When we saw Natasha Martin’s book, Funny Food, come through, all the colorful surprises inside quickly made it one of our favorites. Someone who makes such fun work has a lot of insight to offer on loving your work. We’re glad we got a chance to catch up with Natasha to talk about creating a book, Layflat Paper, and all things creative pro.
Your blog post says you always wanted to make a book. Where did that idea come from?
I have always loved the visual nature of books! I love to collect art and coffee table books and thumb through them for inspiration or just a little mid-day escape. There is something special about a book (vs. the internet or social apps) because it’s more permanent and you can touch it and feel it. When I got into photography, it became a dream of mine to someday have my work collected in a book of my own.
What do you love about your Blurb Book?
It’s just such high-quality! It really is a professional-looking and feeling book. I’ve made personal photo books in the past (for gifts or keepsakes) and while they serve their purpose, it’s not the same quality as a book that you could actually purchase in a bookstore. With art and design books especially, there’s something about quality printing that makes it feel extra special. Blurb has that!
What made you want to use Layflat Paper?
It’s great because the images stretch from corner to corner of the page, and it’s easy to lay open as you look through—you’re not balancing it in one hand while trying to think through with the other. I also love how thick the paper is—it feels so professional!
How did you become a professional creative?
It just so happened that I discovered my love of styling and photography around the same time that Instagram took off. I would share my projects on there and slowly (and with a lot of hard work!) grew a business because of the exposure and opportunities that it provided.
Do you have any tips for people who want to follow their passion like you did?
My number one tip: Don’t be afraid to suck in the beginning! You have to do something over and over and over to get good at it. If you’re trying to build a career or business, be okay with taking some smaller jobs in the beginning to start getting more experience. And keep at it. Everyday! Even the days you think you can’t do it anymore, the days you think you’ll never go anywhere…if you love it and feel a passion, you can take that somewhere with enough dedication.
If you could go back and talk to your 5-years-ago-self about your creative business, what would say?
Ahh!! Where do I begin? I would say don’t wait, just start somewhere! You’re going to have embarrassing mistakes and rough days and you can’t be perfect at anything, especially when you’re first starting. If you hang in there and keep working hard, you’ll also have wins. Some small, some big. But every single step forward is a new point you haven’t been before!
When you were a small child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does what you’re doing now compare?
I was always into painting, collage, and all kinds of creative projects—I think deep down I dreamed of doing something creative, but really didn’t know what that would look like. Then I discovered Sherlock Holmes and decided I was meant to be a detective. I still think that would be a cool job, but I’m glad I ended up on a creative path.
How can digital creatives make print work for them? What purpose do print pieces serve in the digital creative world?
I think no matter how digital our world becomes, we all crave real-world connection. Talking to someone in direct messages is not the same as meeting them in person. In that way, digital art can never fully take the place of printed work. I spend all day on my computer and/or phone, but when I want a break—to recharge, and get inspired—I come back to the real world. I also think printed work is a way of making a more permanent footprint of your life and career. Who knows if Instagram will exist in the future for my daughter to see what I’ve done, but I know I can hand down a book or prints and tangible memories.
What are the best parts of your job? What are some of your challenges?
The best part, hands down, is getting to spend my days doing something I love. I’m excited to wake up and get to work, and I feel in control of my own life in a way that makes even the hardest days worthwhile. The challenges range from creative burnout (it can be hard to constantly churn out fresh, new material) to having to make up a lot of things as I go because I work for myself (there’s no manual to look at or boss to ask questions, although Google is always helpful.)
What’s one project you’re dying to do?
I would love to shoot a national ad campaign that was printed—in magazines or on billboards. There really is something about seeing your work in print that is awe-inspiring.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us, Natasha! We can’t wait to see what you make next!