Do something! Weekly, almost daily, I hear from someone who says “I’ve always wanted to” or “someday I’ll”- and every time I respond with “Why aren’t you doing that?” Most people don’t realize if they take one step in that direction, then they are actually doing what they want. ~ Dallas Shaw
It seems like fashion illustrator, Dallas Shaw is someone who has always known what she wants. At only ten years old, an age when most kids are still figuring out how to use their limbs correctly, Dallas’s knack for illustration had her knocking on Disney’s doors and asking for a job. “I wrote a letter to the head animator, Mark Henn, and asked him for a job,” Shaw explains. “He wrote back and said he couldn’t hire me but that he would help me if I really wanted to do this.” By the time Dallas had graduated from University, she landed what she thought was her dream job at Disney Studios. Only, something wasn’t quite right. As the months dragged on she found herself day-dreaming about fashion at her desk. Those day-dreams eventually turned into ambitions, and the young illustrator left her dream job for a shot in the fashion industry. Now, just a few years later, Dallas’s company has contracts with the likes of Chanel, Estee Lauder, Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan. Needless to say, she’s made it. Was there ever really any doubt that she would?
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LW: How would you describe what you do?
DS: I am an illustrator and project designer for many different clients within the fashion industry. My brand is extremely personal and we focus on hard work and personal style. Aside from a full time job, I share my own style and inspiration across our websites.
LW: Describe a typical work day.
DS: After waking up at 5:30 a.m., I run in heels until 11:30 p.m. or until my eyelids simply can’t stay open to look at visual concepts a single second longer. I draw, I sit in on branding meetings, I weigh in on color charts, I host events and I share everything online as I go.
LW: How did you realize that this is what you wanted to do in your life?
DS: I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I was inspired more and more by the fashion industry as I grew up, and decided that was what I wanted to surround myself with daily. Fashion illustration was the natural choice since I was always sketching shoes and clothes. And now, I am surrounded by beautiful things every day. I spend my time in showrooms, in design houses, beautiful hotels, restaurants…All of that is directly reflected in my work. My surroundings is what inspire me – I’ll never be jaded by the things I get to see in this industry.
LW: Do you think you changed a lot in order to get to this point in your career?
DS: I changed my entire life when I decided to start my own business. Left my job, moved closer to NYC, built a website. I was drawing for Disney at the time and I had no “in” as far as fashion so I had to start from scratch. It was a leap of faith. Leaving my secure job to begin my own business was risky. You never quite know if you’ll be able to make enough money when you start. Bye bye steady pay checks! I think I have faced and overcome many fears and anxieties about the creative realm, but starting out I was always fearful that I wouldn’t be able to make enough to do it full time because that was my goal. I didn’t want a hobby out of my talent I wanted a career.
LW: How do you believe your works inspires others?
DS: I simply want to share what I’m doing, what I’m seeing, what I’m buying and inspire others to live beautifully. By sharing my personal POV maybe it will spark some drive in someone else.
LW: What part of your work do you most enjoy doing?
DS: That changes for me often but right now it’s creative concepts. I love gathering visuals and helping companies find their own personal style when branding. I’ve also been traveling to some really amazing places recently for projects so I’ve been really enjoying that.
LW: What part of your work do you hate?
DS: PAPERWORK. Paperwork and bookkeeping are not my strong suits. This job is also untraditional and keeps me traveling often – I have very little time with my husband, friends and family so I value any time I get with them. Also, time management is difficult when you work for yourself. I know many artists that have a hard time meetings deadlines, but for me it’s the opposite. I have a hard time turning off.
LW: What major lessons have you learned since owning your own business?
DS: Know your own worth and be 100% confident when talking about your numbers. Others will try to talk you down and you’ll need to remain firm to grow. Also, sharing all of my work through Instagram, blogs, and on Twitter in real time has been such an amazing way to connect with an audience. I have gotten some of my biggest jobs on Twitter. Who knew you could do that in 140 characters or less?
LW: What advice do you have for those looking to be their own boss?
Do something. Weekly, almost daily, I hear from someone who says “I’ve always wanted to” or “someday I’ll”- and every time I respond with “Why aren’t you doing that?” Most people don’t realize if they take one step in that direction, then they are actually doing what they want. Try something and don’t make excuses for what’s holding you back.
LW: Would you say that the creative life lonely?
DS: I actually look forward to those times when I can sit and paint or draw. So much of my job is about being public, being social, that I look forward to the solo time.
LW: What is your dream project?
DS: I just signed on the dotted line for my dream project this week! I’m going to have my own book!!!!!
LW: Wooo! Congratulations Dallas, let us know as soon as it’s on book shelves!