My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #393: Preparing Patterns

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-07-2011 01:13 PM 3829 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 392: Setting Boundaries Part 393 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 394: And Now For Something Completely Different »

I woke up this morning to a sunny and hazy day. Although the sun was just rising, I already could tell it was going to be a hot day. Yesterday was probably one of the warmest days of the year here so far. It was sticky and still and slightly uncomfortable. I spent as much time as I could out on the small deck with Pancakes, my kitty, as it was slightly cooler there, but I didn’t have a lot of things that I could do outside, as I needed to do work on my computer. So I sucked it up and continued on.

Unlike when I lived in the Chicago area where everyone had air conditioning, very few people do here. I remember my first summer here in Nova Scotia I was practically horrified to learn that no one that I met even owned a small window unit, let along have central air. Only a few businesses were equip to deal with these warmer days in the way I was used to.

But this is my seventh summer here, and I have come to learn that having air conditioning is for the most part unnecessary. With living so close to the ocean, the air always seems pleasantly cool and there is usually a nice breeze flowing. The temperature rarely really gets what I will call ‘hot’ and I even found myself somewhat missing those broiling summer temperatures. (Only somewhat!) One other good thing about the climate here is that no matter how warm it seems to get during the day, as soon as the sun sets it cools down a great deal. There is rarely an evening when it stays uncomfortably warm and it at least gives you a break from the daytime heat.

But being so warm this early in the morning is a sure sign that it will be a hot day. I am trying to think if there is some sort of work that I can do that I can take with me and head outdoors for a bit, but I am in the middle of doing some things on the computer and that would make it impossible. I could probably bring some painting and go somewhere, but I haven’t decided yet.

I spent the day yesterday doing a variety of tasks that needed to be worked on. I heard back from the catalog wholesaler and they are accepting 28 new designs for their next issues. Of course we were happy with this, as it was just about everything that we had submitted. I needed to compile the specifications for each of the patterns, as well as submit the high resolution pictures for print. Many of the products had three or four views.

As I get better with Photoshop, I seem to get pickier about the pictures that I take and submit. After all, the picture is what is going to sell the item, so making sure that it is good is really important. In my spare time I read up on things and watch some of the hundreds of tutorials that Adobe and other sites have for Photoshop and I must say that I have learned quite a bit from them. I see the photography getting better and better on our things and I can usually tell pretty quickly which adjustments are needed from a raw photo to make it look decent. Keith is learning too and his own photography is getting quite good. This helps me out for obvious reasons.

As I get better though, as with most things, I want to go back and pick at the photographs that I already had ‘finished’. Many of the new patterns that we are sending are already on our site, and the photographs are done quite nicely. As I am compiling the files to send to the wholesaler however, I am seeing additional adjustments that could be made here and there and start playing with each picture. It seems the more that I know how to do, the harder it is for me to leave them alone. I can quickly see how this is becoming a curse. There comes a point where I just need to say enough is enough and call it finished. I sometimes struggle with finding that point.

In between that, I was receiving several emails from the wholesaler regarding our patterns. I had discussed in an earlier blog how they somewhat reformatted them for their own distribution. I wasn’t thrilled with this, but as long as it was only minor changes, I came to the conclusion that it was acceptable. But now I find that their art department is using versions of the software that is several years old and looking for easier ways to convert the patterns from the PDF files I supply them with so that that can make changes easier. I am not sure that I am thrilled at this. After all, I take great care to make the patterns look how I want them to look and I am not sure what the final product looks like to their customers. In the past, they had assured me that the changes were minor, and I pretty much took their word. But there is something in the back of my mind that doesn’t like that they are looking to make enough changes to the point of them having as difficult time as they are doing so. It just doesn’t sit right with me.

After several emails back and forth (they only deal with emails) my partner and I have come to the conclusion that we have more knowledge of making these patterns then their art department does. And that is somewhat scary.

I have always loved computers and have been a self motivator and used the resources that Adobe has offered regarding their software, as well as attended a couple of classes when I lived in Chicago on using their products. I even subscribed to their online training for a couple of years which at the time cost approximately $300 for a year of access to their video tutorials for whichever products you selected. I have also purchased the ‘Classroom in a Book’ series for several of the programs I used and have a decent grasp on the parts of the software that I use in my everyday designing. I am always up for learning more on computers and enjoy both the challenges that it brings and also the satisfaction of figuring things out.

This is also an asset as far as working with the magazine goes. I find that the least amount of changes that our designs need to go through from the time they leave our place here until the time they are published, the better. Every time a file is changed, it introduces another chance for an error to occur. Keeping up with the technology of the magazine publishers has been a great motivator and even though in some respects they are ahead, in most we are right there in the running.

We are finding, however, that our knowledge in these program somewhat exceeds the knowledge of those who work with many of the companies that we deal with. We find that we are occasionally asked to ‘dumb down’ our patterns for them and as I stated earlier, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. Besides the increased chances for error, we kind of feel that with the percentage that they are making off of our patterns, we shouldn’t have to customize them to each and every company only to make it easier for them to pick them apart. I find that it makes me uneasy.

Here come my control issues rearing their ugly heads again . . .

I suppose I could be making too big a deal of it. After all, they say that they are only minor changes in formatting. But the way I look at it, I do things the way I do them because I think that is the best way to present things. Otherwise I would do things differently. I just don’t want a customer receiving one of my patterns from somewhere else and thinking “Boy, this is poopie the way it is shown.”

Who knows, though. It may be changed for the better. I suppose that I need to keep an open mind. There is just a feeling that I have that I am not sure and I need to resolve it within myself.

Perhaps I will have a friend order a pattern or two of mine from these places and I can see first hand what is going on. That is probably the best way to know for sure.

But until then, I will be finishing up things on this side and getting everything to them as requested.

I also did a final proof on the pattern for the skating pond, as I am going to spend today printing the 72 copies needed for the first order. I have been cutting the figures in between things and that is going well. I also heard back from the laser guy with the quote on the revised set of figures and it looks like if things get out of hand and I need to have a lot of them cut, I can still do so through him and make a profit. That is key for me. I have hopes of making a side business of providing these kits and wood surfaces for the painters and if I am not doing the actual production work myself, it will allow me to do many designs at once without finding myself chained to the scroll saw cutting the same shape over and over and over again. I can keep designing and keep growing my business that way.

So many avenues to consider! The trick is getting them all coordinated and working smoothly so I still have time to develop new things and design. I need to improve on marketing, which will be my next step in this process. One step at a time, I suppose.

So that is it for today. I certainly have enough to keep myself busy and out of trouble. I hope you all have a great day and stay cool.

Have a good one.

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

4 comments so far

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3089 days

#1 posted 07-07-2011 04:13 PM

I thought the point of having things sent in pdf format was that they couldn’t be changed. Like you I am doubtful they know what they are doing. Personally I would insist on the final say as to what goes out in my name. Including a veto on anything I didn’t like.

As for the weather, sounds like the UK. We don’t bother with AC in our houses either.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2973 days

#2 posted 07-07-2011 04:46 PM

Martyn, you are absolutely correct. That is the point and there are many security features that you can put on the files also that will help protect the content from being changed. Again, it is one of those situations where I am being nudged just a little bit at a time. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? I agree that I need to actually see what is being given to the customer to feel completely comfortable with things. I had asked before when this started last year and I never received copies. I thought about it from time to time but I never really followed up on it (my bad!) I think it is time to do so and see what is going on, or I will have no one to blame but myself. :/


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Transition's profile


340 posts in 2596 days

#3 posted 07-07-2011 04:53 PM

I’m new to your blog so I don’t know all the details, and could be completely misunderstanding , but…

Regarding your patterns, you could market them as “signature” scrollgirl patterns, each modelled on a piece that you have created. Changes would mean that they would no longer be “signature” pieces.

And maybe create a “line” of patterns (e.g. here is my 2011 Halloween line).

You could also have beginner, experienced, and advanced levels. “Dumbing down” your patterns doesn’t mean that they have to be less beautiful. And beginner level patterns might mean that they are enjoyed by a larger audience (more $$ for you).

If you approach a project knowing that you are going to make say for 2011 “a Landry signature pattern in the Halloween line with three degrees of difficulty” might solve some problems:

You set the expectation that they are unique, unchangeable patterns.

You satisfy the need for simpler patterns, but also keep the artistic integrity as the design is part of the concept. The Landry 2011 Halloween pattern level 1, even if sold seperately, implies a level 2 or 3, although any “packaging” should explicitly say that there are a three levels.

*You save yourself time and aggravation as you are satisfying needs in the planning stage, versus making changes down the line.

Just some thoughts. Hope they help…

-- Andrew, Orange County, CA -

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2973 days

#4 posted 07-07-2011 05:06 PM

Hi, Andrew:
I am happy that you are enjoying my blog. I probably should have restated some of the basic things that I had mentioned previously. The companies don’t really ‘change’ the actual pattern or the design, they just change formatting and set up so that the patterns they sell include their own company information on them. But in the process of doing this, sometimes things get messed up or left out. Most designers (I believe) supply photocopies of patterns for them to sell. I do my patterns a bit differently then most, using vector graphics for the line work as well as color pictures, which I don’t think many others use either.

Dividing them would make some things simpler, but I already have approximately 500 patterns on the market and going back to reformat them all in that way wouldn’t quite work. I will think about what you suggested for future designs though, as the ideas are really good.

I appreciate your thoughts and ideas very much.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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