Are you a visual artist, designer, photographer, or all-around creative human dreaming of making your mark on the world…but don’t how to get started?
Maybe you’re still in art school wondering what’s next after you graduate and enter the “real world”. How do you stand out to potential employers in the endless sea of young, talented creatives?
Perhaps you’re already in the real world, working a job you thought you always wanted, but you just don’t feel a sense of creative satisfaction from the work you’re doing? Instead you feel burnt out and uninspired by the “put in your dues and climb your way up the corporate ladder” model of success. Every day, you open your phone and see your favorite artists running their own creative businesses, and you long for the freedom that comes with the freelance lifestyle.
It’s possible that you’re already freelancing, but want to take your creativity and visibility to the next level….but honestly? Marketing your work online feels overwhelming…and time-consuming…and a little inauthentic.
You’re not sure how to really get your freelance career off the ground.
You frequently find yourself wondering if your ideas are “good enough” and know you’re holding yourself back from putting your work out there in a major way.
You want to come up with a creative project or BIG idea that will take your career to the next level, but feel stuck, lack inspiration, or just plain don’t know where to start.
I totally get it. A few years ago, I was an ambitious, recent art school graduate who was ready to take on the world. I landed my dream job as an art director at a big advertising agency…only to end up burning out in less than a year.
What I thought was my dream job turned out to be 11 hour workdays, weekends spent at my desk, and endless office politics. Exhausted and uninspired at the age of 23, I knew I had to make a change.
Fast forward to now, and I can’t believe how much has changed (for the better!). I’m a freelance illustrator who has published two books and gets to travel around the world painting murals and teaching workshops - all while running a location-independent illustration business and working with clients like Google, Starbucks, and TIME Magazine.
I’ve grown my online following to over 180K.
I broke a 6-figure income after freelancing full-time for 2 years. (Side note: When that happened I couldn’t believe it. I had to call my agent and see if it was an accounting mistake - it wasn’t). I left a job that paid $60K and nearly doubled it after two years.)
But above all else, this success has allowed me to work on my own terms.
People often ask how I found success in the creative industry at such a young age, and while there are many factors, my number one answer is: passion projects!
The first passion project I created, Daily Dishonesty, started as a drunk joke with a friend that led to a viral blog, and eventually turned into a 5-figure book deal from a NYC publisher at the age of 22.
Another passion project, Will Letter for Lunch, came to me as I was searching for brunch in NYC and realized the lack of quality chalkboard art on restaurant signs. I decided to combine two things I love (lettering + lunching) into a project and went from having ZERO chalk lettering experience to booking chalk lettering projects with clients like Samuel Adams, Microsoft, and LinkedIn.
My passion projects not only gave me the financial security I needed to leave my full-time job, they also gave me the creative confidence I needed to pursue hand lettering as a career.
So as a long overdue answer to the many amazing people who have asked some variation of the question, “How did you do it? And how can I?” I’ve created an offering I’m super excited about!
Introducing….Passion to Paid: a 10-week guided course to help you powerfully launch your creative career with a kick ass passion project!
Regardless of your current skill level or where you’re at now, this course will help you to get excited about your next steps.
Together we will learn how to…
Get your creative juices flowing if you’re feeling stuck or blocked.
Unearth a GOLDMINE of awesome ideas that you didn’t even know you had and pick the best (so you can start running with it).
Build an online following around your passion project
Turn that following into people and companies who will actually PAY YOU to be your creative awesome self (ie. live the badass freelance lifestyle of your dreams).
Increase your creative confidence (Translation? Get things out of your head, onto paper, and out into the world faster than ever before).
Get that inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism to STFU so you can get to work!
Who is this course for:
Creative humans who want to be EVEN MORE CREATIVE.
People who have an idea for a project but want accountability + feedback to see it through.
Students who are looking to improve their portfolios so they can stand out amongst a sea of other applicants.
Full-time employees who want to transition out of the 9-to-5 and start working freelance.
Current freelancers who want to grow their existing platform, build their online following, get more clients, earn more money, and feel more fulfilled in their creative work (and life!)
Who is this course not for:
People who do not like the idea of starting a creative project.
People who are just looking for “a quick way to make money” or “overnight Instagram fame” - while the goal of this course is to help you create a kick-ass project that grows your visibility and attracts new clients, you’re going to have to put in the work and there are no guarantees.
People who don’t like jokes and snacks (Fun fact: I am made of exactly 50% puns and 50% potato chips)
Bottom line? If you want to…
Identify what you are passionate about and make something you are SO proud of.
Gain exposure for your work and ideas (so people who need what you have to offer can find you and start paying you for it).
Have way more creative confidence and a tribe of other artists supporting you.
Follow a proven step-by-step process to create and market a passion project.
Gain group access to me as your creative director and mentor for the next 10 weeks.
Then this course was made just for you!
If you’ve ever wanted to start a passion project to boost your career, this is the perfect opportunity to have me guide you every step of the way.
“I really enjoyed Lauren’s direct approach to the material, the fact that she told us exactly how she went about starting her project/finding an agent/etc without using vague language or hypotheticals like lots of other designers do.
The project launch was the most exciting moment. The response I got was so enthusiastic I was really blown away. It was also so exciting to see this project of mine being featured on so many blogs and accounts. The thought that somehow I stumbled onto an idea that resonated with people—despite being so chronically bereft of ideas—was really thrilling!”
- Nick Misani, Project: Fauxsaics
“I now have more confidence in what I do and the ability to get paid work. When I was noodling around on my own, the idea of how to attract clients and a following seemed very experimental and mysterious, but Lauren outlined actual strategies that are pretty easy to follow once you’ve made the content. I feel like I know a lot of people that make brilliant artwork but struggle with how to get it seen.
My one-on-one Skype sessions with Lauren were instrumental. Not only was she delightful to chat with, she had such a positive attitude & it was great to talk specifics about my project and business challenges. It’s always great to get another professional’s perspective on how you’re doing because it’s easy to get lost inside your own head.”
- Annie Wong, Project: Ovary Actions
“Having the girls from 2 Dope Queens notice my work and commission a print was a major highlight (and Jessica Williams follows me now, which is totally a fan-girl’s dream!). I may have let out a little scream at work when I got the notification. I was also reposted by the ladies from My Favorite Murder, which resulted in 300+ new followers over the course of two days.
Hands down the greatest take away from the course was helping me to define my personal style. The worksheets were absolutely invaluable, and working through them helped me to find my voice. I learned to fully embrace my inner weirdo, and as a result I’m finally producing work that feels like ME.”
- Lucy Giller, Project: Two Turntables & a Podcast
Shortly after launching my passion project, For Fuck’s Cake, I was contacted by a company called Ticings and was commissioned to letter using their sprinkles. This client likely would not have found me prior to launching my passion project and they have been an absolute dream to work with.
I now have more confidence in my abilities than I did before taking this course. I feel more experimental in my process and less worried about not being good enough to take something on. I am more likely to try things just for the sake of learning new skills and just to have some fun. After all, even if my design doesn’t come out the way I imagined, there’s still cake 🙂 I would absolutely suggest signing up for Passion to Paid. The information you get in this course can be used repeatedly to launch endless side projects!
- Darcy Terry, Project: For Fuck’s Cake
“One of my favorite parts of the program was the community. I didn’t have many design friends before this class and to work with the other Passion to Paid participants was really helpful and fun. Also, it made me so happy to share my experience and to be a help to others. I think we’re a great community and people are still connected and supporting each other in the Facebook group and on Instagram, even after the workshop ended!
Passion to Paid is great for anyone who is looking for a new way to approach creativity, wants to organize themselves to be more efficient when creating and/or to understand the connection between portfolio, project page, and social media.
- Anna Dittmer, Project: Pixel Passport
My students and I have had our passion projects featured by
…just to name a few!
Every Sunday starting April 1st for 10 weeks, you’ll receive 1 pre-recorded video lesson (~10 minutes) plus a workbook to complete. Then every Wednesday at 8:30pm EST, I’ll host a Facebook Live Q&A where I’ll answer your questions from the current week’s lesson. Can’t make it live? No worries! You’ll be able to submit questions ahead of time, so I’ll definitely be able to answer them in the video Q&A. The replays will be available for you to watch any time after the live broadcast.
Class 1 - Be Your Own Muse
Inspiration is where the creative process starts: breathing life into a spark to create a bright and brilliant flame. Even though my top (not so) secret source of inspiration is unique, it’s also not exactly exclusive. Throughout this week, you’ll be taking some time to get reacquainted with yourself to see what sparks.
Class 2 - Feel Your Feels
We tend to believe that great ideas strike in obvious forms - the great creative muse whispering brilliance into our ears. However, the reality is that most great ideas begin as small moments of magic that we decide to pay attention to and cultivate. This week is about learning to pay attention to the words and images that resonate with you or other people.
Class 3 - Playing Favorites
The reason I focus on “passion” as a key part of my personal projects is because that enthusiasm and enjoyment ensures I’ll devote time and energy to bring them to life. So this week, we’ll be brainstorming the big and small things that we are eager to spend our free time nerding out on. One of the key aspects of creating a successful passion project is often coming up with a creative combination of two not-so-obviously related things, so we’ll be looking at existing examples and then thinking about which few of our favorite things we can fuse together into a brilliant project.
Class 4 - The Big Idea!
It’s time to hone in on the concept you want to work on - and don’t worry, you can always come back to other great ideas later for future passion projects. Before we dive into the process of creating, it’s important to do a little research and planning. Being thoughtful about what you’re trying to do and why will help you maximize the results (and avoid wasting time). By the end of this week, you should have a clear creative brief - as if you were going to show it to a “real” client. Feel free to sit down a friend, family member, coworker, pet, or imaginary friend and present your project idea. Practicing your pitches is never a bad thing.
Class 5 - WERK WERK WERK
With the recipe written for your big idea, it’s time to start cooking with gas! We’re going to talk about preparing the platform for your passion project - because no one can find it if you don’t share it with the world. Let’s turn the heat up!
Class 6 - Portfoli-OH YEAH
Remember that whole “paid” part of this passion project? You’ll want to be sure you have your portfolio ready to shine so that people who see your project can easily see what you do & who you are (& if you’re available for work!).
Class 7 - Let’s Launch
It’s time to show your passion to the world! We’ll discuss how to strategically share your project and how to amplify the effects so that your content reaches as many people as possible.
Class 8 - Become a Not So Starving Artist
You probably won’t be getting requests for your work immediately after launching (and congratulations if you do!), but it’s good to consider exactly what you can and want to do next.
Class 9 - Business Basics
If you are going to go freelance or pick up any side projects, this class will come in handy. We’ll talk about how to talk to a prospective client about scoping out a project as well as what to look for in contracts before signing off.
Class 10 - Keep It Up!
At this point, you should be continuing to create content for your passion project and sharing it with the world. To help broaden your audience & gain recognition for your project, this lesson covers staying inspired and getting official coverage of your work.
*** BONUS Content! ***
VIDEO: The Secret to Making Shareable Work
Just like we sometimes need to take a break from work to eat a delicious treat, I wanted to interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to talk about how being human is the most important part of our creative (or any) endeavors.
VIDEO: Time Management
It’s easy to get bogged down in daily life and the unexpected challenges that end up getting our time and attention. But, ultimately, we typically have the choice to make time for the important things. As you approach launch date for your passion project, keep putting one (proverbial) foot in front of the other towards the finish line.
PDF: How to Find an Agent
Ever wanted to know how to find representation as an artist? In this PDF, I break down the basics of what agents do, what they’re looking for, and how you can find one.
PDF: Behind the Scenes of the Launch of ‘Flour Crowns’
Take an inside look at my creative process, workflow, and marketing strategy behind my popular passion project, Flour Crowns. Watch me put the exact same lessons I’ve taught in this class to action!
“Through taking this course I’ve gained priceless relationships with incredible, talented people in the group, as well as self confidence in my skills and my passion project. Additionally, being able to talk about my passion project has given me opportunities to meet even more people outside of the Passion to Paid community. It all goes full circle!
Regardless of the skills or experience level you come into the course with, Passion to Paid will help you find a fun, unique, and meaningful passion project that you will pour your heart into. The resources and guidance Lauren provides weekly in this class are so valuable, I can’t say enough great things about the course!”
- Chie Tamada, Project: Piece of Mind Puzzles
“Getting my project featured in HuffPost was definitely an exciting moment (mostly because its something my family can recognize as a tangible achievement of my artwork). After taking Passion to Paid, I definitely have more confidence in my work and more of a understanding and realization that a good project or idea doesn’t inherently sell itself. You’ve gotta pound the pavement or the digital pavement and push your work out there.”
- Josh Higgins, Project: Introflirted
“Before the course I used to just create what I wanted, without much strategy or consistency. I knew that I could do more, but I had no idea how. When the spots for Lauren’s course opened, I just knew I HAD to join, but I didn’t know why and I also didn’t have the money to do it, but my boyfriend felt my intuition and gave me the course as a gift!
After taking Passion to Paid, I’m now way more confident with my work and way more mature about treating what I love doing not as a hobby, but as a real job. I also learned A LOT of great marketing strategies with the classes, how to promote my work in the best way, and how to value myself as a freelancer!”
- Isabella Lião, Project: Thanking Around
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the program format?
Why is it 10 weeks? What if I want to go faster?
How much attention will I get from you, Lauren?
I’m not a visual artist….is this course still for me?
Is this course just about creativity or do you teach actual business stuff?
Is what I’ll learn in this course applicable only in the US?
How long do I have access to the course?
What if I start the course and then decide it’s not right for me…do you offer refunds?
“Passion to Paid is by far the best investment I’ve made for myself since leaving school. Lauren has put together a no-nonsense curriculum that shows people EXACTLY how she went from having a small project on the internet to being one of the most sought after designers out there. She shares everything from her brainstorming process to her social media strategy to the tools she uses. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll come out the other side a much better designer than you were going in.”
- Mariana Martinez, Project: Mexican Moms Be Like
“The biggest take-away for me is to pick one idea and make it. My head has always been full of possibilities, potentials, and yeah-I-could-totally-do-thats… but rarely do any of those potentials make it past the “wouldn’t it be cool, if…” stage. Passion to Paid taught me how to weed out the duds, and I learned that with a little structure, accountability, and iteration, I can go from zero to project and actually have something to show for my time!”
- Doris Fullgrabe, Project: Just Pick Up a Pen
The class made me realize I have a lot of untapped ideas I never knew I had! For some reason I thought I was only visually creative, but I discovered that I am also conceptually creative, which opens up a world of possibilities! It made me think of all the other myths I’m holding onto that are holding me back. I feel like I’ve gotten a big creative slap in the face, in a good way! You can quote me on that “Passion to Paid; a big fat creative slap in the face!” I now have a list of ideas that I just need the time to execute. I just launched my first passion project called idiYUMs and I’m very confident that it will lead to paid work.’
- Noah Camp, Project: IdiYUMS
“I worked on a few different passion projects since taking the program. One of my projects was about redesigning book covers, and it got me an internship at Penguin Random House! Even though this particular project wasn’t meant to be shared on social media, the skills I learned at Passion to Paid helped me bring my idea to life.
Before this course, I was never good at personal projects. I would have an idea, get excited, then quickly get overwhelmed and not know where or how to start. Needless to say, my personal projects never went anywhere. What I loved about Passion to Paid was how practical it was. The program is structured in a steady pace that gave me enough time to digest the information and apply it to my project. My greatest take away from the program is not the project itself, but the process of creating a personal project from start to finish that is so valuable.”
- Zainab Lari, Project: I Would Love to But…
Passion To Paid Spring 2018 on sunlurn.com