Episode 99 – ‘Art is NOT a career?’ – Interview with (my fiance) Christina Burton on her path to success

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Episode 99 – ‘Art is NOT a career?’ – Interview with (my fiance) Christina Burton on her path to success

EP 99 Cover 450

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Episode 99 — Interview with Designer Christina Burton

Hey, everyone!

This is Allan McKay. Welcome to Episode 99! I’m speaking with Christina Burton, a Vehicle Wrap Artist for exotic cars. I thought I’d make this one interesting: Rather than interviewing guests like Jeff Okun (www.allanmckay.com/78/), Scott Stokdyk (www.allanmckay.com/89), Freddie Wong (www.allanmckay.com/92) — all the usual suspects — I thought I would interview my fiance. The reason I’m brining her on is because her story is one we can all relate to and it will resonate with anyone who:

– has ever had self-doubt;

– never had the support he needed to, from their parents or other people.

Christina is from Nova Scotia, but she has been working in LA in the vehicle wrap industry: designing amazing designs for exotic cars or doing commercial wraps. She also has a successful Etsy store and a big following on social media.

In this Episode, we talk about:

– the struggles we have as artists;

– not having support from your parents;

– building up your name / branding;

– building your career from scratch;

– how to find mentors and how to weed out negative influences from you life;

– how to negotiate money;

– and much more!

I think this Episode will leave you inspired. If it affects you, please share it. Let’s dive in!

 

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

[-2:03:39] One of the biggest problems we face as artists is figuring out how much we’re worth. Typically, we go on job interviews and either shoot ourselves in the foot by saying we charge less than we’re worth and getting the gig — but indirectly leaving tens of thousands of dollars accumulatively over time, on the table; rather than actually asking what we should be charging. At the same time you don’t want to alienate your employer by asking for too much and leaving yourself out in the cold.

I’ve put together a website. Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! This is a chance for you to put in your information — your level of experience, your discipline, your location — and it will give you an accurate idea what you and everyone else in your discipline should be worth. This is something I’m going to continue to build and flush out over time.

The key thing is, I don’t want to just showcase how much you should be worth — I want to hand you the tools to grow and learn:

– to negotiate better,

– to ask for the right amount of money in the right way

– lots of other tools!

The information is FREE! Check it out: www.VFXRates.com! Put in your information and you will get instantly notified with how much you should be charging per hour, as a VFX Artist.

 

INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER CHRISTINA BURTON

Christina Burton is a graphic designer and vehicle wrap artist. Born in Nova Scotia, Canada, she began drawing at a very early age, developing an understanding of color and an interest in portraiture. After graduating high school, she pursued a variety of professions but she always returned to her main passion: art.

She began pursuing art as a career a few years ago when she launched an Etsy shop that sold her original paintings. After trying her hand at tattoo designs and airbrushing of motorcycle tanks, she found herself learning about vehicle wraps. Currently, Christina custom designs wraps for exotic cars like Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris.

In this Podcast, Allan McKay and Christina Burton talk about her journey as an artist: from recognizing negative influences and personal resistance — to learning how to negotiate, build a brand and become a successful business.

Christina Burton’s Company Curvaceous Wraps: https://www.curvewraps.com/

Curvaceous Wraps on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curvaceous_wraps/

Curvaceous Wraps on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/curvaceouswraps/

Christina Burton’s Visual Art on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christinaburtonart/

 

[-1:58:42] Allan: Do you want to quickly introduce yourself, Christina?

Christina: I’m Christina Burton. I’m the fiance of Allan McKay. I’m an artist and a graphic designer. I do a lot of vehicle wraps at this time.

[-1:58:19] Allan: What is a vehicle wrap?

Christina: If you have your own company and you want to start advertising it, you could drive around with this piece of giant advertising on your car.

[-1:57:38] Allan: What kind of ads do you typically do?

Christina: Those are commercial wraps. The wraps that I’m starting to really get into now is those cool exotic-vehicle wraps — for Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches — just doing really cool stuff, putting my art on a car. Sometimes you have clients who have something in mind; sometimes, you have clients who let you have the [creative] freedom.

[-1:56:58] Allan: That’s cool! Where are you originally from?

Christina: I’m from Canada (although it was really cool to hear you say “a designer in LA”).

[-1:56:33] Allan: I guess for you, you always wanted to be an artist growing up, right? 

Christina: It wasn’t easy.

[-1:56:21] Allan: When did you first find out that you liked art? A toddler doing finger painting on a wall?

Christina: Even when I was little, I would always excel over other kids, in art. I would be 2 years old, but drawing at the level of a 14-year old. That was pretty cool! I was proud of that. I used to love to mix colors. I had a father who was such a perfectionist [about] everything I did — even tying my shoes: Some kids had velcro on their shoes, but my dad was like, “Nope. My daughter has to learn to tie her own shoes!” Even when it came to drawing, he really wanted me to be the best.

[-1:54:54] Allan: So even though you were good at art, you had the pressure to be good? But at the same time, he didn’t consider art to be a real thing.

Christina: Oh, yeah! And that’s the weird thing. When I started doing it — at 14-15  years old — I wanted to go to an art school. When I talked to my parents, [they said,] “You’re going to be on the streets, hustling, doing graffiti and street art.”

[-1:54:05] Allan: They’re picturing the starving artist type. “This is not a real job.” Did you ever actually have a sit-down with them?

Christina: No, as soon as I was going to graduate high school, I wanted to go to an art school. As soon as I did graduate, we had an appointment at the biggest school in Nova Scotia. A woman there looked at my portfolio and said, “This isn’t art.” I was doing portraits. To me, it was art! I was drawing them and drawing them realistically. When that hit me, I thought, “Now what?”

[-1:52:44] Allan: But it wasn’t just that. When I met you, you were pursuing all of these careers. But from the moment you were born, you were a creative and you [eventually] wanted to pursue it as a career. You were naturally talented at that. You had influential people around you discouraging you by saying, “That’s not a real profession. You’ll never make a living doing art.” 

Christina: At the same time, if you look at my parents: My mom is in the military. She got her first job when she was 17. My father (who is also in the military) got his job when he was 15. That’s the plan: go get a job, get a pension, retire. Thinking of that, it really oppressed me. Looking at my friends, they’re traveling the world, they’re out there. There are plenty of ways to make money.

[-1:51:19] Allan: If you think ahead and you engineer a plan — how can you make it a reality — you can do anything. You can apply that to art as well. But you’re right: There are a lot of people who associate art with a hobby. It’s not something you make a living from. You’re not entitled to do something you’re passionate about. Eventually, you do resent any job. You go through that. There are job that are money and others that you’re passionate about. If you can check both of those boxes — great!

Christina: I went to an animation school [for 3D]. I thought I could work for Pixar. I went back to my family with that and they didn’t have any idea that was possible. I guess I didn’t explain myself well to my parents, as to what I really wanted. I didn’t really know either, I just had this dream. But my parents had told me it wasn’t possible. I didn’t know what was real, what was being told to me. Just trying to figure shit out for myself. It wasn’t until I met you. You were the one who told me, “You could do this! It’s possible.”

[-1:49:00] Allan: It’s so critical that we have mentors in our life, but then there are anti-mentors. There will be people who will have influence on you. They’re on their own journey and they could be projecting their own beliefs on you (or what they never had a chance to do). When you’re following them, most of the time, they’re not aware of it. That really shapes you. I can now see similarities between you and your parents. If you have people you seek out — who inspire and lead you — I think a lot of the time, you try to get their acceptance. It really sucks! You don’t have your guard up around those influences and you aren’t even aware that they’re crushing your dreams. 

Christina: A little background about me: I went to high school where there was a lot of pressure about what you’re going to do. How can an 18-year old really decide what they want to do with their life? After the art school interview, [I thought,] “What do I do now?” I love cars, maybe I can learn auto body and how to paint it. I went to college that taught this and I ended up quitting because my passion wasn’t there. I remember going to my dad and by that point, he was telling me to get a real job and go to school. What about architecture? Let me try that. I did architecture but that didn’t work out [probably] because of math, while all I wanted to do was drafting. What the hell then? I felt like I was going nowhere in life. My depression kicked in. What if did psychology? So I went to school for 2 years. But to actually be a psychologist, you’re looking at 10 years of school. I’m looking at myself: I can’t go to school for that long!

[-1:44:07] Allan: At the same time, the light at the end of the tunnel was getting really dim.

Christina: I found that all the students in my class were in the same predicament. People probably do psychology because it’s the easiest to learn. They don’t really know what they’re going to do. And the jobs in psychology are so hard to get.

[-1:43:27] Allan: So what other jobs [did you do]? You did experiment a lot of the time, but none of it was art. 

Christina: It got to the point where it got really frustrating. Knowing my mom, she [suggested] military — because that’s stable. I ended up [taking] an aptitude test. I ended up qualifying for weapons, I ended up trying to do a bootcamp. I had a friend who told me I was doing this for my parents. So, I quit! If I were to [talk to] my 15-year old self, I’d tell her: “Do what you want to do! Because you can do it.” I know that sounds cheesy but I’m doing it now! I’m so happy.

[-1:42:00] Allan: That’s the tricky part: A lot of us have something we want to do and if you don’t have the right people around you, it’s discouraging. You had a lot of talent but it wasn’t being utilized. You were doing everything to get approval. If you keep trying doing other things — but you keep coming back to art — after a while, there is a commonality there. 

Christina: I started airbrushing motorcycle tanks and because of that industry, I had a guy who suggested I should be a tattoo artist. But again, the whole environment wasn’t me. I was a girl in a small town. The tattoo industry is so competitive! So is the vehicle wrap industry [but] there are more people like you in that industry. They’re striving to make a lot of money. It’s been a dream of mine to have my own shop and to learn from them. I have do stay in the trenches, I guess.

[-1:39:06] Allan: I agree. I think it’s really common for people to say, “I want to run stuff”. I think it’s also something that gets beaten into us: To be your own boss. That’s the natural evolution. When a lot of people who become a boss, they realize they don’t want that stress. With you, you did dabble with tattooing and doing airbrushing for motorcycles, all these different areas. Do you see those as failures?

Christina: I did at the time. [Now, I think] everything I’ve done brought me to where I am. I really think that things happen for a reason. You grow from [those experiences], you learn from them. It has helped me. I don’t see my being in the vehicle wrap industry if I hadn’t done motorcycles.

[-1:37:29] Allan: You’ve tried all those things. Within that, everything you’ve done, all of them fill up in a bank. Your doing 3D, that definitely helps you now.

Christina: Oh, yeah, we’ve got to tell that story! After the psychology, I wanted to go back to art. I found to school who did animation. We had an assignment to network: because it’s who you know, in this industry. You were my assignment. I was doing this really cool character: A flame goddess sort of thing. It was going to be on my demo reel. I didn’t have the first idea if that was possible.

I googled “flame tutorials” and your name popped up first. I saw your demo reel and I wanted to bring you to class. I decided to message you. I knew you were getting so many emails and I thought: How can mine stand out? So I thought I would from the heart. I told you about my father and about the hard time I was having. I sat on it for a day before sending it. You replied. I remember being so happy! I asked if I could use your demo reel in class. When I brought that to class, it made me feel good to have that connection. I was really shy growing up.

[-1:33:49] Allan: I want to talk about networking because it’s so critical. Most artists think they don’t need to network. You went to your first conference and even today you had two people you’ve met there call you up. For a second, can you talk about it?

Christina: I was so shy! So shy, I wouldn’t call for a pizza. A lot of people saw me as stuck up. All of my friends were so outgoing! I remember asking, “How can you go up to someone and ask for the time?” Just go up and ask.

[-1:32:43] Allan: I think we’ve all experience with that, a little bit. If you do identify those thing, you should push yourself. You can do it where it’s safe. You can compliment people. It’s really interesting to see people’s reactions. Those are the connections you make that can affect people. The more you do this stuff, the more you realize there is nothing scary.

Christina: It kind of frustrates me now when I look at people and they don’t talk. “I’m here, trying to make a conversation.” I get it. It’s taken me practice. But you just have to out there and do something that freaks you out. I remember emailing you — and I was intimidated. In the end, what’s the worst that can happen? He wouldn’t respond or he would say no? You just have to keep doing it.

[-1:30:10] Allan: Yup. How many people did you email?

Christina: Lots!

[-1:30:03] Allan: The reason I mention the confidence thing is because I think it’s important. I’ve surveyed so many people about what they wish they could be better at. So many people say: Confidence! I really take my hat off for their even acknowledging it. You have to do some soul searching to realize that [about yourself]. The better you can get at people skills, the more confidence you get — the more you realize there are no repercussions. 

Christina: You don’t want the disapproval. Because you’re putting yourself out there.

[-1:28:54] Allan: I’m doing it with the Podcast. You have to realize that rejection is a good thing because it will make you more comfortable with being rejected. I always think of dating: Whether you’re single or whether you’re freelancing, the more times you’re do it, the more you realize — it’s not the end of the world. That applies to:

- job interviews;

- networking (that’s why I’ve mentioned going to job fairs).

With you the reason I’ve responded to you was the fact that you were genuine and it had intelligent questions. I [always] say: “The first email should be for you, the second one — should be for them.” In other words, you write that novel of an email — and then after you write bullet points and simplify it, you will have your message. You have to have the balls to say what you want. The more you do that, the better you’ll get at it. I think it was critical for you to reach out!

Christina: I remember I kept it short and to the point. I really spoke from the heart. I was in a relationship and I was broken up with; so I told my mom I had to get out of that small town. When I moved here, I met up with you.

[-1:22:49] Allan: I always say, “You have to be in it to win it.” You took yourself outside of your comfort zone, went to do something you wouldn’t typically do: whether it’s travel or taking yourself out of a life situation. You have to take that risk. If what you’re doing every day isn’t getting you where you want to be, what can you do differently? Every single successful person I’ve spoken with can pinpoint those times when they took a risk. You took that risk in your personal life which had a huge impact. When you moved to LA, were you still studying psychology?

Christina: I was doing it online because I felt like I couldn’t give it up. I didn’t want to disappointment my dad. I was in limbo. You were the one who mentored me. I love you now, but I’ll always be grateful for that! With your Podcast and your courses, you want people to succeed. I love that about you! I’m happy that you wanted to interview me for a change.

[-1:19:51] Allan: I think that your message will apply to many people. You had people in your life who discouraged you and they didn’t even realize they were doing that. That’s such a common thing. I get emails like that all the time. Because of that, people don’t go do what they want to do. You have to have a plan  and you can make that switch. I think it’s so critical to start identifying the positive influences in your life. 

Christina: My parents, they always wanted me to be happy. I know the pressure came from a place of love. When I was going through struggles growing up, that was worry on them.

[-1:17:42] Allan: And they have their own fears that they would project onto your life.

Christina: That was the exact situation. The way that I dealt with it: I had to push them away, certain parts of them. First thing I had to do — was move out.

[-1:17:11] Allan: You could never make those changes if you’re living in the same environment. That’s why people who go to conferences, you get inspired.

Christina: Exactly! Again: You don’t have to cut people completely out of your life, but just know the triggers. If you’re living with that person for long enough, you know. There were times, I did something really good. Whenever I went to my father, for some reason, I thought he would be happy for me. But he never was! If you know the triggers, I was setting myself up. So I stopped doing that.

[-1:15:30] Allan: You shouldn’t be needing that from him. At the same time, [you need to find] the people who can be happy for you. The people who were negative, you can still love them. Whoever that is, you need to do an audit. The positive ones, you have to surround yourself with. The negative ones, you have to eliminate. 

Christina: I think it was Steven Spielberg who was being interviewed. He was asked, “Where are you going to go from here? What is going to inspire you to do better?” He said, “I look for people who continue to make me be better.” I thought that was really cool. You’re searching for what’s going to inspire you next.

[-1:12:40] Allan: For you, when do you think you finally made it?

Christina: I don’t think I finally made it.

[-1:12:34] Allan: When do you think you actually had a career as an artist?

Christina: Not too long ago. A few years ago. Social media helps. I’ve always had smaller goals that I wanted to reach, and those progressively grew to bigger goals. I’m still not where I want to be. My biggest goal used to be to design a Lamborghini, a big expensive sports car. I worked towards it. I needed the experience. When a Lamborghini hit, I actually felt like I reached a big goal. Now, can I do 10 more of these?

[-1:11:39] Allan: I liked it when you had your Etsy store. Most people jump into it. You listened and built a P&L (Profit and Loss) spreadsheet. That was critical. I liked the fact that you came in with a goal.

Christina: I wanted to make my first sale in three months.

[-1:10:56] Allan: You set yourself up for success. At the same time, you gave yourself a deadline. You’ve got something that’s tangible. Of course, how many sales did you make in the first month?

Christina: I knew people who’ve had their shop open for 6 months and haven’t made a single sale. What’s the point of me doing that? Etsy is a whole different ballgame. If I did better than my goal, it would be great! Now, I complain about it: I don’t have time for this!

[-1:09:47] Allan: That’s going into a whole other area: If you’re making that many sales, you need to jump into raising your price. I did a conversion rate for my first DVD and it immediately told me that I was underselling the product. With you, how much do you think social media impacted what you’re doing?

Christina: I haven’t been doing social media as much as I should be, but if you can nail any kind of social marketing — you’ve made it. I remember I drew these flowers. My dad saw it and said, “It’s not my style, I would never buy this.” But I had it in my head that nobody was going to want this. But that’s when I learned about target audience. There are people out there who would want what you’re making.

[-1:08:02] Allan: All of this resistance you had is the whole reason I wanted to do this. There are so many people who are going through the same things. Why vehicle wrapping? And what is that?

Christina: When I did the auto body course, I was doing airbrushing and so much stuff in Photoshop, I thought: This would be really cool on a car! I ended up googling “car sticker”. What came up was car wraps. You can print your artwork and they’ll plaster it onto your car. People who are airbrushing, they’re going to be out of job pretty soon. When you’re painting a car, you’re probably looking at two weeks and thousands of liters of paint. You have to sand, primer the car, get the dents out. You have to have years of experience, to be good at it. Where the business is going to go is through the dealership: so when you buy a car, it will already be wrapped.

[-1:04:48] Allan: The cool thing about vehicle wraps is that it protects the car. So if you scratch the wrap, $1,200 later, you have a different look.

Christina: If you want to go the extra mile, they have what they call “clear bra”. You put that on first, and then you put the wrap. You have two layers of protection. People are coming out with so many things! You have to have a good installer who knows his stuff.

[-1:03:10] Allan: Your first gig was for Sticker City. You’d come to me saying you wanted to set up your first shop. I told you that’s crazy. What you should be doing is sell yourself to the other shops. You would have the whole world [at your disposal]!

Christina: I look back at that. If I were to open my own shop, I wouldn’t have a business right now. I was jumping the gun.

[-1:02:21] Allan: I figured you’d build relationships with these installers, all over the world. First of all, their clients would come to you for work. Your clients could go to other shops. 

Christina: I know so many people in this industry, all over the world. If I stayed shy, I wouldn’t know half of these people.

[-1:01:20] Allan: One of the big accountability things for you — is you won’t do the front loading, you won’t do the hustle. You could have a goal to send 5 emails per day and you would have so much work! But instead, you don’t do that. You’re at the point, where you wouldn’t be able to handle all the work coming in.

Christina: That’s exactly where I was going to go with this. Like, a month ago? I had so much work, I got to the point of being so stressed. I didn’t want to upset my clients. That’s when I had to scale. That’s the beginning to how you grow a business. I’m learning.

[-59:36] Allan: Going back to your first job, you applied and they gave you a test. That’s very common, even in visual effects. You were given to design a food track. The problem was it was their actual client. I feel like I’ve changed my tune about working for free: It’s okay to work for free. Doing a trade of time for currency isn’t always the way to go. You’re doing it as a trade for a client, or the recognition you are going to get. You just did a collaboration for a contest. Working for free isn’t an evil, but you have to be careful about how to do it.A [big mistake] you made: You didn’t mention money upfront!

Christina: Words of advice: Always mention money upfront! Always!

[-55:57] Allan: First of all, they won’t take your work seriously. And if they come back and say, “No, we can’t pay you” — you can make a decision. You agreed to do that job. You should’ve negotiated better, if you are not happy.

Christina: Do you remember when I was doing these little metallic tattoo designs? They’re really popular! They hired me to design a bunch. We negotiated a rate. In my head, I knew it was nothing.

[-54:27] Allan: At the time, you were grateful to have the gig. Early in your career, it’s a stepping stone.

Christina: And I wasn’t as developed as a designer at the time. But she wanted more and more, and I couldn’t do any more because I wasn’t getting paid enough. How do you bring up that fact? That would be such an awkward conversation.

[-53:52] Allan: The more you discuss the details upfront — money and dates — the more everyone is on the same page. The more you discuss, the less there is misinterpretation. Basically, you could say, “I want to bring this to your attention. When this job came onboard, we had a two-week turnaround for the content. Based on the revision, before I can continue, I feel that the work has changed drastically.” Then, propose a pay scope. If it’s not something they could afford, then x, y, z. 

This happens in movies all the time. You could go to the producers, so they could make the decision. It’s all about communication. It’s not about offending anybody, it’s about giving them options. The best thing is to educate them along the way: Why it costs so much money.

Christina: With that client, I gave her an option. What ended up happening, she started comparing me to other designers. I didn’t know how to react to that. I’m putting my heart and soul into it, but I couldn’t try and explain it.

[-50:22] Allan: When you were at WrapsCon, Justin Pate was interviewing you (https://www.facebook.com/curvaceouswraps/). He brought it up that you were one of the only designers in the industry making custommade wraps. 

Christina: It takes talent to take something like Shutterstock images, put them together and make them work. With clipart, I’m not hating. I have a job right now. It’s a commercial business. You have 15 cars coming in every week. There is no way you can make all of those custom. When you have the one client who is paying as much as they pay for 15 cars, you spend the time to custom design their wraps.

[-49:06] Allan: The job you were doing at the time was $250 [for so many designs]. Considering the amount of time you were putting in, it was completely ridiculous. You were making every design unique. You were different from the other [designers]. On top of that, you’re over-delivering for the budget. If they wanted to get the minimum, they should get someone else. 

Christina: I remember I was the Lead Designer for the one company [I won’t say which]. I never agreed with this: My job was to get photographers / models for the booths, to get the cars ready, design it all — flyers, business cards — you name it. When it comes to photography, you want someone who’s going to be good. You have to pay for that. What he was doing was hiring students from photography schools and getting them to work for free. I never-ever agreed with that!

[-45:25] Allan: I recommended a colleague from ILM who would’ve been great to photograph the cars and a Playboy model. He was going for anyone who would work for free. 

Christina: It didn’t matter all the good people I showed him. He could afford it. It put a lot of stress on me. I never understood the point of it. It was for SEMA, so you want to put the money toward it. We’re planning a wedding right now.

[-44:24] Allan: Going back to when you worked for free, in that case you did the job and held off the invoice until the end. If you negotiated money upfront, it would be different.

Christina: What I hate is when people contact you and try to be buddy-buddy with you. They give you this creative brief and get you all excited. I’ve learned to say, “What is your budget for this?” And then they come back saying there is no budget.

[-43:39] Allan: That’s good! But if you would’ve known that from the beginning, you could’ve saved time. Or you could say, “It will cost you this” — and they can’t afford that. That way you aren’t wasting your time. What are the telltale signs of no-good clients? For example, if they’re on the phone for longer than 10 minutes — get them off the phone! — because right away, they’re passionate but they don’t have any money. Every single time, it’s about a good fit. This is a business, at the end of the day. 

Christina: I get where Neil Blevins is coming from: Never work for free! But there are times, you should. You asked me about the red flags. When a client has no idea: “I don’t know what I want, but when I see it, I’ll know it.” Those are the hard ones. I’ve directed clients to figure it out. More often than not, you’re not going to get their approval because they don’t know what they want. Whenever I try to talk to a client, I tell them to go do their research.

[-40:16] Allan: Here is the really pivotal part: Going back to the artist who didn’t know if she could sell one painting in three months to your turning down jobs.

- You need to scale;

- You need to hire artists to do the work because you can’t do it all yourself;

- You need to choose your clients more carefully. 

You start out, you stay humble. You start to have experience and get clients. You want to get to the point where you can pick and choose: You have to look at the 20% that are bringing in the most income. You look at the 80% who are taking all of your time and not giving you that my RIY. The percentage of clients who give you little income but take up so much time — you have to cut that down.

Christina: My best clients are this: I have a vision. I sort of want to mix this and this. I ask questions, I do it — and they say, “This is exactly what I wanted!” It’s because they’ve communicated with me. I’ve had clients who would get upset at me because they aren’t clear on what they want. I hate when clients who aren’t nice.

[-36:25] Allan: I just had a client who gave me three thank-you’s over three months. I don’t need that, but after a while: “Learn to talk to people!” I had the same client 11 years ago, and I sent the wrong render. I didn’t beat around the bush and [admitted my mistake]. 

Christina: But when you’re nice to people, people want to do things for you.

[-35:24] Allan: I remember I went to the bar and asked a bartender about her day. When I came back, she told me how much that made a difference. That sparked [an awareness in me] to show appreciation for people. It’s about personal connections and personal interactions. You have to be able to communicate with people. The more I interact with people, the more free stuff you get. If people reciprocate, it shows there is a lack of it — so you should 10X it. 

When it comes to your work, if the client starts to trust you because you communicate and you’re real, they will trust you more.

Christina: When you show common human decency, it makes a difference. It so easy! And it applies to everything we’re doing.

[-30:16] Allan: All of this is so applicable to business. Anytime I’ve fucked up in the past, if I communicated with people, it’s a whole different tune. Asking for help is huge! Ask for help instead of not telling anyone. All it takes is to admit you’re struggling. 

One of the big things when hiring people, just because a junior artist is cheap, they still have to know their stuff. If they’re asking for a lot of help, it will hurt you in the long run. 

Christina: Sometimes, you just need to figure it out.

[-27:42] Allan: The number one reason junior people get fired is because they’re taking up the senior people’s time; or going through 99 reiterations. You, as an artist, did you ever have doubts that you’ll make it?

Christina: The big one is just being a female in a male dominated industry. The job that I have now, I was one of the first women to have been hired. If you don’t hire me — you’re making a mistake.

[-26:22] Allan: That’s not a common situation and so illegal. But take the female component out, it’s really fucked up! 

Christina: They were worried to have a woman in the shop while the men where doing their “men talk”. How is she going to react? Or, what if I wear a revealing shirt.

[-25:20] Allan: Regardless [of their previous experience], you cannot hire or fire someone because of their sex. In the auto body industry, it’s a different mindset.

Christina: Everyone that works there is a close family. They wanted to make sure I was going to get along with everyone. I’d like to think I’m a friendly person.

[-24:17] Allan: Have you experienced a lot of sexism in your industry?

Christina: Yes? All the time! I think it’s cool: You’re different. You use that difference to stand out. I see the positive, not negative. But I’m going to be myself: bubbly and friendly.

[-23:23] Allan: It sucks, but I think there is some BS with being female. You are not accepted in the same way. As a woman, you’ll either get special or negative treatment. I know women who are the negative as well.

Christina: That’s what happened with the shop that just hired me!

[-22:34] Allan: I want to bring on Kat Evans, Neil Blevins’ wife, on the Podcast, just because she is in the industry and really opinionated. I think that there is always a contrast to everything. Most people aren’t even aware they’re doing stupid shit. I interviewed Jami Jeffcoat (www.allanmckay.com/60). She would get offended when people wouldn’t make the jokes because she’s a woman. I think that’s a better way of looking at it.

Christina: I see that. I see the guys talk. They’re watching what they’re saying. I think it took me saying something funny to break that tension. They realized I could take a joke. It’s what you perceive as well. When you have certain images on your social media, it goes both ways.

[-19:07] Allan: You have to be careful with social media. People do look at that. I never talked about this: Perception is reality. I wanted to see if I could carve out a certain lifestyle [by posting beer on my Facebook]. There was some reputation that followed, and gossip. For me, the whole beer and drinking thing was an experiment. My tag was “Homeless with dollars and a passport”. I wanted to prove that you don’t need to do this traditional lifestyle. It was a fun experiment! 

What would say about your building your name? Going to WrapsCon, it’s huge. My perception of you was you were doing really well. People were coming up to you left and right. I wasn’t on a guest list to this party, but they then spot you: “Christina Burton!” They recognized you! For me, going there was mind blowing to see your fanbase. How did you go to Nova Scotia to showing up to LA — all in a span of 3 years? Not only are you recognized by your artwork, but also by your face.

Christina: I want to be friendly with everybody. I’m still learning that. I don’t know how to handle that. I was going up to other people as well. How I got to that point? It’s that hustle and building relationships thing. You keep your connection going. You want a sincere friendship. When you look at it as a diagram, it’s all connected. For example, there is this really talented installer. I was being introduced, he ended up messaging me: “You’re the chick who does Curvaceous Wraps!” I’ve been connected with this guy for so long. With this industry, you have to network.

[-10:45] Allan: I think branding is an important aspect. For you, as an artist you need to network. Where should you network? Since you’re really shy, it was a really critical thing. By now, I’ve gone to two different conferences when I’m not a speaker. For you, this was the prime example of going in as an artist — the installers are going to be the rockstars — you got so much business from that conference!

Christina: I was excited to go! I had to overcome the shyness and go talk to people. Everyone knew each other, and I had to talk. You were pressuring me to go up to people. I just didn’t know how. You practice on one person, and more you do it — it gets easier.

[-07:09] Allan: You found this one guy who took you around and introduced you to people. You have to identify your power connectors. 

Christina: Without him, I wouldn’t have met all those people. In your mind, you don’t think it’s going to be worthwhile.

[-06:08] Allan: Do you think working on the internet can be limiting?

Christina: No! Again, being shy, the internet helps. The thing I don’t like is that I can’t show my personality.

[-05:31] Allan: Do you have any advice for other artists, especially women, who are starting out?

Christina: Just don’t give up! If you give up whatever you’re passionate about, you [won’t be happy]. This whole Podcast has been about my giving up. It’s hard. It’s not an easy road.

[-04:46] Allan: Thank you for doing this Episode!

Christina: Thanks for having me!

 

I hope you find this Episode interesting. Please take a moment to leave a comment on iTunes. This is the one we can all relate to.

– Put yourself first and by aligning your needs with others, you will succeed. You can’t try making other people happy.

– Find your mentors and get rid of negative influences from your life.

– You can make a living doing the thing you’re most passionate about! You’re going to do it outside of your job anyway. Why not make it the main source of your livelihood?

Christina is a really talented artist. Follow her on her social media. I’ll be back next Episode. I have something special brewing.

That’s in for now. I’ve gotten a lot of interesting emails. Looking back, if you’ve gotten a lot from these Podcasts, I would love to hear from you: amckay@allanmckay.com.

Rock on!

1 Comment

  1. Nelson Fernandes Junior says:

    One of the best! I can totally relate to this. Thanks Cristina for sharing your story. Thanks Allan.

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