Special Edition Designer Interviews Part 3 – Old Market
Posted on 3rd July 2018
We had the honor of interviewing Shannon from Old Market this week, asking her some of the burning questions our Designer Commuity and Customers have been wanting the answers to for a long time! Let's see what she said in our Special Edition Designer Interview Series Part 3 below....
What have you found particularly difficult on your journey?
There are several things I really struggle with. First is time management. With most jobs, at the end of the day, you clock out and head home. But with a home based business the line between work and personal time is much less clear. I find I’m always running back and forth to my computer to answer emails or work on projects. I’m constantly needing to remind myself that some things can wait.
I also struggle with setting a clear path forward. I never know whether it’s better to focus on one type of product and work to become the best at it or to diversify the types of projects I work on, depending what catches my imagination at the time. I often plan out a project only to sit down at my computer and end up working on something totally different. I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing, it keeps the creative juices flowing, but I wonder if I would be more successful if I could find a single niche to focus on.
Self-doubt is also an unfortunate roadblock. I’ve heard this from other designers as well, that it’s easy to be very critical of their own work. The good thing about this is that it pushes me to work harder and do better. I’m very sensitive to feedback. I’ll have 100’s of people leave positive feedback, but it’s the one negative comment that makes me rethink everything I’m doing. I’ve had to force myself not to get bogged down by any negativity.
How do you promote/advertise your products?
Advertising and promoting my shop is something I’ve wanted to do more of, but I feel like I am always busy working on new products or managing my shop and I just never get around to it. I do occasionally post on my Facebook page.
I’d love to work more on building up my following, but it definitely falls down far on my to-do list. I have found that Pinterest brings in a ton of customers, so I do make sure to pin items consistently. I have often wondered if I put more time and resources into self promotion and advertising, how much more it could help build my business. It’s definitely something I am weak in and need to work on.
What fuels your creativity?
I think something that really gets me in a creative mood is my competitiveness. I’m always wanting to do more and to do it better. I’m always thinking of new ideas and things I could try. A lot of this doesn’t end up panning out, but usually if I think about a project a lot, I will find a good flow when I start working on it. I love looking on Pinterest, to see all of the awesome things that people come up with. It pushes me to work harder. Other things that inspire me are nature, vivid colors and old things, especially architecture. Oh, and I love Maps!
How many hours per week would you say you spend designing?
This varies greatly, depending on what is going on in my life at the time. It can fluctuate from only a few hours a day to over 40 hours a week. My kids go to year-round school, so they have breaks every 9 weeks; during that time, I do just enough to keep my shop running smoothly. I actually love this, because it forces me to take some down time and when they go back to school, I always feel more focused and full of ideas. Of course, I have days I am so involved in a project, that not even the house burning down around me can pull me away from what I am working on. While other days it’s all I can do to turn on the computer.
What are the biggest problems you face in your design field?
A problem I feel that I face personally is not being taken seriously as a designer. A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea that I design on the computer and make money from selling those design. It’s hard for them to imagine being able to make a decent wage from something that isn’t necessarily tangible. Another problem I struggle with is not believing in myself. Being self-taught, I do have a hard time feeling that I measure up to all of those people out there that attended design schools, are seriously talented and have made design a career from the beginning.
If someone wanted to do what you do, how can they start?
I have people ask me this question often. I find that people usually don’t understand all the time and effort that goes into a digital design business. They think that if they make a couple of products, upload them, then the money will start rolling in. They quickly get disillusioned and end up moving on. To those truly interested in starting a design business, my first word of advice would be, “Don’t give up.” This business takes time and effort and you’ll get out of it what you put into it. I usually direct people to YouTube tutorials on Photoshop and Illustrator. Not to mention Pinterest. There are some great blogs out there with tutorials and information. I would advise them to find something you enjoy and dig in!
Which is your favorite product you have created, and why?
One of my favorite products is my Marble Paint Photoshop layer style bundle. It was the first texture set I created outside of using my computer or taking photographs. I had such a fun time painting and combining colors. It was very different than any of the designing I had done up to that point.
I also really love my Photo Booth Props. I am working on updating them to be more accessible for different programs. It's slow going though, since many of them I originally created in Photoshop and I'm basically redoing them in Illustrator. Here is my Christmas set:
If I had to pick my favorite digital paper, it would be my Vintage Castle Paper Pack.
These were all pictures I took while living in Europe and adding the vintage effect just made me so happy.
What do you think you get right that a lot of other people get wrong?
I think my persistence has really helped get me to where I am today with my business. I started with having no design experience at all, to building a business with a nice, steady income. Looking back, there are so many times it would have just been easier to quit, to say that I wasn’t good enough and to just move on. I don’t feel that I am naturally a very artistic person, everything I do pushes me to my limits. But, I continually tell myself that I can make it work and I just keep moving forward. When I step back and look at what I’ve accomplished I am always amazed, it’s so gratifying to see how much my work as improved.
Conversely, what do you know you do wrong, but can’t give up?
I’ve already mentioned my lack of self-promotion. I know this is something that would really boost my shop to the next level. But, honestly, when I sit down at my computer, I would much rather work on something new that I can add to my shop than promoting items I already have made. Along the same line, I struggle with learning new skills. It’s just so much easier to do what I already know how to do than to try to learn something new. This is definitely something I’m working on though. All the paint and art supplies sitting in my closet can attest to that!
What’s a fact about you that you think would surprise people?
My designing skills are completely self-taught. Six years ago, my family and I moved to Denmark for my husband to get his PhD. I didn’t have a work visa there, so I needed to find a way to help out financially. I had previously made jewelry and sold it on Etsy, but shipping was no longer an option. I used to buy digital collage sheets for cabochons and pendants and decided I would try my hand at designing and selling my own images. I watched a lot of youtube videos on Photoshop and Illustrator and eventually moved from collage sheet design into digital textures.
Where do you think your industry will be in a year? 5 years? 10 years?
One thing that is certain is that design continues to change and evolve at a very rapid pace. Designers are always searching for the newest design possibilities. Computers and design programs are becoming more and more, well, awesome. Trends come and go. I think as society becomes even more enamored with what computers, cutting machines, printers, can do, the design industry will continue to grow and expand. It’s exciting to think about what might be available in the future.
What are your favorite tools to use for designing/creating?
It’s crazy to think I started designing on nothing more than Photoshop Elements. Now, I mostly use Photoshop, Illustrator and occassionally InDesign. I really love using Photoshop. A lot of my textures are photos that I have made color changes and adjustments to. Photoshop is ideal for this and I really love creating and using layer styles. I have been working more and more with Illustrator lately, as I’ve been expanding into making cut files and vector clip art.
Which other FB/DB designers inspire you, and why?
This is a tough one. There are so many seriously amazing designers and artists out there! It’s hard not to look around and compare myself to all the awesome work out there. I really admire Studio Denmark -
She has such an eye for color and texture.
I also really love the shop WatercolorS -
I’d love to learn how to watercolor paint (so far my efforts have been pretty basic), but this shop’s watercolor florals are beautiful!
What do you think is most important factor which has made your products popular?
I am often in awe that my designs have done as well as they have. There is so much incredible work out there, I’ve often wondered how mine don’t get lost in the crowd. I think there are several things that have contributed to my products doing well. Adding new items regularly helps to keep my shop up to date and draws in repeat customers. I also think the simplicity of some of my designs also make them popular. Sometimes you just need a basic chevron or a polka dot in a variety of colors for a project. The fancy stuff is fun, but I’ve been surprised how popular a lot of my most simple designs are. Another thing that has helped is noticing design trends and creating projects that go along with what is popular.
Don't forget to follow Old Market on Social Media for more inspiration
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