Cally Dale | Austin Artist

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Photographed by: Katie Jameson | Interview of: Cally Burgett

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How did you get started?

My first year in college was like it is for most undergrads. Taking every class under the sun in attempt to find what the heck I was going to do with my life. In the last few months of my final semester, I decided to give a deep-rooted interest of mine a shot – which also meant I’d be needing to transfer universities. I found a school not too far from where I grew up and was accepted into the interior design and architecture program there – I was elated! 

I’ve always known this type of career path was an option, but I didn’t have an example of it in my life – so visualizing it as a possible reality, was a bit difficult for me. You see, I grew up on a wheat farm in a tiny Eastern Washington town where my closet neighbor was a few miles away. There were no design professionals in my little town. Luckily, I had two parents who encouraged the heck out of my creative abilities, and because of them my confidence and love for design flourished.

I felt right at home in the interior design and architecture program at my new school. So much so, that I worked harder in school than I ever had before. I loved every second I spent in our design studio – collaborating with classmates, figuring out how to make a concept sing, how to bring that vision to life through structure and design, etc. I knew I’d found my calling.  I was so committed to finding a job in this arena after school – but come graduation, I had zero offers.

My outlook was forced to broaden a bit. I ended up taking a sales job with a beloved family owned and operated winery in my hometown. A few months into training, I offered my help in putting together a sales presentation. My bosses liked it so much, they started passing more and more design related projects my way. Before I knew it, my sales role had transformed into a full-fledged graphic design position.

Today, I’m still blessed with that same job. It has allowed me to work remotely and be apart of projects that I might never have had the opportunity to be a part of, so early in my career had I chosen to pursue a design firm. I’ve to gotten to create brands, packaging, marketing materials and printed goods for this company. It’s truly been the best experience, and I credit much of where I’m at today, in my own company, to the opportunities I’ve had with that hometown winery.

What influences you? / Where do you get your inspiration?

Much of my inspiration for design comes from time spent out in the world. Spending time in nature, watching people bustle around busy downtown streets, a quiet sunset over the lake, catching up with friends at the local coffee house – I notice patterns, things that ignite joy for others, and for myself. 

In my work, I’m constantly trying to evoke feelings that make peoples soul and spirit sing, because I feel the power of design is best exercised this way. Think about when you walk into an incredibly designed restaurant, or coffee shop, etc. – that feeling of excitement you get, as if you’ve just arrived into an entirely new vibe or culture. That’s what I’m after for branding and package design.

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How do you balance your personal time + work? / How do you create separation?

What makes me feel the most alive, outside of design work, is being outside. Whether that’s taking a hike around Austin’s greenbelt or simply climbing on top of my roof to view the world from a new perspective. To me, being outdoors and taking note of the way the leaves illuminate when sunshine passes through, the natural patterns, colors and organic shapes, etc. --is the most calming, self-affirming activity I do to calm my jumbled brain.

Creative entrepreneurs are likely juggling all sectors of running their business(es) themselves, while trying to create something of value so they can make a living, and on top of all that, have a life that fuels said creativity. It’s easy for things to get tangled in a hurry. However, it’s important to stay scheduled because that’s how the business world works. There’s no way around it – unless you’re a fan of chatting it up with the IRS. I think artists (ahem, me included) have difficulties stopping a creative flow to do something structured and business-y because if feels off subject and foreign. But just like with anything – it always feels this way at first. 

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What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?

What keeps me motivated – and this may sound a bit cliche – is knowing my work is doing something for someone else. Whether that’s helping a client put their best foot forward, or that feeling I spoke of earlier—the one that ignites your very soul and spirit as soon as you see it. Knowing that I'm able to recreate a feeling that I love dearly, for someone else is just beyond anything I could ever hope to give.

Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand?

My goal in the next 2-5 years is to become independent. Meaning, to reach a point where my intake of branding and package design clients becomes enough to fuel this endeavor, on my own. To be in the position where I’ll have the liberty to break away from the structure of my side-hustle, and tackle it full time. 

There’s A LOT up and coming for my business, being that it’s in its early stages. I want to create a system for client experience so their experience is smooth and easy. I want to learn more about web development so I can offer those services in the future.  Lastly, I want to hone in on how to speak directly to, and where to find my ideal clientele.