Niki Litts talks about her motivation for starting Glyph Haus.
What was the inspiration for starting GH?
Glyph Haus was born out of a number of things I was dreaming of for my professional life: sustainability, leadership and pushing my own art practice forward.
The last 6 or 7 years of my professional life was extremely stressful. Aside from growing physically unhealthy during that time, I started to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. I finally realized the work I was doing was not sustainable.
In 2015 I was fortunate enough to connect with a unique art agency. I worked for them briefly as a digital artist. The full time position with them didn’t work out, but our relationship continued. They would call me to fancy up a giclee or two. It became a regular side job and something I looked forward to doing.
In leadership, I’ve never found what I was looking for in any of the companies I worked for. No one seemed to have the time to properly lead or mentor me. I was always very disappointed with that and that probably made me super annoying. So I had 15 years of working for disappointing bosses to hone my own leadership style. By the end of last year, I had a long list of things I knew I didn’t want to do when I became the leader. As I encountered them, I would research and read to understand the motivation for the behavior. As a result, I found myself diving deeper into business and what makes a good leader. I was ready to step into the role of founder/leader.
I’ve been working as a designer since 2005. It’s been interesting to watch the increasing access to print on demand product services. The designer is now also an artist who has the benefit of creating in a business environment. When you look at art through that lense, you begin to consider efficiency. Art becomes a product. I’m very interested in this relationship. Design has also been more in touch with modern manufacturing and technology advances. I’m interested developing my personal art practice to include more technology.
My biggest hope for Glyph Haus is to be a place where people come to experience the intersection of everything I’ve mentioned above: Sustainability, great leadership, satisfying work and transformational art experiences.
How did you get interested in art and design?
I’ve always been good with drawing. As a very young girl, my parents said fuck it and just painted my bedroom walls white so I could draw on them. I was gonna do it anyway.
When I was 12, I had a liver transplant and I used art to process those experiences. That period of my life set me on course to be a visual artist. I was painfully shy and a good girl type, so it was difficult to express my negative feelings any other way.
As I entered the world of non profit work after receiving my MFA, I taught myself design. It felt like a natural transition. I worked as a designer for several years, and still pick up freelance projects here and there. But when I have a brush or pencil in my hand, I get real zen.
How did you prepare when you were thinking of starting Glyph Haus?
This business started as a side gig. It was fun extra work that played to all my strengths. I noticed I would feel energized when the work was complete instead of drained. That told me that I needed to rethink my day job.
I had a big plan to slowly transition Glyph Haus to my full time work, but you know, things never play out like that. I lost my full time job and kicked it into high gear. It took me exactly one week to get over the shock of being in control of my own time and earning power. Then I filled my calendar with everything I could think of to keep the fire under my ass lit.
Additionally, I had spent a lot of time thinking about what I was not good at. As artist, we tend to adopt a DIY ALL THE THINGS attitude. We manifest beautiful objects, so why not a banging set of accounting skills… um, no. I did a lot of reflecting on what parts of this business I was going to need help with. Then I found the women in my network who possessed the skills I was lacking AND that I respected. Lucky for me, I had the means to pay them to help me build this business.
And, finally, my husband, who is also a creative, and I have been working to diversify our income streams and break out of the 9- 5 trap. We talked a lot about how to achieve the flexibility we wanted. Now we are committed to shedding the blood, sweat and tears required to make this thing a go.
What will be your primary focus for GH’s 1st year of business?
This first year of business is to make as many new friends as possible, learn and be a very rad partner to our existing clients. That means excellent customer service, impeccable work and delivering projects on time.
What Does Success Look Like for GH?
Success for us would be the ability to employ artists to help provide our services. My personal “why” for creating Glyph Haus is to teach working artists new skills and paying them a living wage while still allowing them flexibility to pursue their own creative endeavors.