Name: Ashley Johnson
Industry: Small Business Owner/Graphic Designer
KAT: How many years have you been working in this industry?
ASHLEY: I have been in and out of working as a freelance graphic designer for about 5 years now and started a small business called Lucky We Live Hawaii in 2012.
KAT: How many people are currently on your team?
ASHLEY: Most of the time, I am a one person show, but my husband Bryce is a professional photographer who helps me with aspects of the business like creating content for marketing purposes.
KAT: When you feeling like giving up what keeps you going?
ASHLEY: A few things come to mind, but first is probably that I get to work my own schedule. Its nice having the freedom to be able to travel and take work on the go. As well as fit in time for a surf in between, lol. But more on a serious note, I think as a freelance artist, you can be in your own head a lot of times. When you don't have a team to bounce ideas off of with sometimes you can be more negative than you think. In these times, I'm thankful for my community and friends who remind me that you just have to do it. I've learned over the last few years that you just have to put your work out there. Take risks and see what happens. If your work is getting a good response, it will be clear that you should keep going and not give up!
KAT: What is 1 thing people didn’t warn you about?
ASHLEY: No school or program can teach you how to work with clients. You just have to learn through experience, which can sometimes be rough in the beginning. I didn't think I would start my own business one day, so personally I lacked knowledge in the area of how freelance works as well as basic entrepreneurship skills. But in a way, I kind of feel like thats just a natural process of it all. It all works out in the end, with each project you learn something new.
KAT: Who or what inspires you?
ASHLEY: Lately I have been trying to do a lot of traveling to help me get inspired. Visiting different cultures and art communities are always a good way to get my mind and creative juices excited! Also, I surprisingly have many creative friends based here in Hawaii who are always doing rad things. Seeing close friends of mine take the role of entrepreneurship and be successful pushes me harder to keep working on my own projects and endeavors.
KAT: What has been one hard knock moment?
ASHLEY: I think some of the hardest moments I’ve had was when I first started as a freelance designer. I didn't know much about the freelance world and how it all worked, so I basically learned as I went from project to project. I learned a lot of hard lessons working with clients, like how you need to make boundaries of your time and work; which eventually led me to working out contracts. Contracts saved my life. It gets you pretty organized and lays out everything for your clients so you don't get taken advantage of.
KAT: How do you stay organized as a freelance and/or self-employed artists?
ASHLEY: Best thing I have done recently is get the programs and software that help you stay organized and do "less" work. I use to do everything old school in terms of managing things, and was actually way more work. It’s always worth spending that extra money for the things that are going to help you stay on top of things.
KAT: How would you define success?
ASHLEY: I’d say success if being happy with what you're doing and being proud of your work!