Artisan Blog

Artisan Holidays: Past and Present

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Artisan Holidays:  Past and Present


As work finally winds down for most of our clients (and for us!), we thought it would be fun to ask our team for their favorite Winter Holiday memories as well as where they’d be celebrating this year.

Their responses were a lot of fun… 

“The Best Holiday Gift I ever received…”

My parents made me go with them on a ride. I threw a fit. Didn't want to go. As I cried my way to the car, they said that I'd like where we were going, and if I don't like where we were going, I’d NEVER have to go with them anywhere again! About a half hour later, I was standing face-to-face with our first and only great dane, Babar. Needless to say, my parents and I have traveled together since.
Kevin Kahn
, Talent Manager

Seriously, I loved them all. I am easy person to get things for, so keep them coming!
Katty Douraghy, Managing Director

The gift that still stands out the most was my first "big kid" bike. It was blue and had a blue and white floral banana seat. It didn't have training wheels and my dad spent the next few days teaching me how to ride it. This was essentially him running alongside me while I pedaled and after a bit he'd let go. I think I was about 6 or 7 years old. Honestly the bike was cool, but I think fondly back at my dad running along side me quite a few times before I was able to balance alone and what a gift that was. As a parent now it's always a good reminder that the gift of time, teaching and interacting with your kids or any child for that matter, is worth more than any material item.
Jamie Grossman, Creative Recruiting Manager

The best holiday gift I've ever received was the year my in-laws got together and bought me a spinning wheel. Yes, I really have a spinning wheel and I use it all the time! They were skeptical, of course, but they know me and my passion for all things fibery. Every time I sit down at my wheel, especially to make gifts for others, I thank them again!
Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant

Going back to my childhood, I will never forget when I got Barbies Dream had an elevator and all. I am a real girly I never had enough Barbies.
Laura Burns, Talent Manager

My Grandma bought me EMU boots for Christmas one year. These are sheep-skin, similar to UGGS. I was vegan at the time. This created a huge conflict for me or rather was a huge eye opener. As I thought about what to do with these boots and how distraught I was about the whole thing and how excited my Grandma was to have bought them for me and how very cold my feet were, I realized that I almost all of my tennis shoes, loafers & heals were leather or suede and that I was in fact not as "vegan" as I thought. It caused me to stop and look at all the aspects of my life that fall into "being vegan" and "not being vegan" and one by one I made individual choices for myself, based on what I wanted to do, not decisions based on the technical definitions of "vegan". It was a surprisingly life changing gift.
Stephanie Jacobs, Accounting

The best gift for me has always been the gift of sharing time with family.

Jamie Douraghy, President

It’s funny. Thinking back I know I was always blessed with a number of wonderful gifts at Christmas. My brother and I always seemed to get everything we wanted and more.  But when I try to remember the “best gift”, all I can recall are all the fun (and crazy!) family traditions that made the holiday so special. Now that I have passed many of them onto my own family – they mean even more.
Jess Bedford, Marketing & Project Manager

I have not exchanged gifts with friends or family in many years. It is now our family tradition to make a donation to any deserving group or individual, rather than spend $$ on each other when we truly are blessed and NEED nothing more.
Ana Rubio, Accounting

Staycation or Getting away?

Kevin – Celebrating the holidays at home

Katty – In Vegas with family for Christmas Eve and then up to SF on Christmas Day to see her inlaws and brother.

Jamie G – Spending the holidays at home, seeing some family and friends and relaxing

Wendy – Spending their family’s second Christmas at home, instead of heading back East to see extended family.

Laura – Will be doing a lot of travelling - New York City, Long Island, New Orleans and Baton Rouge!

• Stephanie – Early Christmas in CA with family and then going to West Virginia with her boyfriend to celebrate with his family.

Jamie D – Will be with his parents and brother’s family in San Francisco

Jess – Off to Arizona to see family and enjoy some R&R

• Ana – Spending the holidays with her mom and siblings in Escondido


Whatever you plan to do this holiday - we wish you and your loved ones a very joyous season and a peaceful and prosperous new year!


To Work or Not to Work, That is the Question: Freelancing over the Holidays

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Work or Not to Work, That is the Question: Freelancing over the Holidays

Photo by hartlandmartin via Flickr Creative Commons

If you are like me, you are busy with holiday preparations while still maintaining a busy freelance work routine. There are a lot of extra things to do this time of year: shopping, baking, social events, writing cards.

Even volunteer opportunities abound at this time of year, with everyone holding holiday fundraisers and toy drives.

It’s easy to look forward to some quiet time when everything closes down for a few days of family celebration, but for a freelancer, there’s no such thing as a paid holiday. It can be hard to relax when you know your income will be affected by your time off.

Here are some ways to handle taking time off without worry:
Plan Ahead
It might be too late for this year, but next year you can be mindful about putting some money aside so that you can take a couple of weeks off for the holidays.

Reach Out

If you want to take on some extra work or try to keep busy, get in touch with your clients and make sure they know you’re available to do last minute projects or pick up projects that have stalled because their regular staff is on vacation.

For creatives, now is a great time to come up with a new graphic design or image to put on a holiday ecard and send it out to your network!

Schedule Your Free Time

Everyone deserves a break this time of year, so carve out some specific time for yourself and quality time with your family and friends. If you look at your calendar and it says “Christmas Party, 7-11pm” you won’t feel guilty when you walk out the door!

Post-Date Some Blog Posts

If a holiday falls on a day when you would normally publish a blog post for yourself or a client, write a holiday-themed post in the days leading up to your day off and schedule it to post on the day you plan to be roasting chestnuts.

Here’s the most difficult task, though.

Don’t feel guilty!

If work slows down, try to think of it as a gift. Appreciate the precious time you have with your loved ones. Use it to play board games, cook together, spend time at home doing that you don’t normally have time for, but that don’t cost a lot. Walk around and see the holiday lights in your neighborhood. Think up projects for the new year. Watch old movies and drink lots of tea.

Everyone at Artisan Creative wishes you and yours a wonderful, relaxing and guilt-free holiday season!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Managing Your Brand

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Managing Your Brand


Not only are you an entrepreneur, you are a brand. If you are participating in social media, your brand has a logo, a mission statement, and work product that other people might want to buy or invest in. Or it should!

It is important to make sure that your brand is consistent and sending the messages that you want it to send across your entire internet presence so that no matter where a potential client might look, he or she will find the information needed to decide whether they want to start a business relationship with you.

Here are some things to think about when managing your brand online:

On Facebook
Especially important if you are a freelancer, have a Facebook Page for yourself as a Business Person as well as a Profile for your personal friends. This gives people you don’t know a window into your work if Facebook is their favorite social media platform.

This Page is a place you can put links to your blog, your work from your online portfolio or interesting news about you and your business life.

Don’t forget to keep it updated!

Your Logo
The image you use in your profile on any platform is your logo. For some with an actual company or brand name – this should be your designed logo. For others – your photo is the perfect representation of your brand.

If using a photo, it should be close-up enough for someone who’s meeting you at a coffee shop to recognize you when they get there. It shouldn’t be your cat or your baby - cute as they are. Save that for your friends. Use the same photo across all social media platforms. If you want to be creative with it, you can make your photo seasonal, but, again, be consistent and change it everywhere.

Mission Statement
Your Facebook Page Info tab, your LinkedIn profile and your Twitter profile all provide a place for you to put your mission statement.

Don’t think you have a mission statement? What are you passionate about? Why do you do what you do? Why are you so committed to your work? Your mission statement can be found in there. Once established, it’s important to keep your mission statement consistent across platforms.

Be sure to provide links to your pages, profiles, feeds and portfolio wherever you can: email signature, business cards, ecards for holidays, resume, everywhere. Make it easy to find you, find out about you and contact you for work!

I’ve had quite a few potential clients find me through blog posts, Facebook updates and LinkedIn group updates for my current clients. They are comfortable with me even before we meet because they have seen my work, are familiar with my “voice” and can assess my communication skills. Consistent branding has led to a good “Return on Investment” of my time capital and it will for you, too!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Artisan’s Resume DOs & DONTs List: Part 2

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Artisan’s Resume DOs & DONTs List: Part 2


If you’ve ever sent out your resume through an online application – you’ll probably find yourself wondering, at some point, if you’ll ever hear back from that potential employer. Did your resume stand out? Did it contain everything it should? Did you include something you shouldn’t have?

While every employer is looking for something different – most hiring authorities would agree that there are certainly things to avoid on resumes – and other things they love to see. While we can’t guarantee you’ll get a call-back – we’d love to help improve your odds with a few tips!

Last week we discussed some of our suggested resume must haves. Today, we take a look at some key things to avoid on your resume:


1. Don’t make it longer than 2 pages. Remember you need only include a concise description of your positions and major achievements/successes for those positions in the last 10 years. Your resume should simply whet the appetite of future employers. Leave something to discuss during your interview!

2. Don’t use your LinkedIn profile as your resume. While your LinkedIn Profile can certainly be a great point of reference – and should include much of what you include in your resume – it is not a substitute for your resume. Resumes should be customized for the positions/companies to which you apply.

3. Don't be vague with dates. Potential employers want to know the duration of time you spent at a company. 2009 to 2010 isn't clear. Was that 2 years or 2 months? NOTE: If you are a freelancer who has returned to a client many times during a multi-year period, more general annual dates are acceptable.

4. Don’t include a salary history. Salary is just one of the elements in negotiating an offer. But it’s a powerful one. Don’t show your hand before you’ve even interviewed. Wait until it’s requested – if it’s ever requested.

5. Don't list your references; employers or recruiters will ask for them. No need to tell us “Reference Provided Upon Request” either. This is given. You should have updated contact details ready to provide potential employers at any time during an active job search.  Make sure references are aware they might be contacted about your professional relationship.

6. Don't talk about yourself in third person. This practice is not usually received well by most hiring managers. No matter your intention, this normally comes off as awkward, unfriendly and disconnected - none of which are good if you’re being considered for a position with a new company who doesn’t yet know you. Save the third person for your bio on the company website after you get the job!

7. Do not include a picture of yourself or busy design elements on your resume. They are simply distracting from what’s important – your experience and accomplishments. If you simply MUST have a prospective employer know what you look like – include a link to your LinkedIn Profile and make sure your picture is professional. Chances are – they will be checking you out there anyway. On the flip side – especially for Designers – feel free to include design elements as part of your resume – just make sure they are clean, simple, tasteful and emphasize your written content, not detract form it.

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

Artisan’s Resume DOs & DONTs List: Part 1

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Artisan’s Resume DOs & DONTs List: Part 1


In our line of work, we review hundreds of resumes each week. While no two resumes look the same – there are definitely things that work. And things that don’t.

Does your resume get a passing grade? Here’s a quick checklist before you apply for another job:

1. Proofread! There is no quicker way to end up in the “No” pile than a misspelled name, word or obvious grammatical error in your resume (portfolio or cover letter). Review your resume for grammatical errors both on the computer and in a printed copy. Have at least 1 – 2 other people review it as well.

2. List both your email and phone number. Even if you prefer one method over the other (and note this on your resume) – it is best to offer alternate ways for employers to get ahold of you. Feel free to add your LinkedIn Profile and/or Twitter Handle as well – so long as you check each of these regularly. Nothing annoys employers more than for interview requests to go unanswered for days (without good reason)!

3. List your physical address. Even if you do not list your street address – let employers know in which city you are located. Without this information (and especially if your contact number is not local), you could be easily discounted for positions that require “Local candidates only”

4. Include a Portfolio / Website link of your work. If you are in the creative field, your portfolio is just as powerful as (and in some cases even more powerful than) your resume. Make sure your resume includes a link to your work. And that your link is working! If you’re work is a PDF instead of a site, attach it to the end of the resume so prospective employers are sure to see it!

5. Provide a brief “Overview”. This should be a 3 – 5 line paragraph or 5 – 7 bullet points customized for each job you apply for and summarizing your key skills and specific experience for that position. It should also mention what kinds of opportunities you are currently considering (full time, freelance, on site, telecommute, etc)

6. Describe your positions in detail. Because job titles vary so much from company to company, it’s important to include a concise description of your role – as well as list your major achievements/successes. As a general rule, this applies to positions in the last 10 years. Any relevant work prior to that can be summarized with just a 1 – 2 line description of your major responsibility and the team/company of which you were a part. *NOTE: If you are a freelancer, you need only describe your position & capabilities once. Then just list your clients.

7. Differentiate Contracts or Freelance work from Full Time work. This helps employers distinguish between a “job-hopper” and genuine freelancer.

For more Resume Tips, check out part two next week with our Resume Donts.

Jess Bedford, Marketing Manager

Preparing for a Behavioral Interview

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Preparing for a Behavioral Interview


In doing research for this article, I went back to basics.

What is a Behavioral Interview?

A Behavioral Interview is one in which the interviewer asks questions about past behavior in the hope of being able to predict how you would handle a situation at their company in the future.

An example of a behavioral interview question would be: Tell me about a time when you set a goal & achieved it.

This and other behavioral interview questions are the perfect opportunity to tell a great story. We have talked before on our blog about telling stories and here is where those stories come in handy.

During your general interview preparation, write out a few stories about specific events or projects which were very successful or fulfilling for you. Even something that didn’t work out perfectly can make a good story, if you can talk about what you learned from it.

If you have been preparing for interviews very thoroughly, you will have compiled a list of stories from which to choose and can focus on a few for each interview. Read the job description again and see if any of your stories involve any aspects of that job and practice telling them.

Many people use a technique known as STARR to prepare for these kinds of questions. STARR provides an outline for your answer which ensures that you will hit all the important points and stay on track while telling your story. STARR stands for:

  • Situation - be specific about where you were and what you were doing.
  • Task - what you were trying to accomplish.
  • Action - what you did to accomplish the goal you were working toward.
  • Result - the outcome of your efforts.
  • Reflection - what you learned from your experience.

Practice moving from one of these elements seamlessly into the next. Be sure to point out positive results and reflections.

If you are prepared with a few relevant stories, you will never again be thrown by behavioral interview questions!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Body Language Tips for Creatives

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Body Language Tips for Creatives


Have you ever come out of a meeting with no clue how it went?  You feel like your presentation was clear and effective.  You know you were prepared and your materials were informative.

Maybe you were paying more attention to what you were doing than how your audience was reacting, but if you play it back in your head, you might have more of an idea of how your presentation was received.

You also might be able to make it work better!

If you can put some of your attention on watching your listeners, you can learn a lot about how your pitch is going and maybe even change it up midstream and close the deal.

Is your listener…

  • Leaning his head on his hand?  He is bored.  Change the pace of your presentation or ask a question to re-engage his attention.
  • Leaning forward in her chair?  She is interested.  Keep up what you’re doing.
  • Touching his ears?  You are connecting.  Give him more information.
  • Making a suggestion with her palms down?  This is no suggestion, this is what she wants.  Tell her how you can give her what she has suggested in a definitive way.
  • Making a suggestion with his palms up?  He is looking for a discussion of the issue and is open to your input as well as his own.
  • Putting her hand over her mouth?  She doesn’t believe what you’re saying.  This is a good time to offer some quantitative evidence or examples.

How about you?  What are you revealing with your body language and how can you make sure your messaging is what you want it to be?

Are you…

  • Slouching? Sit with your back touching the chair, but leaning forward a bit.  This projects confidence and engagement without seeming stiff or nervous.
  • Crossing your arms?  This makes you seem defensive or closed off.  Stop as soon as you realize it.
  • Restless? If you know you are a “wiggler,” it is a good idea to practice your interview or meeting with a trusted friend who can help you become more aware of your habits.  Restless behavior like twirling your hair or bouncing your knee can be distracting to your listener when you want them to hear what you have to say.
  • Making eye contact?  Great! Active listening is an important skill and keeps your mind on the question at hand.

Both you and your interviewer are getting more information from each other nonverbally than verbally.  If you are paying attention, you can control the information they are getting from you and understand the information they are giving you back.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Is it Time to Quit Your Job?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Reflections: Is it Time to Quit Your Job?


The other day I was looking back at my writing of a year ago and realized it has been exactly a year since I quit my job. 

Yes, I quit. In a terrible economy, with high unemployment, I willingly chose to leave.

I have never regretted quitting, but even now it’s interesting to look back on why it was the right decision for me at the time. 

As a new year approaches, there are probably many people out there working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if there isn’t something better somewhere else.  Before quitting, however, it’s important to properly evaluate whether it’s really time. 

  • Is your job making you sick? Some jobs, for various reasons, are so stressful that they cause you to have medical problems like headaches, back pain, reduced immunity and sleeplessness.  If the health issues are inhibiting your creativity or stopping you from enjoying your life outside of work, it might be time to look elsewhere. 
  • Has your employer downsized your job too much?  Many employers have reduced hours, and pay, in recent years, especially in creative fields.  They are not investing in as many new projects and don’t feel that they need as many staff hours.  A downsizing can be good for your work/life balance or it could mean you have to add another part-time job to your schedule.  Remember--you’re investing your “time capital” in your employer.  If it becomes a money-losing proposition, put your capital into a better investment.
  • How is your relationship with your Manager?  If this relationship has somehow been damaged beyond repair, there is very little likelihood that your situation will improve or they will recommend you for a promotion or transfer to another department.  If your ambitions rise above your current role, you need to find somewhere you can grow.
  • Dread.  If you start every workday with a shudder and a sense of impending doom, leave.
  • Have you learned everything you’re going to learn?  This is the one I realized was true after I had already decided to quit.  I would have spent my remaining time in my role doing the same projects over and over.  Easy, yes.  Also boring and a waste of time and talent.  That “time capital” is not endless—don’t waste it!

With the holiday season already upon us, it is a great time to evaluate your situation at work.  If you find yourself thankful for the relationships you have built, for the rewards your job offers, for the opportunities for growth and learning that it brings, stay where you are.  But if you are suffering, you can take your talents to freelancing, to entrepreneurship or to another role that offers you what you need to flourish. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


Hard to believe another Autumn is upon us and the beginning of the holiday season already here. 

This Thanksgiving our team is especially grateful for so very much:

Jamie D: This year I am most thankful that I have been able to collaborate with people who are focused on making a difference in the success of others.

Jess: I am most thankful for the love, support and health of those family members and friends who mean so much to me. 

Ana: I am grateful for the realization that I can begin again in every moment - drop the past and BE present!

Margaret: I am most grateful for having such a loving husband who is so good to me!  I am also thankful for my mom who is 82 and for the most part healthy and happy.

Stephanie: I am grateful to be working with Artisan!

Laura: I am grateful for my family and health...might seem cliche, but it's so true!

Kevin: I am thankful for massive snowfall at Heavenly (and Mammoth), getting to work with reasonable & ethical partners, my dogs, being able to so easily describe myself as "short and bald with glasses", my always-accommodating and welcoming immediate family and extended family all over the USA and Black Label.

Katty: I am thankful for the Love and Support of Family and Friends.  Definitely came in handy this year!

Wendy: This year I am most thankful for the support of my friends and family.  I made a lot of decisions that were very risky and they have all worked out beautifully, but I never could have arrived where I am without the inspiration, encouragement and acceptance of the people in my life.

From all of us at Artisan - we wish you and yours a very Happy (and tasty!) Thanksgiving Holiday!

Time Management Tips for Freelance Entrepreneurs

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time Management Tips for Freelance Entrepreneurs

“Freelance Entrepreneur” might sound like an oxymoron, but freelancing is entrepreneurship at its most basic. Entrepreneurship means taking risks with your income, your career, your security in the service of innovation. 

As a freelancer your capital isn’t money, it’s time.

As a Freelance Entrepreneur you offer your capital to others to help complete their projects. How you spend that capital is up to you. You choose what projects you want to work on, you choose with whom you work, and you choose when you want to do the work.

If you think of your time as capital, you can also think if it as an investment. Then it becomes very clear that your time needs to be managed well in order to make it grow. We would all like the time we have with our families or the time we spend pursuing our passions to be greater. The more successful our investments, the more rewards we will reap.

Here are some tips for managing your capital:
  1. Start with a plan. Whether you plan a week in advance, the night before for the next day or in the morning before you jump into the day’s work - plan your time. Although you need to be flexible—you never know when a client will call with an emergency—try to stick to the plan.

  2. Set goals for the day. You will never feel like you accomplished anything if you don’t know what it was you set out to accomplish.

  3. Set an ending time for work. You will be more productive if you know when you’re going to step away from the computer. Without an end time, there is a greater temptation to continue working on things you don’t need to and, therefore, never accomplish what you set out to do. 

  4. Take scheduled breaks. Walk away. Stretch. Look at something other than the screen. Go outside. When you plan out the day, plan your breaks too.

  5. Track your time. This is easy to overlook. If you set a specific amount of time to work on something – make sure you keep to that schedule. If you need more time – and have to push something else back – make up for it tomorrow. By knowing how much time you work on projects – you can also better manage your time on future projects that are similar in nature.
I’m not always good at following my own guidelines, but I’m resolved to try. When I plan my day and know that I spent enough time on each project, I don’t feel guilty when break time comes and I get to spend a relaxing evening with my family. And isn’t that the real reason we’re freelancers?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative


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