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!
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.
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.
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.
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.