5 Tips For Cultivating A More Creative Career
Meme. Scroll. Headline. Scroll. Dreamy video of the oceanscape. Scroll. Uplifting quote in lettering. Scroll. Sponsored ad. Scroll, scroll, scroll. And so goes the routine of the mindless social consumption that occupies, admittedly, way too much of my downtime. Just me? I didn't think so.
I don't know about you, but often when I'm in this mode, I'm on straight autopilot. So in those moments when I stumble on content that brings me to pause and reflect, I'm so grateful for the creators that breathe new life into our endless wanderings on the interwebs. If your feed is in need of some CPR, let me point your attention to the playful and thoughtful work of illustrator and storyteller, Andrea Campos, whose creations are as refreshing as her backstory.
As we dive into her journey, let's first rewind to 2020. Remember how it began? It was pre-pandemic times, back when we were still excited to be starting a new decade. 20/20 vision, we chanted and captioned, fully leaning into the apt cliche in its full glory. I mean, it felt like we all were declaring that this year would be our year, one when our lives came to attention, reinvention, and realization.
For Andrea, this sentiment was the hallmark of her mindset going into the roundness of the new decade.
At the time, she was working in marketing, insatiably craving more creativity, autonomy, and purpose. And with no insight as to how the world would soon be turned upside down, she decided to gather her savings and take a dip into the world of creative entrepreneurship... right before the fullness of COVID-19 took hold of society.
Talk about timing! Nevertheless, despite the increased uncertainty that could have complicated her pursuits, this story has the happiest of middles (because it's definitely too early to call her current juncture "the end").
Here's the CliffNotes version: a doodler at heart, Andrea started a visual diary on Instagram to draw out her inner thoughts, moods, and feelings. And what started out as more of an act of art therapy and personal expression quickly catapulted into a full-fledged business, be it creating branded content for the likes of Athleta, being commissioned to create the artwork for Jimmy Fallon and Jennifer Lopez's highly anticipated children's book, Con Pollo: A Bilingual Playtime Adventure, or authoring books with her own byline. Let’s just say this go-getter deserves all of the flowers.
Are you looking to find your creative calling to design the work and life you love? Check out these tips Andrea credits for bringing her dreams full circle:
1. Give yourself unstructured time and space to get clear on what you want.
The first step is always getting clear on what it is that you want. For Andrea, this clarity came through a lot of trial and error. She experimented with different mediums and styles until she finally landed on something that felt authentic to her vision and voice. Once she found her groove, the rest fell into place organically. So if you're still exploring, don't be afraid to try out new things until you find a sweet spot that feels right.
"I decided to create an artist residency for myself where I was going to do creative things that just made me feel good. The objective was not to get a piece of artwork in the MoMA or get recognition," Andrea reflected. "It was just me doing what felt good. I tried to rebuild my confidence and my creative spirit through that. So at the end of March 2020, I decided to start painting again and start drawing again. I would go on these walks and collect flowers and make portraits out of those and just kind of kept playing and playing and playing. And through that, I started illustrating and it really sparked something in me."
2. Find a community of people who will support your vision.
One of the game-changing moments was finding a tribewho related to her voice and vision. When Andrea mustered up the courage to post her artwork online, she found an outpouring of support from family, friends, and strangers alike that helped validate her talent and gave her the push to keep going.
"My doodles were helping me process all of the uncertainties that we were feeling in those early pandemic days, and somewhere along the line towards the end of March 2020, I decided I'm going to share these on Instagram because they're funny, I'm bored and I don't have a community right now. I'm just stuck by myself in an apartment," she shared. "In the process of doing that, I realized that I tapped into something really special. My feelings were so authentic and what I was putting out there was so relatable that people started following along. They were feeling how I was: stressed, overwhelmed, confused by everything that was going on in the world. And my images captured that in a really kind of positive and sometimes playful way that made people feel like: 'okay, you get it, I'm going through this too.' And over the course of the next few months, it amounted to new followers. I was like, this is wild. I never expected this to be something that took off. It was purely just for fun."
3. Seek guidance and mentorship as you find your footing.
Even if you have a clear vision of what you want, it's okay toseek out guidance from people who have been there before. These mentors can provide clarity and reassurance that you're on the right track — and more importantly, they can help save you time and energy by sharing their own experiences and hard-earned wisdom.
"I tookSelfmade and I started to realize I don't have to work for someone else. I can actually work for myself. In the community, hearing all these success stories from women who spoke to our cohort changed me. Like when I heardJustina Blakeney, it was inspiring for me to see the progression in her story from artist to business owner to full-blown entrepreneur," Andrea recalled. "It was the first time a lot of these pieces started to click: like, oh, they're not mutually exclusive. You can do it all."
4. Invest in yourself and your craft — it will pay off.
As Andrea's following continued to grow, so did the opportunities to monetize her work. But it wasn't until she started valuing her time and talent that she was able to take her business to the next level. It was a huge lightbulb moment when she started seeing her art as a product, and not just this hobby that she did on the side.
“It's so great to be able to break the cycle of being a shadow artist or 'artist on the side' ,” Andrea said. "I remember Googling and trying to find the right pricing for my work. And some of the words from Selfmade were in the back of my mind, specifically around knowing your worth, making sure that you're asking for what you deserve, and having a rate that is reflective of your skills and talents.”
5. Be open to new opportunities... you never know where they might lead.
As Andrea's artwork continued to evolve, she found herself saying yes to new opportunities, even if she wasn't quite sure where they would lead. Andrea has kept an open mind — and it's paid off in a big way.
"I think if I could go back in time and whisper into the ears of my younger self, and say, you're going to do this, she would be over the moon. It's been a really beautiful journey and I am just letting the universe guide me at this point.”
Love learning new tips for creativity? Feeling inspired to jumpstart your own creative calling? Join the waitlist for Selfmade to transform your hobby into your hustle.
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Director, Marketing + Partnerships / Journalist at Brit + Co