3 Things I Learned In 2018

2018 has been a whirlwind of a year. I got laid off, started a business, and adopted a cat. So, now at the end, I wanted to reflect on the biggest things I learned in the past 12 months.


Plans Change

I started 2018 with a list of goals: draw more, do better about keeping in touch with family, pay off a credit card. 2017 had been tough, but I was determined to make this one better. 

Then I got laid off at the end of January, and my plans and confidence went out the window. I had to hit pause on all of my financial goals and start job searching for the 3rd time in 3 years. It was exhausting and heartbreaking. There was a lot of soul-searching, existential crises, and “what-kind-of-designer-do-I-even-want-to-be” moments.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to get the work I have, but figuring out what my next step needed to be was daunting. The way being let go was handled hit my confidence hard and left me second-guessing every decision.

What Kind of Designer Do I Want to Be?

Los Angeles is amazing and presents endless opportunities but with endless competition and toxic work environments. Tired of job-hopping, I just wanted something I could stick with for the long term. I have always wanted to do my own thing, maybe even start a business, but never had a clear direction on what that could look like. In the past, I took whatever job was offered because I need the money/experience. This time around, I started brainstorming what my ideal design position would look like.

I have loved every opportunity I’ve had in the museum industry and knew that would be an ideal fit. In exploring that direction I found so many amazing institutions doing really great things, but they didn’t have the need or resources for a full-time designer. 

In my freelancing life, I’ve been so happy to work with The Paradigm Challenge and other non-profits to offer support for their digital graphics, event planning, and marketing materials. I felt like if I could just work full-time for a similar organization, I would be set.

The solution now seems obvious, but it did take me some time to see the stars aligning. I wanted to own my own thing, and I loved working with museums and non-profits. So I created Mandalu Designs to try and hit that sweet spot - organizations that may want to invest in  strong design but don’t need year-round help, and for marketers who don’t have time to learn design programs or struggle with templates.


Done is Better than Perfect

Mandalu has been my side-gig for the past year. I am always thankful for part-time, non-design work that helps pay the bills, but growth has been slow and steady. The silver lining is that I’ve been able to really develop my voice and ideas without feeling the rush to jump too quickly.

On the flip-side, being time-limited has forced me to be ok beginning with not-perfect. I’ve had to present work or copy that is not at its best, knowing I will improve it later. If it’s not getting posted on my lunch break, it’s not getting posted, but done is better than perfect. It’s been a great exercise on working smarter and being a better editor.

What’s Next

Now I’m back at the end of a year, and am making goals for what may come next. I do have specific goals for Mandalu and myself but the biggest resolution is to connect with more museum and non-profit marketers to learn what their needs are and how I can best meet them.

See you in the new year!

2018 Memories

2018 Favorites

Movie: Wildlife

TV: The Americans

Book: Tower of Dawn
(I actually read SJ Maas’s entire Throne of Grace series – 7 books - in about 4 months)

Music: Sweetener

Podcast: Creative Empire