I haven’t written here at the blog in a long time. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to write/blog more (weekly) in 2016, and I’m planning to start right now and stick to that.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful 2015, and are full of hopes and dreams for the coming year.
Have you been wondering what we’ve been up to?
Well, 2015 was a great, but very busy, year. I didn’t spend as much time designing as I would have liked, because so much of my time and energy needed to be devoted to managing the business side of things (our order volume tripled last year).
This was wonderful, but unexpected, and we had to make a lot of quick adjustments.
But before I go on, I just want to express how grateful I am for that. It’s my life’s dream to make things that bring people joy and I feel very lucky to be able to do that. So, thanks to all of you who support and encourage me in my passion.
When I created the initial designs that launched my web shop (in 2013), I was working in a vacuum, at my own pace. I had a dream, but no set deadlines. Nobody knew or cared who I was, and the only pressure on me was the pressure I put on myself.
I guess the pressure has mounted in the last year or two, in proportion to the sales.
And that brings me to last week, when I stumbled upon an article about how ‘wonderful’ deadlines are. To me, wonderful and deadlines are two words that don't belong in a sentence together. So I read on, curious to hear an alternate perspective.
The article argued that deadlines are good for your customers because they help hold you to your promises. If a deadline is approaching and you don’t think you can make it, the thing to do is start cutting. Take your initial target/goal/dream/ideal and bring it back to reality.
The thing is, this just doesn’t work for me (or my product). This doesn’t even sound like one would be keeping the right promises to his/her customers if one was to operate this way. I want to do the right thing with respect to my customers, but to me that’s delivering the best product I possibly can. And if I do that in January or June, well, that’s less important to me, and I hope to you too.
My latest design, ‘Still Life With Shadows’, has kept me occupied for nearly a year. I had hoped it would be done before the summer of 2015, but when I saw the proofs, I knew it wasn’t. I thought it would be an open and shut case. It was anything but.
I let it rest in the summer and approached it with new fervor in the fall. I hit a wall again. In the end, do you know what I had to do? Go back to the beginning, do what William Faulkner called 'killing your darlings' … And start over again.
Luckily, that’s an option that working digitally affords you. I think I’ve saved hundreds of versions of this design at this point. So I can go back in time and see where it’s at its strongest, take the lessons I’ve learned in the meantime, and … try it again.
I may not have been communicating much with the outside world in 2015, but I was definitely communicating with this design, and helping it figure out what it wanted to be.
There’s just no predicting how these things will go. After almost a year of being patient and persevering, not giving up even when ‘Still Life’ was giving me nothing … this design is in what I hope is its last round of proofing. And I’m really proud of it in January 2016, in a way that I wasn’t in June 2015. And I think that matters, a lot.
I also have big plans for this design. It’s going to be applied to lots of products and be available in my shop for years, and my customers will live with it for years. I don’t take that lightly.
So, for better or worse, I don’t/can’t work to the deadline. My creative process just doesn’t allow me to. It’s more important to me to be true to that process, and to craft something not around a deadline, but around the initial dream.
So, commercial success plays a secondary role for me, and being able to make that call is one of the many things I love about working as an independent designer.
I do believe that people who value purchasing products directly from makers (can come to) understand and value this process-driven way of working. It may be a test of patience, but good things come to those who wait :)