Loving the Freelance Life

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014|

As it becomes more common–and easier–to choose the freelance lifestyle, more workers are finding out why their freelance colleagues love it as much as they do. They might even be getting a little jealous. Why do we love freelancing?

  • Entrepreneurship–Freelancing is the simplest way to run your own business. It’s just you, but you are the boss. Enjoy it.
  • Flexibility–To be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined about getting everything done well and on time, but when and how you tackle your work is up to you.
  • Giving back–My personal favorite thing about freelancing is being able to make time to volunteer for my favorite organizations, even during typical working hours–when they need me most because so many other volunteers have to be at the office.
  • Control–Most jobs require you to accomplish a variety of tasks, some of which you love and some of which you most definitely do not. Ideally, freelancing allows you to choose projects you are passionate about and pass on the ones you are not.
  • Diversity–As a freelance writer, I get to vary the topics I am writing about from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. It’s never boring!
  • Building Relationships–Freelancers meet new people frequently by necessity. The perfect networking opportunity is a freelance gig at a new company. Not only can you bond with the people you work with, you can demonstrate your skills and get referrals for more freelance work in the future.

Sure, there moments when I wish I had someone just tell me what to do and let me do it, check everything off a list, shut off the lights and go home. Only moments, though. Then I look around and remember how grateful I am to have a life that works for me, my family, my soul.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative

Gift Ideas for the Creatives on Your List

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013|

Santa is not the only one making a list and checking it twice–we at Artisan have been finding some great gift ideas for the creatives in our lives all over. Wonderful design and clever ideas come together to make some really cool gifts this year:

You never know when or where your friend might get a brilliant idea, but if they jot it down in one of these Moleskine Evernote Notebooks, those ideas will never be forgotten. Take a photo with the Evernote Camera and their wireframe idea, doodle or blog topic will be saved in their online notebook as well as on paper. They come as journals or sketchbooks.

Designers think in color and drink a lot of coffee to keep to their deadlines. You can combine the two with these Pantone Coffee Mugs or if they don’t drink coffee but do love color and you have a pretty big budget, how about a full set of Pantone Color Swatch Books?

If your coffee-drinking friend is a copywriter, they might appreciate these mugs when they are proofreading. Sure to make them go “Arrgghh!”

And to keep all that coffee warm while they are working at their computer, how about a USB coffee warmer?

Don’t know why I love them, but tea towels are some of my favorite gifts. These tea towels designed by former Art Director, Writer and Creative Director Emily McDowell are perfect for your creative foodie friends:


We were really inspired by this list of 100 Gifts for Freelancers at Design Blender and here are a couple of our favorites:

Solar Phone Charger–even works stuck to an airplane window!

The 13th Edition of The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines–Freelancers are always nervous about how much they should charge for their work and how to handle difficulties with clients. This should help in 2014.

Make their year with a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.

Only 8 days to Christmas! We would love to hear what your favorite gifts for the creatives on your list are this year!

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative

Gifting to Your Network: LinkedIn Recommendations

Thursday, December 5th, 2013|

Wondering what to get your favorite colleague for a holiday gift? How about an amazing LinkedIn Recommendation!

Hard to request and rather intimidating to write, a polished LinkedIn recommendation on your LinkedIn Profile can be a lot more valuable than bath oil beads to a rock star member of your network. Here are some tips on writing something your friend will appreciate for years to come:

Don’t bury the lead–Just as with a great job description, if you don’t start with something compelling, a reader might stop with the headline. What is your friend’s best quality in her professional life? Put it right up front.

Ask for the target–If your friend has asked you for a Recommendation, find out what his next goal is and focus your recommendation on the qualities he brings from his past experience that would make that goal attainable. This is especially important if he is changing careers or industries.

Offer a preview–When I write Recommendations, I always send them to the recipient in an email before posting. Your friend might want you to mention a particular accomplishment. And another set of eyes proofreading for any errors is always a good idea.

Show your connection–Someone looking at your colleague’s Profile can figure out where you worked together, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Include the context of your relationship.

Keep it brief–Hiring Managers don’t have a lot of time. Pithy is best.

If you know that a colleague is planning a job search, looking for a promotion or making a change and you have confidence in his or her abilities, offer to write a Recommendation. Your friend will appreciate your proactive desire to help and not have to sweat about asking you first.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Imagine: 50 Years of Giving

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013|

Our Founder Jamie Douraghy gave this short interview for Entrepreneurs Organization about entrepreneurship and giving back and we wanted to share it with you this Thanksgiving week. 

Transcript follows.

Jamie Douraghy:
The reason I got involved because I was asked to be the Philanthropy Chair. And of course the big theme of this whole conference was the ability to give back. Imagine the compounded return if people started giving in their 20’s and 30’s, as opposed to waiting until the later years of their lives to suddenly–the light to go on. Imagine 50 years of giving.
It’s about creating something from nothing, creating it from an idea. And I shouldn’t say “nothing.” Creating something from something. And taking it to the next level. That’s what entrepreneurs do.
We knew that each person up on that stage was giving. The fact that they came from whatever they were doing, to take time away, I mean, based on one of the most successful young entrepreneurs right now. I’m sure he has a lot on his plate, but he gave of his time. So every single person on that stage gave. Unconditionally. And that was a huge message to everyone in that room. No matter who you are, where you are, just give.
For me, the central goal for EO Alchemy was to bring people initially from the Western Region together, to celebrate entrepreneurship. We haven’t had a conference in the west before–that’s had all around the world. Somehow the West Region wasn’t able to pull it together up to this point. What I would like to see for EO Alchemy in the future is to have a conference in every single city that we have a chapter in. So we have 15 chapters in the west.  I would love to see 15 Alchemies, year over year. Have it in Hawaii, have it in Boise, Idaho, have it in Phoenix, Arizona. Every year to celebrate entrepreneurism. It’s not about the location, it’s about the people coming together to celebrate entrepreneurism. So I would really like to see Alchemy in all 15 of our chapters and, hopefully, more chapters as they grow. 

For Jamie and for Artisan Creative, giving back is essential to entrepreneurship. We are thankful for the opportunities we have to give back this year and every year. Just imagine what we could do together in the future!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Forge! 2013 by The Skool

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013|

At Artisan Creative, we love to get involved with local events and network, especially when they’re targeted at women in business, so when we were invited to be on a panel of speakers at Forge! 2013, we jumped at the chance to attend.

Held at WeWork in Hollywood, Forge! is a conference aiming to coach budding female entrepreneurs in business, tech, creative and life skills and how they can apply them to their lives. The 2-day event saw demonstrations, pitches and talks from CEOs, Brand Strategists, Product Developers, and our very own President, Katty Douraghy.

Katty spoke about the importance of taking care of yourself when you run a business, how you can implement a process into your schedule, and what works for her. Whether you run an agency or you work full-time, setting dedicated time aside to work out or do something for yourself can be difficult. Here are some Artisan-approved tips that can work for you:

    • “Finding the passion and something that moves you is vital to success.” What do you enjoy doing? Katty found her passion in Zumba. See what’s local to you and try something new.


    • If you have a hectic schedule and a jam-packed diary, book a meeting with yourself. You’ll never be double-booked!


    • If you’re stuck behind a desk all day, try taking a walk or going for a hike and enjoy the outdoors. A great suggestion from Forge! was Walk Beverly Hills. Instead of having a meeting at the office, they propose you take walking meetings instead.


  • Smoothies! Attendees were treated to a great demonstration by Whole Foods. Combining ingredients such as kale, coconut water, bananas and almond milk will not only save you time, but give you the much needed energy to get you through the day.

The Skool is a really great resource for people in the digital industry and for people who want to learn more about digital projects, sales and running their own business. Not only did we have the chance to meet some incredibly talented people and learn a lot, it was great fun, too. Check out their upcoming events and if you have your own tips for staying healthy, we’d love to hear them.

Laura Pell, Talent Acquisition

Time: More Than Money

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013|

The old saying goes, “Time is money.” Benjamin Franklin was supposed to have made up this aphorism. The provenance is not clear, but the sentiment has lasted centuries. Is it true?

Let’s look at what time really is.

An Investment–When we put time into learning new things so that we can grow in skill and ability, we make an investment in our future. It could be personal growth or even satisfaction in increased competence. Time is capital.


Productivity–Time spent working could be thought of as money, but that work is also support of relationships with co-workers and clients, creativity and innovation. A client or a company pays you for that time, but money is not all it represents.


Experience–Especially when you are on a job search, how much time you spent in different roles becomes a commodity of its own. You made a salary or were paid an hourly rate, but the time spent performing the tasks and completing the projects in your previous jobs made you the professional you are today and provides the stories you will tell at your next interview.


A Finite Resource–There is a point in our working lives when we realize that we have a limited amount of time left for work, for family, for learning, for growth. We start to think about how we want to spend that resource. Money could run out, but time is sure to.


For me, it comes down to this: Time is time. And it is more valuable than money will ever be. When I invest my time in a client, I am making a choice not just to use their resources, but also my own. When I learn something new, I am investing in my future. When I decide to spend years with a company, I am hoping that those years will lead to more challenging roles. And when I spend time giving back, I know that time has more value to the organizations I volunteer with because their resources can go to the cause which is our shared passion.

Time is more than money. Time is the most valuable, most precious thing we have. How will you spend yours?

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative

P.S. If you would like to get a glimpse of where I spent 30+ hours giving back last week, check out jbhsvma.com!

Laura’s Report from Website Weekend

Tuesday, October 8th, 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

Reflections: On Kindness

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013|

I started thinking this week about ways we can help our friends and colleagues when they are experiencing a period of unemployment. I came across an article with a list of things not to say to a friend who is unemployed and it had a lot of good points. We can certainly help with introductions and roleplaying practice for interview answers. What else can we do? Kindness goes a long way:

  • Buy a meal–Your friend probably has some anxiety about his finances. Don’t just invite him to have lunch, treat him to it. He’s probably not going out very often and could definitely use a break.
  • Help her ask for help–You could wait for your friend to tell you specifically what she would like from you, but she might not ever get there. Most of us don’t like asking for help. Be proactive and help her figure out what she needs most.
  • Listen–We all like to say encouraging things to our friends, but some of those words of encouragement can be difficult to hear when you feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. Encourage your friend to talk about his experience and how his search is going without telling him how surprised you are that he is still out of work.
  • Assume she’s doing the obvious–Of course, she is looking at online job boards and following up on the leads you have provided. Let her know when you come across a more targeted source or meet someone new in her industry, though.
  • Let him worry–This one is hard and I broke this rule myself just last week saying, “You didn’t like that job anyway; maybe it’s all for the best.” Even if that’s true, saying so may invalidate your friend’s feelings. Your friend will worry whether they express it to you or not. Be a safe place for him to say so and move on.

We all want to help our friends when they are anxious or in trouble and with today’s unemployment rate, a job search can take a while. Scott Adams said, “There’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” Sometimes the smallest thing makes a huge difference.

Wendy Stackhouse for Artisan Creative

Labor Day or Thinking Day

Friday, August 30th, 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, for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Being Inspiring

Thursday, August 15th, 2013|

As creatives, we know that inspiration sometimes strikes when we need it and sometimes it stays away. There are days when we can’t write down our ideas as fast as they come to us and days when we sit staring at the screen, the sketchbook, the canvas, wondering if we will ever have another original thought.

Whether it is getting out into nature, listening to music, exercising, or practicing a hobby for a while, most of us have techniques we use to refresh our well of creativity. But today’s topic is being inspiring, not being inspired. So let’s turn it around a bit. When a co-worker or a collaborator is in need of some inspiration, try some of these techniques to help them out of a rut:

  • Ask questions–Explaining what the challenge is may help your colleague find a way around it. Take the opportunity to brainstorm about it together.
  • Use positive language–Friends need someone to listen when they need to vent, but the language we use about a creative block can help it to break up or build it into a seemingly impregnable wall. Help your friend make a list of what’s good about the project so far and stop judging herself for not having solved everything yet.
  • Be enthusiastic–Genuine delight is contagious. Be generous with it.
  • Try your strategies on them–Take your struggling friend for a walk outside. Share an inspiring playlist or inspirational quote. Send them a link to an amazing photo or painting. 

Help a friend experiencing a creative block and you can be the difference between a good day and a bad one. Pablo Picasso said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” Be the inspiration; don’t just wait for it to hit.

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative