One afternoon visiting my favorite Atlanta brewery, Monday Night Brewing, we saw a guy painting murals on three giant grain silos. We watched from the ground for about half an hour as he would climb down to asses his work and then climb all the way back up to his “work station” to continue. It was a pretty cool process to watch. It seemed like a lot of work and effortless at the same time. I really wanted some of whatever he was taking to keep himself that focused! A few weeks later I set up a time to meet with Will while he was gilding another custom sign for a new local framing shop. His work is impressive to say the least. He makes many of his own materials including paint and glue and has tons of patience. He told me that he started out paining ships in the military and the experience is how he started doing custom work. This was also the influence for the name of his brand. Will is a firm believer that machines can’t do everything and sometimes you need creative people if you want the job done right.
Learn about Squared Away Signs and what motivates Will in the interview below.
1) What motivates you to wake up in the morning?
Discipline from waking up in the military. Any day I wake up and I am not on a ship is an easy day. I always try to remind myself that I am doing the only thing I could’ve ended up doing.
2) What has been the most challenging part of creating your business so far?
Basically everything, especially the “details”. It is also hard to be an “Artist for Hire” when it comes to meeting and managing expectations for a very undefined industry that art has made itself.
3) What is the most rewarding part of your business and what is something you loath doing?
I always cherish the last brush stroke I do on a piece, its like putting a period at the end of a sentence. I also like showing off my work on Social Media. The opposite side, is when I have to do repairs or fix mistakes I’ve made. You loose all your pride and confidence but you still have to deliver your best work under an even more watchful eye of a client, and it’s all done out of pocket. You loose money, time, and usually the client is happy you fixed it but they will never call you back. You have to do it because your art will still be visible, and if it’s jacked up in public, it will always make your work look bad.
4) Who are 2 people that inspire you and why?
My Mom and Dad. My Mom laid the tracks, but my Dad is the conductor. They have kept me focused and made sure I didn’t get distracted in my pursuit of the Arts. They are also creative people who I’ve always been able to discuss creative topics with and I used them as models of how to discipline myself with creative skills.
5) What is your one piece of advice for readers who want to get started on their own project / business?
At the beginning you must have the financial austerity of a monk. You should eat rice when your employees eat steak. You will also need to be financially flexible. So having debts and multiple personal financial obligations will be like sailing a ship while dragging a bunch of anchors. Also, at first try to do everything and then refine your skills to a niche after several years, because you will not know your niche without participating in the local business market.
6) Shameless plug – what makes Squared Away Signs great?
I think Signage is the most effective method of bringing art to the public in a capitalistic system. It is the only reason an American Businessman can justify spending time and money on Art. My brand re-establishes signage as an art form, and not just a label.
Contact Will at Squared Away Signs.com or on Instagram: @WilliamBruceMitchell
Photos and Interview by Joy Hmielewski | Joyelan.com
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Face to Face ATL is a bi-weekly blog series of interviews with local small business owners and project founders. Find out where the ideas started and what motivates these empowering individuals. If you know someone that would be a good fit for this blog please email Joy@Joyelan.com #FacetoFaceATL