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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

Dina Rodriguez

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

(audience applauding) Hey guys, I'm so excited to be here, as you just heard, this is my first ever Creative class, but it is not my first time teaching, I've had a little bit of experience, I'm starting to teach for college students now, which is really exciting. I'm doing talks and workshops all over the country and I'm so over the moon to be able to share with you guys my story and how you guys can make a profit from your passion, so let's get started. What are we gonna get from this class? Why am I taking up your precious time? I don't know what you're doing right now, but I'm glad you're hanging out with me, let me prove my worth to you, okay, so what's the solution? I wanna be able to answer that question, what do we do now, so now what? For illustrators and letterers that feel stuck, they're not really sure how to take that next step in their career, whether or not you're a baby designer, you just got out of school, or you've been doing this for a few years now. Now, what's th...

e promise? What can I guarantee that you're gonna learn, that you're gonna take away from this course? Well, I wanna help you run your own studio, I want you to be a full-time freelancer like me, I want you to make consistent, keyword, consistent income doing what you love to do most, now, how? Right, it's one thing for me to tell you my story, we all know that we can make money doing what we love, doing beautiful illustrations and letters, but how? Right, that's what we're gonna go over in this class, we're gonna go a complete guide, alright, no shortcuts, we're gonna go through every single phase you need to go in in your design career, in order to get where I am today and further, so it's a guide on everything from building an audience, how you get noticed on social media, how you can start building a newsletter, everything to creating passive income, so you guys can start making money while you sleep, sounds pretty good, right? (audience laughing) Alright, what are the consequences for not taking this course? How can I convince you to not just like go on YouTube and watch somebody else? (laughs) (audience laughing) What I want you to do is, I don't want you guys to ruin your passion, we all know what working with a bad client can look like and how much it just, oh, breaks your little achy-breaky heart, to be honest, I don't want you to waste your time and I don't want you to learn things the hard way, I want you to be able to achieve those goals and get those dollar signs up in your bank account, okay, so who benefits from this class? Well, we have designers, we have illustrators, but I really wanna make sure, that there is something in this class for everyone, whether or not you just started picking up the pencil, or you're like me and you were born with it and you've been drawing, since you were in diapers, but if you've been a seasoned professional in the industry, maybe you're making your own products, maybe you have an Etsy store, maybe you're just doing freelance on the side right now, I wanna be able to help you, I want you to wake up excited, to do what you love to do most, I want you to make money from it, but I want you to do what you love. Now, why me? Why am I this like guardian angel of freelance? How can I unlock the secrets for you? Well, I've been there, I've made a lot of mistakes, like, a lot, like a lot, (laughs) (audience laughing) I've failed, I've lost money, but because I've learned things the hard way, now you don't have to, you can learn from my story and all of my failed businesses, so that way, we can all be in this together and get what we want sooner. So, let me talk about myself, my favorite subject. (laughs) Okay, I was born in 1988, no, I'm not gonna go back that far, but I'm an art kid, I was always labeled the artsy kid, I was very blessed, I have two parents that played music, they were always drawing, there was lots of laughter and play in our household, even though I'm an only child and they did get divorced at a young age, they still made me their top priority, if I wanted to take a dance class, I could dance, (laughs) if I wanted to take a painting class, I would be Michelangelo but I didn't know, that you could make money from this, I always liked drawing, but I didn't know, that I'd become a doctor or a lawyer, all these things I'm hearing from TV, that I'm supposed to be doing, so I can be happy, but I like drawing, how can I do that? So, I'm going through middle school, I'm going through high school and I'm starting to consider, okay, maybe I can do this for a living, but art is such a big industry, what do you do in that industry? You can do anything from graph design, motion graphics, you can be more of a traditional illustrator, I had no idea what avenue was right for me, but it's like, how can you just guess what you're gonna like? You have to try it. So, I was lucky enough to, before I even started college, go to essentially a college, when I was 16, I lived in Brooklyn, New York at a place called Pratt and we had a summer program, where I could learn a little bit of everything, there was industrial design, there was traditional and I got like a weeks' worth of all these courses, living by myself in New York City of all places, just finally starting to feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, you know that feeling, where everything just starts to click? You know art's for you, when you lose time when you make, you just start, you sit at your desk, you're making something, you look up, you forgot to eat and you realize you really have to pee, right? That is when you know you've found your calling, now, but finding it and doing it are two separate things, so, I went ahead, I went to Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida, great education, it was super accelerated program, a four-year degree, you get in two, each class is eight hours long and six days a week, so you can't have a job, student loan debt, hello, (laughs) right? But it was amazing and I was lucky enough to get my first ever design internship at Disney, right, if you're gonna be in Orlando, you gotta work for Disney, it's like a rule I heard. (audience laughing) Great experience, but unfortunately at the end of my internship, it didn't turn into a job, so very impressive, hey, I worked for Disney and then the next year, I was working in some dude's garage making vinyl graphics. (audience laughing) So, the ups and downs therefore of the career of an illustrator. But at this point, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, I had learned the Adobe suite, I was doing a little bit of everything, I was a jack of trades, right, I was doing print design, I was doing branding, anything that was pixels, pictures and images, but I wasn't really drawing. As I continued in my career, I was doing less of what I wanted to do and started to compromise what I wanted, because of what everybody else was telling me I needed to do, hey Mom, you're not in charge of my life, I appreciate you raised me, but this is my life and I have to live it the way, that will make me happy, not you, right, same thing with friends, how are you gonna make money as an artist? Are you gonna be the starving artist, living in a one-studio apartment with your cats? Like, what is the future that you see for yourself? So I'm going from job to job and I'm realizing this isn't working, I'm getting laid off, companies are getting bought and sold, (sighs) I was really frustrated, so I moved randomly, me and my boyfriend, we packed a car with our two dogs and everything we could fit in our van and we drove across country and moved to Portland, Oregon, this was the place where my career started, really, like I had my portfolio, I had been working in the design industry, but something wasn't working, so I go to Portland, I actually find a job in three days, which is unheard of, didn't even have an apartment, didn't know anybody there, but we made it work. I'm in this job, it's great, I'm doing web design, I'm starting to learn a little bit more behind marketing, 'cause as we know, design is just half the puzzle, unless you know how to attract the audience with your art, right, it's the whole point. So I'm in this job and I'm getting really bored, I'm starting to feel that not-so-excited feeling anymore to go to work, it's just becoming a mundane part of my life and I wasn't fulfilled, so, I was like okay, why don't you start drawing again? It's the only thing, that's made me happy before, let me do it now and I got introduced by someone named Sean Wes, Sean McCabe is his actual name, he was a pretty big deal in the lettering industry a few years ago and he actually got introduced to me, because one of my friends had hired him to do the illustrations for his book, which is called Three Pipe Problems: A Solutions Guide for Illustrators and Designers. Okay, lettering seems pretty cool, it's been a few years since I've been drawing and if you don't use it, you lose it and it was getting a little hard for me, so I was like, okay, what's easier, become an illustrator and just start drawing in my spare time and know how to draw everything in existence, or 26 characters? Okay, I'm starting to think lettering might be a little bit easier. (audience laughing) So I go ahead, I'm practicing and I fall in love with it, it is so exciting, I am waking up early to draw, I am drawing on my lunch break, I'm stealing a little bit of company time, okay (laughs), to do some lettering, I'm just lettering all the time and I was focused on it and it was just so much fun and again, that click, that same click I got at Pratt, it was happening, I got the tingles, I got excited to letter, but I'm going to my day job and I would just save up all my creative energy for myself, right, and eventually, I'm like okay, I'm just gonna keep doing this, I started posting my stuff on social media, people are like, hey, you look pretty cool, I got 1,000 followers, 2,000 followers, 3,000 followers, okay, now I'm starting to get inquiries, "Hey, can you make this T-shirt for me?" "I would love for you to design my logo." This is working, I have an idea, I'll build a business and then, LetterShoppe was born. Now, in 2012 to 2016, this is really when I found my passion, I started small and I'm getting noticed and I'm liking it and I started to do so well, that I was making 80% at my freelance gig, that I was making in my full-time job, it's quitting time. (audience laughing) Okay, (laughs) it was starting to be like, peace, I wanna make some real money. (laughs) So I left my job, I'm still actually really best friends with my boss, that hired me, Ronnikins, I don't know if you're watching, I love you and so I started LetterShoppe and things started to snowball, I started getting book deals, I started getting people like InVision, Nike, American Greetings reaching out to me to do all these different kinds of lettering. Eventually I found my style, finally, that style thing that people keep talking about, I found it, you could actually see my work and be like, oh, that's LetterShoppe, finally, you know how long that takes to get? (laughs) Then I'm like, okay, I'm enjoying doing client work, but now I wanna give back, now we mentioned, this is my year of education, this is my year, to teach everything that I know, so you guys can be a bigger success in the same success as me, I want you guys to be able to experience what I get to experience, when I wake up around 10 a.m. (laughs) to start my job and I just walk a few steps to my office and slowly caress my puppies, as I go through my email, I want that for you, Whether you have kids and you wanna be closer to your family, whether you want a more flexible work schedule, whether you just wanna like do this art thing full-time and you wanna be able to just survive, right, I wanna be able to show you how to. So this year, I'm doing a few things, We got talks, we got workshops, I started a zine series, where I actually teach one style of hand lettering every single month on Patreon, so if you guys actually wanna learn a little bit more lettering and so that we don't get stuck on just sans serif or script, go to to check me out, I would really love to teach you a little bit more hands on, when it comes to how to learn typography. I started teaching college, now I don't have an MBA, I definitely never thought I'd be a teacher and that whole thing, those that can't teach really like got to me, (laughs) like but I can, but I can do, but I also can teach, so I started doing, it was my first semester, we're actually currently in Week of me teaching these students at PNC, which is like literally the most indie, hipster college you've ever been to, I love it, people bring their cats to school, it's such a great place, God bless Portland, Oregon, okay. (laughs) So, we're starting off the year right with doing this Creative Live class and it's really funny, when you say to the world, hey, I wanna teach, what kind of opportunities come down the funnel, when that art director needed to find someone to teach that course, he asked several people, "Who should I hire to teach lettering?" He told me that 20 different people said me, I go to this interview, get coffee, very casual, talking to a very well-dressed, intimidating man, (laughs) (audience laughing) hey, what are their names? He told me their names, I've never heard of any of these people, I've created this name for myself, where when you think hand lettering, you think LetterShoppe and I wanna be able to do the same thing for you. Alright, so before we go into actually going into the roadmap for making our money from our passion, I wanna be able to explain to you how this class is going to work, I want you guys to be able to ask me questions, online too, guys, now, we're not just gonna wait till the end of every segment to do questions, if you have a question, let me know, 'cause I wanna be able to make sure that this content is informative, that it's easily understandable and most importantly, is relatable to you specifically, okay, because if I tell you advice and you can't use it, what's the point? Okay, so definitely feel free and able to be able to do it in that platform. Alright, so there's four steps, this is what I like to see, let's put 'em into quarters, okay, so a quarter of time is three months, okay, so we have phase one, Honing Your Craft, this is when you fall in love with your work, so more, it's my story, where I wasn't really concerned with making money, I just wanted to figure out what I liked doing, so I could sell it later. Then we have phase two, so three months go by, you're really practicing, okay, you know what, I think I'm ready to start creating a brand for myself, now, I'm not gonna sit here and teach you how to create a logo, you're artists, I'll let you guys handle the graphics, but rather I wanna help you decide who you wanna sell to, I wanna go ahead and go over the rules of web design, specifically for artists, so you can attract clients to you, no more cold calling, no cold emailing, I want you to be so awesome and so prepared and just looking really professional, that clients wanna work with you specifically, instead of trying to shop around for the best price and we're gonna go over your website, now, not like what you need on your website, but exactly the kind of content, that goes on every single page on your site, so that way, the clients understand what you offer and they actually can have a good idea of your process and how you work, before they even reach out to you. Three, so now we're honing our craft, we're starting to create out brand, now we need to go over what is our actual process, when working with clients, when they hit that Inquiry button, what do you do? Do you just give them a price? Is there a proposal process? What's your production process look like? Are you just churning out work overnight, or do you like to do art boards and then thumbnails and then rough sketches and then color version? What makes you special about either your niche, your industry or the medium of choice you like to work in? Last section, now this is, ooh, (laughs) this last section has a lot of information in it, we're gonna go over licensing and royalties, now this is what can turn a 2,000 dollar project into a 6,000 dollar project, without doing any additional work, because you have three different kinds of fees, you have a design fee, okay client, you wanna pay me to do something? Custom artwork, here you go, design fee, second, the usage right, this is the selling power behind your work, third is royalties, if someone's making a profit off of your work, making something like T-shirts, calendars, these types of things, you can get a little piece of the action and a nice, little quarterly payment sent directly to your bank account, thank you. (laughs)

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Make Things Make Money Keynote
Make Things Money Money Resource Guide

Ratings and Reviews


Wow! This class was fantastic! Dina did a great job at providing relevant information that I can use right away. I was particularly impressed at how she was able to explain licensing and royalties, she really broke it down into easy to understand pieces. I think this course would be a great foundation for any artist/freelancer but I liked the focus on lettering and illustration. Creative Live must convince Dina to provide more classes!

Elizabeth Matzen

This class is full of excellent information, and Dina did a great job covering everything from building a webpage to working with clients. She has a engaging delivery style, presented the information in a succinct and well-organized manner, and the pace of the course was perfect - not too slow! I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to start or boost their creative business - great info!

Sharnika Blacker

Awesome class! Inspired and excited to improve my business with the processes and knowledge gained. Thank you Dina!!

Student Work