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The Tortured Artist

Caitlyn Cooney

I've been wanting to do this for what feels like a long-ass time. 

When I decided to start my own letterpress and design company, it kind of felt like covering my eyes and jumping from a ledge, in the best way. I've had a few friends who have started their own business ventures - print shops, real estate companies, Etsy stores for knitted scarves, clothing boutiques, restaurants, etc. - and all of them have done it in their own way. There ain't no script for this kind of thing, there's only your intuition and knowing what to learn from your friends' mistakes. 

If you're a letterpress printer and you feel like you've got something great going on you want to officially start up, this may be helpful. When I say "knowing what to learn from your friends' mistakes," this is what I mean. I'm about to tell you what I did right, what I did wrong, and what I still haven't done, so stay tuned. 

I started out by quitting my pretty great job in Nashville, TN as a graphic designer. I was making good money, living in a happenin' city, and learning how to "adult." I eventually asked myself what the heck I was waiting for, told myself that if I was going to start a business, and if that business had the potential to fail, why not do it while I'm young (24) and I still have time to bounce back? So I traveled to an island in the middle of the ocean for a month to forego distractions and indulge the creative part of my brain that had gone untouched for a little while. All or nothing, right?

I put together the important, yet maybe boring, things first. My business plan, budget, a back stock of concepts and designs, a website (thanks for visiting, btw), a tax program, a bank account, researched LLC. info, created an online store, found potential loans, compiled an equipment catalog, the list goes on and on and on...(See below for some of my favorite resources).

Even though all of that felt very productive and necessary in retrospect, it's okay to feel like a fish out of water while you're in the thick of it. When in doubt - GTS. It's okay to google EVERYTHING, like what a privacy policy is, or how to file your taxes as a business, or how to become an Uber driver because you feel like this was a terrible decision. To feel like you're a tortured, starving artist forcing ideas and creativity, because for the first time it's paying your bills.

There were a lot of those moments.

It's also okay to feel like you are ahead of the game, that you have good ideas, that people will like and support what you're doing. It's okay to be all over the place - that's why I went to an island away from everyone. Just know at the end of the day, you're killing it for even taking that first step, and you are for sure strong and smart enough to figure the rest out. 

You can only do your best. Prepare as much as you can, attempt to be creative every day, and know that everything will most likely turn out to be cool as hell regardless of how many times you had a meltdown, felt like you couldn't do it, or experienced other critical and self-deprecating feelings. Keep fixing it until it's right, learn from those mistakes, take advice, listen to your gut and do what feels good. 

Next time we can get into the nitty gritty of procuring equipment, managing your cash monies, moving tons of machinery on big trucks, and all that good stuff. 

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

 

Caitlyn

Charlotte Mason Print Co.