Nice Job, DM! Feat. Brittany Lindstrom

Most of us have the bad fortune of not being able to spend our entire waking lives playing TTRPGS, and instead have to go out and work to survive. Welcome once more to Nice Job, DM! where we interview cool DMs with cool day jobs.
 
Today, we're talking to Brittany Lindstrom, who is not only the talented illustrator behind Spice & Rose, but also a devoted library assistant! You can find her on Instagram at @spiceandrose.

Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Brittany, and I'm a mixed-media illustrator and a Library Assistant for a city library system. So, technically, I have two day jobs!

What is your day job?

As an artist, I spend a lot of time during the summer, travelling to conventions to peddle my wares. I mainly focus on fantasy illustration, and also pick up commissions throughout the year. I've illustrated for DM's Guild publications, and live-play TTRPG shows!. My absolute crowning achievement as an illustrator is my role as the official artist for Gem State Gaming Convention. Each year, I get to design their shirt and key art!

As a Library Assistant, I primarily focus on circulation and programming. Everything from running TTRPG games for teens to finding someone their next, perfect read are all in my purview. The really cool part about the library I work for, is that each year we host a large comics convention. Part of the prep work for the convention is selecting a group of teen artists whom we mentor to run their first vendor table at the show. The library even grants them a stipend to help with costs!

I have over a decade of vending under my belt, so it's wonderful to teach new professionals what I've learned. And, hopefully, save them from some of my mistakes! Plus, each of the teens are paired up with one of our guest creators during the show. They have a professional right there with them every step of the way.

How did you get into that line of work?

I initially started working in libraries in high school. That first library job lasted me until college but, honestly, I wasn't expecting to end up back in the field. It was actually vending at conventions that led me back!

My first time selling at a convention was in college. At the time, I was making a ton (and I mean a ton) of small, clay charms and jewelry. A close friend encouraged me to apply for a local convention. After my first convention, I was hooked! Each summer, I added more shows to my rotation. I also gained the confidence to start creating the kind of art I really wanted -- fantasy illustrations.

Through kindness and good fortune, I was picked up as a guest for several shows, developing a portfolio of programs I could run for conventions. One of those cons just so happened to be the one hosted by my library. I really love program planning, and hoped I could find a job that allowed me to do so. When I graduated, I was fortunate that the library's Events Coordinator put in a good word for me!

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love that my vocations revolve around storytelling, and all the marvelous ways we share stories. The need for stories is deep, and innately human. We crave opportunities to hear new stories while sharing our own. Just think about the joy that comes from tabletop players sharing some of their favorite moments! Having the opportunity to hear about people's favorite tales--and sometimes illustrate them--brings me immense joy.

What advice would you give to people who are interested in having that job?

Both lines of work require a lot of community engagement. Creating art is a practice, much like DMing. But finding the opportunities to use your skills requires a strong network. When I vendor at a show, I carve out time to meet with other artists. This network helps me find paid opportunities, and I get to forge friendships with some really cool people! Finding ways to give back to your community is vital too. That can be as simple as a free tutorial you post online, or as complicated as a mural for your community. 

Library work can be hard to find, and it's a complex, competitive field. Librarianship is so much more than book circulation. It's about working with your community, providing access to resources many are without. It involves finding ways to uplift voices in your community that may be lost otherwise. And, most importantly, it centers around education and lifelong learning opportunities. 

If you're interested in librarianship, find ways to get involved with your local community first! Volunteer at the library if you can, or any other non-profit local to your region. This is a great way to learn more about your community's needs, and it helps you network for that future library career.

When and why did you start DMing, and for what systems?

It's my coworkers' fault! I had dabbled with running some one-shots for the library before--mainly one page RPGs like Honey Heist. Then, a few years back, a coworker and I decided we should run a D&D 5E campaign at the library for teens. 

While we have a lot of staff members who love TTRPGs, few wanted to be a DM. I had played 5E in the past, but didn't think I would be a good DM. She basically said, "you're running games now," handed me the essentials kit, and sent me on my way. I didn't get a choice!

How often do you DM?

Currently, I'm DMing a game at the library for teens bimonthly. I fit in one shot games for friends when the scheduling gods allow! 

What is your favorite part of DMing?

Honestly? It's creating unique shops and weird little NPCs. I love seeing player's laugh and play along with the silly little moments that can pop up. I've also learned that I'm a very physical DM, often fully acting out actions. It's tiring, but a lot of fun!

Can you tell us your best memory from the table? 

A live musical performance! Several of my players are in band, and were running super late that night. I was fretting that they weren't going to make it when I heard the horns. And the accordian. They staged a full set right outside the window! It was a wonderful arrangement of shanties and pirate-ish attire.

Do any skills you use for your day job help you when you DM?

I suppose the obvious answer would be creating art for games! But, I believe my skills in program planning are a huge asset too. When you look at your sessions like a complete event or program, you find little ways to make them feel more luxurious. It also makes planning for sessions smoother because I know I have a firmly set amount of time to work with.

What advice or house rules would you share with new DMs?

Start with your safety tools before you solidify the story. Session zero is a great time to go over tools available for use during play, and gives players a chance to discuss topics or scenes that could cause them distress. Very useful information when you go about writing the story. 

If you never read up on or implemented safety tools at your table, please take the time to do so. They allow you to quickly pause the action, handle table disputes, and generally create a more trusting environment for everyone.

 

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