It was a typically busy Toronto afternoon.
However, it wasn’t so typical for me because I was feeling a happy-kind-of tired that comes from being continuously inspired from engaging talks at a conference filled with creative people.
When most people were filling up their third cup of coffee for the day at 2PM, I was happily planted in my seat and wide awake because I knew, although I’d never seen her videos or even followed her on Instagram before, that the upcoming artist named Lauren Hom would be amazing and her message would deeply sink in with me.
I couldn’t have been more right. And wrong, because it didn’t just sink in with me, it changed me and my whole direction.
Within two minutes of her talk, I couldn’t have been more happy to be listening: I had my eyes and mind wide open as she spoke about her story, her hilariously witty insights and her down-to-earth practically great advice for artists and creatives chasing their dreams in her talk, “How to Build a Serious Career with Silly Work”.
I learnt that she is not only an artist, but a very strong businesswoman who teaches workshops, creates books and commissions her hand-lettering around the world including in office spaces such as Google and Facebook.
She began when, for fun, she started hand-lettering “little lies” that people say everyday. The whole thing took off and became a book!
Back to her talk’s title, “How to Build a Serious Career with Silly Work”.
What an incredible title, even.
I feel like it encapsulates everything that I’ve been waiting AND wanting to do my entire life.
Of course, I’m still a student but creativity has always been infused into me.
My Dad, a photographer and entrepreneur has engrained this in me, running a full-fledged studio for over 30 years. He has taught me that you’re never too old to always create monster faces with your food, but most importantly, that you can do and create anything with your art, and of course, build a career with your creative passion.
But to build a legitimate career with silly work? What an incredible idea. I love witty slogans, as well as inspiring ones, and just in general, hilariously fun side projects.
The world needs more of it.
In her talk she spoke about how no idea is too silly. She said that she had an idea to make fun of the flower crown culture by taking photos of herself wearing cupcakes and baked goods as a crown and coined it “flour crowns”.
She was almost too afraid to even tell her friends.
She decided to go and guess what?
It took off on her Instagram and website.
People loved it.
What I loved most about this story is that she had taken these photos in the back of her Grandma’s alley with nothing more than a simple coloured backdrop and a simple tripod and Canon point-and-shoot.
And they’re BEAUTIFUL images.
You don’t need fancy equipment, a lot of money or great drawing tools to start.
You just need to use your creativity IN your creative pursuits.
You can make anything work!
And plus, if you are creative with the approach, it makes the story of how you made that thing THAT much more original.
After laughing, feeling infinitely inspired and refreshed after her talk, I walked up to her (I was so nervous and excited) and complimented her on her down-to-earth approach to that project. I explained to her that my Dad is an entrepreneur (a big influence of mine) and has taught me that you can start from anywhere with anything.
She smiled wholeheartedly and agreed: “Yeah! Right?! You don’t need big fancy equipment to start.”
“You’re totally right. People tend to get their egos wrapped up in equipment”
It was amazing.
She told me that people tend to get so caught up in the details that they lose sight of the big picture.
We then chatted a bit about her approach, I explained to her that I’m an aspiring author and hand-letterer and she was so uplifting.
She asked me if I’d ever published a book.
I told her that I’d just finished publishing a book, Messy Minds, with my co-founder Soheila, in August and that we sold out of our first 100 copies
She was very encouraging and said, “I meant to mention this in my talk but I want to tell you something.”
I’ll paraphrase what she said.
You need to brag about the fact that you sold 100 copies. With anything, you can’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments because it will only do you good.
People worry that it’s narcissistic to brag, but really it adds to your growth as an artist. If people judge you, or unfollow you for bragging, then they were never really meant to be a part of your circle/following anyways
If people judge you, or unfollow you for bragging, then they were never really meant to be a part of your circle/following anyways”Lauren Hom
That sunk home so much.
I was creatively rejuvenated, uplifted and so excited after meeting here. Plus she was such a lovely person and I can’t wait to meet her hopefully in person again one day! I’d love to attend one of her workshops, meet her or even shadow her for a day.
Here are a few things that I learnt through Lauren Hom’s work:
- You can build a serious career based off of a (silly) side passion. All you need to do is start with a side hustle, as well as imagine the type of projects and clients you would like.
Lauren Hom started with a tiny blog that begun as a concept called, “Daily Dishonesty.” In it, she would create beautiful hand-lettering of hilarious little lies we tell ourselves everyday. That turned into a book, which ultimately helped her grow as an artist.
- Don’t take no as an answer. Interesting side jobs will come. Take them, and keep hustling no matter what. People don’t know what’s possible for you – but you do. You can create your career and life into anything with hard work.
- Don’t quit your day job. Don’t just ditch your job immediately. Have a plan. You can build your brand on the side while you are still working to eventually go solo.
Also, start anywhere.
When Lauren Hom first started, she would offer to hand-letter on chalkboard signs for restaurants in return for the food she was writing. Genius! Plus it gained a ton of exposure and led to another project. Another big lesson.
- No idea is too silly. If it makes you laugh, it makes you laugh. Which means that it will probably make your friends laugh, as well. You never know what it can turn into. Look at how Messy Minds evolved into a book or how her blog “Daily Dishonesty” also turned into a book!
- Pick through the raisins. This one has to be my favourite lesson and really hit home. Lauren Hom was talking about losing followers on Instagram (which could relate to even friends or people in your life) as you chase your dreams. She describes this as sorting through the people who won’t buy from you anyways, and it’s a good thing to lose followers because it’s like picking through the raisins of the trail mix as she describes it. This idea is absolutely brilliant and totally reframed the way I think of growth through my website and social media. Maybe the less the better! But truly if you do your own thing, and be authentic to your work you will only attract the right people and build an authentic supportive following.
But truly if you do your own thing, and be authentic to your work you will only attract the right people and build an authentic supportive following.Danielle’s Deep Probing Thoughts
So how did this inspire me?
I’m going to start small, with one thing. I’m going to follow through on some hand-lettering projects as I’ve loved it but never truly thought there was big potential there.
I’m going to fearlessly tackle my current passions, as well as some new ones.
I’m not going to worry about embarrassing myself. I want to make a creative impact in this short time.
Side note: one of my close friends, a professional tattoo artist, Renee and I used my parents fairy props to create something called ‘pizza fairies’.
It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s hilarious.
Plus, my friends think it’s hysterical.
I might just revamp it a bit and make it a thing on my website and Instagram.
However, most of all, what I truly learnt, is that following what you LOVE, not in a cliched way, but truly what you think is authentic and real and hilarious to you, whether that is a simple tagline or a full-on photographic project, will only fuel your growth as a person and an artist.
The world needs it.
The world needs you to come to life and true.
Thanks Lauren Hom and thanks for reading,