5 With: Wendy Ruyle

March 4, 2014



I like to think of this 5 With series as a creative rolodex of sorts (remember those?)-- a series of contacts for finding a new collaborator, a designer, or seeing art outside of your usual comfort zone. I first discovered Wendy Ruyle of 5 by 5 Design via her business blog. The blog combines Wendy and her business partner's writing with a group of guests (read this!), and shares a great balance of practical and inspirational advice. Wendy is co-founder of the Minnesota Do-Gooders Club, which provides a forum for non-profit professionals to discuss their industry. They're holding a Content Conference for non-profit marketers on May 15-- find out more here

Tell us about your creative projects-- what do you make or do?
I'm a graphic designer, so I make things (like logos, brochures, and websites) that help communicate other people's visions—products they sell, services they offer, or in the case of nonprofits, the common good they provide.

What are the challenges (as you see them) of making a life doing what you love?
The hardest part about being self-employed is taking a vacation. That's not limited to creative people, but it's what I find hard to do. A flexible schedule is easy—getting your hair cut in the middle of the day or taking Friday afternoon off is a snap. Leaving for two weeks, next to impossible. There's just no one to do your work while you are away. It is essential, though. You have to recharge to keep your work fresh.

What advice do you have with regards to making a living and finding satisfaction as a creative person
I think finding satisfaction in the everyday successes is key. I don't consider myself an artist so I don't focus too much on whether my vision is being realized, rather that the project I'm working on is successful in some way—because of me or the team I'm working with. A genuine thank you from a client or seeing an organization flourish is more reward than any award I could win. 

As far as making a living goes, all creative people need to remember that just because they enjoy their work doesn't mean they shouldn't be paid for it. The more we each stand up for ourselves and demand our full value, the more we will all succeed.

What do you most enjoy about your work?
The thing I love most about my work is that I get to learn about so many other people's life work. I have to immerse myself in what they do in order to create a visual representation of it. It's really energizing to be in a position to ask any question of individuals in all walks of life.

How do you make it happen (energetically & practically)?
I have an amazing business partner and we keep each other accountable for all aspects of the business. We have complimentary skills that allow each of us to focus on what we do best, but keep the pulse of the other person's responsibilities. We've built a network over the years that allows us to get most of our work via word-of-mouth. (And, we work really hard and make lots of lists.)


[You can read additional interviews here.]

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