How to “make it” as an illustrator with Shawna Clingerman

I’m so excited to introduce you to Shawna Clingerman, who is such an inspiration to me!

I met Shawna through my Moodboard class, where she made some incredible work, and I have fallen in love with her spirit, her authentic, and her amazing talent.

She is an artist and illustrator doing work for some of the biggest scrapbooking companies like Becky Higgins, Project Life, and American Crafts, Photo Play, and some stamp companies. Through Illustrated Faith, she has a regular recurring printable set that comes out every month on their site.

Her success didn’t just land in her lap.

Shawna got her start selling digital scrapbooking supplies for people who scrapbooked in Photoshop or on their computer. She began drawing, with just a Sharpie at first, doing little swirls and doodles. Then her husband got her a Wacom tablet, and her ideas grew! She worked on her craft at nights so she could take care of her kids but she didn’t have a big vision for where things were going.

She saw her art as a part-time hobby and a way to keep her sanity while raising 4 young boys.

As a child, she loved scrapbooking, cutting out vegetables from circulars and making little arrangements. As Shawna told me, “I didn’t know that I was going to be an artist. I did those things for fun and I drew things for my friends and I took a sign making class in high school for leadership but the idea of being an artist, it didn’t seem like something I could do…” In her mind, you had to pick a “serious job” to pay the bills.

When her kids got older and started school, she found more time to herself. But, like most artists (and moms with older kids), she started feeling unsettled. She wasn’t making as much as she could be working a typical 9-5 job, and wondered where this was going.

The hobby artist mentality.

She would spend all week working on a project, and make only $100. That is when the thoughts of self-doubt starting creeping in. Her internal voice started telling her there were lots of competition. That it was an oversaturated market.

As many creatives do, she faced the challenge of believing that she was worthy of more.

“I worked harder and harder and I still stayed at that plateau level because there were some serious internal things that I was telling myself that would have held me back until the end of time. It wasn’t about my talent or how much people liked me or wanted my stuff. It was about how much I believed in my stuff and how much I put out there into the universe with the kind of language I used and the kind of attitude I had.”

As Shawna told me, “That was kind of when there was a bit of a shift for me mentally because I realized that I wanted to feel some real purpose and I didn’t want that purpose to be homemaking.”

So what changed?

How to "make it" as an illustrator with Shawna Clingerman | Libby Co.

Picking a word of the year and starting to ask, ‘Why not me?’ changed everything.

She picked the word ‘Begin’. This simple word helped her change her whole lifestyle. She realized that she couldn’t keep waiting for the time to be right to have the life that she really wanted. She went back to school and got a part-time job, and she started doing watercolor, and journaling and took online classes to learn even more.

In her second year, she picked the word ‘Bloom’. She wanted to keep pouring into all of the new talents she had discovered, like watercoloring and hand lettering. Shawna says of art, “If you keep putting yourself into something, you always reap rewards of growing and getting stronger and getting more proficient.”

“I started to evolve to that place where when I shared something, I didn’t apologize for it.”

Her year of Bloom reaped so many rewards, including the amazing gift of Illustrated Faith approaching her to start selling in their shop.

How to "make it" as an illustrator with Shawna Clingerman | Libby Co.

Her next word was ‘Embrace’. This was the year she started saying she was an artist. No more excuses, she was ready to embrace her job, and her skills. She finally took the plunge to leave her job, and make her art her career.

‘Fearless’ was the word for 2018. She picked it because it was an intense word, and she was pretty terrified. For the first time in her business, she invested in her success. She went to conferences. She hired her sister to work for her part-time. She took chances she never had before.

She started owning her dreams and watching them unfold.

“I was so tired of making all these decisions based on fear. Choosing my language based on fear, choosing what I’m going to work on based on fear, choosing who I’m going to approach based on fear. All of that. Choosing even the way that we look at other people and make judgments. All of that I realized just comes so much back to fear.”

She’s now asking big questions that would have never felt real in the past. Things like, ‘How can I make money from this for a LONG time?’ and ‘How can I bring my husband home so that he can start a business?’

Her word this year? ‘Chosen’. For Shawna, 2019 is about looking at all of the things she has learned, and how powerful it has been for her. She now knows what she was chosen to do. In addition to her artwork, she is now launching an 8-week workshop to help aspiring artists break out of their comfort zones and go after their dreams. And it’s all structured around the four words that helped her emerge as a successful artist and illustrator.

I love this interview so much because Shawna shows us that anything is possible! You absolutely CAN make your dreams come true and feel blessed everyday doing it.

I want to leave you with these wise words…

“Don’t live in the fear of being an artist. Too often, we are worried people will find out we are artists, and will think we are fake, or not enough. Remember that being an artist is not a contest. Do not worry about what other people will think when you tell them your passion.”

How to "make it" as an illustrator

Thank you Shawna for spending time with us. Your courage, authenticity and grace is not only inspiring, but contagious which is why I believe it’s so important for aspiring creatives to surround themselves with people just like you.

Speaking of surrounding yourself with Shawna, you can find more of her at…
Her Instagram
Her Pinterest
Her Facebook