January 3, 2018

2018 word for the year: streamline

Filed under: Creativity — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 4:30 pm

2018 word for the year: streamline

Since 2014, I have picked one word to set the overall tone for the year ahead. My word for 2017 was PRIORITIES. I wanted to be better about staying on task in my business life (which also affects the priorities I’ve set for my family life).

How did I do with 2017’s word? Well, I know that I’ve been better about avoiding social media during the day (unless it’s work or client-related) and focusing on one project through completion instead of jumping around all day (for the most part…let’s be realistic here, I can’t totally change my creative brain!)

2018’s word is STREAMLINE. Over the course of last year, I’ve slowly gotten myself to this point. I’ve realized: I don’t need to be active on every single social media outlet. I don’t need to write every single blog post that pops into my head. I don’t need to reach out to every prospect that looks interesting.

And I finally admitted to myself that I need to streamline certain aspects of my business that take up a lot of time (time tracking, invoicing, accounting) and started taking approproate steps (I recently migrated to Harvest for time tracking and invoicing and it’s a major time saver.)

Now, I’m ready to move full force and create simpler and streamlined systems for all aspects of my business—both to be more productive during my workday and have more time for my family and personal projects.

What’s your word for 2018?

March 15, 2017

RECAP: SheSays Chicago’s International Women’s Day panel discussion

Filed under: Creativity — lidia @ 3:16 pm

SheSays Chicago's International Women's Day

Last week, I attended SheSays Chicago’s International Women’s Day panel discussion at Leo Burnett. It was a lively discussion on creating a more gender-inclusive world, filled with inspiration and humor.

Below are a few top quotes from the panelists and audience members:

If we apply innovation and startup principles, we can create solutions to our problems.

Keeping it inside yourself, not moving forward, is he problem. 

I want to get to the point where we’re not criticized for the choices me make.

Karen Gordon, Founder, Chief Design Facilitator, WE Design Think


You can balance being who you are, but remind yourself of your intention.

Be opinionated when you need to. 

–Pooka Merai, Design Strategist, Salesforce


It would be hard to do a day without women because women can’t NOT do.

There’s a business cost when you don’t bring your whole self to the table.

We show up not just for ourselves but for he thousands of other women behind us. 

My goal is to help all these guys become advocates for women.

Sandee Kastrul, President and Co-Founder, I.c. stars


It’s important that [men] are actively involved in the conversation and listening. We don’t always know what we’re doing. 

Britt Nolan, CCO, Leo Burnett


Leaders who can balance EQ and IQ with loving kindness will succeed, whether male or female.

Andrew Swinand, CEO, Leo Burnett

At the end of the event, there was a challenge presented to all of us to spend more time mentoring other women. 

How will you #BeBoldforChange?

January 5, 2017

Care to join me in a STORYSTORM?

Filed under: Creativity — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Im a storystorm participant

Some of you may have heard me mention PiBoIdMo (Picture Books Idea Month), a daily children’s book brainstorming challenge facilitated by author Tara Lazar that I participated in a few years ago (not to mention, got some great book ideas!)

PiBoIdMo has been replaced with STORYSTORM: a month of brainstorming new story ideas—and it’s no longer limited to children’s book ideas. This event is open to any writer seeking inspiration, support and community.

Registration is open until Friday, Jan. 7 and I just signed up to brainstorm ideas for new children’s books, as well as a few marketing book ideas I have. Sign up here.

Will you participate in STORYSTORM? Share in the comments!

November 30, 2016

What 100 days of art journaling taught me

This summer I embarked on #the100dayproject, a commitment to 100 days of making. Some of you may know I’m no stranger to daily challenges: I participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge every year (see last year’s A to Z of Branding).

My daily creative challenge for #the100dayproject (after much careful consideration) was an art journal of everyday life. I had recently discovered a drawer of old art supplies in my studio and was anxious to put them to use again so this was the perfect excuse.

I bought several Strathmore mixed media journals (perfect for using wet and dry media), gathered my supplies and was ready to go! The first few weeks were inspiring and exciting. The warm summer weather encouraged me to draw and paint outdoors and provided a much-needed escape at the end of the day when the kids were in bed.

Doing #the100dayproject wasn’t without its challenges. Toward the end, I started to lose steam and doing a daily drawing became a late-night hassle. Some nights, I would just make a few sleep-deprived marks on the page. One page was left blank. But it was all part of the process. And by the time I got to the last few days—and started reviewing my finished pages— I started to realize my accomplishment.

But the best part of the project was collaborating with my 5-year-old, who was almost as excited about it as I was! After dinner each night, we would spread out our art supplies and just create without any limitations. He also had his first trip to Blick Art Materials to buy his own Cray Pas and colored pencils. I was both sad and relieved to see the project end, but I’m already thinking about my next art challenge…

What should my next art challenge be?





November 23, 2016

16 years in business = 16 reasons to be grateful (and then some!)

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — lidia @ 9:45 am


This year marks my 16th year in business. WOW. I started Lidia Varesco Design in November 2000 and quite a bit has changed. But as I reflect on 16 years, one thing is for sure, I’m truly grateful for all of you who are reading this: the clients, friends and family that offer me support, encouragement and inspiration every single day. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Every year, I like to share a fun list on my business anniversary (see last year’s post “15 reasons why I love having my own business”) so this year I’m sharing 16 things I’m grateful for (of course, there are many many more!)

16 things I am grateful for

  1. My family who offers support and encouragement
  2. My kiddos who inspire me daily
  3. Great clients (especially the ones who remind me to send an invoice!)
  4. Coffee dates with friends
  5. Warmer than usual Chicago fall
  6. My short commute to work
  7. Paying taxes because it means I’m earning income
  8. Piles of books around my home and office
  9. Sketchbooks filled with ideas
  10. A full-night’s sleep
  11. My “creatively-messy” studio
  12. A flexible work schedule that allows me time with my family
  13. Seeing the world through my children’s eyes
  14. Apple Store Genius Bar (after a recent computer crash)
  15. Having my business for 16 years…and counting
  16. Using my design talents to make a difference

Happy Thanksgiving!









January 12, 2016

Things I want to learn in 2016

Filed under: Creativity — lidia @ 5:54 pm


Every year, I make a list of things I want to learn rather than New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve managed to check off a few things on last year’s list (make an awesome green smoothie) though some still remain elusive (will I ever master my DSLR camera?)

Things I want to learn in 2016

  1. Video and YouTube marketing
  2. PPC (pay-per-click) advertising
  3. How to play guitar again (it’s been awhile)
  4. A digital illustration style that I can use for my children’s book ideas
  5. A more efficient bookkeeping system
What do you want to learn in 2016?

May 12, 2015

HOW Design Live conference recap: finding honesty, passion & kindred spirits in small business

Filed under: Creativity,Marketing & Promotion,Small Business — lidia @ 2:17 pm

HOW Design celebrates 25 years; Janine Vangool speaks; Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable; a beautiful sunny Chicago day

Last week was a whirlwind as I attended the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago, while juggling a sudden overload of work and a 3-year old’s schedule. HOW Design Live brings together print and interactive designers, as well as writers and other creatives for a week of speakers, workshops and networking.

I noticed several themes throughout this year’s HOW Design Live:

  1. Talking honestly about money: I attended several sessions which spoke honestly about money, sharing their billings, rates and/or project fees. Armin Vit of Under Consideration LLC even went so far as to detail “How to Spend $400,000 of Your $530,000 Billings” (the actual name of his session). It was refreshing to hear people talk honestly about money with their peers and encourage us to do the same.
  2. Rise above disappointments: It was also refreshing to hear design leaders such as Paula Scher of Pentagram talking about getting her ideas shot down. So, it really does happen to all of us! But it’s how you bounce back that makes all the difference. (Case in point: Pentagram’s redesign of Microsoft Windows 8, which had some bumps early on)
  3. Passion projects can pay off big: Artist Jeff Greenspan and Jessica Walsh of Sagmeister & Walsh both spoke about personal projects which started off just for fun, but ended up garnering much unexpected press and success. See Jeff’s many personal projects here (Hipster Traps is my fave) and Jessica’s project, 40 Days of Dating here.
  4. You can find kindred spirits without even looking: I was looking forward to reconnecting with fellow moms in business that I knew—but I also unexpectedly met lots of new ones. What started out as small talk led to, “oh, you’re a mom too?” and a lively conversation about work or potty training. It was also exciting to meet some of my working mom heroes who were speakers: Bryony Gomez-Palacio of Under Consideration and Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE assured us that we can be moms and still follow our creative passions. Lastly, I had a great opportunity to swap stories with the “Moms in Business Breakfast Roundtable” I hosted (which included moms, a dad, and even a pet dad!)

Stay tuned for my upcoming post featuring insight from the fellow biz mamas I met at HOW Live

Want to be featured? Please email me ASAP!

May 4, 2015

National Small Business Week starts today

Filed under: Creativity,Small Business — lidia @ 10:00 am

national small business week

National Small Business Week starts today and I am celebrating appropriately: I will be attending the HOW Design Live conference in Chicago soaking in all the knowledge that will help me grow my design business.

Small Business Week features both online and in-person events for small business owners. If you are in the one of the cities who is not participating live (like Chicago), you can tune in for their daily webinars.

Follow here for my small business insight this week…

Stay tuned to my blog or follow @lsvdesign on twitter where I will be sharing my small business and creativity takeaways from the HOW Design conference. Here’s to working on your business!


April 22, 2015

S is for stretch

Filed under: Creativity,Mompreneur — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of being a mom in business: a daily blog series

S is for stretchS is for stretch

I first heard the term “stretch” in Barbara Stanney‘s book Overcoming Underearning. It’s when you “go beyond what feels comfortable to what may seem impossible.”

I love this concept because in both parenting and small business, we often have to venture outside of our comfort zone. Scary as it may be, it never fails to result in a feeling of accomplishment or satisfaction.

How did you “stretch” in your day today?

April 18, 2015

P is for play

Filed under: Creativity,Mompreneur — lidia @ 10:00 am

A to Z of being a mom in business: a daily blog series

P is for playP is for play

Most of us don’t play enough in our day. When you have a toddler, you have no choice (and my toddler will call me out on it if I’m not really playing). Kids help us see things from a more whimsical perspective: why shouldn’t a stack of Lego blocks be a robot? They help you slow down and appreciate simple, yet amazing moments.

Couldn’t we all use a bit of play in our business day?


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