We had the good fortune of connecting with Bailey Sullivan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bailey, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
My work-life balance has changed pretty drastically in the past year or so. When I first started working I felt like I needed to work all of the time. I spent several years working full time jobs during the day and then going home and working on freelance work or side projects on nights and weekends. I think that time was really helpful for defining my style and creating a lot of work that helped build my career but ultimately it was draining. As things have slowed down and I’ve transitioned into working for myself full time I’m able to have better control over what I work on and when. I’m super grateful to have been able to make that jump, it’s been really helpful in having a healthier work-life balance. I’ve definitely had a shift in priorities and have been able to slow down to enjoy life more rather than just working through it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an illustrator / muralist / maker. My work is influenced by European Folk Art and primarily features flowers and other bits of nature. I use a lot of geometry and symmetry in my illustrations and like to make work that is bright and positive.
I think what sets me apart is not having an education background in art or design so I sort of had to create my visual point of view with the skills that I had. That meant really relying on shapes and simple figures rather than making super realistic illustrations, simply because I didn’t have the skillset to do so. I just leaned into that and made it work for me. I know a ton of crazy talented illustrators who can’t draw a portrait, or they do so in their own nontraditional style. That’s given me the freedom to be content with doing what I do without feeling like I need to be able to do it all.
I got to where I am today with equal parts self motivation and having people take a chance on me. I studied advertising in school, so to be working now as a self-employed illustrator definitely took some zigging and zagging and lots of late nights experimenting with nailing down my own style. I’ve had so many weeks where I’d work all day at a job then come home and go straight to my computer to work on a personal project or freelance. It’s not for everyone but saying yes to projects and pushing through those tough weeks where I was juggling so much work was worth it to me to be able to get more of my illustrations out into the public. It’s always been my personal work that clients reference when they reach out and none of that would have existed if I wasn’t willing to make time for creating outside of my day job. My advice for anyone juggling a lot on their plate is to build some extra days into your timeline if possible to rest. Say yes to exciting opportunities and make it work even if you’re afraid to and listen to your gut when it’s telling you to say no.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Last year I moved from Brooklyn, NY to the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania. We’ve got a lot of outdoorsy stuff to do here!
For food I’d take ‘em to Village Farmer and Bakery- a cute local spot with lots of homemade jams, pies and tasty breakfast sandwiches. My personal favorite spot to eat is Cafe Duet in downtown Stroudsburg, a perfect place to grab a coffee, pastry and a light lunch or some chocolate and berry covered waffles. Sango Kura is a great place for an outdoor dinner- it’s Pennsylvania’s only sake brewery with lots of fun sake cocktails and izakaya dishes.
If you’re wanting to get some good views, check out Bushkill Falls. It’s a really beautiful waterfall and has one of my favorite look-out points if you decide to take one of the longer trails. We’ve also got Tom’s Creek trail for a relaxing out-and-back the dogs love to walk as well as Mt. Minsi, which is part of the Appalachian trail! It’s so fun to see people take a break from the trail in town and talk with them a bit about their journey. We’ve also got lots of water activities, like kayaking and tubing, down the Delaware river.
For relaxation, we love to hit up Eagle’s Rest Cellars, a quiet winery on a large field with beautiful views and if it’s chilly, several fire pits. Another sweet spot is catching some live jazz music at the Deerhead Inn in Delaware Water Gap. Cozy place for a romantic dinner or just to chill out and enjoy some jazz with friends and family.
We’re just about 2 hours from NYC and Philadelphia, so for anyone in those parts who need to take a little break out in nature, the Poconos is a wonderful place.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m incredibly grateful for so many people that I’ve worked with but three stand out in particular.
I’ll always feel like I owe Marc Ferrino, the design director at my first full-time job, my life. He took a huge chance on hiring me even though I was fresh out of school and very amateur in my design and illustration skills. I learned more from him and that team of designers in a year of working with them than I did in all of college combined. So many technical illustration tips that I use to this day as well as just how to work and pace myself on projects. That was such a cool group of insanely talented guys and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today had I not been able to work alongside and learn from them.
Secondly would be another set of managers from my last full-time job, Joe Geis and Jeremiah Britton. I was working a job I was not feeling very creatively fulfilled in when they reached out to see if I’d be interested in joining their team. That was a life-changing email for me. They brought me in and with my background in illustration as a foundation, taught me how to create things that were truly never on my radar. I was able to turn my work from just flat digital designs into murals, neons, sculptures and installations and that completely changed my outlook on design. I learned a lot of technical skills from them but my biggest takeaway was just learning how to expand my vision as a creative and building the confidence to actually do it.
1 (Puzzle) – Seltzer Goods 2 (Sardine cans) – Jones Knowles Ritchie 3 (Plant mural) – WeWork 8 (Painting flower mural on lift) – Bright Walls