Matthew Shipley has been drawing since he was a kid, and when it came time to decide what type of career he wanted, “I couldn't imagine my life without drawing," he says.
Recently, Shipley completed illustrations for three new sports-themed debit cards for kids. The new GoHenry cards showcase memorable sporting moments for USA athletes, in basketball, swimming, and gymnastics.
Following his passion
After studying illustration in college, Shipley eventually began working full-time as a graphic designer. However, he really wanted to focus on drawing.
“I wasn't seeing the opportunities to do the type of work I wanted to do, so I decided to leave my job and try my hand at freelance illustration," Shipley says. “It's now been about five years since I made that decision."
For the past five years, the married father of two has been able to spend his time working on projects he enjoys, including the GoHenry debit card initiative. For that project, he came up with a list of famous Olympic moments and athletes and then worked with GoHenry staffers to narrow the list down to three. Once the three iconic moments were chosen, Shipley set out to illustrate them.
After completing illustrations for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Major League Soccer, and other notable clients, Shipley says he doesn't really have favorite projects. "I do a lot of sports illustrations, which I enjoy because there's great movement and stories. I just love to draw!"
Passion gets practical
While spending his days as an illustrator has been Shipley's way of pursuing his passion, starting and running a business isn't only about doing what you like, he says. Being able to start and run a business requires the self-discipline to manage money wisely and handle many tasks that are less fun, such as administrative work.
“I am the one who does the illustration work, but I also do the marketing, the books, emails, etc.," Shipley says.
Staying out of debt has been the most valuable financial lesson Shipley has learned along the way, he explains. And planning carefully is important for launching a business.
“It's always scary to go out on your own, but it felt like the right time to do it," he says. “My wife was very supportive; without her income as a teacher, it would have been a much harder decision. A lot of it came down to timing, and I've been so lucky that it has worked out up to this point."
For kids who aspire to start their own businesses, Shipley recommends doing lots of research and making sure you're ready. He also makes a point to read a money-related book often.
While his own kids aren't old enough for a children's debit card just yet, Shipley says his 4-year-old son recently asked for a piggy bank.
“I think teaching about saving is important, but I also think it's important to be a good example because you'll pass on money habits to your kids, and bad habits can be hard to break," he says. “With the digital world we live in and seeing paper money less and less, it's nice to know there are resources like GoHenry to help educate kids."