Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Finding Inspiration at the Crossroads

I'm at a bit of a crossroads with piddix. For me, this is fairly exciting, because crossroads = possibilities. Everything is open. I get to dream and brainstorm and research and question what I'm doing now. Should I come out with a new line of prints? Focus on the etsy store? Spend all my time on licensing? Find a distributor for my printed collage sheets? Oh, what to do?

During this mental walkabout I've found inspiration in some fun and random places I thought I'd share.

I first stumbled upon the story of Florence Broadhurst on designer Brooke Luder's blog. I love Florence's wallpaper and designs and how they've made a comeback nearly a half-century later. But what I most appreciate about Florence's story is how varied her life was and that it wasn't until 1959, at the age of 60, when she launched her wallpaper studio. I love stories of people running marathons or starting new careers later in life in part because it gives me hope that I don't have to have absolutely everything figured out quite yet.
Danielle LaPorte's post on time management (especially her numbered list about halfway down) struck a nice cord with me in large part since I have similar thoughts on throwing detailed to-do lists out the window and really focusing on what you're most passionate about at the moment. When I'm feeling inspired, I design. When I'm scatter brained, I organize and take on detail projects. Though crazy deadlines do also tend to pop up and determine what my day looks like, too.

I am--by far--not a classically trained designer. I picked up what I know mostly by working in journalism and publishing over the past 20 years, along with a couple of Photoshop and Illustrator classes along the away. So I found it incredibly helpful last year when my mom (the real artist in the family) sat me down for basic design lesson on things like balance, repetition, alignment, and so on. I'm slowly making my way through this post on "45 Free Lessons in Graphic Design Theory." Some of the examples are better than others, but in general there's some good, basic tips that I always appreciate.

And finally there are three artists I thought I'd share who all have different takes on growth. Rebecca Pearcy of Queen Bee Creations is a bit of a craft-star legend in these parts. She started making bags in her bedroom and now is pretty huge by crafty standards. This panel on intentional growth with Rebecca, along with Duane Sorenson of Stumptown Coffee, is worth a watch. My favorite part, which comes right at the end, is where Rebecca says one way to gauge the best way to grow your business is to ask yourself:

1. What do you want to get out of your craft (e.g., trips to Mexico every year?)
2. What does your business need?
3. Where do the two items above match up? How big of a business does what you want require?

Too often I feel the pull to hire people, grow faster, do more work. But really I just want to enjoy what I'm doing and have enough money to pay the mortgage (okay, and an annual trip to Hawaii).

Heather Moore is a newly found illustrator for me. What blows me away about Heather's business model is that she started not too long before I launched piddix, yet seems much further down the road of being a real, grown-up business (with catalogs, press tours, a business partner, and a group of folks in Cape Town doing much of the actual production while she focuses on design). There's quite a few profile pieces on Heather on her blog (this one's my favorite), but the bit of advice she gave that stuck with me most: design your own website rather than outsourcing it elsewhere. Okay, okay, I'll get to that soon.

And finally there's Dolan Geiman. While there's plenty to admire about his artwork, I'm especially impressed by how he and his wife have created such a cohesive and comprehensive brand that includes art shows on the road, partnerships with companies such as Pendleton Woolen Mills and Fossil watches, an amazing website full of great content (check out this gorgeous catalog), a blog, etsy site, newsletter, and on and on.

And then just when I start to feel overwhelmed, thinking things like "do any of these people have children!?! How do they find the time to do so much??" I remember that Mary Engelbreit launched her now-multi-million dollar greeting card line when she was eight months pregnant. And then I get back to work.

1 comment:

Val S. said...

Good food for thought, and I haven't even gone to the links yet (I plan to read every one)! I'm almost 55 and am still hoping to have a job I love someday, so Florence's story sounds promising.

As far as having a grown-up business, what about Target? And the conventions you went to in New York? That sounds pretty impressive. But I think I know what you mean, and you do have to figure out if you're a CEO or not so you know where to take your business. Good luck to you!