A Little Debunking

It has occurred to me on and off over time that some folks don’t quite understand aspects of what I do and what that all entails, so I thought I might attempt to shed some light on what the heck I do:

I’m a mom: I used to work full-time and freelance onsite at many NYC companies and moved my operations to a freelance remote basis after I had my first child. I still work on projects from home, so that I can specifically look after my two little children. There’s no nanny, no day care, there’s school for my older child and whatever we decide to do in a day for my younger child. My husband and I are tag team partners in this mission and although it can be draining at times with little breaks and moments of pure insanity, we’d have it no other way. Okay, maybe with a tad less insanity, but let’s not split hairs.

I’m a graphic designer: I got my start in print layout design (working for a company where I was the staff photographer, photo editor, graphic designer and creative director of a magazine….yeah, ALL of that in one job. I was the entire Art Department. Boy, I was underpaid for that gig, but that’s where I got my start, so hey it’s all good.) I originally worked on magazines and newspaper spreads. I then moved on to packaging, consumer products, marketing collaterals, advertisements, website design, logos and company branding. Many designers are specialists; I suppose I’m more of a generalist and have a lot of experience in many different design arenas. I’ve even designed costumes and tattoos for clients, and have been known to write and edit copy on occasion, so the possibilities are endless for jobs I take on. I still, however, hate doing taxes.

I’m a textile designer: When I chose to stay home with my first kid (who’s now 5-year old, um, how did that happen?), I found myself in that vacuum that most new moms do and wanted to have something that was just mine (MINE!) that stimulated the creative part of my brain. A friend introduced me to Spoonflower.com and I loved being the complete master of making something (no designing by committee, yay!) and being able to do it remotely from home, during nap time and kiddo bedtime. It’s a creative outlet that really came in handy at just the right time in my life.

Not only did I love practicing and refining the new skill of repeat designs for fabric, but I also liked the weekly design challenges Spoonflower hosted (and still does). Having a hard deadline and an accountability that is external to me made me much more likely to create (and complete it!). Having imposed themes that I might otherwise never think of also created a perfect cocktail for my assignment/puzzle-solving sensibilities that have always been hardwired in me. A themed-art contest is very much like a design client job. Someone wants something centered around a certain subject; can I produce that? Shoot, I’ll try!

I’m a licensed textile designer: So after weeks turned into months and months turned into years of working on weekly contests, I amassed not only a great online design community of fellow fabric designers but a hefty portfolio of surface design work. I promise you, I’d NEVER have done all that if it weren’t for the contests pushing me and lulling me into not realizing that I was working at a minimum-of-one-design-a-week pace. It’s much like my relationship to exercising. You’ll never find me on a treadmill in a gym, but if I sign myself up for a softball team, where I’m accountable to other people at specific dates/times, I’ll always be there and deliver. Guaranteed,  I’d run way more that way than on a treadmill.

Then about 3 years ago, my persistent designing via the Spoonflower contests paid off when I got approached cold by the folks at Timeless Treasures, wanting to know if I was interested in being a licensed designer. I had never thought of that as a goal and was thrilled to pieces to be hand-selected. I’ve been a licensed textile design with Timeless Treasures ever since.

So, what does that mean, you wonder? Well, it doesn’t automatically mean that my work has any more of a guarantee of being produced than before I was licensed; it does mean that I do have a guaranteed eye to review my work. So I still have to work hard, be as prolific as possible and strive to hit the right balance of creativity, appeal and usability.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Freestyle Portion of this SK Factoid Affair : 

1) My Bachelor’s and Master’s work are in fine art, with a concentration on printmaking, drawing and photography. I have a minor in Medieval Studies; something very random but always fun when I spout off the first 18 lines of Canterbury Tales in Middle English. I can’t wait to dazzle and amaze my kids with that gem.

2) I love modern, clean, clever design and am a sucker for just about anything Scandinavian or Japanese. They know their design. I know how to love them for it.

3) I’ve grown up with cats and am a huge animal lover; I was the Creative Director for the ASPCA in NYC and love when people adopt their animal companions from shelters and rescue groups. You guys rock! Although I don’t currently have any pets (aside from a family beta fish named Otto), I possess a wealth of odd tidbits about animal welfare and pet care. And if I don’t know the answer, I know the people who do. I’ve got mad connections that way, yo.

4) My one and only sibling is my older brother who has Down’s Syndrome, so I’ve grown up with a very deep compassion and understanding for people who are different. I root for underdogs and I loathe ungrateful, selfish have-it-alls. I get hornet’s nest-angry when people are targeted, belittled, mocked and bullied for their ‘differentness’. Like boiling angry. I never use the word ‘retarded’, and do in fact think less of people who do. 

5) My mother tongue is English—specifically American English—even if my name seems to infer otherwise. I once had a boss who said that when he saw my resume and my name, he thought, ‘Foreigner’ and was expecting someone very different to the person who came in for the interview. I’ve grown up in many countries and have been surrounded by many cultures, I’m a third culture kid, so I have a high tolerance of things and people who are different to me. I wish more people had that too.

6) I’ve always made things. I’ve been an artistic kid from just about day one and luckily grew up in a household that wholeheartedly respected that. It’s hardwired and when I haven’t been able to draw, knit, sew, paint, build, sculpt, WHATEVER, in awhile, I get fidgety and feel unhappy. I love having multiple projects going at the same time, especially when they’re in different mediums and levels of intricacy, so I can have a range of things to pop back and forth to. I’ll work on a multi-page design project while working on a sewing tutorial while conceptualizing a logo design while knitting a cowl scarf for myself just for fun. I’m a maker and creator of things. Unless I’m sleeping. 

7) When friends come to me wanting feedback or inspiration on projects, I virtually fall over myself to assist. Over the years, I’ve had numerous college grads contact me, looking for insight into the various artistic career paths I’ve made and wanting some sort of guidance for their own. I believe in sharing whatever knowledge I have, in hopes that it helps them sort out their futures a little more easily. Having experienced both cagey industry people and open, welcoming industry people in my life, I fully believe that the latter is the way to go because good begets good. And…there’s that karma thing.

Now, let’s group hug and make more stuff.