That time Jon Acuff told me my photos sucked

Susie-the-Straight-Man and I went to see Jon Acuff at Half Price Books in Dallas last night.  He is doing a book tour for Do Over.

The talk was entertaining and inspiring, but it hit me as Jon was speaking that he was the reason I started illustrating this blog. Not because of my love of crayons.  Not because I had always wanted to draw pictures.  I did it because he told me my photos sucked.

Well, maybe he didn't use that exact phrase, but he did point out there was a quality issue.

After the release of his book Quitter, Jon did a giveaway for blog reviews.  He probably said some really nice things in his review of, but the one that stuck at me the most was the negative one about the pictures.  And to make things worse, he visited on a week when the images were really abysmal. He recommended that I come up with a photography style and may have even referenced Pioneer Woman.

I'm in marketing.

I know what it takes to get amazing photography. (And I also knew that I didn't have the time or resources to pull that off on my own. )

However, I did have a box of crayons. So I pulled them out and started drawing.

I told myself that even bad drawings could be "a thing." And to ensure I didn't overthink it, I never let myself spend more than 10 minutes on an image. (Most of the time I wrap it in 5. )

These days, I draw with electronic crayons.  (It saves the time it takes to scan.) And over the past few years I've developed a style of imagery that I own.

So, Mr. Acuff.  Thanks for coming to Dallas and inspiring a room full of people to build Career Savings Accounts. And most of all, thank you for telling me in 2011 that my photos sucked.

Sidebar about Susie-the-Straight-Man--a new character to this blog--Susie and I met through the mentor-protegee program of SMPS--a professional organization for marketers in our industry.  The cool thing about the program is that we connect on a regular basis to talk about the big goals. Susie is both an artist (comedy writer) and marketer, and since Jon Acuff particularly gets "artists with day jobs,"  the Do Over book is our assignment this year. 

Sidebar about the image: there is something meta about creating a picture that sucks of someone who told you your pictures suck. 

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Maira Gall