Lauren Hom - Artist, Designer, Illustrator,

Ep 66: The Business of Lettering | Lauren Hom (Designer, Illustrator & Hand Lettering Artist)

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Welcome to Episode 66!

Our guest for STIMY Episode 66 is Lauren Hom.

Lauren Hom is a California-born designer, illustrator & hand lettering artist with a 250k strong following on Instagram. She is known for her use of bright colour palettes & playful letterings and has worked for clients such as Starbucks, YouTube, TIME Magazine, Google and AT&T. She has also been recognised by Communications Arts, the Art Directors Club, the One Club, the Type Directors Club and the Webby Awards. 

But how did it all start?

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    So This Is My Why podcast

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    Who is Lauren Hom?

    As with all STIMY episodes, we start from the very beginning: with Lauren’s childhood & how she ended up studying at the School of Visual Arts for, of all courses, advertising!

    While there, she met influential figures who had a deep influence on her decision to become a freelance artist.

    Turns out, being the junior director of a big ad agency in New York wasn’t the dream job she’d thought it would be! 

    • 4:58 Work hard, snack hard
    • 5:38 Doing advertising
    • 11:40 Becoming a Junior Art Director in a big New York city ad firm
    Actions speak louder than words is my creative philosophy.
    Lauren Hom - Artist, Designer, Illustrator,
    Lauren Homs
    Designer, Illustrator & Hand Lettering Artist

    Daily Dishonesty

    Lauren also peels back the layers on some of her most popular passion projects, beginning with Daily Dishonesty – which landed her a book deal upon graduation!

    That proved pivotal, as it gave her a financial cushion to launch a freelance career. 

    • 13:36 Daily Dishonesty
    • 16:52 Seeing Daily Dishonesty go viral
    • 18:51 Getting an illustration agent
    • 20:14 Knowing when to say no to a client
    Lauren Hom - Artist, Designer, Illustrator,

    Building a Thriving Creative Career

    Three things stood out with Lauren’s life story: (i) her talent in lettering; (ii) her ability to use passion projects to change the trajectory of her freelance career, repeatedly; and (iii) her willingness to be open about how she executes her projects, markets them and what she earns! And finally, why she is now going on a sabbatical and entering culinary school.

    If you’ve ever been curious about the business side of an artist’s career, then this is the episode for you.

    • 22:59 Planning to go freelance
    • 24:17 Earning $100,000 by Year 3 of freelancing
    • 25:12 Growing an audience on Instagram
    • 28:27 “Will Letter for Lunch” side project
    • 31:28 Getting clients like Microsoft & LinkedIn in less than 1 year
    • 34:12 Flour Crown & Peen Cuisine
    • 39:30 Traveling 1.5 years around the world
    • 40:47 Being inspired more by every day life
    • 44:35 Taking Back Sunday
    • 46:36 Taking a creative sabbatical to go to culinary school
    • 54:48 Would Lauren ever do street art?

    If you’re looking for more inspirational stories, check out:

    • Red Hong Yi: Artist who paints without a paintbrush; She has worked with the likes of Jackie Chan, Google, Facebook and Nespresso. Her artwork was recently featured on TIME Magazine’s 26 April special issue on climate change & TIMEPieces (TIME’s new NFT community initiative)
    • Yulia Brodskaya: Paper artist whose work is owned by Oprah Winfrey, Hermés, The New York Times Magazine & Issey Miyake; and has also created a Forever stamp design for the United States Postal Service in 2016 and Christmas 2017 stamps for the New Zealand Post
    • Lim Pui Wan: Malaysian Miniature Artist who was recently featured on Ryan Reynold’s Snapchat Series, Ryan Doesn’t Know

    If you enjoyed this episode with Lauren Hom, you can: 

    Leave a Review

    If you enjoy listening to the podcast, we’d love for you to leave a review on iTunes / Apple Podcasts. The link works even if you aren’t on an iPhone. 😉

    Patreon

    If you’d like to support STIMY as a patron, you can visit STIMY’s patron page here

    External Links

    Some of the things we talked about in this STIMY Episode can be found below:

    STIMY 66: Lauren Hom - Designer, Illustrator & Hand Lettering Artist

    Lauren Hom: So one of my creative mentors is Justin Gina.

    He was a speaker in one of the classes that I took. Long story short, we had a chance meeting at an advertising party.

    He had worked in advertising and quit to start his own company. I told him, "oh, you know, I'm unhappy, but I'm going to stay for at least a year. So it looks good on my resume."

    because I, I had this idea that if you had less than a year on your resume, your new employer might say, Hey, what happened there?

    Like, did something go wrong? Without skipping a beat, he just looked at me and said, but if you don't want to work in advertising, why does your advertising resume matter?"

    Because I had built this freelance lettering, design stuff on the side, I had more confidence to be able to say, "Hey, I've got this kind of plan B. I can try that out." If I didn't have any of that, I don't think I would have quit my job as soon as I did.

    Ling Yah: Hey everyone! Welcome to episode 66 of the So This Is My Why podcast. I'm your host and producer Ling Yah, and today's guest is Lauren Hom. A designer, illustrator and hand lettering artist who's known for her many viral side projects like daily dishonesty, Will Letter For Lunch and Peen Cuisine.

    Now, what I love about Lauren is she is firstly, a really talented artist. Secondly, she's incredibly entrepreneurial and has managed to explore many of her creative side interests and turn them into a career in really unique ways. Her first side project, while studying landed her a book deal, which gave her the cushion she needed to become a freelancer.

    And when she wants it to do chalk lettering, and at this time she didn't even have a portfolio. She winds up an offer to write the menu of the day on chalk board in exchange for the very same menu throughout Brooklyn in New York. In less than a year, she was designing chalk murals for LinkedIn and Microsoft.

    She's really transparent with her process. How she executes the projects, how she markets them and how much she charges and earns. If you're in a creative field and would love to let how Lauren runs her business, including why she's going on the sabbatical to enter culinary school.

    Oh, maybe you're just interested in how the freelance creative field works. Then this is the episode for you.

    Now a quick note before we start, if you've enjoyed this podcast, I'd love if you could give a quick review on apple podcast or any of the other podcast listening platforms that you're listening to. Reviews and ratings really do help the podcast.

    And I read every one of them. Are you ready? Let's go.

    Lauren Hom: Shout out to May Hom. My grandmother is like a lot of Asian grandmothers. Um, She's very frugal, she's very resourceful. Um, I spent a lot of time with her growing up. She's always very chipper and she's always had the ability to look on the bright side and she always has such a warm and positive demeanor.

    Spending so much time at her house watching her clip coupons. I was always so impressed by the fact that the fact that she kept every plastic bag, every container.

    But as annoying as that might've been for, let's say my aunt or my dad who had to go help her clean the house for me, it was inspiring because it's like, oh, look, grandma is reusing this and she's repurposing this you know, tub of butter into a container for something else.

    And I think that creativity And that turning something into something else has really stuck with me.

    Ling Yah: And your mother is really creative as well. Didn't she used to make your name out of cheese slices?

    Lauren Hom: She did. Yes. So My mom was a stay at home mom and she raised us, took us to school, fed us the after-school snacks.

    And she was always very crafty even though, so she's a nurse by trade. Um, She retired and she would always have a knack for crafts. Like she'd drew my name and bubble letters on my lunch box and she would cut the letters of our name out of slices of cheese and put them on crackers for us.

    If Instagram had been around when my mom was a mom, she would have absolutely crushed it, but little things like that, and even organizing play dates and doing arts and crafts with us. We had a very creative home. There was this little bit of a discomfort line between, oh, Lauren's creative.

    She likes to do art. She likes to dance. She likes creative things, but then, oh, she wants to do it as a career. So there's that encouragement. But then The practicality that set in with my parents, once I turned 15 or 16 and started thinking about what I was going to do for college.

    Ling Yah: When you said art, were you talking about like lettering

    Lauren Hom: as well

    Ling Yah: because you were always drawing words, right? Your friends would ask you to draw their books.

    Lauren Hom: I have been drawing letters my entire life, writing someone's name on the back of their notebook, or someone buying a pair of white shoes and wanting me to paint on them.

    So I technically have been lettering for a very long time, probably two decades.

    Ling Yah: And you often use the multi notice: work hard, snack often. Did it start from your childhood?

    Lauren Hom: I'm sure the seeds were planted for that. I officially adopted that as my motto towards the end of college.

    I don't know, I read some blogs about building your personal website and branding, and there was something mentioned about a tagline and I was like, "Oh shoot,, I need a tagline." and it really got solidified when I won an award.

    And for some reason, The prompt was you had to give a five word acceptance speech. And I ended up publicly saying, um,

    I think my five words were, "remember work hard snack often". It still is. I have it tattooed on my arms actually.

    Ling Yah: So you clearly have a really creative childhood. How do you decide to do advertising which sounds quite different from what you were doing when you were young?

    Lauren Hom: Yes. Well, like I mentioned, I kept learning about the different pockets of the creative world and what creative jobs he could have.

    And I found advertising through- there was a weekend art program at Pasadena art center, which is an art school near where I grew up in California. And so I started taking weekend classes there in high school. They had like a high school program To me, it felt like this perfect mix of getting to be creative for a living, but then also appeasing my parents. and Telling them that like it's in marketing, there's always demand for marketing and I can have a solid job.

    like I can make a salary. And so it kind of felt like the best of both worlds, which is why I went into it.

    Ling Yah: So was the dream, at the time I'm going to graduate, I'm going to be an art director in a big ad agency and get like a hundred thousand dollars by the time you turn 30.

    Lauren Hom: 100%.

    I had this very clear career path. It was go to school for four years, get a creative advertising degree, go to an advertising agency, worked my way up.

    And yeah, by the time I was 30, my goal is I want to be a, either senior art director or assistant creative director, associate creative director, making a hundred thousand dollars. I had a very specific plan.

    Ling Yah: So before things derailed, you went to School of visual arts. What was some of the lessons that really changed the way that you saw art.

    Lauren Hom: I would say the most influential teachers I had at the school of visual arts were Gail Anderson, who was my communication design teacher. Richard Mel, who was my very first typographic teacher. who.

    Ling Yah: Didn't you draw on like three feet by three feet?

    Lauren Hom: Yeah. We had to draw A through Z on these giant pieces of paper. It was like looking at a font with a microscope.

    Right. You get to see all the little curves and the nuances. And I just ate it up and I was fast. I was good at it. And I think that was also the first bit of validation that I got that like, oh, maybe this is something I have a natural talent for. We did this assignment in class, you know, a three hour class or something.

    And I was consistently the first person to finish drawing the letter forms correctly. And I was like, huh, I don't know where that comes from. And my teacher praised me for it. And I was like, oh, okay. Maybe I've got a knack for this, like a natural ability, because so many times people have natural abilities for things, but we just never tap into it because we don't explore those paths.

    Ling Yah: There was another teacher. Gail Anderson, you mentioned.

    Lauren Hom: Yes. Yeah. Gail Anderson. I feel like so much of my story is trying to make these practical creative decisions like with advertising. But

    I took Gail's class because we were allowed to take one or two classes outside of our advertising program.

    And I chose Gail's communication design class because she's a graphic designer who worked with a lot of types.

    The people that I met in school I'd say were pretty pivotal. Through Gail, she put me in touch with Louise Fili who's a very well-known graphic designer who works with a lot of food and restaurant businesses.

    And I got to intern for her for a semester. And that was pretty incredible because she doesn't usually take interns very often. And I'm really grateful to Gail for that, which is why, I try to do the same for other people now. because so many doors were opened for me by these small introduction, these small bits of encouragement.

    And I think you never know when that one introduction or that one nice thing that someone says to you is going to be a game changer.

    Ling Yah: When I was doing the research, it's clear that you're such a hustler. You don't just do one. You can do many, many folds of it all the time. And you've always been the hustler, even when you were studying, you did many odd jobs, you have bar host, you were selling soap for Lush, and then you ended up doing creative work from Craig's list. So how did that transition happened?

    Lauren Hom: When you said a hustler, it jogged a memory for me of my grandma. So my, dad always tells me this story that when my grandma first immigrated here she was detained for a couple months, because paperwork was still getting figured out.

    But while she was detained, her father who was a truck driver who was already living here in the states would bring her candy bars. And instead of eating them, she would sell them to the other immigrants. My dad always tells me that maybe you got it from your grandpa.

    This is obviously a generalization, but all of the Chinese people in my life and this expands to a lot of my Asian friends too are natural born hustlers. They look for the opportunities.

    They know when to take advantage of them, of course, without hurting other people.

    Ling Yah: Even if you say that it has a bad word when other people hear it, when I hear it, I would go, I wish I'd done that.

    I wish I thought of that. So secretly we love it.

    Lauren Hom: Yes, that is totally true. But back to your question about working lots of different jobs. eventually getting gigs on Craigslist. I've always just been a little worker bee. When I first moved to New York to go to college, I was like, I'm going to get a part-time job.

    I did odd jobs that were not design at all. After freshman year, I realized, " hey, I moved across the country to pursue advertising and to work in the creative field."

    So I quit those jobs and I was like, I'm going to just make money. I'm going to try to just make money from creative things, which is why I headed to Craigslist because this school had posted internships.

    And Craigslist back in 2010 was the only place I really need to look. And I don't even know if people are looking to it now. You know, again, with my grandma's like, do what you can with what you have. Craigslist was what I knew. And

    I went and looked in the creative gigs section and started sending my portfolio to anybody who had a remotely creative gig. And I did logos for $50 and I drew portraits of people and I made baby shower presents and anything I could get my hands on.

    And as soon as I started doing that, I got a rush. I really do think that was the foundation for building my confidence.

    I can do anything that I want. I just have to do it in baby steps and figure out little ways to build trust and let people know that I'm offering these services.

    Ling Yah: So you felt that rush doing all these little jobs. Did you feel that rush at work as well while you were a junior director in the big New York city firm?

    Lauren Hom: That's the thing, I thought I would. After I graduated, I and my partner and I got our dream jobs. But a couple months in, I realize that a big difference between working at the agency and doing my own projects or freelancing is the lack of autonomy and the ability to see the project through, to the end.

    So as a junior art director at the bottom of the hierarchy of the agency. We would work late nights, weekends only for the campaign or the deck that we put together to get completely scrapped. I thought I was going to get that same satisfaction from my full-time job as I did with freelancing.

    After a couple of months, the realization was that, with freelancing, I have more autonomy to see the project through and complete it and ship it off. Whereas a junior art director at an agency, we'd work on these pitches and presentations only for them to get completely scrapped and we'd have to start over or work on something else.

    And so having full creative control over the process is so deeply important to me.

    Ling Yah: Wow. So you must have talked about it to your friends, to your roommate.

    I think that was sophie, right?

    Lauren Hom: Yes. Hi Sophie, if you're listening. Uh, My roommate, Sophie. Wow. She's seen me through so many creative ups and downs, but she was the first person after three months of being at my full-time job, we went out and we had some drinks and I just broke down crying and I was like, I'm so unhappy. I feel so ungrateful. And she just held me and like understood. And it felt so good to get that off of my chest.

    And I think. So often my process for making big decisions is being really in my head about it.

    And then a pivotal moment is saying it to somebody else, just getting it out in words. And that starts to move, set things in motion for me to eventually leave that job six months after I cried.

    Ling Yah: Before you decided to leave, didn't you start this project when you were 22, which is called daily dishonesty? How did that come about?

    You have said before that you owe your entire career to daily discipline.

    Lauren Hom: I do. I technically do because you hear people hypothetically talk about as a musician or artist or creative, you need your big break. And that was my big break. It came sooner than I was prepared for it. To backtrack a little bit, as I am looking for gigs on Craigslist in college, I started a tumbler blog where I was hand lettering, little white lies that my girlfriends and I would tell ourselves. We were 21 at the time.

    And it would be little things that my roommates and I would say like, you know, I'll do the dishes tomorrow, or, you'd be like, Hey, you know, we're, we're going out. Like, are you ready? And you'd be like, I'm almost ready, but you actually haven't even started getting ready or I'll be there in five minutes.

    I think it's a combination of all the things we've been talking about where I was taking bits of my daily life. Um, Like the assignments that teachers gave that Gail Anderson give us assignments like, Design an ABC book about any topic of your choice or design a deck of cards uh, about any deck of cards.

    So most people did playing cards, right? But I did recipe cards cause I love to cook. But Gail's open-ended assignments really set me up for doing my own thing.

    So daily dishonesty, I was like, I'm going to do a couple of these a week and I'm going to post them to this blog.

    And they're all going to be lies, It's going to be a big collection of little lies.

    And so I started publishing these and within a couple of weeks, they started like slowly circulating around tumbler, and then they picked up a little more steam.

    and By the time I was graduating college a literary agent had stumbled across the project and reached out. We put together a book proposal and we sold it to a publisher.

    So I had a book deal when I graduated college for this lettering project that I started.

    It was a $25,000 book deal, Yeah, at the time I was probably charging $20 an hour for freelance work. With book stuff, you get half upfront and then half afterwards. So they make sure you actually do the book, but that was the most money I had ever gotten in my life.

    So someone who's 22, I mean, $25,000 may as well have been half a million dollars to me.

    Ling Yah: The incredible thing is that when you created that book, they don't let you reproduce everything they've already done. You have to do what 70% of it has to be new. So the obvious question I'm sure everyone listening is how did you find the time?

    Lauren Hom: Well, those nine months that I worked at the advertising agency, pretty much all of my spare time was spent working on these daily dishonesty illustrations for the book, because you are correct, when you go from a, personal project online to a published book, they want to make sure that readers have enough of an incentive to buy the book.

    So it needed to be 70% new. It is the ability to manage your own time and take advantage of different pockets of time.

    You work an irregular schedule. Some weeks might be 60 hours, some weeks might be 20 hours. So it's a trade-off. And so I've gotten good at managing my own time. And when I need to produce a large amount of work, I can just sit down and do it.

    And so I'm grateful for those early training days, I suppose.

    So I try not to do it too much now.

    Ling Yah: How did go viral? I suppose, were you actively reaching out to people because eventually you appeared in the Los Angeles magazine and that brought it to a whole other level.

    Lauren Hom: Yeah, it started organically because I was lettering these things that people could relate to.

    I'll be there in five minutes, It was a naturally shareable project. People started sharing it among their peers, and then other artists started reaching out to me asking, "Hey, this is a really cool project. Can I contribute one?'

    So I started letting people contribute their own little white lie and it became 90%, me, 10% guest artists. but It expanded to be in collaborative. And then some more designers started knowing about it.

    And then my literary agent reached out to me a couple months after launching the blog, because she had saw a couple pieces on Pinterest. And she said, " hey, in order to make this more attractive to publishers, you should send your blog out to these hundred websites to see if they'll do a profile on it or feature it. I reached out. I was so surprised at how many people said yes.

    And If you pitch something that's genuinely a good fit for their publication, you're helping them do their job better. You just made their life easier.

    And so for anyone who's listening, who's afraid to pitch or to put their work out there, just send the email. The worst that can happen is you don't get a response.

    Ling Yah: Was there a particular format that you found was effective in getting attention from people?

    Lauren Hom: Just a short and sweet email, very straight to the point.

    Hi, my name's Lauren. I run this project called daily dishonesty. It would be a great fit for your site because of X, Y, and Z. Here's a link I think your readers would really enjoy. And then I've also attached a couple of samples of them and just send, send, send. Maybe things are different now because people are getting more emails than ever, but it worked. There are ways to do a proper press release or to have a more attention grabbing subject line, but don't let that stop you from reaching out in the first place.

    Ling Yah: Do you feel that experience helped you when you were reaching out to illustration agents. What was that whole idea behind wanting an agent?

    Lauren Hom: Absolutely. So that dipping my toes in the water of pitching helped me get more comfortable reaching out for other things that I wanted, because previously I had only thought of personal projects as I'm going to put this out here and it'll attract people versus going out to actually get the project in front of other people.

    And I'm still very much like my natural style is attracting versus like pitching I don't pitch for clients very often, but with the agent, this is going to sound like such an overly simplified answer, but it's the truth. I saw other illustrators that I admired and they had agents. And so I figured maybe having an agent is helpful.

    So I really just, it made the same way that having an agent was going to help make me feel more credible. Even if it didn't actually do much at the time, still. Maybe 23.

    I had turned 23 and I was really self-conscious about my age that no one would take me seriously.

    If I were to go run my own business now, the freelance projects I had picked up in the past didn't seem as high stakes as being like a full-time freelancer. I just thought that having an agent would help me charge more money.

    And to be honest, it did mostly because I didn't have to be the one asking for the money.

    Ling Yah: Did you find it was helpful as well to just turn down certain clients? Because you wrote this amazing blog really long one about the gray area and how most clients are in that gray area. How do you decide to say yes or no?

    Lauren Hom: Yeah. I consider my agent, my business body guard. He can help me do the thing that I don't want to do myself, like have the hard conversations, turning clients down while also keeping a good relationship going.

    Like recently, I can't say names, but we turned down an opportunity to work with a pretty big client who had a cool project, but the pay was just not good.

    It doesn't close the door. They just know I'm more expensive and If they want to hire me in the future and they have the budget to do so, they'll just keep me in mind for that. It's a really tricky thing, because if you say yes to free or underpaid work. People will always assume you're going to do it for free.

    Like you set your price when you say yes in a way. so that's the bare minimum, making sure that I'm getting paid a fair amount the bare minimum.

    And so this amount just wasn't fair. And I understand the budget constraints too, but having my agent there to turn stuff like that down, but leave the door open has been very helpful.

    And your agent in this case is Ryan Appleton. Shout out to Ryan.

    Shout out to Ryan.

    Ling Yah: I mean, I had a really positive experience with it.

    He was always very, very responsive, very, very friendly. So, you had that conversation, you found an agent, then you had another conversation with Justin who helped steer your path towards deciding to quit.

    What was that like?

    Lauren Hom: Yes. So one of my creative mentors is Justin Gina.

    He is the founder of a website called working networking, which is a tool for freelancers and recruiters. And he graduated from the same school that I went to. He was a speaker in one of the classes that I took. Long story short, we had a chance meeting at an advertising party.

    He had worked in advertising and quit to start his own company. I told him, "oh, you know, I'm unhappy, but I'm going to stay for at least a year. So it looks good on my resume."

    because I, I had this idea that if you had less than a year on your resume, your new employer might say, Hey, what happened there?

    Like, did something go wrong? Without skipping a beat, he just looked at me and said, but if you don't want to work in advertising, why does your advertising resume matter?"

    Because I had built this freelance lettering, design stuff on the side, I had more confidence to be able to say, "Hey, I've got this kind of plan B. I can try that out." If I didn't have any of that, I don't think I would have quit my job as soon as I did.

    Ling Yah: A lot of creatives I spoke to just before they make that leap, they will say, oh, I already had commissions lineup so I could kind of plan it. And I had a little cushion just in case nothing panned out. Was it the same for you?

    Lauren Hom: Absolutely. So I had a pretty structured plan. I wanted to have six months of living expenses saved up just as the cushion. Obviously A big reason I was able to quit my job so soon is because I had the money from the book deal, which turned out to be this safety raft that I didn't know I was going to need, right.

    I worked on my portfolio, transitioning it from an advertising portfolio to a lettering and design portfolio.

    And I started reaching out to agents. I ideally wanted to have an agent by the time I was ready to quit, which ended up happening. So that was great. And I just started sharing more of my design and lettering work on the internet.

    The first day that I don't have to go into the office, I still wasn't a hundred percent confident that I could make the same salary with freelance work.

    So I got a part-time job. I was doing freelance, but then I was walking dogs on the side a couple of days a week. And I did that for like five, six months. And it was great because it got me out of the house because that's one of the things that I didn't consider when I first quit my job is like go from having hundreds of coworkers to being alone in your room for work.

    That socially is very jarring. So just having a reason to go out walk some dogs, talk with people was I think actually a pretty healthy transition.

    Ling Yah: You've written a blog you were saying that you were targeting a hundred thousand by 30 and you said actually hit half a million. So you are way beyond the target. Clearly it worked out.

    Lauren Hom: A hundred thousand dollars by the age of 30 felt attainable. it felt like pretty realistic.

    I would say I'm not a big bull Fetter. Like when I set goals, they're pretty realistic goals because I don't like to be disappointed. And yeah, that was just the number in my head. The third year of me freelancing, I hit a hundred thousand dollars in pay.

    So I was pretty excited about that. My freelance business picked up and then I started teaching and speaking and the business just expanded. You know, Asian parents want their kids to be doctors.

    And I tell them at least I'm making doctor money now. I'm an artist, but I make doctor money, right?

    Ling Yah: For sure. Around late 2013, that's when you started getting serious on Instagram, could you tell us are there strategies behind growing it? Because I think that's your main plateform and you don't look at any other platforms.

    Lauren Hom: That's my main platform. I started on tumbler. I would consider a tumbler, a social platform, like, especially in its heyday Yeah, I got an Instagram right after I graduated college and was posting you know, selfies, pictures of my breakfast. And Then I started posting just snapshots of my work and notice that that was getting more likes than my selfies or my breakfast.

    So maybe with that little kind of like, oh, okay. Maybe people want to see more of that. So I started sharing more of my work and it turned into an Instagram following and keep in mind too. I've been, I guess, wow. 2013 to now, 20 21.

    eight years. it's been fairly slow, but consistent growth.

    I always tell people the first getting your first hundred followers seems so hard. And then the first thousand seems even harder once you start. I think once you hit. A couple of thousand, then it starts to pick up and then there's like weird social proof, compound interest thing starts to happen where the jump between 5,000 and 10,000 felt a lot easier than the jump between 100 and 500. And once you hit 10,000, then it just keeps going. So My following has grown the most in the last couple of years.

    For me, it was just consistently sharing my work. obviously Instagram was a lot different to back in 2013 and we don't a hundred percent know how it even works now. And so it really just has been consistently sharing. I'd say. Working on cohesive projects. And so we've touched on this a bit like With daily dishonesty, I probably created a hundred pieces of these little white lies and I think giving people series to follow and some like focus to your work can be really helpful.

    Ling Yah: I thought what was very funny for me was there was these two posts you posted and it's about this gorgeous mirror you have a room now that was a different mural. And you said there was one of you painting it and they didn't get as much following as the one of you destroying it and painting over it. So you never know what people like.

    Lauren Hom: The number of likes and engagement you get on your post, doesn't say anything about how good your art is because the post of me painting over my mural with just a solid color, got more engagement than me painting the whole mural. So the amount of effort you put in to your art or whatever you're making has no effect really on what the engagement is going to be.

    And actually knowing this information has been liberating for me because oftentimes in the past I've tried to make this correlation that oh, if I work extra hard on something, it'll do extra well on Instagram. And that's just not the case. It's kind of like a lottery, you really never know what's going to catch on. And the most important thing is you are proud of it for your portfolio, or it helped you grow as an artist. And you never know what's going to take off

    Ling Yah: I would love to jump back to your passion projects because I just loved the fact that you, you leverage on this to expand and do different things, which then become something you're very known for. So I think the second big thing you did was, Letter for lunch. Can you tell us about that project, which I love by the way?

    Lauren Hom: Yeah, absolutely. Again, this, I feel like this is my grandma's thriftiness coming through.

    So I was interested in chalkboard lettering and I started this project called " letter for lunch", where I decided to go around and offer a restaurant owners. I would say, "Hey, I'm a lettering artist in the neighborhood I'm offering to do chalkboard signs, like your daily specials on that A-frame outside in exchange for whatever I write on the chalkboard." So if I wrote, "lunch: special soup and salad and chips" or something, I would write that on the board in nice lettering.

    And then they'd give me soup, salad and chips. And then I take a picture of the food and post the chalk sign and the food on a tumbler blog.

    And I was like, I'm going to do this project for six months a year. We'll see. And I want to build a chalk lettering portfolio that way. Because in my mind, the format is do the work yourself, prove that I can do chalk lettering, put it online, put it in my portfolio, and then clients will see it and say, "Hey, she does chalk lettering. Let's hire her for chalk lettering."

    It's like a way of telling people what you're interested in doing without verbally saying it per se, it's like actions speak louder than words is kind of my creative philosophy. So I did that and I figured worst case scenario I offered this to restaurants and no one would say yes. and Oh well. There's not too much that's lost. Maybe I'm a little embarrassed but that's fine.

    And I launched the project and it took off again. I was living in New York at the time, which I will say this for anyone listening, New York is just so dense. The restaurant scene is so strong that I'm not sure I could have done this project in another city as successfully.

    So I do think New York was a big component there. That project was perfect for New York. And So I started doing these chalkboards and sharing them online and long story short, the same thing happened with daily dishonesty. People started sharing it with other people.

    And what was surprising to me was it started spreading in the restaurant community first before the design community, because guess what? Restaurant owners know other restaurant owners who also have chalkboard signs and like this is pretty typical business and marketing. Word of mouth is still, in my opinion, the most powerful marketing tool. you can run ads, you can have the best strategy.

    You can have the most beautifully designed website, but a personal endorsement from someone who knows that you're looking for a service. or something and can say, Hey, I know someone that seals the deal for me every time. So that was a really powerful project. Built my chalk lettering portfolio. Added like another service to my already growing lettering business without distracting.

    Cause there's a, there's a fine line between, again, my niche for now model, like adding other things and then having so many things that your portfolio and business are unfocused and people don't know what you do and you lose a bit of that specialist quality, which can be harder to attract clients then. So adding one thing at a time has been the most successful formula for me.

    Ling Yah: And how did you go from you know, working for restaurant owners to less than a year designing for like Samuel Adams, Microsoft, LinkedIn? That's a whole other playing field.

    Lauren Hom: The same thing happened. where I started again spreading through the restaurant community

    It's almost like these different kind of rings or layers of people who know people it's like the six degrees of separation. So restaurant owners know people in food media like people who write about restaurants.

    So the project started getting shared and profiled on food websites. of like, Hey, there's this artist in New York, who's doing this thing.

    And new York magazine picked it up again. Reporters and writers are looking for things to write about and things to share. Editors are looking for these things already. You are not bothering them. And I didn't even pitch this yet, but the story just started circulating around the food community. enough for someone to probably word of mouth, you know, told a friend who was a writer, right.

    We all have a friend who has a job where they can open doors for other people.

    So that started happening. Buzz was circulated. And people started associating me with chalk lettering and like the Samuel Adams project, for example, another artist actually gave me that project because she's a chalk lettering artist.

    We had been kind of internet friends for awhile. She had been contacted for this project, but couldn't take it on. So she gave me that project and then older clients who had hired me for other projects in the past were like, oh, you do chalk now.

    And like brought me in for chalk things. So it just happened organically again, that kind of attracting a method of, I'm going to put this out there. I'm going to, I'm going to do it in a way that hopefully generate some buzz with a consistent series. And yeah, it was just one small thing at a time. I feel like it was six degrees of separation.

    And the fact that I had just p ut myself out there and built my own chalk lettering portfolio.

    Ling Yah: Do you start these projects with a clear end date in sight? That you would say that, okay, I'm going to finish this in one year and that's it. And move on to the next.

    Lauren Hom: I usually don't set specific parameters, but now that I teach, I tell my students that if that is helpful for you, then choose either a timeframe or a set number of pieces that you're going to commit to.

    So like I'm going to do 10, or I'm going to do 20.

    So For me, it's usually just a gut feel kind of thing. I usually will use a passion project to explore a new skill or idea. They usually range from six months to a year. I usually just do it until I feel like I have enough of a mastery in the skill and, or I'm satisfied with the amount I've produced.

    And then I just write a little blurb, like, thanks so much for following along with the series, you know, time to move on to bigger and better things, stuff like that.

    Ling Yah: There were two other projects that I liked. Flower crown and Peen cuisine. Was this your venture into the food world?

    Lauren Hom: Yes. So I've always been interested in food.

    I've been a home cook for probably 20 years and it's always been my kind of hobby passion on the side that I've never, never monetized in a traditional sense. One of my dreams is to write a cookbook someday. I think that would be so cool either to write, one or design one or illustrate one. Maybe both.

    I had pitched some food themed projects to my literary agent who helped me sell daily dishonesty. And she wrote back to me saying, "Hey, these are cool, but you don't have any, like, not in a mean way.

    She said like, you don't have any credibility in food. Like No editor is going to publish a book from a artist necessarily about cooking, unless, you know, you had a track record or expertise."

    And I said, okay. Well, the same way that I built an audience with daily dishonesty around lettering and humor, maybe I can start nudging my audience towards associating Lauren with food.

    So I did a project called fire crowns . where it wasn't lettering, which was a nice creative break for me. Even if you love what you do and you're good at it, it can become a little bit creatively tedious when you're only doing one thing, even if you're making money from it, which is still great. So I photographed myself wearing these very elaborate crowns that I made out of bread. Cookies, crackers, bread, toast, all that stuff, and would share them online, with my other lettering stuff. And That is a portfolio piece now.

    And I think while I haven't been hired by a client to like make a crown, for example, I think it really did help nudge my portfolio and work in a food direction.

    which ultimately ended up.

    Serving me now because I'm going to go into food in the future, but it was just a fun, personal project that I did. And people, still come up to me now and talk about that project. And it made me realize that, oh, maybe that was a good way to differentiate myself and like, let people know what I like, because how many lettering artists out there do you know who also do bread crowns? there are so many intangible benefits for all these personal projects that I do. And like the first two, we talked about daily dishonesty and we'll let her for lunch, had very tangible results. And I liked talking about projects like flower crowns that didn't necessarily end in a book deal or end in a big client project because I still think they have a lot of value.

    Ling Yah: And what about the thought process behind the peen project?

    Were you thinking, oh, this might be controversial. People might not like it so much, but it took off.

    Lauren Hom: Yes. So for anyone who doesn't know Penn cuisine, my humorous salad food blog, where again it started from an inside joke with my girlfriends. Especially because I think in most cultures, sex is still very taboo to talk about, especially as a woman.

    I talked with my agent, I talked with some friends and someone had even suggested have you considered doing the project anonymously just so you can do the project, but like maybe if they were repercussions, like clients didn't want to work with you, then they just wouldn't know it was you.

    And I thought about it and I was like, wow. Maybe the stems from, you know, my wanting the work to have a purpose and being able to have autonomy. I don't think a project is worth doing if I'm not comfortable putting my name on it. I think it kind of goes against the whole purpose of being a woman, a woman who's going to do a project that is slightly controversial. depending on who you ask, that's related to sex. So I wanted to do it for me and my girlfriends. And I knew it was going to be one of those projects that made people who already liked my work, who have the same sense of humor as me. It would make them even bigger fans. And it would make people who didn't think it was funny, want to stay far away, which I was fine with.

    The internet is a big place. We know we can't please everybody. And yeah, I was comfortable putting it out there and I had enough friends who supported me that it felt comfortable to do.

    I've still been able to run my business pretty much the same as before. If anything, it's been a net positive.

    because you know, there's so many podcasts to listen to so many people to learn from so many artists to support. Sometimes the thing that can differentiate you is sharing your weird sense of humor or sharing things about you that make your audience feel like they have a deeper connection with you.

    And that could be as silly as, thinking that something like Kean cuisine is funny.

    Ling Yah: Have you ever done any project that you wish you hadn't done or meet some kind of mistake?

    Ooh,

    Lauren Hom: that's interesting. I haven't done a personal project that I've regretted. I've regretted taking on some client projects before that, you know, maybe my gut was telling me, I'm not sure, but maybe I'll okay, I'll take the money and then you learn from that.

    But I really can't say that I've regretted taking on or creating any projects because I think my mentality is whatever decisions that I made at the time was the right decision for me with the information that I had. And like, even if I in hindsight regret taking on a project, I learned from it.

    So it's o kay.

    Ling Yah: And what do you feel you learned from your one and a half years traveling around the world with your partner right?? And then he ended up going to do his own startup on backpacks.

    Lauren Hom: Yeah. Traveling taught me to slow down a bit, which was really great.

    because living in New York, you just get steeped in the culture of what's around you.

    And if everybody else is working 60 hours a week, it feels normal to work 60 hours a week. And at the same time, like I'm so happy. I got my start in New York because that's where people move. People who move there are ambitious and they're

    looking to advance their careers. And there is a lot of comradery with that.

    And I'm so grateful for that. But I do think it was great for me to step outside of that for a prolonged period of time. to just remember that, oh, people live differently, other places, and that work isn't the center of the world for everybody. And it was just a nice, I think it was a nice exercise to, in really solidifying the idea that I can work remotely and that

    I'm so lucky to be able to work remotely.

    we moved to Detroit and like set up home-based here because as fun as it is to backpack around the world, they're also our comforts about having a home that living out of a backpack longterm just was never going to be feasible.

    Ling Yah: You wrote saying that after that experience, you found you weren't more inspired from that traveling as opposed to just the everyday life.

    And I'm wondering if you could share a bit about that.

    Lauren Hom: As amazing as traveling was, and seeing all these places around the world for my creative work that I do, like all of my passion projects, they're really inspired by everyday life, inside jokes with friends, just things I noticed walking around.

    and I do think that holistically that's been part of why my work has been so sharable is that I make work based on things that are just happening in my everyday life, which inherently makes them more relatable than, something like seeing the Eiffel tower, is nice and aspirational perhaps, but not relatable for the vast majority of people.

    And I'm not saying that everyone's work needs to be relatable at all costs because it's impossible to be. But I find that the areas where I just naturally get the most inspiration are chats with friends over a glass of wine or inside jokes or funny things that happen, stubbing your toe on the corner of the coffee table, things like that.

    Ling Yah: Let's move to the current time, which is COVID. And I wonder how has COVID impacted you and the work that you're doing?

    Lauren Hom: It's been a journey. Early in the pandemic, I felt very grateful to be able to keep working. Most of my projects still went through because I work remotely and I'm creating digital art. But a couple months in mid 20 20, I got into a pretty bad creative slump.

    I tried to be gentle with myself, let myself not create for a while and rest.

    And it never felt great, but I did go through a bit of a creative slump and The way that I got out of it was filling it and letting myself play with my work again. which. I wish there was like a magic key to letting myself do that. But it was really just like a six month process of thinking about it, realizing that, how can I create art when the world's in so much pain is not helpful thinking and just giving myself permission to have some fun again, because it doesn't help anybody if I'm paralyzed with fear of making anything that could be seen as frivolous was helpful. And now I feel better.

    but I just want to let anyone out there who's currently struggling with this, know that you don't have to do everything.

    At its core, your art and your creative work is for you because I think it's so nice to have work that does help other people too. But I think what I can't remember who told me this, but someone was consoling me, when I was kind of in my creative funk. And they were basically saying that by you just pursuing the creative things that make you happy and sharing that it's again, without saying it necessarily, your actions are telling people that, Hey, I'm doing this.

    You can too, you can give yourself permission to. It can really give other people permission to do the same. because I think so much about art. We try to give it a deeper meaning or a purpose, and sometimes art is just for you. And sometimes it's just. A nice relaxing, like on your nervous system, just a calming hobby.

    and I think it can be tricky and this might be why I got in that head space of being like, what does it all mean? Like, does it need to be important when you do something for a living and attaches another meaning to it? And so getting back into a space of treating art, like a playful hobby has been really helpful for me during the pandemic, because I just got to a point where I was like, this isn't helpful for anybody, me, or people following me for me to just kind of be stuck in this place where I can't cheer something on less.

    It has a deep message behind it.

    Ling Yah: One of the projects I love that you did was taking back Sunday. And how helpful was that in getting you out of that creative funk.

    Lauren Hom: That was the project that got me out of my creative funk. So when I mentioned being playful with my work, so I started that project taking back Sunday, which is food styling.

    So It's kind of a combination of all of my skills leading up to here. So I love like email pop punk music from high school so I decided to create a series of ice cream sundaes based on all of my favorite albums. It was played for me because, one, it was a topic that I know a lot about and that makes me happy.

    And two, I don't have any food styling skills. This is a good excuse for me to experiment and not have any pressure on myself to like, be an amazing food stylist right away.

    It was the only time in my life where I truly could approach a project with no expectations and no pressure on myself. because I was a beginner lettering artist. No one knew who I was. It didn't matter if the project took off or it didn't take off because I just didn't have any expectations. Whereas now it's something like taking back Sunday. Yes. I let myself play. I'm new at food styling, so there's less pressure, but I do miss a bit of that, like naivety a that came with, I'm just going to make a thing and put it out there because now I know what passion projects can do. And it's impossible for me not to look at them through a slightly strategic lens, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

    It's just changed it a little bit. So I'm hoping that, you know, flower crowns, keen cuisine and taking back Sunday, these projects are planting the seeds for future work with m ore food and or some food styling with that. It's been a natural progression again, the niche for now.

    Ling Yah: So is that why you are deciding to firstly, take a creative sabbatical and go to culinary school? What's the thought process behind that?

    Lauren Hom: Yes. So back to your original question about how the pandemic has affected, like my work too. I think at least in my friend group, I saw the two main categories people fell into were, I just want consistency and comfort right now because the world is in so much turmoil.

    And then. The other group of people's responses in my life were like, oh my gosh, the world is in so much turmoil. Anything can happen. Life is precious. I'm wanting to make a big life decision and be more in alignment with what I really want to do. It was like a wake-up call to some people. And I fell more into that camp where I think I realized I've been doing lettering for eight years.

    I'm so grateful to be making a great living from it. And at the same time, I'm starting to feel a little bored and it's something that I never, no one ever talked to me about. I started having those feelings creep in again that I had when I was unhappy at art job.

    And even though I'm not unhappy now I started thinking you should just be grateful that you have a job.

    You should be grateful that you're living someone else's dream, you know, all that talk that comes in to try to convince you to stay the same or to not make a change. And creatively. I knew in my gut like, okay, I've made a career transition once to be more in alignment with the creative work I wanted to do.

    I'm in the driver's seat here. I am so fortunate to have the autonomy, to still run my creative business remotely mostly. I have more flexibility in my career now. I have money now, so I can afford to go get another education if I want to.

    So I was like, you know what, it's been a lifelong dream to go to culinary school. And I think that with the thoughts that came into my mind during the pandemic, being in my current business for eight years, having the security and stability, now, it makes sense.

    The aha moment I had was my answer for the last decade whenever anyone asks me, you know, if you won the lottery and didn't have to work, what would you do? And it's actually a really great question to ask yourself once in a while, because oftentimes the answers were like, well, the dream thing to do would be X, Y, and Z. And we don't think it's realistic though, because winning the lottery is so unrealistic.

    But my answer has always been, oh, I go to culinary school and then just host elaborate dinner parties for people. I love hosting. I love bringing people together and cooking food and sharing conversations over you know, good food and drinks. And then I had the realization during the pandemic that, okay, if that's my lottery dream, that's actually pretty attainable.

    Like I don't have to win the lottery to do that. It just didn't cost that much money. And so that was the catalyst for me saying. Oh, realizing that I had the power to do that was new to me because the lottery question positions it as a dream. And I was like, oh, this is like a rare opportunity to be able to do this.

    Also, the fact that I'm turning 31 in or two weeks. And so I figured if there was ever a time to make a career pivot, it would be now. because in 10 years, like if we have a family, I can't do that as easily.

    So it's again, kind of seizing the moment.

    Ling Yah: If everything works out the way you wish it to be, where would you like to be in 10 years?

    Lauren Hom: In 10 years, I would love to be making the same amount of money if not more doing something with food. I would love to be able to make doctor money. but with food.

    A nd I don't know what that's going to look like. And actually, I think a lot of times in my life having stability and having like a predictable outcome has been comforting, but now in my life, because I've been running my business for Ooh, eight years now.

    And if I continue down the same path, like it let's say food, isn't a part of it. It's becoming more predictable, like rinse and repeat, which is not bad. I'm so grateful, but there's something about that that seems like I just know I'm going to get bored. And so I know that as an artist and a creative entrepreneur, part of my job is to keep myself excited about the work that I'm doing. because.

    That's one of the, I don't want to say pitfalls, but one of the considerations about running your own business, where you are a big part of the creative output is let's say you're an influencer or an artist or someone who's building any kind of personal brand, or even if you're the CEO and the brand is you're a big part of the brand story.

    Part of the business is you, therefore part of the job is making sure that you are engaged.

    whereas it's so interesting. I feel like we could have a whole other episode on this. My partner, his business is not attached to him. He is a part of it, but he is building a business that he could sell in the future.

    Whereas my business, unless someone else's last name is Hom, like I don't know if they want to buy my business. and so that's one of the things that as a, creative entrepreneur, I know that like culinary school is an investment. Yeah. Keeping my excitement and the spark alive in my business.

    Ling Yah: Obviously you are doing so many amazing things. I love the fact that every time you start a new project, everyone just jumps on board, wants to support it for people who are listening. Is there anything they can do to support you?

    Lauren Hom: Ooh, the best way that people can support me is you can follow me on Instagram. It's " basically hom sweet hom" without the E in hom. I got lucky with my last name. I don't know what I would have done for my brand name had my parents' last names been switched.

    I'm half Chinese and half Japanese. My mother's maiden name is Shimabukuro, which is very long and probably wouldn't work for a quick, punny business name.

    And then I also teach online classes in lettering, mural, painting, passion projects, which is, I'd say still my specialty and my favorite thing to teach around and people can find that on my website too.

    You can basically find everything about me, Hom sweet hom dot com or my app with my handle on social media platforms.

    Ling Yah: I was looking through your passion project course. shout out to that because you've had amazing testimonials. There's one subpar parks, and you have so many people who do that project and that ends up being the way that they pivot and make it a full-time career.

    Lauren Hom: Yeah. It's so exciting to see people who use their passion projects to get closer to where they want to go. whether that's making more side income, maybe they like their full-time job, but they want to make more money on the side. Or maybe it is like you said, to make a career pivot where it's like, I'm going to use passion projects to eventually leave my full-time job, because I want to try freelancing in the subpar parks projects. case that again, caught a good wave of internet.

    It blew up. Amber was able to quit her job and now runs her own like design studio and has her own line of products and has a book. It's actually quite incredible. I emailed her saying, "it's so touching to see almost the exact same thing happened to her as it did to me with, her passion project and my passion project."

    But Other students have gotten book deals, internships.

    the best description. And my, my number one pitch for passion projects for creatives is passion projects are like the rudder on a ship and you can just help get yourself a little bit closer to where you want to go. And like, I've talked about so many times in our conversation, just little baby steps towards the direction that your gut is telling you creatively.

    You want to go really do pay off over time. Like when I did flower crowns in 2016, I had no plans to go to culinary school. I didn't know that in five years, I'd want to make a pivot. I don't know how big this pivot is going to be, but we'll see. But you're basically planting seeds for future you the same way that I didn't know that having the financial safety net of a book deal was going to help me quit my job. I thought I was going to love my job. And so all these little things that current you is doing for future you, I guarantee you you'll be thanking current you.

    Ling Yah: And the thing that's amazing about this course is you don't have to want to be doing lettering. Can be anything, right?

    Lauren Hom: Yeah. Any visual, creative things. That's where I've seen people have the most success.

    You can learn from specific people who have very specific experience. And because I'm a visual artist, the stuff that I teach is most applicable to visual artists. because I'm a big believer in only teaching what you know, and that's all I can really do.

    Ling Yah: And just before we end when I was researching you, whenever I think of people who are doing less rate, I always think of my friends who are street artists, graffiti artists.

    And I wonder if you've ever be tempted to explore that field, which is very different and be a bit like Timothy Goodman, for instance.

    Lauren Hom: Yes, I think so. I'm a muralist, which has some crossover with street art, but I personally never got an industry art. I think it's what we were talking about earlier.

    And I know some street art is commissioned and like you can get permits and things, but I also know there is another arm of street art where the whole point is to not get permission. And for me, I think I'm just too risk averse. Like that's the real of doing that or the statement you're trying to make by doing that, it has never resonated with me deeply enough to take the risk.

    would say that I'm a, rule follower in some capacity, but I also push the limits in my own ways. I am very much a give yourself permission kind of person, but I think the risk of getting caught in public painting on a wall is, I don't know, personally scary for me. So I'd rather take smaller risks.

    Or do something like pink cuisine, right? Pink cuisine is my street art mentality.

    Ling Yah: it's risky but it's a measured kind of risky.

    Lauren Hom: Yes. A measured risk. I think I'd be so bummed if the next day, whatever I created was like painted over right away because it wasn't supposed to be there or it wasn't authorized. Which is why the kind of murals that I paint typically are commissioned or like indoors for small businesses or offices. It wasn't an intentional choice.

    I think it's just my art style and where people naturally hire me to paint. That's just kind of where it ended up, but I love love street artists. Loved Timothy Goodman's work. Props to you for having the guts to do it.

    Ling Yah: And if anyone wants to do this mural art, you've done a fantastic 10 part series on Instagram.

    And you also have a course for people to learn.

    Lauren Hom: Yes. By the time this episode comes out, the course will likely not be open for enrollment. I opened my two like signature courses seasonally because I could not remember to market my classes when they were just available all the time.

    I need a container, I need a deadline. I have so many free mural painting resources if anyone's interested in getting into that on my website or in my Instagram story highlights. And yes, I have a 10 part mural painting series too. on my, I was going to say IGTV, but I'm pretty sure they just transitioned it to like the video section of my Instagram.

    Ling Yah: Well, thank you so much Lauren. I have loved this conversation. I normally end all my interviews with these questions.

    So the first one is this. Do you feel that you have found your WHY?

    Lauren Hom: I feel like I'm going to be in constant pursuit of a definitive WHY. However, I do think my WHY, at least behind my art is, and has always been personal satisfaction.

    It's the autonomy around creativity. It's so empowering to me that anyone could, like, be sitting at home with a scrap of paper and a pencil and you can draw whatever you want.

    There's it's so empowering to me. And even though I do it for a living now, and it has changed things, my why behind creating artwork will always be for me. And I don't feel bad saying that,

    Ling Yah: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

    Lauren Hom: I think I'd like to leave behind a legacy of fun and play and also encouraging people to be open and share.

    I think teaching is something that came naturally to me. And it's because so many people taught me and shared information with me that it's, I think going to be my life's work to try to do the same for other people by, for example, writing blog posts that are public. so anyone can learn from.

    but at the same time, balancing that with the knowledge that I can't be available to everybody because the Internet's huge. Right? So Setting boundaries while also trying to create things that help the most number of people I think is going to be my life's work and like something I struggle with and thrive at for my entire life.

    But the legacy I would like to leave behind is encouraging other people to do that as well. Because I think when we share information, we all win. because you can't change and you can't improve what you don't know already. Even in small conversations, people sharing bits of like, how much did you get paid for that project?

    Or, you know, what should I include in this email? Even knowing little things like that can be a game changer for some people. It has been for me.

    Ling Yah: Just a little side note on that. I mean, like, especially in this part of the world, sharing what you earn, it's a bit of a taboo, it's a sort of would you do that? But you're so open about it.

    I listened to your Adobe max session and you just share, "This is the course. This is how I marketed. This is how much I earned. On your blog, you do the same.

    What's the thought process behind that? Has it impacted you in a negative way that people think it will?

    Lauren Hom: If it has impacted me negatively, no one shared it.

    Even though I try to be as transparent as I can publicly, it's scary because so much of our social conditioning has been, don't talk about it. If you talk about money, it's seen as rude because especially if you make a lot of money, it's seen as bragging, which is weird too, because our parents want to brag about how well their kids are doing, but you can't say it.

    Your mom and dad can say it, but you can't say it.

    It's such a weird thing. And I gotten to the place in my life where I think that money is neutral. You're not good for having it and you're not bad for not having it.

    How can I be helpful to the most amount of people without sacrificing my boundaries? Being transparent about money and being honest is the easiest way for me to do that.

    Like for my Adobe max talk, if I talk about how much I've earned from this or that people can watch that and then interpret it through their own experience and say, okay, maybe I would like to do this kind of thing.

    And it's good to know that this is how much effort it takes. This is how much money you can make. I always like to be transparent too about this is how many followers I had. This is what I did for marketing.

    because. While I think it can be inspirational. You see a lot of advice of like, you know, I can do it.

    I did it. So can you here's the Instagram, like one minute version of how to do it. It lacks a lot of the nuance of the specific situation. And I think honesty and transparency is the most helpful thing. So that's what informs me gathering the courage to share numbers, because I'll be honest, it's not comfortable.

    I'm still fighting against social conditioning that tells us that it's bad to talk about money. You're going to make other people feel bad. You're going to make other people jealous. You're going to make other people feel poorly about you, or they're going to want to come take your money. But I think as a member of the creative industry, it's the most helpful thing I can do because it's the information I wish my favorite artists had shared. And some of them did when I was first researching. If you could be an illustrator or lettering artist and like there's no glass door for us, right. There's no way to see. And we also know that it's not consistent in year to year. And I'm also fully aware that even if I have a year where my business makes a ton of money, there can be a year where it doesn't. It's not linear and it's not like a slow, climb in terms of growth. if you work full-time maybe you get a couple percent salary raise every year or a bonus. And for us it's just different.

    Ling Yah: There was once you said that, you were earning 30,000 a month and the next and nothing at all,

    Lauren Hom: It can be scary, which is why, like, honestly the best tip.

    and you touched on this too, of, going freelance. If you're thinking about leaving your job is. saving up money before you quit. Your job is the most practical bit of advice. It will help you weather the storm of the ups and the downs.

    And it'll make sure that you're still comfortable and can make decisions that are true to you versus necessarily like taking a job just because you really need to pay your rent. This month. That's a position. I don't want anyone to be in, but it's natural to find yourself in that position early on. And it's just, if at all possible before someone goes freelance, six months of living expenses is ideal.

    Ling Yah: And what'd you think are the most important qualities of a successful person?

    Lauren Hom: I'm going to have to go with resilience. I think that the ability to be resilient and if possible, coupled with optimistic is a really powerful combination because I was recently talking with a friend who recently went freelance.

    She was saying it's been going good so far, but I can feel myself a little bit nervous. Like I'm waiting for something to go wrong.

    Knowing that things will go wrong, but that you're capable of figuring it out. Having that self-assurance is so powerful. Um, And I'm really grateful that my family instilled that in me because that's what creativity is. It's figuring out what to do with what you've got in front of you.

    Ling Yah: And for people listening who would love to follow you, find out what you're doing, where can they go to reach out?.

    Lauren Hom: People can find me pretty much everywhere on the internet at "hom sweet hom".

    It's my website, Instagram, Facebook. I'm not really on Twitter. so don't bother. But I think Instagram is the place where I'm most active right now.

    Maybe in the next couple of years, I'll be forced to move to tick tock. If you want to send me an email, you can, but there's like a 25% chance I'll get back to you.

    unless it's a client project because.

    I've tried to take advice over the years of, you know, hiring an assistant. And like, I do have one full-time employee, but she's a designer.

    My admin stuff, my agent handles.

    But things like requests for student interviews or personal advice. I just don't have the bandwidth for right now.

    So I think engaging with me on social media is the best way for now or taking one of my online classes to get a bit of my thought process or listening to the Ooh, probably dozens of podcasts interviews I've done over the years. There's probably like 20 or 30 of them. So soak that up for free.

    Ling Yah: And that was the end of episode 66.

    The show notes and transcript can be found at www.sothisismywhy.com/66. If you've enjoyed this episode and would like to support what I'm doing, this podcast also has a patron page and the link can be found in the description.

    And stay tuned for next Sunday, where we will meet one of Australia's most well-known social entrepreneurs to learn how he entered the water industry while studying, how he creates huge viral campaigns and the lessons they've learned from pivoting into new industries, expanding too quickly and entering new overseas markets.

    You don't want to miss this episode, so don't forget to subscribe and see next Sunday.

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