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Costas Schuler, founder of Envisionary Design
Episode 31613th May 2024 • Your World of Creativity • Mark Stinson
00:00:00 00:30:46

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Welcome back to *Your World of Creativity*, where we dive into the minds of fascinating creatives. Today, we explore the journey of Costas Schuler, founder of Envisionary Design.

costas's Website


- **Creative Triumphs:** Costas shares his unique blend of humor and deep insights that have fueled his decades-long career in design.

- **Intuition in Creativity:** Embracing a childlike state allows for intuitive and innovative thinking, leading to effortless creativity.

- **Fractional Creative Direction:** Costas introduces the concept of a fractional creative director, blending a subscription model with high-quality, personalized design services.

- **The Power of Truth:** Through his involvement in the Warrior Week community, Costas emphasizes the importance of truth-telling for personal growth and creativity.

- **Gratitude and Ego:** Costas highlights the role of gratitude in maintaining a fresh perspective and overcoming creative obstacles, cautioning against the pitfalls of ego-driven behavior.

Pull-Out Quote:

"The simplest thing I've discovered is the ego. When the ego gets in the way, things go badly. When it becomes about you and you're blaming other people, you're in for a world of hurt." - Costas Schuler

Thank you for joining us on this enlightening journey with Costas Schuler. Be sure to check out Envisionary Design and stay tuned for more captivating conversations on *Your World of Creativity*.


  Hello again, friends, and welcome back to Your World of Creativity. People ask me after 300 episodes why I keep going on this podcast, and it's your reviews, your support but most of all, I get to meet such interesting creative people and then introduce them to you. That's what keeps me going.

And today is no different. We're going to talk about creative triumphs. We're going to talk about humor and deep insights two topics close to my heart. And our guest is Costas Schuler of Envisionary Design. Costas, welcome to the show. Hey, man. Thank you for having me on the show. It's a pleasure.

, it's gonna be so much fun. Like myself, we were just commenting anybody watching this on video, the the twinsy nature of two creative guys in a hat, with headphones on. I just I can hardly stand the parallels. But your career spans, decades. You've cultivated unique approaches.

You've blended humor. Playfulness with some serious creativity and insights. Let's talk about that journey, how did you go from just being the design guy to being a creative partner with some of your clients? In the beginning part of your career, you're just trying, you're just trying to figure out how things are working.

You're trying to like keep a job, get a job, not get fired. I did get fired. Just so it's in the beginning, it's the mechanical aspect of learning your tools, learning, Photoshop, Illustrator, all those things. And just getting a product that, that, serves your clients.

And after once you get, you put a bunch of hours, you got to put your 10, 000, that's true. You got to put your hours in and then it becomes more fun. Then it becomes more intuitive. Then you're not thinking about the tools because the tools, now you know how to work. And now you're thinking about other things.

You get in the zone and then other things occur. Like I, I've played drums, I've done art, I've done all kinds of other things. Once you learn the tools, that's when the farm park comes. Now you can improvise and do cool things. That's right. And this idea of envisioning, intuiting coming up with the insights, how do you incorporate that into the creative process to be able to step back and think before you just.

It's part of who I am, it's after a while, if you, so now you're not thinking about the tools now, if you, so my philosophy is if you as childlike, State. Why do kids why is it that you can put your kids in a room and then set them loose and they'll come up with a game. They'll come up with something, because that's what they do.

They play, they create, right? They're in the flow state. When we, when I'm in that state and child likes, child likeness ability to just play and have fun. All kinds of things happen. So I'm not trying. I'm not efforting. It just happens and it happens all the time, it happens when I sleep, when I wake up, when I'm in the shower it's, there's something that's a part of me that happens all the time, and if I have an idea or something I'm working on at night, I'll go to bed and in the morning, those ideas, like they're there because your mind's doing the work.

Somehow it's and so it's not something separate from me it's a part of me that just over time I've experienced and I've noticed it more and more. And now once you start to notice how things work, you're like, okay, this is how it works. And so you go with it. You learn to harness that ability, which is a pretty wonderful thing after so many years of doing this stuff.

And talk about how things change over time, right? Not only in my career of working with creatives, but now interviewing hundreds of them around the world. I was fascinated to read. More about envisionary design and this idea of a fractional creative director. And I must say with a subscription model, I love the the new business twist there.

Yeah. So a fractional creative director is just a fancy word of saying, I have multiple clients. But it sounds good. It's a buzzword, right? That's fine. I'll admit to that. And you can work side by side with the fractional, chief financial officer. That's right. That's right. So the subscription a lot of different subscription models out there.

And 300, 650, whatever. But a lot of those companies They hired designers from other countries, like the Philippines are a great group. So they, that's how they do it. That's how it works for them. But I'm the one that doing the work because I've tried using some of these companies for my work, but I just.

I, the level of the level of design or the level that I'm looking for, that I have of myself, it's not there and it's not their fault. It's just my standard is much higher, so I could do the same thing. So basically when you hire me you sometimes I'll get some outside help, but for the most part, I'm the one doing the work because my level is a high standard.

When you hire me, you get mostly me. And so I'm a perfectionist. If you want something done, you do it yourself. I know that's probably a terrible way to do it, but that's how I do it. And I let's get into the, let's get into the logistics a little bit, a world that was built on hours and salaries and fees and fixed and variable and all these other things that you could get into what makes a subscription approach.

First of all, different, but why is it right for you? And how does it work for the client? It works great for the client because what I don't like, I don't want to have to nickel and dime for my hourly rate. Oh, if they do one thing and then we have some other things we've got to do, and I got to build them for that.

And so there's this, I don't like that. I really don't want to haggle and nickel and dime my clients for another hour or another project. Yeah. Listen, just pay me a flat rate. And we'll do as much work as I can cram in there. And I'm good at what I do, so I can do it quickly, which is great. And that way I could just focus on the creative part.

If I had a wish, I just want to do the creative stuff, the fun part. And just, and then the money thing just works out. It's just, I'll take care of you. Listen, when my clients, if you're with me, My goal is to like, whatever I'll do, whatever it takes. If you call me at five o'clock at night, five o'clock on Friday night, say, Hey, I need a project done by Monday.

I'll do it. I'll do it. I'll do it. Because it's me, it's my business. It's my reputation on the line. So I do whatever it takes to make it work. So let's put the money aside. And let's just do the work. That's the best part, let, I want to help all my clients, achieve, all their goals and their campaigns and get it done on time.

So let's move the money inside. Let's just take care of that on the, on the side and let's just get busy with the work. Yes. Subscriptions are often associated with you pay so much a month. I'll give you so many issues. I'll give you so many cups of coffee. I'll give you so many whatever it is you've subscribed to, right?

It's, has it been hard to put a, Next to that subscription package and say, here's how many of something I'm going to deliver, or has that not been an issue for you? No, I don't. Because what it is, it's there's a, there's the idea of abundance I if I believe if I do my very best for a client or anybody, it's going to come back to me.

You know what? It's like when I focused on the money and we've got to, we've got to measure it. We got to, it's horrible. Like for your being, and that's been my experience. Like I haven't done a lot of marketing. I've relied on this sort of idea that like, when I need work, the right clients come.

And I know it sounds woo and you can't really sell that but you can't measure it. It's just like I just it's I just rely, I've been relying on that for most of my life. It's and when I try to do marketing, it doesn't work. This is the struggle. This is like this girl, it's like pouring sand in the works.

It doesn't work for me. And I can't tell somebody how to do that because it's just what's been working for me. And so as long as I'm given, it works out. I get paid as I get satisfied with the money and then the client gets everything that they need. So it all works out. So like it's a give situation, which sounds weird, but that's how I'm doing it.

No, and I think at first I caught myself. I was asking the question first from the client's point of view. How am I sure I'm going to get what I paid for? But now let me turn the question inside out because all the books would say, Oh, but Costas, the clients will take advantage of you if just get paid fixed.

You And they call you at Friday at five, you're being somehow what abused you're being taken advantage of. They're getting more than they paid for. But I must say, I like your abundance thing. There's plenty to go around and there's lots of ideas. It's true that a client could do that, but if you, the right type of clients, most of the great clients I've had, they don't do that.

There's a difference, actually the people that grind you about the money are the ones that are harder to please because they're just harder. The clients that have the budgets and they just say, hey, let's, they're interested in the end results. And so am I. So yeah, maybe I have to work a little harder.

So what? So what? It all works out. After you shake it all out, it all works out. It really does. And again, I don't know how to explain it. The approach to the relationship seems to be key as well. You're saying there's trust, there's a relationship here. And if we're both sitting here looking at each other, who's getting the advantage over the other?

That's not much way to work, is it? I will do my best to give you as much as I can as like I will do my best to go above and beyond where there's no and so that comes across so oftentimes people don't abuse that they and most people are like they have a good heart and they understand that yeah man you got a weekend you got kids you got whatever but So I've never been, it's only in my head when I feel like I'm being abused and it feels like I'm being abused, but it's really all in my head, it's all the frame that I hold, because you can look at something that's either it's a problem or it's an opportunity.

It's all in how you look at it. So if you change your thinking, if you change the story in your head about how you see something, then it works out. It's harder. It's easier said than done, actually. This is the ideal world, but you're right on. And obviously, let's talk about insights. You've got to have that aha moment.

There's a breakthrough, there's a solution, there's an idea. And that's not going to come. In a package or, on a schedule or within the three day deadline or whatever it has to be. You've got to always be thinking and looking for these things, don't you? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know. Okay.

So what's the question? That was a rhetorical question. You're just non sick. Gosh, Mark, that was insightful. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Wow. It's amazing. Yeah. I realized there was no question in Mark at the end of that whole diatribe there, but having said that, let's get to a question. So you're working.

Help me out. Help me out. Help me out. Help me. Throw me a bone. Throw me a question, please. Take my wife. Yes. So you're on a deadline, and you're within this subscription model where you said with, with so much money a month. And which turns out to be so many projects and so many hours, but we still got to get the idea.

And so how are you working within that framework to say, I know I have a deadline I need to come up with the idea. How does that work for you? So over time, over, doing this stuff for 30 years, the ideas are easier to come by, before there's no such thing as writer's block.

I heard somebody say that was invented. Somebody came up with that and said, people are like, Oh, yeah, I got writer's block. There is no such thing. So, I'm a little ADHD, so I like pressure. I like deadlines. And I do if someone says, Hey, this is due by the end of the day, I'll figure it out.

And that's the fun part. So doing it over time, the creative process. So I have so many, I've done so many reps that things come naturally to me. So I have a, it's almost if you look, open up my mind this Ways that I do things, processes that help me get to the results I'm looking for. So some, so I have a project, I start playing with it until, it comes out right.

It's hard to explain, but it's like over, it's easier for me to be creative. Like I don't think about it. It's just Oh, I know what to do. Like I'm having conversations with clients and I'm literally can see the path to, to what they're looking for. It's just instant. It's just because I've done so much of it.

It's part of how I operate. I just naturally see. Oh, yeah, that's what we're going to do. Boom boom. And then next thing you know, the phone hangs up, boom, I send it. Sometimes I have to wait. So it doesn't look like I'm, it's too easy. It's too easy. You know what I mean? I like, I'll give it an hour.

. And you've made it very ocular with this name and visionary design. Yes. It's visionary, meaning, yes. It's a big idea. Who envisioned to envision? You can see it. I can envision it. Yeah. I told somebody the other day, it's remember that movie where they say, yeah, I see dead people. I see brands,

No. It's like you're talking to me and I already am starting to envision. Yeah. And then, from the standpoint of your design angle, you're helping then other people see it. How are you translating that vision that you have both in proposing things to the client, but also then communicating that to their audience.

Yeah it's I, most of the great clients that I have they I like working with people who get me. So there's this person we vibe. So they know that I'm a little weird. And that's okay. That's part of the process. So the work that comes back, it's usually right on.

There's not a lot of like changes and things like that, because here's what I stopped doing. I stopped asking the client what they think don't, I don't do that. I try not to do that because most clients don't know what they want. And their idea of what should be, it's not necessarily the right choice because I've made so many choices.

Like sometimes somebody will ask, Oh, why don't you do this? And I know because I've done it, it doesn't work. Put in the image over another image or a certain way. It's hard to say, Hey, this isn't going to work because they don't believe me. So sometimes I say, give them the benefit of that and show them what that looks like.

And they're like, Oh, you're right. This sucks. So I've learned to go with the first. I don't, I try not to do too many things. I usually trust the first idea that comes to me. That's how I operate. So that way I save a lot of time trying to iterate and do that. I just go with the thing that comes first.

And that's Oh, that feels good. And this is an excitement. And there's a flow towards that. And I just trust that's going to work out that's the right idea. You have your own fun. And passion projects. When we first connected, you said, Hey, creativity podcast. That's interesting.

I covered my:

And it was just a fascinating book. I read every story and I was like, so gripped by this thing this art form. Like I wanted to be, I wanted to do that. I like, I want to do this, but what do you do? Like, how do you start, gluing anything to you or doing anything to you? That's a big decision.

So I put the book aside and two years later, like literally I woke up one morning and the idea for pens, It's almost like it took me two years to like my brain to figure it out, to get the, and so that was it like, Oh, that's the idea because everybody's throwing out pens as I can collect that easy.

It's as easy product and it's free. Nobody's going to be like, yeah, take the pen. Found 20 pens around the house, glued them on the side of the door. And then I drove out to work that day and I'm like, what have I done? So I kept asking people, blah, blah, blah. And it kept growing. And I created a website and I started asking people online and eventually ended up collecting three quarters of a million pens and like pens would come in, I got a pallet of pens, like three 30, 000 pens, like a pallet that showed up.

I had to deliver it to a business because I didn't have a, I didn't have a dollar, I I lived in the country, there's no truck coming up my driveway and then I had to figure out how to get all those pens home. And get them glued on. Yeah. So eventually I had too many pens for car.

I covered my first car in 10, 000 pens. It broke down, the transmission died. And then I got another Mercedes and I started over again. And that, that car eventually rolled down the hill and crashed into a tree. And that was like that was it. That's the end of the project.

That's okay, we're done. Come to the end of the line. That's okay. Yes. And we creatives need these kind of passion projects sometimes and sometimes they're fun like this But you also have been involved in something called the warrior week community. Yes Really encourages some dialogue.

Tell us about that. So the first tenant Of this is to stop lying and to start telling the truth. And it's a group, it's a group of men who are married, who are businesses, because a lot of men, a lot of men have been abused. A lot of men have a lot of pain. Most men, I would say most men have been abused in some sort of way, mentally, physically, sexually.

whatever. And so that pain turns into you don't want to deal with that pain. So you sedate with porn and alcohol and affairs and gambling, all those things, because the pain, the feelings that come up when you think about those things, you don't want to deal with, and nobody wants to admit that they're hurting.

So the first thing is to start telling the truth, meaning, where are you right now? What is going on? What has happened in your life that is true? Tell the truth. So it says, the truth shall set you free. So when you start, when you have a community where you can share some dark shit. Sorry, there's a freedom in that because now this, those things are not hitting in your body and they manifest into bad things like all this stuff that we see date with.

Now you can tell another man and another man can hold space for you and this freedom in that I get emotional just talking about it. So I've been inside this program for two years. So we focus on our bodies, our business, our being, which is our relationship with the creator being balance, which is our relationship with our families, wife and kids, and then our business.

So the four B's. So once we start with the body is the first one to start with, once you start working out and start getting your body better physically, then other things start to work out. And then this two year process has been, zoom calls every Monday with a bigger group, zoom calls every Thursday with our class group.

And just daily dropping, what we've learned, reading and things like that. So we're constantly connected and we have events and stuff. And it's just an incredible because so now when I talk to other men, I can hear what they're not telling me. Most men don't tell you most things. Or they have, they don't want to go there.

So what's interesting is that because we've trained in here and the BS or we're not, they're not telling us, I can say, Hey, what's really going on? What's really going on in your life? Tell me about this. Why, what's the story behind that? So when we have feelings, we get triggered, we have feelings and we create a story in our head.

And that bad story leads to bad decisions. So if we could change the story, it will lead us to better decisions in life. So that's the, in a nutshell, what this is about. It's been one of the most transforming things I've ever done in my life. I've been able to confront my demons. Just speak out.

Just say, Hey, Mr. Client, you're not treating me well. This isn't right. Having, we call them collisions basically is having a conversation. You don't want to have, I grew up in a, my dad was not very confrontational, English, a hundred percent, non confrontational, never talk about anything difficult like that.

So I grew up in that. So I was doing that. So now it's Hey, Mr. Klein when would now be a good time to give me that check? I've done the work for you. I've done my part. Where's your part? And so the emails have changed the conversations with the clients and family and friends and people around has totally changed.

I'm not afraid to say, Hey. What's going on in your life? It sounds like once you get used to telling the truth, and telling your own truth, and expecting the truth back wow, what a habit that becomes. It's mind blowing. It's really crazy how that simply telling the truth can change your life.

It's pretty incredible. And it's interesting that you said it started in the body. It's like that's where we hold it, but also you ever have the feeling when you've come up with that creative idea, there is a bodily a physical feeling of a rush, but I can imagine it's the same thing when.

You're able to tell your truth or let that tension out or unhide it or whatever the case might be. Because why do people, now we're getting to some theory stuff, but I believe if when you hold things inside, when you don't, when you have a lie or something that you hold it onto some dark thing that you haven't expressed, it manifests in your body.

So we go, it has to go somewhere. If you don't let it out, it will. This is I'm not a scientist, I don't know, but I feel if it goes in your body, it turns into cancer, it turns into anger, it turns into resentment, it turns into something, it turns your body, it hurts you, physically. Why is confession a thing?

Because speaking it out and telling another human being to get it out of your body, it's it's a thing. I think it's a, something happens when you release that negative energy out of your body. You just tell somebody, it's a weird, again, we're going into weird stuff.

I don't know. I'm just, I'm making stuff up, but it's just things I've thought about. Exactly. It's I'm no philosopher. I'm the creative guy in the room, but hey, I believe it all too. But let's come full circle with this. You become telling your truth, you get in touch with these emotions and feelings, is intuition and emotion?

Sometimes I think so. This is not about some fact finding mission necessarily. You say, I know this in my gut. That's a physical bodily feeling right there. You say, Yeah, people say that your gut has, it's like another brain, that's what I've heard it's like another brain, like you think things inside of here, like every time I've not listened to the guts I felt like something funny going on and I didn't listen to it, hey, don't work with that client, it turned out badly, so now, because I need the money, I'm, yeah, I can't afford not to, to let this person go, but it's like, But it always turned badly.

So after a while you learn that you get the heebie jeebies, you'd maybe I'm not the right, maybe the best way to describe it is like, Hey, we're not a good fit. Because maybe they're a good fit with somebody else. There's no judgment. It's you and I don't mesh. We're not a good fit.

There's something not right. There's not, there's a disconnect. And if it's going to be hard for me to get you in the door, it's going to be hard for me to get you out the door. You know what I mean? So there's, if it's this much of a struggle in our initial call And I've had this experience where it's I've had things going for years, projects going for years because we couldn't, and some projects last, days, boom.

I've done a whole website in two, three days. I've had websites. Yeah. Two years. Actually two years to get them to say, to give me the money and another two years to actually do the project. That's crazy. Yeah. Crazy stuff. Costas before we wrap up, I want to ask you about how we apply some of these things.

But first we've been talking about so many great things that you're doing, the model, your business and so forth. Let's make sure we let the listeners know where they can find you and learn more about your work. So my. My, my website is called envision air design, but if you Google my name, Costa Schuller, you will find all kinds of goodies out there.

I have a YouTube channel, Tik websites, I got a cost of schuler. com. So I'm not, listen, if you can't find me on the interwebs, then you got some training, more training to be done. I can't help you if you can't find me. I made it as easy as possible for you to find. And that's your first truth.

That's the truth. Costas, we're talking to people here on this podcast at all stages of their creative careers. They might be the aspiring new graduate. They're out there young and fresh, looking for their big break, or they might be, I'll say seasoned professionals like myself, who are saying, how do we keep that creativity spigot open?

How do we get ideas in and out and so forth and keep the flow? What insights do you have, but just based on your own experiences, some of the things we've been talking about where we can really keep the creativity fresh. So the simplest thing to that I've discovered is the ego. When the ego gets in the way, things go badly.

When you, when it becomes about you and you're like, oh, they're not treating me right and, oh, they're this and, when you start getting to that place, you start blaming other people, basically, you're in for a world of hurt. Things are not going to go well for you. That's, I can say with a hundred percent certainty.

Now, to get out of that is say, admit the truth. Like you admit that you've been a pain in the ass in somebody's life. Yeah. Admit that you did something wrong, and then just be grateful. Let's just have a gratitude stack. I've been journaling for the past 34 years. Solid. I'm not kidding when I say solid, like literally solid just, and then gratitude where I, at the end of the day, I write my three wins of the day.

That helps me like remind me that things went well today. All right. To see the good, not to focus on the bad. So it's a training. And it'd just be gratitude, to have gratitude for just the simple things, like this cup of coffee taste is great today. It could be as simple as that. This client, I had a great conversation with this client.

This project went well. My, my wife sent me a beautiful note today. I connected with my daughter. Just, it doesn't have to be complicated. Just gratitude is like the lubricant, man. That if you're grouchy and crunchy and sour and salty, just start doing it. Writing down all the things you're grateful for, and really that is a beautiful thing, and it works.

It really works, for me at least. I try it. Thanks for sharing that. And listeners, I started this podcast to have these kind of virtual coffees like I'm having with Costas. And as it so happens, you've come by and you get to eavesdrop on our conversation here at the virtual coffee shop. I think, I know I gained.

a lot from our conversation, and I hope the listeners did too. Costas Schuler has been my guest. His website is Envisionary Design. Costas, can't thank you enough for being on the show. Thank you so much. A pleasure to have the opportunity to share some of the things that have been rattling around my head for the past 52 years and just be able to articulate some of those ideas.

And I don't know until somebody asked me a question. It's okay, so I have an intern here, and I'm showing him how to do things. And I, it's fascinating to me that I'm telling him stuff that's in my head that I take for granted that now I got to verbalize and show him like, this is how I do it.

And it's it blows my mind when. It comes what I've been taking for granted. I think about all the time, like subconsciously now have to articulate. It's pretty interesting to share that or to teach somebody that. So it's a fascinating. So this is an opportunity to do that. So I appreciate you letting the crazy man on your show.

So good. Oh, believe you me, not the first one. You will not be the last the host not withstanding. Awesome. Thanks again Costas Schuller. And listeners, come back again next time. We're going to continue our Around the World journeys. We talk to creative practitioners of all kinds, everywhere. Authors, singer songwriters, filmmakers, hospitality managers, about how they get inspired.

Then how they organize the ideas and then most of all gain the confidence and the connections to launch the work out into the world. And that's what's so important. So come back again for our next episode. Until then, I'm Mark Stinson. We'll keep unlocking your world of creativity.

Bye for now.



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