Narrowing the focus of my art & design business

It’s been one whole year since I started designing patterns in an organized way – in other words, actually running my hobby as a business. I’ve been designing for years now, but I made a shift last year to exclusively designing patterns (instead of producing paintings and illustrations as canvas works). Truthfully, it has become addicting for me. I think about patterns all the time – I notice them in nature, on television shows, and in every thing I look at. I think making the decision to focus on patterns made me more aware of them – and the more aware I became, the more my work was fueled by my observations.

So I set a few goals for 2019:

  1. Have a few designs shown at the trade shows (Premiere Vision and Surtex).
  2. Narrow my focus (in other words – define my brand).
  3. Work on leveling up my skills as a designer.
  4. Double my sales from 2018.

So I needed to get myself on track to meet those goals and that meant looking at what was and wasn’t working for me.

When the opportunity came to submit designs to Pattern Observer Studio for the Premiere Vision show in July, I jumped at the chance. I not only went to work at my day job, kept up with my “life obligations”, but I worked for hours every night designing for the briefs. In fact, I worked so much on one of them that I got myself totally overwhelmed and couldn’t get anything that worked for that one brief. I did however manage to get two others shown so I accomplished goal #1. I also learned that my work flow needed a revamp.

I’m still working on goal #2, clarifying my brand, but the Summer of Creativity class at the Textile Design Lab has helped me toward achieving it. Interestingly, since I’ve really started to focus on designing in a style that I love, I’ve had a hard time completing designs because I tend to overthink them now. Since that was becoming so frustrating (I mean, I finished ZERO designs for two straight weeks) I decided to try something new. Instead of feeling like I needed to commit my new style to a large surface or seamless repeat, I scaled the pattern back considerably. I decided I could commit to a smaller surface – say a card – and see where that went. It worked and got me back on track. I’ll post about that later, but I anticipate having my new clarified focus done by the end of the year.

Goal #3 is an ongoing process – I am not confident in my skills to produce a seamless pattern (although I am capable, it just takes several tries and involves a lot of cursing) so I’ve been taking the TDL course and working really hard at that. Oddly, I can produce a seamless repeat when it’s a complicated pattern – like a shibori – but placing the design elements is another matter entirely. That’s still a work in progress.

Doubling the sales was an ambitious goal, but I’m well on my way. Being more consistent in designing, being better at posting on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and keeping the visual identity as consistent as possible as I work through this process has helped. I don’t know how the year will end, but so far I’m on track to reach that goal.

In order to be a more efficient designer, I needed a better work space. I’ll cover that in the next post because part of getting unstuck this year was letting go of what was and focusing on what is going to be. I’ll actually tackle each of these four goals again in later posts because it’s all part of my journey as an artist.



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