Illustration of girl jumping for joy, by Joana Miranda

If you’re like me, you may be passionate about your craft – creating art – but a lot less passionate about proclaiming your genius from the rooftops.  A few years ago when I was working at my jewelry design and manufacturing business, I purchased a guide for do-it-yourselfers called The Empire Building Kit by author – not to mention the force behind The Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau.  I diligently worked through the 365 dedicated, task-a-day emails and just as I was finishing…

Broadway blues detail framed

moved to New York City.

Exciting as that move was, it meant that I had to completely reevaluate my jewelry business.   Soldering tanks – which were essential to the creation of my jewelry – are not allowed in residential apartments.  And I wasn’t about to seek an outside studio space rental when the rent on our 1-bedroom New York apartment was roughly the same as the mortgage we payed on a 5-bedroom house in the Midwest!  So I went back to the drawing board.


(I mean that literally!)

As my illustration business is gaining traction, I decided this past fall to revisit the Empire Building Kit.  I knew that there were quite a few tasks the first time around that I wasn’t able to do because my business (or I) wasn’t in the right place.  Furthermore, although the Empire Building Kit has great stuff in it, since it’s not specifically targeted to artists, applying some of the lessons can take, well…creative thinking.

Imagine my surprise and joy when I recently learned that Chris Guillebeau is launching a new guide dedicated, this time, to creative types like ME!

Over the moon cropped detail

The guide is called Designed to Sell and it’s launching today!  As one of Chris’ affiliates, I’ve been given the opportunity to take a sneak peak at the guide and I’m excited by what I’ve read so far.  Specifically, if Jen and Omar at These Are Things can make a 6-figure income selling their maps, greeting cards, and images, then I figure there’s got to be a (lucrative) place for my art in this world, too!

If you’re interested in learning more about Designed to Sell, take a look here.

(P.s. I understand from Chris that there are some fun bonuses for people who purchase the guide in the first week of the launch.  These include an invitation to an hour-long Q&A session with Jen, Omar and Chris; and, if you’re one of the first 100 buyers, a custom, handcrafted notebook.)


  1. natella111 says:

    That sounds very interesting! Did you hear about “The war of art” book? I heard a lot that it’s also a very good book for artists. I hope to read both the guide that you recommended and “The war of art’ soon 🙂

    • Joana says:

      Hi Natella,

      Thanks for the information about “The War of Art” book. I don’t know it, but I’ll see if I can find it on Amazon. The Designed to Sell Guide is very interesting so far. I feel like the questions posed by the authors are helping me to get a new perspective in some ways on what I’m trying to do. Could it be that this is because it’s written by artists for artists, or just that I’m at the right place to be taking in the information? I’m not sure, but as long as I feel like I’m moving forward, it’s a good thing!

      More soon – Joana

      On Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 12:13 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


    • Joana says:

      Hi Helen,

      For right now, I’m enjoying reading the 130+ page guide (which is part of each of the packages that Chris/Omar & Jen are offering. I was sent the guide a few days in advance of the launch because I’m one of Chris’ affiliates. I’m only on about page 33 or so, but I feel like I’m already taking some steps back to reevaluate what I’ve been doing and clarify where I can tweak and make things better. To be specific, one area that I’m trying to rethink is the overall color of my cards. Now that I’m doing the outlines in black quill dip pen, it’s a lot easier to fill in a gradient color for the background of the card after I’ve created the main figure design. My original inspiration when I started thinking about branching into illustrations was vintage advertising prints from the 20s-50s. Along the way, I’ve sort of gotten fixated on the actual figure and haven’t paid as much attention to the backgrounds. I think these gradient backgrounds (redone just yesterday) are a big step in the right direction, no?

      In any case, once I finish reading the guide, I’m going to think about purchasing either the budget or the middle version. I’m not so big on video interviews, but I think the “Road Map” and the “Business Resources” are probably good things to have.

      I’ll keep you posted as I delve more into the guide.

      Ciao dearie, Joana

      On Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 9:32 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


      • Helen Reich says:

        The gradient backgrounds are nice, but I like the plain white ones too…..I think my favorites of your backgrounds are the ones with stuff in them….a room, a street scene, etc. Thanks for checking out the educational goods!

        • Joana says:

          Hi Helen,

          Thanks so much for the feedback. I will certainly keep what you say in mind…it’s so hard to be objective about your own work, so trusted outside opinion is really valuable.

          At this point (around page 43 of the guide) I’m doubting myself and what I’m doing a lot. But I suppose that part of what happens when you take a step back to assess where you are and where you want to be.

          Meanwhile, it’s pouring rain and thundering/lighting here. Very weird, especially considering that we were having blizzard conditions this morning!

          Ciao, dearie! Joana

          On Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 7:26 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


          • Helen Reich says:

            I guess everyone doubts him/herself at some point, but why now? You have had sales and licensing and special orders from faraway clients (even if some of this may have been aggravating), so why doubt yourself now???

            • Joana says:

              Hi Helen,

              Thanks for the comment and for shoring me up! (Is “shore” the right word?!) I guess the short answer is that I’d really love to be doing this full-time…but I’m not anywhere close to being able to “quit my day job”, such as it is. To be fair, I am very grateful for all of the freelance work, and I do like pit work. But devoting my energies to creating illustrations full-time is my dream.

              In addition to looking at other artists, I also follow a few big time bloggers and am in awe (and envy) of where they seem to be. Sometimes it seems like I work too hard…maybe I should just bake a cake, take some photos and post that on my blog?;-)

              Anyway, I’ve got the day off (from freelancing) today, so I’d better make wise use of my time.

              Ciao Dearie, Joana

              On Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 4:43 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


Leave a Reply