So, I have this membership group called Lift As You Climb Corps. It’s a paid membership for creative entrepreneurs who want to be surrounded by collaborative, innovative peers and influencers. In this group, I periodically bring in experts for Q&A sessions with the members on relevant topics that can sometimes go to the “dark places” where our fear, vulnerability, and courage can hide or be nurtured for better or worse.
In #SoulfulSeptember, the Lift Corps’ book club selection was THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTION by Brene Brown. If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s incredible. It digs deep into shame, vulnerability, courage, connection, creativity, and more. It took me to places I didn’t want to face, and it lifted my faith and spirit in unexpected ways. Sharing this read with the group, we had deep discussions that enhanced the concepts and content.
To supplement the book, I asked Regina Wamba, award-winning book cover designer and photographer, to come for a Q&A in the group. You might be thinking, “How does it make sense to bring in a visual branding expert to talk about imperfection, and soulfulness?” For me, I knew Regina would be the right person to bring in. She has gone from book cover designer to cover model photographer to world traveler to teacher to publisher to serial entrepreneur. You have to face doubts, failure, vulnerability, judgment, and risk it all to create the life of your dreams. Regina does that every day, and she shares her knowledge with the community generously. The questions and the answers were so authentic and inspiring, that I knew we should share them with you.
If you are interested in finding out more about risk, authenticity, valuing yourself, ways to expand, and more, then read on.
Q (Victoria Faye): What’s your process for fueling creative originality?
For me It’s easy to be inspired by something and have to work hard at not making a too similar piece.
I love seeing Regina’s work and knowing it’s hers versus when someone has tried to emulate her composition style.
A (Regina Wamba): Inspiration comes from a lot of places. I often use meditation, baths, & showers to take time to analyze my ideas and to be inspired (I have a waterproof notepad). However, where it comes from? It comes from nature, movies, music, artwork, photography, and my own churning brain.
The way to stay away from having your work too similar is literally let it inspire you, but don’t let it leave an impression so strong that it leaves your with work too close to another’s.
This world is incredible. Full of so much inspired thought that taking a minute to see (hear, smell, taste, etc) something and let your mind wander. Let it see its own vision. Just as you do when reading a book, let your mind make its own version of the work. Combine multiple pieces of inspiration… let music inspire the direction (or whatever element keeps you motivated).
Q (Janet Wallace): This month we are reading “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, and at its core is that vulnerability is the key to living a wholehearted life. So, I ask you, what makes you feel vulnerable? You are so accomplished, and from the outside it looks like you have it completely going on. But, as a soul sister, I know you struggle with some of the same crap the rest of us do, so would you share what you still struggle with from time to time that can trip you up — creatively, spiritually, professionally — and how you power through the obstacles?
A (Regina): Not taking enough time for myself and family can leave me overwhelmed and stressed, which in turn leaves my brain in a creative funk. I still struggle with balance, weight, health, and stress. It’s part of entrepreneurship, but putting things in place to help you ease stress, take back a bit of your time, and working when you’re inspired… is a huge part of feeling like i’m making an impact.
Vulnerability comes EVERY DAY when I post something. When I share my work. You can get in your own mind some times and it leaves you second guessing your work…. try not to do that. Remind yourself you’re human, you’re making progress, you have people who DO look up to you and you should SHARE and Practice and DO, because someone ALWAYS needs your ideas, product, words, imagery, etc.
Q (Maria Rosera): When you first got started, what did you do to spread the word about being open for business and getting new clients? What methods did you use to grow early on?
A (Regina): Honestly, this was all client help. They shared my work with others, and others came. Referrals have always been my source of new business.
Q (Janet): Authenticity is a buzzword that is thrown about like confetti at a wedding. What does it really mean, and how do you help clients express their authenticity visually?
A (Regina): For me this is being humble AND confident. Authentic to me means relating & connecting.
I help many people find their visual connection. In such a virtual world, we need something to feel connected to. When I create images that inspire? It’s a connection. When I do headshots? People can say, “Oh wow! That’s her/him! I love them!” It’s also a connection. When I create art, and it helps others get pulled to a story? It’s a connection.
Authenticity just means being confident, humble, kind and connected (to me).
Q (Maria): You recently began teaching others your methods, and I’ve loved seeing what your students are creating. What made you decide to share your knowledge, and how did you know it was time to expand into that arena?
A (Regina): I made the decision because many had asked for it, AND I kept getting little nudges from the universe telling me it was time to step up and be a teacher/leader. I’ve always loved helping others, and since I love blending photos into design.. It seemed like the perfect thing to do.
Plus, there’s no way myself alone can produce enough book covers for the market, so why not teach others the fundamentals of what I know? Good design goes a long way, and it helps everyone if the art does the job right.
Q (Janet): I’d like to ask about worth and valuing yourself. I think we all have this tendency, especially when approached by an idol or someone we really really admire, to want to give away the farm. How do you approach charging and negotiations for services? Is there a time when bartering or pro bono work is the right choice? or should you always be putting price tags on it? How do you know when to stick to your guns and when to weigh the benefits of an exchange?
A (Regina): I feel like there is ALWAYS opportunities when the barter works for both parties. However, if the other party plans to make money, while you work for free, never seemed right to me. So I assess each opportunity with: What kind of exposure does this offer? If I take the exposure, can I handle the influx of work? How does this help the other side? How does this help people/target?
I usually charge when: A. my gut says that this is someone trying to take advantage. B. the other party will be making money off my work/talents with no real benefit to me C. If it’s something i’m inspired or impacted by.
Q (Maria): Jumping off of Janet’s worth and valuing yourself comment, how have you handled the raising of prices for services be it custom covers or pre-mades as you and your skill set have grown?
A (Regina): I raise or adjust my packages EVERY YEAR because, no matter what, I’ve grown. I’ve added knowledge. I’ve paid for courses & equipment… I’ve invested. And I take that into consideration along with where my work stands among what I admire.
Q (Janet): How do you get clients to make bold choices and take a chance not on you, but on the process, on themselves ultimately?
A (Regina): By asking them WHY. Why not make a loud splash? Why not? Most people are afraid to be seen, so I ask them WHY? What will happen if you become brighter? Will you die? Will you spontaneously combust? … Probably not.
Live boldly. Take inspired action… do something different!
Janet: Yes, authors seem to have a hard time being visible themselves. getting them to live into who they want to be — being visible above and beyond doing what everyone else is doing — cons, signings, etc, is something I strive to help facilitate, and I know you do, too.
Mindy Ruiz: You two amazing ladies are giant forces in the universe when you start asking your WHY?
Q (Mindy): It seems like everything you touch is solid gold! I’m wondering if there was ever some adventure that didn’t work quite like you envisioned, and how did you mentally recover from that stumble?
A (Regina): Oh gosh. So many stumbles. So many. LOL
Honestly, I give myself a couple days (because I’m emotionally invested in everything I do, and I HATE disappointments or conflict), and work through the emotions. I have to remind myself to let go, and move on. Finding someone you can always talk to or lean on is so helpful… especially if they understand our work/industry.
I remind myself that just because this door closed, doesn’t mean that 12 other doors didn’t open. (This) allows the glimmer of hope to peek through, and then excitement washes over in anticipation for something NEW and possibly BIGGER!
Q (Janet): When you personally get creatively restless, when you’re ready to uplevel, what’s your process for knowing when and how to expand?
A (Regina): When the little nudges from the universe don’t shut up. LOL. I know it’s time to move up and put my inspired thoughts into action. I find the right people to help me and I MOVE up. I take action, and slowly but surely things move forward.
Janet: FINDING the right people. This. So much this. Do you come up with the idea then go find the people or does the Universe usually provide when you make the decision to act? Finding the right people can be hard. I have found rock stars, and I’ve unfortunately worked with a few that didn’t work out. When I find people I love, though, I will literally try and find ways to keep working with them (cough cough). What about you?
Regina: LOL. It’s the same! When I find the right people I like them on my side FOREVER. You build trust and you always create magic TOGETHER. And building something strong always happens with more than one person.
Honestly, Universe and my own action. I think they’re specifically linked. I have had random occurrences, but mostly when I have an idea, I make a post, share or ask… somehow I get the delivery.
Don’t be afraid to ask! Thats a HUGE mistake.
Q (Mindy): What does your normal work day look like, and what tricks have you found for balancing mom and business owner?
A (Regina): Honestly, some days are better than others. School year is different than summers. I try to wake up, have coffee and convo with hubs, meditate/inspired shower time (waterproof notepads) then get to work. If I feel super tired one day, I know I’ll waste my day doing nothing, so I go be productive elsewhere, like cleaning house, groceries or lunch with friends/creatives.
Janet: Amazon aff link (’cause you know you want some now): http://amzn.to/2yIawCq
Q (Janet): How do you handle it when readers or a client bad mouths your work? Not that i’ve ever heard anyone ever do this to you, but it has to have happened at least once, right?
A (Regina): Honestly, this hasn’t happened much. AND if it has, I’m unaware. I honestly don’t try to seek out drama, and prefer my igloo of positivity. If someone has something bad to say, they get blocked, and I move on.
Q (Mindy): Along the lines of what would you tell your teenage self, what advice would you give your just starting this business journey self?
A (Regina): KEEP LEARNING. Don’t get too comfortable! Life has a way to remind you keep moving. Keep learning, and pushing you along. By that I mean we get complacent. Don’t get so comfortable you forget you vision.
Q (Janet): How do you stay inspired or how to you create something original when, for instance, every romance book has a half-dressed man and/or woman on it. How in the hell do you make something original? Is it imperative that they stay on genre branding in the current market? I know you have to make it sellable, but how do you make it original?
A (Regina): I think this is the part of collaboration with the author. What makes YOUR book special? What QUIRKS did you give your character? How are YOU different? I try to pull THOSE details out so I can create something original for them.
Janet: Thank you taking the time to share with us today. This has been fantastic.
Regina: My pleasure. OMG, I love this group!
Regina graduated in 2006 from Brown College with a Degree in Visual Communications (Graphic Design). In 2010, she joined a forum and started doing fan art, using her design to make art from the books she read. While there, she met authors, and the idea of covers and self-published work snowballed into what she’s built today, which is a growing empire that includes publishing, a line of creative writing journals for authors, and a subscription box set with creativity tools for writers.
Clients have included: Amazon, Atria Books, Random House, Penguin Books, Skyscape, Montlake Romance, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jessica Sorensen, Gail McHugh, Cambria Hebert, Leslie Dover, Lexi Blake, Micalea Smeltzer, Amy A. Bartol, and hundreds more.
“Hey! I’m Regina (Gina for short). Forever a lover of love, books, optimism, fairytales and discovering the world! I will always be “the glass is half full” type, living life to the fullest and constantly playing in this beautiful universe.
My passion lies in the art of creating visual emotional of stories through the lens. I take an intuitive approach to my design and photography. Being able to read people & their stories to create a visual for themselves or brand is a “talent” of mine.
I am now a living a dream meeting the most most wonderful people from around the world and creating along the way.
‘Live Beautifully, Love Completely.'”