Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna Bullock.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve always been creative since I was a kid. No lie, my first memory was finger painting with my mom on the back porch of my childhood home when I was four. Creating has felt a lot like breathing to me: live-giving, essential and if I stop I might just keel over.
When you’re a kid, adults like asking you questions like: “What do you want to be when you grow up? What’s your favorite subject in school?” My answer was always art and I’d get the same incredulous look every time. Being an artist was a dream for a kid, right? Fast forward to college at Belmont University in Nashville where my “extracurricular” became a validated career option. I found my people.
Although I started out as a Studio Art Major, I transitioned to Graphic Design my sophomore year knowing nothing about the field, and fell in love with it. I fell in love with the storytelling abilities that the visual world holds. How you can translate feelings, information, and heart in only a few seconds. Maybe that’s why I loved art history so much too — because of the stories, art holds about the creator, the subject, and the time it was created in.
After my first branding class, I was a goner. Hook. Line. Sinker. It was the perfect cross-section of my love for people (creatives particularly), following my passions and creativity and using my gifts to practically help people pursue their dreams.
Upon graduation, I started working at a marketing agency as a junior graphic designer. I thought the agency job was the only way to get to my dream job. After two years of doing the same type of work in an environment that stifled my creativity, I started to rethink things.
Covid-19 changed a lot of things for a lot of people, and it definitely did for me. During forced quarantine, I had a lot of time working from home to think about my future and actually ask myself what I wanted to do. Starting a business was never in my plan. I’m not a business-brained person and I had convinced myself that it was totally out of the question.
But not for too much longer. In July of 2020, I read a book called Limitless by Jim Kwik and in one of the chapters, he shares that we all have limiting beliefs that we have told ourselves that are untested but we believe to be true. Me being incapable of running a business was one of mine.
I remember thinking: “What the heck, why not at least try.” That week out of the blue I got an email from a past client of mine who had commissioned some drawings informing me that she and her fiance were starting a business and wanted to know if I’d create their logo.
Later that week, I pitched more than just a logo to them both, asking them to hire me for a full branding suite. My heart hadn’t pounded so hard waiting for them to say no, but they immediately loved the idea and signed on immediately.
The branding and photography business kind of took off from there — but not without a LOT of hard work, trial and error, late hours, and caffeine.
In June of 2021, I quit my agency job and started to pursue my dream of being both a creative director and owning my own creative business (Anna Katherine Creative) which has allowed me more creative freedom, energy, and connections than I’ve ever had.
I love my job because the work itself doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like I’m finally running in the direction I’ve been drawn towards my whole life.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Definitely not totally smooth sailing. When I started my business, no one is there to tell me how to do things, when to do them or what not to do. I went in as a rookie. Everything I’ve learned from taxes to client scheduling to processes to writing contracts to price I’ve learned or looked up.
Imposter syndrome hits hard when you’re sitting in front of google at 12 am typing “How to make my business legal” into the search bar. I had never known anyone in my position so everything was uncharted territory. Finding a community on social media honestly became the biggest help.
When you’re able to find a group of people who are in the same boat and open enough to ask questions and also provide helpful info, you’ve hit the jackpot. I also learned the hard way that I’m TERRIBLE at asking for help. I’ve had to do that quite a few times and it definitely gets easier over time. Google is my BFF though.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Anna Katherine Creative is primarily a branding and photography studio, but I also do illustrations and fine art.
With photography, I typically take a more editorial approach visually romanticizing the hell out of whatever I’m photographing. My goal with my photography work is to capture photos that feel and tell their own stories. I’d rather my photos look like epic movie stills over hallmark ads any day of the week.
When it comes to my branding work, over the past few years I’ve niched down my branding to primarily working with creatives. Now, why branding for creatives specifically?
1. They make the world a better place, duh. 2. There is always room for more. 3. Their dreams and ambitions are just as important as anyone else’s and deserve to be celebrated loudly. 4. Branding gets you seen and creatives deserve a brand designer that gets it. Nobody puts a baby in a corner— or a creative.
Evolution and adaptability are key aspects of being creative that make us different than any other type of business. Your ability to evolve should NEVER be hindered by brand design. The biggest difference is in the strategy that I’ve workshopped and honed with every single client to juice out their dreams, fears, vision, goals, and so so much more about what makes their business unique and magnetic.
Creative-driven brands require a strong framework based on the individual & their core values rather than a single product or service. As their work evolves, they need a brand that will grow with them so they won’t have to fork out money every time they want to try something different. I noticed this gap when looking for a brand designer myself a few years ago and discovered I could actually fill it!
Something I also do differently from many brand designers is that I don’t have fixed pricing and packages. A creative business is a one in a million so I believe their branding and the process should reflect that. With new inquiries, I always set up a free discovery call.
It’s kinda like a first date but WAY less awkward. During the discovery call, I want to hear about their goals, their vision, and how I can best make that happen. This gives me the opportunity to listen to what makes them nervous, note what gets them excited and make sure we’re going to be the perfect fit.
The better I understand a potential client, their story + their business, the better I can serve them and create branding that will not only resonate with my client but also accurately translate everything that makes their business incredible into a magnetic visual language.
Although every branding package is unique to each client, I always include a deep brand strategy before any design happens. My goal is to get as much in my client’s minds and hearts as possible so that I can create work that aligns with them and represents their business authentically and accurately. Brands that are informed by the deepest roots of their business naturally align with their vision and help them attract their dream audience.
I consistently work globally with artists, musicians, performers, makers, entertainers, photographers, designers, fashion designers, private chefs, interior designers & creatives in any field that requires the flexibility to evolve.
Clients quickly become friends and I love what I do that my success also means that fellow creatives are able to lean into their own unique flavor and deliver to their audience with confidence.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
To anyone thinking about starting a business: For the love of all that is good, please go for it! You are one in a million. Here’s the truth… if you have an itch towards pursuing something you’re passionate about and you don’t listen to it, you’re doing the world a disservice.
Starting a business is something not very many people will ever have the guts to do. So you’re already one step ahead. Secondly, find a support system to lean into and remember you’re not alone no matter how often it might feel like it.
You’ve always got someone in your corner cheering you on — you’ve at least got me. If no one’s told you yet today, I’m proud of you. I’m always so excited to connect with new entrepreneurs creative or not so don’t be a stranger. I can’t wait to cheer you on and support you however I can with advice, creative services, or just good vibes.
If I could go back and tell pre-entrepreneur Anna anything it would be this: It’s going to be scary, no doubt. But it’s better to do things scared than not at all. Also, don’t mess around with boring business books. If you’re not a “business person” find business courses online from people in your field and it will make so much more sense.
- Website: annakatherinecreative.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annakatherine.creative/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annakatherinecreative