Mmm, Brainz: Interview with Jeremy the Artist

Today I am happy to present an interview with fellow creative, designer and an Austin based illustrator, Jeremy Martinez, best known simply by his moniker “Jeremy the Artist”. We go way back to my earlier blogging days (3 years ago!) and I was instantly impressed by his talent and hard work. This guy is probably the most passionate person that I know of when it comes to design and has sacrificed 15+ hour work days, double shifts, and crazy work hours to realize his dreams and just do the work. That’s dedication and one of the most dedicated people that I know to his craft and with a great attitude to boot! He’s definitely going places!

Tell me a little about yourself and your journey to being an illustrator. Why do you do what you do?

Well, I’ve been doodling for as long as I can remember. My parents still have my old drawings I think, from when I was like, 2 years old..maybe around 5ish-6 years old those doodlings formed shapes- bunch of monster and dinosaur drawings..both of which I still draw to this day, haha.

I remember quite distinctly at the age of 10 thinking to myself I wanted to be a comic book artist. Ever since that time I’ve been working quite hard to reach that goal.

I moved to the big, little city of Austin, Texas, a little over 2 years ago. Austin’s been a city I’ve been wanting to move to since I was 19 because of the artistic culture and musical talent it prides itself on. It took me 4 years, but I finally arrived and have been trying to “make my mark” since here.

Currently, I run my own webcomic site, co-created and am presently managing a “Daily Draw” art blog, working on two comics which are going to print in the next month and just recently started managing a new “support the artists” group, which is based in Austin, Texas.

I work as a freelance graphic designer, illustrator, caricaturist, cartoonist and comic artist while maintaining a steady day job.

I also just started doing some research/drawings for a personal Kickstarter project I’m working on…my very first graphic novel! Aiming to start the actual campaign in December, really excited, going to be putting a facebook group for the Kickstarter campaign very soon to generate some excitement and get people talking, can’t wait to get that going.

I know you’ve weathered through some tough times to get to where you’re at now. Can you tell me a bit about your “rock bottom”? What did that feel like, and how did you push through?

Well, you know its funny- as you get older, everything gets more complicated- all the aspects of life: 10 year old Jeremy could’ve never seen the economical hardships or personal demons he’d have to endure along the way to achieving his dreams…even 26 year old Jeremy is still somewhat blind to all the “x factors”, but I like to think at this point in time I can brave the storm a little better.

That first year, or rather chapter, of my life here in Austin I like to call “Surviving”. In the course of saving money for the initial move to finding a job when I got to the city to finding a better job to get me an apartment, I was hired and quit about 5 jobs- that was in a 6 month period of time, after which I landed another couple of jobs which one I still work at, totally 7 jobs in about an 8 month period of time.

I was always applying for jobs and the first few jobs I got in Austin weren’t stable or were “shady”, as nicely as I can put it.

The first 3 months I lived in Austin I stayed at a good friend’s uncle’s house, my friend and his uncle of whom I’ll owe for the rest of my life for their extreme generosity. I didn’t outstay (or rather I don’t think I did) my welcome, but I wanted to move out to my own apartment as soon as I could, and in hindsight I think I moved a little earlier than I should have.

I started a lease on an apartment and moved out…and as soon as I did, that’s when the job I was working at started lying to all of its employees about steady contracts and stable work…so right off the bat moving into that apartment was quite the adventure.

For about 2 months there, I had no idea where rent was coming from, or money for my bills. And, to top that off, the car I was driving at the time was having some really awesome problems – those problems that keep it from running- again, I was very blessed in having a friend’s dad who is this awesome mechanic, come to my aid and keep that car alive with a steady heart beat…but trust me when I say there were plenty of times where I was stuck around town..or even at home.

For about 2-3 months, I had 2 ramens a day. One for lunch, one for dinner. Those who haven’t seen me in person, lemme fill you in..i’m a pretty decent sized guy who can eat like a college football player..needless to say, I lost a lot of weight in that time, ha. There was also the shady job to consider, where I was working with druggies, ex convicts and just really not nice people. Not anyone that I really wanted to know any better outside the job anyways.

Those were horrible times- really the only time I can remember in recent years losing complete faith in my own abilities as well as life in itself. I also was going through some other personal stuff that only added to the huge pile of frustration and depression that I was attempting to carry on my shoulders…

I was pretty close to calling it quits, to moving back to my hometown and restarting life there…but through the support of some of my best friends and family, and a stable job offer that came at the very last minute…I stayed, and I haven’t regretted it since.

Anyone that meets me will tell you I’m very personable and very friendly- but spiritually, mentally, I’ve always been a fighter. My life is run by this phrase, quoted from Emiliano Zapata: “Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodillas” – “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”.

I found that in my darkest moments, at my very weakest..there was a part of me that wanted to fight, and keep going…at the time I could not have done it without support, but since then that fighting spirit has only grown a thousand fold…

Not to say things have done a complete 180 or anything- I live the life of a “struggling artist”, which has its ups and downs all the time…but…I am, lets say, better equipped, to handle all the aspects of such a life.

Since that dark time, “the hunger” to “make it” as an illustrator/designer has become a constant in my life. There is not a day, a moment really anymore, where I’m not thinking of a drawing or planning a drawing…or simply just drawing. In a day’s amount of time, usually, I’ll sketch 10 pieces, with 2 or 3 of those pieces becoming “finished works” , which I then post on my blog or facebook for show that day.

That “rock bottom” helped to push and define me- it helped to cut the vein of art in me and let creativity endlessly gush from it…its not a struggle I’d like to go through again but knowing my luck I don’t necessarily expect it not to happen….but this time around, I’ll do my best to keep a smile through it all.

I heard you just had some sweet success with a billboard design. How did that come about and what else is in store for you?

As with everything I’ve done here in the 5-1-2 (Austin phone area code), it was through a friend of a friend I met that had a friend that needed some work done.

Austin’s creative community is a huge web of people and once you’re in, you’re gonna eventually meet everyone in the community at some point in time.

That particular gig is for a concert happening in College Station, TX- I was initially hired to make a caricature poster of the musicians involved, but then a few weeks into the project my main contact’s e-mail went something like “Oh and we are gonna need a facebook banner and a billboard too”. I remember sitting there and just rereading the e-mail a couple times.

I work mainly digital these days, drawing with a tablet on Corel Painter and editing in Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator- I had no earthly idea how to get started on a billboard as I’ve never been commissioned to make anything that big (roughly 24ft wide by 10ft high), so figuring out the process to go about this was half the fun but as you know the project was completed successfully and is currently on display in College Station. It was one of my more recent accomplishments and something I hold great pride in creating.

Someone had taken a picture of it in College Station and posted it on facebook, and one of the client team members had tagged my facebook name so that I could see..so it was a nice surprise to see the actual billboard…I reposted it on my facebook and enjoyed the congratulatory support I was receiving on it…and went straight back to work.

At the moment, there’s so many things I want to accomplish, that billboard served as good motivation, but I know there are still so many more projects to come that I can be proud of as well…just have to keep pushing and working hard.

Currently, I’m preparing for a couple of local comic conventions coming up and also scheduling some local “zombie caricaturing” events in which I’ll be hosting booths, drawing people as zombies for the upcoming Halloween holiday here in Austin.

What’s the “local art scene” like in Austin, TX? How do you participate?

So anyone that is familiar with Austin will know it by its nickname, the “Live Music Capital of the World”. There is, however, a flourishing community of visual artists, designers, theater and dance here as well. I like to group all of us together with the musicians, to say there is a great community of “creatives” here.

When I first arrived, I had a little background as a caricaturist and started caricaturing at some of the artisan markets we have in Austin, primarily at the ones located down South Congress, near the intersection of Gibson Street (known as the “SoCo Drag” to the locals).

I have since made a lot of musician friends and I caricature at various venues throughout Austin, primarily east side and downtown. I caricatured at a few venues this past march during the SXSW festival, and even designed some posters for the event.

I also have caricatured and will be caricaturing again at the famous, very awesome Austin Books & Comics, Austin’s biggest comic bookstore where celebs such as Robert Rodriguez have been spotted.

I’ve designed a shirt for Austin Books which is currently on sale as well as have had an art show there with my prints and am currently selling a comic there.

I also work as a local designer for a lot of the band posters for some of the local venues here.

Asides all that stuff, I actively participate in local art groups and art group events, throughout various times of the year.

Do you have a particular message that you want to share with the world through your art? Is there any unified thing to it?

I wear a lot of different hats, both figuratively and quite literally- and with those hats come different philosophical views and beliefs.

I think generally though, I’d like to tell the world this:

Never, ever, ever give up.

It’s all a struggle: love, work, life- we all have our demons to contend with and to that extent, find comfort in the knowledge that you are not alone. We are “the” collective of life, our individual passions and desires unified in the emotion that these chords strike when played by our hearts- we are told by those in the media, by those in our personal lives, sometimes, to give up, to settle…and not settling in the sense of contentment but in the sense of “quitting”- pay no attention to these people, they have lost their way.

We are more than we can ever understand, and it should be considered in all our lives a goal to accomplish..the true understanding that no matter what happens, everything will be alright. And if that’s true…then there should never be a fear of failing…and failing I do NOT define as the inability to reach an idealistic dream…rather, I define it as the stopping in pursuit of such…for the most important part, in all of this, is the chase, and how we contend with all the obstacles in our path.

Keep the hunger alive, no matter what…stay hungry for life and nothing will ever be able to stop you.

What inspires you?

Loaded question there, haha. Inspiration can come from anything for me these days, really. Mainly from different aspects of my personal life and people I meet, which I use in my comics for my web comic site and a lot of my art.

This morning I had a…”ghostly experience”, and, after recovering from being scared sh*tless, I thought of a neat idea for a comic. Such is my life.

Who inspires you?

I have a lot of people who influence my life, but true inspiration I draw from a lot of my fellow creatives here, meeting people in your similar situation and seeing them work “right beside you” is encouraging and motivating.

Asides them, definitely my family, primarily my dad, who is a far superior artist than I, and taught me the basics of everything I know today. I work very hard for him and my family, as well as all my friends from South Texas, where I’m from.

How are you remarkable and unique? What makes you stand out from the rest? Do you do creative ‘guerilla’ marketing tactics?

There are many Jeremys out there…and some of them are artists- but none of them are, or ever will be, “Jeremy The Artist”, for all the heavens and hells that come with that alias.

I like to think of myself as a guerillas marketing tactic, haha, as everything I do is a branch of what I want people to see and know about the tree of my artistic life…currently though, yes, I am working on some very exciting “guerilla” marking strategies that I hope to implement very, very soon…

Do you have any cool offers right now that people can purchase?

Glad you asked! I am currently offering a special on my digitally drawn zombie caricatures, all of which can be viewed on: www.facebook.com/zombeezgalore

$20/person for a digital copy, and $10 extra for an actual print shipped out to you! I usually charge about 10 times that amount per illustration piece, so very excited to offer this special, in celebration of my favorite holiday, Halloween!

* * *

Thanks, Jeremy! You can email him at jeremytheartist@gmail.com if you’re interested in getting Zombified. $20 for original digital art work.. can’t beat that! I love featuring creative entrepreneurs who are making their mark and marching to their own beat. They may be ‘unknown’ to the blogosphere which I think is even better. There’s definitely life outside of blogging and to feature other people’s voice outside of the noise of e-fame is one of the things I’d love to focus on. If you think you’d be a good fit for a future interview, e-mail me at janet@byjanet.net.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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The World Needs More Love Letters



If you haven’t stumbled upon More Love Letters, you’re in for a lovely treat! This is Hannah’s journey of one amazing passion project. What started as a randomly inspired idea to write a love letter on the New York 4 train and leave it for people who might need a lift, has now grown into a small army of love letter writers and an incredible movement that has transformed many people’s lives.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Hannah below.

1. I recall you mentioned that you wanted to be a professional love letter writer when you were a kid. How did this become a reality? Did you consciously have it in mind up until your 20s or was this a nice surprise memory you conjured after More Love Letters was created?

Though I swore I would become a love letter writer as a child, I never actually anticipated it would happen past that 7 year old age mark. I think I just continued to carry my passion for writing and love into my experience as a blogger. I always did view my original blog as a love letter to my readers. But the thought of actually doing what I do now, scripting love letters to strangers? No, I don’t think I could have ever anticipated that would happen. And I still regard it as an accident. It is part my love for handwritten notes, my need to be helping others, my sometimes gut wrenching sense of empathy, and my love for social movements all meshed into one.

2. I love when things seem to happen organically, and you can just simply go with the flow… Like your kid self unknowingly manifesting the future. I know you have a lot of faith. How has your soul guided you? Can you give an example of how things just “naturally work”.

As much work and energy I have had to put into the site, I regard all of it has an act of God. He really placed this divine purpose on my life and I have been continuously blown away by how much my vision has spread in less than a year. Everyday there is someone new, in another country or state, spreading love letters and I have to stop and ask myself, “Did I really start this? Was this me?”

I’ve gone with my gut in everything. I have made decisions based off of the peace I have felt. I have asked myself, what in this world do we need more of and how can I make that get displayed on the internet? Things have just naturally flowed from there.

An example I always use is the time I scripted a love letter to college students during their final exams. You could have seen that as “content” for the site or as a genuine love letter reaching out and saying, “Hey, I’ve been there before… hold tight.” I viewed it as the latter and, as a result, the love letter went viral. It reached over 150,000 college students in three days! That could have never been by my own works! That just happened all on its own.

3. What impacts do you see from More Love Letters? Are you able to track people’s reactions or is it just a mystery once a letter comes out of your hands? Do recipients ever get back to you?

We are starting to get more and more recipients coming back to us now that the site is growing and spreading. People are normally blown away. They are thankful for their letter. They had already begun to wonder where the compassion in the world had wandered of too. Many of those who find or recieve a love letter in the mail are the ones who join on board and start scripting their hearts out.

4. Do you have a day job? How have you been able to keep More Love Letters running?

Yes, yes, there is a day job. I am lucky to have my cake and eat it too. Though I adore my love letters I also have a serious passion for human rights and communications. I marry those two in my 9-5 job at a leading global NGO for children.

More Love Letters stays running with a lot of caffeine, faith, night hours, dedicated participants and the sometimes hard to swallow truth: most passion projects take a lot of grind before they switch from you carrying them on your back to them carrying and supporting you.

5. I know that you’ve gotten media attention in the past. How has that come about? Do you see More Love Letters gaining steam and more notoriety? What’s next?

I am constantly getting story requests from editors at different publications. It has been really something wonderful and completely organic in the sense that I never had the time to go out there and get my own press. I think that the story has an infectious tinge to it and it also comes with a hook for anyone to get involved. People seem to dig that. But press like Oprah and Hello Giggles or the Wall Street Journal? I could have never anticipated that.

What’s next? Certainly, I want it to be a book. Though I love the interviewing opportunities, I think I am ready to tell the story with my own writing.

6. How can people get involved? Who do you give love letters to? Is it random or is there a system where people request letters?

The site is absolutely packed with the ways to get involved so I won’t go talking your ear off. Basically there are a number of ways from writing love letters and leaving them where you are based or from signing on to script love letters to people in need. We intro’ new people who need love letters every other week. I’d recommend you check out the site because I could never do each of the options justice.

7. If you could write a love letter to everyone in the world right now, what would it say?

Oh boy, aint that the million dollar question? My goodness… I don’t know if you could start a love letter off with speechlessness… I think I would just let that love letter be a reminder to them, a reminder to think back on the dreams they had when they were younger- when the world was kinder, where things weren’t so hard- and I’d ask them what changed? What did they let go? How can they hold it once again?

I think every love letter should exist to let people know that they are precious beyond measure. They are important. Valuable. They fill the shoes that no one else in this whole, wide world could fill. It is not something to take lightly or belittle. Life… she is short and not guaranteed, so I’d use my love letter to make sure people know that… that they should be grabbing life for all she is worth.

8. What’s your hope for the future and how are you changing the world to make it possible?

I never stop to think or say, “Oh, I am changing the world.” The thought does not really even dance in my head. I grew up not saying that I wanted to change the world but rather that I wanted to teach others how to do it… That is what I love and that is what I want to do on a grander scale in the future: give people the tools and empowerment they need to believe in themselves and their capacity to change the world. I like the background roles and I am looking forward to more of those in the future. I’d rather train up a generation of go getters than focus on me… My goals and my dreams are hinging on the younger ones now so that is where I will invest my energies.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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Interview with an Exiler: Colin Wright

Who is Colin Wright and why is he in Exile?

Colin is an entrepreneur and blogger who travels every four months to a new country at the will of a vote from his readers! He recently released his own prose-like book of experiences that most people call a memoir that’s cheaper than coffee. If you’re at all interested in entrepreneurship and the travel lifestyle, you might want to get this!

I had a chance to interview Colin, in anticipation of his new book and here are the results. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. Are the interviews helpful? What kind of people would you like to see featured in the Purple Panda?

You’ve described yourself as a “sustainable designer” in the past when you were still doing studio work. Do you still do any design for clients or have you completely transitioned out of that? What exactly does a sustainable designer mean?

I still do that kind of work from time to time, but I’m very careful as to what projects I take on; most of what comes in I’ll hand off to someone else whose work I trust and work-ethic I respect.

That being said, if a project comes in that’s from a past client that I liked working with, or is recommended from by one of those past clients, I’ll consider it. I’ll also consider fun projects, projects that allow me to do something unique or interesting, or projects where I think a little of my effort can have a huge impact.

For example, I recently did some work for the band Pomplamoose (CD-sleeve, poster and t-shirts for their tour), because they are 1) past clients that I like working with, 2) a band with work that I respect, and 3) a duo who was offering me work that I like to do (in this case, illustrative work).

As for being a sustainable designer, I usually use it to mean that I’ll design around making the project as carbon-neutral as possible, or the least-damaging to the environment possible. This means using specific types of papers and inks, moving away from printing in favor of digital methods of communicating, and figuring out ways to reduce packaging. There are a lot of ways to tackle this, and everyone does it differently, but yeah, lots of ways to make things even a teensy bit better for the environment, and every little bit helps.

Can you tell us about the projects you’re currently involved in that make up your bread & butter?

For sure.

I’ve got a few books for sale (Networking Awesomely was selling for $20, but I recently knocked it down to $.99, and my newest book, My Exile Lifestyle, is being sold for $2.99 right out of the gate).

I sell t-shirts through I Have No Shirt.

I run Ebookling, and although it’s profitable, I’m not making any money from that just yet. The idea there is to turn independent authors into ‘authorpreneurs’ who are in control of their work and their finances.

I’ve got a membership-paid forum called Most Interesting People in the Room.

I just finished up the aforementioned work for Pomplamoose, and I’m building a new website and brand-guide for a client of mine who is a life coach for millionaire CEOs.

I do a little travel writing for Flightster.

I might be forgetting something, but those are the main sources of income at the moment. It changes up fairly frequently, though, which is just how I like it!

I’ve always thought that entrepreneurs usually have shown entrepreneur potential in childhood, which is when people first start to develop their passions. Do you think entrepreneurship can be learned, or is it a trait that some people naturally have more than others? If you showed no entrepreneurial spirit as a child, for example, do you think people have a “chance” when they’re adults?

Oh sure, I think anyone can be an entrepreneur, it’s just about wanting it. I would say the only aspect of entrepreneurship that can’t be taught and learned is the desire to create, and if you don’t have that you can still run a business successfully, you probably just won’t be the kind of uber-driven business owner that has become a bit of a rockstar archetype of late (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

I’d say most people who don’t show entrepreneurial potential as a child but end up becoming interested later, however, were probably just unaware it was an option, or busy with something else. I started my first business at 19, and although I now wish I would have started sooner, I also know that everything leading up to that point was important in my development; there were a whole lot of other interests that made me who I am and that had nothing to do with entrepreneurship, but that ended up being equally important. The same could be said for anyone…whose to say the 60-year-old who starts their first business isn’t just as capable as the 20-year-old? They’ve got a great deal of experience under their belts, and experiences that make them unique from the majority of entrepreneurs these days. That variety is what makes the entrepreneurial environment so lush and wonderful!

Leadership and entrepreneurship often go hand in hand. Do you believe reluctant leaders, or introverts can become entrepreneurs? How can introverts show leadership?

Yes, absolutely!

I’m a natural introvert, and it’s been a huge battle over the years to get myself to step up and happily take the leadership role that I’ve always been put in regardless of my desire to be there. Now that I’ve embraced it, however, I’ve never been happier. It’s still stressful sometimes, and there ARE tradeoffs, but it’s totally worth it.

I main thing I usually tell other introverts about being leaders is that there MUST be something they really want to achieve, otherwise they won’t have the motivation necessary to keep working at it until they feel more comfortable. For me, it was the desire to run a kick-ass design studio someday…I knew I couldn’t do it alone, and I also knew that no one would want to work for a guy who couldn’t interact with others well, so I’d better get cracking on the whole leadership thing. For each person it will be something different, but it has to be something you want bad enough to really kick your own ass in pursuit of it.

Other than that, just do your best to be the person who isn’t afraid to take responsibility. It helps to remember that failing is a good thing…that way if you fail after taking responsibility, you won’t lock yourself in your room and never come out after it happens (which is an inevitable part of the process).

Any advice for people unemployed in the current recession or trying to make the transition from unemployed to self-employed, like me?

Just keep at it.

No one can stop you from doing what you want for a living but yourself; no one is sitting in a back room thinking ‘I’m going to keep them from being happy! Muahaha!’ That doesn’t mean that your first idea for a business or product or service will be the right one, but be willing to adapt everything aside from your happiness, and things will turn out just peachy.

Also: don’t be afraid to self-promote and be confident while being fully aware that you don’t know everything.

Do you have a favorite place or country you’ve been to so far?

Nope! They’ve all been wonderful for some reasons and horrible for others, my home country (the US) included!

I’ve learned completely different things and met completely different people in each location, as well. I wouldn’t give up any of those experiences for anything.

There are a ton of different travelers as there are people! Yet everyone seems to think we are all “thrillseekers” and “adventurers”. What’s your idea of adventure and thrillseeking?

I like thrilling adventures as much as the next person, but if I have my choice, I’d much rather be taking risks with my lifestyle and businesses and such than riding roller coasters or skydiving or whatnot. Nothing wrong with those types of thrills, they just don’t do much for me (while sitting in a room and brainstorming crazy branding ideas or creating new businesses I can’t afford to run gets my blood pumping like crazy and puts a smile on my face every time).

What scares you? How do you deal with fear?

Very few things these days, actually.

I am concerned that one day I’ll lose the drive that keeps me plowing forward through life, and this is partially because I remember what it was like not having it. I know that it’s possible to live in that kind of stagnation for years and years and not even realize it, and I’m terrified that I’ll wake up one day and just feel very little of what I feel now and not know how to get myself back on the rails (or if I even CAN get back on those rails).

It sounds a little silly, I know, especially considering all the crazy dangerous situations I’ve found myself in since I started traveling, but I figure wounds heal and if I die, well, I won’t be too concerned about anything at that point, but if I were to continue to live and not have anything to live for…that’s the stuff my nightmares are made of.

I deal with that fear the same way I deal with anything: practically and rationally. I have filled my life with people who inspire me and things that I enjoy doing, with plenty of other options to hop to if I get bored of any one project or lifestyle. I’m going to keep on shifting and hopping and evolving and moving, and if I still derail with all of those failsafes in place, well, there’s probably nothing I could have done about it anyway and I’ll just have to face that music.

Name three challenges that you have right now.

At the moment, the challenges at the forefront of my mind are:

1) I just spent an exorbitant amount of money on dental work…who knew crowns could be so expensive, and that becoming adult would mean getting them? In any case, I was planning on hopping around quite a bit while back in the States, visiting friends in addition to a few meetings I need to take in various places around the country. I had budgeted a certain amount of money to spend while here on travel, but I’ve already spent more than that on these damn teeth. I still want to travel, however, so I’m trying to figure out a good way to make that money without further tapping into my slush fund or pushing any more products on my readers (something I try not to do too often, because that would annoy me, and I don’t want to annoy them).

2) I dated a girl in Iceland for about a month that I really like, and being back in the States has made me realize that I like her even more than I originally thought. I’m hoping she’ll come visit me in India (my next home), but at the same time I’m trying to figure out how to manage the relationship. Do I allow it to go further and play it by ear? Do I keep things at arm’s length, knowing that we won’t be able to visit each other as often as we would like? Am I worrying to much? No idea. Untried territory since I started traveling, this kind of thing, as most relationships I get in have a very firm deadline.

3) I’ve been working with a great developer on Ebookling, but he’s getting married and has other projects he needs to work on, and finding talented, creative developers in the current startup environment is INCREDIBLY difficult, especially when you are paying in equity, not money.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Well, I’ll be back in the States for a month or two, and then I’ll be moving to India. In the interim, I’m fielding TV and movie opportunities (weird), trying to sort out my various projects and figuring out where to put my effort (and find the right people to help me take them to the next level), and always, ALWAYS reassessing everything I’m doing to make sure that I’m still on a track that is making me happy and fulfilled (at the moment at least, I definitely am!).

Five years? I really have no clue, and I don’t really care what I’m doing so long as I’m still as happy (or happier) as I am now.

Thank you, Colin for taking the time to be interviewed!

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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Purple Panda meets Passive Panda: An Interview

Hey homeslice. Want some panda pie (well, not literally, because that would be kinda gross and stuff)? Then check out my RSS feed. Fill up. 🙂


From one Panda to the next, I’ve been a fan of James Clear and Passive Panda since I first found the site. He offers general career advice to live a more happy panda-filled life and writes such gems like How to Find Your Passion. Within the first week, I contacted him and expressed interest in collaborating, particularly through interview, for my “blog launch”. He was very friendly, quick to respond, and all in! I, on the other hand, was not so on the ball and am finally offering the interview a couple months late(r). And that “official” blog launch? Yeah. Not really happening. Is my blog even that good to declare a blog launch out of it? I mean come on. James has been doing this for a relatively short time with relatively lots of success! In fact, he’s just releasing two excellent e-books. How to Email Important People and How To Win College Scholarships. Read on for some valuable advice, and words from the wise.

1. So what’s up with the panda? Why Passive Panda?

Haha. Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, the name just came to me one night while I was brainstorming ideas for businesses around passive income. Since then, Passive Panda has started to focus on much more than that one topic — but I think the principles have remained the same.

Pandas are relaxed. They’re stress free and they spend their time as they wish. I think that’s a nice metaphor for what we should strive to do as human beings. I’m all for creating value and leaving an impact on the world — and I plan on doing so — but I don’t think that those goals should be achieved at the expense of our own health and sanity. There’s no reason we can earn more money, more time, and more freedom without taking on extra stress. In other words, there’s no reason we all can’t be happy and relaxed Passive Pandas.

2. You have a lot of general work topics that don’t necessarily have to do with internet businesses directly even though there’s a lot of buzz about leveraging technology to create passive income. Do you foresee tackling this more in the future?

Perhaps, but I also think it’s important to realize that most of the principles that really work transcend industries — whether that be the internet or elsewhere. I do my best to provide timeless content that any reader can find useful. It’s not always easy, but it’s worked well so far.

That said, I do forsee Passive Panda becoming a go to resource for people and because of that I may begin to focus on some more how-to topics as well. Time will tell.

3. What advice could you give to new blogs/bloggers like me?

Do something and measure something. Then repeat.

For example, I spent a month guest posting and measured the success that it had on my subscriber base — it was good. Then I spent a month giving webinars and measured the success I had from that — it wasn’t as good.

That’s not to say that webinars are bad — I actually love giving them and I think it will be a better strategy for me down the road — but right now, I know that guest posting is where I should spend my time.

Your circumstances will probably be different, but if you keep taking action and continue to measure your results, then eventually you’ll be able to hone in on what is best for you.

4. You recently released an e-book about how to email important people. Does this apply to pitching an idea or product to people specifically? Or is it just general advice on how to write more effectively?

I would say both. It’s mostly about sharing proven techniques that work for email communication. Sometimes that means selling someone new on your idea. Other times that means reaching out to someone to set up a meeting. And other times it’s something that has nothing to do with business.

Regardless of the task, I’m confident that How To Email Important People is a course that anyone will benefit from. Better communication means better results — no matter what the task.

5. In your site, you feature side hustle stories to help people starting out with a business venture find examples of how other people have done it. What are some of your own personal side hustle stories that you can share?

Good question. I’m often finding myself wrapped up in side projects, but some of the more notable ones have included travel photography, web design, and logo design.

I never received any formal schooling for any of those areas, but I was still able to make money from them by jumping right in. I’d recommend the same approach for most people. If you’re thinking about doing something new, then just try it out. You don’t need to have all the answers to get started.

6. What are some mistakes and failures that you’ve learned from?

Yikes. When don’t I make a mistake that I learn from? When you’re an entrepreneur it often feels like you’re making mistakes every day. I look back on some of the previous work I’ve done and cringe.

That said, I think this is a really important one:

When I was starting out, I would look at the people who had million dollar businesses and massive web sites and I knew that I wanted to be there someday. As a result, I would try to do everything they were doing right from the start.

After a while, I’ve realized that it doesn’t really work that way. Businesses grow and evolve. The best route to success it to take consistent steps forward each day and adjust as necessary. Trying to do it all at once is a recipe for stress and disappointment.

7. How do you march to your own beat? What makes you stand out?

This is an interesting one because I don’t usually make a conscious effort to march to my own beat. I’m not trying to be a part of an exclusive club.

I see a lot of people claiming to be minimalists or maximalists or lean startup entrepreneurs or venture backed entrepreneurs … and that’s all fine, but I don’t really identify with that stuff. I just make the best decisions I can at the time and make adjustments when I need to.

I’m just trying my best to live a life and build a business I can be proud of. If I do that, then I think I’ll stand out just fine.

8. What’s your future plans and goals for Passive Panda?

Eventually, Passive Panda may transition into a software business … but I want to build the information products side of it first.

More immediately, the primary goal is to help as many people as possible. If I can do that, then I think the business will always be moving in the right direction.

9.  I believe right brain thinking and creativity is a huge asset for business and also the future of businesses and people that will rule the world. What’s your take on this and how do you use creativity to enhance your business?

I totally agree. I actually gave a speech in Switzerland last year on the importance of creativity in entrepreneurship and business.

My take on creativity is that it’s a skill that can be learned — just like math or reading. And I think that the more we make a concerted effort to be creative, the better off we will be.

In my own business, I find that I become more creative whenever I separate from the normal things I’m doing. For example, just today I was struggling to write an article and so I went to my brother’s baseball game. After a few innings of watching him play, I sat down and typed out the whole thing in 10 minutes.

Sometimes you need a change of scenery, a difference in perspective, or a shift in priorities to solve the problems you’re facing.

10. Would you say you’re a professional blogger or do you have a day job? What are the ways that you currently earn money?

I suppose I fall under the category of a professional blogger — Passive Panda is my full time job.

That said, I’d like to think that I do a lot more than that. I do write blog posts, but I also market and promote the business, build the products, develop relationships with others in the industry, attend conferences and travel the world, and a wide range of other activities.

Outside of Passive Panda, I earn money doing freelance web design and graphic design… but I don’t take clients on very often.

Thanks so much for the opportunity, Janet! I really appreciate it. 🙂

* * *

Thank you, James for taking the time to do this and bring useful information to my readers. I couldn’t agree more that just jumping into it is the best way to start. Just start. In my business endeavors as a graphic/web design/social media strategist, I’ve had to do a lot of learning and growing on the job. You don’t have to be the top expert in your field to offer useful services to your client… You just have to know more than your client does!

James is launching not one, but TWO e-books today. If you’re interested in any of the two topics, or resonate with any of it, don’t miss this. James is a legit guy who knows a hellavalot and delivers valuable insights and advice. And yep, these are affiliate links, and nope, I don’t expect to get rich out of this. If you want to buy it, buy it. If not, then DON’T.



In any event, I DO want to offer more interviews or feature more write-ups on other successful, interesting people and how they march to their OWN beats, regardless if it has to do with product launches, because this means someone else can write content for me. It’s brilliant! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Janet Brent

Janet is a graphic/web designer for indies in the holistic and creative arts. She is passionate about working with creative world changers and showing people how to march to their own beats. You can email her at janet@byjanet.net to introduce yourself or work with her. If you enjoyed this, sign up for more updates. TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

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