19 episodes

What does it take to become a successful writer or artist? Go behind the scenes with amazing professional creatives in a wide variety of fields to find out what, exactly, it took for them to be able to quit the day job and build a creative career fully committed to the work they're most passionate about.As a creative yourself, you know that whenever two artists or writers get together, inevitably the conversation turns to, “No, but seriously, how do you do it?”This show is that conversation. And you’re invited.

The Autonomous Creative Jessica Abel

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 15 Ratings

What does it take to become a successful writer or artist? Go behind the scenes with amazing professional creatives in a wide variety of fields to find out what, exactly, it took for them to be able to quit the day job and build a creative career fully committed to the work they're most passionate about.As a creative yourself, you know that whenever two artists or writers get together, inevitably the conversation turns to, “No, but seriously, how do you do it?”This show is that conversation. And you’re invited.

    Pushing the limits of the possible with Josh O'Neill of Beehive Books

    Pushing the limits of the possible with Josh O'Neill of Beehive Books

    Josh O’Neill is a comics writer and editor, and co-owner of the Philadelphia-based publishing company, Beehive Books. Using Kickstarter, Josh and his business partner Maëlle Doliveux, publish books and literary objects too risky for traditional publishers. Josh shares what inspired him to pursue publishing, and how crowdfunding allows Beehive to create art that’s for and by their community.



    More from the episode


    Josh explains how he went from working in a local video store to running a publishing company.
    The pros and cons of crowdfunding, and why traditional publishers are risk-averse.
    How a community of local artists inspires and sustains Beehive.
    Josh talks about starting over after shutting down his first business, Locust Moon Comics.
    The importance of creating a healthy work environment and being a good boss to yourself.
    Why the world needs business owners with the same “wild-eyed creativity” as traditional artists.

    About Beehive Books

    Beehive Books is a small press imprint founded by artist and designer Maëlle Doliveux and writer and editor Josh O'Neill, formerly of Locust Moon Press. They are a boutique company committed to producing book art editions of distinctive literary and pictorial works with singular design sensibilities, the highest production values, and a special emphasis on comics and graphic art.

    Additional links:

    Beehive Books

    Challenging the dominant culture: intent vs. interpretation with Ronald Wimberly

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Running a creative business on your own terms, with Jenna Weiss-Berman

    Running a creative business on your own terms, with Jenna Weiss-Berman

    In 2016, Jenna Weiss-Berman quit her job and decided to launch her own podcast company a month before her first child was born. It was an almost immediate success, and Pineapple Street Studios never took an outside investment. Jenna explains what prompted her risky career leap, and how she taught herself to run a business—on her own terms.



    More from the episode…


    Jenna explains how she got her start in the podcasting industry (and how you can too).
    When does work become overwork, and is it always a bad thing?
    The pros and cons of refusing to accept outside investments.
    Jenna reveals the “startupy” mistake Pineapple Street made in the beginning.
    Can running a business be creatively satisfying?
    What makes a successful podcast, and how do you stand out among millions?

    About Jenna Weiss-Berman

    Jenna is the co-founder of Pineapple Street Studios. After almost a decade working in public radio on such shows as The Moth and StoryCorps, Jenna started the podcast department at BuzzFeed and created Another Round and Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham. She currently sits on the advisory board of The Moth.

    Additional links:

    Pineapple Street Studios

    The 11th

    9/12

    Back Issue

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 1 hr
    Boundaries, balance, and burnout, with Shannon Wright

    Boundaries, balance, and burnout, with Shannon Wright

    At only twenty-seven, our guest Shannon Wright has already had one helluva career.

    Shannon’s work has been featured by outlets like NPR, The Nib, and the New York Times. She’s illustrated several successful children’s books, and her debut graphic novel, Twins, a collaboration with Varian Johnson, was released in 2020.

    In this interview, Shannon breaks down how she got to where she is today, describing the different support systems and mentors that helped her along the way. She talks about her mission to pay it forward and be a guide for other young illustrators.

    Shannon also describes the pressure she feels to brand herself and constantly produce content in order to stay relevant, a feeling many creatives can relate to. She explains how she learned to embrace all aspects of her personhood, and not focus solely on the work.

    In a similar vein, Shannon opens up about being pigeonholed, particularly as a Black creator whose work frequently focuses on social justice issues, and the importance of saying no to work that doesn’t support her mental health or is at odds with her intuition.



    More from the episode…


    Shannon explains how she generates most of her income as a full-time freelancer, and what she hopes her workload looks like in the future.
    Shannon talks about the motive behind her the “Super Condensed Zine: Portfolios, Websites, Pitching & Agents!” and why it’s important to empower other creators.
    “You don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way just because it’s there” — Shannon talks about how she handled the sudden interest in her work during the summer of 2020.
    What was the big mistake Shannon thought would get her permanently exiled from publishing, and why wasn’t it half as bad as she thought?
    Shannon reflects on a time when her dedication to the work drove her to isolation, and what it took for her to finally see the light.
    How did Shannon restructure her work days, and build habits that encouraged her to rest and recharge?
    A conversation about Shannon’s family reveals ways non-artists in your life can support you, even if your work is a mystery to them.

    More from Shannon Wright

    Shannon Wright is an illustrator and cartoonist based out of Richmond, Virginia. Some of her clients include The Guardian, TIME Magazine, The Nib, NY Times, Mother Jones, NPR, Google and Scholastic.  She’s illustrated several successful children’s books, and her debut graphic novel, Twins, a collaboration with Varian Johnson, was released in 2020.

    She also teaches at her alma mater, VCU.



    Connect with Shannon Wright

    https://shannon-wright.com/

    TWINS: https://shop.scholastic.com/teachers-ecommerce/teacher/books/twins-9781338236132.html

    https://twitter.com/shannondrewthis

    https://www.instagram.com/shannondrewthis/

    https://shannondrewthis.tumblr.com/

    https://ko-fi.com/shannonwright

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 58 min
    Writing 1.3 million words (and learning how to slow down), with Sonia Simone

    Writing 1.3 million words (and learning how to slow down), with Sonia Simone

    “Why not put your best stuff in front of the biggest room?”



    On this episode, I’m joined by writer, marketer, teacher, and Creative Focus Workshop alumni, Sonia Simone.

    Sonia goes into detail about her two major career pivots, including how she went from “fan-girl” to founding partner at Rainmaker Digital, formerly CopyBlogger Media. She describes the moment she realized she was “burnt to a crisp”, after years of stretching herself too thin, and her decision to focus on her own business, Remarkable Communication.

    Sonia talks about her compassionate, human-centered approach to marketing, and her mission to help creative pros craft marketing content that doesn’t make them cringe. Plus, Sonia shares how she gained visibility for her personal work by embracing her geekiness (and being a little extra).


    More from this episode…

    Sonia describes feeling like a “square peg” at her corporate marketing job, and the drunk Twitter DM that transformed her career.
    As a founding partner at Copyblogger, Sonia invented her own job. What caused her to invent one that was completely unsustainable?
    Sonia shares how she divides her time between client work and other creative pursuits, and why it’s important for her to keep them separate.
    Sonia talks about being an early user of the internet, and how bloggers eventually came to terms with content marketing: “There was a group of people saying you could use this internet thing to find clients without just being a villain.”
    Why so many talented writers hate the work they do for themselves, and what should be at the core your marketing.
    “So much of coaching is just holding up a mirror and saying, ‘This is how I see you.’” — How Sonia helps her clients harness what makes them unique.
    We discuss the tendency of creatives to forget the depth of their experience, and the usefulness of reflecting on past work.
    Why Sonia believes, “If you can find one or two new clients of a month you’re in great shape…As long as you’re charging enough.”

    More from Sonia Simone
    Sonia Simone was a founding partner of Copyblogger Media and is the owner of Remarkable Communication. She's a longtime veteran of social media, having started out in online community in 1989. She's worked for many years in marketing communication, both with startups and established corporate environments.

    Sonia led the editorial direction on the Copyblogger blog, as well as developing the content and email strategies that supported the company's software and e-learning lines of business. She sold her interest in Copyblogger in 2019.

    Today, Sonia helps content writers get more writing done at a higher quality standard with her new project, Creative Fierce. She also has a free report on becoming more productive, which you can grab at UnlockYourWords.com


    Connect with Sonia Simone:
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/soniasimone/

    https://www.remarkable-communication.com

    http://twitter.com/soniasimone

    https://copyblogger.com/author/sonia-simone/


    Additional Links
    Katamari Damacy

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 55 min
    Nurturing your creative ecosystem, with Didier William

    Nurturing your creative ecosystem, with Didier William

    In this episode, I’m joined by contemporary painter and printmaker Didier William. Didier’s incredible work explores the diasporan experience, as well as what it was like to grow up gay in a conservative Haitian community.

    Over the past five years, Didier has had massive success in the contemporary art world. In this interview, we discuss his personal parameters for success, how he protects the sanctity of his creative work in the face of needing to make a living, and how he balances the ecosystem of his home and work life (especially since he and his husband welcomed a new baby!).

    We also discuss the pressure that comes from belonging to an underrepresented community in the context of marketing and production. Plus, why it’s important to be mindful of “what the work can do, and what the work can’t do” when it comes to social activism.



    More from the episode...

    Didier on defining success: “I spent a long time trying to sort of approach something that feels balanced, where the studio life, and the life outside of the studio, are in conversation.”
    How did finishing grad school at the start of the Great Recession affect Didier’s outlook on success?
    We discuss market forces, and the importance of protecting the sanctity of your creative practice, even as you earn a living.
    How becoming a teacher set his creative practice free.
    How and why Didier tries “to make sure that whatever I do during the day reserves the best of me for the people I go home to in the evening, my husband and my daughter.”
    Why, despite all of the cultural romanticizing, creating art is a type of labor (and why that fact demands that we prioritize self care)
    The importance of building thoughtful relationships with other creators out of a desire for connection and collaboration, rather than just “networking.”
    Didier describes how his artistic practice evolved to include printmaking, and how it underpins the message he wants to convey in his work.
    Didier shares the advice that helps him get started every day in the studio: “Always have something in progress.”

    More from Didier William:
    Didier William is a painter/printmaker, originally from Port-au-Prince Haiti, whose epic collage/print/painting works, among many things, explore aspects of the Haitian diasporan experience, as well as attempting “to get closer to a truth that makes sense for black and brown people.”

    I met Didier within weeks of arriving in Pennsylvania when we both began work at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. He was the chair of the MFA program at the time and I was the chair of the new illustration program.

    Didier earned his BFA in painting from The Maryland Institute College of Art, an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University, School of Art, and is currently Assistant Professor of Expanded Print at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.



    Connect with Didier

    instagram: @dueyart

    http://didierwilliam.com



    Links

    Saidiya Hartman - “Lose Your Mother”

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 56 min
    How to protect your creative time, with Myla Goldberg

    How to protect your creative time, with Myla Goldberg

    “You have to protect that time because no one's going to protect it for you, and no one's going to give it to you. Only you can give it to you.”

    On this episode, I’m joined by my long-time friend, novelist Myla Goldberg.

    In 2000, Myla found breakout success with her best selling debut novel, Bee Season. Myla walks me through the novel’s journey — how it landed in the hands of a literary agent’s assistant and went on to become a major motion picture.

    We also discuss the importance of self-discipline, which Myla has in spades. Where does it come from, and is it really necessary if you want to become a successful novelist?

    Finally, Myla explains the difference between nurturing her readership and building a client list for her private writing workshops, and how she does both without using social media.



    More from the episode...


    How did the massive success of Bee Season warp Myla’s expectations for the future, and what was the key pivot she had to make years later?
    Myla describes her regimented routine for balancing writing, teaching, being a parent and partner, and the importance of setting boundaries around her creative time.
    Why Myla compares her creative cycle to that of a 17-year cicada.
    The illusion of instant success: “You don't really see all the painful hours and days and years it took to get to that level of mastery.”
    Myla talks about the importance of putting yourself out there, and how she deals with rejections from publishers and potential clients.
    The three benefits of an MFA degree, and why Myla has no regrets about not getting one.
    Myla explains how having an income source separate from her writing has given her more artistic freedom.

    More from our guest

    Myla Goldberg is a bestselling novelist whose books have been named finalists for the National Book Critics’ Circle award, the Carnegie Medal, the Hemingway Foundation/PEN award, the NYPL Young Lions award, and the Barnes & Noble Discover award. She writes and teaches in Brooklyn. Myla is best known for her debut novel, Bee Season, a breakout success that was eventually adapted into a major Hollywood film starring Richard Gere. You may have also heard about: Feast Your Eyes, The False Friend, and Wickett’s Remedy.



    Connect with Myla Goldberg

    https://mylagoldberg.com/

    https://twitter.com/mylagoldberg

    https://www.instagram.com/myla_goldberg/?hl=en



    Additional Links

    “Song for Myla Goldberg” by The Decemberists

    Creative Writing Bootcamp on Skillshare

    The Autonomous Creative is brought to you by Authentic Visibility: marketing for creatives who (think they) hate marketing. Learn more here!

    • 56 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
15 Ratings

15 Ratings

ameliabchicago ,

Fascinating insights into artists’ lives and processes

I really enjoy the combination of practical and artistic discussions in this podcast. It’s very refreshing to hear frank discussions of financial considerations in creative lives and also how these artists approach what work they pursue.

Imani313 ,

So necessary

An insightful and bright-eyed look at what creative life looks like and could feel like right now. So rich and useful, thanks for this offering.

WorldWideWade ,

Essential listening for creatives

Creating anything on your own—music, podcasts, comics, art, whatever—is hard and lonely work that takes bravery. Jessica is an experienced, empathetic, realistic, and most importantly *incessant* coach and cheerleader for creatives who can blunt the loneliness help you find the bravery. Jessica‘s podcasts, books, and courses have provided me with inspiration at key moments, and I think everybody who wants to make things that have an impact in the world needs to know about her work.

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