Artisan Blog

The Big Move

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, October 10, 2013

Changing careers can be a daunting experience, especially if you are moving to a new city (or country, for that matter). There are many factors to consider. How do you decide if you’re making the right decision? Is it the job for you? Will you enjoy the new city? I recently moved from London, England to Los Angeles, California and decided to put together a few tips to help others making the big move for a new job.

Research: Whether you’ve already accepted a position or you’re hoping to land a job once you arrive, first things first, research. Look up agencies that specialize in whatever it is that you do. Contact them directly, introduce yourself and be honest. Do they have Yelp reviews? Where are they located? Look up employees on LinkedIn. Read their Tweets and Facebook posts. This will familiarize you with the company and if you can begin to visualize yourself working there, you’re off to a good start.

Get to know your company: Interviewing can be pretty scary and an unnatural experience for a lot of people. Suggest to your new boss that you grab a coffee or go for lunch, that way you can get to know one another in a more relaxed, neutral environment. Maybe invite your new team, that way you’ll have several new people just waiting to be your friend.

Explore: This is one of the best things about moving to a new city. Look at sites like MeetUp to see if there are other people who share the same hobbies as you. Los Angeles is a great place to explore! There are so many hikes to choose from (my favorite is the Hollyridge trail which takes you right behind the Hollywood sign) or new restaurants to discover. If you’re in the tech industry, check out groups like LA UX Meetup, UX Book Club of LA and Digital LA and start networking

Be patient: There will be times when you feel homesick and lonely but be persistent and patient. It takes time to settle into a new place, make new friends and see results from a new job. The times that you feel low will be the times that you put in the extra effort to make it work. Be willing to take yourself out of your comfort zone and throw yourself in head first. 

If you’re currently re-locating or have your own suggestions, we’d love to hear what worked for you. Tweet us @ArtisanUpdates and tell us what you think.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

Laura's Report from Website Weekend

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Tucked away in the center of China Town you will find Kleverdog Coworking, a shared office space for LA’s creative industry. This weekend it was home to Website Weekend LA, who were hosting their very first event – a hackathon dedicated to creating websites for non-profit organizations around LA. Always one to give back to the community, Artisan Creative sponsored the weekend and went to see the volunteers in action.

Speaking with one of the non-profits, Jonathan Skurnik, we talked about the importance of needing a website re-designed to increase coverage for such an important topic. “The Youth and Gender Media Project contains five films shown in communities around America aiming to improve inclusivity and train teachers, parents and students about how schools can be more tolerant towards students who are bullied.” Jonathan needed help with getting the message out there, so Website Weekend volunteers worked closely with him and presented ideas to build him the site that he needs to get that message across.

At Artisan, it’s vital to us that we give back to the community in some way. We’re active within the non-profit space, LA’s creative industry and as individuals; we try to do what we can. So how do you decide whether you want to give back and why is it so important

Skills: Not only do you get to help out with local organizations, it’s also a great place to acquire new skills and build upon existing ones. If you’re a designer, a developer or say, a project manager, there’s no better place to learn from new people and have new experiences when you’re choosing to help out. 

Career Advancement: Impress future employees by showcasing volunteer work. If you’re applying for jobs in a competitive market, there’s no better way to stand out than by having additional work experience. It’s also a great way to change career paths – if you’re struggling to get into a particular industry, try volunteering in order to get some relevant experience beforehand.

Networking: Volunteering is a great place to meet new people from all industries. Take the time to get to know people you’re working with – not only will you make great friends; you’ll also make some great connections.

Rewarding: The impact that volunteering has on your community is a positive and worthwhile cause. Find a cause that utilizes your existing skills and is also fun for you; see how rewarding you find it.

Website Weekend was founded by Natalie MacLees who is involved with multiple UX and tech meet-ups around the city. Thanks to Natalie, non-profit organizations that previously had no online presence can now have a whole team dedicated to building, designing and then teaching how to update and navigate their new site. 

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition for Artisan Creative

Networking After Networking Events

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Going to networking events--or industry events where networking is appropriate--can make all of us nervous at times. We feel like we need to have the perfect elevator pitch, the perfect outfit. We need to be outgoing but not overwhelming, interesting but not self-involved. Passionate but not too intense.

If you have managed to put all of that together and meet some people, the next steps may not be clear. Here are our tips for making that ten minute conversation the beginning of a real relationship:

  • Use your database--Whether you collected paper business cards or QR codes in your smartphone, add that information to your contacts and don’t forget to note where and when you met and a word or two about what you discussed.
  • Sort for follow up--Put each person you met into a category for a particular level of future contact. Do they need a simple “It was nice to meet you at…” or do they warrant an invitation for coffee or a request for an informational interview? 
  • Follow through--Did you offer someone assistance? Get in touch with them first thing the next business day so they know you were serious. And then follow through. It's very easy to let offers like this fall through the cracks, but those are missed opportunities. Think like an entrepreneur.
  • Send invitations--Invite your new contacts to connect with you on social media. Be sure to personalize invitations and remind them where you met and what you talked about. On Facebook, you can add them to a business-oriented list if you don't want them to see all of your personal posts, and then make sure you customize your posting status groups. Don't neglect LinkedIn!

Showing up at networking events seems like the hard part--and in many ways it is. But it can be a waste of time and energy to do all that if you don’t keep the real goal in mind--building relationships. 

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Just Busy Enough

Wendy Stackhouse - Thursday, September 26, 2013

“How is everything?” friends and colleagues ask. If your answer is--like mine is often--”I’m super busy!” we hope it is for the right reasons. Perhaps we should be aiming for “Just busy enough, thanks!”

Lots of projects

It’s nice to be wanted and appreciated for your skills and innovative ideas. Having a lot of projects to choose from is a great reason to be busy, as long as all of those projects are ones you want to do for clients who are professional and trustworthy. Choose your clients wisely.

Balancing work and life

When you’re working, you’re working hard and working efficiently, but you are also spending time on your hobbies, doing things that you are passionate about, and with friends and family. Busy during working hours is definitely the right kind of busy--as long as working hours aren’t 24/7.


Goal-oriented, once you have started a project, you work at it until it’s finished and then take a break. You probably experience a high degree of job satisfaction because you can check things off your list and relax when you’re done. And then you have time to relax, reflect and recharge.

There are times when we all get too busy, though, and it seems like a never-ending cycle. How can you get out of that loop?

Set a schedule--Separate working hours and personal hours and stick to your plan. You will soon teach yourself to work more efficiently within those limitations.

Be honest with yourself and your clients about how much you can take on--More work is great for the pocketbook, but if you are reaching your effective limit, negotiate for a start date a couple of weeks away. If your client really wants you, they can probably wait a reasonable time.

Turn off your notifications--Often overwhelming levels of busyness are a factor of how many times we are interrupted. We all need to remember we don’t need to check our email every 3 minutes or even answer the phone right away. Get to the end of that block of time and then check and see if anything was urgent.

"Just busy enough" is much better than not busy enough, but if you hear yourself complaining about how busy you are, it might be time to evaluate the reasons why. I really am “super busy” but it’s all with projects and clients I am passionate about, as well as volunteer responsibilities. I take regularly scheduled breaks and never work on Saturdays, no matter what. And I carry my hobby with me so I can relax when I find I finished something earlier than I expected. Just busy enough, thanks!

What do you do to make sure you are just busy enough? Give us your tips in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Don't Let the Fall Catch You Crying

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Autumnal Equinox has come and gone. Our eggs have fallen over once again and--hard to believe after the recent weather in Los Angeles--it’s actually chilly, at least in the mornings.

Fall is here and with it can come a burst of energy reminiscent of the start of a new school year or a bout of anticipatory seasonal depression. Are you sad when summer comes to an end? Let’s take a look at why you might be feeling a bit low now that autumn has arrived and what you might be able to do about it:

Your Accomplishments

Maybe you didn’t write the Great American Novel or find a cure for cancer this summer, but you definitely accomplished something. Pat yourself on the back for what you did, even if it was more along the lines of refreshing and reviving your creativity for the fall.

Your Plans

You might have to give up swimming for the year, but It’s a new season for some great outdoor activities and now that it’s not so hot, they might be even more enjoyable. Take a hike in the mountains, go to the zoo, play in some autumn leaves and take some pictures. Get inspired.

Your Future

If you are on a job search, you might have gotten stuck in a rut over the summer or lost some momentum--many people do. Let the fresh fall air remind you of new school years of the past and try some new job search ideas. Go to some fall networking events and add some new people to your circle of colleagues. Take a class and meet some new people in your field. Find a new mentor or mentor someone else.

Your Goals

Rather than feeling like the end of the year is approaching and you are behind on your list, fall is a great time of year to revamp your goals. Do you still want the same things? What do you think you can get done by the holidays? Break down some of your long-term goals into smaller pieces and start in on those. You can get there.

Even in beautiful Southern California, it can get cool enough for a cozy sweater and a cup of hot chocolate. I’m going to enjoy this fall. How about you?

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative
Check out our curated newsletter, Artisan Creative Weekly

Note: There is some controversy about whether an egg can only be balanced on the Spring and Fall Equinoxes. This blog does not take a position on that point. And you're welcome for the ear worm.

5 Tips for Choosing Freelance Clients

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As a freelancer, it is tempting to say “Yes!” to every opportunity that comes along, whether it's a graphic design job or a long-term marketing contract. After all, there are dry spells in every career. You don’t want to take the chance of having created one yourself. There are, however, times, when you should resist temptation and wait for the next project to come along. How can you tell what time it is?

  1. Too rushed--If your client doesn’t have time to give you detailed instructions, is too busy to get together to sign a contract or has a deadline that seems unreasonable, this might be a skip.
  2. Not enough money--Don’t sell your skills short. If a client is not willing to pay your usual rate, you will spend the whole project wishing you had said yes to the next one, the one you don’t have time for.
  3. Unpleasant manner--You don’t have to be friends with your clients, but if your impression is that you are not going to get along at all, trust your gut. Having difficult or even rude people around all the time affects your company culture. In a business world where we are all entrepreneurs, you are the company.
  4. Unappealing project--Being too picky could find you eating beans out of a can, but if you can’t think of one interesting or creative quality you can bring to a project, it might be better to wait for the next one.
  5. Big learning curve--Although we are in favor of learning new skills and keeping your current skills up-to-date, getting your education on the job--especially on a deadline--is a sure route to pulling your hair out.
Taking on a project that really isn’t right for you is definitely worse than having some free time between contracts and probably worse than getting a bit tight on funds. Pay attention to your instincts and you will know when to say “Yes, of course!” and when to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Announcing The Artisan Creative Weekly

Wendy Stackhouse - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

We are publishing a newsletter

Artisan Creative invites you to subscribe to the Artisan Creative Weekly. We will be publishing links to stories about leadership, creativity, talent, job search, time management, design, marketing and entrepreneurship. Once a month, we will publish a newsletter on a particular theme. 

We are finding inspiration all over the internet and we want to share it all with you. We also welcome your feedback. Let us know what you think of the Artisan Creative Weekly and what you would like to see more (or less) of. 

At this time of new beginnings, we have one of our own. Hope you like it!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Labor Day or Thinking Day

Wendy Stackhouse - Friday, August 30, 2013

As so many of the people around me are starting a new school year, the importance of having a clean start, with clear goals and benchmarks comes to mind. I, like the students around me, love an empty notebook, new pens and a three-day weekend to take a breath before making a proper beginning.

Most articles we read about time management concentrate on being more productive--getting more done in the shortest possible time. And I’m a big fan of what I call “ninja” multitasking--finding ways to do things faster and more accurately, both to benefit myself (more free time) and my clients (better work), brings me great satisfaction.

I recently came across an article on LinkedIn by Ebay CEO John Donahoe called “To Beat the Chaos, Take a Thinking Day” and it really struck home. Donahoe takes a day of uninterrupted time every three months to focus on what’s important, to “recalibrate and adjust my goals, my priorities, and my calendar.” Sounds like a good idea.

There are inevitably times when we feel constantly behind, every day filled up with urgent projects and deadlines, so full that working hours run into family time. Add volunteer responsibilities, and it’s not hard to feel overwhelmed.

So on the upcoming long weekend, I will be taking a look at my routine (again), deciding what to carve time out for this fall and what to let go. And I will set some new goals for my new year. I never could adjust to not starting over in September anyway.

We would love to hear about your goals for the new school year, whatever they may be. Tell us about them in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Where Are You Going?

Jess Bedford - Thursday, July 25, 2013

When you land a new role, you want to tell everyone what it is and where. After all, it is exciting! It could be your dream job and, these days, if you are on a job search, you might have been looking for quite a while.

Although you will give proper notice at your current job, however, you probably should keep the details about your new job opportunity limited to to yourself and your family until your first day.


Especially before all of the tiny details are arranged, you don’t really have a deal. If you have received an offer but the paperwork is still processing, you have not truly landed. Let your colleagues know you are leaving, but keep the specifics to yourself for the moment.

Even after all of the logistics have been worked out, you are still not in the chair and your name isn’t yet on the office door. While you are in limbo, resist the urge to make an announcement. Your new company might want to do it first and you don’t know their policy. Better safe than sorry.

Be extra careful about talking on social media about your new job. Careers have been made or broken right here. In one story we wrote about last year, a candidate’s offer was rescinded because they started posting about it too soon. Don’t list your new role on LinkedIn until you have started onboarding.

On your first day of work, you can make your excitement about your future public knowledge. Be thoughtful about thanking your colleagues for their support and write professionally about your new position. It’s easy to gush, but everyone is going to see your news--including your new manager.

And enjoy it! It's not every day you get to start something entirely new!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Hiring? Job searching? Questions for Assessing Cultural Fit on Both Sides of the Table

Jess Bedford - Tuesday, July 09, 2013

You’ve found the perfect candidate, at least on paper, and you are scheduling an in-person interview. You hope they are indeed perfect and your search is over. Or you have been offered an interview at your target company. Your goal is within reach. Or is it the wrong fit? Whether you are hiring a new employee or searching for a new role, how do you tell if there is a true culture fit?

Hiring Managers

A resume only provides limited information. Past experience and education are significant factors in finding a good fit, but company culture may be even more significant, especially if your organization is willing to train new hires who have the right temperament. A candidate who is filled with regret will never be very productive. Here are some good questions to ask in the interview to help you know if the candidate will fit into your company’s culture:
    1. What qualities are most important to you in a good boss?
    2. Do you think it is a good idea to become friends with your co-workers?
    3. What are the best things about your current or previous job?
    4. Do you prefer working independently or on a team? Why?
    5. How would you like to improve your management skills?
    6. What motivates you to go above and beyond expectations at work?
    7. Tell me about a time you felt most fulfilled at work.

Whenever you are looking to change jobs, you want to know that all of that trouble is worth the effort. Here are a few questions to help candidates evaluate a company’s culture at an interview:
    1. What do you like about working here?
    2. How many hours a week do you work in a typical week?
    3. Does the team hang out together outside of work?
    4. How much time is spent collaborating and how much is spent working alone?
    5. Are employees rewarded for high performance?
    6. How do employees usually get promoted?
Remember that the interview is not the time to ask about salary or benefits, even if those are your most important factors. 

For a happy onboarding and a long relationship, the people on both sides of the interview desk need to be comfortable that the company’s culture and the candidate’s temperament will go well together.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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