If you're a maker or a creator looking to find a way to sell your goods to the masses, I write about my first year in business on Etsy, debunk some myths, and share some tools I use to help me work more efficiently and effectively.Read More
The Kraken Theatre hired me to illustrate a logo to be used on signage, posters, and possibly t-shirts and stickers. Here's a breakdown of my design rationale.Read More
Confession: Statler and Waldorf's sit in the balcony of my brain—mocking, criticizing, and laughing with each new idea I have.
Who else has this dilemma?
I used to listen to them a lot, thinking they knew best. (Sometimes I still do) I see them as my protectors who are saving me a lifetime of shame, embarrassment, and humiliation.
However, when I listen to them as much as I do, I find myself yearning and wondering 'what if'. That's when you know you have to tell them to shut up and sit down.
While I haven't found a way to get rid of them all together, I have learned to care less about what they think. I hear their criticisms and warnings but I try new things anyways, which really helps silence them - especially when I succeed. And even when I fail, I tell them that it's still a success because I know what doesn't work for me or maybe I know a better way to execute an idea now that I've failed. It's really a win-win.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend encouraged me to submit art to an art show at Hot Art Wet City. And of course Statler and Waldorf had a hay-day to know that I was entertaining the idea since it was completely out of my comfort zone.
Even still, I kicked around some ideas and spent a good week or two developing and executing concepts. In the end, I had 4 strong concepts that I was really happy with and submitted for review and approval. Whether I was approved or not, was definitely not the measure of success on this project since that part of it was out of my control. The real success here was actually doing it and loving the results; Knowing that my little engine "could".
Low-and-behold, my pieces were approved and I was asked to drop off framed and unframed copies before the end of May.
Take that Statler and Waldorf!
Here are the details for the event. I'll be there on June 3rd for the opening reception so hopefully you are too!
"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." Ernest Hemingway
As designers we're all trained to do our own design work, naturally, to showcase our skills. But we never actually get trained on what it may feel like to be the client hiring a designer.
Police are put through rigorous training to prepare for being on the force. Training techniques may include being cuffed, taken down, pepper sprayed, possibly tasered, and/or more. This is to help them function and maintain discipline in threatening circumstances and also to understand how much force is required to apprehend a suspect without inflicting injury.
As designers we're all trained to do our own design work, naturally, to showcase our skills. We design our own portfolios, business cards, and websites to show off what we can do for our clients. But we never actually get trained on what it may feel like to be the client hiring a designer. How do you build trust? How do you find a process that works for you AND your client? How do you ease any concerns clients may have throughout the process?
When you're throwing money at stuff you can see like clothes, shoes, cars...you know what you're getting. There's no secret, no questions. You either like it and buy it. Or you don't and move on. It's a much different mindset when you're throwing money at something you can't see and won't know you're happy with, until it's finished.
These thoughts have been on my mind recently as I became a client of an artistic venture for the first time; Getting a coverup tattoo.
When I was 18, I got a silly little tattoo of a butterfly on my chest which I didn't put much thought into. After getting it, I felt so rebellious and proud. But a few years passed and I started to resent it. Everyone asked me about it and I hated showing it off because it was ugly and it didn't represent anything. It was just there. I thought about lasering it off but I came to realize that I genuinely really enjoyed having a tattoo; Just not that one. So over the last year I put more thought into what I might want on my body forever. I looked at themes I was generally attracted to and then researched the kind of tattoo styles I liked. That guided me to the appropriate artists and shops that employed them which led me to Craig Moston at Gastown Tattoo.
Going in I definitely had a few beads of sweat. This was my first major piece over $100 that would have some kind of story behind it and was one I had put more thought into. Plus, it would be much bigger than my last. I wouldn't be able to cover it up so easily so I had to make sure I loved it.
I put a deposit down for something I couldn't imagine which is not something I'm used to.
What made me most nervous was that I had no idea how it would all come together or what it was going to look like. I put a deposit down for something I couldn't imagine which is not something I'm used to. As a designer, when a project presents itself I have an idea of the direction I may take and loosely get an idea of how it might look. Whether or not it turns out that way is another story but I have a vision and can imagine some kind of outcome. I couldn't read my artists mind so I had to make a conscious effort to not only trust the fact I did my research but also to trust my artist and his skill. Because, really, I have no idea what kind of considerations go into covering up something that's already there. I have no idea how certain elements will play off the natural flow and shape of the body. So after I put my deposit down, I left it in his capable hands to conceptualize and stylize.
The morning of my tattoo appointment was the first time I saw the concept and when I saw it, I smiled with delight. I really loved it. We made a few minor tweaks and then got setup to do the tattoo. But even at this stage my nerves weren't settled as it was still just an outline so I didn't actually know how it would end up after it was on my body. All the "what if's" swirled but I, again, fell back on trusting my artist, trusting in his skill, and also trusting myself in the fact that I chose wisely.
5 hours later...my tattoo was complete. I was sore and tired but I loved how it turned out.
I now have a new found respect for clients hiring me for design work and have learned to trust my decisions/instincts more.
If you're a designer:
I would encourage you to hire someone for a service you're not familiar with; Writing, coding, art, a tattoo. It will definitely open your eyes to what you client may go through when hiring you to do work for them. Of course there are many that are comfortable with the unknown but a lot of clients aren't when they're throwing thousands of dollars at you for something they may or may not like so if anything, be aware of that.
If you're a client:
Remember you're hiring them because you can't do the job yourself. They are skilled professionals so trust them to deliver. Trust in their skill, experience, and capabilities. If you don't know what that looks like, I would encourage you to research that. Look at their portfolio. Inquire and ask specific questions about portfolio details, their process, and pricing structure. Maybe ask to meet with them if that makes you more comfortable. Tell them what you need to feel comfortable and happy. And always be weary of designers that don't follow a code of ethics. Ex. work for free or cheap. You always get what you pay for.
The proof is in this puddin', I spent the time and the money on a tattoo artist with skill and in the end got a really great art piece on my body I will enjoy for the rest of my life.
“It is not always by plugging away at a difficulty and sticking to it that one overcomes it; often it is by working on the one next to it. Some things and some people have to be approached obliquely, at an angle.” - Andre Gide quotes (French writer, humanist and moralist)
When I sat down to coax the creativity out of me, I didn't know what I wanted. All I knew is that I wanted to create something amazing, something fresh, something new.
I immediately lost all motivation.
After awhile I realized that "new" wasn't my answer because it was getting me nowhere, fast. So I sat down again, and tackled things from a different angle; Why am I doing this in the first place? It's not for clients, it's not my audience - however, I do appreciate the love :-) - it was for me to have FUN and breakaway from the process! And that is what I wanted to get back to.
So I looked through all of the projects I have thought about or completed in the last 6 months and considered how much fun I had with each. Hickory-Dickory-Dock was the clear winner after all was said and done. I remembered how mysterious it was from the very beginning and how it just naturally unfolded into something quirky and put a smile on my face so that was my motivation - and goal - for this next piece.
I didn't do as much drawing for this one - since most of the parts were already built so I sketched up a basic idea & composition, adjusting where I wanted to adjust things, changing what I wanted to change from the last one, and adding new pieces, for interest. I recycled and reused to rebuild something completely new and unique to itself. Especially since there was no owl in the original nursery rhyme.
This one had its share of surprises and it unfolded completely different than what I had originally planned for it but that's why it was so fun. I had found that freedom and curiosity I was missing. I even started giving it new direction with a new character which may inspire something completely different for the next one.
We will see where the path leads next...
In the meantime, you can purchase a print of this on my RedBubble site.