Episode 78 // Making Art for a Living with Becky Simpson

June 28, 2016

Today we’re welcoming illustrator and author, Becky Simpson, who has just launched Chipper Things, a product line based on her art. So today we’re talking about what it really looks like to make a living creating art, self-doubt, and naming your business.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"Starting is the hardest part, so if it's hard for you, you're doing everything okay. It's normal."
- Becky Simpson

Discussed in this Episode

  • Becky's decision to become an illustrator and author (6:22)
  • Diminishing your early dreams and goals as a creative entrepreneur (12:00)
  • Embracing your style (13:47)
  • The hard parts of the "dreamy" artist process (17:43)
  • Using your personal name vs. a business name (26:50)
  • Tips and logistics for illustrators and makers who are just starting out (36:43)
  • Focusing on creating the work you want more of (39:32)
  • Advice for people who want to get started with their creative passion (42:45)


More from Becky Simpson

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Braid Creative

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Almanac Supply Co.


Emily Thompson 0:01
Hello, and welcome to being boss episode number 78. This episode is brought to you by fresh books, cloud accounting. Being boss and work and life is being in it,

Kathleen Shannon 0:17
it's being who we are doing the work, breaking some rules.

Emily Thompson 0:21
And even though we each have to do it on our own, being boss is knowing we're in it together.

Kathleen Shannon 0:28
I'm so excited because today we have my very good friend and just one of my favorite people in the whole world, Becky Simpson with us. Becky is an illustrator and author. But she also just launched chipper things which you can find at chipper things calm, which is a website full of her amazing work that you can actually purchase and buy. So Emily and I are especially excited to have someone who is not only an artist, but a maker and selling physical things on the show, I know that we talk to a lot of people who offer services. But today we are talking to a boss who is using her hands to make things and sell them. And she's also just launched a book called the roommate book, and is her second book, her first book is called I'd rather be short. And I love that one. And I'm so excited to dig into the roommate book. So first, I want to take a second here to read this email that we got from a listener. Hey, bosses, I just wanted to share this positive search my week. freshbooks is awesome. I'm in the process of switching from the dreaded QuickBooks over to freshbooks. This week. Here's why freshbooks is awesome. One, a real person answered the phone on the first freeing to he didn't make me feel stupid. Three, he told me exactly how to do what I needed to do next, essentially my next steps. And four, he told me that they'd walk me through the complicated stuff when I'm ready, because what I have going on is a little bit complicated. He also shared a video resource that can help me quickly get through my next steps. So if you're looking for great place to keep your books, fresh books is legit. I just wanted to share a little Monday morning awesome with everyone. It's little things like this that make being my own boss a pleasure. All right, so that comes from our listener Erin and we are so glad that she's loving freshbooks if you guys want to try fresh books for free today, go to fresh books calm slash being boss and injure being boss in the How did you hear about us section? You can start a free trial without a credit card today.

Unknown Speaker 2:39
Becky? Hi. Hey,

Becky Simpson 2:43
thank you for having me. I've been so excited about this since since we scheduled it.

Kathleen Shannon 2:48
Thanks for joining us now first I need to get something a little bit awkward out of the way and just confirm on air that you are not Becky with the good hair.

Becky Simpson 2:58
I am not or are you just leave me alone everybody.

Kathleen Shannon 3:05
But you do have some really good hair.

Becky Simpson 3:08
I mean it's it's big, big thick hair, so

Emily Thompson 3:13
it's good. Would Beyonce be jealous?

Becky Simpson 3:16
No fiance would not be jealous.

Kathleen Shannon 3:19
That would be on say be jealous if you were making out with her husband.

Becky Simpson 3:22
I mean, I think that that's a normal married woman issue. And normal thing to be jealous about. That's what I meant. Yeah.

Emily Thompson 3:35
Women have an issues with their husbands.

Becky Simpson 3:37
They're good. I feel like Beyonce would is that hasn't a right to be angry. I haven't seen lemonade though. Yeah. Oh, you just need to watch it. I know I just It feels so hard to access because it's on HBO and no, it's not even on HBO. Really?

Kathleen Shannon 3:53
You know why it's so easy to access you go to itunes.com and you buy it for $18 worth every penny is

Becky Simpson 4:00
it's I didn't even I will obviously haven't even tried. I just I mean everyone so for those listening my husband bought me this tank top that says Becky and these big pig letters and as a little lemon on the corner. So it's it's funny in context because my name is Becky but out of context. I wonder what people think I'm trying to get at and really even out of context. There might be people listening to this show who don't even know who Beyonce is. So Oh yeah, even further out. Like Yeah, powers of 10 with like the Beyonce. Know how.

Kathleen Shannon 4:41
So if you have not watched limonene just stop listening to our show right now. You don't need to hear anything Becky has to say you just need to watch them in age. And then come back. Becky does not think that's funny. What she's checking to see if she has split ends in her hair.

Becky Simpson 4:57
This hair flew in front of my eye. Leave me alone. I need to watch the I really need to watch that video because it's one of those things where I just you know, like the the references enough that you can get by kind of like, well, no actually not I haven't read Harry Potter an either. And I kind of like now at this point that I've gone so far to where I don't have to read it. I don't want like a girl who doesn't didn't read it. And I know that's kind of dumb, like I like to read, but it feels like it's too late.

Kathleen Shannon 5:33
So I just started reading the first book of Harry Potter. I like how we're, I'm like, I'm so excited to have an illustrator and author and product maker who just launched the line that she's selling on our show, and I'm talking about lemonade and Harry Potter. But these are important issues.

Emily Thompson 5:49
I just can't get over that neither of you have read them. Whenever I heard that about Kathleen, I almost just quit being boss.

Kathleen Shannon 5:57
Yeah. And you know, who added me was my sister who's a Harry Potter fan. So I started to read the first book of Harry Potter. And it's written for an eight year old and I just couldn't hang. Yeah, so I'm gonna wait until fox is eight and then we'll read it together. And then I'm

Unknown Speaker 6:10
like, me.

Kathleen Shannon 6:15
Okay, so, Becky, thanks for joining us.

Unknown Speaker 6:19
I'll have you here.

Becky Simpson 6:20
I am honored to be here.

Kathleen Shannon 6:22
Now I know a little bit of your story. But I really want to hear how you went from? Well, how you really became an illustrator. I thought that seems like a really scary career choice. I mean, I remember even going to art school in graphic design school, my dad was like, you're going to be selling pencils on the side of the road, like, What are you thinking. And I feel like illustrator is even really even more of an accomplishment to tackle this day and age. But you're also an author, which is a dream come true to not only have one book, but now to and it is so beautiful. In fact, like I am really curious about the creative control and like working with your publisher and being able to really illustrate the whole thing. I got to flip through it today. And it's so like, I just love your illustrations. So I want to talk about like, all these things combined. And how did you get to where you are right now?

Becky Simpson 7:12
Well, thank you so much about saying that about the book. Because when you work on any project for hundreds of hours, as much as you know, you can like really in your heart of hearts believe believe in the project and be proud of it. But you're still like this is still my baby like what I really know the difference. So it's I mean, I'm I love it. But I'm It's so fun now that it's coming out into see other people kind of see it for the first time. So thank you, but I Okay, so how did I get to where I am? Or how do I get started?

Kathleen Shannon 7:45
So how did you how did you tell me about the journey? Like maybe even from what did you major in in college? What were some of your first jobs out of school to then really getting here? And like, are you still designing health brochures on the side? Like do you still have side gigs that help pay the bills? Did

Becky Simpson 8:00
you know I did that? Yeah, okay, I was like,

Emily Thompson 8:03
crazy. I'm

Becky Simpson 8:05
such a good listener. So I went to Iowa State where I studied graphic design, because I wanted to do something practical with my creativity. And so I did that. And as a naive college person, I thought, oh, in a couple of years, I'll be I'll just go freelance after my first job. shouldn't be that hard. Another old pro after two years, that's my voice, I guess is that what you say? Get your head in, when I was 20. When I was 20, that was my 20, you know, four year old self. But I did that. And then I got a job out of out of college in Waco, Texas, where I study or where I was a marketing firm where we did graphic design. And I really liked it, like I felt very appreciated for my style. And so I was able to kind of start to do more like hand hinden stuff, illustrative kind of looking pieces. And that's rewind in college. That's a lot of the projects I did there too, was I illustrated a lot of Park components of it, just because it was easier for me then like doing it, maybe the slick cool way. I was like, well, I just could just draw this real fast. And that would be good. So that's kind of what I did at the job where I slowly kind of I felt more and more confident the more I sort of embraced my style. And so then I had this idea for my first book, I'd rather be short, and it's since you can't see this book, if you're listening. It's 100 reasons why it's great to be small. And each page has a little illustration above a sentence and it's things like takes less time to shave your legs and you sleep like a queen and a twin size bed and you're less likely to smell people's bad breath and just silly things and it came out of time where i just wanted someone to kind of tell me those things and give me permission even though or to to like it i'm like five feet tall to that that might also matter for this but that's that's kind of how it started so i had the book idea and then the short version which

Kathleen Shannon 10:26
way did you have the book idea first or did you start the like the side project on chip or things like as for the book like yeah because i was following along at the time like i was like yeah reading your blog at the time and we had become blog buddies and you started doing these i'd rather be short illustrations and it almost seemed like a side project that you were able to turn into a book or do you always have the idea to start a blog

Becky Simpson 10:49
yeah this is this makes me so happy that you know because usually when i tell that story i assume nobody kind of knew the backstory so i gloss over that time which was yeah i did always want it to be a book but i felt like everybody wants that who am i to think that i could have a book like i thought maybe when i'm old and gray i would finally like how much i would write and illustrate a children's book and that's actually what i've been wanting since kindergarten but that was sort of a long long you know long term thing and so yeah when i was putting them on my blog i thought that was out of me trying to put enough out there that i could get the style down because a lot of them were really bad at first i just had to get through it and and then the plan was once i had enough good ones i would submit a handful to let agents and then try to get a book deal but i wasn't i wasn't like banking on it i mean i really knew it was a long shot but i knew that i just had to start and then maybe i'll self publish or maybe it will become a more traditionally published book someday yeah it worked out

Kathleen Shannon 12:00
i love that you don't diminish the fact that you had this goal in the first place like i feel like even with being boss i even diminish the start of that sometimes by saying we were just starting a little podcast and then it turned into a big deal but the truth is we wanted it to be a big success from the beginning yeah and i feel like sometimes it's easy i don't know if it's because we're women or if it's because we're creative entrepreneurs and have those inner gremlins that you were talking about like who am i to be successful

Becky Simpson 12:26
oh totally that's really good but i think it is also easier when it did work out you know to then admit it because i'm sure that i remember in like fourth or fifth grade and you know what do you want to be and you grew up and i think i said like a movie star or something and people laughed at i was like oh no like would have been like a cute story like if i was a movie j la right now j la i don't know j lover jennifer la

Kathleen Shannon 12:57
oh jennifer lawrence i didn't know that she's going by j la i love she chose it

Becky Simpson 13:06
well i think it's a thing

Kathleen Shannon 13:08
but now's a good time to now's a good time to point out that you do look like sarah jessica parker

Becky Simpson 13:15
i i like her she's

Kathleen Shannon 13:18
yeah i think i mean and super talented i shouldn't just say she's beautiful she's so great it's not i know what you mean i know but i bet you guys are the same height you have the same yeah

Unknown Speaker 13:28
she is really short

Unknown Speaker 13:30
you know they care

Unknown Speaker 13:32
mm hmm

Becky Simpson 13:34
and i mean i wouldn't say i have her sex in the city style but i would like to think that if i did live in new york i you know i would be wearing that to to galavanting okay so

Kathleen Shannon 13:47
i have a question i want to end sorry i might be kind of like interrupting your journey story a little bit but i want to get a little bit about your style and embracing your style even whenever you are working as a graphic designer because if you look at your style it's really super like quirky wimzie what other adjectives would you use to describe your style goofy optimistic colorful playful so your style is definitely stands out and it's the kind of thing where i don't know about you guys like growing up as an artist or drawing but i felt like you have drawn realistic to be considered a good artist and i feel like i held on to that myth up until i started hanging out with other artists who had more distinguished or interesting styles like yours becky so at what point did you like really embrace the kind of optimistic wimzie colorful style

Becky Simpson 14:40
yeah it was all a slow progression i mean it was you know to get to doing like more full time illustration came out of just evolving with the style i never intentionally set out to draw this way cuz i used to draw in high school like really like fashion, like, fashion illustration style with like long legs and these like, little like puckered lips. But I just, I guess, like, slowly, you know, it's never like a one, it'd be easier to be like, well, this one night I had this thought, you know, to draw like bump your kneecaps and but it's really just after doing things so much you kind of sort of figure out what's more fun. And that's, that's for me just what is the most fun way to draw this person. And that's generally how I draw it. And so I guess with that my, a lot of people struggle with comparison, you know, in creative fields, I am not immune to that I do struggle with that. But my bigger issue would be not living up to my potential, because I feel like I, I love what I'm doing. And I acknowledge I'm not the best. And sometimes I wonder if I'm too okay with that. And if I like because I love doing what I do, and like I do it the way that feels the most, maybe comfortable or natural, which I think makes the work better. But I also wonder like, Am I not challenging myself enough? Not that it's not a challenge. It's definitely a challenge. But yeah, so that's the thought that I have.

Kathleen Shannon 16:19
Okay, going back to going back to chipper things and drawing the process of I'd rather be short. So you had gone out to make a book and you thought I had this idea, but you're still kind of working through the process in real time. Yeah, I think that that's so cool that like, so not only have you given yourself permission to not be the best. But to really kind of hash that out in front of a live audience, you still feel like you're doing that a little bit. Just like part of the creative process.

Becky Simpson 16:50
Yeah, to some degree, I kind of feel like now I have a clear idea of what I want and where I'm going. I want to be open to the evolution of it, and the change and the hiccups and all that stuff. But it doesn't feel as vulnerable as it did in the beginning only because I think the more you do something, it's just like, getting older as a human like are aside. I mean, I'm sure I would love being short at this point without having gone through the process of making a book just because I've gotten older, you know, and more mature and comfortable with myself. And I feel like it's like that with our a little bit too. But I'm still never I still always feel like I'm not content with what I'm doing. You know, I think that do you guys feel like that? Or do you feel I don't.

Kathleen Shannon 17:40
So weird, literally. But it's so funny coming from like, it's funny coming from different fields, because I feel like you and I have even Skyped about this before Becky. But like whenever you got the Adobe residents, which is maybe something that we should touch on, but basically you ended up getting an Adobe residency for a year. And we'll we'll explain what that means in a second. But you talked about imagining your life as this ideal day that you can now live out in real time, which is like waking up to the sun and going down to your studio, which is now all of a sudden, like this beautiful work shed in your backyard and you're just drawing all day in and that to me like an I look at this roommate book. And it looks like it was so much fun to create. Like, I cannot imagine an ounce of inks done this. Even though I know I should know better but like it, I can't see it. So it looks like your life is just perfect. And that you're just drawing cute little funny. wimzie our letters, people all day long. flowcharts all day long.

Unknown Speaker 18:44
Yeah, just you're just

Unknown Speaker 18:45
living the dream. I never cry.

Unknown Speaker 18:49
Oh my god.

Becky Simpson 18:52
I started to cry start to cry more now at random times, like in movies more, but I did before the chipper things launch. I had some breakdowns because I was just so stressed out. I know this isn't the point of all of that you just said but I do feel like when I do have those moments, it's like, I think that maybe that means I'm onto something because I'm so invested that I'm like breaking down. Because it means that much to me. Maybe that's how I justify it. But the roommate book was it was a lot harder than the first book. Even though I created this mantra for myself that was if it's not fun, you're doing it wrong. So nobody was making me put in this like spread that was trying to just something that was kind of took extra research or by the time I sat down to do it and just was didn't feel right and good and fun. No one was making me do that. So that gave me permission to just scratch it and draw like terracotta pots, pot designs, even though that terracotta pot designs. That's funny when you say at all, but together it's like kind of a joke, jokey DIY, because it's one of them's like your social security number. And you wouldn't do that, or like call mom. But those in those moments that made the book a lot easier. I mean, the book was really fun to work on. But because every spread, it's 150 pages. And it's it's not like the first book where it's a list with a picture above it. It's like reinventing the wheel for every single spread.

Kathleen Shannon 20:32
I feel like I want to mention real quick, but well, Emily, do you have anything to say about like, the creative process and feeling like you suck? Wait, is that what you're crying? Because you feel like you suck? Or are you afraid of failing or not living up to your potential or

Emily Thompson 20:45
just have estrogen in your body?

Unknown Speaker 20:47
I think.

Becky Simpson 20:49
I mean, honestly, I think it was just being overwhelmed with just having too much to do and feeling like, in those weak moments of like, why did I? Why did I design these no cards already, you know, stuff like that. But I mean, those are, I feel like the thoughts. The self doubt stuff is more of like a creep in in kind of thought it doesn't really hit me all at once. It's like, if I'm working on something too long, or,

Kathleen Shannon 21:18
but I generally whenever I'm crying, it's like regretting every decision I ever made. Like, I have somehow picked the completely wrong path. Why didn't I just become a makeup artist? Or why didn't I become a doctor? That would be so much easier. Which I'm laughing I'm laughing you guys. Because like, obviously, it's not that there are moments where even as an artist, you start to think like, Why? Why did I have to pick something that I have to think so hard about and care so much about? Like, why

Emily Thompson 21:47
can I got a job job? Well, and I think there are two things I want to say here. And one of them is around the idea that we're all just fucking human. Like, you know, we create these jobs for ourselves, we get to do really, like seemingly dreamy things. But like, we also still have emotions, like that's going to happen sometimes. And because God knows I do shit, I cry all the time. These. Like, it's a thing. And a part of, I think part of it for me is just getting older. And like, I don't know, just seeing like bigger pictures that are more terrifying,

Kathleen Shannon 22:19
like knowing that you're going to die one day, well, that's far scarier. Really writing a

Emily Thompson 22:25
lot more like I mean, more like for me, you know, if now if one thing goes wrong with being boss, or with anything, like it's not just gonna affect me, but and my family, but also our team, and you and your family, like decisions now have so much more weight than they ever have before. And so that can be really overwhelming. But also, I really want to point out that like, you know, whether you are a day job, like trying to create a side hustle, or a side hustle, or you've created your own day job, or like dream job or whatever, like it's still work. And like, granted, like, I'm very thankful that none of us are like having to do like hard physical labor, like we've created these jobs for ourself, well, we get to get to use our brain and our hands more so than like our physical bodies. But, but it's you know, it doesn't mean that like, we don't still get overwhelmed with all the decisions that have to be made, or all the weight that our decisions hold. Or just the fact that sometimes we'd rather be sitting on the couch watching Netflix eating Pop Tarts to. But instead, we're like, you know, answering emails and managing businesses or getting products out the door, or like meeting deadlines and all these things. And I feel like, I mean, that's just that whole, that whole other level of like, not wanting to gloss over the fact that, you know, dream jobs are not always dreaming and like creating a dream job doesn't mean that you get to, like, write on unicorns and eat popsicles all day. Like you still. I know, right? It's surprise, Kathleen, work is still work. And I mean, I think whether you're an illustrator, you know, illustrating your own book, and it's really dreamy and adorable and fun. Or you get to just sit on a podcast all day and talk or like, whatever it is, like there's still like, grown up things that come with weight and emotions that go on. And I feel like, I don't know, I don't want to be I don't want us to be the podcast that makes it sounds too fluffy. Because it's not.

Kathleen Shannon 24:19
Even if it looks fluffy, even if it looks like the funniest roommate book ever. Which is one thing that I want to point out really quick as Becky you were one of the funniest people I know. I feel like you should do comedy. You know, do

Becky Simpson 24:34
you know that? Remember, MTV made that you know where they took people like into and throw them into a totally new element? Like I'm a cheerleader, but I wouldn't be a skateboarder. I feel like that. I would. I feel like if if I could do that in life, it would be stand up comedy, but not because I feel like it's just the scariest thing ever. Not because it's something I would be okay side note. Do

Kathleen Shannon 24:57
you ever feel like Do you ever feel Like speaking is kind of like being a stand up comedian. And we've spoken at conferences together before, I mean, not together together. But we've both spoken at the same conferences and have supported each other and I'm always laughing so hard at your talks. And do you ever feel like you're going up there to be a stand up comedian? Like, I always feel like I'm doing a bad job if people aren't laughing.

Becky Simpson 25:19
Um, well, it's, it's, it's nice when people make noises like positive laughter when you're talking because otherwise, you just don't know. I just I do feel like it's like performing a little bit. Like you have your it is it's it's like improv, that's rehearse kind of

Kathleen Shannon 25:42
I hate speaking and seeing someone on the audience with their arms crossed and yelling at me and I ever cross

Becky Simpson 25:47
my arms when someone can see me speaking now. That's just for everyone listening. If you're on the front row, just nod and smile, because it will mean so much to that person that can see you who's on stage. Okay, so

Kathleen Shannon 26:03
anyway, I wanted to say that the humor really your humor specifically really stands out in the book. So like, not only are the illustrations really fun, but for example, on the terracotta pots spread. It's all these different ways that you can design your terracotta pots, and one has a big exclamation mark on it. And I was like, Oh, I'm gonna do that to one of my terracotta pots. And then underneath the description is something understated and it's just funny that it's an exclamation mark, like, thank you for so funny.

Becky Simpson 26:30
I I feel like we've known when like that you like that joke, even though it's in the book. And like, that's the point is for people to like it. But yeah, it's a lot of inside jokes, and just things that cracked me up, hoping that the rest of the world.

Kathleen Shannon 26:50
Okay, so I want to talk a little bit about chipper things. So yeah, how chipper things for a long time. Your name is Becky Simpson. And I actually want to talk about using chipper things versus your name because this is something a lot of creatives from service providers to all sorts of people have a question about so and you got married recently. So your name changed from Becky Murphy, which is on your first book?

Unknown Speaker 27:16

Kathleen Shannon 27:17
Becky Simpson. So can you talk about all the drama around naming like how did you finally decide on chipper things

Becky Simpson 27:23
I that was so hard for me. I, I sympathize, empathize with whoever is in in that because it is it's It was so weird with chipper things to where I felt like I know where this business is going. I just want to get started and how is it possible that I still don't know what the name is. But so chipper things was the name of my Etsy store for a few years. I started wood burning when I was new to waco and didn't have friends. So I had this little Etsy store called chipper things just like a funny name, you know, for wood. And then the name just kind of stuck on the blog. And it's always really made sense for my work even though it's it's not involving planks of wood anymore. But I kind of had this feeling so during this creative residency with Adobe,

Kathleen Shannon 28:15
we pause I know

Unknown Speaker 28:16
I feel like I'm going all these No, like

Kathleen Shannon 28:18
so you move to Waco, Texas, you're lonely and so you're like I'm going to create art on wood.

Becky Simpson 28:24
Well, that's like the way that it gets retold. It's really like I was in Hobby Lobby one night and then I saw the the wood plank and then a wood burning pan. Okay, I was like, Oh, this looks like a good Friday night activity. So I did it and then I started making more and some are like I

Kathleen Shannon 28:41
better sell this.

Becky Simpson 28:42
Yeah, exactly. Got it.

Unknown Speaker 28:44
That's how I got money. That's how I start.

Unknown Speaker 28:49
Yeah, Friday night and Hobby Lobby Friday night.

Unknown Speaker 28:51

Emily Thompson 28:52
do good or not good and make lots more and sell them.

Kathleen Shannon 28:55
Okay, so Adobe residency.

Becky Simpson 28:58
So So for the last year Adobe, I've been in this residency it just ended and Adobe sponsored me for a year while I worked on passion projects full time so my projects were finishing the roommate book and designing and launching chipper things I did other stuff too but those are like the main things so because I spent all of this time and with with the store really like redoing I mean it's over 70 products now so it felt like I needed like a new name almost to go with it and I was like his trip or things to kitschy is it to like I wanted it to be like cool and grown up and so I I went through like hundreds of names. And at one point I decided on on loop and line and I have the domain if anyone wants it. So when I would tell people like I go I got the name of my store and like Oh cool. What does that like loop in line like what I'm like listen line, like it felt like the rural juror from 30 rock. like no i know what this means if i repeat it i can't use it so my one of my mentors nick annette miller she was with tattly she we talked often and she was like why don't you use chypre things it's perfect that you already have it it makes sense for you like so i just didn't even realize you know at that point i was so decided on getting a new name that i was so i was so over chipper things that i like didn't reconsider until she said that and then i fell back in love with it so

Kathleen Shannon 30:38
i love that

Emily Thompson 30:42
hypothesis one of my favorite things about doing business online other than making business besties with cool creatives all over the world is being able to quickly and easily share my expertise with people who need what i offer but hosting a workshop or getting paid for a one on one can be a bit of a logistical nightmare ecommerce payment processors web pages the works until now how about having scheduling software that allows people to pay for their sessions right when they book because that's a thing and it's called acuity scheduling yep you heard it right get paid online without needing e commerce to do it without needing to send separate invoices and never again needing to seek out payment after you've already given your time the best part acuity has this feature working for one on ones as well as group classes and workshops getting you paid faster than ever before no matter how you're doing it acuity scheduling for client calendars become belem blow them away sign up for a free 60 day trial of scheduling sanity at acuity scheduling.com slash being boss now let's get back at it so your name though let's go back so chipper things yes but like yes becky sense and let's talk about your decision to go with something that wasn't your name because that is something that more people struggle with than anything so everything's spot on i'm glad you kept that loop in line

Kathleen Shannon 32:16
not what it sounds like like fly fishing that would have been a good name for your woodburning maybe that's where the woodburning sets should go

Becky Simpson 32:25
i have all i like the social media handles if someone has a better you someone wants a name people can't understand

Kathleen Shannon 32:33
reach out

Emily Thompson 32:35
reach out we have one up for grabs yeah that's hysterical so let's talk about your name then because you did change your last name as well like and girl i got several people i'm gonna afford this episode too because this is a real conversation

Becky Simpson 32:49
totally well so do we want to talk about why didn't i name my shop becky simpson

Emily Thompson 32:56
yeah that

Becky Simpson 32:57
well that was that was hard because i did go back and forth with it because it's my art it's only my art i feel very connected to it i want the credit you know i did it but i do want this i do see this as something that's bigger than myself and it's not that i couldn't use my name but if i have future endeavors or if i want to do like love sell original pieces or like fine art like i just wanted to have my keep my name for maybe other purposes that are even more personal than mass produced art that is still very personal and i guess i'm not i feel like i did go through it a lot and i just think that it was one of those things that there's i was constantly thinking about but the more i sort of sat back from it without the immediate pressure i sort of felt right about using a name that was that i felt like i could grow and people it felt on first impression like a business that was maybe bigger not that that should be how you make a decision because you know a name is just a name but why not

Kathleen Shannon 34:07
like i think that that's a really good point that this could be bigger than yourself and there are a lot of creatives who have made a business bigger than themselves i'm specifically thinking of fashion designers yeah whenever it comes to their name but i really love yeah right i love that you held in mind that your name could be used for something even more personal or even more sacred even if it is around your art or something that you're selling

Becky Simpson 34:34
yeah and i have heard it both ways i mean i know people who are very successful in the product based business who wish you know that they did keep the personal name because then you run into stores not knowing if they should credit your you personally or the brand and it gets kind of confusing in a way but i just decided i just have to choose so

Emily Thompson 35:00
discontinues That's awesome. One of the things that I've run into and especially like being in this business, as long as I have and watching people, name businesses and renamed businesses, I have clients who went through multiples. But one of the things that I've seen is like almost this ebb and flow of what you name things. So like, you will sit tight with a personal brand until you've created something that can stand on its own. And then you may rebrand it as like a business or like a personal brand. And then your personal brand goes on to do something else. And I think that like that, almost that separation is, I mean, something you have to grow into, or you simply choose and do it. But there is this funny little ebb and flow that I keep saying where, where you do start doing something and you grow it to be this like freestanding thing almost, you can set it aside and either let it let it continue to grow or close it down as specially as like multi passionate creatives go from one project to the next. And then at some point, your personal brand can stand on its own as this as this brand that's done these things that are all under like their separate name. So I think that I think that what you've done, like naturally, there's almost a strategy to it that I've seen, you know, develop over the last like, God, six years now, I guess of like doing online business stuff, where we're this totally how it works. You just you create something, and then you go like, to the next step, you carry your personal brand with you. And it is sort of the umbrella under which all the things that you do and create stays dry under.

Becky Simpson 36:38
Yeah, that's true. That's Well said, or how it feels like it goes.

Kathleen Shannon 36:43
So I'm curious, what advice would you give to bosses who are wanting to dip their toe in illustration, or they're wanting to maybe write their own book, or launch something new? I want to get back to cheaper things, though, because with 70 products, like what it Okay, hang on, why would I want to ask that question? First, I want to ask about cheaper things first, and I want to end on what advice would you give? So let's talk about super things really quick. So you launched with over 70 products? Is that right? Yes. And they include things like prints, prints, cards, notebooks, pins, spandana totes,

Emily Thompson 37:21
there's a pin your pan I need.

Becky Simpson 37:24
The Girls Gone mild. Yes. I, there might be some mail coming your way.

So just to keep our eyes on the mail, bang, I might may or may not be I don't know.

Kathleen Shannon 37:39
Okay, but what goes into like logistically having a store where you're selling things as someone else? Okay, do you print the things on demand? Do you who distributes it? Are you doing all of it yourself? No.

Becky Simpson 37:53
I mean, I'm the I'm the boss. So I'm gonna have to figure out how everything happens. But I have a fulfillment center. I have. So those products that I listed earlier, I wanted to do a zillion different kinds of things, pillowcases, tea towels, decals, like I had to scratch a lot of things. Because when you're working with all these logistics, it's just way too much to manage for not having done this before. So I have I have these different people who who are producing the goods, and then they go to my fulfillment center in Iowa, and they package everything.

Kathleen Shannon 38:31
Is it your mom and dad or your model? center? No,

Unknown Speaker 38:36
but what if they were?

Becky Simpson 38:39
I don't know. They just wouldn't, I guess, jobs but sounds really that would be like a really nice, like childhood stories and stuff when everybody's order. But they it will actually that's partly why I chose this place. It's called cedar graphics. Shout out to them. And they are. So I'm from Iowa originally. And I was getting quotes and thought, Well, if I'm going to get quotes outside of Austin, where I live, I should go to Iowa just in case. It's I could just write it off for business when I need to go visit or they I'm already going to be at home and so like I can visit this fulfillment center. I mean, there's a million places I could have picked but it just made sense to me to support the home state and do it close to home. So but they they they ship everything out another behind the scenes question,

Kathleen Shannon 39:33
are you so really launching chipper things and the book and all of that. I know that before that you were still supplementing your income with graphic design before you got the Adobe residency and maybe working on not so dreamy projects that you would put up on your portfolio or even associate with your name now, are you still doing any of that on the side to help pay the bills? Are you full time like did you full time commit to illustration and chipper things And the books?

Becky Simpson 40:01
That's a great question. So for books usually don't make enough money to be your income for traditionally published I mean, they can do well. And it totally, this is not speaking for everybody. But even people who are like very, very successful like it's still book advances and royalties are there. They're not like your full time job for. Yeah, for a lot of people, not for me. So you have to also get a job to pay your bills. So chipper things is my main focus, but I am taking on the residency just ended. So I'm starting to take on some illustration work on the side too. But the shop is the the main squeeze. But is there anything that you're saying no

Kathleen Shannon 40:47
to now that you maybe would not have said no to before?

Becky Simpson 40:51
Yeah. Good. Yeah, it's really just, I mean, well, it's a lot of things. But the store takes a lot of time. Yeah. So I want to do that right.

Kathleen Shannon 41:01
And then do you feel like, it's worth that investment, though, of time, like, even if you're not making super bank, you can still pay the bills, and really focus on like investing in your business with your own time and energy? Right.

Becky Simpson 41:16
Yeah, I think that you just it's Yeah, I mean, I guess it's just what we're what you everyone's situation is different. So at the end of the day, you have to pay the bills and make it happen, make it work. But if you can spend the extra time on the business, like the long play the long game with it, that's great. But it's not an

Kathleen Shannon 41:39
option. I guess I'm especially thinking about some of our listeners who might still be working a day job and trying to build their creative business on the side. And they're trying to take on any work just to prove that, rather than I say, like, rather than focusing on what they're best at. And so I think what I'm trying to get to is like, are you now just focusing on what you're best at or what you want to be known for, right?

Becky Simpson 42:03
Yes, definitely. I mean, because there are still I love, I love the client aspect of work. I mean, people can dog on it. And that's, but but clients, it's a collaboration, if you have a good client, you can make some amazing projects. And so I will always be open, I think for now, for now, I'm open, you know, like to that clonal collaboration. But yeah, I don't want to be just working on anything that comes my way. I know

Kathleen Shannon 42:32
only like amazing, not only amazing projects, but amazing relationships. Yeah. Because whenever you work in a field like ours, you can make good friends and good contacts with people that you end up working with.

Unknown Speaker 42:43

Kathleen Shannon 42:45
So Becky, I have one last question before we let you go. And that is, if you have any advice for someone who is really wanting to start their career in illustration, or just follow their passion, making art or writing a book, whatever their creative career might look like, what advice would you give to someone who's maybe having a hard time just getting started?

Unknown Speaker 43:05
I think that

Becky Simpson 43:09
starting is the hardest part. So if it's hard for you, then you are you're doing everything, okay? That is normal. I think that having sort of a project you have to complete. And so you have that kind of accountability is really important, because then it builds momentum for you, even before you have any accolades or praise. So things like the 100 day project, from the great discontent and aluna. They do that. So it's just you do you do a thing for 100 days and post it on Instagram, or you don't have to, or you could do like a little just completing a series of the thing. Or I think a lot of times when you can put it into a chunk of time and do it every day for that amount of days. I think that's really attainable. Because you don't, you're not committing to doing it forever. You're just saying for 30 days or whatever. So I think that's a good place to start.

Kathleen Shannon 44:09
I love that. Because a lot of times when you think about what you want to make, you're just in your mind picturing the end goal like this 100 page book full of really cool illustrations, you're not thinking about the fact that it's really just one illustration at a time. Right. And you have to start somewhere. Yeah,

Becky Simpson 44:25
totally. I think that you Yeah, you have to start somewhere. And I think you have to change the definition of success for and that's huge, like, with, with the roommate book working on that, you know, it's it's like starting a book is that's a big task. And so I just started with the easiest pages that were the most fun like maybe it was like an Amy Poehler pullquote like your or, you know, something that was just fun for me that I didn't feel like I could possibly mess up. And then you you just slowly build on that and you just do anything like Doing doing a bad is in that in this instance of the success just just being doing it, it can be bad and you give yourself permission to make a horrible version of that thing. And then from there, you don't worry about the next part, but you, eventually you will refine it and get better. But I feel like that's like the best feeling is when I have permission to just fail and be make a really bad version of whatever it is.

Kathleen Shannon 45:26
Okay, a couple of questions about the roommate book. So I lied, I have a few more questions. Hey,

Becky Simpson 45:31
I got the time. Let's do it.

Kathleen Shannon 45:34
Do you have to have a roommate to enjoy the roommate book?

Becky Simpson 45:37
That's a good question. I do think it's, I Well, I think it's more just having knowing what it's like to have a roommate, maybe you don't have to have one. But it's probably more enjoyable. If you can kind of relate to the roommate life.

Emily Thompson 45:52
I could totally, totally see myself doing this. Uh, David.

Becky Simpson 45:55
Yeah, I feel like there's definitely there's like bucket lists on there. And because I so I had the idea for right before I met my husband. And then I worked on it and finished it around, finished it not long after we got married. So it's just the timing is funny, like the transition. So now it's my roommate is Greg. And I feel like a lot of this stuff still applies, like you're building traditions. And should I eat that without asking flowchart, you know,

Kathleen Shannon 46:26
except you get to do it at the end of the day, or the ending of the day? Yes, whenever your roommates your

Unknown Speaker 46:33
main squeeze, exactly.

Kathleen Shannon 46:35
Okay. I want to do some of these projects, too. I think it's applicable to kids too. If your roommate is your child.

Emily Thompson 46:43
The rematch is so fun.

Kathleen Shannon 46:46
I think that Lily is going to love this one. Emily,

Emily Thompson 46:49
I definitely got the pet peeves one will be a page that I will go over with her. Actually, David, too, for that matter. That's going to be exercise number one. Yeah, it's

Becky Simpson 47:00
a really positive book. But there are some passive aggressive things in there. Because you really cannot have a roommate book without a few few little passive aggressive awards. But I've loved all of my roommates. And so that's kind of what, that's why I wrote it from this perspective.

Unknown Speaker 47:19
Have you shared a sneak peek with them yet? With your roommates?

Becky Simpson 47:22
Oh, my gosh, I? Well, I think I've sent them like, if I did a page that was totally based on an inside joke. I think I've sent it to them that way, but not the one out now. I'm like, I

don't know. If they haven't I know they haven't you need to send I need to and then you know, make them

Kathleen Shannon 47:40
read it to you on Skype. And so you can see the reaction.

Becky Simpson 47:44
Yeah. Just pretend I'm not here. To be totally natural. Like, I'm not even here. I didn't just spend like 18 months working on it.

Kathleen Shannon 47:57
start crying. This hurts my feelings. No,

Becky Simpson 48:01
I it's very, I feel like it's like very g rated and, and happy go lucky.

Kathleen Shannon 48:07
Well, it is you don't worry about rats, I still do when he feels almost condescending to say. It's beautiful.

Becky Simpson 48:15
Thank you. I this might be I do want to give some credit, though to I feel like we kind of touched on this but didn't talk about it. My publisher, the publisher for this book is Andrews mcmeel. And they have been, they have given me total creative freedom. And I know people you hear like all different versions of that from authors like what kind of freedom you get. And for both of my books, I've I've just been so lucky that they let me do what what I what I'm best at. And so I just think that's really so if people are wondering about that, because some people might wonder like, if you get a publisher, you know, do you have to like sign your soul away?

Kathleen Shannon 48:56
Right. You don't you? Can you introduce us to your publisher?

Unknown Speaker 49:01

Kathleen Shannon 49:03
I mean, so Emily and I are actually planning on writing a book for being boss. Yeah. And I think we are going to go the self publishing route for different reasons. And we can do a whole different podcast episode about that. But it would actually be fun to have a traditionally published person on the podcast with his self published like, all at the same time,

Becky Simpson 49:21
that would be really cool. And my agents pretty awesome, too. So you could have like the lit agent perspective,

Kathleen Shannon 49:27
nine like it. So where can our listeners find more of you website, social media, all of it, the book, all of my book,

Becky Simpson 49:36
all of it, the book, the roommate book is available for pre order right now. It's gonna be on shelves, June 28. So you can order it from Barnes and Noble Amazon indiebound. And then available where books are sold. And then cheaper things is cheaper things calm. And then that's social, Instagram, mostly at cheaper things. do you want me to go down the list keep going personal okay the last the last leg of this adventure and then me personally becky m simps at well that that is before that that's the this is the social handle and then becky simpson co is my website with my personal work and

Kathleen Shannon 50:22
all that thanks so much for hanging out with us it was so good to see you

Becky Simpson 50:26
i know this is great that we get to hang out over over the internet i know i know what a time to be alive right video phone calls but thank you so much this has been so fun and like i said i'm so honored to be here and to share

Kathleen Shannon 50:46
thank you for listening to being boss please be sure to visit our website at being boss club where you can find show notes for this episode listen to past episodes and discover more of our content that will help you be boss in work and life did you like this episode please share it with a friend and show us some love by leaving a rating and review on itunes and if you're looking for a community of bosses to help take your creative business to the next level

Emily Thompson 51:10
be sure to check out our exclusive community at being boss clubs slash clubhouse where you get access to our closed and very vibrant slack group monthly q&a calls with kathleen and myself a book club and more cultivate your tribe and find your wolf pack at being boss club slash clubhouse do the work be boss and we'll see you next week

Kathleen Shannon 51:53
okay so final question emily can you ask it

Emily Thompson 51:57
what was it

Unknown Speaker 51:58
it's ask you do this give my mom well give us a hard time that i talked too much

Becky Simpson 52:07
thank you yeah like i mean way are

Kathleen Shannon 52:12
now more like in a sweet way where they're like oh i want to hear emily ask the questions right

Emily Thompson 52:18
there in kathleen's brain she's just going at it

Kathleen Shannon 52:22
okay so well our final question before we wrap up here is if you have any advice for someone who is wanting to start a career in illustration i

Emily Thompson 52:33
had no idea that

Kathleen Shannon 52:33
was because i said i have two questions i'm gonna start with cheaper things and then the advice question right okay i'm sorry that was unfair that was unfair to you emily

Unknown Speaker 52:48
it's fine just do adding