We had the good fortune of connecting with Clint Hess and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clint, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
To be honest, starting my own business came out of necessity. At the time when I started freelancing, I was not being fulfilled creatively by my full-time position, so I took it upon myself to work with clients whose ideas aligned better with mine. I used those opportunities to explore different digital art styles and learn what types of projects I truly enjoyed.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What can set you apart from others in the design world is realizing that it is not a competition. There is so much work to go around if you just know where to look. Some people find success through social media. Others can generate such great passive income through sites like Etsy. Be happy for your friends when they land a good gig, and move more toward the space that makes you comfortable.
Realizing your own strengths is also powerful. It’s so tempting these days to see something online that inspires you and stray away from your goals. It took an embarrassingly long amount of time to separate my hobbies from my marketable talents.
Until 2018, my website featured two distinct fields of work: Graphic Design and Photography. I kept thinking to myself, “Clients will see that I’m well-rounded and hire me.” But all it was truly doing was confusing my audience. Was I an illustrator or did I take wedding photos? It was such an irony that what I thought would make me look impressive to clients only made them keenly aware of how confused I was with my own craft.
Getting to where I am now was not hard. It just took patience. The hardest part of any path is rejection, and I’m afraid to say it, but every career has it. You’re going to fail interviews. You’re going to miss out on client work. Guess what: all of those failures are actually just wins in disguise. Very rarely do I make those same mistakes twice, and most clients I work with are quite forgiving when you’re open and honest with them from the beginning.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Many of the places I recommend to my friends and family are going to be in relation to food. You can learn so much about a town’s culture through its cuisines.
Every Saturday that a friend is in town, I take them to a little spot called Brockton Villa in La Jolla. Not only is the french toast incredible, but the building sits just above the waves in the sea lion cove, giving you arguably the best view from any restaurant in SoCal.
It’s also not atypical to visit at least 3–4 coffee shops in a weekend. Why? Because most coffee shops are centered in areas worth getting out of your car and exploring. Seven Seas in South Park, Moniker Coffee in Liberty Station, and James Coffee in Little Italy all have prime real estate to show your visitors what San Diego is truly like.
For dinner, I think we can all agree that San Diego has some of the best Italian food on the west coast. But I’m not taking my friends to Little Italy—it’s far too trafficked and the parking is terrible. Instead, I’m heading to my secret spot in Pacific Beach called Oltre Mare. Their gnocchi is made from ricotta cheese and their focaccia bread is second to none.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely owe credit to my parents for supporting my career choices. Art is not the easiest path to find success. You cannot fake success through art like you can through many other jobs, because everyone can see and make opinions of your work.
I was so lucky to grow up in a household where my parents gave me the trust and support to take risks in a barely-lucrative industry. The hardest decision I had to make for my career was moving out of my home state to San Diego, but my parents supported me every step of the way.