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What is the Kernference & How Can it Help You?








Andrea: Welcome to the closer and closer podcast. I'm one of your hosts, Andrea Mejia-Madriz and I'm a part of the artist marketing and partnerships team here at closer and closer. And I have back with me, my wonderful cohost, Caton Vance .

Caton: Thanks, Andrea. I'm Caton Vance. I'm the Director of the Artists Marketing Partnerships teams, but enough about me, because it's my pleasure to introduce today's guests with an 'S.'

Andrea: Spicy.

Caton: We've got Katie Johnson and Ilana Griffo. Did I say it right? The last name, Griffo? Yes. They're the tag team behind GoodType. I'm sure all of you have heard of GoodType after running their own successful art businesses. The two artists met via DM and joined forces virtually from their homes in New York and Texas. They share a drive to help other artists pursue their passions and take the fear out of business because they believe everyone deserves to love their job.

Andrea: Welcome to the pod.

Katie: Thanks!

Ilana: So well said!

Caton: I'm glad. I read it. I wish that I could just like, off the dome. Like, say that that eloquently, but I'm not that good. Sorry.

Katie: Well, you did it with grace.

Ilana: And I knew that, but nobody else needs to know that.

Caton: Well, now they know too well. We can edit it out.

Andrea: We don't like any secrets. *laughs* But yeah, I'm so excited to have both of you on. We've been talking kind of behind the scenes for a bit now. And honestly, I was just itching for The Kernference announcement so that we could have you all in the pod. We definitely wanted that to happen first.

Caton: Sorry. Could you say that again? What'd you say?

Andrea: Kernference, did I say it correctly?

Ilana: There it is!

Andrea: I'm pretty good at saying it.

Caton: Kernference!

Andrea: Letting it flow, you know. Not getting tripped up.

Caton: You've got to be like a real nerd about this stuff to understand what Kernference means. Like when people talk about niches, this is a niche!

Katie: Yeah. That's totally the point. It's like a big waving flag to our nerd kingdom. *laughs* Come find us. And we all have to then explain it to our moms, who just kind of give us like a blank look. My mom did.

Caton: Well because they're probably like, "are you trying to say conference, but you forgot how to say conference? What happened? Are you okay? Are you feeling all right?"

Katie: I saw somebody in a comment saying, oh, are you presenting at the Kernference?

Caton: Yeah, that's pretty good. Actually, that's really good. Andrea. I know you. We've got a whole bunch of questions, but what if we just jump into the Kernference one first? It's hard to say in a sentence that smoothly.

Katie: We're just making everybody sound ridiculous. It's like our little joke on everybody. Like when I went to Bonnaroo, and they had all those different stages were named like, uh, this stage, that stage, what stage. So when you were talking to your friends, you had to be like, I'll be at which stage. And they're like, who's on first?

Andrea: Oh, that's so funny. But yeah, I mean, let's just start off right off the bat like the big thing going on here. The big reason why we wanted to have you on is the current friends. Can you tell us a little bit about, I mean, first of all, who you guys are, give us a little bit of background, and then how you kind of came up with the idea of the conference and where that was born from? Take us on a journey.

Ilana: We'll take you on a journey.

Caton: Yeah, who's going to answer? Who's going to go first?

Ilana: We've got a natural flow, just kidding. Virtually. It's very hard to know who should talk, but in person, I think we're pretty good at it. But I'll do a little backstory of how we became a part of the GoodType team. And then maybe Katie can talk about, um, the sprout of the idea for the current friends. It's a sprout, right? For corn? I was like, is that how it starts?

Katie: The kernel

Ilana: Kernel? The kernel of an idea.

Caton: Even if it's not right, it is right.

Ilana: Now it is. Okay. So Katie and I actually met, like, like you said, in DMS, actually, I'm pretty sure that I found Katie's work through seeing her featured on GoodType. And I was like, that girl seems pretty cool. So she had posted that she was working on a licensing course and I was like, ah, that's so cool. I'm planning one too! I can't wait to take yours. And she wrote me back with minutes like, let's work together on this course. We could reach more people we'll have fun working together. And it ended up being really successful. And we had a lot of fun. We had never met in person. We just started working together. And after the success of the course, we were like on a phone call one day. And we were like, I guess, I guess we'll start a business, like maybe like an LLC or something. And we just kind of naturally fell into this business. And so we ended up a couple of years later doing a collaboration with Bodie, the founder of GoodType. And she asked us after the collaboration. It was like an affiliate partnership after the collaboration was over. She was like, "Hey, uh, can I ask you some questions?" We were like, yeah, she's probably gonna ask us like what platform we used or how we do X, Y, Z. But instead, she was like, uh, "I love what you do, and I'm ready to move on to some other creative projects. Would you like to be the co-owners of GoodType? And We were like, yeah!

Caton: Talk about a surprise question!

Katie: We were emailing each other under the table, like!

Caton: What is happening right now?!

Ilana: That was so great. And so we spent like a couple of months just talking with Bodie about what her vision was and what she liked about what we were doing and how it would change. And she remains an advisor to us, and we constantly actually live in the same city as Katie does, but we constantly are checking with her and making sure that things are aligned, and she's such a great supporter. And now, the work that she's doing feels so authentic to her. And she's so excited to have that time freed up. I mean, she was managing this all by herself for like 10 years. So it's really great to have.

Caton: That's an endeavor!

Ilana: Yeah, it really was. So basically, our goal was to come up with this education piece that we were teaching and bring it to the GoodType community, which was really a place for connection inspiration. And so, uh, when we started working on that, obviously we made like a ton of lists of ideas of what we wanted to see. And Katie really had this little kernel of an idea to have more of a community event and really build this community more offline. So I'll let Katie take, take that idea from here.

Katie: Yeah. I think we, we always knew it was kind of like inevitable that we'd want to do a conference at some point, but I was, um, reading the, how I built this book. I love that podcast. Um, and so I was reading the book on like a trip in Hawaii, and I was like, oh man, this is like, I feel really passionate about, um, doing more, just like things to bring people together. And it's so funny. We were like, what, what would it be called if we're like bringing people closer, closer together?

Caton: And they're like, wait a minute!

Katie: A Kernference!

Katie: No, it didn't, uh, come that quickly. Um, but it did come out of a brainstorm with my husband as most good things. Do, um, the name just presented itself. Yeah. Shout out. Um, no, he's great to wordsmith with and go back and forth, but we came up with the current friends and then all other names where they're not the window. I called Ilana the next morning, and I was like, okay, are you sitting down? It's so ridiculous. Yeah. But, um, we're really excited, uh, to have this kind of inaugural, um, good type of event. We've been doing some workshops and some smaller events and kind of testing the waters in that way. And good. And, uh, Bodie had done some of that, um, with good type before, but this is our, really our first foray into something of this size and in the future, we would love to do like in person or hybrid event. Um, but we're doing our best with this event to kind of simulate as much as you can that electricity of an in-person event and give people more opportunities to like actually engage with each other and not just sit back and watch. Um, that was something really important to us. So yeah, we're really excited. It's going to be from November 1st through the 4th of this year.

Caton: Awesome! Well, we're definitely going to put a whole bunch of links in the podcast episode so people can find it cause, uh, Drew Melton is actually going to be speaking on one of the panels at, um, who's the founder of closer and closer, really excited. He's gonna be speaking alongside the, uh, owner of Snyder right on that panel. I can't remember the name of it. I think it's like agents how to work with an agent or something like that. Um, I'm trying to remember off the top of my head.

Katie: Top question that we hear. So we were like, we've got to have a talk about this.

Caton: Right. So is this really the first year that you're doing current friends, this is an actual, so you've done similar events. What made you like to go from like, "hey, we actually need to not just have another like smaller gathering." We want to do like a full-blown conference. Cause like that's a, that's a big leap and uh, there's, you know, it's just you two really with an advisor and then you're like embarking on a conference, which is not a small endeavor. Ilana: Yeah. So actually, this is our first year as the co-owners of GoodType. So we just started in January. In January, coincidentally, we had already planned a summit called 'Artists to Author', which was similar in the sense that it was a larger audience and a lot of speakers over like four or five days, but definitely simpler. Um, and it was all about how to get a book deal as, or how you could get a book deal, whether it's self-published or not, um, as an artist, and it was so much fun. And so that was kind of a great way also to test the waters. But over the past eight months, we've done workshops and things like that. But yeah, this is the first inaugural, uh, Kernference the first time we're doing it or anything of this endeavor, but I will say we do have another team member, Emily, who is our social media manager. Uh, but I would definitely call her something of higher stature than that chief of content or something because she's really, really helping us. I mean, managing DMS alone is like a full-time job. So sorry if we haven't responded to you. Um, but it's, she's been so helpful. So it's not just us. We have a lot of support and like Katie said, uh, you know, we should employ her husband full-time because he really, he brings the electricity with, um, whenever Katie is working on copy, which is really great. So yeah, it's definitely a big undertaking, but we're stoked, and we're learning a lot as we go.

Katie: I personally have like a huge spot in my heart for conferences because I have made some like long-lasting friends, and conferences like literally changed the trajectory of my career, like going to let her west was such a huge moment for me that the conference that Becca Clayson put on. Um, and she did a retreat and a conference, um, a couple of times and, um, just meeting other people in lettering and like getting to have that IRL off of Instagram experience was like, I finally knew that I was definitely on the right path and in the right group. And, um, so that was huge for me. And I definitely feel like I always encourage people to go find their people in person or at, you know, I know this is a virtual event, but we're going to try and make those connection opportunities happen. So it's just a thing you carry with you for your career and, uh, a seedling to build upon a kernel.

Ilana: It's so funny you say that because looking back at my experiences at conferences, I've always had really good experiences and learned a lot, and I've spoken at a couple or done workshops, and I've gone to one on my own where I didn't know anyone else going. And it was really great. But when Katie first told me the idea of like putting on an in-person event, I was like, Nope, that sounds like so much work, especially because I have little kids at home and, you know, the panini press that we've been living in for so long, it's like, Hey, like I told her, she was so respectful, and she's really helped me to get pumped about especially doing it virtually this year to like kind of figure things out. But I think also one of the great things about the virtual or hybrid experience is that if you're introverted or have social anxiety like you have this little safe barrier that you can go behind, and you can meet someone, and there will be so many ways to connect in the chat where you can like, like look at Katie. And I, we never met in person until like two years into our business And still only seeing each other once in person. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I forget. Yeah.

Caton: You guys seem like long, long besties. Like you've been friends forever. Ilana: It feels like that. Yeah. I mean, we talk probably five or six times a day.

Katie: Like, at least You just have like FaceTime up on your devices at all times FaceTime, really? But we do Marco sometimes Very nice.

Caton: Oh, so real quick when it comes to this Kernference, uh, who's supposed to come, and I know that's really silly to even say that out loud because of the name of it, but who is the ideal person to come to this conference? Who do you want to come to it?

Katie: Say, type lovers. Um, so you know, you can be, uh, a calligrapher, you can be a type designer, you can be a lettering artist. Um, and you can do that. Part-time full-time as a hobby. If you like letters and like type, then you'll enjoy it. And everybody's invited, um, if you're in an adjacent, uh, like if you're more of a graphic designer, I think there's still a lot that you would get out of it. Um, especially because we are, um, in addition to like talking about skill-building when it comes to type, we also have a lot of speakers talking about, um, business and career building, which can apply across a lot of different fields.

Caton: That makes a ton of sense. Yeah. I was going to say, cause some of the speakers on there, for instance, you've got, I can't remember Tim's last name, but he's like Tik Tok famous in the corporate world.

Ilana: I want to say it's "Chiusano."

Caton: Yeah, that's sounds right. That was really cool. I definitely don't know how to say his last name, but I was when I saw him as one of the speakers. I'll know one of the panels he's like got his own section. I was like, this it, what does he have to do with, uh, unrelated to type? Ilana: Yeah, I really wanted to have him on because I think that building a personal brand is such an asset, especially when you're working in-house because then you have like something to bring anywhere you go. And I think that's what Tim has done so well. And he also talks about, I mean, he works in the advertising field, but he talks about the importance of partnership and community and like building a team you love, regardless if the work is kind of bland like you can make it cool by working with cool people. And I really loved that approach because I worked at a very stale art director job, and I had this really bad attitude about it. And looking back, I'm like so appreciative of that experience, but I wish I had had this like, wow, this is such a cool experience. It's funding me. As I build my business on the side, I get to try new things. I get to work with these people's bodies by the blah. And I just feel like he does a really wonderful job of showing you how a personal brand is important. Regardless. It's like a new resume, a personal brand, right? Like, follow me on TikTok, then hire. Um, but also just like in building skillsets that you can bring anywhere and just bringing your best energy to the office, whatever that looks like, all the skills that he's using are kick doc or helping him in his day job and vice versa. I'm really excited about it!

Caton: That is such a great answer! And like I was like, honestly, my instincts were like, this is going to be an exciting chat regardless. Cause he's a very interesting guy, but like I think it just kind of digs down into like some of the way for some of the speakers on the panel. And like, even if you're not a type nerd, which is a really good thing to be, you still will be able to extract a ton of value from different people that are on these panels. So that's really cool. Ilana: And it was, it was so cool when, when I wrote to him and he like immediately wrote back with like, this sounds amazing. Totally I'll be there. And to hear the response, one of the things that were really important to Katie and me, when we were finding the lineup was to find both people that everyone wants to hear from but not people that everyone has already heard from. And so while we love the people everyone has already heard from, we really wanted to also leave room for, um, like the underdog or the people who we really think should be on your radar or the people who like deserve more attention. Or I think that's exactly what good type was before. Um, and hopefully still is, is a place where people can get a big feature. I mean, not that we can promise a job from it or something, but that makes you feel really good to have your work recognized by your peers when, on your own page, you wouldn't have gotten that. And so we have some artists that maybe people I've never heard of, or like a handful have heard of, but we're so excited for more people to hear about.

Katie: Totally. And when we were working with the hood sisters from Hoodzpah on our branding, um, they kind of called us the Indy collective of type, and we loved that. And so we kept that in mind as we, um, create these events or just like how we weigh into ourselves in the industry. Um, and then we also have like some of our keynote speakers are, we have a designer, um, who's just seen a Blake Blakeney from Jungalow and her work is all over like Target's, and it's everywhere, and she's like blown up and she said, she might still have a really popular blog. That's how she started, at least I think. And, and I know that people might be like, why is she at a typography conference? But again, we just, um, we think it's so fun to like talk to those people in adjacent fields and like, um, you know, she's built this brands. That's so consistent with like her true self as an artist. And that's something that, um, is really the goal for all of us is to find, uh, something that resonates with other people, but also feels so distinctly our own. And she just does that so well, and same with Anna Bond from rifle paper company, who we also just announced is one of our keynotes, so we were throwing in some unexpected ones. But, um, they're definitely very relevant when you, when you think about it. Ilana: I mean, at the end of the day, anything creative that we're doing really comes from like with like not to get too woo woo, but like from within us, oh, Um,

Caton: we are always down for woo woo!

Andrea: Closer & Closer is woo woo central.

Caton: We take all the woos.

Ilana: It's very personal. And when you put an extension of you out there, whether it's informed in the form of letters or illustrations or interior design products, things like that, it's the same process. And so we're really excited to hear from her, like how she built such a huge, like a quote, I hate the word empire, but I can't think of a huge brand that is in so many touch points and same with antibiotics and organ, um, how they've done that while keeping their soul and like keeping their, like making artwork that they're proud of, that isn't like quote unquote selling out. But that also is like mass produced and how they pick the right partnerships and how they, you know, how they navigate. And so we kind of set the current brands up as two tracks so that you could, there's, some things will be overlapping. So you could pick, I want to learn more about this skill, or I want to learn about this business side of things, and everyone will get to watch all of it in the end, but we really wanted there to be like an even distribution of skill-building and actual, like tangible things you could put into your business or into your full-time day job.

Caton: That's awesome. And it's pretty accessible too when it comes to cost. I mean, like this isn't something that's like, you're, you're not paying $3,000 to go to a huge conference. That kind of thing. Ilana: I would say Yeah. Yeah. Pretty affordable. And I think that's something that's always been really important to Katie and me because we were like, you know, uh, paycheck to paycheck, we were trying to make ends meet. We, you know, we've been there, we've been at the beginning where you're trying to build a business, and every single penny you make goes right back into it, and we want it to be accessible. We want all the artists at the same time to get paid well for their time put into this, you know, everyone's doing, everyone's working so hard to put together their talk or their kind of demo day event. And it's really important that they get paid for their time. And so, yeah, that is definitely one of our goals to keep things accessible. And we are also doing student scholarships, um, and some of our sponsors we'll be covering those costs. So that'd be really great too.

Andrea: That is super awesome. And I think just hearing you guys talk, I mean, it's so cool. Cause we did have Bodhi on the pod, um, a couple of months ago. I want to say like six months ago now, but just the way that, that through line of like always championing, championing the artist and like, like you said, like being the indie type collective, I mean, it's clear as day when all three of you talk about good type and I love that that has stayed like so true to the center core mission of everything that you're doing. That's just so amazing.

Caton: It's almost as if you practice what you preach. It's strange also, can you please brand into collective now because that's like, especially when it comes to like what you're doing, I think that's smart. Ilana: We could, but I think it'd be better if the head sisters keep, keep doing our branding.

Caton: Yeah, well, sorry. Have them do it on your behalf!

Ilana: That's probably better. It was so exciting to be able to, um, to hire them because Katie and I are both traditionally trained graphic designers who both have a bachelor of fine art. And when we like talked to Bodie about doing a rebrand or just like a refresh, Katie and I were secretly thinking of the hood sisters. And when we reached out to them, they were so stoked, and it was like, They're Amazing. But we really know that they would do a better job than we could because

Katie: Well, we both independently thought of the hood sisters. We were kind of like 3, 2, 1, here we go. Ilana: Yeah, we set it up. Exactly. We were in sync.

Andrea: It was crazy!

Katie: It pretty much was like that. I remember I was like, oh, this is so great that we're like so much on the same page.

Caton: Yeah. It's destiny. It's very clear. Its destiny for you to be partners in these endeavors, for this is the first time we've all been in the same room, and it's quite clear that you two get along, and it'd be very hard for this to be any tension.

Ilana: It is really crazy yesterday. I texted Katie, and I was like, you know, it would suck. And she thought I was going to say something like really mean, and I was like if we didn't have each other.

Kaite: I was like, all that turned out so much nicer than it seems like it wasn't going to.

Ilana: But really like, it was, I had a moment. I don't know, having kids at home, like getting ready for school or something. I was like, that would really suck

Katie: She's so romantic as a partner. She's always like, like checking in with me like that. She's like, just so you know, I really appreciate you.

Andrea: Giving you words of affirmation Katie: she is so sweet.

Caton: That's amazing. I think that's a good thing to have in a partner. And Katie, you're sitting up there like, oh no, she's about to drop a bomb. And you're super negative. I love you. Oh, thank you. I can serve. I can serve the negativity. Just, just as well. We ride the rollercoaster, and we're always like when one of us is having a rough day. Usually, the other one can like rally and and be the voice of we can get through this.

Ilana: Are you all repeat watchers of The Office?

Caton: I am not.

Andrea: Oh, that's actually really crazy that we're both.

Caton: We did. We stayed at the same time, Andrea.

Ilana: Well, there's this one scene where two of the characters like have this moment where like, when one of us is that the other one is down. And I always think that like, that's me! it's great when we're both up.

Andrea: Yeah. The rare moment where it happens, but I totally get it. And like going off of this threat, I think something that we talk about a lot at closer and closer because of just the ethos of our company is like coming together to build something better together than we could on our own. I just butchered that saying, but you know what I mean? Um, and I think it's so cool to hear about the dynamic that you two have and kind of what each of you brings to the table. Um, because that's often like so necessary in business, right? Especially in freelance where it's like, you're doing everything yourself typically. Um, so could you just talk about like what that, like, if there are any doors that you saw opened up once you guys started working together that maybe you don't think you would've been able to do on your own or like any skills that you really appreciate and the other, I basically just want you guys to like shout each other out real quick.

Katie: Yeah. I mean, partnering up was like the best thing I've ever done, and it was the right partner too. And that's really hard to find. So I don't want to like minimize, as you said.

Caton: The goal here is to make the other person cry. I don't know if you knew that that's a subtext.

Katie: Um, but yeah, I mean, so many halves in my life have like opened up because of doing things together. Um, or like teaming up with somebody or, um, doing a collaborative project, uh, like so many things have happened that wouldn't have happened if I just was trying to go it alone. So, I mean, I have worked with partners before that we weren't the best fit, and we didn't have an alignment. So I know how special it is to find that person that you like totally connect with, but Ilana and I always like, are just amazed that we've fit as well as we do. Cause it was totally an accident, but like she's the, we always say she's the messy first draft. And I'm like the closer and the detail person. So, so she comes like, I always get kind of paralyzed when I'm starting something, and I'm like, oh my gosh. They're like, I just want to hone in on the details, but she can see the full picture, and she'll do the dump of all the ideas and I'll come in and clean up her dump.

Katie: She has a great dump. Let me tell you, *laughs* I've never seen a dump like that in my life. Okay. Ilana: I actually don't do any lower body exercise, arms only. So it's funny that Katie says those things because she's actually like considered herself really risk-averse. But Katie has helped me get over my limiting beliefs of the things we can do because she's more strategic. And so I always thought of myself as like, I'm really productive, and I really like a plan, but Katie is more strategic about the plan. And so it's less like minute by minute. And it's more like the big picture in that sense. So while I might be able to see like, okay, let me start the email like this, let me do this, let me do this. She can say, what if we did this in three years? And then here's how we worked backward. And I'm like, I never would've thought of that thing in three years. Like the constraints, I wouldn't have done that on my own because there are so many moving parts that feel maybe it's limiting beliefs or maybe just discomfort. But, um, Katie is able to say like, yeah, well, if we, if we were able to take these steps, we could do it. And here are the numbers to prove we could do it. I might finish explaining my strategy. She's already sent the email to the first person, That is actually accurate. Um, because I, and I think a lot of this is being like a mom with very little children at home. Like I'm very fast-paced. I have to move. Otherwise, nothing will ever get done. Um, but I think also when it comes to like our daily activities, I am more of the, um, relationship like social, uh, and she can take more of the strategic, um, analytical detail and detail oriented things. And so we kind of go into Katie: I've got the face for strategy. She's got the face for social. I, I, I feel like that's a compliment to me. Thank you.

Caton: I want to, I want to dig in here just to touch because what you guys are describing, I think, especially when it comes to artists or people that are making anything in general, like sometimes I think there's a misnomer or misconception. If you will, around this being its own kind of art form, especially when it comes to planning or the business side or how you integrate ideas about the future. To me, I look at them as like, wow, this is just like an artistic endeavor in and of itself. But a lot of people view that as like not art. So it could. Maybe you elaborate on that because I think it's super artistic bringing people together. Um, but like, yeah, I'd love, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Ilana: Katie, do you have, I feel like you're sitting on something you want to get out Katie: I gotta dump! *laughs*

Katie: I totally agree with you, and we're, there are so many people that, um, we talked to like students or people in our community, and they're just like, oh, I'm not qualified to do anything when it comes to business. Or I don't have a mind for business. And I'm like, wait a second. You're a creative. And that's really all that business is like in the beginning, I was sitting there thinking like the same thing. And I was like, oh, I didn't go to school for this. I don't have any formal training. Like there are ways that people do things, and I'm not privy to them and there, but really what I discovered when I like got into it was there. There is nothing to it really other than being creative and solving problems, which is what you do as an artist all day, every day. And there is no one direct path and, uh, anything that is way out of your wheelhouse, like them, maybe you freaking hate numbers and accounting and all of that, there's, there's definitely ways to outsource that stuff. But the real core of what you need to be good at is being creative. And, and when it comes to marketing, uh, connection, and a lot of that comes from being passionate about what you do. And other people will connect to that in some way, or you'll find that people that really appreciate that. So it's all skills that you have and that you use. And as an artist, it's just wrapping your head around that and realizing like, oh, there is no stamp of approval I need from the business bureau of America pools.

Ilana: Right? You said that really well. I think we have so many students who feel this way. And actually, I wrote a book called to mind, your business. And this was before Katie, and I started working together. And it's the same principle that Katie and I tell people, and Katie brought so much of a new mindset for me to the table. But even when you're trying to come up with like a phrase you're trying to copyright, and you're like, well, I'm an artist. I'm not a copywriter. Like, no, you are a creative individual. Whether that like manifests in writing your copy or putting your business together, it's like finding those overlapping spots where your creativity can come to play. And so, yeah, it's really just like honing in on those tools and figuring out what works for you. And one of the other things I wanted to say was that the principles that we just talked about, the way that Katie and I worked together, like messy first draft finishing touches, we have been fortunate to work with some clients together. Uh, like I said, we both are trained graphic designers in hand letters. That's how we got into the GoodType world. And when we do art together, which we've done a couple of times, I do those really messy first draft sketches. And then Katie comes in and refines them. And then like, we ask each other for feedback along the way. And if you can find a partner like just a friend to bounce those ideas, that's like got a different style than you, but that has the same values and principles in their work. That alone has elevated both of our styles, I think. And that's been really fun. I know we don't, a lot of people don't know that we are also working artists. So it's been really fun to like work on those behind the scenes a little bit here and there.

Caton: That's incredible. I think it, I think that's, what's missing a lot in some of the conversations, especially when it comes to freelance artists, is this other side that like, Hey, this skill that you have is literally applicable in all the arenas that you say that you're not good at. And like, it is something that it's like anything. I would say that I'm not the world's best drawer. I know I'm not, but I know that I could get to a certain level with it where it'd be decent enough for me to be able to like, communicate an idea. And like, I obviously could outsource that to people that are way skilled at that. But sometimes, that's just not an option when it comes to where you're at in your career. Like sometimes, you have to figure those things out because there is no dollar despair. So you've got to be creative in how you solve that problem, where else, and why not get that next job?

Ilana: Right. And it's also subjective. So like, who is the best drawer? Who are the best lettering artists? I don't know, like to each their own. There are some artists that I love so much, and their work me, I describe it as quirky. And I think that is the most fun work. That's the work that I want on my walls. It's very, like, it's almost like they are a kid drawing with a crayon. And I, I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to be that free and that loose with my drawing. And like then also share it. Like, it just comes naturally to them. It's like, there, it's just their hand. And I'm like, I want that. But I have that with my lettering. And if I was to practice drawing every day or whatever it is, painting or whatever, I would eventually do that. But it's like the act of actually showing up that really gets you from feeling like I'm not good enough to be doing this to actually like, oh, this is, this is maybe enjoyable.

Katie: I think everyone goes through that evolution of like, as a kid, you, you see really realistic art, and you're like, wow, that's the pinnacle of awesomeness. Like I aspire to that. And then like, you know, throughout your career, you realize that that stuff's great. And like, it's great to learn that way. But some of the stuff that resonates most with people, like later on down the line is, is not the, always the realistic perfect, like everything in its place, it's the things with character quirk or, you know, that shows a different, um, side of people, uh, that, that really starts to resonate later on. So it's an interesting evolution.

Ilana: You don't remember the, um, where the wild things are. Okay. So it was, I, I heard about this from Becky Simpson who, I just think she's one of my favorite artists. In her newsletter talked about how he actually intended the book to be where the wild horses are. And he started drawing it, and he realized he was not good at drawing horses. And so we changed it to wild things. And like, if you imagine that book has horses, like, I don't really want to read It. I want to read. Right. And so if you just do the things that like are feel good to you and that, you know, if you lean into that kind of childlike ability or even student, like, I remember working with college students that ability to just try things and put it out there and like test it and move on to something next the next day. I think that is something that we all need to embrace a little bit more.

Caton: If I was going to summarize everything that you guys are saying, it's a couple of things. It's like, you, you don't need permission like that. You can give yourself permission, and you can actually jump off the cliff, and the cliff actually isn't a cliff. It's just another step like that. Like, I think that that energy is vital. And I think like the cool thing is like, everyone is capable of doing those things, but I think we all we get, so in our own heads around these that we, it's really hard to see past whatever that problem is. But unless it's like your specific skill set, you're like, oh, I can't get around this problem. When in reality, all you gotta do is just like, peek your head around a little bit. Like, oh, I just got to take a step. Oh, it's not that.

Katie: There's a quote that I love. That's like, you're a world we'll expand or contract according to your courage and, uh, niacin, I think. Um, and I love that sentiment. Yeah. Because it's not like Ilana and I feel confident fully in anything that we're doing. I mean, we, we, like, as we do more and see that we don't like to die, um, we're like, okay, well we have a little bit more, uh, competence that we're, we can do things like this. Um, but we never have assurance, and we're always scared. And we always are sitting by the computer when we launch and being like, Ugh, does everybody hate us? Like, is this going out into nowhere? Like we have all those feelings, but we do it anyway. And right. And those are the things that push us forward. And so I definitely recommend thinking of that quote and reminding yourself to try to be courageous and do the things that that feel uncomfortable because that's where you grow.

Caton: Oh my goodness, what this, you couldn't give better advice to fellow artists out there. This is it right here. Uh, but like, I know I was going to have Andrea ask another question. That's in this.

Ilana: I was going to just add one more thing that I think really it's good. It's a good piece of advice. And I think it's just to make jokes whenever you can. Yeah. Like Katie always makes me laugh, and it's so much more fun when Katie like, randomly will like send me a butt meme or really doesn't send her out with a joke. That was a joke. But like, I'll be like, what's up until then, but you know, and I'll be like, oh my God, this is like, it's so fun to like, have, you know, things can get real serious. You could spend a lot of money on your business. You could like be really worried about things. But at the end of the day, if you're not like laughing and having a good time with it like if it's not fun anymore, I feel like, why? Like we could work a full-time job and have a ton of fun, but you know, outside of this, but we're having a lot of fun doing this. And I think that with the butt jokes, it's just like, make sure you're like laughing, make sure you're having fun. Make sure it's not so serious all the time. Um,

Caton: But does that mean you're an artist still, if you don't take it too seriously, I'm poking around a little bit on a little bit.

Ilana: We're having fun

Katie: And we're also cutting off our ears too. So for sure, like every good artist does, right?

Andrea: It's a balancing act, isn't it?

Caton: Yeah, with one ear it's a little light on this side.

Katie: It's a literal balancing.

Caton: All right, Andre, you got a question that's in this vein as well.

Andrea: Yeah. Well, I was just going to say in this vein of like, you know, you guys are giving great advice, and I think we need more of this. So I want to just say to each of you, what is like a piece of advice, three pieces of advice, whatever it may be that you think creatives who are struggling with either like the business side of freelance need to hear, and this could be something that you learned when you were freelancing and like in your creative pursuits or if this is something that you've learned since taking over good type, just like meeting with artists. Um, cause I know you, you guys, I mean come into contact with a lot of artists, but like what is something that you just feel like, whether it's a tool or like just a piece of advice that you feel like they need to hear?

Katie: Yeah. We've kind of touched on a few of the things that I would, you know, a few of the main pieces that I would say, but also, um, I think surround yourself with people who are also building businesses and who are where you are, but then on the other side of that, make sure that you have people in your life who are on a totally different journey because it's really important to have influences of people that you totally understand and then just, uh, influences that are opening your mind to totally different ways of thinking. I think that's a balance that we all need to have and having too much of one or the other can kind of close us off a little bit.

Caton: Do you think it's like you contextualized yourself? Like something that's actually like hit the ground in you a little bit with, because if you're just in one vein like you can feel like that's the totality of everybody's experience, but you really need someone that's has an, a normal quote on job board, unquote job. Um, okay, cool. Ilana: I think we have. We all kind of have those people in our lives. Like if you think about it, when you're trying to cook something like you probably have someone who you go to who like always has the best recipes, or if you're trying to like style an outfit, you have someone you go to like the same thing kind of goes for life and for businesses, like have people that you go to for these specific things and then have people that you just enjoy their company or something like that. Um, just to balance it all out. And I think on that note, the other thing that we would suggest is to like genuinely ask for help, especially with the things that aren't in your zone of genius. And, uh, for us that like immediately looked like getting someone to help with bookkeeping or social media management or, um, like my dad always used to tell me, he's like kind of my entrepreneurial mentor, do what you do best and hire out the rest. And I think the big thing is figuring out what you're not good at. So like, if you're a designer, I know you want to get your website up. Like, that's great, but like, it doesn't need to be this custom-coded, amazing, mind-blowing thing. Like, get the help of Squarespace or whatever, like not sponsored by Squarespace, maybe. I don't know. Um, but like get, get their help, you know, and that could be financial like maybe you need to pay for some help, or maybe you get, uh, a planner that works for you. Like whatever it is that helps you to do your job better and do the things that you enjoy doing. But I think there is also something when you're just starting to like try and figure out, like understand what you need to hire out. So try your book, keeping it by yourself for a month and see, is this something that I can do for 20 minutes once a month? Or is this something I need help with? Because if you just say, oh, I'm gonna need a bookkeeper. I'm going to need a vector. Someone who can help me with Bester. I'm going to need someone who's going to help me with social media management. Like if you don't know what you're passing off, then you're going to be kind of stuck trying to figure out how to do it well and how to give someone direction. And so, um, I remember being in that like the sticky part where you're trying to do all of it, and you're like, okay, this is actually not going so well, but I still was able to figure out, okay, this is the kind of person I'm going to need to help, or this is the kind of thing I'm going to need to delegate. Katie: And I think people hear this, and they're like, okay. Yeah, I totally see the value in that, but I'm terrified to spend money or invest in that. Or like, I don't think I can. Um, and like, I, that's why I ended up stretching myself so thin and doing so many things myself for far too long, but now that I'm on the other side and I've like made those investments, I see that they do come back, um, tenfold normally if you invest the right thing. Um, so I'm a lot more willing to put money out before I have a guarantee that, that I'm going to see it back because I've just gone through that process enough to like kind of trust myself and making those decisions. Um, but also, as Ilana said, it doesn't always have to be financial investments, or there's like other creative ways that you can, can do that. Or like you can make trades with other creatives or other people that, you know, um, there there's like lots of different ways. You're you are creative. So leverage that. Ilana: I think also when you pay for something, you end up working harder because you value it more. But when it's free, you kind of like forget about it. If you don't prioritize it. But when you pay for something you worked on, you could make a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet, and figure out how much you need to do to get to that breaking point or that break-even point. But I think you ended up working a lot harder when you realize that, like, something is at stake. That's not just, you know, you're, you have more responsibility now. So I know it's really scary, though.

Caton: This is it. I don't think we could give better advice. I think you guys just nailed it, but I am also curious about one other thing in the realm of advice, what's a book, two books, actually, a book that you would recommend for like inspiration to like keep going as an artist and then a book that you recommend on the business side to just like help you get an understanding of what you kind of need from both of you. What would be your two book recommendations for people out there that are listening? You know what, I'm actually on a, Well, it doesn't have to be a book, or maybe like maybe a video, like a video, like a Ted talk. Ilana: Okay. Yep. I got one. Um, but I am on a non-business book binge. I'm just reading like strictly B treats, and I am thorough. So I would just say like throw in a, throwing a romance novel if you can or whatever, whatever you can because I think I burnt out, I've read so many, um, but there is a talk, and I love to swear. I think the title, um, it's by Mike Minero, I believe is how you proceed and "It's Fuck You Pay Me." and I listened to it on repeat, um, in the year 2016, 2017. Uh, and it really got me going also like 10 minutes, creative mornings talk, I think, or AIG or something. It's pretty great. That's a good one. Listen to Awesome.

Katie: Uh, there's a lot of talks out there by, uh, Tina Roth, Eisenberg, and AKA Suessmith, and she's one of my favorite speakers and just humans in general. Um, she has some really inspirational stuff, especially around entrepreneurship and hiring and building a team and creating an ethos and all of that. Um, as far as a business book, I mentioned it earlier, but I would suggest "How I Built This" or listen to the podcast from Guy Roz. Um, it's all about, uh, different businesses, uh, how they got their start and where they are now and what happened along the way. "How I Built This?"

Caton: Cool.

Andrea: Just put a bow on it.

Caton: Cool. Andre, do you want me to take us to the last question somehow, an hour has just flown by. I could keep talking to both of you for another hour. No problem. But we'll try and keep this underneath an hour just because for our listeners' sake. But yeah, go ahead, Andre, go look at the last one.

Andrea: Okay. Last question for you all. I do want to ask this one last fun question. We'll make it super quick. Rapid fire. I know that you can't pick favorites to bring us back to The Kernfernece. The reason why I know you can't pick favorites, I've been dying to ask the question. Um, and we'll take Drew's talk out of the running because, you know, that would just be

Katie: We can be little brown nosers.

Andrea: A little biased, but can you each tell us, like, if you could only attend one talker portion of the event, what would it be and why?

Caton: Look at them! They're both going to start shaking their heads.

Andrea: It could be something you're bad at. It could be whatever.

Ilana: Uh, we tried to figure this out yesterday. We're like, who would you go to? It's really hard. I have like a, I have like a top three meetings. That's cool. Go for it. All right. Uh, Mitch Goldstein, I'm really excited to hear him talk. He's a professor and lifelong learner. I, I just, everything that comes out of his mouth is gold. Um, also Allie Krigsman who, uh, her company was just acquired and just hearing, I've read her book, and we've talked to her before we had her on another event we did. And just hearing her story of like, just working a job. She didn't really love building something on the side to all of a sudden getting acquired and like going through, um, what is it, a Combinator.

Katie: The Y Combinator.

Ilana: Like just the way she built. This was just so interesting. So also really excited to hear from her and how that shaped your career. And then every other talk. It's so hard to pick. It's so hard.

Katie: That's such a crush on Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co for so long. So we were pretty much peeing our pants when we got the official.

Ilana: My mom and sister, like legit lost it because they're artists!

Katie: She recorded a video of her mom reacting. And she was just like, honey, I just, all your dreams are coming true.

Ilana: My mom and my sister had more rifle and Jungalow products than I have. They were like hardcore fans. And also one time I saw Anna Bond at the stationery show and I just like, got like, she just walked by, and I was just like staring!

Katie: And her story is so inspiring. And like, man, 'cause she started her rifle paper company out of her garage with her husband. Ilana: Just like Apple.

Katie: Yeah.

Caton: Just like Apple!

Katie: I Don't have a garage. So I guess I'm screwed, so I can't be successful, but yeah. Um, so she's, she's got a really cool story, and I'm really excited for her and just seeing a Blake me. I'm an interior design amateur slash fan as well. So I'm going to be fan-girling hard.

Caton: We're really excited and, uh, real quick before the final introduction, this is w w when it comes to the current fence, where can everybody go to like, uh, what's the website, where's the info, like, give us all those details verbally. We're going to put it in the show notes too, but we want everybody to hear it.

Katie: The kernfernece.com is a great place to go. Um, it is a website that was beautifully designed by, uh, Kate of Folk Founded. And, uh, she took a Squarespace template, made it incredible. And I was just like, what is this magic that you've instilled upon us? Um, she's one of our sponsors as well, as she should definitely. You can work with her plug we'll plug for Kate.

Ilana: Yeah. She's amazing. Like we did not know this was possible. It's, it's a really cool website. The website's all you need. It has. You can register there, you can see the lineup full schedule. The schedule's already out and out in public, ready to go. So, yeah, we're really excited and we hope we see everybody there. It's going to be awesome So much.

Andrea: And where can they find you if they want to see your stuff outside of The Kernfernece?



Katie: Well, GoodType also has a website called, um, GoodType.com. I hate that. I hate that. Um, what are they doing with it? Just sitting on it. Um, and we have an Instagram, um, that is also GoodType. And then if you want to follow us on our own, uh, Ilana is @Ilanagriffo on Instagram. And I'm @Katiemadethat. Yep. Love it.

Ilana: We're actually also on the ticky tok

Caton: Thee ticky tok

Katie: Yeah, that's Ilana's thing.

Ilana: Mostly me. I Katie: She's like a superstar Ilana: I really like it.

Caton: Tik Tok's the shit!

Andrea: I do have a TikTok idea to pitch to you after this.

Ilana: Please do it, so it's so fun. It is also a major time suck.

Ilana: Oh my goodness. It isn't dangerous. Don't look at it. If you look at it, passing that in the pocket, screwed.

Ilana: I, my phone battery, just like doesn't last, I forgot. It's so bad, but it is really fun. And also I've learned a lot. I'm really, I'm a better cleaner, I've better in design skills. I've learned about parenting. I've read some books.

Katie: You're already really good at InDesign

Ilana: I am good at InDesign. I do like in design anyway. So, you know, there you go.

Andrea: Go check her out on TikTok.

Ilana: Like, follow, subscribes.

Caton: Thank you both so much for being here! Talking to us and actually sharing all these things. Thanks for making us all say Kernference. Even though it's really hard to say, we're both looking forward to the Kernference coming up in November. Um, and we're excited that drew is going to be one of the speakers as well. And we just really appreciate you guys' time and sharing your perspective. I think a lot of people that listen to podcasts are really gonna be able to take some value from it. So, yeah, we just wanted to say thank you so much for joining this podcast, and we're really happy that you're here.

Katie: Yeah.

Ilana: Thanks for having us!

Katie: Thanks for listening to us.

Andrea: Always a pleasure.






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