ImagiNation with Lacy M. Freeman

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Occupation: Painter and illustrator, Lacy M. Freeman(Formerly LMF illustrations, I switched over to my real name in 2017. It felt like I took off some imaginary mask and finally accepted myself as an artist and entrepreneur. You can still find the title LMF illustrations in some places, even on my own instagram bio, but I really only use my name now!)

Favorite Productivity Tool: Mailchimp! I am such a big fan. It’s connected to my online store, so I’m able to send marketing emails, automated messages (like abandoned cart emails!) or notify my clients when my commissions are open, all while saving so much time. I even have fun using Mailchimp! 

Most Recommended App: For creatives and small business owner/ operators, I suggest using the Over app. You can edit your own photos, use stock photos, and add pre-made graphics to create visuals. And they have a great selection of text fonts that other apps just don't have. It's my favorite! 

Last Thing You Read: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. This isn't all that exciting, but it does tell you a little about where I am in my personal life! 

Tell us about your journey? My journey didn't  start very creatively! I worked in the legal industry for eight years, received my cosmetology license, owned a furniture restoration side business, and eventually quit all of these to pursue my longest passion: painting! My husband and I moved to Atlanta in 2014, at which time I started LMF illustrations and began painting the whimsical animal portraits that have turned my passion into a successful career. Creatively speaking, it took some time and practice before my signature style really took shape. I experimented a lot and noticed that while my animal paintings grabbed the most attention and made the most sales, those were also the ones I enjoyed creating the most! So I started down the path of creating animal portraits. Now, every animal has a name and a story! 

What what's your favorite part of your day? Painting is my absolute favorite thing to do and I'm so happy that it takes up a majority of my day! Outside of painting, I spend some time turning my paintings into graphics and apply those images to different products, such as prints, postcards, bookmarks and stickers, or into social media and marketing images, and I find this work to also be very satisfying. 

When do you feel most successful? I feel most successful when I make something happen. Most recently, that's landing a licensing deal with a design store. Other times, it's contracting enough commission orders to book my schedule out for a couple months in advance, or creating a large online sale and almost completely selling out in an hour! All of these things take a lot of work behind the scenes, and are the things that make me feel most proud. 

What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?  I tend to tense up when painting for hours on end, so I like to go outside and play with my pups for a few minutes! I also love bird watching - it always helps me unwind and relax. 

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? When I first started LMF illustrations in 2014, I didn't have the experience to ask the right questions or feel confident enough to ask for the things I needed, such as certain conditions in a contract. Now I can comfortably navigate my way through many types of deals, agreements, and contracts and know that I'm either getting what I need from the deal or it isn't happening. Either way, that feels very empowering! 

How do you optimize your day? I plan out my days in advance. I schedule my days in blocks and batch tasks together. I like planning creative days, administrative days, delivery and errand days, etc. It's hard to cut off the creative side of the brain to focus on administrative work and vice versa. I tend to schedule my time one month in advance and revisit my calendar on a weekly basis. It's pretty old school, but I map out my week on a big sheet of Kraft paper and tape it up! 

Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? Mostly my husband, Chris! He sacrificed a lot in the beginning so I could do what I love and be a happier person. He supports me, motivates me to work harder, invests his own time and money into my business, and is a great problem solver. Also, some of my clients are hugely responsible for my success! They purchase my work regularly, share my work with others, and provide opportunities that I never even knew were possible. I'm so grateful to them. 

What does imagining more mean to you and your story? Imagine More. It means taking risks and trusting in yourself, even if you can't envision what your dreams fully encompass just yet. It means thinking ahead and seeing more for yourself, more joy, more love, and for me, this means more painting! 

If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? Put down the paintbrush and go outside! I can't wait for spring to come so I can spend more of my day outdoors.