Bookmarked – Stop Negotiating Designer Fees

A proposed solution

I realize I’m preaching to the choir here. What else can we do to change this system and social standards that seem to be rapidly diminishing the value of our skills?

In my opinion, it starts with educating yourself on the business side of things and being confident in your skills. Unfortunately, having artistic talents will only get you so far financially. In order to truly succeed you need to arm yourself with the ability to protect yourself against those who want to exploit your skills.

It sounds cheesy, but it starts with knowing and believing in yourself and that you’re worth the rates you charge. Insecurities cause us to be more flexible on these rates, but there’s no good reason why seasoned professionals should bend their rates to those of a recent design graduate. There is talent and years of process, wisdom, and expertise that goes into your rate. If a client only has a budget for student rates, then that’s where they should go for their design work, just like I shouldn’t show up at a fancy restaurant for dinner if I only have enough for fast food.


Your element: Fire
Your ruling planets: Jupiter
Symbol: The Archer
Your stone: Turquoise
Life Pursuit: To live the good life
Vibration: Overly expressive – frequent burnouts
Sagittarian’s Secret Desire: To make a difference in the world

Ruled by the benefic planet Jupiter, Sagittarians possess a natural exuberance, sense of adventure and love of life that makes them one of the most optimistic zodiac signs of all. Like their astrological symbol – the Archer – Sagittarians are renowned for aiming their sights towards whatever it is they find alluring – a love partner, dream job, vacation – and making it their own. They believe that anything is possible – and because of this belief system, Sagittarians are adept at seeking out their very own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But sometimes trying to tie down these free-spirited individuals is frustrating for those around them. Sagittarians are happiest on the move – exploring new cultures and ideas and many are attracted to occupations related to travel, the media, outdoor work and philosophical pursuits. In love, their catch-cry is “don’t fence me in”. But once they find a partner who understands their need to retain their own sense of self and identity, Sagittarians can be the most big-hearted, generous and fun-loving companions of all.

Freedom loving, optimistic and honest, Sagittarians are ruled by Jupiter, the planet of abundance and higher learning. The wisdom of Jupiter imbibes Sagittarians with an inherent need to develop their own unique philosophy of life. The Centaur is their astrological symbol, and it gives many insights into the Sagittarian personality. The higher-evolved Sagittarian learns to integrate the two ends of the Centaur (half-human, half-beast) in order for their arrow (another Sagittarian symbol) of higher aspirations to be more on the mark. Although they are intellectually and spiritually advanced, Sagittarians are notorious for their lack of tact. In relationships they demand independence, but when in love, it can’t be denied that they are one of the most big-hearted signs of the zodiac.



Artist / Designer Interview 01: Roxy B. Montoya

So I’m trying to switch it up around here by not focusing on myself for once so that regular visitors will see that there are other things to look forward to when coming here besides my self-absorbed posts! Haha.

On a serious note, I’ve always wanted to let people know about my talented friends, and not in a stuck up, conceited, my-life’s-better-than-yours kind of way either. I want to focus on the working class creative people out there who do their thing while living life and all the responsibilites that come with it and Roxy is definitely one of them. I met her online years ago and she became one of my good friends in real life. Her interview begins NOW.

Hi Roxy! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You know I’m a HUGE fan of your work. Can you tell us a little about who you are, where you live and what you do?
I grew up in Hawaii, but currently live in Las Vegas. I came out here right after I graduated high school to attend the Art Institute because Hawaii didn’t have art schools at the time. While in school I met my husband, got married, had two boys, and we’ve been in Vegas ever since where I work as a fine artist, graphic designer, and instructor at IADT.

I have always known you to be a creative individual. How did you get into art?
I always felt the need to get images out of my head when I was little and kept a lot of journals that I’d write and doodle in. My sister and I have an 8-year age gap, so that being said we never had anything in common so I had to play on my own and keep my self occupied. I wrote a lot of stories and illustrated them. Kind of like imaginary friends on paper, but none of them were human. They were all magical little animals. I still prefer to paint animals to this day. I think they are much more interesting than humans.

Since I know you personally, I also know that you are a graphic designer and also an instructor! How did you get into that? Do you prefer one over the other?
I’ve always wanted to teach! But what I didn’t expect was to be teaching at a college, I always told myself maybe high school? Or maybe even a Jr. high art class, but college never really crossed my mind. A good friend of mine got hired as the program chair at IADT and wanted to build a solid team of new instructors and asked if I was interested. Before interviewing I sat in one of her classes to see if it was for me, and I fell in love. The rest is history and I’ve been there for 3 years now and love what I do. I love school because I’m a huge nerd. If I weren’t an instructor, I’d probably be a student.

Also, I don’t think I prefer one to the other because I teach what I love to do.

Do you gravitate towards a certain style of painting, designing, overall creating?
I think I’m still and will forever be trying to find my style. I am inspired and love so many different art movements, artists, and styles, that it’s only natural to include a little bit of everything in certain art pieces. I also love to experiment. But when it comes down to it, the core of my fine artwork has a strong Pop-Surrealism background and influence.

Design work is a bit trickier since I work for clients, but one thing I am a fan of is fresh and clean work. That will NEVER go out of style. I like to keep up with design trends and incorporate them when I can to keep my work up to date and marketable.

On the topic of instruction – what is the constant question that your students ask, or a topic or concept that they tend to struggle with?
Funny you should ask, but believe it or not, a reoccurring question I get at least once a quarter is “How much should I charge for my work?” This is such a broad question and I don’t give any solid answers, but instead try to give some advice on finding their worth. I also let them know that some of my best portfolio pieces were done for free, but the experience and exposure were priceless. It gives them a lot to think about and it has them view the graphic design and art world in a whole other perspective.

When you start a painting, do you have a routine or way of doing things? Does it have to be quiet or do you have tv or music on?
When I start a painting, it’s always intense! I feel like a surgeon about to perform heart surgery. I need all of my tools ready and laid out perfectly. I need all of my tools, cleaned, and I need to be focused. Once I sit down I am NOT getting up unless the house is on fire (because there is nothing more frustrating than having your concentration interrupted!) After I triple check my work area to make sure everything I need is there (including coffee and extra water,) I put on my painting playlist and slip on my earphones. Everyone knows not to bother or talk to me till I’m done.

I notice that you paint bunnies A LOT. Why bunnies? Is there a meaning behind it, your spirit animal perhaps?
Besides being cuddly and cute, I’ve always had rabbits growing up. I’ve read that rabbits represent creativity and fear and always felt that was an interesting combination….

Where do you get your inspiration from? What motivates you to create?
I love and collect antique children’s books. I love any nostalgic imagery and the books I have are filled with amazing illustrations. My favorite illustrator is Richard Scarry.

What motivates you to create?
Not too sound overly emo, but the best motivation I have ever had was a broken heart. I paint my best work when I’m depressed.

This is a random question but what are your pet peeves?
When people are late. Biggest pet peeve ever.
Honorable mentions: Bad parenting (like parents who bring their kids to R rated movies!) people who misspell “they’re,” assholes who take up two parking spaces, stupid baby names, people who go shopping during peak hours and use a bazillion coupons, dirty keyboards.

Ok so now, the opposite of that question – what do you love, admire, obsess about?
Typography, Radiohead, alchemy and symbolism, analogous color pallets, blood, thick cuts of fatty marbled meat, pictures of ice cream, cholas, silly tattoos, sushi, human anatomy, vintage children books, hello kitty, my kids, my husband, and my best friends.

What goes on in that brain of yours? Do you have deep thoughts about life’s greatest mysteries, or do you get paranoid about the government watching your every move?
I am always thinking of my purpose, because I think everyone in this universe has a purpose.

Any guilty pleasures?
Food porn, silly pictures of animals on the internet and making up captions to what they would say and how they would sound like out loud, vampire shows, reading Teen Vogue instead of adult Vogue. Ugh, I’ve already said too much.

Jesus or Satan?
One of my favorite movies of all time is Constantine, and I’m always daydreaming of being the female version of him. How rad would that be? Anyway, team Jesus all the way. WWJDOMGFTW.

If God (or aliens) decided to destroy us and it was up to you to represent us, what would you say are the redeeming qualities of the human race?
Despite our imperfections and capacity of evil and greed (let’s forget about all of that for a quick second,) humans will never stop fighting for what they believe in. We’re the only species that keeps advancing; we’ve built pyramids, been to the moon and cured diseases. Regardless of some of our actions, which can be ugly, we have the ability create beautiful things.

What do you think about art on the Internet and the amount of copying people do (whether it’s intentional or not)?
I think it’s more common than not, especially with young artists just starting out. It’s a cycle. We all get inspired and subconsciously (or not) we’ve “borrowed” elements or techniques we’ve admired and included them within our own artwork. Now, if someone reproduces your work, and continues to do so, that’s a problem. But there is nothing wrong with being inspired and openly letting people know where the original idea came from, for the sake of not looking like a douche. The idea behind this is to eventually find yourself and your own style. There is a difference between being a reproduction artist vs. someone completely original and known for his or her own unique style.

Speaking of the internets, what websites do you frequent?
The usuals. For design I like to check out what the people at Behance or Dribbble are up to. I have a handful of artists I like to follow, including Then of course guilty pleasures like Facebook, Pinterest and (because I love to cook.) And if I remember, I visit Postsecret on Sundays.

Are you a lover or a hater?
I wasn’t sure so I googled “Lover or Hater Quiz.” I took it and it said I was 50/50. It also gave me some advice: “I know you mean well, but you should be more open minded, and socialize more.” After taking the quiz, I feel slightly more hater than not.

Any advice or words of wisdom to those who are just starting out in the creative world?
Read “Steal Like an Artist” by Austin Kleon. Also, try to give back when you can. Not every gig has to be a paying one. Paint a mural for your community or design a logo for a charity out of the goodness of your heart (I love doing benefit shows and knowing my piece will help towards a good cause.) You were given a talent; never stop being thankful for that. Like any good thing in this world, nourish it and appreciate it. Keep evolving and even when you’re satisfied with a piece of art or design, start brainstorming how the next one will be 10 times better. Know there will always be someone better than you. Stay humble.

Is there anything else you’d like to say or let people know about yourself?
No animals were harmed during the making of this interview.

Any social media links or places we can follow Roxy or buy your art?
For sporadic postings which will maybe range from once a day to once every 6 months (horrible, I know) check out my new Tumblr page:

Stalk me on Facebook! for art for graphic design work
porviida for IG, because I am obsessed with Instagram!

And for any other questions, love letters, complaints, work inquiry, or if you’re looking for a random internet penpal who may or may not write you back, I’m available at :)

Old Graffiti Interviews

So call me a purist or just another antiquated fool but I’m not down with this “street art” movement. It annoys me. To be fair, some of it is cool…but the rest is garbage. But hey, “suum cuique” – to each his/her own!

Anyway, I’m sure you don’t want to hear me rant about it so here’s a link to some really great interviews that I revisited recently at Skate All Cities.

I’m not posting this because I’m on there, but because I feel like people should know some history at least and that there are people who’ve been putting it down for YEARS and are still underrated. But they keep doing it because it’s who they are and what they love to do.

Passion, dedication and hard work over your “15 minutes of fame” any day.

Most of the random stuff…

images, video, etc. that you are looking for have been moved to my Tumblr.

I still feel like a change is coming on – I’ve been obsessing over the layout of this blog lately or maybe the change is supposed to occur in real life. My tarot reading gave me specific dates but I’m trying not to expect too much; it sounded too good to be true and you all know I am a natural pessimist! But all the things that I want to happen also came with some kind of obstacle or challenge.

I am waiting and hope that I will be ready for it.

I need constant reminders…

to be happy with what I have.

Be happy with what you have and where you are. Too often we want to be somewhere else, doing something else, with other people than whoever we’re with right now, getting things other than what we already have. But where we are is great! Who we’re with (including just ourselves) is already perfect. What we have is enough. What we’re doing already is amazing.


Hello 2012

6. Stay curious

Don’t be the designer who gets proficient and then stops. It’s easy to make a steady living doing that one thing you’re really good at. Until something comes along and obliterates it. Aim higher. Remember those guys who were really good at Debabelizer? (Ask your parents.) Don’t spend your career satisfied with doing things you’re good at – try to do things you’re not good at. You’ll eventually be good at more things, and you’ll know what you honestly suck at. And you’ll have a longer career.

There’s a ton of great shit coming down the pike this year, including stuff that’s gonna surprise us. Not to mention the stuff we’re still getting used to from last year. The future’s not only fun, it’s messy. Welcome it with open arms.

Source: 10 New Year’s resolutions for designers

Quotes from Steve Jobs

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

… Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
— Stanford University commencement address, June 2005.