Your online portfolio is you. Every image, every page is a message you are sending to a potential buyer; “You want to work with me.” This is perhaps the most important online tool in your arsenal. So if you are looking to improve or create your online portfolio and just don’t know where to start, you might want to check out Pattern Observers, The Portfolio Development Guide. Michelle Fifis has compiled a comprehensive guide, walking you through all of the steps to help you achieve a professional site that sells you.
This guide is chock full of information broken down into 18 easy lessons. Each lesson focuses on an important piece of the larger puzzle such as Selecting Artwork, Your Marketing Message and Social Media & Google Analytics. To guide you throughout these lessons there is a work sheet to help focus your goals, as well as visual examples and tips from experts in the field.
So whether you are ready to begin building your own website, or are looking to make changes to increase traffic to your site, The Portfolio Development Guide is a great start to showing the best you.
Guild member Sarah York was featured on tractorgirl.au this week.
Julie Gibbons is the girl behind tractorgirl.au, a website that focuses on the visual side of your creative business. She offers insight on branding tips, small biz how-to, and design and making how-tos. This is a blog well worth checking out.
See more about Sarah, and her beautiful work at her website sarahyorkdesigns.com.
And then there's us, the Guild!
We can't believe we didn't notice this sooner. Back in September Swiss surface pattern designer Simona Cellar called us out as one of her Top 10 blogs about surface pattern design! The Surface Pattern Design Guild is right there in the mix with Pattern Observer, Uppercase Magazine, Make It In Design, and more! Wow! A big thank you to Simona!
Imagine that you have developed a fabric pattern and want to offer your design on aprons. A practical production run might require $30,000. With Kickstarter you can tell the story of your aprons and what makes them special and set a funding target of $50,000. If your sponsors pledge $50,000 or more, you’ll have the money to go forward with your production run. Once the aprons are produced, you can mail them to your sponsors. If you don’t hit the funding goal, no money moves and you can walk away.
All Kickstarter projects have a deadline that you get to set. Typically it is 30 days. After the Kickstarter project ends, you can choose to sell your aprons through traditional channels, but you don't have to. All my projects are available at calamityware.com.
How did your Kickstarter projects get started?
Several years ago, I inherited a traditional blue dinner plate with fancy borders and a landscape with pagodas in the center. Variations of this design have been around for more than 200 years. You can find plates like this at almost any flea market. It’s usually called a blue-willow pattern because there is always a willow somewhere in the scene.
I admired the intricate detail of that plate and thought it would be fun to draw one in my sketchbook and add a pterodactyl. I found myself drawing a series of different plates, each with some unexpected calamity to add spice to the traditional tranquil scene. I called my plates Calamityware.
I don’t copy old plates. I try to mimic them in my own style—to capture the feeling of traditional plates with my own forms. I do that by looking at a bunch of traditional plates and then putting them away and drawing whatever I can remember. That way, I can capture the spirit of old plates with new details.
When I posted my drawings on my Flickr page, people said they wish they could have real dinner plates with my drawings. I launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding project to discover if I could find enough people to fund a production run of a porcelain plate. It wasn’t difficult to find a couple hundred fun-loving people who were willing to support something beautiful, utilitarian, and funny.
I’ve now done nine Kickstarter projects for Calamityware—plates, bandanas, and letterpress prints. So far, each project has met its funding goal.
What kind of people support your projects?
People who monitor Kickstarter are looking for something new or unusual. They like the idea of finding a product that isn’t in any store.
My projects appeal to people with a sly sense of humor. Many of them describe a scenario where they serve dinner on a Calamityware plate and wait for their guest to discover the calamity. Some have described using Calamityware as a filter. Guests who fail to notice that their plate is strange aren’t invited back.
What do sponsors expect?
Obviously, sponsors expect some kind of reward. Most projects create a hierarchy of reward levels so that sponsors can choose to contribute a little or a lot. These rewards are important. It isn’t always practical, but I try to include a little something extra—an unexpected lagniappe—in addition to the reward I promised. Sponsors of my BADbandanas also get a pack of silly postcards. Sponsors of my sea monster jamboree letterpress print get a bonus rhinoceros print.
Sponsors also expect updates. Because a Kickstarter project can stretch over many months from the time the project is launched until rewards are shipped, you need to send periodic reports to let sponsors know what’s happening. Sponsors have an emotional investment in your project. They love to see pictures and hear reports about how your design evolved and what decisions you are making. They expect to get a peek behind the curtain and see the creative process.
Sponsors also expect transparency. They don’t mind hearing bad news. Sponsors want to hear about any problems or delays you encounter and what strategies you are using to resolve the problem. Often major roadblocks appear. One of the attractions of supporting a Kickstarter project is to glimpse the production process and the challenges of bringing something new to market.
What about crowdfunding projects surprised you?
I have been surprised at how easy it is to communicate with sponsors, both individually and as a group. People who are excited about your project will share their impressions, complaints, and ideas with you. It’s almost like they are looking over your shoulder and commenting on what they like and don’t like.
What mistakes should novices avoid?
There are two mistakes I warn novices about.
First, crowdfunding is not a charity. People aren’t giving you a gift so you can realize your dream project. They expect some kind of reward. In general, listing a sponsor’s name on a web page or sending them a thank-you post card isn’t enough. They want something significant.
Second, make sure you set your funding goal high enough. You cannot change your goal once the project starts. If you don’t collect enough money, there’s no way to ask your sponsors for more.
You must anticipate all the little hidden expenses that may come up and make sure your funding goal is adequate. My first two projects were small, so it wasn’t a disaster when I discovered that I hadn’t allowed for some extra fees, increased postage rates, extra packaging materials, and a few other troublemakers.
The Surface Pattern Design Guild has been invited to take a booth this year at Surtex! Our booth will be in the ReSource Hub, alongside HP and Pantone, amongst others as we were last year.
Our goal at the show:
And you can be involved too!
Today we bring you the second part of our two part article about Bridgeman Studio. (Don't miss Part 1 of this series.) We met manager Lucy Innes Williams at Surtex, and recently added Bridgeman Studio to our Resources page. We invited three Bridgeman Studio artists to give us their thoughts on the following questions.
Q: Tell us how working with Bridgeman Studio has helped you improve your exposure as an artist?
Q: How has the relationship with Bridgeman Studio affected your work with other clients outside of the studio?
Q: Bridgeman Images has a vast archive of fine art and photographic images. How did the Bridgeman Studio enterprise grow out of that?
Lucy Innes Williams: Bridgeman Images was founded in the 1970s to represent museums, collections and artists for image licensing to an editorial market. Over the years, the archive has grown to over one million images to encompass advertising, television, product and design markets. We have a fantastic footage collection for licensing and are proud to offer a comprehensive rights-managed service for our in-copyright artists and illustrators.
Over the last few years we have seen great growth in our product sector. This relates specifically to licensing for wall décor, textiles, greetings cards and printed packaging. We have expanded our sales team to reflect this and have developed Bridgeman Studio to enhance our portfolio of imagery for use across this market.
Bridgeman Studio was born out of a desire to really work with a commercially-minded, digitally-savvy generation of studio artists, illustrators and designers. We look for people who are enthused about licensing. They are keen to develop their portfolio and are seeking to monetise their practice by sharing their work through new creative partnerships, exclusive commission opportunities and developing their international presence.
Q: How do you see the relationship growing between Bridgeman Studio, the design/illustrator community, and the clients who license work through the studio?
LIW: We have a personal relationship with every person who joins Bridgeman Studio in addition to having designed an online platform accessible from anywhere in the world. Subscribers can access our customised analytics tool which allows detailed analysis of sales, light-boxed images and most popular page views. This is just one example of the kind of insight we provide illustrators, with a view to helping develop an ever more-popular body of work that we can successfully license for this community. We are actively searching for new illustrators who can produce a portfolio of bold, colourful and on-trend single illustrations, as well as graphic patterns and print-repeats than can be applied to a wide variety of different product usages.
Q: Is there a seasonal trend when clients are most likely to look for certain types of art?
LIW: When it comes to illustrators submitting their images to us, we curate these carefully. At the point of selecting an illustrator to join us, we consider whether we have clients for their work, as well as bearing in mind seasonality, forthcoming trends, as well as where our growing strengths are. We know that certain regions of the world are more conservative or more liberal, and so we will tailor this content accordingly.
In terms of specific seasonal trends for the product sector, the sales team will begin licensing festive imagery months in advance of each holiday season. We license a lot of illustration for Christmas, Hannukah or Easter, but not all of these are overtly religious in tone. Clients come to Bridgeman Studio because they are looking for a new interpretation of a traditional theme.
It’s fascinating to see how broadly an image can be interpreted and quite often, it is an image which conveys a general sentiment such as love, happiness or freedom which will license over and over. If a client can’t find the image they’re looking we can commission new content.
I often ask illustrators to think about their work being used for calendars, which are very popular if they can demonstrate a consistent style of illustration. Twelve or twenty four images to suit each month of the year are enduringly popular!
Q: Some textile design programs are aimed at providing students with the skills to freelance, but don’t encourage individual expression. (For an example of this you can look at my designer profile. As a fairly new designer I can knock out a presentable ikat, or paisley, but am still discovering my personal style.) Would you encourage a designer like myself to submit designs to your site, even as I work toward finding my own style?
LIW: In terms of a developing style, we absolutely encourage illustrators to reflect their own development and taste. Bridgeman Studio doesn’t have a house style and we specifically curate a range of different illustrators’ styles to reflect the diversity of the clients we work with. A subscriber can upload up to 100 images a year and so there is plenty of room for growth and collections of work.
To highlight this, we have recently launched a Student Subscription for Bridgeman Studio. At half the price of a regular subscription, young illustrators are encouraged to join, develop their understanding of licensing and benefit from our 42 years of copyright experience and negotiation on behalf of our members. We’ll take care of the licensing while you continue to create amazing images!
In part 2 of this article we hear from three Bridgeman Studio artists.
Our next meeting features guest speaker Brennan Mulligan of Skyou. Brennan is the first of many awesome speakers we are bringing to the guild from Surtex. He instantly stood out in the crowd because he was wearing an amazing tee-shirt. Turns out that tee was a product from SILO, the e-commerce platform powered by Skyou's on-demand technology. The evening's presentation will feature products designed by our very own Jenny Thayer. Stay tuned for more!
Thanks so much to all of you who have submitted artwork for our Surtex booth. But we need more! We've heard from several of you saying that you plan to submit art. The deadline of Wednesday, May 7th is fast approaching! So far nine people have submitted pieces, but we need at least 36 pieces for the show! If you have any trouble getting your artwork up, please email me at email@example.com, and I'll be glad to assist you.
Also, if you have a moment, we would like some testimonials from you about the Guild; these are for the booth display as well. For example: How has the guild helped you as a designer? Have you found opportunities as a result of your Designer Profile on this site? What do you get from the meetings, or webinars? How do you feel about the quality of the speakers? Please let us know in the comments below. And thank you.
And a huge thank you to all those who have contributed funds towards our Surtex endeavor! You are so appreciated! If you haven't donated yet, we are still accepting donations toward the cost of our booth at Surtex. Scroll down to the April 29th post for the Donations link.
Big news this week! The Surface Pattern Design Guild has been invited to take a booth at Surtex! Our booth will be in the ReSource Hub, alongside HP and Pantone, amongst others.
Our goal at the show:
And you can be involved too!
And lastly, we would like to send a very special thank you to Bill Cummings and Pat West for their contribution of $500.00 toward the cost of our booth! This is an amazing gift, and very appreciated!
The call for our next FEATURED MEMBER is on!
Is it YOUR turn for some exposure?
The SPDG Featured Member program is a promotion in which we display examples of a member's surface pattern design work throughout our web site in the header along with a credit and link to his/her online portfolio or personal web site. We also dedicate a page on the site to further spotlight him or her, including additional samples of work and an interview.
If you would like us to include your name in our drawing, please reply in the comments section of this blog post by Wednesday, February 26th, 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. We will select at random from the list of entries and announce the lucky winner later that day on the blog.
In order to qualify for this promotion, you must be a member of SPDG and you need to provide a minimum of 8 different digital images of your surface pattern design work for us to build your feature. If selected, you will be contacted with further information and instructions. Please do not apply if you have been the Featured Member in the past twelve months; your turn will come around again!
Being the SPDG Featured Member is a wonderful way to gain exposure for you and your work.
Let us help promote you!
Do you have surface
pattern design related news, information, or tips to share? We want to hear from you!