Ep.201: Grow your creative business with Peggy Dean (The Pigeon Letters)

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Aug 20, 2019 •  Interviews

Hey, guys! In this episode, I am chatting with Peggy Dean, the best-selling author of The Ultimate Brush Lettering Guide, Botanical Line Drawing and Peggy Dean’s Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor. She is a nationally recognized freelance artist, and Skillshare teacher with worldwide publications as a platform artist. Enjoy!!

Get in touch with Peggy

Special thanks to Peggy for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Peggy Dean, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Iva Mikles  

So welcome everyone to a next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to have Peggy here. Hello, and welcome.

Peggy Dean  

Hello, thank you so much for having me.

Iva Mikles  

There, we’re super happy that you joined us with those beautiful flowers as well in the background. So we right away can be immersed in your world.

Peggy Dean  

It’s it’s bright over here. It’s not it’s a great day, but it’s bright in here.

Iva Mikles  

So you can bring the brightness. But we can talk a little bit more about your background, and what is your specialty for people who don’t know, you may be it. And it is something about the flowers, I guess, for people who want to be like, flowers, flowers. So if you can tell us briefly a little bit more about the specialty.

Peggy Dean  

Like, Hi, I’m Peggy and I like flower. It’s okay, do I? Yeah. I, I’m an artist. And I started off in lettering and then moved into drawing and then painting and I just kind of keep growing this body of interest. I wouldn’t say body of work so much as body of interest. And I think that that’s kind of a real downside of the creative mind is that we constantly want to it’s good, it’s really good. But when you like suddenly make it a business, it’s bad. It’s not that I what I’m saying. But no, I, I took my platform and my interest in what I love to do. And I turned it around and started teaching it because I am an oversharer. And all I want to do when I have a passion is be like, look, look, look, look. And so this is the perfect avenue for me. Yeah, so education. I’m like, I could go so far end of this, but I forget that this is an overview. I just need to. Alright, I’m going to end art edge. And I am an author of five books. Yeah. Wow, on art technique. Yeah. They’re a horrible, horrible way of explaining what I do.

Iva Mikles  

Okay, you’re a creative entrepreneur focused on positive floral artworks, lettering combination, and patterns.

Peggy Dean  

And dabble. Oh, yeah. I love doing pattern. Yeah, thank you for pointing that out. And recognizing that that’s something like six months ago, I’m like, I really want to start building patterns. And I started doing it, putting it out there. Just kind of like, here’s the thing. And that’s neat. That’s neat that you recognize that. Put it on a blanket one day,

Iva Mikles  

it would be nice, super nice to see it would be nice. If we go back actually, to how you started and kind of how you decided to do art or kind of take it as a career. What was the transition there? Or how did you start to study?

Peggy Dean  

Yeah, um, I’ve always been really crafty. And throughout my life, my mom was really, she was crafty, but she really put me into a lot of circumstances where I would be very artistic. And it came natural to me, but I didn’t really do anything long enough to let it stick other than scrapbooking. Because scrapping was so fun. If I had time, I probably would still do it. But man, man, it’s expensive now, like what happened is for you put your own paper. Yep. Any any size paper that you want to find, like, it’s, it’s done. It’s there. It’s like, oh, but I’m gonna want this curve with a long L shaped it’s gonna hit this corner. It’s right there. It’s in three different colors. Anyway, and it’s $5 you know? But yeah, so I did a lot of that. And then adulthood hit and, you know, in my early 20s, I was playing with some things just for fun on the side. But then I started doing hair and makeup, which was a very creative outlet. And I did that for 10 years. And it was a lot of time and I loved it. But sciatica didn’t love it. My back was really angry. My wrist was really angry. I’m not gonna lie, I’m still angry. I mean, I’m going to overuse it till the day I die, but or until you get it. But so I did that. And then when my back was killing me, I kind of I resorted to a esthetician. No, no, it was not an esthetician because I hate doing facials, but I did do worsted a brow waxing bar, which was so fun. But during that time, it kind of took that creativity away from me a little bit and gave me some more free time. So I ended up dabbling just for myself. I used to cope with things very poorly. When something happened in my life that felt like especially any sort of rejection at all. I actually so I went back. So I worked. Okay, real quick, that quick recap here, I worked at the brow bar, I left that job to go get like a boring office job because they had a great office culture, I got fired from that job and went back to brow buddy, but I got fired from that job, right when I wasn’t doing so well with some other things and started dabbling in hand lettering. During that time, when I quit that, or when I got when I did not quit. When I got fired from that job, that’s rejection for me in a major way. And I don’t cope with it well, and when I hit rejection, like, my natural instinct is to go and destroy everything else, so that nothing else can hurt me, because then at least I have control over it, you know. So instead, this one time, because I had started dabbling, and my creative side again, I decided to do that more. And so I sat down every night in my pitiful depression, even though I was back at the brow bar, which I loved so much, and I still love it. And I kind of miss it sometimes. And I was watercoloring. It was just what I didn’t know what I was doing. I had a really cheap palette, I had really cheap paper. And I was just doing it, just doing blogs on paper and drawing over it. And I didn’t know how to draw, it didn’t matter because I was having fun. And then I joined Skillshare just to create some side projects, because I was like, Well, what’s it fun? Like, what’s a project just guide me through projects I could have been and I found a class. I wish I could remember the name of it. But it’s like, basically, you were water coloring. You guys should look this up. So it’s a taxonomy class, you watercolor a collection in your house. And then you digitize it. And all of these pieces that are part of this collection, then go into just one image of a taxonomy. And I did Halloween decorations, just a little village. It was just something silly and fun. And something that made me feel good. But during that time, I had been teaching myself modern calligraphy because at the time, there weren’t a lot of resources out there. It was a hot mess before it was pretty, but Skillshare conveniently at the perfect time in my life sent out to teach challenge. And it was like you could win 500 bucks. I’m like, like, I’m also an overshare

Iva Mikles  

was this like, Well, this was

Peggy Dean  

three years ago, almost exactly. In May. Yeah, yeah,

Iva Mikles  

it was literally my full time job then every time we stopped.

Peggy Dean  

Right. So, um, so I guess it was maybe April because I published in May. But yeah, so I thought, you know, I don’t I don’t know how to film all this stuff. But I have a phone. And I know, very light editing in iMovie. That’s what I used at the software. And so I made one and then I won. Like, I don’t know, like 1200 classes that were published, and I won. And I was like the local. So if you’re going to talk about motivation, like that was motivation for me. And so I did that. And I think I made one other class. And I published that. And that did really well. And then the first month, I got my royalty payment. And I was like, oh, okay, that’s one extra zero that I was expecting. That’s interesting. This numbers interesting. And so I just kind of watched that grow. But I’m so passionate about sharing and educating. And I have been for so long, I just love it. I’ve had people sit in my chair, and say like, Wow, I’ve never learned so much during a haircut before like I just information and sharing it. So that was my calling I felt and so that was my transition. Sorry for that long nutshell situation. But I think that hearing backstory and how, like just a spark of doing what you love can then open a door, you know?

Iva Mikles  

Definitely. Because always when people think like, oh, is it too late for me, and a lot of people actually send questions like, Oh, I am doing whatever, I don’t know, I’m lawyer and I would like to do 3d. But can I change now? And how should I do the change? And so how was the experience for example for you? Was it like a transition in the free time as you mentioned, right? So you didn’t right away like quit and drum you were like, Okay, I’m building this on the side. And

Peggy Dean  

yeah, I definitely watched the numbers and I watched the growth and it was increasing. And I thought okay, cool. And I know better. I know that you’re supposed to wait like a year to watch income or something like that to make sure but I did it the right demeanor, know that I’m a big hustler. And like when I set my mind to something like I met I am a I’m an I, what do you activator, what do you call it when

Peggy Dean  

you don’t so I want to just make things happen. And so um, I let’s see, it was me when I published that June when I found out and it was October when I quit my job. So I watched her live little bit, but it was a few months before that, and I went down to two days a week. Because I was like, you know, I don’t need to do this. If I go down to two days a week, my job security is still there. I can always add days if I need them later. And then this was not a good idea. But it was a month of two days a week. And I was so much more productive. And I saw that productivity. And I Okay, what was the record, I realized that two days a week working at my job was nothing and that I shouldn’t have had so much, like holding me back from doing what I wanted. But because I knew that like was lingering, it was like a burden that I could not escape from. So as soon as I quit my job, I tripled my income in the first month. I was able to, like really bulldoze into exactly what it was that I wanted without distractions? Yeah, I see. I mean, like, I think that it’s, there’s something really good to say about people who are a lot more passive about their approach to watch their income and make sure and use calculated methods. But there is a time to pull the trigger, too. And I wouldn’t put that date on your calendar. I would say like, if you’re feeling it, if you’re thinking about it, if you’re ruminating, it’s probably time, yes, to do what you want to be doing. Because as soon as you put your energy into it, it comes back tenfold, you know,

Iva Mikles  

and so how was this the income which was coming for you? Was it all from a teaching on Skillshare? Or was it like selling some templates? Or how did you triple Yeah, which were the areas?

Peggy Dean  

Yeah, so as soon as I started teaching, I also put out some, a lot of practice sheets for lettering. At that time. They were like, gold. I mean, it was incredible. I haven’t created new ones in a really long time. And I do sell them still, but not like before. For Etsy. Yeah, yeah. But oh, man, they were like, oh, I should try it again. Gosh, there’s so many things to do all the time, you

Iva Mikles  

know, like, super long to the least Yeah.

Peggy Dean  

It’s like, oh, I should do that. Oh, I should do that. Oh, I should do that. And then you just are stuck with oh, I should let you guys write things down. It is a lifesaver when you just write it down and then it doesn’t stick there and it doesn’t go to your mind.

Iva Mikles  

I have them in Asana. I use Asana for everything. Oh, the project and like to do I

Peggy Dean  

use Wunderlist. And I love it.

Peggy Dean  

If I like it better.

Peggy Dean  

I’m writing this down so that I can look up Asana. Okay, you got to write things down. But I’m looking at me losing the point. So

Iva Mikles  

talking about like, yeah, moving from the two days a week to like being full time. And so how did you plan all of this? Right? So we had like the teaching, then you had the calligraphy sheets? And then you decide, I want to do other stuff,

Peggy Dean  

as well. Yeah. So during this process, right after my first class published, I have forever, I actually have had this carried with me through you know how you change phones, or you change computers, but you have like a list somewhere and like, anyway, it’s silly. But on my list, always I have a bucket list. And it had one thing on it. Just one, and it was published a book. And I had no idea it would be instructional book. I had no idea. I also had no idea I would published five books in three years. That’s insane to me. I am mad about it. I’m not, but like the machine that I turned into and the stress. Like doing that much so quick. Oh, I was I’ve been getting people are like, do you ever sleep and I’m like, I sleep really well. It’s weird. But yeah, so I started writing my book. And here’s the funny thing. I put way more work into it than I needed. And I did the entire thing on an iPad, I hand wrote the entire thing. This was before they had guides on how to make lines straight. I still made them straight. But wow, don’t ever hand write a guide of any kind because as it turns out, fonts exist for our eyes to flow naturally. And if you don’t do that, and you handwrite everything you will have people who are mad at you.

Iva Mikles  

But it looks more handmade you know we’d love

Peggy Dean  

Oh, I was like so into it like it was so part of it. And now I get why it wasn’t but I self published I so because I have those other things going on. But I really wanted to write an instructional book. And I pitched it to a few publishers and maybe I just suck at pitching. I don’t know, but I got a bunch of nose. And then I got like some no but let’s work on this other thing. And I thought, Yeah, but I’m really set on like publishing this book. I’m very stubborn, and I don’t. Since since then I’ve done I’ve gotten a lot better at receiving feedback and suggestions. Thanks Few time when it’s your baby, you’re like, okay, but I really want this to go here. Um, so when I got all my nose, I was like, you know, I don’t need these people. Yeah. So I published my books on my own, and they were instant bestsellers at will that one, and then I did more. But that was like, also validation. But at that time I had build up and I had built up an audience. It wasn’t very big, but it was enough that like, I try to be really, really open and authentic with who I am and what I’m showing people and because like, I think where I came from, with how my mental health was formed, and coincided with the creativity and how that kind of saved me, like, I just want to give that to people, I want people to be able to take that and embrace it and run with it and feel proud of something that they created. It’s just a good feeling. It’s really good therapy. It’s mindful and mindless. That was, it was successful. I’ve learned a lot through the process. But that was kind of like, that’s where I went with that. And then since then, I’ve had a lot of really great opportunities with brands and collaborations. And like, they’re always the one off projects that if you you could be nothing. And by nothing, I mean not exist online and just put out a few things here and there with consistency. The more places you exist, the better. But because consistency matters. I say don’t pour yourself into something, and then just do a few things here and then not continue with them. Because that’s just going to be a pit that looks, I don’t know, it doesn’t work. But discovery happens, you never know where people are going to find you and what they’re going to want from you. And if they are looking at your work, and they want something that you do, whether it be you know, like for me, it’s education based, but then people want design services and things like that. And you were just discovered, it just happens. So that stuff happened to for me, which was exciting. And I just kind of kept pumping out information because I loved it so much.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I see you have no what like six classes or more actually, though? No, I don’t remember you have you.

Peggy Dean  

That’s sweet. Have you I have 36.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I saw that, because I was like how many? And then it showed me like top six. Right. So

Peggy Dean  

okay, this is so funny. And so not necessary, but I’m very happy about it. And so excited to share. So skill shares platform, if you go to somebody’s profile, it’s its default is to show the first six classes and there’s this itty bitty tiny little button that’s not even a button. It’s just text that says see more. And then you can click that and you know how, like any other website and it shows more and then see current, it shows more. But it’s so hard to find. So I just discovered, and I just changed, this was just probably why you didn’t see it. But you can actually add blocks of different categories. And

Iva Mikles  

like, you know, something like that.

Peggy Dean  

I don’t you asked me this, too. We’ve talked about YouTube and how much I suck. But yeah, kind of like that, where you categorize them. So now last six all over the place. And I’m like, My classes are finally showing up. You guys have no idea I have been talking to Skillshare about this. And I’m like, Why can’t all the classes they’re showing and they’re finally like, do you not just know about this one super easy, like solution? I was like no.

Iva Mikles  

Then people will be writing in the comments. So please be kind like No, like you don’t know she has 36 classes. I was like

Peggy Dean  

I don’t even know if that’s the right number. It’s like 36 or 38. It’s something 30 It’s high. I didn’t know that either. And like, I don’t watch the first half of my classes because Whoa, production was horrible. And it’s embarrassing and whatever. But then I had to remind myself people care about the content. They don’t care about the production. But in my mind, I’m like, No, it’s so bad. It’s so bad. I’ll never watch it. I know it’s still helpful.

Iva Mikles  

The better it is. It’s always good the production but I mean, yeah, you’re right, the contact is the king. Right? So yeah, do you ride like notes for your classes beforehand and you do the structure or you’re more like okay, let’s be spontaneous about parts.

Peggy Dean  

When I first my first class, I was way over the top with planning it out. And I outlined like crazy. And then after that, for the first probably half that I have available. I winged it. I just pressed record and sat down and my classes took me like a day maybe two it was Not good work.

Iva Mikles  

Like this was the best class I ever made.

Peggy Dean  

No, but they did really well. And I think it’s because it just flowed. Now it’s a little bit different because for me, I as you can probably tell, I get very conversational, my thoughts just kind of go everywhere. But um, for my, you know, for my class description and overview, I do plan that out, because I want to make sure that I say everything that is going to be covered so that there’s not anything missing, so people know what they’re getting into. And then my lessons are planned out, I do outline them, I do not like them heavily. Because I think that the organic process of watching what happens is important, especially mistakes. I know so many people who edit out mistakes and rerecord and I will not. I just, I think that, like, you’re going to experience this when you are creating, why not see that it’s a very normal thing, and that you can fix it by doing x. And then there’s tips in there pro tips. So, but yeah, so just simple outlines, I just simply outline what I’m going to cover and what lessons are gonna be what?

Iva Mikles  

And so this is your main source of income now? Or how would you kind of combine these incomes right now, like, percentage wise, where is the biggest chunk coming from and like how you spend time now?

Peggy Dean  

Yeah, when I self published, it was definitely books where now that I’m traditionally published, it’s definitely Skillshare. traditional publishing is great for distribution. But if you have an audience, and you want to do a book, self publishing is a really good reach, you just don’t have the same distribution or packaging or quality. So it was it was a choice that I made, that I still am like, was not the best choice. But no, I do like that the book is available. Books are available to people. But um, yeah, I would say, both books and teaching on Skillshare.

Iva Mikles  

So you would say like, 5050 now

Peggy Dean  

at 20, Skillshare. Okay. Before it was like 95, five, and it was books. So that was kind of what happened. But, you know, I mean, teaching is what I love to do, I know that there are so many avenues where you can go with art. And like that focus, if it’s if it is focused, it can happen in the same sense. But for me, and my desires and career avenue that I took, yes, that is, that is where I’m at.

Iva Mikles  

It’s over. Cool. And now I’m thinking as well, what the actually your students are saying about your classes, what is the thing they always highlight that they love about their classes? That’s

Peggy Dean  

a good question. Um, you know, I think that it’s, for me, it’s that I talked to people like, they’re sitting with me. Um, but I do like, it’s, it’s difficult. I mean, I’m really happy about my growth. But it is difficult because one of my one of my strengths is individualization and being able to connect with people. Directly and individually. I mean, I know that I’m using that word multiple times, because I’m lacking vocabulary right now. Yeah, I think that that’s one of the main things and he’ll it’s really exciting because my books have been, they’re very light and text, and very heavy and imagery and direction. But my recent book, nature drawing and watercolor, that one is heavy in text. And I was really proud of that fact. And then the main thing that people are telling me is like, A, it’s packed full of information, which I am very pleased about. I did I did do that. But the thing is that it I’ve heard over and over and over, it feels like a good friend is sitting with me, and just showing me stuff. And so yeah, I mean, like content is key, for sure. But I think that for me, it’s really my approach. I don’t sugarcoat and I don’t polish and I don’t you know, I just think that for me in my life, I don’t want that. I’ve said this from so many years ago. Like if I’m gonna go see a doctor. I don’t want that doctor to be so So Uber professional and give me those fluffy words. Like I want somebody that rolls up his sleeves, got tattoos, and he’s like, look, this is this is ridiculous. You needed to do the thing. And I’d be like, I trust you now. I have something to say about breaking the barrier, and actually being able to trust what somebody’s saying to you. So that’s kind of how I’ve always been What You See Is What You Get There was never were like when you see me in my personal life, this is just what you get. So I that has spoken volumes to my platform.

Iva Mikles  

It’s nice here because then people feel comfortable and they can just like feel like even like hanging out during the classes. So there’s an Feel so like, I need to learn something like, you’ll learn. But having fun, right?

Peggy Dean  

When I Yeah. And when I do in person workshops, it’s, it’s interesting too, because, you know, like, yes, I’ve grown a platform. And so it might be a little strange to have, like, people will tell me, you know, I’ve watched you online, I feel like I know you and you don’t know me. And that’s weird. And it’s like, no, I get that. But with learning and doing something that we love, like, why are we doing it to begin with, because it’s a passion that we have. So there’s something important to say about releasing walls and being vulnerable in the learning process. And so if I can break that down from the very beginning, so that somebody does have a comfortable environment where they feel completely, like ready to streamline this, like, let’s learn something, and let’s make it fun, and let’s not feel like there’s this weird wall that like, this person has this incredible skill that I’ll never get to, but maybe I’ll learn something from them. Like, I just want people to know, they can do it, too. And so many of my students are so much better than me. And I love that. And they go on to creating these beautiful pieces. And like being these amazing artists, I’m like, yeah, do do it. Get it. Like, that’s, I just wanted to open a door for you. I just wanted to, like, introduce you to a new concept. So that’s where I see Yeah, that’s where I stand with it.

Iva Mikles  

And now you also mentioned that you you work with, with clients as well. So it’s not only like working with students, and yeah, and also the the live workshops. Right. So yeah, exactly. When do you sleep to one thing?

Peggy Dean  

Oh, gosh, I know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. But then, yeah, sorry.

Peggy Dean  

Got the, you know, I was just gonna say a bunch of words that filled space.

Iva Mikles  

So how often do you do also the life workshops and the client work?

Peggy Dean  

Um, it’s, I think that I probably do around 20 workshops a year, and those are usually two in the same day.

Iva Mikles  

When the workshops in a day,

Peggy Dean  

no, no, no, no. Two in a day, so like, rubbish trips, I travel. I’m so sorry. I try. Anyway, I travel a lot. And I usually tack on workshops to where I am going, because why not build community everywhere. One of the things I like the most to is when people make connections that, you know, they find a friend that they didn’t know, lived on their area. And so it’s really fun to watch that grow. And these people will take on chapters of like, meetup groups in their area, and you know, they have these three or four people or maybe 12, that they met, and they get together, and it’s a monthly thing. So that’s really fun to see. So yeah, I do that. As much as I

Iva Mikles  

can send you organize the workshop yourself. Yeah. Yeah. So you don’t do like collaborations with someone or you’re just find like a space like, oh, there is some studio, maybe we can do workshop here and something like that.

Peggy Dean  

Um, you know, it always depends. So like, I do have one coming up in Santa Ana with em love well, and they do everything. I just go, oh, man, everything could be that easy. I tell you, it would be really cool. Also, studio life and Seattle, that’ll be in December, they also host everything. It’s, it’s really convenient. Other times, like, you know, I’ll be in art stores. But a lot of the time I use peerspace. And I just find a location, I rent it. And I do all the setup, all everything. And then I lock up when I leave. So yeah, it just really depends on where I’m going and what’s going on what’s available in that city or in that country. Sometimes it’s it’s, you just never know what you’re gonna find. And I’m really happy to I’m about to turn over all of these operations to somebody else, because I just I can’t, I can’t do it. No, it took me so especially with urban sketching, because I’m, I’m traveling to these cities and teaching people urban sketching on location. And it’s like, you know, city, I don’t know it like what if I like this horrible area that doesn’t have anything and you guys all in the back of your mind are like, Why didn’t want to go to

Iva Mikles  

x stuff? Like, where are we going here?

Peggy Dean  

Yeah, like I research these things for like two weeks and you know how much productivity I lose? Because I’m sitting there just obsessing, like I find a spot but then I’m like, what if it’s not the best, and I will research to the depth on like, the best structure, the best historic areas where these types of workshops might have been held before. And it’s just a cycle. It’s a cycle I decide and then I walk away and then I come back and I continue the cycle. Love searching. And so I think that it’s hard when you care so much about what you do, because it does sit there and cycle. And if it’s just somebody else looking from the outside, they will make it so much easier for you when you just learn to delegate. Delegation is something I learned in the last year and a half was an assistant and it has been amazing. But anyway, long answer to your short question.

Iva Mikles  

Nobody’s always good to learn, because when someone is just starting out, or they’re in the middle of the career, and they’re like, when is the right time to find the assistant or someone else to help you? Because you are maybe like, okay, maybe I need to make more income or like, you know, so this is not yet to scale? Or what was the kind of the decision point for you was it like, really held time? Yeah,

Peggy Dean  

um, I had thought about it for maybe six months. So it was, it was a year and a half, and I thought about it for six months, I, I am one to take on more than I can chew, I like to drown. If I’m not always drowning a little bit, then I don’t feel like I’m achieving anything. I just like to take on a lot. And so with all those things came a lot of busy work that is mindless, and has to do with my hands. And like, you know, I sell products, physical products, I have my own line of paint brushes, and pens, and along with a couple other things. So I you know, I ship things and all that stuff can be done with someone else, or simple graphics for something as simple as I did a blog post or somebody else, one of my guests authors did a blog post, and I just want to create a simple graphic for Pinterest on it. That kind of stuff is just busy work. So I hired her. And it has been incredible to have that off of me. Now. You’re You said you don’t know it like some people don’t know when to bring that on? Yeah. And I thought that too. I thought, Gosh, because what I do is so inconsistent. In the sense of like, I don’t know what my week is gonna look like, I don’t know what’s gonna come up this time. So I sat down. And I wrote down. Well, I didn’t really I sat down and wrote things down. But what was more effective for me it was during the day to day activities and operations. As I was busy, I started, I had a list and I went to it every single time that I was doing something that I felt somebody else could do. And before I knew it, I have the longest list that could have like, it could easily employ somebody full time, I wish I could ever full time and things are about to change in the best way. But yeah, so it’s just if you just like doing that really helps, because then you can see what you can delegate and more stuff will come up, you know, as you have them. But being able to do that and releasing control, obviously, you have to train people and you have to like let them know your values and the way that you want to communicate to people because they are going to be responding on your behalf or representing you with other you know, companies and things like that, that reach out. She does a lot of initial setup with people that I collaborate with and whatnot. And so it’s really important that my voice be carried. And so some of that is not trainable. Some of that is just like you have to find the right person. And I was very lucky. What I will say about that, when people are looking for assistance is a lot of people are like, Oh, I’ve asked people how did you how did you find your assistant? They’re like, Oh, yeah, we were just somebody on Instagram, I just put out a call and I’m like, okay, so I did not do that. I didn’t want to have an affiliation like that to begin with, because they’re following me. So what is there, it’s really hard to know what people’s motives are. And I don’t think that they’re wrong. I don’t think their intentions are wrong. But I just wanted to make sure that I brought somebody in that understood what I was looking for. And so I just hopped on Craigslist and put something up didn’t say who I was that was very specific about what I was looking for in a creative assistant. I put some little tricks throughout this big description on, you know, certain ways to respond in the email, which would test their attention to detail and just things like that. And I had a lot of responses, but this one girl, Sabina who I have now. Yeah, nailed it. So I think there’s a lot of tricks to find the right person. Yeah, that is also a huge, crucial important part because somebody might be like, oh, I want an assistant and then they bring somebody on it’s horrible and they’re like I tried an assistant it didn’t work it’s it’s also the right

Iva Mikles  

person. Yeah, happens as well. And it’s I think it’s very good idea to say or like bride these things like, Oh, these attention to detail like little story or if they notice it and if they reflect on it? Yeah, because I was also looking for someone and it’s, yeah, it’s difficult to find the right person. So you care

Peggy Dean  

so much about what you do. And so you want somebody who cares just as much. And that’s not possible, you’ll never find that person. So there, there are really key things too, that you can do to help and like Google will tell you what those things are. Yes, Google will help you along the way.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, I’m cool. Yeah. Let’s Yeah, actually, when you mentioned also about these, like, looking for for assets, and and having a little bit of hard time when delegating at the beginning. But what would you not the hard time, but like to decide what to delegate? I think I would be also hired time, but I’m having a hard time delegating stuff. So I’m just reflecting. Anyway, my question is, so Oh, yeah. So what was basically your hardest time during the developing your art career? So like thinking about like, the the biggest hustle you had to overcome?

Peggy Dean  

Yes, um, I think that it would probably be, I really well, shoot. I really want to give a good answer to this. I think that everything is everything that you want to do has a long drawn out answer. Okay. Yeah, I’ll go with it. Um, website building. And for me, it was because I don’t know code, I know how to change a color. I know how to change the text color. But I don’t know how to transition out of it. Like, if I know how to change the text color, all of its going to be that color. That’s not true. But I do know, a little more, but I’m coding. So I was on Wix for a really, really long time. And then I started adding commerce, which Wix is fine for they support it, but they may have changed it since then. But cash I was on there for hair and makeup, because I freelance for a really long time. And then I also I switched over when I did this. And I love their platform, it’s so easy to use, but their commerce every time I got an order they don’t have at the time, they might now they didn’t have a way to carry your orders over into creating labels like it’s it’s a simple concept. But they didn’t have that as an option. So every time I got an order, I had to copy and paste the address into a label maker, and print everything. And that was so time consuming. And it especially hurt me when I launched my paint brushes. Because when I launched them anytime you have a launch, like low volume, which loved it, but like you have hundreds of orders, and you’re sitting there and copying and pasting this stuff, and I’m like this is not going to work for me. So finding the right platform was hard. I know that Squarespace offers some great options for people, it’s very pretty to look at. They have a very streamlined, modern, simplistic style, which I love. Yeah, don’t look at my website today as of July, look at it in a month because I have revamped it. It’s not published yet, it’s really a lot better than it was it was very clunky. Is right currently is clunky, and just a lot of sporadic information that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. And now it’s a lot cleaner, but it’s because I use WordPress. And so you either learn to code or you buy or use some sort of builder I use Elementor I love Elementor their service is so good. Do you use this? Exactly. Yeah, yeah, their service is so good. Anytime I have a problem. I’m like already mad because I tried to figure it out myself. And it took me a week and I still haven’t figured it out. And I emailed them and meantone it’s not, but it’s direct. And I’m like, I’ve been trying to do this, it’s not working me you always get back to me same day. And they’re like, Oh, you just do this. And I’m like great service. They never, they never judge you and your lack of technical.

Iva Mikles  

It’s very helpful with WordPress. So it’s just anything much easier.

Peggy Dean  

Like I just I really like to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. And Squarespace is not always going to have that option. You know, I’m like you think I just want to have a embedded signup sheet inside of an image. And it seems simple. But you have to use only this specific theme with Squarespace to get that effect, or x or y or z and WordPress just gives you options and you can do anything with it. And so that was a recent transition about a year ago that I switched over and couldn’t be happier with it. But the this is the kind of stuff that’s the ugly business stuff that’s like Oh, I’m going to create This pretty website except ru, and then how do you lay this out to where it’s going to relay, the vibe, the mood, the information in a way that is effective for the people visiting it, so that they don’t just jump right off? Like, how are you going to increase those numbers, let’s learn about SEO, let’s learn about all this stuff that’s still like, I understand it. As much as I understand how to speak Spanish, which is very small, you know, it’s a totally different language that you have to learn. And, yeah, you can delegate that and spend a ton of money having somebody do that for you. Or you can learn it and be the entrepreneur. And that kind of stuff can come and be really tricky. So there was my answer, boom.

Iva Mikles  

Good. But you mentioned, you know, the, the whole the business side of it? How do you deal with sharing on social media? Do you want to share art and bits and pieces, which are creative, but we do have videos, which are just dealing with email, and all of these, whatever SEO, what do you share? Or do you batch process, like, I will create 20 artwork, so I have something to post.

Peggy Dean  

Um, you know, before I was at about a year ago, and so for the first two years, I was really heavy on creating content. And I would sit there and I would create content. And that was like, my number one priority was to create content. And it was for exposure, because I wanted to be found and I wanted to be seen, and I wanted to have that reach any words, um, I know that a lot of people complain about the algorithm, especially on Instagram, I get it, I feel the same. However, here’s where it benefited us, when we are busy, and we want to be able to put out quality content versus the amount of you know, the quantity I used to put out so many, you know, like, every three hours, I would put something new because you want it to be found and people speed up when they’re going to look at it. Now you can go every three days and be safe. Because the algorithm is going to pick up something from six days ago. So that works in your benefit. It sucks. It’s not timely, but it’s it’s different now. So I want I you know, I, I think that it changes I most of my Instagram feed has been very sporadic, it hasn’t really made a lot of sense. It has been, you know, this topic into this topic and this topic and this topic. And it’s just whatever I’m feeling, which is very much reflective of the way that I think as far as medium or what I’m working on, or just like something that is I like to provide value. But I also like to provide just like many blog posts. Listen to my experience the other day, it has nothing to do with this picture I’m posting. But guess what? Right now though, I am driving myself crazy, I am not good at sticking to the same subject. But I was really into the idea of doing 30 days of wash florals. And if you look up the hashtag 30 days of wash florals, I think I’m on day 12 or 13. And that’s just what it is just me that like wash for the bedside with it. However, man, it’s hard for me to stay consistent with something and just to look at my feed and see only the same thing. And I know that’s ideal when you’re like a designer, and people want to see your work and it is consistent, but like I am the most inconsistent producer of content or what I’m doing ever. So even though it’s ideal for your feed in Peggy Lee, I’m like, really like Oh, but I really want to put this lettering post out there in the world. Um, back to though, consistency. I mean, two to three days is great. But I think that there’s a lot of behind the scenes that need to be happening. And Instagram should be a tool and an outlet. But it shouldn’t be the focus. And it was my focus for a long time. And that was beneficial until it wasn’t anymore. There’s a lot of behind the scenes, but I will say number one thing I learned this in November, and I knew but I didn’t really really know is that you don’t I don’t want to call it owning your you’re following your audience, but you don’t. I’m gonna use it for lack of better words, but you don’t own anything. Yes, yeah, yeah. Unless they are on your email list. So that is the focus. Those are your people. Those are the people who are invested in what you’re doing. And there’s a whole psychology behind providing quality emails that are not spam. I mean, like, how many lists are we subscribed to that like, we can’t stand and we don’t open like a lot. I get it. So my emails are not boring. They always offer something and they’re not very, they don’t come a lot. They’re probably once or twice a month, which I just surveyed people and it turns out they want them legally which is a good thing. It’s a good thing. It means I’m doing something right but Yeah, I know that I segwayed right into email. But I think it’s just because of the importance of knowing that, yes, social media should definitely be used as a tool. But I don’t think that it should be the primary focus at this point where we’re at with the way that social media algorithms have surfaced. And like the other reaches, that we have on the big beautiful world wide web.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, because there are so many places we can be. It’s like, yeah, so you mentioned Instagram, we have Skillshare. So where do you put the the main focus? As you mentioned, the email? So do you write blog post the most time? Or how do you kind of create the connection with your community? Or where the best way?

Peggy Dean  

Yeah, I’m actually those three things. Email Skillshare. And Instagram, is my is my reach. Yeah, Instagram. I’m not gonna lie. It’s always gonna be why does Siri keep thinks that I’m talking to her, she keeps pulling up what I’m saying. And then she responds, like,

Iva Mikles  

I’m not something as well.

Peggy Dean  

I go, like, anytime you’re like, Hey, Siri, she never listens. But then like, I’m talking to you. And it’s like, stop it. So it was an issue. I don’t know what you mean by and then there’s a long paragraph that I said do. Anyway. I don’t know how to Google it. You’re asking. Will you ask your questions like, I don’t know. But there’s what I found on the web, like, I could have done that myself. So yeah, I mean, I’m not gonna lie. Instagram is definitely my outlet. I love sharing on there. Like, that’s where I built my community. I think that email is great. I do. When I say I blog, I mean that you you guys blog, like, I host a blog. But the most important thing for me is to elevate the creative community. So every single week, I have a guest blogger who comes in and shares information that’s helpful. I don’t care if it is tutorial base, which is very heavily tutorial based right now. I don’t care if it is something having to do with how to brand yourself or how to, you know, increase your reach or exposure. I don’t care. I take submissions, we also reach out to people we meetings via I don’t do it. But to see if they’d be interested in contributing, and I have a really large platform, so it’s beneficial to them. But it’s also like it’s just creating a community. You know, it’s a community, it’s a space to land, it’s something that’s guaranteed you get it every single week, you have something new to create. It’s great. This was a survey I recently had, I’m like, do you guys do this stuff? Do you find this helpful? And it turns out, it is like 100%, people are loving it. And that’s, you know, one of the things that they love about my blog, I had a theory or a little while ago that nobody cared about the blog. And I’m like, I don’t know about the blog. I don’t know about the blog, but the blog is a big deal. Rather than having emails that go out. Every time there’s a tutorial, I send out monthly recaps, like, here’s the usually it’s four, maybe five, depending on the month. Here are the four recaps, if you like, learn how to go do one of these things. And then they can visit it. And it’s great. And it’s easy. So that is one way. So that’s kind of combining blog and email making email less of a priority only because I know how much I hate getting emails all the time. My emails, my email inboxes very full all the time. And so I tried to keep that in mind because people are busy, like we’re humans, we’re busy, we get a lot of stuff. Gap gap is so good at sending emails, man, every day, sometimes twice a day, so I am subscribed to them. I just don’t want to be that guy that does that. Way during a lot of behind the scenes on Instagram, so it’s I’ve picked three areas. I think that Facebook is a really good area to be I’m horrible at it. So it just kind of depends on where you want to land. Pinterest is a really good place to be. It drives so much traffic when I did pay a lot of attention to my analytics and sometimes I still do but when I was paying attention on my website, I think that it was it was incredible night I think it was 80 or 90% of my traffic came from Pinterest like clearly my marketing is not a not doing a good job. Getting people to my website to Pinterest is the deal. Because at the time I wasn’t spending a lot of time on Pinterest. Now the graph is totally different because I’ve done I made a lot of changes. But Pinterest is a really good source for traffic. So keep that in mind. That is something that I do sort of well. It’s hard when you’re one person but those are yeah, those are good avenues. I have found a balance in those three things because the

Iva Mikles  

because it’s good with the with Pinterest that it’s like evergreen content. So you don’t have to post all the time like on Instagram. So it’s like foundables later on.

Peggy Dean  

Yeah. And the same with blogs, but even blogs. I mean, unless it’s a Google SEO type of search, like, are you going to show up? Even it is evergreen, but it’s not evergreen, like Pinterest is? Pinterest is gold for that. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Visual Google search. Yeah.

Peggy Dean  

Yeah. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

So that’s perfect. So yeah, so you spend a lot of time on social media, but it’s still also limiting it, I guess. Because you can’t be on social media all the time.

Peggy Dean  

Yeah. So I know, it’s interesting to see your screen time. I actually really have my I’m proud of my screen time, because I average about five to six hours a week on Instagram. So if you if you divide that I mean, I’m spending probably, I tried to tell people like 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at night, don’t go crazy. I probably spend 20 to 30, I get a lot of DMS and I want to answer them the best that I can. Sometimes I just can’t you know, if somebody just says something really quick, it’s not a question. But there’s a lot of questions that come in, I like to answer like to read links, I like to like give people a direction. So that’s hard. And then it’s hard to find comments once you grow. Because they’re hidden. I know that Instagram is kind of changing the way that they’re doing that, but it’s still kind of hard to keep track. So, but I try to answer those, and I look through those. So it’s for me, it’s a little more. It’s like answering emails, social platform. But yeah, I don’t spend. It seems like I spend a lot of time on Instagram. But when I’m posting or when I’m putting something on my story, it’s It’s as quick as you see, I open it up, I do a video I set it down, I continue what I’m doing. It’s not like I can approach it. Yeah, I’m not gonna sit there and wait for responses. And I know the refresh trap. Like, it sounds silly to say, I’m not gonna sit there and wait for responses. But you and I both know, like, that’s what we do. Like as humans, like, we sit there and we wait. But I don’t do

Iva Mikles  

it. Yeah, you want to reply? So you’re like new comments. The first hour is important in the post

Peggy Dean  

office hours. So you want to keep checking. Yeah, I know. Yeah. So um, yeah. So I try not to I try not to spend too much time there. Because it’s it’s a time sucker. Yeah, it just is.

Iva Mikles  

Because then you don’t create. So that’s either or when you say yes to something. You’re saying no to something else? For sure. So, yeah, yeah. Always the thing to think about. Also, what they wanted to ask you, before we also finish, it’s like, what is the thing you wish you knew before you kind of started this whole artistic career? Is there something like, Oh, I wish I knew this?

Peggy Dean  

I used to have a very vague answer. But I actually recently learned, just through some experience that I’ve changed that before, it was just like, hey, trust your gut and go for what you’re doing sooner than you think that you’re ready to. But then I still believe that, and we talked about that. But more than anything, especially when you’re beginning, I know that we’ve talked a lot about once your mid career, not mid Gray, beginning, like you’re, you’re past the art technique, part of things, and you’re ready to take next steps. We’ve talked a lot about that. But assuming somebody’s not there, gosh, that’s the best place to be. It really is. It really is. Because there’s so much in the beginning that you there’s no expectations of you, there’s no expectations of content to put out. There’s nothing standing in your way from experimenting, and being able to dive into the part you will, you will never be able to dive into exploration of art, like you will, when you’re a beginner. And that might mean you might be seasoned, but being a beginner, as far as outreach and exposure goes, once you’re exposed, there are expectations and you need to put out, you make a business model, you know, you can’t just sit there and like play. It just doesn’t exist. There are weeks that go by I don’t touch art supplies. And that’s hard. But I mean, as far as the body of work goes recently, I have been really interested in licensing my work. And I’m asked for a body of X amount of images. And when I realized that I don’t have even 20 of a certain category. That’s, I mean, I know I’ve created stuff but not something I’d be comfortable submitting. It’s like Conte. It’s social content. Like what is that? Where’s that going to take you like, there is such a thing as really diving into your work and feeling comfortable with where you’re at feeling really proud of what you’re creating. Yes, you’re building a body of work, but you’re not really doing it for that purpose. You’re doing it because you’re your Finding what you love. And along the way you can look at all this body of work that you’ve created and find consistencies, and find your style through doing. So, people always ask me, how do you find your artistic style? And it’s like, you just do it by doing

Iva Mikles  

it. Yeah, kind of forms.

Peggy Dean  

Yeah. And you can try different types, like, you can try folk art. And you can try beautiful watercolor florals, and go through all this. And somewhere in there, there’s a consistency. And that’s where your style forms, you know, like, I keep hearing all the time that you need a color palette, you need to stick to this medium, you need to stick to this type of illustration style. And I call BS, I don’t believe that at all. I think that, as artists, if you have an interest, you should pursue it. And if you can just take a year, a full year and give yourself time to play. And if that means having a normal job, you’re like, yeah, one day, I want to do art as a career, but who like who’s rushing? Like, what, what are you in a rut? Do you want, you know what I’m saying here? Like, I think that, and I can’t stress this enough. I am, I am such a take action person, I’m a competitive person with myself, like, I just want to, I just want to go for it. And that’s what I did. That’s what I do. And I am successful from it. But there’s a part of me, like, deep down. That’s sad that I didn’t get to have that time. And I’m never gonna get it. Unless I changed careers. I’m never gonna get that time ever. So I just want I just want to be able to encourage somebody to embrace that time.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So yeah, so people should think about it, guys. Yeah. So if which part of the career you are now and if you can explore and so maybe don’t quit the job right away? Or if you already did, then just create a lot?

Peggy Dean  

I just yeah, there’s just something really magical about coming. Turning into what what you’re able to produce and really feel proud of a body of work you’ve done. It’s just a beautiful time. So

Iva Mikles  

yeah, definitely. And what about the the future? If you think about the five years or 10 years, you know, the the vision there? What would be something you want to do? Or where do you see yourself?

Peggy Dean  

I am very non traditional in this plan. And I know that this is a common plan, and people often want to hear people’s answers. My True, true answer is that I don’t want to know, I don’t want to know what tomorrow brings. I want to be surprised, and I want to go along for the journey. I hate knowing like, I like opportunity. And I like not not knowing where I’m going to be I know that’s a horrible answer. But I’ve always felt that way. I don’t want a five year plan, because that puts me into a box of expecting something I may not want to do by then my mind changes so much that, you know, I might be doing something totally different. So not totally there. I’m always going to be creating art, but it might be a totally different avenue. And I don’t know what that looks like. And I like that. I don’t know what that looks like.

Iva Mikles  

So something in the art realm, maybe some new projects, or Yeah, so I guess that would be the surprise. So I am looking for to be surprised to 50 more classes you will do. I will ask you, I’ll be like, I actually have maybe five.

Peggy Dean  

Like five years for now. I’m like I have 1642 classes. And you should take this one. I might as well I might as well just have a YouTube channel. I do have a YouTube channel. I do have one. Maybe

Iva Mikles  

good. There will be a lot of stuff coming from your creative avenues I’m sure so people can just follow as we mentioned Instagram most of the time and check out the blog. And yeah, so comment here if you guys have any questions. So thank you so much again for being here. It was super nice. Yeah,

Peggy Dean  

thanks so much for having me. So fun.

Iva Mikles  

Thank you again and thanks everyone who was watching or listening and I’ll see you guys in the next episode. Bye

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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