Art and culture are important parts of life. That applies to business too. As a songwriter, I wonder how music, books, films and fine art influence us. Especially as business owners and creators. To explore this, I’ve created an interview series, learning from some of my favorite people.
My hope is for us to be inspired to have more art in our lives. Art that makes us feel happy, energized, focused and that adds beauty in the world.
In 2015 I became part of a group of incredible business ladies. Steph Schertz was one of them. She helps entrepreneurs with the visual experience of their brand. She’s also a brilliant calligraphist and my personal Instagram idol.
What I really wanted to know from our conversation was: How does art influence Steph’s creativity and her life as a business owner?
Turns out, she has some great tips to share that I’ve already incorporated in my life. So- let’s dive in.
Lina: You have a great business niche. For those who don’t know what it is, what does working with “visual experience” mean?
Steph: It includes everything from branding to social media to client communication and newsletters. I’m a also big proponent of video in your marketing plan, so I create a lot of content and coursework around that.
So many business owners get in their own way by having inconsistent or low-quality visual elements. I want to help them fix that, so they can book high-end clients and start to really enjoy entrepreneurship.
Lina: In your business, what do you define as your own creative work? When are you being creative?
Steph: I feel like I’m constantly trying to find new creative outlets. I can’t make it through the day if I haven’t done some sort of photography, creative writing or brainstorming. I think sometimes it can actually be to my detriment, because I like to explore so many different ideas throughout the day.
The important thing for me is to have structure around my creativity. Some people hate this, but if I don’t schedule a start and stop time, I’ll waste a whole day. As a business owner, that’s just too risky at this point.
That being said, if I get really engrossed in something, I’ll try to give myself some flexibility to stay in that inspired mindset as long as possible!
Lina: I’m impressed that you can schedule your creative work (something I need to learn). When it comes to having art and culture around you, what do you make part of your everyday life?
Steph: I listen to music every day and I feel like my life has been totally changed by Spotify. I love the subscription model that is permeating all industries right now. For me, it makes so much more sense to have access to all this music at once and not have to worry about making the individual purchases over and over when a new album comes out.
My husband also sings to himself (a lot), so I get to listen to that every day ;)
I’m not a huge concert fan, I’m just not the target audience. As an introvert and a morning person, concerts make me feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I feel so old saying that! I’d just much rather experience music as part of a calmer atmosphere.
I really wish I had more time to read fiction. I love a book that sucks you in and makes you stay up late so you can keep reading. I loved the Harry Potter series, like any good human being, and I also love anything with a good twist, like Gone Girl. I hope to make more time for this in 2016.
I'm also a huge, huge fan of television and movies. I don't go a single day without watching television. That might be appalling to some people, but I find it really engaging and fun.
I think it’s all about what you get out of an art form. I like to hear the way people talk to each other or see how the wardrobe and set design completes a story, that feels really important to me. I definitely balance it with audiobooks and podcasts, though, so I don’t feel like too much of a couch potato.
If movies here weren't so expensive, I'd want to go to the movie theater every single weekend. It's one of my favorite environments. When the lights dim and the previews start, I'm at my happiest.
Lina: I love that you’re a fan of TV (I have it on all the time). When you work, do you have any art around you like music or TV?
Steph: I love to have some sort of background noise while I’m working, so I’m a huge fan of ambient music. Anything with words tends to be too distracting and I just love the way I feel transported into a spa-like environment when I’m listening to some peaceful ambient melodies.
I was also recently inspired by my friend Meghan at Moxie + Grace to create a “brand playlist,” which she defines as a list of songs that exemplify your brand so that you can listen to it while creating your content. I absolutely love this idea and need to do it soon!
Lina: Since you work with visuals, I’m guessing there’s an element of that in your work too.
Steph: When I’m working with entrepreneurs on the visual experience of their brand, I’m a huge fan of using Pinterest, Designspiration.net and Instagram to pull inspiration and create a big picture of what they want.
Lina: I love that, I use Pinterest a lot to capture the mood I want, when I’m doing a bigger project. I wonder, when you have art around you - how does it impact you and your life?
Steph: I really can’t emphasize enough how much my mood is affected by the art I love. The music, movies, visual art that I surround myself with helps me feel centered and focused on my priorities. It’s a reminder of my taste and preferences while I’m creating things myself.
As someone who enjoys writing, I think that music is what helps me transport myself into the right mood for whatever message or story I’m trying to convey.
I think that’s part of what I didn’t like about working in an office where I had no control over these elements - it felt like I was living someone else’s life. I’m thrilled that working from home means that my environment is always in my control and I can change things up based on what I’m feeling that day.
Lina: Does any particular art form have a greater impact on you?
Steph: Oh, this is a great question… one I haven’t really thought of before! I think that movies and television inspire me the most to exercise empathy. I think that art form can transport you into someone else’s life and circumstances in a way that nothing else can.
I think music has the greatest impact on my productivity, without a doubt, and books really settle my mind and help me focus and relax.
Lina: I know this might sound like a leading question but I still want to ask it. Do you feel art is important for the work you do?
Steph: Art is extremely important for my creative work.
My entire brand philosophy centers around the importance of how potential clients and customers interact with a brand visually, so I feel really strongly about the impact it can have from all angles.
Lina: What would you recommend a new business owner to do, to be more creative in their business? I think it’s something we all struggle with at times, since it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind.
Steph: I love this question! I would say the first step, especially if you work from home, is to create an environment that appeals to all of your senses and gives you a sense of strength, power and inspiration.
I’ve seen this first hand; when we moved into our current apartment, I upgraded to a desk I loved, put it near a window in our apartment, and filled it with items that felt purposeful and beautiful at the same time.
It’s made a huge impact on my productivity and enjoyment of my everyday experiences.
Thank you so much Steph for taking the time to talk. You’ve inspired me to create a dedicated space (with ambient music) of my own.