It occurred to me today that it's been quite a long time since I added any posts to my blog...so I decided to take a short break from my holiday workload in order to post a quick update on my life! : )
About 5 months ago, my husband and I made a big move from Chicago to Atlanta! Even as I type this, I can't believe we have already been here for that long - it seems like it was just yesterday that we were frantically packing boxes, driving 700+ miles through the mountains, and directing our moving crew on where to put our furniture. Over the last 5 months, we've made some big adjustments, but there have also been many exciting things to discover and many new opportunities have presented themselves as well! - I'll be sharing more about all of that in my next blog post!
At the beginning of this year, I set a goal for my business that I would sell my handmade patterned products at a minimum of 6 shows/events in 2017. I wanted to build on my previous sales event momentum that began in mid-2016, when I sold my handmade items at 3 shows, so I decided to double that number for 2017!
Of course, moving long-distance to a new region of the country made things much more difficult for me because I lost a lot of time during the middle of the year packing/unpacking up our life and belongings...but I am proud to say that by the end of 2017 *fingers crossed*, I should have completed my goal - plus, I've actually added on 2 additional sales events, for a total of 8 sales events this year!
The majority of the events that I was selected to sell at this year are happening during the November/December holiday season - which is one reason why things have been so busy for me during the last couple of months! I have been very busy working on updating my product photography and packaging. Also, in addition to creating lots of stock to bring to all of these wonderful sales events, I've also been developing a few new products, such as art prints and holiday cards, which I hope to start selling at these upcoming holiday events.
After moving to Atlanta, I also made the decision to branch out and try something I've never tried before...pop up shops! This is very exciting for me because I have been thinking about doing these types of events for quite some time, but I finally summoned up the guts to apply to them this year. Pop up shops are much different from the traditional craft markets where I am used to selling my items, so it has been an interesting experience!
For those who don't know, a pop up shop is a temporary "boutique" that includes a curated mix of products from multiple different artists, designers, and makers. The people in charge of the pop up shop typically lease a retail space (for anywhere between a few days to a few months), which they then transform into a unique shopping experience. Instead of vendors selling their own items directly to customers (like they do at a handmade craft market), the staff of the pop up shop is responsible for running the whole event - from setting up and assisting customers to handling all of the sales and breaking down the event when it ends. In exchange, the organizers typically get to keep a certain percentage of the sales from all purchases.
At a pop up shop, product from multiple vendors is often merchandised together, which creates a more cohesive and interesting shopping experience for customers. In the end, there are many great things about participating in a pop up shop. The biggest benefit for vendors like me, though, is that they do not need to physically be at the pop up shop in order to participate, which is HUGE because that frees me up to do other sales events and design work...and *hopefully* also gives me a chance to do a little holiday shopping and celebrating!
In addition to selling as a vendor at 2 holiday handmade craft markets in the Atlanta area, I am excited to be participating as a vendor in 3 holiday pop up shops - one of which is out-of-state in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina! I'm really looking forward to driving up there and spending some time in Asheville when I drop off and pick up my product inventory soon!
To prepare for all of the sales events this season, I have been working on making LOTS of new product stock over the last month...so much that I regularly have dreams about sewing, packaging, and organizing my handmade products! : ) Despite all the hard work and late nights, I am very excited to be taking this new step for my business and to be trying something new. Life can be a gamble sometimes, but I truly believe that you have to take big chances in order to see big rewards.
Once the holidays shopping season ends and I have completed my goal, I am looking forward to celebrating with my friends and family, delving into some new and exciting creative business projects...and finally, kicking back with a much-earned glass of pink champagne! : )
So what's in store for me in 2018? Some of my big goals for next year include starting to wholesale my products to boutiques and online retailers, completing much-needed updates to my website and portfolio, and finding an art agent to represent me as a designer. Plus...you guessed it...increasing the number of sales events that I do for 2018!
If you'll be in either the Atlanta, GA, or Asheville, NC, areas this December, please feel free to stop by and shop at one of my 5 upcoming holiday sales events! You'll find more information about these events posted on my home page.
Cheers and warm wishes to you this holiday season! I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating with those who are closest to your heart.
Some BIG changes are on the horizon for Studio Schmidt Designs!
We recently made the move from Chicago to Atlanta!
While we will dearly miss all of our friends and supporters in both Chicago and Oak Park, it is exciting to start our next chapter in a new city and different region of the country. The Atlanta community has already been extremely welcoming and we can't wait to see what the future holds for Studio Schmidt Designs!
More information - and some very exciting changes - will be coming soon! Stay tuned for additional details in the coming weeks. We will be posting updates through Instagram, Facebook, and our blog.
Yesterday was the first official day of Fall. Can you believe it?! Where did all that time (and all of the sunshine) go?!
That got me thinking...It has been quite some time since I have written a blog post. This past summer has been very busy for me, as I have been working on several different projects off and on and have been traveling quite a bit. It has been an exciting season full of inspiration, travel, lots of fun, new experiences, and also design deadlines!
Here's a look into what I've been up to during the last couple of months - plus, a peek at some fun things that will be coming soon!
As I write this post I am sitting at a local coffee shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, enjoying a delicious caffè latte and soaking in the smell of freshly ground beans and the culture of this unique Midwestern city. This trip to Milwaukee is one of 8 trips that I have made during the last 2 months. It has been a busy, but very fun, summer - one chock-full of traveling, road trips, delayed flights, family visits, new cities, unexpected adventures, unforgettable time spent with good friends, plus so much wonderful design inspiration!
New Glarus, WI - Detroit & Ann Arbor, MI - Sandusky, OH - Four Seasons, MO - Lexington, KY - St. Louis, MO - Atlanta, GA - Milwaukee, WI
I made myself a promise several years ago that every year I would travel to at least 1 place where I had never been before - even if that place was just a short road trip away. Traveling is a wonderful way for me to keep learning and having new experiences, plus it is an invaluable way for me to gather fresh inspiration for my designs!
I love to explore new cities and see how others across the country - and around the world - live and spend their days. I love to see different landscapes and see the buildings, monuments, and historical locations that shaped the culture of each city or town. I love discovering hidden gems that are often overlooked, as well as experiencing the "tourist traps" that have made each community famous.
My experience at each of these destinations has been as unique and varied as the locations themselves. From spending a quiet and relaxing weekend exploring nature with friends at a state campground in Wisconsin to riding extreme roller coasters at Ohio's Cedar Point to exploring the bustling city of Atlanta, I have seen a lot of beautiful and interesting things in such a short time! Believe me, I have countless pictures to prove it!
I love to use the images that I take while traveling as inspiration for new textile and surface pattern designs. Sometimes the most unexpected thing, such as a decorative street grate or a line of bourbon barrels waiting to be aged, will yield inspiration for wonderful artwork!
I also took part in a wonderful course this August that was run by Make It In Design and Patternbank called "Summer School". Hundreds of surface pattern designers from around the world participated in this year's program. The ability to interact with designers around the world was very helpful and inspiring. Plus, I made some new design friends and industry contacts during the process!
As part of the Summer School program, we were supplied with wonderful trend forecasting and color palette information by Patternbank, along with 2 inspirational briefs and gorgeous supplemental images from Make It In Design. We then used all of this material to create 2 trend-based surface pattern designs. The experience was very helpful and a lot of fun! I participated in the advanced track and the two trends that I designed for were "Modern Pop Art" and "Treasured Summer Botanicals". You can see the two designs that I created for these trends below.
After completing the Summer School program, I decided to apply to become a Patternbank designer and I was recently accepted! Currently, I am working on adding additional designs to my Patternbank designer page so that I can begin licensing some of my trend-based artwork to larger companies and clients through their website. I am very excited about this new opportunity and am looking forward to growing my surface pattern design portfolio through Patternbank!
Additionally, I recently participated in another creative activity through one of my favorite design sites, Make It In Design. In September, they hosted a social media challenge for surface pattern designers called "Patternbombing" that was so much fun to participate in!
During the challenge, participants were encouraged to "Patternbomb" the world by adding some of their fun and colorful pattern designs to photographs from their travels or everyday life. Designers from all over the world posted their edited images to their social media accounts and tagged them using #patternbombing for others to see. I had a lot of fun digitally adding a few of my surface pattern designs to several of my own images - including buildings, rivers and even a NASA space capsule. It was a really nice creative exercise to imagine what the world would look like if it was a little more colorful and patterned!
Finally, I am working on adding some exciting (and super cute!) new products to my Studio Schmidt Designs Etsy shop! After receiving feedback from several designers and customers that my playful and contemporary designs would also be great for childrenswear items, I have decided to add some handmade baby items to my shop that feature a few of my textile designs! I have been busy this summer sewing product samples and getting feedback from a few new moms on the products.
The new baby assortment in my Studio Schmidt Designs shop will include baby caps, receiving blankets, baby bibs, washcloths, and burp cloths. I plan to add additional items and new prints to the collection in the future! Each of these new baby items will be made out of super soft 100% organic cotton fabrics that are printed with eco-friendly and baby-friendly water-based dyes.
I am very proud to say that all of the fabrics used in our new baby collection are both knitted and printed in the USA! In this global economy, sourcing materials for my products that are made in the USA has been a challenge, but it is very important to me that all of the products in my own Etsy shop be American made. I feel proud knowing that my products help support local businesses and employees in the American textile industry, as well as the U.S. paper and printing industries. Additionally, I value the uniqueness of the handmade maker movement and am proud to say that all of my sewn products are stitched by me in my Chicago studio! Therefore, no two items will be exactly alike. By purchasing a Studio Schmidt Designs product, you can help support the Made in America movement as well!
These new baby items will be launching during the month of October, so stay tuned for more information! I will be posting updates through my Instagram account, Facebook page and email newsletter soon.
I have been a hardworking, busy little bee during the last month, so I thought it might be nice to give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at what I've been up to!
Those who know me probably already know that I am a big fan of comedian Conan O'Brien - but you might be surprised to know that it is not merely because of his comedy show! Though his comedy is reason enough to appreciate Conan and his talents, my admiration for him grew even bigger 2 years ago when I came across an inspirational quote of his that has since become my personal mantra:
"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen." -Conan O'Brien
That quote has helped me through a lot of tough times during the last 2 years - I even embroidered the quote and hung it on one of our walls for inspiration - so it's no surprise that those words have been at the top of my mind during the last month while I have been busy getting my online shop up-and-running!
After exhibiting at my 1st art fair in mid-May, I knew that the next natural step was for me to launch an online shop so that I could get my Studio Schmidt patterned products out into the world.
During the last month, I have been doing a lot of research into which online shopping platform would work best for me and my products (I finally settled on Etsy for the time being). I have also been taking a lot of product photography, doing outdoor photo shoots with models, editing thousands of photographs, writing product descriptions, setting up my online Etsy shop (StudioSchmidtDesigns) and researching future wholesale opportunities for my products.
In the end, it has been a lot of hard work, but it has also been a very exciting and very educational process! I can't wait to officially launch my Studio Schmidt Designs Etsy shop tomorrow!
The outdoor photo shoots that I did for my tote bags and kitchen tea towels have definitely been the most enjoyable part of the process for me! Since a lot of my design inspiration comes from the neighborhood where I live, I knew that I wanted to shoot some of the images for my Etsy shop/future marketing materials around our local arts district. There is so much creativity and positive energy in the Oak Park Arts District neighborhood and I wanted that uniqueness to come across in my photos.
A big thank you to my friend, Amy, for helping me with some of my photo shoots! Especially during the hot weather!
From the start, I have always wanted to launch my own line of American-made products. This has been a goal of mine for several years, so I am beyond excited that it is finally coming to fruition! I wanted to help support the American economy. I wanted to be a part of the handmade maker movement. I wanted to design and create products that I could be proud of and that would bring others joy: high-quality items that were made with care, attention to detail and eco-friendly materials (whenever possible).
In order to achieve my goals, I have devoted a lot of time and energy to finding wonderful textile and paper printers that not only did a great job, but were also based in the USA. As a result, I am happy to say that all of the products that will be available for purchase in my Studio Schmidt Designs Etsy shop are printed and made in the USA - many of them are also handmade and/or sewn by yours truly!
At times, it seems hard to believe that it has only been about 6 months since I started my own design studio. Though it has taken some time to get things up-and-running, I already feel as if amazing things are happening all around me! In working hard to achieve my goals and doing my best to support and be kind to other American businesses, I have found happiness, a passion for textile and surface pattern design and increased motivation for my future career.
I know that more amazing twists and turns lie ahead in my creative journey and I can't wait to see what the rest of 2016 holds for Studio Schmidt Designs!
While my online Etsy shop will be an ongoing project, I am happy that the initial process is finally almost complete! Of course, it is not 100% perfect (nothing in life ever is), but it will feel great to finally hit "publish" tomorrow and send my initial product collection out into the world!
I will be editing listings, as well as adding new products and designs to my store in the future, so feel free to check back periodically to see what's new and fresh in the Studio Schmidt Designs shop! The name of my Etsy shop is StudioSchmidtDesigns. Feel free to check out my shop now if you like via the orange link at the left. My product listings will be posted to my Etsy shop page tomorrow.
If you're interested in getting future updates from Studio Schmidt Designs, feel free to sign up for our monthly email newsletter through our website. Or if social media is more your thing, you can follow Studio Schmidt Designs on Instagram (studio.schmidt) or on our Studio Schmidt Facebook page!
An Introduction to the World of Surface Pattern Design - Plus, a Glimpse Into My Own Artistic Process!
Today I want to share a little bit about my own artistic process and what I do as a surface pattern designer and mixed media artist! But first, let's start at the beginning by explaining exactly what "surface pattern design" is all about!
The phrase "surface pattern design" may seem a bit confusing or vague to some, especially to those who live in the USA, where this term is not frequently used. Often, when I tell people that I am a surface pattern designer, they look at me with a variety of baffled expressions. I usually get asked a few questions while I am explaining the concept to them, such as: "What type of surfaces do you design for", "Are you a graphic designer?", or even "Is that a real job?". I am sure that other surface pattern designers can relate to this experience!
In order to clear up some questions and give you a glimpse into my work, let's start at the beginning, shall we?! So, first thing's first...just what does a surface pattern designer do, anyway?
A surface pattern designer is an artist that creates a variety of designs and patterns that are used to decorate the surfaces of various objects or products. Very often, the artwork that they create needs to be designed in such a way that the images can be repeated over and over again across the object's surface so that the design appears seamless (as on a roll of fabric, gift wrap or wallpaper). Other times, the artwork that they make does not need to be repeated and can merely be designed to fill the entire surface itself.
Surface pattern designers create artwork that can be used on an extremely wide variety of products - including stationery, product packaging, greeting cards, paper goods, ceramic items, glass pieces, pillows, clothing, accessories, textiles and various home decor items. Virtually any product that features artwork could be designed or embellished by a surface pattern designer! Oftentimes, companies that make products will license or purchase artwork directly from independent or freelance surface pattern designers. Other times, companies employ their own artists and designers in house to create product artwork. Many surface pattern designers also make and/or sell some of their own products, which feature their own designs.
So, now that you understand the basics, you're probably asking yourself...so how does this career path differ from being a graphic designer? Or an artist? Or a textile designer?
The world of surface pattern design lies in a hazy place, somewhere between graphic design and fine art. Surface pattern design is more focused on creating visual artwork and, in particular, with putting that artwork onto various product applications, while graphic design can also include other aspects of design, such as project and text layouts, design work for print and web communications, advertising and web design. Surface pattern design is a specialized field that includes aspects of both graphic design and fine art. While many surface pattern designers have graphic design skills, not all graphic designers create surface pattern designs.
Similarly, textile design is a specialized type of surface pattern design that focuses on designing patterns and artwork specifically for textile and fabric product applications. Textile designers are typically involved in the fashion, apparel and home decor industries, which include a variety of sub-markets that are each heavily influenced by their own seasonal color and style trends. While, surface pattern designers can also be textile designers, their artwork is often used for a variety of other non-textile products as well!
Now that we've discussed what surface pattern design is...I'd like to give you a glimpse into my own artistic process as a surface pattern designer!
Each surface pattern designer creates artwork in their own unique way. Some create everything on the computer from start-to-finish, while others create everything the old-fashioned way (completely by hand) using their own drawings, paintings or sketches. Others paint fabulous watercolor designs and then scan them into the computer, where they manipulate them digitally. There are also some designers who use photographs, mixed media artwork or textural collage as a starting point, then they edit and enhance these pieces to create digital pattern designs. While some designers work very fast, others work slowly and take a great deal of time to produce intricately detailed designs. Each designer has a unique design process and their own signature artistic style, which is why you will see such a great variety of artwork styles used on the products you see in stores.
My own unique design style is a contemporary fusion of my original drawings, machine and hand-stitched elements and digital manipulations. I like to create designs that are playful, happy, energetic and whimsically modern. Though I finish creating my patterns using the computer, every design that I make begins the exact same way: with an original hand-drawn sketch! I like to research and immerse myself in the subject matter before I sketch, then I relax and think about what I am trying to draw and just see what happens! I am a very emotionally driven person, and I feel that my emotional energy is very evident in my designs.
My background in fashion design and my love of sewing is a crucial element of my unique style. I often use motifs that I have stitched onto paper or fabric when I create my surface pattern designs. Adding stitched elements to my designs allows me to fuse my love of textiles, fashion and sewing into my artwork. It might take a little bit longer for me to create a design, but I love the texture and contrast that the stitching creates in my work and the unique quality that it lends to my patterns. I especially love to layer various hand drawn elements and stitched textures within my designs in order to create a feeling of playful energy.
If you know me, you will know that I am many things...but a morning person is definitely NOT one of them! To compensate for this on days that I design, I follow a morning ritual that gets me ready to make artwork and puts me in a creative mindset. I recently discovered the importance of having an artistic ritual process while reading a wonderful book by Lilla Rogers called "I Just Like To Make Things" - I highly recommend this book to any artist or designer that is thinking about freelancing or going out on their own! Having a morning ritual really helps me get in the mood to create art and allows me to wash away any stress or other thoughts so that I can allow myself to be inspired by the world around me.
Regardless of the weather, my morning ritual begins with a short walk outside! I love to take early morning walks around my neighborhood and just observe what is going on - whether it is the people moving about, the flowers that are blooming, the color combination that I see in an oily rain puddle, or a unique texture on a weathered wooden fence - I wait and see whatever pops out at me and I take pictures whenever I feel inspired. I am very lucky to live in a neighborhood that is both walkable and also home to many artists and creatives. These walks are both relaxing and a great source of inspiration for my work, as I have quickly gathered a great deal of photographs, color palettes and new ideas that I can reference whenever I need inspiration for my new designs. I never know what I will find on my morning walks and that is part of what gets my creative juices flowing!
Next, I eat a light breakfast, turn on my scented wax melt warmer, make a cup of coffee or herbal fruit tea, turn on some tunes and grab my sketchbook. I find it immensely helpful to activate all of my senses while sketching (another tip that I received from Lilla's book). It helps me to focus on putting pen to paper and allows me to tune everything else out. I especially love listening to music on Pandora because you never know which song is coming next! I enjoy the surprise and the variety of emotions that you get when listening to music - when I look back at the drawings in my sketchbook, I can definitely tell which emotion I was feeling at the time by looking at my sketches.
Afterward, I turn to my trusty sewing machine or a needle and thread to create some extra textures for my work. I also occasionally use watercolors or create my own block prints to add extra texture and interest to my designs. I love experimenting with different artistic techniques. Once I have all of my sketches and other artistic elements together, I digitally edit them using my trusty MacBook Pro and get to work creating several pattern designs and artwork collections.
For me, the best feeling in the world is seeing a pattern that I created on a product and knowing that it helps bring someone else joy. Whether I am designing a new print for bolt fabric, a design for a handmade journal, or a pattern for a nightlight, I love every bit of the process from start to finish.
My designs may not save lives...but if they make one person smile they are worth all the hard work! After all, sometimes something as simple as a smile, a good laugh, or renewed energy can be the thing that turns your whole day - or life - around!
Here we go...My First. Blog. Post. Ever!
This weekend was a very important step for me and my new small business: Studio Schmidt. Yesterday was my first time exhibiting my work at an art fair. It was also the first time that I was able to show actual products made with my own surface pattern designs to the public. Best of all, it was my first opportunity to make actual sales (which felt pretty great)! After only a few months of being in business, I feel like I have accomplished a lot.
I spent the last month and a half prepping for the art fair and getting everything ready. Countless hours went into designing the patterns, sourcing printers, rebranding my logo, printing labels and even making and sewing many of the products myself! After many late nights, a LOT of caffeine (and a few minor meltdowns during the process), I finished everything just in time for the What's Blooming on Harrison Art Fair & Street Fest on Saturday, May 21st. It was a lot of hard work, but in the end, I am so proud of what I was able to accomplish in only a month and a half!
When I started planning my product assortment, it was important to me that everything that I make and sell (both at the fair and, eventually, through my online store) be made in the USA. I am passionate about made in the USA products and I wanted to help contribute to the US economy by supporting US fabric and paper printers. I am also very passionate about the handmade maker movement, so it was also critically important to me, that the items that I designed and sold were each handmade or sewn by me in some way. Finally, as an Oak Park-based designer and artist that has lived in the Harrison Arts District for 2 years, I could think of no better place to exhibit for the first time than at What's Blooming on Harrison in the Oak Park Arts District! Oak Park is a very inspiring and supportive community and I feel blessed to be able to call it home.
Being able to unveil, and sell, my new products and artwork at the art fair felt amazing! Everything that I was available for sale featured exclusive Studio Schmidt textile and surface pattern designs. Some of my best sellers were the handmade journals, which featured hand-stitched bindings and custom printed covers - these were available in 5 different designs and in 2 different sizes (mini and regular). Another favorite of customers were the handmade fabric covered magnets! The greeting cards, notecard sets and kitchen towels were also a big hit! Some of the other items that were available for purchase were custom made tote bags, mixed media artwork, rolls of printed gift wrap, recipe card sets and bookmarks.
At the fair, I was able to connect with many new people, as well as other talented artists. The conversations that I had with those who visited my booth have given me several ideas of potential ways to expand my business in the future (including possibly teaching surface pattern design lessons, selling my items wholesale to boutiques, exhibiting at church sales and other craft events, and working on private projects and design commissions). These are all exciting possibilities that I look forward to exploring in the near future! Additionally, I will begin selling some of my Studio Schmidt products online very soon! Stay tuned!
I was also lucky to receive tremendous support from several of my friends, who attended the show! The last 6 months have been difficult for me, at times, since not everyone in my life has been so supportive of my recent career change. However, I have been very blessed to have such an amazingly supportive husband, family, and group of friends that I know are always rooting for me and cheering me on! They encourage me to keep going, reach for the stars and to always strive for my best! I just wanted to give a HUGE thank you to all of you for being so supportive (you know who you are!) I feel truly blessed.
Life is definitely an adventure and I am excited to see what new opportunities await for Studio Schmidt Designs in 2016!
Hello there! I'm an Atlanta-based surface pattern designer, illustrator, and maker. I would describe myself as a color enthusiast, creative entrepreneur, baker, lover of life, and fan of all things festive! Traveling to new places - whether near or far - is one of my favorite things to do. Please join me as I explore life and embark on new creative adventures!