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Hone Your Craft

Lesson 3 from: Make Things Make Money: The Business of Illustration and Lettering

Dina Rodriguez

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Lesson Info

3. Hone Your Craft

Lesson Info

Hone Your Craft

How do we get started? How can we start to hone our craft so we can practice and get better faster? 'Cause we really need to focus on getting good. You need to be able to love what you do before you worry about money. So, let's talk about the differences between deliberate practice and just everyday practice. So everyday practice is something like you wake up, you spend maybe an hour drawing and doodling. Now right now you're practicing and hoping you get better by accident, right? You're not being deliberate. You're not being purposeful. Now, let's say you're an illustrator. What do a lot of illustrators have issues with? Drawing hands and feet, right? Toes are like the hardest thing to draw in the world. I don't know why we were created with these weird, ugly little balls at the end of our feet. They're impossible to draw. Everyone has like little Mickey Mouse shoes and gloves in my characters. But, when you have a problem, what do you do? You have a concentration. You do a hand seri...

es. You do gestures, right? And you spend pages and pages of just hands, toes, feet, fingers because you're trying to figure out hey, I'm doing something wrong here. I'm looking at my piece and something's off. But you need to be able to get educated so you can figure out why it's off so you can fix it. Same thing with lettering. It's not uncommon for you to look at someone's feet who's a popular hand lettering artist and for them just to be concentrating on one style. Or just pages and pages of the letter A. 'Cause we're really trying to improve. But you need to be deliberate about what you're doing. Now, so you're practicing. You know the difference between deliberate practice and getting just normal everyday practice where you think you're gonna do awesome things by accident. But, I also want you absorb what you can for free. Search for articles, like videos before you start paying for education. 'Cause the internet is such a magical place guys. There is YouTube, there's Twitch, there's all these livestream platforms. You can literally watch people teach you stuff. You can read. You can just listen to podcasts. There's content in every, that can satisfy almost every sense but smell, okay? Where you can learn something new. So go ahead and utilize those things. If you wanna learn lettering, look at CreativeLive. They have a bunch of awesome lettering courses. Go to different hand lettering artist blogs. I know I teach something new every week in my blog if you're gonna wanna go to And I just loved being able to get and absorb that content so I could just help myself. Why wouldn't you take the time? Wouldn't you get obsessed with that kind of articles and subscribe to all these newsletters because it's feeding what you wanna do for a living. Take the time. Now, what's one thing we can do to get better? Well we can do passion projects, right? We can write down all of our beautiful ideas and keep them somewhere safe so when we do have the energy or maybe a lull in product or client work, we can do a passion project. Now passion projects are great for a lot of reasons. A, it keeps your skills fresh, right? And it gives you an ability to do a campaign or some deliberate practice on a specific kind of thing. It also can be a great promotional tool. I can tell you countless different designers and artists and illustrators that have made a name for themselves by doing a passion project. I'll use myself as an example. So when I first started launching Letter Shoppe, my third business, I went ahead, I didn't really have that big of an audience that was specific to lettering. It was a little bit more design related because of Dina Recreative. But it wasn't the perfect audience. So, I created this website and I had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know how to launch a brand. I didn't know how to advertise myself on social media. But I had free resources on the internet that could tell me. So, I started to read those articles and I started to actually do what they told me. So I created an article series where I would hand letter the featured image of each one of these articles. It was called How to Brand Your Freelance Business. People would sign up to my newsletter. And go ahead to get access to these articles where I was actually learning by teaching. 'Cause what's a better to better solidify your own information than trying to explain to somebody else? You never really quite learn about what you're really doing for a living until you have to explain it to someone really old. To this day, right, no like to this day, I still have to be like, my mom's like, what do you do for a living again? I'm like, you know letters mom? Yeah, I draw those, okay. And I'm just like, great, so now I learn when I introduce myself to people who might not be familiar with the word lettering, I go, I draw letters for a living. It's cute and you understand what I'm talking about, right? So, I'm able to teach and I'm growing my audience at the same time. This only costed time to make and each of these articles are pretty in depth. They're not short articles. It's almost like a little book in each one. So I created this newsletter. Guess how many people signed up in the first month? Maybe a hundred. Maybe a thousand. It was ten thousand people. That's an audience. Now, this was just an idea I had and I was struggling with these things so I figured other people might struggle with them because designers, do you know how to write website copy? No, you're a designer. Do you know what social media marketing means? You know what Twitter is but how do you use it? In the way that it can actually benefit you in the long run. How do you build a blog? Like what do you even write about? How do you get people to sign up to your newsletter? How do you design a website? What if you're an illustrator or you're a traditional artist? You don't know how to code nor should you. That's not your concentration but what's the best way to launch your business? Using your time to learn how to do those things yourself. You know, using platforms like WordPress, Squarespace. So you could easily build a website but without having to touch a lick of code. And those are the kinds of things I was trying to teach.

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!!

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