As an independent, freelance designer, I am fortunate that I am able to vary my designs to my heart's content. While I do have to (somewhat) follow trends, I have the flexibility of creating not only the type of pattern that I would like to see, but also pick the subject, type of media that is used to create it. It is really what makes things fun.
But with that fun, also comes responsibility. Many know that 'artists' tend to march to their own drummer. While this creates new and innovative projects for everyone to share, it isn't always guaranteed that they will be liked or even accepted. There is sometimes a fine line between making something that is unique and something that is obscure. We have to try to figure things out before investing a great deal of time into something, or it may be a bust.
We all have successes and failures as designers. I think that someone is being unrealistic if they think that every project from a particular designer will be a grand slam. It isn't to say that one may not have lots of hits, but going into the game thinking that success will be a 'given' is just something that is bound to set one up for disappointment. We have to look at things and weigh each project appropriately because like it or not, if we are designing for a living, time is money. It could mean the difference between losing our freedom of creating and being able to continue on. We need to keep it in balance.
Sometimes I think about future projects for a long time prior to actually creating them. As I frequently mention, my list of 'to do' projects is long (and getting longer all the time.) I have some projects that I have been thinking through in my head for literally years that either miss the season once or twice or aren't quite ready to be developed yet for one reason or another. It is for this reason that to some of you designing new things may seem to come easy to me. From your point of view, it only takes a mere day or two and I am rolling out a new project. But some of my best efforts are those which have been incubating in my head for a while as I iron out most of the issues and plan. Those unseen parts of a designers' job are sometimes the most important. They are a very valuable use of my time – even if no one else is aware of them.
For the past couple of years, I have been a member of the "Toletown Designer Team". For those of you who may not know, Toletown is an online community for decorative painters. By becoming a member for a small fee, you have access to hundreds of patterns, instructional videos, classes and even forums. It is a great place to learn and share your love of painting for a very nominal cost. As a member of the design team, I am one of the team of designers that creates the projects and classes for the upcoming year. Every month there are two new full classes (with videos) and a new easier project called a "Quick Paint". This is a full pattern, but no video lesson.
I am scheduled to contribute the "Quick Paint" lesson for September.
This is somewhat of a challenge for me, because I have trouble doing anything "Quick". I may start doing something simple, but by the time I am done, I have added layers of details over it and labor over it to the point of turning it into something more advanced. Keeping things simple is a challenge in itself for me. But I really tried this time . . .
With Halloween approaching, I had wanted to do a series of "Potion Bottles" for my own painting patterns. I love bottles in general, and I could think of some really cool themes for them. This is one of those projects that I had intended on doing for the past several years, and for one reason or another I have been distracted by other things and run out of time and the project was sidelined. Last month when my notice came that my project for September would be due, I knew it was time to jump in and get this going. It was time for it to become reality.
I drew up my first 'bottle' this past weekend and cut my wood pieces. Now the good things about this is that it can be easily adapted to just about any surface. I will (of course) offer the wood pieces on my own site though. I think I will offer an entire set of 'bottles' for people to use.
I couldn't decide if I wanted a plaque, stand-up piece or ornament/magnet. My best solution to that was to offer all three. (Whoops – there I go again!) I fought with this idea, but in the end, the three sizes won out. I couldn't NOT offer them when they were screaming to be made. They all have merit as far as I am concerned and it will make the design more versatile. While the larger pieces will be easier to achieve detail and paint, the smaller ones would definitely be "quick" and fit the criteria for the project I was commissioned to do. So three it is.
I spent the bulk of yesterday working out the first piece. I chose the smaller one because it would FORCE me to be less detailed. (YAY!) and achieve my goal. While I went back and forth a couple of times with the colors (yes – I actually had several "do overs" to improve the look and make it look like what I envisioned in my head!) I finally got to the following point:
It looks pretty cool, doesn't it?? In person it is even nicer because I used some of the lovely DecoArt iridescent Interference paint from their Media line. I love the little charm that I found as well. I found it at the same place I got my bees and 12 Days charms and I thought it was just perfect for this project. As I said, I will be adding these little charms to several of my new pieces in the future. I had fun with ordering a lot of cool things to play with from the supplier and I can't wait to reveal them.
I think this little piece will look splendid on my Halloween tree as an ornament. But it could be used on a wreath or even as a lapel pin. The larger sizes will be done today.
I believe the process will go much easier because I worked out all the colors, etc. I may be able to put a few more details in the larger pieces. We will see . . .
I don't know if I mentioned lately that I LOVE what I do. While there are no guarantees when you live your life as a designer, you do get a feel for things and more often than not, you are able to work from your heart. There is a bit of risk involved, but I think that is part of the thrill. Sometimes you even hit a home run.
I hope you all like the new project. I will have more pictures on the other pieces tomorrow.
Happy Tuesday to you all!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"