Creative Freelancing in the Wake of the New Election
Donald Trump will be our next president. This is the reality, and it’s a reality a lot of us are afraid of. To most of us, Trump’s victory is a wake up call, a sobering end to an extremely polarized political campaign.
I’d be wrong if I didn’t admit to feeling defeated. But with all of this confusion and fear, I’m determined to figure out ways we as creative entrepreneurs can work well, and work together, during difficult political times. I believe we can unify, make a difference, and respond.
Inclusion in Design
My mission is to make my clients feel empowered by designing them fresh and fearless brand identity and websites. This stems from a sense of empowerment I believe all of us deserve to feel.
When I was young, I remember a lot of the discrimination my parents received. 60 years ago, when my parents immigrated to America, they were very much the “other.” Italians were thought of in horrible terms, marginalized and discriminated against. Particularly my mother, who has an accent that sounds like someone un-American—even though she married a US veteran, raised 2 American children, and ran a small business. My mother would often come home with stories of people making fun of the way she talked.
Even in the face of the discrimination, my mother treated all others with respect, no matter who they were. My parents ran their own business for almost 30 years, and my mother would always hire immigrants and others who had challenges finding work: those with learning disabilities or older people who needed an income.
I know that was an uneasy bridge for my mother to cross. I know she was saddened and upset with people who teased her for her accent. But those real-life lessons on discrimination made her more compassionate, not angry, towards others in her community. She wanted to raise up those in her small town. I believe we as designers and creative business owners can learn a lot from this action.
A lot of designers, illustrators, and creatives now feel it’s important to be inclusionary. In a wonderful article on fastcodesign.com titled “What Designers Should Do Now,”
Kim Rees, co-founder of Periscopic
, says the following on bringing inclusion into design: “Trump clearly struck a chord with certain people. We have to remember that these are the people we need to communicate to—not ourselves. We have to see things through their lens in order to bridge the divide.
“Design should be a welcome mat. It should reach out and shake hands. … It’s time to double down on inclusion in design, even if it means reaching across that uncomfortable divide.”
Donate time and resources.
We are part of the entrepreneurship revolution. As creatives, we have the skills, ability, and privilege to offer our time and resources to organizations that can deeply use help. This was beautifully exemplified by Portland, OR branding and web design firm The Beauty Shop. The day after the election they decided to offer branding and websites free of charge to organizations representing LGBTQ, Women, People of Color, Hispanic, Muslim, and Immigrant communities. They did not have a plan for this, but felt the need to help others in their community. “We want to help your voice be heard,” is what they said.
The response was so overwhelming, they’ve modified their own website to accept applications for pro-bono projects. They also ask creatives to volunteer in their design effort—you can sign up here
What I respect about The Beauty Shop is that they took a huge risk. They had a need to respond to the fear that marginalized Americans felt after the election. They used creativity, both as a tool and in their business, pushing themselves to start a movement without even knowing how to do it. “Designers have to work harder and shine brighter. We have to lead the way,” says Bobby C. Martin, graphic designer and cofounder of New York City agency The Original Champions of Design
It is often artists and art that can shine a light on being human, both its struggles and its joys. Poet E. E. Cummings said “War and chaos have plagued the world for quite a long time, but each epoch creates its own special pulse-beat for the artists to interpret.”
As I grow my business, I’ve been drafting a manifesto for Germinate Creative. One of my business beliefs is: I believe that creativity is a pathway to the soul. I’ve found that drawing helps me feel confident and grounded. I’m not sure why… it’s kind of woo-woo how that happens. But I do believe that creating art can be healing in times of distress, whether it be personal distress or the impact of something external, like this election. The healing can be both for those making the art, and those who view it. And the showcasing of this art can allow creatives to be part of a creative community
, growing your personal and professional network.
On November 20, Portland organization We Make had a flash art show in response to the 2016 election results. The provided a place for designers, illustrators, and artists of all ages to “give a safe, positive space for our community to spill their guts about the future of the nation.” The result of this show was a robust collection of artwork for people to share. It also gave people in the creative community a safe space to come together and express disheartened feelings about the upcoming presidency.
Remember, love trumps hate. It’s easy to use visual art to mock our new president, or to criticize his supporters. But, instead, this is a time to create art that champions others. “Don’t get cynical,” President Obama said in his remarks following Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. “Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. . . . Fighting for what is right is worth it.”
Years have passed. Years will come.
The consequences of a nation under new leadership are unknown. However, we can use empathy to communicate with others. We can also use our creative voices to help and be heard.
We can be empowered by our businesses. We can be empowered by working together. We can be empowered by donating our time, money, and other resources to organizations we believe in that we feel might suffer during the next 4 years.
Have you changed the way you run your creative business or make art in the face of this new presidency? Let me know.
I work with creative entrepreneurs and I realign their brand identity so it feels fresh and fearless. My clients finally feel empowered to share their business look and feel with the world.
Do you want to be fearless when you show your business to the world? Do you want to share your passions and talents to a broader audience? Do you want your business image to be as fresh and creative as what you offer to your clients? Do you want to be the professional on the block, and stand out from the rest of the crowd? Let’s work together.