Getting a client and keeping a client are two very different things in the freelance or Independent Creative Agency worlds. And of course, this becomes all the more complicated when the inevitable happens:

  • a client goes rogue and chooses the Path of Design Death
  • the team approves of all the finals, but a cousin of the friend of the engineer’s brother’s sister’s uncle doesn’t like the font
  • a very influential but absent leader jumps in at the 11th hour and––shocker!––they want to take the project in a new direction
  • the beta survey shows that one person out of 5,397 really

Eight reasons to push through the application gauntlet.

Confession: My Creative Agency,, is soaring to the moon, but I still apply for jobs on the regular. Why? Is it because it’s fun and efficient? If you’re applying for jobs, then you know this is hysterical and dead wrong because it’s the freaking worst.

No. I apply for jobs because:

1. There’s still a lot of wisdom to go around and I don’t know everything.

Wendell Berry writes, “Teachers are everywhere. What is wanted is a learner.” …

We often get to where we’re going and think that’s where we’re staying because that’s as far as we could see from where we were.

Keep moving because you can only recognize change at a later moment; keep going, into the future, and you'll see with clarity where you were, just a moment ago.

Every aspect of business is changing. The way you tell a story and who you tell that story to is different because of #covid19 and the global impact we’re now aware of. This means you (and others) will benefit from an outside perspective. Now is the…

“Everything is profound.” No, really––everything is profound.

You want to tell the very best story ever, no matter what? Reject the notion and defeated voice declaring, “not everything is profound.” Be consistent about finding what’s worthy, because it’s there. When you choose to accept this reality: the world opens up to you in mysterious ways and your story will flourish.

And before we can tell that story, we must become the sort of person who lives that story. Put another way: before we can authentically speak a story, we must inhabit the story. It is through awareness we know, and…

Another branding tip and cultural pillar of any Creative Agency is to remember that artists are those who radically “see and listen.”

We must take time to simply be present. And, being present to more diverse conversations, authors, teachers, musicians, and trans-discipline experiences. We must become students of the world by seeing and listening: students of observation.

Oh! that we would be people of observation. Mystery. Surprise. Delight. Stealing à la @austinkleon. For me, my process of ideation begins with observation. With every client and project, you can be sure I will take the time to observe.

Some of us…

What is the Creative Director an expert in? We are experts on the brand as a collective.

Creative Directors are able to draw out the very best aesthetics, the most artistic collage, and the poetically magical experience of your story. They may not be the best animator, videographer, or illustrator, but they lead with both a working knowledge and historical awareness of every aspect in the creative process so every team member is elevated.

Creative Directors have that unique ability to “see the stars and search the sand.” We see the constellations from afar, while also glimpsing the beauty of nearness, small and ordinary things. In this way, we approach every meeting, event, story, and experience.

Here’s one of the best values on which I have built my Creative Agency: “Become curious. Then, stay curious.”

Ask the best questions. Do not fear failure. Surround yourself with diverse teachers who do not look like you, dance like you, drink like you, write like you, see like you, or sound like you.

We can not confuse the gift of unique identity with that of totality: that is to say, we each have our own story, yes, but that’s only one minuscule part of the whole story of humanity.

We are better together; truly radical, unbridled curiosity which leads to a humility that is both honorable and transformative. My Agency is successful only to the degree that I actively help others become more of who they are.

The daily mantra here is to breathe in curiosity, exhale a question.

For many years, I’ve been fascinated by this journey into creativity and now, my small business, with all of its peaks, valleys, plateaus, sunshine, and darkest shadows. The one thing that continues to surface time and time again is this integrated complexity: the leaning in and the gazing out.

Thomas Oppong observed, "Successful people tend to find patterns in places people ignore. They can be wildly creative or innovative yet highly organized with intense attention to detail and precision."

This was notably, poetically present in our trip to the Grand Canyon a couple years ago, where one is reminded of perspective and time, and how those both push the boundaries of our world.

It's amazing to consider the parallels of our own journey, of our own dreams, businesses, health, relationships, and more.

In the words of Leonardo DaVinci, "Everything connects."

Photography by

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2.11

Several years ago, I was in the store shopping for a gift to give to one of my best friends –a mentor to me, a father of five–he was my age, we liked similar things, and we had known each other for more than ten years at that point. …

My WFH Art Studio-Turned-Office

Read This Before Going Solo

I currently run my own Independent Creative Agency focusing on ideation, art, and design. I’ve been full time for a few years, now. As with most freelance-turned-sole-prop folks, the journey has been lonely, incredible, difficult, and exhilarating.

Over the course of nearly twenty years balancing freelance with both FT and PT employment, I’ve made a lot of notes about lessons learned. I’ve also eaten a lot of donuts, but that’s not the point.

These are the three most common, real, stark, and long-lasting challenges you should be aware of before jumping into the hardest work of your life.

At the…

Justin Heap

Creative Agency Founder writing on ideation, art, and design. Photographer at

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