S03 E03 – Philip VanDusen on evolving career paths, identity, and building the work and life you actually want

Today’s guest is Philip VanDusen. Philip has more than 20 years of experience in strategic branding, graphic design and product development. He’s the owner of a strategic design and branding consultancy, Verhaal Brand Design (the Dutch word for “story”), and a YouTuber.

Philip started as a fine artist in painting and as a college-level art teacher before moving to NYC where he started designing t-shirts and selling them around the city. After that he essentially fell into the apparel industry and eventually settled into a creative director role.

Email played an significant role in Philip’s career early on when he created his newsletter, Brand Muse. Though, admittedly self-promotional in the beginning, it eventually led to sharing videos on YouTube, which served as content and inbound marketing for his brand and agency.

One of Philip’s defining moments was realizing that not all career paths are linear. Having struggled to make a living as fine artist, he found other ways to support himself (starting an apparel brand, working as a creative director). But he never gave up the painting.

Philip has a lot of projects in the works, including a series on branding for YouTube, a book and training products. You can subscribe to his newsletter to stay on top of everything he’s working on.

In this episode Philip talks about:

  • How he made the move from fine artist to digital designer + creative director
  • Why posting regularly on YouTube is important and how you can add value for your audience
  • Why you should start building an email list early
  • Why letting go of fears is an important part of finding your ideal career path
  • How he loves seeing his work out in the world and how he designed the #1 selling t-shirt of all time
  • Flying to Milan on a Leer jet to go shopping
It's dangerous to define yourself by the tools you use. Instead, try to identify with the underlying creativity it enables. Click To Tweet

Main Takeaways

  • Building an email list early can help you reach your target customers and provides an ongoing way to communicate with your audience and get feedback.
  • Understanding the difference between what a client thinks they want and what they really need to reach their goals.
  • When you change paths it can sometimes feel like you don’t have permission to go back, but you have to let go of those fears in order to open up the possibilities of what your life and career can be.
  • It’s dangerous to define yourself by the tools you use. The tools change so quickly that it’s important to identify with underlying creativity than the tool that enables you to execute on that creative motivation.
  • Let go of how you define yourself and be willing to take risks and try new things.

Important Mentions in this Episode