Focus on the Voices That Matter

Ilana Griffo

Introduce yourself! Who are you?
I’m an artist and author living in Upstate New York. Most of my work is custom illustrations or lettering, but I also wrote my first book in January, called Mind Your Business. I’m also a mama to a toddler, and he keeps me on my toes!

Did you always know what you wanted to do as a career?
I always knew I wanted to be in the arts. I dabbled with being an interior designer, but I really found my footing when I took my first graphic design course. I feel so lucky that my creativity was fostered as a child, and that it helped me find things I loved to do when I was young.

Were you scared to start the process?
Deciding to leave my job and work for myself was a decision I thought about for a long time. I don’t think you’ll ever feel 100% ready, and that’s okay! I think being a little nervous made me work even harder to make it happen. I planned a lot beforehand, and really thought about what milestones I needed to hit to make sure I was set up for success before putting in my notice and giving my business my full attention.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I used to teach snowboarding! It was such a great experience, and taught me so much! I’ve always loved extreme sports, so it’s no surprise that I married a cyclist! We travel across the North East for bike races in the fall and it’s amazing to see his dedication and love for the sport. I also have a Gene Simmons tongue!

Have you ever had anyone doubt you? How did that make you feel?
Gosh of course! But they’re not the people that matter. I need to feel proud of my work before I can ask others to feel that way. I know that we can’t please everyone, so it’s important to learn to focus on the voices that matter. It can always make you work even harder to prove them wrong!

What message do you think every woman should hear?
We live in a time where so many things are at our fingertips, so really, why can’t it be you?!

Have you always had confidence in yourself?
Some moments I feel confident, and in others I don’t. I think it’s something we have to constantly work on. From writing down things we’re grateful for, to focusing on the things we’re good at and proud of.

How do you manage your work-life balance?
It’s more of a blend than a balance. Home and work life are both really fulfilling for me, so it’s mostly about making sure I’m present, and giving what I can in each moment. Of course, that’s much easier said than done, and sometimes it feels like the pendulum is only swinging to one side, but like everything, it’s a phase.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
Lists! I created a planner called the Rule The World Planner and it helps me stay on top of my big goals, and my everyday little tasks. I break things up into different types of list depending on their priority and that really helps me stay focused.

Do you have a mentor? If so, what did they teach you?
I have several mentors! They’ve each taught me so much, from pushing me to work harder, or helping to validate my opinions. Mentors come in all shapes and sizes and I’m so fortunate to have connected with so many people who have inspired and influenced me.


ilana griffo

Ilana Griffo is an artist and author living in Upstate New York. Most of her work is custom illustrations or lettering, but she also wrote her first book in January, called Mind Your Business. She is also a mama to a toddler, and he keeps her on her toes!

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