Whenever I would need to create a new design or piece of art, I would go where I think a lot of people go, I would go to inspiration websites, blogs, Pinterest and look at other people's design and illustration work. And the work that I would end up making would be sort of a mash up of what I had just seen. Anytime that I am starting to design something from the beginning, I look at my inspiration. And this can only happen for me because I work more as an artist now and less of a problem solving designer. So whenever you're solving problems for clients, you have to do a lot of research. And there's more informed decisions that you make have to make stylistically and put your own personal style aside in order to make those decisions to solve those problems. However, I get hired more like an artist people hire me for my style. And so looking inward at my personality, what makes me who I am what makes me unique and amazing, and what has molded me into the person that I am today. What are all my lifelong points of inspiration and influences that have made me who I am. I look at those things. And then I remember how I can translate me and what has made me who I am into a style.
Hey, what's up everyone? Welcome to works in process, the podcasts about uncovering creative methodologies from people doing inspiring work. In each episode, whether I'm talking to a designer, an educator or an entrepreneur, we learn the hows and whys behind what they do. Through experiences and determination. My guests explore the techniques and inspiration that have helped them navigate their creative careers. I'm your host, designer educator George Garrastegui Jr. Join me as I continue to elevate the creative process by shifting the focus to how we work over what we produce. On today's episode, I want to welcome Meg Lewis, mega designer working to make the world a happier place through friendly, personable design and education on ditching nonconformity by celebrating individuality. Meg has created a one of kind career for herself that allows her to utilize every niche personality, trait, interest and skill to create brands, services and offerings that no one else in the world can. Her Meg tastic, bold, friendly, personable clean design style has helped her in a serious world run by serious adults into an intentional playground for happy brands. Meg has worked with over 100 brands to bring her unique, playful style into design centered experiences for their teams or communities. While design is at the heart of everything she does, Meg's work often expands beyond design. It includes writing performance, and educational content creation to create the most unique experience between brands and communities. Meg has also written an interactive book and created a comedy video series called full time you on career fulfillment. And in 2009, she founded Ghostly Ferns a collective of designers and commercial artists, which is still active today. She hosts apart comedy part use mindfulness podcast called sit there and do nothing and was the host of the 2020 season of the overtime design podcast. And Meg is also a member of the CO loop artists roster along with Andy J. Pizza, Simone Wilder, Lauren homme and Lisa Congdon. Currently, Meg works with our small team to maximize creative output and expand the realm of what's possible for brands. How's a lot? Hey, Meg. Welcome to the works in process podcast. Hello. So it
was a lot I know.
I cannot wait to talk to you about Fun House stuff why nonconformity in color plays such a huge role in your individuality. But before we dive in, let's clear your mind. I like to start every episode with a fun icebreaker. Are you ready? Oh, I'm
so ready. Okay,
here's a series of this or that questions? Okay. blue or yellow. Yellow toast or bagel? Bagel type or illustration? Illustration, podcasting, or presenting? Presenting? Sorry, don't be sorry. CMYK or RGB? RGB. There you go. painless, right. And now some quick word associations. Just the first thing you think of when you hear these words. Okay, great. Creativity.
Boobs. Oh, sorry. Oh, it was gonna happen. It was like Don't say boobs, but then
Alliance. Business means failure. Not crackers, community. Reason, education. parachute.
I love this. This is what I
normally do. But
we're already starting off that you're not the normal.
Mistakes, steaks, skills. Good old history Raisinets. Opportunity. Almonds. Accessibility. Hello.
homogenized or unpasteurized or almond or plant based?
Definitely a pasteurized, okay.
Okay, so what a fun way to start this episode? Yeah,
that. I hope everyone's learned something already.
Oh, that's it, the episode is over. Thank you for your time. From that long bio, we heard a lot about what you do. But I kind of want to find a little bit more about your origin story. This kind of gives our listeners a way to hear about how you were introduced art and design. So where did you grow up? And were you creative as a kid?
Yes, I grew up in both Fort Worth, Texas and a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, and was a creative as a kid, I think. So I lived under the shadow a older sibling that was the creative one. I grew up as a less creative person than the other person in my life, which I think allowed me to have a lot more fun. My older sister often won coloring contests, she would win any coloring contests that she entered into. And I was like, she's four years older than me, I'll never be as good as her. So it gave me sort of the opportunity to not care. I was like, I'm just gonna try to not color on the lines, and I'm just gonna have some fun instead. And I think that that helped. I really, as I grew up, I adopted this mindset of wanting to try everything possible. You know, I played every sport did every activity, I learned every instrument I could learn. And I just had a really good time and allowed my older sibling to just be the competitive one and let her when I was not involved.
Okay, so you know, that friendly competition even though you don't really want to, you know, think of it that way. But who, if any, was your biggest supporter of your creative career?
Oh, I am very fortunate enough to have a parent my mother is she's always let me dress myself do whatever I want. She has been my number one supporter and lets me be whoever I wanted to be. And she's just unconditionally there to cheer me on.
Awesome. Awesome. Moms are always great. There to do all
that. Oh, yeah. I got a good one.
What was your first creative job? And how did you stumble into it?
Oh, yeah. So are we talking actual professional career creative or sort of? This is the like ice cream shop that I had when I was in high school. Because
if that was your first creative job, then I would go with ice cream.
I truly think it was there was so much about it that I had to improvise. And so I worked at this in Kansas City. The kind of ice cream that's called custard is really popular. I worked at a custard shop that was called custards last stand, and historical pun name, which is a weird choice. However, I loved it. I started working there when I was 15. The way custard works, it's really sick. And so you have to blend the your toppings into it. So it doesn't come with toppings into it much like a Dairy Queen blizzard. Yes, like a blizzard. It's one of those things that you have to flip upside down before you give it to them to make sure it's thick. It is yeah, I also have a peanut allergy. What happened at that particular job was I had to blend peanut butter Snickers Butterfingers into this custard which normally is fine. However, I had to use sort of an ice cream blender machine. So the ice cream blender machine which sort of just whip the blended stuff around. And so I would get peanut butter sort of splashing into my neck and just anywhere of that skin was exposed. And so while I worked there, I was covered in in blistering pus wounds of hives
that she is.
So I had to manage it was never there. So I had no one to ask, What do I do? Should I maybe quit this job. And so instead I just covered all my skin all the time for a while I was wearing really long evening gloves under my custards last day and T shirt and a turtleneck you know, and so I feel like that was my most creative job I've ever had because I it was actually is significantly harder than my job now because I was actively going through a medical emergency. Yeah, that seems
like a lot harder to deal with when you're going through a PA nut allergy at the same time as whipping and blending ice cream together.
Yeah, being 15. And I, you know, I was very not comfortable with confrontation. So I never brought it up to management or the owners. And one day, all of my co workers said, Meg, you have to leave, you can't work here, it'd be work, please quit this job. And so I was like, I'm too scared to have that conversation with somebody. So I left a note on my manager who has never, there's desk, and I just said, I can't do this anymore. I'm actively passing all over ice cream, I will not be coming back. And never heard from them again.
That's the new way to quit right there.
To get out of anything, just Sam actively oozing all over everything right now.
Currently, I'm having a medical condition that I cannot explain it. But you know, I need to go. And when did you consider yourself a creative?
Ah, that's ongoing. I don't know. I think it definitely didn't feel right for so long, I would say I was well into my 20s. By the time I felt like I really could claim that identity, which is on no one but me. It was, of course, I've been a creative person my whole life, but it just never felt like I belonged. And because I've had such a non traditional route, I didn't really think that I was a creative person, by most people's definition. And so that made me feel a little bit lost. And that's happened for me over my life with many labels. And so it took me finally until other people started calling me that for me to realize that maybe it was okay to call myself that too.
Yeah, sometimes we need that, I guess, self assurance from the outside world to kind of give us that, it's very hard for us to always, like, label ourselves certain things sometimes.
Absolutely. And especially in the creative career path, though one story is the same and no one's journeys the same. So you kind of have in your mind of what a creative person looks like an axe like and what path they took to get to where they are and what their process is like. And hardly any of us actually work like that. So it took me a really long time to realize that my position in my journey is also valid as creative.
Very good point. So I've followed you a while on social and I was lucky enough to chat with you at the AIGA bottom lies business series. And every time I see you, there's an air of confidence, but also color, what has made you go in this direction for your brand. And I really guess what makes you so Meg tastic? Oh,
well, this has also been a journey for me as well, because for so many years of my childhood and adult life, I was wearing all black and was just trying to hide and pass as normal. And it wasn't until I went through a series of steps to try to forcefully figure out what my style was that I realized that absolutely nothing about me is all black. So much of my influences that have made me into the person that I am. So many of the things that I've been historically attracted to my whole life. It's all color, and it's all very specific colors. And as soon as I realized that I thought, oh, shoot, I should be actually translating that into the way that I design things, the way that I dress myself, and every visual aspect of my life. And once I started to inject these colors that were really representative of my personality, my real true self, once I started wearing those, it made me immediately feel so much more confident. And also putting that color into my work, got me more work. And so because all of a sudden, I was doing something in a way that wasn't normal anymore. I was doing something in a way that was unique to me. And that made me much more hireable because I had less competition.
So understanding I guess your own personality and your own ability to see yourself is this bold and colorful person? Honestly, how do you think that translates into the way that you create work?
Yeah, for many years, when I was designing at the beginning of my career, whenever I would need to create a new design or piece of art, I would go where I think a lot of people go, I would go to inspiration websites, blogs, Pinterest and look at other people's design and illustration work. And I would just kind of get inspired by other people. And the work that I would end up making would be sort of a mash up of what I had just seen. And I noticed that no matter what I would make it look like my hand made it so you could kind of tell that it was my work but also just kind of was very reflective of trends and color palettes that people were using. And whatever illustration style was popular at that time. And so as I've learned a little bit more about who I am and what makes me me and have tried to translate that into the way that I work. I no longer ever I never look at other people's work. Anytime that I am starting to design something from the beginning, I look at my inspiration. And this can only happen for me because I work more as an artist now and less of a problem solving designer. So whenever you're solving problems for clients, you have to look at a lot of you have to do a lot of research. And there's more informed decisions that you make have to make stylistically and put your own personal style aside in order to make those decisions to solve those problems. However, I get hired more like an artist people hire me for my style. And so looking inward at my personality, what makes me who I am what makes me unique and amazing, and what has molded me into the person that I am today, what are all my lifelong points of inspiration and influences that have made me who I am, I look at those things. And then I remember how I can translate me and what has made me who I am into a style. So that creates work that is rooted in so much confidence. Now I don't have that feeling anymore, where I'm like, Oh, this isn't too close to the inspiration. Now I find that whenever I make something, I'll often send it around to my friends and say, This looks really familiar to me. Does this look familiar to you? And they're always like, Maggie, just you knock yourself off. Again, it looks like you. It's so you're copying? You're so nice. And yeah, it's so it feels so nice to feel I constantly feel seen by my own work by myself. It's a really personal experience to reach inside of yourself and create something that is so reflective of who you are. And I think that when other people look at it, they can see it too, which I think is so fun. And then that way when people meet me in person, they are like, oh, yeah, your personalities exactly like your work, it makes so much sense.
The work and the person are one of the same.
Yeah, yeah. And it wasn't like that for so long. For so long. My work was really colorful and had a lot of personality. But you'd look at me visually, and I was just so boring looking. So I had to do a lot of work throughout all areas of my life to translate me into a style that was really reflective of everything I was doing. And I was utilizing it holistically, everywhere, which has made everything so much better. I'm so much more confident in who I am now. And I think it also really just helps other people whenever they see me doing my thing to feel more comfortable to do that for themselves, too.
I mean, I guess, you know, when you think about it, right? Sometimes the way you work is one expression of yourself. And then how you look and feel and all that other stuff or another expression of yourself and looks like you're able to, or you're trying to at least merge those things together as like just one entity.
Yes, that like self love that I feel from being able to do that. It's something that majority of humans are not able to do in their lifetime. So it feels so good. And I feel so grateful to have this career where I can be by myself in all avenues. And once I started doing this, it's made it impossible to go back. Now I can't go back, it's too late. If I were to take a full time job, a job or something, it would be way too hard for me to all of a sudden be someone else or curate myself into a business version of me. I mean, we like the word association. I'm too far gone. It's the professionalism is not coming back. So it works well for me. And I'm here now. And it's very confident. And
I love it. Well, that's great. I mean, it is no right way to answer anything, right? It's the way that you're trying to position yourself and make sure that people see you right, if it's one of the same and the way you work and the way you are. I think that's great. I mean, it was just a nice break of pace to be like, Oh, she's just totally just let you know. Because if hey, if those are the first things that come to your head, that's what they
are. Yeah, thank you.
I mean, there's no right. Right. And so I guess, yeah,
I would imagine other guests would probably like, what do I say here in order to make myself appear? respectable? However, I don't care about that. I go, right. I probably would have more work if I did. But that's not for me.
Hey, it's not supposed to be. And that's okay. I guess you know, when I think about what the next question right and thinking about just how you work, and maybe it could even be in you know how you are right instead of just you know, separating the two. But do you create rules and guidelines for the way that you work or the way that you are or you're more freeform,
I would say both are true in some ways. I'm very freeform in the way that I love to change so much. I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow. I don't want to know what I'm doing tomorrow. I wake up have every morning and I asked myself, What do I feel like doing. And that is what I do. I am very fortunate that part of my personality is I'm very self motivated. So having that mindset isn't dangerous for me, because I always get the work done, I need to get done, because I think it's so much fun. And I wanted to do it every day. So some days, I'll wake up, and I'll think I really want to go to the brewery that serves coffee, that then I start drinking the beer at 12. And I want to work from there because I want that kind of energy. And it would be perfect for the thing I have to work on today. Other days, I wake up, and I realized, hey, I don't have a deadline. Today, I do have stuff I need to do. But I feel like going on a boat instead. So I was on a boat. And that freedom of flexibility is really helpful for my brain, I make the best work whenever I'm able to have the freedom to do that. And so within that, though, I do have a lot of rules that help guide my own personal style to make sure that I'm staying on track to make sure that I'm not becoming influenced by trends. So I do have a style guide for myself with all of these rules on it. That helps me to remain true to myself. So I look at that style guide. Before I make anything which it's very open ended. It's telling me rules about color, what colors really are communicative of who I am at my core and all my points of inspiration. Like for me, I'm extremely into clowns in mines, and circuses, and childlike sense of wonder all of those things are very important to me. And so within that I have a color palette that helps me to communicate all of these parts that are very important to me. So that's why you see in my work, it's a lot of circus colors, combined with black and white, because that's the mime in me. So I always make sure that those both of those color palettes are present in everything that I make, because it's helpful, because it communicates what makes me who I am. And what's so important to me and has been important to me my whole life. And within that there's a lot of things that I do with my work that helps to showcase my weird, nonsensical personality, the fact that I'm silly all the time, I like to make sure that that translates into my work. So my style guide is very rule forward. But it's helping me to make sure that I'm remaining true to who I am. Because if I just hop on Pinterest, and I start looking at other people's work, I start falling in love with it. And I really want to make their work too. But then I end up feeling really gross about it afterwards. Because that's their work. That's their personality being translated. And so I just want to live in a world where everybody is doing their own unique thing in a way that only they can. And we're all just sort of coexisting alongside of one another, rather than following trends and adopting the same styles over and over again, changing. Yeah, that
makes a lot of sense. But it's really hard to do. I mean, it's not an easy thing.
It's not an easy thing. And I mean, it's taken me so long to get here to figure out what I need to do to translate me into visual style. But it's also really hard to not look at inspiration images. I try and I don't think this is advice that anyone else should take, but I try my hardest to never look at other people's work, I'll quickly look at it and say, Wow, they're really good at that. I love how they're using color or whatever. But I try not to look too closely, because then I might become inspired by it and use that in my work. And it's sometimes if somebody else's work or a particular trend comes along, and it's new information to me, but it also fits my personal style and my own rules. Sometimes I will adopt those things. And so I have to ask myself, does this fit my personality? Does it help me to communicate who I am? And a lot of the times, the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is yes. So I'll drop that thing. But a lot of the times I fall in love with a Japanese illustrator style that's informed by a lot of things that they grew up with that have nothing to do with my life. And all of a sudden I find myself wanting to use those elements in my work. But it doesn't speak to me and it has nothing to do with who I am. So I tried to stop myself at those moments. And so it gets complicated because I think we're so used to soaking up inspiration as creative people were always looking at things with big, beautiful eyes. And we're excited to look at everything and I've learned that I am just really susceptible to soaking it up too much and becoming too influenced by other people's stories. And so this helps me to not accidentally become somebody else, but rather become more of who I am. And this is all just overcompensating for my personality because I will join any cult immediately. I am just I'm like yeah, sounds fun I'm in and so I have a personality where it's like do not let me inside of any religious organization I will join do not let me in sort of any cult like environment either. I will join that to every clipboard person on the street. I belong to all of their things because it's you know, if I'm when you're somebody who's just slightly persuasive, I'll buy in
and I and I avoid that like the plague. I'm like, No, yeah, across the street.
Yeah. One of them told me one time that people would rather get hit by a car than to talk to them for five seconds. Like, yeah, I don't. I, I know.
Yes. So with all of this, right, and I really hope this guideline is an actual book that you have, like as a PDF in your, on your Dropbox, just like he just refer back to it all the time, like, nope, nope, I'm not doing the way I said that I was gonna do. But it seems like you're obviously breaking and bucking the trend to follow inspiration, in a sense, where, you know, you're really trying to stick true to you, which I think is really difficult, because obviously, we're inspired, like you said, as creative people. So that kind of says that you're either trying to break this. It's not tradition, but this kind of like law of inspiration, but also or unlearn what you've learned to kind of figure out your own thing, right? So are these things that you teach in your video series? Is this something that you break down for people? Or is it just kind of the mag way of doing things,
it's the most important thing that I do to try and figure out how to help everybody figure out this for themselves separately from me. So rather than inspire other people to be me, I don't want that at all. That's the opposite of what I want. I want to try and teach people in an easy to digest way how they can do all of this for themselves. So yes, I have been working over the last couple of years on evergreen videos and classes and downloads and things like that. So that way, people have a step by step process in which they can translate themselves into their own unique style. And it's really, it's very difficult. This is the world's hardest task and trying to find a way to structure this content, in an easy to learn way for that is the same and can apply to every human is very difficult. But I think I figured it out.
So wait, is it more difficult structuring the content, or becoming a new you?
That is different for every person? I think it depends on how comfortable everyone is with self discovery. Some of us are really used to looking inward we journal we're going to therapy, we're always asking ourselves, Why am I feeling this way? Why did I just do that? And other people are not familiar with that process at all. They don't know how to answer any questions about themselves. One of the main questions I always start with is to describe a write a list of your main core personality traits. What makes you who you are? And I would say, most people can't answer that question. I couldn't answer that question when I first started. And so I had to ask the people that knew me the best that I felt like the most comfortable and safe to be my self around, I'd ask them to answer that question for me. And most humans can't answer that question. Because we have so much like dysmorphia about ourselves. And we don't know who we are really and inside of ourselves, we feel very different than we think other people are perceiving us. And it's just so confusing. So that work is the most difficult work for most people. So that's the best place to start is by just figuring out who you actually are, beyond what the world is telling you, you should be. And that is so difficult. Because no matter who you are what you look like, the world is always telling you, you should look act and behave a specific way for whoever a person that looks like you should be like. And so it is so hard to unlearn that to start to think of yourself independently from what the world is telling you, you should be like, and actually make your own decisions and have practice independent thought and practice making your own own choices. It's so difficult. And so that part is the beginning step is figuring out who you are actually, what you're actually good at what you enjoy doing the most. And figuring out how you can actually incorporate more of those things into your daily life and ideally into your career. So that way your job is less sad.
Less said, I mean, I agree that probably that question that you posed, like, you know, describe yourself is probably one of the hardest things that people tend to do. Because I think most designers are a little bit humble in the sense where you know, you're not going to put out these trades, you're usually doing stuff for clients and things so you're kind of sitting in the background, as you said, you kind of are now shifting to a more let's say illustrative kind of style. So it kind of puts you and your style back in the forefront versus the creativity of a client's brand. So definitely, I can see the shift of going from who I am as a background dancer to now being you know, the frontman, you know or person but with this like unique and bold, creative style, which I mean, you look at your work and it's just filled with type and color. How does that style work for clients and brands that you collaborate with?
Yeah, so I think We're in a magical time right now where brands really want to do artists collaborations, thank goodness for me, because for so many years, I was working on the product side and brand strategy side. And clients were hiring me to make large decisions for their brand. And I had to put my own style aside and make them a bunch of different directions with different styles and figure out how we can best solve their problem with design. And now they flee for brand collaborations. Now, because I'm working more as an artist, usually, I'm working with an agency or a brand that has already come up with a solution and my style has to happens to be the best application for that solution. So it's a weird shift from going to being the person that is in meetings with CEOs that everybody's turning to me to say, Meg, what do we do next to now I'm just sort of the hand that they look at that they hire me to apply my style to their solution. It's a very interesting sort of progression, because I'm sort of downgraded and respect. People respect me a lot less, because they're not looking to me to make decisions on coming up with solutions. But this work is so much more fulfilling to me, and I have a lot more fun doing it. And realizing that problem solving just isn't part of my personality, it's not something I enjoy doing. And letting that go. Even though the problem solving designer makes more money is more highly regarded in our industry. I realized that that just wasn't for me, and I wasn't enjoying it as much. So that's why I made the shift moreso into artist,
right, and the designer maybe can go on a boat, and just do their best work.
Right? Exactly. You know, from our previous conversations, that my goal in this life is not to have the most money or the most things, my goal is to survive, which just means being able to have the lifestyle that I want in order to sustain my happiness, and to be able to pay my bills. And is once I reached that point, my goal is to maintain that and focus on thriving, and thriving to me, it's not money and stuff, it's more so just having a good time, in whatever the way that means. So as long as I can do that, and maintain my point of survival, that is my ultimate goal.
I mean, that seems like the ultimate goal for a lot of people. You know, I think you've actually just kind of found out how it all works for you. And people maybe are still figuring it out. Right. So I think get on you for for getting to that point, because I think that's not an easy, it's not an easy task at all.
Yeah, it's a weird thing. I am 34. And I have hit this point in my life, which I don't think has anything to do with age, I think I just happen to be here at this time, where I have the exact life that I want. And I don't want anything else. It's very specific to me my life, I don't have any children, I have a couple of cats, I could take or leave them. They're fine. I'm just the reason why I don't have children is because I am just so anxious about them all the time. So I'm just like, you need to naturally die off so that I can't love something this much anymore. But I have this lifestyle where I just kind of am able to do whatever I want. I follow my intuition every day. Because I'm self motivated, I get the stuff done, and I absolutely need to get done. But I don't work a second longer than that. And instead, I go out and have a lot of fun and do whatever I want. I love to be alone. So I like to take myself out all the time. And it's just the exact lifestyle that I want. And I love maintaining it and it's I someday maybe that will change and I'll start wanting more things. I don't know. But I love where I'm at now. And my goal ultimately is to help other people to figure out what that version is for them, and help them to get there. And to realize that sometimes success doesn't have to be the same definition that these people that generally just have the most money and power have told us that we want for ourselves, I think success should be a different definition for every person.
That's totally true. I think you can't have the same definition for everything because we're all so unique. And what we need and want or want to achieve are so different. So you can put the same label or the same reasoning or even say what is happiness, for me is maybe different than what it is for you. So I definitely think that having that individuality helps a lot. Yeah,
when I was in my late 20s I got a lot of pressure from people in my life to reach certain milestones. By that time. I moved to a smaller city so I could buy a house because I was receiving this pressure from society that I needed to have reached these milestones in order to be successful person. And once I got the house, I was like oh, I don't like this. This is not for me. I understand why it's for other people, but it was not for me. And so in the smaller city wasn't for me. And I had to really ask myself why I made these choices in the first place. Were they choices that I really wanted? Or were they choices that society had sort of put it in my head that I wanted, very complicated, but that practice of independent thinking made me realize that no, that's actually not what I want, I want to continue renting, I love renting, I love my little apartment, I like having less space. And I like renting. And that works really well for me. And it makes me more fulfilled. And so having that moment of independent thought and thinking about no way do I actually agree with the fact that I need to own a home at this point in my life. No, I don't want that. And being able to admit that what I want might be different than what the average person wants. That's really scary. But I'm so glad that I finally figured that out.
I think we're glad to think if we look at the work and we look at what you do and what you produce, I think we're definitely glad that you decided to not really stick to what other people say you have to do at a certain time, interestingly enough, right? So when researching you and even having a conversation, right, there's not really a specific project that we're really going to talk about, it seems like you have this thing called making the world a happier place. With design, it seems more like a way of working a mantra or a mission, right? So is this more of like a business model, or just this idea of complete self discovery,
the business model, the term business model would imply that I am methodical about business, which I am not. So it's not that it's more so part of my personality is that I love making people happy. That's been something about my personality that people have told me as bad about me my whole life. They've told me, I'm a pushover. And then I need to just like, grow up and buy for myself, like be okay with confrontation and stop just making people happy all the time mag. And it took me a long time to realize that that's actually one of the things I love the most about myself, I love making sure that everybody around me is happy all the time. And whether that's through small interactions at the coffee shop, or if it's clients that I'm working with, or if it's the close friends in my life, that's so important to me. And there's a certain personality type of person where your goal is just to like, make people laugh and make them smile. And I love that about myself. And it's something that I am equipped to do very well that a lot of other people aren't. And I think it's really fun to realize what your skill set is, and what the aspects of your personality are, that allow you to do things for the world that most people cannot. And that is one of the things for me. And luckily, I have the skill set as a designer and illustrator and artist, to be able to use that to make the world a happier place to make people happy to make them smile. And I also am a performer by history. And so using performance combined with design, and education, which is really important to me, all of those things combined, allow me to make the world a happier place in a way that's very specific to me. And so that's what I'm here to do is to help people to figure out what that is for them as well. But making the world a happier place through design is just a really easy way for me to figure out if a project a design project is worth it or not for me, because sometimes a client will approach me and they'll say, hey, we need you to design this brochure for a pharmaceutical company. And I'm like, Well, can I make the world happy with this? And sometimes they'll say, yes, sometimes they're like, yeah, actually, that's our goal. We're trying to do that. And other times, they're like, no, no, no, I need to be dry. We need to maintain our respectfulness, you know, we need to be respected by the community. And then I realized, no, that's not for me, because that's not going to make people happy. So it's been kind of this overarching life purpose for me to go out and try to make the world happier with everything that I do. And I always ask myself, when I want to do something new, is it going to make people happy? If the answer is yes, then I'm in.
It also seems like it's kind of works hand in hand with your, your shift from design to illustration. Like it's these things and these limitations that you have as a creative as a designer, right that you have to hit and these goals versus your lesson the room making these strategic decisions, but they're coming to you for your style and the approach it you do stuff which you automatically know, makes people happy. So that you're kind of on the side of I know more of this stuff is going to make people happy, then maybe these design decisions that I make for this brand strategically because there's so many other things that I have to worry about.
Yeah. And I think part of my awakening of separating myself from with independent thought and all of that was realizing that a lot of marketing is just manipulating people. to feel bad about themselves so that they'll buy something. And as a designer, I was my hands were all over that all the time. And I was getting hired to create designs for that system. And once I realized that I just didn't want to be a part of that anymore. I just will make people happy. It was yeah, it was easier for me to transition into that mode mode for sure.
Yeah. And, you know, looking at some of the you have a lot of collaborations and endeavors that you're part of your with CO loop. You have Ghostly Ferns, you have full time you funhouse, right? With all of this, what's it like to be your own boss?
I mean, there's so many things. And beyond what you've listed, there are so many so many other things that I've done. Throughout the years, businesses, I've started, projects that I've made for myself that are now defunct, and it's fun, I love it. I love starting businesses, I love starting new side projects. That's kind of my career is now just a series of side projects, sort of my career, I guess it's a selection from the ala carte menu. And I love it that way, because I do something for a while. And it's really fun for me. And then I find myself having less fun than I was before. So I'm like, Okay, it's time to be done with this one. Let's do the next one. And I think that's terrifying information for most business owners, because most business owners want to run their business forever, and just grow it and grow it and grow it until they're gone until they retire. But for me, I just want to have fun. So I try to create businesses that either do or do not make money, I don't know. And I want to just do it because it's fun for me. Normally, I create a business because I realize I usually have this epiphany moment where I realized that, oh, gosh, I have this idea of something I can do that I'm more well equipped to do than most people. And I can do it in a way that nobody else can. And if I don't do it, now somebody else is going to do and they're going to do it their way, which won't be as much fun for me. And so that epiphany gets me so excited about this thing that I created really fast. And it's super fun. And as soon as it's not fun anymore, I just move on. Do another one that started over,
just start over. Just you know what next?
Yeah. And I It's so frustrating to me when people are like, Oh, it was what happened to that one did it fail. It's so funny how people think that was something ends. It's a failure. It's so dramatic it is. And I've never had one of my businesses fail. i They were super fun for me. And then it just, I moved on, and I done it for too long. It wasn't fun anymore. And so then I moved on to the next fun thing. And that's not failure. To me. That's me advocating for my own happiness. And so yeah, you got to end things when they're not fun anymore.
Yeah, and people also have a wrong, not the wrong but like a different idea of what failure means. And I think a lot of creatives, you know, especially let's say I would say me, you and a couple others, right? We're like like rethinking this idea of failure in the sense where failures to me is so tied with the idea of school and not progressing, where it's for us, right? Failure, like prototyping, like any of that. Right is learning, right? You're just learning that this worked or didn't work? And how did you adjust based on the results, right? And for you, if it's not fun anymore, then you have to move on to something else, right? So it didn't fail that allowed you to learn that you've like you said, extended, you're welcome on this one thing, and you need to just end it. It's not something that brings you joy anymore, so why keep on doing it?
Yeah. And also, that's why I always create businesses that only need me. And all the other ones are more collaborations. So if I need a piece out, I can and there's still the rest of the group is fine. I really never want to have this business structure where I have a bunch of employees that are relying on me because I'm not gonna have fun anymore, ultimately, and then I'll shut the business down, then what about all those people? So I make sure that I keep things light that I can exit from at any time and move on to my next idea. And I do that very, very intentionally. I have dabbled with business structures where I've had employees before. And I realized very quickly that that's not for me, because I love change so much. And nobody wants to work for me anyway. Why would you want that? Because it's only gonna last for a little bit of time.
Now, it's gotta be fun working with you what? You can't say that.
Yeah, well, anybody who works with me always makes sure that I hire them as freelancers and contractors because that way I'm supporting somebody else who's a fellow freelancer, and I just become one of their clients. And that way if I decide to change my ideas, or move on to something else, and we no longer need to work together, it's more of a casual relationship where, where they either come along with me for the next project because if you're a freelancer or they're like, You know what, I don't want to work on the next project. And it's not that big of a deal. I'm just a client of theirs. So I like that lifestyle. And I think they like it too,
makes a lot of sense. It also changes the dynamic, It's project based, it's not long term like it just like it's a framing in your head, it's very different. Where it allows us to kind of be like, okay, you know, what the project is over? That's normal. Versus like, oh, I work here. And this is my nine to five. And what happens if I don't work here anymore? Yeah, yes. So there was a word that I think I read in your bio, that was really interesting. And I want to hear more about this, right? What does unconformity look like? Feel like and tastes like? And how do you do this every day?
Oh, taste tastes like nachos. Because that's what I'm eating every day. The food that my body is the most comfortable with for some reason. unconformity, for me is a lot of what we've been talking about. It's asking yourself, why you're making certain choices. Who are you making them for? Are they serving you? Do you even agree with all the judgments you have throughout the day? Sometimes I still find myself if I see somebody walking down the street, and they're acting unusual, or they're wearing something really unusual? My immediate reaction is to judge them and to question what's going on? And why are they being like that? Whereas I have to stop myself constantly and say, Wait a minute, do I actually agree with that judgment? Or that thought I just had that decision that I just made? Do I agree with it? Or is this a thought that was placed in my brain by other people by this? Is this something that I grew up believing, and that's not really serving me anymore? And most of the time, I don't agree with that thought I just had. And so I have to say, wait a minute, no, I don't care what they're doing. I think it's actually really great that they're dressing unlike anybody I've ever seen before. And doing that regularly questioning every decision I make, whether it's a design decision I'm making, or the way that I'm dressing myself, every morning, I asked myself, is this reflective of who I am? Is this a choice I want to make? Or is this a choice that I'm making, because I've been told by other people that they should be making it. And that practice is lifelong, I will never be completely non conformed. But once you start doing it, you start to realize how everything we're doing every freaking day is decisions that other people have made for us. And we're just kind of following what we're supposed to be doing. And once you start to look beyond that, it's really freeing and very exciting. And now I just am a kind of addicted to asking myself constantly, why I'm doing certain things. And if I want to continue following the rules, which rules they want to follow in which rules I don't want to follow.
Yeah, I think we all fall into that trap of what society other people, parents, family, friends, look to us to be what they expect us to be what we're supposed to be. And we can easily fall into that idea of well, this is what I'm going to do versus continuing to ask this question of ourselves. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? And I think you've hit the nail on the head of like, it should be always something done for you versus other people.
Yeah. And I know, we all see those people that are like totally free from that, that are just doing their own thing. They're local in their act and doing something unlike anybody else. We all see those people. And we're like, I wish that I could do that. But I never could. That's the reaction I've always had to those people. And I wish I had that. But I never, I never could I'm not brave enough. And it is the bravest act, to go against what society is telling you is normal and to admit that you're not and be loudly abnormal, that is extremely brave. And in for in a lot of situations. It's very unsafe for people to do that. And so I think that it's important to remember that the innovators are the ones that are willing to push past the fear and actually do that. And I would hope that at some point in everyone's life, if they feel brave enough to do that in small ways.
And it seems like you're taking those risks, and you're able to combine what you do on a regular to who you are as a person. So I'm glad that you're able to figure that out and also empower other people to think about what that means for them. So you've been doing all these different things, you collaborating, you're building brands, you're working with other people to build and just kind of have this sense of network and collaboration, right? But what is something else you'd like to explore creative wise?
I am really obsessed with an idea that I have right now. And I can't make it happen. And it's really frustrating for me, in my brain fictional world that I want to create. I know exactly what it looks like. And I want it to be real and I can't it's like too elaborate. I'll give you the short version. In my head, it's a sophistical set. So if you can imagine this actually created in the real world, it could be a physical place, or it could be set on a stage doesn't matter. I can just see it so well. It's five storeys tall. It's a funhouse. You know, how a funhouse at a circus, you can kind of see, it's a flat facade, but you can kind of see in the funhouse floors, the slide might kind of come out 3d A little bit, and you can see a little bit in there, and then people kind of go behind it. So I'm imagining a four or five storey tall building, that's the facade is completely cut off of it. So you can see all of the rooms. It's a fun house, you can see people weaving through all of the rooms of the funhouse, there's the mirror maze, there's like the big foam things that you bunk against it, there's a slide that goes down from the top to the bottom, and on the bottom floor, this funhouse, I am imagining a 50s style diner, that's also a drive in. Now the driving cars that are parked outside are original to the time period, however, they are stationary. And they are the tables. So whenever you go to dine there, you can sit inside, or you can sit outside the car, but the cars don't move, they just stay there. So you can still order drinks, and it's fine. But the fun house wines around, and at the very top corner, the top right hand corner of the funhouse, on the very top floor is the bathroom. This is the bathroom for everyone to use. And the bathroom you can see inside and there I am at the toilet, at the toilet. And it's a some kind of video programming. I'm on the toilet the whole time. Okay, you've never seen me in the funhouse. Never. I'm always on a toilet, oh, clever. People go through the funhouse. And they come in to the bathroom. And I interact with them. And so what I'm trying to do now is figure out what the heck I'm supposed to do with this idea. Because it's all I want to do. And it's all I wanted to spend all of my time on. Because it's everything that has always made me who I am all put together in one piece. And it's very important to me that I figure it out. So the program that I'm trying to create my head of what this does, is I'm trying to figure out, first of all, how do I make this happen? Because it's way too elaborate for me to actually make happen without daddy Jim Henson or I don't know who recipes, Jim,
recipe recipes for this.
Or do I concede, which is sad, that's a sad word to use here and turn it into a podcast, because then I can at least design an audio environment where you the listener can fill in the blanks in your imagination, that would be the easiest option for me. And that's the route that I was planning to go. However, I find myself just getting so frustrated because I could see the visuals of everything so well. And I want it to be physical, so bad, but it's just to elaborate. So I started recording this podcast version. And it's a lot of sound design. You know, people come into the bathroom, the door opens the music from the front, funhouse swells in the door close and it goes back down. And people walk in and I interact with them, interview them. And there's also characters that are like bathroom objects, like the plunger and the toilet paper. And it's half nonsensical, half useful, because I'm talking about useful things for both adults and children. So that's where I'm at. I've been recording the podcast, but I'm also salty about it, because it's not exactly what I want. Nobody wants to go into a new podcast being salty about it.
Yeah, but you have such a vivid imagination of where this is going to be and how it's placed. I know, it was so good. I mean, I'm actually looking at it as like a Broadway show or a stage play, where you can see all the things happen. And you're just on the top right hand corner in the bathroom, just you know, monologuing the whole time while everything else is just happening, and you're just there just I want it so bad. So you know, we need to get either somebody from Broadway or you know, just George Lucas, George Lucas, if you're listening, you know, Magneto to make this happen?
Imagine the CG that would occur if George Lucas was involved? Yeah,
or what if this is like American Horror Story, right? And you're just in the bath, just on the top right? Like, you know, just during the episode, you're just like, Hey, what's up? So it seems like you're getting in your way, this idea of perfection of what it's supposed to look like. Because it's so vivid in your head is kind of like it working against you.
It is this doesn't normally happen to me because I normally know exactly what I need to do in order to make something happen. This idea, however, is just what it's just so much. And this has never happened. Normally I just create ideas Is that I know I can execute. And this is the first idea, or I'm thinking I have to do this. But I don't know how. And so many people, luckily, friends of mine have been like, I'll build you a small set, we can make the small video series of just the bathroom. And I'm like, No. Well, maybe, where's the fun house? It's not good
enough stages, stages.
I know. Yeah. See, the problem for me is that I'm not a strategic person. So having a long term goal, or a lead is not in my nature. And what the average person is telling me is to make just do the podcast, you'll create your workshop, the idea is, you'll learn how the character development of all characters, it'll work itself out. And then maybe you can move to a small set with a video series. And then you can continue to like flesh it out, and people will become more familiar with it. And then they'll like, maybe back you, and then you'll have money or something. And then you can create a larger set and a larger set. But that to me is so frustrating, because then I'll be, too where I want to be in so long from now. And I might not be interested anymore by the
and it wouldn't have failed. It just wasn't making you happy anymore.
Exactly. So yeah. So if anyone out there happens to be a investor and just general ideas, this would be great. Because it has to happen quick. Because otherwise it has to happen real quick, like you may lose interest in the next five years. Yeah. And then all of this work loses interest, but all of it will move on to become something else that I'll be really excited about.
And that's true. That's true. And that may be okay, then I think you're just fighting the uphill battle of having it's so perfectly laid out in your head that you cannot compete. So I don't know, it's something that I think that you may need to get a version of it out, just to see some of the the inner workings of it. Otherwise, it's going to be this perfect thing in your head that's never going to live up to any expectation.
Exactly. And it's so weird, because I'm not normally a perfectionist. This is a new problem for me just now. Where Yeah, this doesn't ever happen to me. Normally, I'm like, oh, good enough. And I'm fine with that. I'm fine. We're good enough. And this one is just good enough isn't good enough. Which is sad. I'm sad.
Now we don't want sad, Meg, we want happy Meg. So what advice would you give a younger Meg. And during the interview today,
I would say, Stop trying to be everyone else. I spent so much time I studied people in school, that my teachers told me I should be like them that I should study what they do and do what they do, because it works. And I spent a lot of years doing that. And being really unhappy and being very unfulfilled and not knowing why. And it's because I was doing things the way somebody else might do them that was following somebody else's guidelines of happiness that weren't my guidelines for happiness. And I spent a lot of time like I was in an incubator program for tech startup for a while that I was starting. And people were like, offering me lots of money. And I was like, Cool. That's when I'm supposed to get the money. And luckily, the last minute before I took it, I decided Wait, this isn't for me, I don't want I don't want this because then they wanted me to have employees and stuff. And but I felt so much pressure to do that. Because that's what everybody else in the industry was trying to do, and wanted to do. And it took me so long to realize that the stuff just isn't for me. And it's not what I need to make myself feel fulfilled. So that is absolutely the advice that I would give my younger self is to just be your weird self. It's okay to be weird and different. And it's actually helps you a lot and it helps you to get more work that you have a lot more fun doing.
It's all about fun. It's all about the fun, right? And lastly, I'm starting this new ending of my show. I'm calling it pay it forward. Who do you think I should have on the show? And what one question about their process? Should I ask them?
Oh, my goodness, okay. Oh, I'm really good at improv. And so normally questions that are thrown at me I can answer immediately and yes, and to me, because yeah, because this is very important to me, because I have already in my head selected. Oh, no, I haven't. Oh, I'm almost changing my mind. Okay. So I believe that I want to bring on Paul Rubens who plays Phoebe Herman. And the thing that I'm getting hung up on is all the questions I have for Paul. Which one do I ask? Because he specifically, really me done in interesting ways that I think were so unlike anybody else. And he set such a framework for how other people are now, and definitely shaped my life, because this is definitely happening. You're you interviewing Paul Rubens I would like you to ask Paul, how much of himself is in his work? Because I have seen him talk a few times. I'm big Paul Rubin said. So Paul Rubens is in town, I'm gonna go. And it's really interesting to try and extrapolate him from his character, because he's often in character. And he's not, he's very different. And so I'd like to know a little bit more about that, because I have an issue where I put my entire self into all of my work. And it is kind of my kryptonite, because it's so personal to me that anytime anyone criticizes my work at all, it's just it's shot straight to my heart. And so I'm really interested in also people that are a little weird and unusual, and putting that into their work, if that's actually who they are. Or are they being a weirdo? Just because because they can't
write I mean, it is when you sort of see people like that is it part of their personality where they're able to kind of figure out this little character? Yeah, you have a Pee Wee Herman you know, image on the on your back shelf?
I do. There's Yep, there's a mask.
Yeah, so definitely I can see you're a fan I am so I mean, you know, I gotta figure it out. We got to figure out how to make this Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing happened with with Paul Rubens. How can I get Paul Reubens on the show? Okay, you know, I don't know
whenever people ask me that question of like, who would you like to play you in a movie? I my answer is always specifically peewee. Oh, no, I want Paul Romans playing peewee playing me.
Oh, it's like the meta version. Yeah.
I don't want Paul Reubens to play me I want peewee to play me.
Oh, wow. That wouldn't be such an amazing Well, that was great. I mean, you know, now I have a lot of work to do. How are you gonna get peewee on the show? No clue. Good luck. Oh, not even like an introduction? Not even like, you know,
let's figure this out. Yeah.
Hall at Pee Wee herman.com. Yeah, for that's it. Right. It kind of be right. Info add
so I mean, this was such a fun, enlightening conversation of really just trying to figure out how people can start to be there more, be more themselves and allow that to shine, because that's definitely what you do. And it kind of really embodies not only your personality, which, when you look at your social, it may appear that it's one way but when you talk to you and see who you actually are, it's all one of the same. There is no separation of church and state it is all the same thing. And so what is besides the the neverending story that will be the MEG Lewis funhouse, what is coming up next for Meg?
Yeah, I am working now on teaching more classes that people can take at any time that are evergreen and online forever, used to travel around the world a lot of teaching workshops, and it was my favorite thing to do. And then for obvious reasons, we know I can't do that as much anymore. And so now I'm trying to just make these things more accessible to as many people as possible. So right now I have a find your style class that's up forever online, that you can take and I'm also working on so many more, I have a portfolio strategy one coming up next. I have a be the main character one that's coming up. That's about unlearning conformity, a lot of the things we talked about. So that is what is up next. Awesome. More of my voice and my more of my face this
voice and face. Yeah, you get voice and face. Oh, okay, both. See, that's good. Where can you tell us listeners to find out more about you? The neverending funhouse these video series and stuff like that? Where can they find you?
I love the idea of the never ending funhouse. Thank you. I'm going to do something with that. So my website is mag lewis.com. And on the internet, my handle is at your buddy mag.
I know I love it. When I keep I'm going to be emailed is like your bud mag. I'm like, Oh, that's so nice. Oh, well, thank you so much mag, it was really fun to talk to you and get to hear some of this stuff. Because I wanted to make sure that we start to dig into things that are not out there on the web and really understand you know, who you are and bringing the two lives of you together actually just one life, right? Like how you're able to figure out that and I think that's really interesting because I think we're not usually that self aware of what we are, who we are and why we do it. And it seems like you at this age at this stage in your career have kind of started figuring it out and are really enjoying life. So Though I'm so glad that you're making this path for yourself and it's been really fun conversation.
Yeah, thanks for having me, George.
Take care. This has been Works in Process.
What a conversation. I want to thank Meg for joining me on the podcast today. It was great to hear her break down how she's able to combine who she is as a creative and the work she does and make them be one in the same. I can't wait to see how she makes her funhouse reality. If you want to learn about the various projects people organizations mentioned in our conversation, please check out the show notes in your podcast player or on our website w i p dot show. The works in process podcast is created by me, George Garrastegui Jr. That content and transcriptions was reviewed by Or Syzflinger. And this episode has been produced and edited by RJ Basilio. You can find the works on process podcast on all media platforms such as Apple, Spotify, Google, and more. And if you liked the episode, feel free to give us a five star rating on Apple podcasts and Spotify. And if you're extra generous, write us a review. It really does help. And just subscribe on whatever platform you're listening to right now. It's that easy. Follow us on Instagram or LinkedIn to stay up to date on the release of new episodes. I appreciate you taking the journey with me and I hope you enjoyed our conversation. And remember, until next time, our work is never final. It's always a work in process.