get done that day. 

3// Build Your Team - Whether it's bringing help into your business through an intern, hiring your first employee, or simply outsourcing certain areas, building your team is essential to your sanity and your growth. Here is some of the roles we have to make our business happily function: 

  • Editor: Outsource editing, both weddings, editorial and commercial work 

  • Studio Manager: Social media support, behind the scene work and special projects. 

  • Bookkeeper: We meet once a month to reconcile our books and pay taxes.

  • Photographers: All independent contractors full of talent to help assist and to lead our Rivets team. 

  • Producer + Agent : Our agent is pounding the pavement every day to show our latest work, while our producer helps write estimates and produce commercial shoots.

  • CPA: For help with all those taxes and corporate filings every year, while also assisting with financial planning. 

  • Lawyer: I am going to say this once, if you have a business, please, please, please invest in a good business lawyer. It matters to protect yourself and your business. Creating strong contracts and having someone to bounce legal advice off of when needed, is essential. 

4// Communication - Our team is in constant communication with each other. During our busy season, we are all very clear in communicating about how everything is going. Whether it is one of my own shoots that I need assistance for, or a Rivets shoot where I need to give support to our team, it is incredibly important for me that all of our team feels supported. If our team is happy, our clients are definitely happy, so that is a major priority for me. We have a monthly email that goes out to our crew as well, keeping everyone up to date! 

5// Know When To Take A Break - Work hard, play hard. Some work days for us are 15 hours. others are 2 hours. We know when we need to push it and we also know when we need a break. As the owner of this operation, I need to often remind myself that a break is necessary. When we rest, we refuel, and are ready to go for all of our clients! 

6// Give Yourself A Boost - Seriously, everyone deserves more high fives in life. Yoga is a luxury for me, so I make the effort to get there when I can. Earlier this year, I also set aside two whole weeks for myself in Tulum, Mexico -- just to relax. This was the first time in 10 years that I had done such a thing and now I am a believer. 

7// Look Ahead - I keep a quote on my phone as a reminder that says, "Be Proactive, not Reactive." I love this quote; it reminds me to always look ahead and think about what is next. A lot of our job is reacting to others' requests. We could spend ALL day taking care of others, and though that is an important part of our job, we also have to look at the big picture of the work we are doing and make sure we are happy. We need to make sure we are pushing into areas that are inspiring to us and helping us grow. 

8// Have Fun -  My work is my life, but I also have a life outside of work. I feel so very grateful to wake up every morning and be SO excited about going to work. I am surrounded by THE most amazing artists, clients, and freelancers who I am lucky enough to collaborate with on a daily basis. The longer I do this, I am slowly but surely finding a balance between my work life and personal life - both of which are amazing. It's so important to let loose and have some fun. For me, there is nothing better than booking a plane ticket and seeing the world! 

 

I know a lot of these tips might be common sense; however, as I kept getting asked this question about "how I manage it all?", I realized this: 

The secret to 'doing it all' is that there is no secret. You just actually have. to. do. it. You have to wake up every morning with that self discipline, determination, and desire to pursue the dream. 

It also takes way more than just yourself. It take the support from those around you to help realize the dream every single day. 

So, find your people. They will be your greatest asset. 

And then figure it out.

Little by little.

And then one day you wake up and realize you are 'doing it all' and absolutely living the dream.

LOVEe 

 

Real Talk // with Martha McQuade

 
The gorgeous MAD studio in NE Minneapolis.

The gorgeous MAD studio in NE Minneapolis.

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MAD--WORK

YEARS AS A BUSINESS OWNER: 8

Martha McQuade is one half of the design house MAD. Along with her creative partner, Dan Clark, these two create everything from architectural spaces to textiles and clothing. Martha is also an Architecture Professor at the U of M.


 

You are an artist + business woman who has a lot of different projects going on. Why does this work for you?

The way I think about everything I do is related - from the projects I am working on at MAD, to the classes I teach at the U of M and to raising my kids. There isn't a lot of separation in terms of the process. 

I encourage both my students, my children and myself to explore our ideas and be flexible in our expectations and embrace what happens in a curious and open way. This approach leads to happiness and surprise, rather than disappointment.  Learning to look for the surprises and then explore these unexpected findings in a rigorous way can lead to new directions in our work. 

At MAD, I move back and forth between design projects without worrying what 'category' they fall into. Having multiple projects across many different disciplines going on at the same time is beneficial as they all inform each other. 

 

You are a woman who seems to be 'doing it all'. How do you manage your time? 

I have a lot of help! I have an incredibly supportive husband and a great work partner, Dan Clark, and our interns at MAD. 

 

I wish I had this advice when I first started: 

To trust my intuition more. I am not a naturally confident person, so I would often seek out advice from others and then assume they knew best - even if I felt their advice wasn't the best for me. Especially when it came to things like marketing and business, which I knew nothing about. 

 

What has been a game changer for you?

Moving into a studio space outside of my house. Having a beautiful, light filled environment to work in every day. It is big enough to have all the work visible, which has been really motivating!

 

How do you actively seek inspiration?

I am so inspired all the time by my surroundings. The things I see as I drive through the city, instagram and online magazines, art shows, podcasts, my kids and my students! It can all be a bit overwhelming at times, so I don't think I ever actively seek inspiration, but I often seek the opposite of it. 

The photographer Andrew Zuckerman gave a talk for 99u titled "On Curiosity, Rigor and Learning as you Go." In it, he talks about inspiration overload and how too much can actually shut you down. 

Sometimes when I feel like I'm not sure which direction my work is going in, I will look back through my process work. I have two hashtags, #MWMProcess & #MADProcess and I find looking back at these incredibly inspiring. It is quite motivating to see all of the previous work - it pushes me to work harder and make better work. 

 

The best part about being a freelancer is:

The ability and freedom to do what I think is best in every situation and not try and guess what my boss would want. 

 

The most annoying part about being a freelancer is:

Nothing is 'annoying'. It IS scary not having a regular paycheck to rely on though. 

Lets talk about social media. Do you love it or hate it? More so, what value do you think it beings to the world these days?

There is so much discussion around social media currently. Is it good or bad? Are we using it too much? I think it is different for everyone and you have to use it in a way that works for you, your business and life in general. 

My first social media experience was on Flickr, which is image based. It was a way of communicating with people online through how I saw the world. It also quickly became a way to record the process of what I was making and designing. I also connected with a lot of designers, photographers and artists. I am an introvert and it was a great way to meet people and break the ice with artists and brands I am interested in. 

I currently use instagram a lot, because that was an easy transition for me onto this platform that I could use similarly to Flickr. 

I think the number one value social media brings is that it allows us to show our process and work to allow the public to engage with that process. It lets art be accessible to everyone. when people engage and follow along in the creation through social media, you build a relationship with them  and the work you make has more meaning. 

This engagement is valuable to us as artists, both on the creative and financial ends, as it allows us to be visible and in turn, be able to make a living. I really like that social media is interactive, unlike traditional marketing of the past which was costly and not really appropriate for individuals or small business. 

You are also an educator at the U of M. What do you think prepares students most for being a full time artist?

Working for someone else. I encourage all of my students to go out and get experience working with and for others. Even if the work isn't exactly what you would do, if you are working with good people, you are going to learn so many valuable things. You will also make connections with people that might lead to opportunities in the future. 

 

What makes you happy with your work?

When I am surprised by something that happens that I haven't intended. 

 

What does success mean to you?

Seeing people enjoy the things and spaces we have made. 

 

To stay in touch with Martha and Dan, follow all of their work @MAD__Work and @mwmmpls 

 

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. 

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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

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!