You can either hear “Stop. No and don’t.” or you can hear “No, don’t stop!”
I am a designer. I love this stuff. I love the game just like Money Makin Mitch. I started off painting. In college I studied traditional illustration. I was taught how to paint with oils, watercolor and acrylic. I decided on oil and then set a goal to have my paintings appear in VIBE magazine. I was able to knock that goal off of my to do list before I graduated. I was ecstatic.
Painting in oil taught me patience. It was soothing and I miss it to this very day. I haven’t painted in oils for years now. Soon after reaching my target and getting my paintings published, I transitioned into Digital Painting and from there I got into Design. I worked in Brooklyn for a few years, where I combined my talents — design here, paint there, send the invoice and repeat that process.
Fast-forward a few years. I’m painting way less and designing way more. I focus on design for the entrepreneur. I design websites, logos, and pitch decks, proposals, one-sheets. I share apps, resources, mindsets and services to help get entrepreneurs and small businesses looking great and working well. A huge part of how I operate now is sharing what I know with people. It can be a conversation at a BBQ, a meeting on the 27th floor in a conference room or a calming convo at a cafe. No matter the place, I lend my findings to the person or people on the opposite side of me and I love it!
Life is finite. We do not know what will happen next, for good or for bad. With that, I like to share what I know with people that will benefit from the information I have. A different perspective communicated at the right time, said to the right person or group of people, could change many parts of their lives, be it personal or professional. We are not here to stay in our small bubble. We are here to help one another — to speak, to engage, to interact. It is not expected, nor is it a great move to operate soloing all of the time. Every once in a while we could use a little help.
In my effort to share what I know and what I continue to research, which are the practices and methods to get work done on your own to start and / or with a team, I developed a resource list. This list holds links to apps, videos, services and platforms to help the entrepreneur, small business or visionary tackle their ideas making sure they are able to get them done and to get them done with ease.
The Turn -Up
As of late, I’ve wanted to kick it up a notch. I want to be able to teach. I tiptoed into this arena with an art show /open discussion that I set up back in March of this year. It was cool. I had a few folks come by enjoy nice music, healthy food, cocktails, take a look at some of my paintings and listen to me say a few words on the positives and pains of working for yourself and I shared some of the resources and practices I have found that can aid in the overall process of working independently. I loved that people were interested, that they listened to me, that they were thankful for what I had to share with them and that they signed up for my newsletter. It was a success.
A few weeks ago I came upon a post that General Assembly [GA] was looking for a Visual Design Instructor. I applied, kept moving. I got an email! I was hype. Responded quickly, set up a phone interview. Knocked out the phone interview and was set up for a Sample Teaching session where I teach the sample lesson given to me by the GA team and I teach them the lesson using their structure in a 15 minute time frame broken down into three 3 minute blocks. Here the pressure comes slightly. Because as we know now, this is something I’d love to do. I was told the pay rate, the fact that it can be ongoing and with that I’m even more hyped. Like, I can get paid to share what I know about what I love to do and can help people get closer to their goals because of this, and do it in a clean, cool setting in Santa Monica, CA. Oh, I was excited!
It Was Time to Study
I began my research on how it went for others when they taught at General Assembly. I studied how GA teaches their students and saw that they teach their teachers. The hired teachers are not traditional teachers; they are pros in their field. So with that, they may need a little help and coaching on how to get the message across to the students. This made me feel good about any shortcomings I may have with my teaching style.
I Wrote My Notes and Went Over Them and Over Them and…
My sample teaching session was going to be the six Gestalt Principles. And nope, I did not know what they were before receiving this sample teach lesson. I studied as if I were the student to prepare to teach the principles. They are things that I use in all of my designs. I was not aware that they were official principles, or the origin of the word etc…
I Practiced and Paced
I love writing down my ideas, thoughts and to-do lists. I’ve read over and over again that it’s more beneficial to write goals and ideas down on paper rather than type them, so this was fun for me. I wrote down each principle, what it meant and found my own reference photos for them. And if you’re dying to know what they are, peep it:
- Figure Ground
Here is the deck I made to aid my sample lesson. You can take a look at it to get a gist of what each principle means.
I took notes and notes to get the deck down to this simple, easy space.
I took a step, said a line. I took another, said another line. Pacing back and forth on how to perfect my presentation for my sample lesson. A couple of days later it was show time. I go in. I’m introduced to my contact who I’ve been emailing and her colleague. I get set up, attach my Mac to the screen, and test it out. I put my notes down in front me and I go in.
I’m not much of a nervous person. Last time I was really nervous was when I proposed to my wife — I was shaking, dropped the ring (she didn’t see that part) and got on one knee. She said yes. Boom. But back to this. I was nervous and I could hear it in my voice. My eye contact was weak. I got the message across. I taught the staff a couple of things, stayed within the allotted timeframes, made them laugh, put in some rap quotes and pop culture anecdotes. Got some great feedback and that was it.
My wife is a classically trained dancer and acted when she was a child. She now has put all of the things she has learned throughout her career together and puts on her own shows — a vibrant mix of dance, song and theater. They are amazing! I called her right after the sample teach. My words were, “yo, I’m probably gonna throw up. Throw right up.” Meaning that I knew I didn’t knock out the sample teach they way I would have liked. And with all the pacing and practice, I still didn’t get it. With the well-placed pop culture references and charm that I put on the ladies at the sample teach, it wasn’t enough. All them damn notes I wrote didn’t matter. I didn’t get it and that feeling made me feel crazy. She told me simply, “That is how it goes.” My wife coming from a dance and acting background knows auditions. She is familiar with wins but more relevant to this, rejection. Back when my big goal was to get published in VIBE it happened much faster than I imagined — that has been a recurring story with me in certain aspects in my career. So hearing “no” after all of the practice when I’m mostly used to getting the “yes” after minimal practice? It was horrible.
Pain is Temporary
My friend put me on to Eric Thomas. One of the things he says is, “pain is temporary. It may last for a minute for an hour or a day or even a year but eventually it will subside and something else will takes its place. If I quit however, it will last forever.” I had to lean on this. On my train ride back home I replayed how I misstepped in my sample teach. I thought about what I did right and wrong. I sat with it. I did feel like a disappointment. Soon though, I moved on. I called my other friend who is a design teacher now. When I spoke I told him, “I fucked it up, I wanted it bad. Was nervous and ain’t get it.” He simply told me, “it be like that. Keep applying.” And so I did.
The Takeaway: The No’s Set You Up For a Yes
At my art show / talk back I invited a very inspiring friend. He runs his own creative space in Chinatown, Los Angeles. He came by, saw my style, we spoke for a sec and he left. While I was planning my show he and I spoke about me having a similar show at his space. The talks stopped. I had my show. I reflected on the pros and cons and kept on with my design agency. I redid my portfolio, made it an official business through Stripe Atlas. I wrote less. I designed more and that was kinda that. A couple weeks ago my very same friend reached out to me with a structured course proposal for me to talk my design talk throughout a 2- month timeframe, with 2-hour weekly workshops. This is very close to the GA style of coursework. I did not get the GA teacher position. I learned a lot in my path. Clearly I learned the 6 Gestalt Principles. I learned to be even more prepared for opportunities. I learned that sometimes at the moment you just wouldn’t get what you really want and what you work hard for. But the big takeaway I learned is that you cannot stop. What you desire is still very possible to attain. Persistence and preparation can get you what you want.
Many parts of life are about your perception. You can hear “Stop. No. And don’t” letting that stop you in your pursuit or you can hear “No, don’t stop!” keep at it, and success will come.
I’m Eric Jordan but go by EJordanill (Eric Jordan Illustration) I’m a designer and consultant. Check my works both written and designed on my site www.ejordanill.co. My aim is to share relevant apps and resources to help the entrepreneur “Fire Their Designer” and get it done themselves.
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