Episode 39

Episode 37: Live at Hang Time with Sasha Barr, Dina Rodriguez, and Victor Melendez

Today we’re bringing you a very special episode of Overtime. Episode 37 was recorded at Hang Time Seattle in front of our live audience. Dan Cederholm shared the stage with three Pacific Northwest creatives: Sasha Barr, Dina Rodriguez, and Victor Melendez.

If you want that dream day job, get that dream day job. Take the steps, go backwards and figure out how to make it work. Same thing if you want to have your own product brand. If you want, build your own community, it just starts with starting it and seeing what happens and being consistent about it, instead of just moving on to the next shiny object.

They have a great conversation about cultivating a personal brand, freelancing vs fulltime, and the stories behind their shops. They also share their big goals and their mutual love for watching tv and drawing.

This episode is brought to you by Wix. Push the limits of design and start creating beautiful, impactful websites that are uniquely yours at

Subscribe to Overtime on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Or download the episode via Simplecast.


Dan Cederholm: So I’ve just returned from Seattle, and our big event called Hang Time, which took place May 15th, and this is an event that we’re trying to do twice a year. We’re going to be doing another one in Los Angeles later this year so stay tuned for that. This one in Seattle was fantastic. We had a lot of great speakers, great community turnout, great after party, all that stuff. And it gives us a chance as a remote team, where we’re 100% remote, to get together as a team, meet, hang out and have some critical face time, which is really valuable for us.

At the same time, we get to get feedback from the community in that particular city. It’s just a real win-win for us. And we had a great time. So part of that was onstage at the Bell Harbor Conference Center, we did a live overtime recording with three really talented folks, and I think you’re going to enjoy this conversation. So we had Sasha Barr, who’s Senior Art Director at Sub Pop Records, Dina Rodriguez, who is a designer and lettering artist with her own lettershoppe. And shoppe is S-H-O-P-P-E, which is really the better spelling of shoppe, let’s face it. And also we had Victor Melendez who’s a graphic designer and illustrator, spent a long time as a designer at Starbucks and just recently has gone freelance.

So that brought up some interesting conversation around that transition and we discussed a lot of different things. How to, how they got where they are, and they are pacific northwest creative people and it was just a great talk. And we had a really good time. Hope you enjoy this one. And so once again this episode is brought to you by Push the limits of design and start creating beautiful, impactful websites that are uniquely yours with Wix. And we’ll be hearing more about Wix later on in this episode. And now, let’s just get onstage at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle, Washington. This is May 15th, this is overtime live from Hang Time, enjoy.

So, big round of applause for our guests. I’m going to sit down now. Yeah that’s better. That’s nice. I should have done this the whole time. What’s cool about this there is a thread I feel like between, there’s a camaraderie here between all of us on stage, or, maybe not me, but these people, these talented people, that is having your, having different, having side work going on while you’re having full work, full-time work, where concentrating on stuff to grow your personal brand, that kind of thing, so, I guess to get started, why don’t we have each of you introduce yourself a little bit. Tell the crowd who you are and what you’re up to.

Sasha Barr: Do you want me to start?

Dan Cederholm: Yeah sure.

Sasha Barr: I’m Sasha Barr. I live here in Seattle. Been here for a little over, almost eleven years. I work as a Senior Art Director at Sub Pop records here in Seattle. We’re celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, so we’ve been around for a while. I work in an Art Department of about four people, we all do a wide variety of things. I also do a fair amount of freelance work on my own. Graphic illustration stuff, both in the music world, or in the music world, kind of in the skateboarding realm, and in the last handful of years I’ve been doing more in public art realm, and artist-in residence at Facebook, Google, doing some stuff at Amazon next week so I’ve kind of started getting into that realm as well. Do a wide variety of things, and wear a fair number of hats.

Dan Cederholm: So you’re just taking it easy really? You know, phoning it in right now.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, yeah.

Dan Cederholm: That’s amazing.

Sasha Barr: I watch a lot of TV.

Dan Cederholm: A lot of TV. We could talk about that too.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: That’d be fun. That’s awesome and I can’t wait to get into some of that. Dina, I mean you were up here earlier, you killed it earlier, so cool. But, I guess you introduced yourself, but just for folks that weren’t here earlier.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah, for sure. So I’m Dina Rodriguez, I’m currently based out of Portland, Oregon. I’ve made a name for myself as a lettering artist but I’ve been dabbling more in illustration lately. I do a lot of things, I’m kind of in this really weird part of my career where I’m not doing a ton of client work because I’m making so much money doing my own products and I have a community around my art through a Patreon so I’m actually, have a salary coming into my bank account every month and I basically just get to draw whatever I want. It’s the best thing ever, I highly recommend it.

Dina Rodriguez: One of my communities is called Lettering Adventures, that monthly workbook series where you guys can learn new styles of vintage hand lettering every single month, and there’s also, would be live Q&A’s and tutorials, it’s really amazing. But the newest, like another side project, because I love me some side projects, I don’t have shiny object syndrome, shut up, is Women of Illustration. This is a brand new web series that features new female talent all over the world. So instead of hearing from like the same ten female artists on every single podcast, actually like new women who are just coming in and all their struggles so we can actually have a topic driven conversation instead of just hearing about peoples stories, no offense to this podcast. So, just kidding.

Dan Cederholm: None taken.

Dina Rodriguez: I love your podcast. It’s so good. I listen to it all the time. And yeah that’s…

Dan Cederholm: What’s it called again?

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha. Overtime.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: It says it right there in that big screen. I might listen all the, you’re so good Dan. Um, but yeah that’s my, that’s my life. How’s your life?

Dan Cederholm: Awesome.

Victor Melendez: I wish I had your life.

Dina Rodriguez: I can teach you how to have my life.

Victor Melendez: Well I should have been at that class. I’m going to take it.

Dina Rodriguez: I have courses coming up. I’m going to give him the free data, we already talked about it. So this new course I’m starting called Bullshit Free, Social Media Marketing for Makers.

Victor Melendez: My name is Victor, and I’m a designer-illustrator. Up to this last year, I was an in-house at Starbucks. Since the beginning of the year I’m trying to go on my own, so, I do lots and lots of freelance. I’ve been doing it quite a bit for the past few years, and this last year I decided it was time for me and try to go on my own. I work on a variety of projects. Illustration, type, lettering. I’ve been doing a lot of work similar to Sasha, public, murals and stuff like that.

Dina Rodriguez: But more importantly you just quit your job. Victor Melendez: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Can we get a round of applause? He just quit his job to go full time. Living the dream. Victor Melendez: Well I don’t know about that.

Dina Rodriguez: He’s scared shitless but he’s excited about it.

Dan Cederholm: I mean.

Victor Melendez: More-

Dan Cederholm: Coffee, coffee’s overrated I think anyway.

Victor Melendez: No, no, no, no, no.

Dan Cederholm: So you know, all three of you are amazingly talented artists in your own right. And you’re, obviously, you’re juggling a ton of stuff though at the same time. Yeah, I’ve gotta to start with Sasha here, I think, you know, we talked earlier about having full-time work vs. freelancing or doing side projects. And you’re a big fan of having a job.

Sasha Barr: I am.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, I wonder if we can get into that a little bit. Because that’s, that’s maybe not as popular as, as uh… (laughing) No I mean that. We’re off to a great start here.

Sasha Barr: That’s funny. (laughing)

Dan Cederholm: Thankfully our podcast editor Aaron Dowd back there, big shout out, can edit that out.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: For the recordings.

Sasha Barr: I love my job! (laughing)

Dan Cederholm: I keep him in business. So but yeah, so you said you’re a big fan of having a full-time job. I’ll leave it at that.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, I am. And I feel like, I mean I have a traditional art background. I actually have a BFA in printmaking, didn’t go to school for design stuff at all but even still just kind of in the basic art world I feel like there’s sort of this installation in students of, working for yourselves or not working for the man or whatever it is. Which I think is good and fair and has a lot of merits to it. But I found that I really enjoy having job security. I really like having someplace to go every day. Granted I happen to also really like my job, and that goes really far. But I just, um, yeah that’s it. I mean I like having a place to go, I like having something to do where I’m not having to chase people down for money or chase down work and I find a lot of security in that.

Sasha Barr: I also still do a fair amount of freelance stuff and having a full-time job enables me to be choosy about the things that I do on the side.

Dan Cederholm: I see.

Sasha Barr: And I think that, I mean that I have always done things on the side. Before I worked at Sub Pop I had just kind of your general part-time jobs, waiting tables or working in a retail environment, and just doing posters or design work at home late at night. When I was kind of, I would kind of hustle more because I was just trying to do stuff or make a name for myself but now that I have full-time employment I can feel comfortable saying no to things if I genuinely don’t feel like I have the time or it doesn’t pay enough or I’m actually just not interested in it. And so I feel a lot less pressure in that regard, which I think is really nice.

Dan Cederholm: Do you feel, how do you feel less burned out at the end of the day so that you have enough energy to put into something? Because you’re going to still, still working, I mean, work as in, you know we love what we do but…

Sasha Barr: I’m not going to say it’s easy, man. I mean I do reach a saturation point for sure. This year has been incredibly busy for me and I’m ready to take a break. But at least I find the things I’m spending my time on outside of work are things that I actually really want to do. While they still can be exhausting when you’re in it, at least I feel passionate about it. I don’t feel like I’m doing stuff because I have to, if that makes any sense.

Sasha Barr: And I have spent a lot of my time doing that. Spending my time on things I really felt like I needed to do or had to do, which is good and well but, yeah. I do get burnt. I do find the things that I do outside of work are very different from the things that I do at work. At work we’re more, I mean we wear a lot of hats at Sub Pop as well. But a lot of the times we are doing more just like art direction or creative direction and I’m not necessarily putting my own personal illustration style in the work that I’m doing, at work. Outside of work is when I get to be a little more creative and have a little more freedom. So I do have more passion to do that, I guess. Or I’m more interested in doing that in my downtime. That’s not to say I don’t balance things out by just working on the laptop on the couch watching all of the Netflix standup. So I do multitask that way and that helps keep me a little bit sane.

Dan Cederholm: Alright, I’m doing something right too then, that’s good.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah watch copious amounts of TV while he works, that way you’re both working and not working at the same time.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah it doesn’t feel like work.

Sasha Barr: Yeah I just finished all of Parks and Rec for like the third time. (laughing) It was great, love that show.

Dan Cederholm: It’s a good documentary.

Sasha Barr: Yeah it is. (laughing)

Dan Cederholm: So to counterpoint, to counterpoint what you just said, I think it’d be cool to hear from Victor because he’s kind of doing the opposite… he had a full-time job at Starbucks and did some amazing work there, but has recently decided to go freelance. So, yeah what was the thought process there? You leaving a nice stable job at a large brand.

Victor Melendez: I love chasing down clients.

Sasha Barr: You love chasing down clients, yeah. (laughs)

Victor Melendez: I love being embraced…by the next job, yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: It’s the thrill of the chase, right?

Victor Melendez: Yeah. Well I’m the opposite, I never had like a, I never was a freelancer since I got out of school. I always had a job and then gradually as I gained experience in and put out more projects, I started getting more and more calls people that wanted to collaborate or have me work on their stuff. And I don’t know, I guess that was my main goal ever since, from, a lot of us since we started school, oh someday I’m going to have my own studio and I’m going to do this and that. And since I’ve never done it, I feel like I’m getting old, so. I might as well do it. And…

Dina Rodriguez: Wait so how old are you?

Victor Melendez: I’m 53.

Dina Rodriguez: You’re 53? Oh man I wish I looked Spanish, not fair. I’m Spanish but I have like white passing so I don’t get any of the perks.

Victor Melendez: Aw, ha-ha.

Dina Rodriguez: Except for being white obviously that’s a huge perk. (laughing) Oh Papi forgive me if you’re listening to this podcast.

Victor Melendez: No you’re right. (laughing)

Dina Rodriguez: Oh I was like, let’s not talk about politics, I mean, let’s talk about white privilege. Um, yeah, so what, what were you saying? Sorry.

Victor Melendez: I don’t remember.

Sasha Barr: Aw.

Dina Rodriguez: You’re like, you’re getting older so you’re like, I’m going to do this whole freelance thing.

Victor Melendez: Oh yeah. So that. What she said.

Dina Rodriguez: Best podcast ever. Alright.

Dan Cederholm: This is the best podcast ever. So what made, was it, obviously, it was a difficult decision because you hadn’t done it before right?

Victor Melendez: Oh yeah.

Dan Cederholm: And a little scary. Tell us about that, like tell us about the leap. Because I would assume, like how many of you are full time, have full-time jobs?

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: Wow. Okay. So yeah there’s, that’s a lot. Yeah, so I mean for them, how many people want to work for themselves?

Victor Melendez: Not that many.

Sasha Barr: That’s good, well.

Dan Cederholm: Thanks, I just like asking questions. I don’t really pay attention.

Victor Melendez: I.. (laughing) What I can tell you it’s, it’s a combination of two things, one for me was me wanting to do something else and the second one was just, try to do something that I’ve never done before, which is a constant thing in my career, throughout my career, like trying things that I’ve never done before that I wasn’t comfortable with and I think there’s no other way to do things but to go ahead and try it. I don’t know maybe I’ll get a job soon. But I think, I mean (laughing) now I’m starting to get worried, you know.

Sasha Barr: I think from like an outsider’s perspective, and you’ve said this yourself, but you kind of developed your own personal style in the time that you’ve been at Starbucks.

Victor Melendez: Right.

Sasha Barr: So now that you’ve gotten to that point, you kind of feel like maybe I should see what this is worth, right? Or no.

Victor Melendez: Well, I think you’re right. I’m here to learn too, whatever you guys say, I’m going to go after. Sasha Barr: Yeah. Dan Cederholm: I love it. I love it. So, for Dina, you know, you’re creating this powerhouse of a personal brand, I feel like. And been really successful at it. How is your, what’s your opinion on full-time work vs. freelance and had you been working full time before Letter Shoppe started?

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah, so I think it really just depends on what you want right, out of life. Just because you have a full-time job doesn’t make you better or worse than me, that’s doing full time whatever the fuck I want. I personally feel like I am unemployable. Like no one should ever hire me, I’m just going to quit after three months, I’m just not, it’s hard to care for someone else’s dream once you cared for your own.

Dina Rodriguez: But yeah, I had a full-time job, I was a designer for almost a decade. Being that jack of trades production monkey. Right, like I’ll do it all. Because I went to Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida, they teach you everything. Like, oh, Full Sail grad? Ah, ah, mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s like you owe $100,00 too? Nice. (laughing) God that schools expensive. But you get a free laptop. Just kidding it’s not free they charge you extra.

Dina Rodriguez: So. Yeah so it’s full-time freelance, graphic designer, did web design, learned a butt ton about marketing, which I think is the most important tool for any designer, coder, whatever the hell you’re doing, you need to understand the method behind the madness. You’ll always be hire-able, you’ll always get those clients if you know the psychology behind the design aesthetic. That’s so key. But yeah I like busted my ass, I was working full time, 40 hours a week and then every spare moment this whole lettering thing got on my radar and I was like, really wanting to draw again, but I just couldn’t, I just, really sucked at it, because if you stop drawing it shows. Even after like a year, especially eight. And I was like okay I want to draw again. I can either be an illustrator and know how to draw everything in existence or I could draw 26 letters. Okay lettering seems pretty cool. It’s less work.

Dina Rodriguez: And then yeah just started working and posting my work, like lunchtime. When I got home, annoying my boyfriend, my beautiful boyfriend, just drawing all the time. Even when we’re like watching T.V. Watching T.V. and drawing is key. And eventually you build up that following and you get those client inquiries and then everything works out, and just again doing more of what works. Like oh people like when I make fun of motivational phrases and then I get hired to make fun of motivational phrases, like it’s really just putting out the kind of work that you want to get more of.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, I’ve heard that before. That’s good advice. Like if you, yeah if you want to be doing lettering, start lettering on the side. Even if it’s on the side. I also want to take a moment to thank our sponsor Full Sail. I hope you’re listening. (laughing)

Dina Rodriguez: Full Sail’s so not a sponsor. (laughing)

Dan Cederholm: Don’t worry, they’re not.

Dina Rodriguez: Okay.

Dan Cederholm: So, all right. So you guys are, you’re working full time, you’re leaving full time, you’re kicking ass, building your own thing, for Sasha, Sasha I gotta bring it up.

Sasha Barr: Don’t do it.

Dan Cederholm: I gotta.

Sasha Barr: Don’t do it.

Dan Cederholm: I gotta bring it up. He won a Grammy. We have a Grammy winner in the house. Which is amazing, right. Because a designer winning a Grammy, first of all let’s explain how that works, but that’s like a dream come true. For me it would be a dream come true. But tell us about, because obviously I mean your work with Sub Pop and Album Art and I wonder if you could share the story of that with us.

Sasha Barr: Sure. I also don’t want to discredit all the Grammy’s that Don and Ryan were nominated for, so.

Dan Cederholm: That’s right.

Sasha Barr: I’ll put that out there.

Dan Cederholm: Yes big shout out to Don and Ryan.

Sasha Barr: I’m just following in their footsteps. You know, I don’t know.

Dan Cederholm: There’s a theme. There’s a theme here.

Victor Melendez: We’ve actually all been nominated for Grammy’s.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, yeah. Everybody gets a Grammy.

Dan Cederholm: But you won.

Victor Melendez: He’s the only winner.

Dan Cederholm: He’s the only winner here.

Victor Melendez: He mentioned that, he was very clear about that. That he was the only…

Dan Cederholm: He really did though.

Victor Melendez: He did.

Dan Cederholm: He’s like I’m the only actual one who won it so…

Victor Melendez: Only in jest.

Sasha Barr: I’m not that full of myself.

Victor Melendez: Do you get to, give like a speech?

Sasha Barr: I did have to go on stage.

Dina Rodriguez: Huh, really?

Sasha Barr: I think the best part about it is I was given my award by Neil deGrasse Tyson which I thought was…

Dina Rodriguez: Shut the front door.

Sasha Barr: Super cool. Who told me that he felt just as out of place as I did. Which was rad. Which was cool. Very nice guy. He was very nervous, as I was. I think at Sub Pop, we, when we’re working on albums by in large, when I started at Sub Pop I’d already been working for like friends bands doing their album art or posters or whatever it was, having full creative control. And starting at Sub Pop I quickly learned that I had none of that really. Bands were not interested in who I was or what I was able to do really outside of make their vision a reality.

Sasha Barr: So it was really, we’re really put in the position of helping these folks make this thing. They have their vision, they either have art that they did or their friend did or a photo that they really like, or art that they really like or maybe they just have an idea and I have to find someone to help make it. It’s really on me to work with these people to make this thing and leave my ego at the door.

Sasha Barr: A lot of the times our album projects are very much a team effort. As much as I or anyone else would like to take full credit for it, it really is working hand in hand with the band, sometimes their management, other people at Sub Pop, with our manufacturers on figuring out how to make these things a reality. Working with Josh, Josh Tillman who’s Father John Misty. Josh has a lot of ideas. And he really needs someone to help him whittle these things down. And I was happy to do that and we work really well together. And he had great ideas for artists and illustrators and visions on how he wanted to make this physical thing. So, he and I worked very closely on making this thing a reality.

Sasha Barr: And a lot of credit is also due to people like Stelton manufacturing who are the folks that make our LP jackets on taking these things that no one else has made, possibly made before, and trying to figure out a way to do it at scale and affordably. So it is kind of a huge team effort. When it comes time, I mean, it’s not like when you get nominated for one of these things it just came out of thing air, like we at work will send a whole box of things to the people that make these decisions. So there’s that aspect to it. But of course, I feel incredibly lucky and thankful to even be in that realm and get that sort of recognition.

Sasha Barr: But yeah, above all it is very much a team effort. And I think I am just very fortunate to be able to work with other talented people that have great ideas and are nice to work with.

Dan Cederholm: That’s very humble.

Sasha Barr: If that makes any sense.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, no that’s great. I mean, now, tell us the truth. Did you know that you won before you got there? I’m always curious.

Sasha Barr: No not at all. You don’t know at all. I mean you’re, you’re…

Victor Melendez: Acting surprised?

Sasha Barr: You know that you’re, yeah, you know that you’re nominated and

Dan Cederholm: Wow.

Sasha Barr: Funny enough this year, it was a tie, which doesn’t really happen, so I was tied with another group of artists, and we actually, did not know each other, they actually came up from Colombia. But we were all sitting together. And just totally random seating, like you just pick your own seat, but they were all right next to me, and as it came up and said like, it’s a tie, it was all funny. We all just got up at the same time and it was really cute.

Dan Cederholm: Wow.

Sasha Barr: Yeah. But no you don’t know going into it, I mean I think you, I don’t know, it’s a one in five chance, so.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Sasha Barr: We’ll see what happens. More than anything it’s just kind of a cool opportunity to go to a weird thing.

Victor Melendez: It’s an honor to be nominated.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, yeah. It is. Yeah. But I mean, going to that sort of event, it’s not like I’m, it’s not like you’re hanging out with these other celebrities. Like you’re very much not anywhere near, you know, Jay-Z or any of these people. I’m nowhere near any of those folks. You have your own ceremony, you do get to go to the televised thing which is actually really rad, it’s kind of a cool arena, it’s just like going to arena shows except it’s televised and in between every act is a commercial break and you get to actually see like the stages change and people move around and you see a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. But. It’s kind of just like a cool, weird experience I think.

Dan Cederholm: I bet, I mean.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: And to be, to be there as a designer it’s incredible. Wow. Amazing.

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Dan Cederholm: So Dina, what’s your, what’s your goal, ultimate goal?

Dina Rodriguez: Make money.

Dan Cederholm: Like what’s your Grammy, your Grammy moment?

Dina Rodriguez: Grammy…um, I would like to make a quarter of a million dollars in a year. That’s a goal that I have.

Dan Cederholm: That’s a big goal.

Dina Rodriguez: Well, I mean like, you think of these crazy goals and you just work backwards in order to achieve them with baby steps, right. So it’s like, okay, how do you make a lot of money? Well like, well Sean West did it, maybe I can do it too. I’m hoping, that was, I gave him enough money to learn how, so hopefully it will work out.

Dina Rodriguez: I think just building up my community, getting not just the numbers because as we talked about earlier numbers really are meaningless, but really getting the quality out of those audience people, like the people who are just dedicated, the loyal, like listeners for your show, and then you know with a mixture of like Lettering Adventures and then this new monster of a web series, Women of Illustration which is completely changed my life. Like I had no idea I would go from like a designer to like a feminist designer. I was not prepared for all of the social implications that would include in my day to day life. But it’s been life-changing, being able to help other people.

Dina Rodriguez: But yeah I think my goal is really not so much about the money because I think the money will naturally come if I just give everything I got to other people and really just trying to provide as much valuable insights as possible. And trying to be legit about it. Like nothing that’s trending, nothing analytical, nothing that’s going to change in two months on social media, but trying to take about Evergreen content in a way that, you guys really can do whatever you want. If you want that dream day job, get that dream day job. Take the steps, go backwards and figure out how to make it work. Same thing if you want to have your own product brand. If you want, build your own community, it just starts with starting it and seeing what happens and being consistent about it, instead of just moving on to the next shiny object.

Dina Rodriguez: But yeah, so I think it’s just being able to give back and I haven’t figured out the exactness yet, but so far people seem to be digging my content and I’m just going to keep making more so please follow me.

Dan Cederholm: Well done. Well said. I’m fired up. I’m gonna, I’m going to go create a brand right now.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah go do that. Another brand right?

Dan Cederholm: Another brand. A different brand. This brands great.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, yeah. You’re doing alright.

Dan Cederholm: He’s like I’m so over Dribbble, I’ll do something else. Dribbble with four Be’s, let go there.

Dan Cederholm: Whoa. Wow. I wonder if we own that. Hopefully, we do.

Sasha Barr: Wait, can I ask.

Dan Cederholm: Absolutely.

Sasha Barr: Is this common knowledge? Why is there three Be’s?

Dan Cederholm: Oh three Be’s in Dribbble. The domain name was available.

Dina Rodriguez: That’s what I thought it was.

Sasha Barr: Sick.

Dan Cederholm: And they were like, wait if you just keep doing cursive Be’s, they kind of disappear after a while.

Sasha Barr: That works.

Dan Cederholm: And you can just add ‘em in there.

Sasha Barr: That’s good.

Dan Cederholm: Sneak ‘em in.

Sasha Barr: Okay.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Sasha Barr: I always wondered.

Dan Cederholm: Dribble with two Be’s, the wrong way to spell it, is, you know, sort of hijacked by somebody that’s being mean about it, so.

Sasha Barr: Oh, really.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Sasha Barr: Well, whatever, their loss

Dan Cederholm: But, that was a good question, thanks.

Sasha Barr: I ask the hard-hitting questions.

Dan Cederholm: This is like a hard-hitting news show. It’s like CNN. We did go into politics a little bit. Okay, Victor. To you, what’s your Grammy goal?

Sasha Barr: Who did you vote for? Good thing this is going to be edited out.

Dina Rodriguez: Be careful what you say.

Victor Melendez: Well, who says I can vote?

Dina Rodriguez: Oh.

Sasha Barr: Well played.

Dan Cederholm: Wow.

Dina Rodriguez: He went there, I love you.

Victor Melendez: Maybe I’m not a, legally here in this country. Maybe I am. Who knows.

Dan Cederholm: This just got real interesting.

Dina Rodriguez: You need to call back Starbucks to the tune of a green card. What are we talking about right now.

Sasha Barr: This guy.

Dina Rodriguez: Alright but seriously, what’s your dream?

Sasha Barr: I will say, living comfortably by doing what I like. And so far, I don’t know. We’ll see how the end of this year turns out.

Dan Cederholm: We’re going to need a follow up episode, on Victor.

Sasha Barr: How is Victor doing?

Dan Cederholm: Right how is, we’re going to check in. Make sure he’s okay.

Dina Rodriguez: Don’t you have like beautiful babies and all this, you have a family to take care of. Do you have like a goal for them? Like take them on XYZ vacation? Maybe that’s like a really good motivator.

Victor Melendez: Yeah, yeah. I think that, well now that I have the experience of, because I was gone all day and then I will come home to work for the rest of the day, similar to what you were doing and, I mean when you have kids I think that, what John was saying, it’s really important to clear time for that, for that time with the family. And now it’s, I see it more that, I’m working out of my studio at my house and just the fact that you are able to take your kid to the bus or go play soccer for a little bit to a park, and that time is so precious. And that to me has a lot of value, and the ultimate goal will be just to have more of that time, less work time. But, I’m like you I’m always working, watching TV and drawing, so, once you get to that more free time and less work I think that’s ideal.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, freedom.

Sasha Barr: Yeah, totally.

Dan Cederholm: Cool, so. What else can we ask you guys. I’ve got my notes here.

Dina Rodriguez: Can I ask questions?

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, please do.

Dina Rodriguez: Can I ask questions? Okay, what are you afraid of? No I’m just kidding. I was trying to think of a good one.

Victor Melendez: Public speaking.

Dina Rodriguez: Okay, if you could give anyone, like, let’s talk about, I think all of us have the trouble probably with confidence right, probably putting ourselves out there? I’m just trying to think of good content for the listeners. It’d be like portfolio curation so like, what do you think is like the key to being yourself online?

Sasha Barr: Wow, dude I don’t know.

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha.

Sasha Barr: Next.

Dina Rodriguez: Oh really? What about you? You got anything for me?

Victor Melendez: Well, I think eventually you’re going to find yourself, your own voice. I mean a lot of people tell me, oh you have a certain style. And I can say the same thing about you guys. You have like a certain style, even though you don’t see it, people, people will identify or know what you did and that only comes with time and practice. I think at one point, I know when I started I was always trying to look for other people, and trying to copy or try to figure it out how people did things. And once you have the basis down, like you, you’re sharing the way you work all the time, and it doesn’t matter if people know how you do things because eventually everyone has their own voice and eventually you’re going to find your own style and you’re going to have, most of your work is going to, when you put it online it’s going to be similar and…

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah that’s interesting, because I did want to touch on that in that Dina, you’re sharing, you’re teaching as you’re sharing right? Did that, how did that come about? Is that sort of just the natural thing for you to do? Or is it.

Dina Rodriguez: I like to talk. I don’t know if you noticed. But, so, okay. I think a big part of my brand has always been to teach everything as I was learning it. Mostly because it just better solidified what I was learning. Because as we all know there’s a lot to learn. Like, especially when you start to run your own stuff, you have to wear all the hats, your job is crazy, and you’re constantly having to evolve with technology and trends and just all that stuff. So it just gets really overwhelming. So I thought, okay I’ll just create my own archive of information here, for pick and choose all my favorite things that all these people are saying. Because again, don’t just listen to one source don’t just listen to me, don’t just listen to that one guys podcast that you like. Again not talking about you. And, diversify your inspiration because you will start to mold like them. You will start to look like them and you’ll do it involuntarily and it will look weird. Dina Rodriguez: But, back to the actual question that you asked, yeah I think it’s just so important so it just started with blogging, like that was just really easy, just like conversationally explaining how I was learning social media, the SEO for artists and designers, that’s one thing that never gets talked about. Like how you can actually rank on the first page of Google. Type in lettering artists Portland right now, I will be the first result on the first page. So it’s just like, and that’s like where all of my client inquiries come from organic SEO. So, that eventually evolved to live streaming on Twitch, was a huge fan of Twitch creative right when it started a few years ago, and then that evolved into YouTube channels and then this whole Patreon thing with Lettering Adventures, and it just seemed to be working.

Dina Rodriguez: Like out of all the thing I was doing, it’s so much bigger and better when you’re doing it for not just yourself. When you’re actually giving back to people. And a lot of you might be thinking like who am I to teach? Right? That’s what a lot of people are like. I just learned this thing, so who am I to teach this other guy how to do it? It’s like actually you’re the perfect person, because so many people who are so seasoned in design are talking from experience that’s so much more ahead of you, they’re going to skip a lot of steps that you’re not going to get and you’re going to be like, going back in the video like, wait what? What was that nugget? I don’t get it. But if you’re a beginner, there’s a bunch of other beginners out there too, and they want to learn, and you’re the perfect person to teach them that thing.

Dina Rodriguez: So it just ended up being like the money maker for me, but more importantly the community builder.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, that’s great, I mean we have an Overtime episode, a recent one with Pablo Stanley and he was, he was basically talking just like you are about how, don’t wait to learn something and be an expert before you teach it, you don’t need to wait until you are an expert, which I think is really valuable info. So anybody, everybody can teach, everybody can do their own thing.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah that’s awesome. So I noticed all of you have shoppes. Right? And this isn’t, they didn’t pay me to say that or anything. How do you feel that, is that a lucrative thing, is it more like helping you get clients? Is it just more of an outlet? Or I wonder if we could start with you Sasha.

Sasha Barr: Sure. I, because I had a printmaking background, when I started doing freelance design and stuff I was doing posters for bands in the early 2000’s that’s where I first met Don and Ryan. I think we were all kind of getting into that gig poster world in the early 2000’s at the same time. And at that time, selling, the act of selling the poster was very lucrative. I think it was a little bit of a different marketplace than it is now.

Sasha Barr: And I still do posters for bands occasionally, but by in large I don’t expect, like, you know it’s common for bands or promoters to have the deal where, we’ll pay you X amount and you get to keep twenty copies to sell. And I’m just like, okay. You know, I’ll take ‘em, but I don’t, I don’t sell, I don’t move a lot of units. And I’m fine with that, you know, I, because I have a printmaking background I like having the opportunity to do posters and maybe I’ll sell a couple but, my own personal marketplace is not anything I’ve ever put a lot of time or effort into.

Sasha Barr: I have had a handful of different companies over the years. I had a small skateboard for about five years, that actually by all accounts did fairly well. But that on top of a regular job and freelance work, I actually just get tired of doing that hustle, or having to sell stuff, and having to keep records, and doing the taxes, and you know that sort of stuff can be very overwhelming. And some people are just cut out for that, and I realized I’m just not.

Victor Melendez: You have to pay taxes with that?

Sasha Barr: Yeah. I mean you don’t have to, I mean.

Dina Rodriguez: You’re just getting all kinds of government on you.

Sasha Barr: Nobody’s making you but I mean, you know, they’ll find out eventually.

Dina Rodriguez: Eventually.

Sasha Barr: But I-

Dan Cederholm: Those were really encouraging.

Sasha Barr: Well, well yeah, I mean, well, no I mean I think so people are just built for it and I realized that I’d just come to the point where I was tired of it. Some people are really good at that, and I think I was okay at it, but at the end of the day it was just not something I wanted to focus on. So I have kind of ebbed and flowed with interest in doing stuff as my own personal brand. I much more enjoy doing specific projects, let’s put it that way. I as, even though I have like a fine art background, I’m not somebody who feels a desire to just sit around and draw, or sit around and make stuff, I’m very, very project oriented. And I enjoy that. I like having another person to please or another goal to achieve. Given free time I’m like much more inclined to plant some stuff in the garden than I am to just draw to draw if that makes any sense.

Dan Cederholm: It does.

Dina Rodriguez: I just like to draw to draw.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: I don’t know, I think digital products, projects, whatever, both things is where it’s at. Like tangible products are super overwhelming. Like you have to, especially if you’re getting them manufactured, you’re not just like looking for a tee shirt or something to print your design on, it’s like what? Especially because, like enamel pins, they don’t make enamel pins in the United States.

Sasha Barr: No.

Dina Rodriguez: I’ve looked.

Sasha Barr: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: So it’s like a whole process. There are companies that will help you find that perfect place in China to get a manufacturer but it doesn’t actually exist, so I was like super frustrated. But like digital products are amazing because it’s that passive income where you make money in your sleep. Like I’ve made thousands of dollars off of these lettering workbooks, and I used to make printed ones, and I was like shipping sucks. And I just went right back to digital, and I’ve sold so many like not only on my Patreon monthly membership but also in my online store, and it was that same thing like, took the beta test, put ‘em out into the world, saw which ones did the best and then exclusively had them on my own personal website. Versus like Gum Road or Creative Market or those other really good platforms that you can use but again, I want all the money. Because I made it and I deserve all the cents.

Dina Rodriguez: But yeah so it’s just like thinking of the things that you use every day, like the unused concepts you could totally sell that as digital assets on a stock site. That one brush that you have tweaked to no end that is your go to. Go ahead and sell that as a resource kit on Creative Market. Like there’s so many ways we can make money, and I think if you ask a designer hey what do you do for a living? And you don’t say at least eight things, you’re doing something very wrong. Like, especially as like, speaking from an illustrator, not so much as a designer you have to have all these different diversified revenue, so that way when the clients do stop calling you, because they will, you need to be able to still be able to pay your bills and like not work at Starbucks. You had a good job at Starbucks, you weren’t like pouring coffee, but like, pouring coffee at Starbucks. Although, they pay for your college which is really nice.

Victor Melendez: Oh I didn’t know that.

Dina Rodriguez: But…

Dan Cederholm: You can go do the bathroom there too.

Dina Rodriguez: You can go to the bathroom there too now? What?

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, you can go to the bathroom at Starbucks.

Dina Rodriguez: They like…

Dan Cederholm: I do utilize that, from time to time. Yeah, Victor, how about you?

Dina Rodriguez: What does that even mean?

Dan Cederholm: Prints are incredible.

Victor Melendez: Totally. What is? The store?

Dan Cederholm: Oh yes, store, yeah shoppe.

Victor Melendez: Yeah, so, it’s a mixture for me. I’ve been producing, I’ve been doing a lot of gig posters and I have a shit ton at my house that I need to get rid of, so, I always have them there, and ah, I get a few sales a month, I keep the store running, buy supplies and all of that and I’ve been doing a lot more printmaking on my free time. So, sometimes I put those up over there, but it’s not like my main, main, main source. I think what she was saying about switching to digital, I think that’s where it’s at. Because I’m always like buying shit online, like, tight faces or brushes or music. So, I don’t know I guess eventually. I’m a sucker for printed things though. Like textures, and papers and ink and all that. So I think I will just have poster store or whatever. But maybe digital is the way to go. I’m telling you I learned so much over here.

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha. I mean I think it’s a mixture of like you know digital products are cheap. Like not all of us have like five hundred to a thousand dollars to order a bunch of product, nor do we have the audience that will actually be able to buy all those products so we actually make a profit. And I think a good profit margin is anywhere from 60-80% off of your expenses, and that’s impossible to do if you’re only buying like 50 of something. Then your profit margins are like 30%. And then it’s like, you might as well just be selling on Red Bubble where the common commission is 20%. So it’s just like, you really need to weigh, I know everyone, it feels cool to have like sticker sense and freaking’ like screen printed something, like on your, on letterpress and all these cool things but at the end of the day.

Victor Melendez: Which I will have at the end of this downstairs.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah I know. Why is that? Man you are killing me. You’re killing me. Buy his stuff. I’m just saying for those of you that are broke, I mean.

Victor Melendez: Yeah, ha-ha.

Dina Rodriguez: I don’t know, give him money, I don’t have anything, I’m going to stop.

Dan Cederholm: Oh well.

Victor Melendez: That was good.

Dan Cederholm: You guys are awesome. So to stay on Victor for a second, do you, you did say, we were talking about things to ask, things to talk about and you said, how do fake being an illustrator and make everyone believe it. So I, I figure, let’s get into that a little bit, because…

Dina Rodriguez: How do you fake it?

Dan Cederholm: Imposter syndrome is a real thing I think. But this is the opposite of that really.

Victor Melendez: Well, my background was in, I studied engineering. I was in my second year engineering in Mexico. By the way, I’m a citizen, I’m legally in this country. And I also pay taxes.

Dina Rodriguez: Don’t come after him.

Victor Melendez: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dan Cederholm: And it’s good to have him in the recording.

Victor Melendez: Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha.

Victor Melendez: It’s on record.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Victor Melendez: Yeah. I have… red white and blue right here. My background was in engineering and then I did an internship at this museum where I met this graphic designer and I was really into. They were doing screen printed posters and like fliers and I was, and it really caught my eye. And I got the seed planted back then when I was in, it was before college, and then once I came to the states, legally, I went to, well first I had to learn English because I didn’t speak English really. Victor Melendez: I went to community college and I took a few design classes and eventually when I managed to get a degree in Graphic Design and to go back to your original question, I got an internship at Starbucks and that’s where it all started for me. When they throw you into real projects and, and you start doing concepts and you don’t know how you’re going to execute.

Victor Melendez: To this day, I think a lot of project I, even though they have like my style, whatever, sometimes you try to pitch things that like, just to get out there. And then you figure it out later. And now it’s very, very super helpful to watch YouTube videos and techniques and, but you learn from watching other people try to copy other people. Their process and tricks. And that’s how I kind of faked it. I mean I was, you should see my, the first stuff that I did was awful.

Dan Cederholm: Oh, can we see?

Victor Melendez: No.

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha.

Dan Cederholm: It’d be cool to get like the first, first thing you designed

Sasha Barr: Pretty weird.

Dina Rodriguez: Like go down to my first triple shot ever.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah, I’m sure it was great.

Victor Melendez: I just posted some of it, the first posters that I did, gig posters on Instagram. It looked like shit.

Dan Cederholm: That’s good you put them on Instagram then.

Dina Rodriguez: Ha-ha. That’s a shit platform. For shit work. Just kidding, I really…

Dan Cederholm: So, we only have a couple of minutes actually. But, so, we can take a couple, a couple questions actually from the audience if people have questions. Specifically for these guys. And please do, actually, because that would be really terrible. Yes. Thank you. Which one? Yes. Yes sir.

Audience member: Tell me about your process.

Dina Rodriguez: Like you care about that.

Sasha Barr: No no no, it’s great.

Audience member: Tell us, tell us about your process.

Sasha Barr: Okay, I don’t want to be a disappointment, but I’m a pretty mellow guy and I kind of just take things as they come. My girlfriend might disagree, but I mean honestly I just get up, eat breakfast and go to work, and just kind of like at least on a day to day basis, just kind of try to achieve as many tasks as I can.

Sasha Barr: I mean we have a lot of overarching things that we’re kind of constantly working on but every day there’s a lot of fires that need to be put out, or somebody needs this thing immediately, or whatever it is. And I was just telling Don and Ryan this earlier, right now I feel like we have so many different kinds of things going on, at the end of the day I’ve worked on like fifteen completely different projects, from a branding thing over there, to a packaging thing over here, to some Spotify play listing over here, and I just kind of like, try to do my best and try to like do what I do.

Sasha Barr: And then I usually leave work around like 5 or 6, and go home, and if I have like other stuff to do, like next week I have to do a mural installation, so I’ll spend probably every night next week just working on that. And when I’m not doing that stuff we walk the dog and watch Netflix standup.

Sasha Barr: But like I said I’m not like, I’m, it’s not that I’m not self motivated. I feel like I am motivated, I’m always doing something, but it is very project oriented. And I really, I really thrive off of having somebody else expecting something of me, if that makes any sense. Um yeah.

Dan Cederholm: Great.

Sasha Barr: Does that answer your question? Sort of?

Dan Cederholm: I wasn’t expecting that.

Sasha Barr: Okay, okay.

Dan Cederholm: Thank you. We got time for one more quick question if we… yes sir.

Audience member: Yeah, do you brand, this is for the recording but is it better to brand yourself as an individual personal or as a brand?

Sasha Barr: That’s a good question.

Dina Rodriguez: I actually regret being Letter Shoppe, seriously.

Sasha Barr: As opposed to just being under your own name? Yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Instead of being Dina Rodriguez? Yeah. For sure. If you go to my YouTube channel that’s the first social platform where it says, for some reason, dinarodriguez, just because I don’t want to seem like I’m this big company. Also when you use I feel like a username you almost want to use a logo instead of your face, and it’s like the person’s going to be working with you, they’re not working with a team of people. Like if you have a team of people then you should definitely use a brand. I think it’s important that everyone has an LLC, so that way you’re protected legally if you get sued and obviously like your assets like your house and your car are protected. It’s a hundred for Oregon at least, go to the website, it’s a hundred bucks a year, it’s super great just do it. Go to the bank, get the account, it’s great. But I don’t think there’s really any benefit to the point where a lot of people still don’t know my name, like I still get called Letter Shoppe, like when I go to places. And I’m like…

Victor Melendez: Or Letter.

Sasha Barr: Just Letter, for short, yeah.

Dina Rodriguez: Like Letter. I’m like my name’s Dina, it’s shorter but harder to remember I guess. But yeah so I think it’s up to you what feels the best, and also try to think of where you want to be at in the next ten, twenty years. If you want to eventually have a team and a studio, go for the brand name. But if you just want it to be you, keep it you. But for the most part you can just change your mind so.

Sasha Barr: Yeah. And I think.

Dina Rodriguez: All of the above.

Sasha Barr: Yeah. And I think something that I’ve kind of learned throughout the years, and this kind of goes back to the question about confidence earlier, it’s just like nothing’s really permanent. And I feel like I kind of take that approach with a lot of my projects or either the way that you brand yourself is just like, you can always change it. Like nothing’s forever. And before too long you’re like on to the next thing. So I mean you could, you can start as one way and then decide to change your mind, and I think that, I don’t know I think that’s okay, right?

Dina Rodriguez: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah for sure.

Sasha Barr: Um, yeah.

Dan Cederholm: You’re totally right. That’s good. Victor, are you branding yourself Victor, or sort of another…

Victor Melendez: Yeah, yeah.

Dan Cederholm: Yeah.

Victor Melendez: I used to really sell at Starbucks. Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: You branded yourself Starbucks. Yeah.

Victor Melendez: That names taken. That names taken.

Dan Cederholm: That could work, that could work. Well look thank you all very much for being here. We could go on for longer, but we’re actually over, look at this blinking red light.

Sasha Barr: We got all day man, I don’t know. We got all day.

Dina Rodriguez: Oh we’re going over. He made a joke you didn’t hear it.

Victor Melendez: We’re going Overtime.

Dan Cederholm: We’re going Overtime.

Victor Melendez: Oh we’re so dumb, I love it.

Dan Cederholm: Thank you. See we practiced that earlier.

Dina Rodriguez: Yeah.

Dan Cederholm: No we didn’t actually, that was good. So thank you very much, Victor, Dina, Sasha, big round of applause. Thank you for being here.

Dan Cederholm: This has been Overtime. Dribbble’s official podcast. I’m Dan Cederholm and thanks for listening to this week’s episode. Please subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts and we’ll see you next time. Thanks again.