EP 04: How to Make Your Own Opportunities


Samantha Lopez is an Illustrator born and raised in California that now lives in Los Angeles. She just started working full-time as a Designer at Honey while also doing freelance work on the side. 

Sam thinks the most important part of getting hired is about creating and sharing your work so people can find you. By focusing more on social media platforms like Instagram and Dribbble, she can organically grow her following to get new freelance opportunities. 

Once you are ready to sell your services, you need to find a way to attract the exact type of work you want to be hired for. You need to focus less on what everyone else is doing so you can make original art that gets you noticed. It’s all about how you see the world because if you can market yourself, then brands can start to approach you to do the same for them. 

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How to find a day job in design

When it comes to a day job the opportunities don't always find you because you need to apply for them. Sam is the exception, where her current employer actually discovered and scooped her up, right out of college. Lucky duck! 

For the rest of us, when looking for your own opportunities, you have to think outside of the box by catering your work to that specific position. That means going above and beyond just a standard resume. Don’t just go on Indeed and mass apply for any job you’re kind of qualified for. Take the time to personalize your application for the jobs you really want to be a part of.  

Personally, I share my struggles being taken seriously at my various design related day jobs where I had trouble being heard. It was no wonder I was working a side hustle to run my own studio. 

Luckily most creative companies have wised up and spent dedicated time to work on their company culture to be more respectful. For example, I love the culture at Buffer, a social media scheduler app that has awesome perks and allows all team members to have a say in meetings no matter their position. 

You need to be pickier on the companies you want to work for to make sure the culture is right, the position has room for growth, and it’s somewhere that will actually make you happy. You choosing the right employer is just as important as them finding the right person to hire. 

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How did Samantha get picked up by Honey?

Honey found Sam on Dribbble, a professional portfolio platform for designers that is invite only. She got pretty obsessed with this platform by posting often and showing the process behind her work. She thinks that Dribbble allowed her to show off her talent and personality making her more desirable to work with because she brought a lot of skills to the table. 

It’s smart as an employer only to hire people you think would be an excellent addition to your team, so no internal rivalries start. This is why putting yourself into your work is so important, because although we are all different, we can still find a way to be relatable in our own way, especially when it comes to our art. 

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Getting your own opportunities as a woman

Being on this podcast was actually the first thing Sam ever applied to be on. She was nervous about putting herself out there because she thought she wasn't good enough or popular enough to be featured. This lack of confidence is probably the reason why we see the same women being featured over and over again because not enough women are putting themselves out there to be seen. 

So next time there is a panel, conference, or podcast opportunity, take the time to reach out about it no matter how much experience you have. The worst thing anyone can say to you is no, but it will always be a no if you never take the time to ask. 

Sam says she is so excited about Women of Illustration because she's exposed to more female illustrators she never knew existed from our Instagram where I feature a new artist every day. 

I complain that some days I have a hard time finding new talent because not enough people are using the #womenofillustration hashtag for me to highlight them. If not enough people apply, I have to go search for them which means people that are already popular get the opportunity instead of someone just starting out. 

It would make so many content creators job much easier if more people reached out to be featured. Bloggers need people to write about, and podcasters need people to interview, so why not put yourself out there because you never know what you might get out it. 

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How Samantha worked with Hootzpah

When Sam got out of school, her professor got her in contact with Hootzpah an established agency in LA where she landed a remote position as a junior designer. 

Over time Hootzpah received such an overflow of work inquiries they would kindly pass along that extra work to Sam since her style was so similar to theirs. She got to work on branding projects and design for merch that got her a dream job doing a shirt design for a Portland-based band Joseph. 

Aside from Sam’s college professor giving her a push, she went above and beyond to get noticed by creating her own zine that featured various illustrations of her work. It was because she took the time to network with Hootzpah face to face, and presented the exact kind of work she wanted to get hired for, was the beginning of the domino effect of her landing dreams jobs right after graduation.  

What’s coming next episode

Next episode we come back with Illustrator Samantha Lopez to talk about how to find your own creative community whether it’s going to a meetup group, connecting with people online, or developing your own thing. It can be lonely working as a designer, that's why it’s more important than ever to have people in your corner to keep you motivated. 

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SAMANTHA LOPEZ

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