PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come with running a creative business.
This week we are interviewing designer Juliet Meeks, whose whimsical and colourful work never fails to bring a smile to my face. I'm sure you've bumped into her work on Instagram, but if not, you're in for a double-treat! Dive in to read how Juliet runs her business as an introverted artist.
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
My first job out of college was an in-house editorial and ad designer at a local weekly newspaper. I was so grateful to get that job after a year of internships and waitressing right after graduation!
Has art always been in your blood?
It has! But in a few different forms, whether that was sewing clothes for my Beanie Babies (yep, haha) or just experimenting with painting, drawing, or collage. I didn’t approach art with much focus and intention until my late high school years.
What’s your main creative discipline and how did you get started in it?
I started out my business as a freelance graphic design service with a focus on branding, logo design, and mostly print collateral. That is the bulk of what I still do client wise, but now my work has evolved as well into surface pattern design through painting. I’m looking forward to working more and more with clients by licensing my patterns through collaborations, and also just painting for myself personally as an artist.
Do you see yourself as introverted or extroverted, and does being either affect the way you work?
I’ve always considered myself an introvert, but over the last few years, I’ve been able to open up more with new people and social situations. I actually see myself as an ambivert now! I prefer to work independently during the deep creative work like painting, but I understand the beauty of collaborating with others and enjoy that process.
What is your favourite kind of commission, and why?
Although the bulk of my business is focused on branding and logo design, lately my favourite types of projects involve surface pattern design. Designing patterns feels very natural to me and I especially love when a client appreciates my specific style.
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
I am one of those people who has been pretty entrepreneurial throughout my life. I even remember when my cousin and I were little, we ‘rented' toys out to the neighbourhood kids for money! (We had to give the money back, haha). In college, I created a line of handmade jewellery and sold at art markets and local boutiques. I left my stint at the local newspaper because I knew it was time to take my freelance design business to the next level, but I’m glad to have had that experience because it was what I needed at the time.
How did you go about starting your own business?
Taking my freelance business full-time involved months of saving money while I worked at my day job, getting my expenses down and website in order, and hoping for the best. It’s been just over a year now since I left my last job! I still feel like I am in the setting up stage of my business, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the last year, especially personally and creatively.
How did you secure your first clients?
My very first paid design job came from someone who knew me because of my jewellery line in college. All of my first clients were either referrals from friends and family, or even referrals from my day job at the time. Now I feel lucky to be getting clients from Instagram, and simply Google searches to my website.
What is your typical daily routine like?
Wake up when I like to – especially if I worked late the night before, walk my dog, eat a quick breakfast, check emails, work, take a lunch break, work some more, play hooky sometimes by going out to lunch or running errands with my boyfriend. I usually end up working at night, especially with the more personal creative work. I wish I could find more time during the daylight hours to leisurely paint!
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
Intuition, empathy, experimental approach.
How does being an introvert help or hinder you when it comes to business?
I wish I could be more extroverted when it comes to networking events and conferences. I just try my best and find that the more I do them, the better it gets. But sometimes I just have to step away and decide not to go to that networking event if it’s too draining and I simply don’t have the time.
Do you have a favourite medium or technique?
I fall more in love with painting every time I do it! I’m excited to start painting on a larger scale.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
Pursuing my business full-time was a necessity for its existence. I know some are able to run thriving freelance businesses on the side, but I need that extra time.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
Absolutely! I love dreaming up patterns for new products in my own shop, or for clients. I’m excited to continue to expand and refine my own product line in the next few years.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
Yes! But I try to connect with other fellow creatives who work in the same capacity I do, and in-person, not just on Instagram.
How do you relax?
Enough sleep and yoga!
Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration tends to strike when I am outside of the studio, traveling, or just taking the day off. I often have fresh ideas right before I fall asleep!
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Keep experimenting creatively, you’ll find your way eventually. I don’t think I would do anything differently.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Career-wise, I hope my work is remembered for bringing color, joy, and a sense of playfulness to everyday life. I’m actually a pretty serious and driven person and I hope that my work brings a lightness to myself and others. Personally, I would like to be remembered for helping others achieve their goals through their passions, including my closest friends and family.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Finding myself and my artistic style in the last year through painting, beginning with the #100DaysofPaintedPatterns project I did on Instagram last fall!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel so lucky to be able to have control over my own schedule, and to use every day as a chance to work either on or towards my favourite types of projects.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
It’s difficult to take time to reflect. For example, the last few weeks have been filled to the brim which is so exciting yet overwhelming. I’m planning on taking some time today to write down everything I’m working on, everything I have planned in the back of my head, and then evaluate what is best for the long term and if it is in line with what my heart truly wants. It’s important to know not only what your goals are but WHY they are your goals.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My art teacher in high school wrote in my graded art journal something along the lines of, ‘You have the talent for art, but do you have the passion for it? I hope so!' That stuck with me because at the time I felt of course I had the passion, I just didn’t know how to apply it. It turns out the key for me was having the maturity to create a daily practice of art, no matter how small.
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who
would you choose?
Since I’m dreaming big here I will have to say artist and textile designer, Sonia Delaunay. I wrote a whole blog post about her if you aren’t familiar! Her free and playful use of colour and the incredible art and design scene that surrounded her is so inspiring to me.
Want more? Head this way for more PROfile interviews.