We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Marzan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Melissa, do you have a budget? how do you think about personal finances?
I like to say I have a loose budgeting strategy. I’m not the kind where I have a strict, down to the dollar budget, but I have created a mindset for my personal finances in which I treat my money as a tool rather than something that causes stress and fear. My parents had instilled in me the value of saving money, so I have very early memories of having the opportunity to save the cash I would get from birthday, Christmas, and graduation cards for my own use. I’m very grateful that my parents allowed me to handle my own finances when I was a kid because it build the foundation of how I take care of my money today. Both my parents worked very hard to provided everything they could for me growing up, so being able to buy things for myself without having to ask them for money was my way of lessening the burden on them. My lifestyle and spending decisions are dependent on the amount of funds I have allocated to a specific purchase. I like to have set minimum amounts in my accounts, like in my Savings and Checking, so I actually kind of pretend I have less money than I actually do at the time. I also keep separate pockets for spending like a “Fun Fund”, “Travel”, and “Emergency”, because this way, I have a specific money pocket meant for more fun purchases like an impulse buy of a new mermaid tail, and I don’t have to feel guilty about it since that money was meant for things like that. I believe in changing your relationship with money as a tool to help you live life the way you want to live it, rather than something you’re scared of not having or scared of spending.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I feel that my creative journey unending, exciting, and ever-growing. As artists, we’re always seeking to find our style and voice in our work, and we get frustrated a lot, because we have high expectations for ourselves, especially when we’ve been in the game for so long. I started my journey at twelve years old, and still, at twenty-seven, soon to be twenty-eight, I am just barely figuring out what my style is. And there was also a portion of my career where I kind of gave up on creating consistently, or even creating anything for myself. I tried to bury that part of me through having a day job. I would create awesome pieces or work, but I had kind of stopped making art for myself. It took me a couple of years to figure out that I needed that creative outlet in my life to feel whole. I had spent so long preparing to get a job as a graphic designer, and then working as a graphic designer, that I had pushed my own dreams of starting an art business and making that a career to the side without even realizing it. Choosing the creative path is never easy, and as an artist, it always seems to feel like a battle with yourself trying to convince yourself that you’re actually really good at what you do. It definitely became easier once I had found the specific area of art I wanted to pursue, which is hand-lettering and illustration. And it all just snow-balled from there. I started attending workshops and conferences and connecting with the community. After hearing their stories and learning from the best of the best in the industry like Ken Barber, Martina Flor, Lisa Congdon, Lauren Hom, and so many more, I fell head-over-heels in love with hand-lettering. I’ve learned that having people you can turn to in the industries that you’re passionate about, the easier it is to stay motivated and inspired. Connecting with my community has been such a life saver and I have built so many relationships that have opened doors of opportunity I never would have dreamed would be options for me. I want the world to know that I live and breathe my authenticity. My art is an honest window to my human experience, and I want to let others know that they should tell their stories and share their own experiences through their creative outlets. I’ve built my brand on connection, authenticity, compassion, and empathy. I embrace my emotions and welcome those who want to do the same to my undersea world of curiosity and magic. My art and my brand are a representation of my acceptance as myself, as a human with vibrant emotions, and the beauty in always growing and learning.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When the weather is beautiful and hits at around 70-80 degrees, I love heading to the beach and having a picnic by the waves. I live about a 10 minutes drive away from the beach, here in Santa Cruz, so it’s not a long trip. I would definitely take them to one of my favorite bakeries in town, near my place, called “The Buttery” can pick up a box of delicious pastries and a cupcake or two. Santa Cruz has such a diverse outdoor experience that not only includes the beach, but a red wood forest as well, so I’d take my friend out to hike and attempt to find the “Garden Of Eden” and take a swim for the afternoon. One of my favorite restaurants I’d love to stop by afterwards would be Hula’s Island Grill, and have a big basket of fries and a calamari steak sandwich and/or their mango chicken caesar salad. When we’re out with four or more people, I love being able to share their Scorpion Bowl, which is a tropical, adult-friendly drink, fit for a night out. Taking a stroll through Downtown Santa Cruz is a pleasant time as well, with all the local mom’n’pop shops and delicious ice cream stops like Penny’s Ice Creamery, home of my favorite early gray ice cream and dark chocolate sorbet.

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?
Honestly, I am so blessed to have so many people in my life to thank for being able to get this far in my career. First of all my family, especially my parents, who’ve always supported my dream in pursuing the creative path, even if they didn’t fully understand it. I would not be here today with the undying support of my best friends, Jess, Kelsey, Grant, Ray, Ezra, and Simmone, who cheer me on with every win, and still comfort and love me when I’m not at my best. Thank you Faith, for being my art buddy in high school and helping the quirky side of me flourish in tutus and fairy wings. I greatly appreciate my god brother, Daryl, for inspiring me to draw in the first place. I am eternally indebted to my amazing coach, Scotty Russell, creator of the Side Hustler’s Coaching Program, who legitimately changed my perspective on my own creative capabilities and opened a door to a world I didn’t know existed, helping me realize my full potential as an artist. And I can’t forget about my Creative After Party crew that I’m blessed to be a part of during and after that program, who keep me accountable and hold me together when I’m at my wit’s end. Special shoutout to my friend, Roberta, who seems to never give up on me, even on days I can’t get up again. Having such a diverse community of support has helped build me as the person and artist I am today, and I would have no idea what I would be doing now without any of them. My success if their success, and vise versa. I love you all, so very much.

Website: thelettermermaid.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thelettermermaid/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/msmarzan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thelettermermaid

Other: https://www.twitch.tv/thelettermermaid

Image Credits
Libby Kastle

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