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Autonomous Creative

With Jessica Abel

For creative iconoclasts who want to pay their bills AND do the work they love, get insights, ideas, and next steps from a graphic novelist, author, & business coach. Find out how to build a balanced and productive creative life, and to thrive financially with simple, sustainable business foundations—without creative compromise.

Featured Post

How to use your core values to build an ethical creative business that can help make the world a better place (with an activity & audio!)

Heads up: This one's a deep-dive! I've included an activity (and an audio recording of the article and activity instructions) in the blog post to help you learn how to use your core values as a powerful tool to build your confidence as a professional creative. Obviously, in this big crazy world, there is a lot that’s out of your control. We all make compromises, a lot of them. We all have to grapple with adverse circumstances (and often actual adversaries). In order avoid feeling like you’re...

over 1 year ago • 4 min read

You know that feeling when you’re in the middle of a huge project and you’re like, holy crap, what have I done? The deadlines are looming, there's so much you don't know, you’re tired, and you just want to take a vacation. But you're in too deep to turn back now. No? Just me? I kid, I kid. I’ve been doing this long enough to know it’s DEFINITELY not just me. In case you haven’t been feverishly tracking my activity the last few weeks, here’s a recap: Big picture, I’ve been engaged in a massive...

about 1 month ago • 7 min read

In my last newsletter, I shared how I've been applying the Collect phase of the Creative Engine framework to my own business. This phase is all about gathering data about what you want and need, and creating a foundation for high-quality decisions. (If you missed that one, you can find it here.) As a reminder, the Creative Engine is the underlying framework of finishing giant projects. First you gain clarity on what you really want, then you make tough choices (and commit to hard tradeoffs),...

about 2 months ago • 5 min read

So, as of writing this email, my time tracking tells me that since January 12 I’ve spent 143 hours and 10 minutes on revising the Creative Focus Workshop. That feels like an undercount, TBH. I’ve also shut down several sources of revenue for Autonomous Creative, most notably, an entire program, Authentic Visibility. The numbers are not looking good. And just in the last 3 weeks, I’ve spent close to $5000, said goodbye to my longest serving team member (good luck, Lou! 😢), hired a whole new...

about 2 months ago • 3 min read

Got 5 minutes to play around with me? I’ve put together a tiny treasure hunt for you full of old, slightly embarrassing photos, art, and ephemera from my cartoonist past for you to discover. For example: Want to see me drunk in a bar in Tijuana with semi-famous cartoonists in 1999? Oh yes you do. These photos have never before been on the internets! No joke: I had to literally scan small rectangles of paper to make this for you. my weapon of choice in the 1990s Also: unpublished work! Comic...

2 months ago • 2 min read

Once, when I told her to empty the dishwasher, my daughter’s face clouded into a scowl. But it wasn’t simply that she didn’t want to empty the dishwasher. No, she told me that she had been just about to get up and empty the dishwasher on her own. As soon as I told her to do it, I stole the virtue of doing it solo, and I robbed her of her agency. And now, she wanted to sit down and NEVER empty the dishwasher. Sound familiar? Yeah, me too. But wait, there’s more: The other day, a friend said,...

3 months ago • 4 min read

Ever since I named our monthly free coaching call the “Simplify to Amplify Roundtable” I’ve been questioning my own overly-complex working life. How can I counsel others to simplify, and talk about how powerful that can be in amplifying their ability to reach their goals…when I myself still juggle so much stuff all the freaking time? I’ve been teaching this concept for years: One thing at a time. That’s how you get things done, and that’s how you unleash your full potential. Yet, ever since...

5 months ago • 3 min read

I just finished teaching my Illustration Projects course with my undergrads for the seventh time. I find myself thinking about this class and what it’s taught me every year around this time. In fact, this time last year, I wrote a blog post inspired by the class called Resetting for the New Year: the power of a self-compassionate annual review. I’ve been a college-level prof for 25 years, and most courses I’ve taught don’t have this effect on me. I think about making them better, but I don’t...

6 months ago • 3 min read

I went through most of my career feeling like success was just…one…step…away, around a blind corner, and that all I needed to do to get there was… More. More work, more marketing, more income streams, more…everything. At some point—or really, over and over again—I did so much more I almost broke. I know I'm not alone. I constantly see other creatives trapped in the same cycle, which I’ve dubbed “Cyclical Burnout.” The truth is, most of what we’re taught about having a creative career (when...

11 months ago • 1 min read
The step-by-step plan to find high-value clients - The Autonomous Creative with Sarah Lacy

I’ve been talking a lot over the past year about one of the biggest contributors to the painful income gap most creatives experience: relying on selling low-cost products via a LOT of marketing, especially social media. There isn't anything inherently wrong with that approach, if you love producing content for Instagram and marketing 24/7. But if you don’t? The best way out of that crunch is to design a high-ticket offer that you can sell to just a few clients. The number one thing I hear...

12 months ago • 1 min read

Happy summer solstice (or winter solstice, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere)! Yes, I know it was actually yesterday, but I’m already going at a summer pace over here. Summer is just built different. I’ve got 2 teens whose lives utterly transformed a week or two ago when school let out. I teach art college, and summer is downtime. I’m a gardener, which means I’ve been extremely outdoors for the last several months, and now begin to get to enjoy the fruits of my labor. Many years, I’ve...

12 months ago • 3 min read
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