CREATIVE FLAIR : 05

 

Flair |fler| 1. A special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well.

On today's Creative Flair we have Valerie; owner and designer of Designs by Val. She has this unique, whimsical design aesthetic that I was immediately drawn to - I wish I could have all of the stationery! With that said, I had no choice but to reach out and ask her to be a part of this week's flair. She's one passionate designer, enough so, that she's self-taught! 


In a few sentences describe yourself and what you do. 

I'm a stationery and graphic designer, living in Vancouver, Canada. I started my greeting card business, Designs by Val, out of my love for art and paper goods. Going into a stationery shop is like going into a candy or bakery store for me (which I also love).

How did you first get into design and what's your favorite part about it? 

Ever since I can remember, I've loved crafts and DIY projects. I went to business school, but one morning, a few years after graduating and working a 9-5 job, I woke up with thoughts of "what am I doing with my life?" I decided to try and see if having a greeting card business could actually be viable. I was really fortunate in that the first store I approached actually bought my cards! There were definitely some 'no's' with stores that followed, but I think having this first 'yes' inspired me to keep going. I took some design courses here and there, but for the most part, I'm self-taught. A short time after, I decided to quit my job, took an intense entrepreneurship program, and have been journeying along ever since. 

My favourite part is being able to translate a thought or idea into something visual that can be shared with others. It's also always nice to be in a store and see people buy my cards. I don't think I'll quite get over that feeling no matter how many years I do this for! 

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What does your design process look like for your stationery suites? 

In list form, my design and thought process usually goes like this: 

1. Collect inspiration (from day-to-day life, nature, blogs, magazines).

2. Sketch out ideas with descriptive words. 

3. Edit sketches.

4. Translate to Illustrator ( I use a Wacom pen & tablet to draw).

5. Review the collection as a whole to see if any designs need to be added or omitted.

6. Edit and refine designs. I often get feedback at this point and also ask myself if I would buy this card. 

7. Last edits from feedback and finalization. 

Do you have any creative heroes that you admire and have inspired you? Who & How? 

I don't have any particular names in mind, but I read a lot of blogs, and I am constantly inspired by women who set goals, reach outside of their comfort zones, and have the tenacity to keep going. 

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What is your favorite piece of work you have done and why? 

Hmmm, this is a tough one because I don't think I actually have a favourite greeting card design. There's a painting I did a few years ago as a gift to my sis of the both of us along with a bicycle - that does have a special meaning to me. In terms of greeting cards, I would say I enjoy designing Valentine's/Love cards the most. 

Do you have a dream/goal that you wish to aspire? 

I would love to be able to work and travel at the same time, maybe even take some art courses along the way. It's also a goal of mine to license my artwork. I love the creative side of design, just not so much the production side, so licensing is something that interests me. 

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As a self-employed designer, do you have any advice for those starting out? 

Looking back, I would tell myself to create a plan and set goals, financially and personally. I know that sounds so obvious, but I didn't really have a plan! I just did it and learned along the way. I started off small, and with greeting cards, the costs were relatively low, so this was feasible. Depending on your financial situation, it could also help to have a part-time job so your necessities are being looked after, which takes a huge amount of pressure off. 

I would also suggest building a creative community and support system. Often times when you work alone, you feel like you're the only one going through issues or making mistakes. By having a community, you not only make friends, but you realize that others are often going through the exact same thing. Having a support system, whether it be a mentor, partner, family, or close friend really helps. 

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Being a travel junkie myself, if you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 

I'd love to live in the San Francisco/Bay Area for a little while. I visit regularly because of family, I love the weather, culture, and feel of being there. It reminds me of Vancouver quite a bit actually. There's also a huge creative community, which is always nice when you have a small/independent business. 

Early bird or night owl? 

Definitely night owl. When designing a new collection, I get the most creative work done after 10pm. 

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Thank you so much for sharing Val!

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You can follow more of Vals' creative flair below

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