Featured Designer Interview with Barbara of Wasabirose

By • 6 months ago with no replies yet

Today we’re talking with Barbara McConkey, the multi-talented artist from Zazzle shop WasabiRose, about her artistic journey and graphic design career.

Zazzle: Tell us about you! Where are you from/where do you live?

Barbara: I’m a graphic designer and mixed media artist originally from California but I now live in Washington state. I live with my husband and three kids, and work from my home office for my design business called InForm Design.

I’m very active in my community as a volunteer for nonprofit organizations. I specialize in work for nonprofits, so they are my regular customers and I often donate my design services to them as well.

Zazzle: What is your background in art and design? When did you first start creating?

Barbara: I started creating at a very early age! I was always creating something: sewing, drawing, or building things. As I got older I learned about a whole bunch of different artistic mediums, so over time I tried out a lot of different creative pursuits.

As a young adult I started a career in graphic design. I didn’t go to school for it, but just got started when computers began to come in to play in the graphic design field. I learned along with the rest of the industry. The other thing about my creativity is that, while I was really confident in my professional life as a graphic designer, I struggled privately to find myself as an artist. I was looking for that special niche thing that was going to be mine. It was frustrating to me because I was trying so many different things – felt-making, sculpture, pottery, and photography– and then I realized that I was in love with all of them! It took me a long time to figure out that I am a mixed media artist. I thought I was looking for one thing when I was really looking for a lot of them. So, I do a little bit of everything!

 

Zazzle: Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

Barbara: I like to paint, so sometimes my designs will be inspired by something I painted or drew. I have some painted designs in my store, as well as some computer drawn images. I’ve found I can even use some of my collage designs on Zazzle. I can use a variety of the things I do as long as they are 2 dimensional. I also do a lot of black and white pattern work.

I’m very inspired by my pets. My yin yang cat design is very popular! That one was definitely inspired by my cats. I volunteer for a Japanese nonprofit organization in town, and have many Japanese friends, so that’s really inspired me as well. That definitely played into the yin yang cat design, and the design called Dragonfly Journey. Those are two of my more popular ones.

Other designs like the tattoo inspiration ones with black and white patterns are from sketchbook drawings I’ve done over time, and from tattoo designs that I’ve created for people.

“Shine” is a digital collage that was meant to look like a silk screen print. That one was really just for fun – I do a lot of sketching and I ended up drawing this bird, and then was inspired by my son who is a musician to add the guitar and other musical elements. That’s a happy one!

Zazzle: How did you get started with Zazzle?

Barbara: I heard about Zazzle online; I just ran into it while looking for something online and thought it was cool. I decided to set up a little shop and see how it would do with offering design work, but not having to worry about all that goes with the sale of physical art. It’s nice that Zazzle handles everything and I don’t have to worry about things like shipping.

Zazzle: Which are your favorite Zazzle products?

Barbara: T-shirts are good sellers, and I like designing them. Also mugs and bags – the tote bags are great. I like that there are also print products like the posters. There are just so many options! I love how easy it is to put your designs on so many different kinds of things, like phone cases. People are always looking to have a unique phone case, and with Zazzle you can get just about anything. I really like the necklaces a lot, too, and they’ve done well. They’re very pretty!

Zazzle: What advice would you give new Zazzlers starting out with their own store?

Barbara: Use your best ideas. Post the ones that are your absolute best. Make sure that you follow the templates as well, that makes a big difference with how designs look on the products. You want to make sure they’re scaled properly and that the proportions are correct. The biggest thing would be to really think like a shopper when you’re tagging your products. Tags make a huge difference! It took me a while to figure it out but if you keep working at it you’ll get the right tags and find that people will be able to find your designs much more easily.

Try your designs on a lot of different products, and also try designing for the product so that you’re thinking of the product itself when you’re designing. Make sure you have enough products, so that you have a good variety and customers have more options.There are also neat tools Zazzle provides like the flash panel so that you can show off your work. Try showing it on Facebook and other social media to get the word out.

I’ve had a great experience on Zazzle – it took a while to build my sales, but you do eventually get a decent-sized audience and start to see income. It takes time to get out there, but don’t give up hope!

Thanks! I hope you liked it.

Zazzle Associate Handbook

By • 7 months ago with one reply

Wouldn’t it be nice to have all of the Tips & Tricks tutorials in one place? Great news – now they are!  During the last few months, we’ve been putting together the Designer & Associate Handbook which includes key posts from the Designer Tips & Tricks such as How to Track your Referrals and SEO. You can download the handbook anytime you’d like and keep it in a handy place on your computer.  The linked Table of Contents makes it easy to get to the topic you’d like to know more about and the layout makes it easy to browse or read in depth.

 

Take a look at the Introduction for a detailed explanation of the associate program and how you can benefit from it.

designer_associate_handbook

Check out the Creating Referral Links section to become a master at link building and tracking.

Capture

Browse the Social Media section for a detailed overview of your favorite platforms.

facebook

Review the Keywords and SEO section to improve your tagging skills.

SEO

Last but not least, stop by the FAQ section for anything you might have missed.

FAQ

 

You can download the handbook here or by going to http://www.zazzle.com/sell/affiliates and clicking on Associate Handbook in the left-hand navigation.

Having trouble downloading the handbook? Try a different browser or clearing your cookies.

Happy Affiliating!

Elizabeth P.

Thanks! I hope you liked it.

Featured Designer Interview with Patternpod

By • 7 months ago with no replies yet

Today we’re talking with Kristen Dettoni, one of the design pros behind PatternPod, a decorator’s haven of custom patterns paired with Zazzle products.

Zazzle: Tell us about you! Who and what is PatternPod?

Kristen: PatternPod is me, Kristen, and my business partner Geraldine Blanchot. We are both textile designers by trade, and we both have fine art degrees. We met at our last job and decided to leave the corporate world to start out on our own. We love patterns, which are what we worked with in textiles, and have now turned that into an online business. We started PatternPod about a year ago, and launched our website in October of last year.

Zazzle: What was the inspiration behind PatternPod?

Kristen: We thought it would be great to start this business because we believe that customization is the way of the future. Most people know that you can take your personal photos and have them printed or put on some products, but it didn’t seem that a lot of people knew that you could do this with anything – like a great pattern!

We decided to bridge that gap, and now customers can either buy a pattern from our site to create their own products, or they can purchase a product already designed with their favorite pattern from our Zazzle store.

Zazzle: How did you get started on Zazzle?

Kristen: One year, I decided to make mugs for all of my employees and was looking for a really personal way to do it. That’s how I stumbled upon Zazzle. I’ve been shopping with Zazzle for years now, and I have to say that the quality is the best I’ve found for custom printing.

We started off knowing that Zazzle was going to be the next step for our customer after purchasing a pattern, and we even provide how-to’s on our site for taking patterns directly to Zazzle. We decided to open the store to help customers who were looking for a little more assistance in creating products with their patterns. It was so easy and convenient to link up our website with Zazzle; it has really been a breeze. You can decorate your whole home with Zazzle. Even putting patterns on products is addictive – and then you want to buy it!

Zazzle: What kind of art and design background do you and Geraldine have?

Kristen: We both went to art school and earned fine art degrees: I went to Kansas City Art Institute and Geraldine went to the Rhode Island School of Design. Between us we have 30 years of experience in the industry. We’re both very driven and love the creative process. When we were working in the corporate world, we loved the creative part but we really wanted to branch out. PatternPod allows us to tap into every part of the creative process: we get to decide what product a pattern would look best on, we style our own photo shoots of product samples from Zazzle for the website, everything.

We’re both designers by trade and we wanted to see what we could do. We saw that DIY is very popular, and we love home decorating. We used to design textiles for furniture in offices, healthcare, etc., so we’re very up on what’s current and are excited to bring that to new people and products.

Zazzle: Where do you find design inspiration for your patterns?

Kristen: Geraldine loves traveling – she is a travel nut! So, a lot of her inspiration is from her travels; she has been all over the globe. I get a lot of my inspiration from watching and tracking trends – not necessarily from other designers, but everything from fashion designs or graphic design to see in general what is popular. We’re really strong with what’s trending in patterns, what’s trending in colors, and I think that really shows through our site and store. If people don’t feel comfortable knowing what the right color they’re looking for is, they can come to our store and know that what they’re buying is current.

We want the average person to be able to completely customize their home – and their lives! – without having to do any of the design work. They can pick what they want and have it personalized. We just think that’s the coolest thing!

Zazzle: What are your favorite Zazzle products to design? Are there any products that seem to be most popular?

Kristen: It’s hard to pick just one, I like all of them! I would say I think my favorites are the pillows and the plates. The pillows are really good quality, and they have a handy hidden zipper so that you can take off the cover to wash it. They’re a nice size, and pillows are a great way to add pattern to any room. If you’re a little scared of pattern it’s a great way to add some without feeling like you’re overwhelming the room – and you can even change it out, which is even more fantastic! They’re great for holidays, you could have a Christmas pillow or a Halloween pillow.

I will say that we do have repeat customers for the wristlets. They seem to really like the makeup bags, they’re good for travel. Overall, I think the quality of Zazzle products is great – I think I’ve ordered one of nearly everything! I also like the bath sets, they look great. I’d even love to see curtains and duvet covers offered,  and more fabrics that you could use in your home.

Zazzle: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting out with their own creative business?

Kristen: You need perseverance. And don’t underestimate the impact of social media! Especially when you’re first starting out – we’re total social media geeks. You just have to keep at it, believe in what you do, and talk with as many people as you can to get advice. Constantly reassess what’s working and throw out what isn’t working. (And invest in some hair coloring, because you’re going to get a few gray hairs!)

Thanks! I hope you liked it.

Let’s pretend this happened: top picks from The Bloggess

By • 7 months ago with no replies yet

Name: Jennifer Lawson. Location: Texas. Former gig: Houston Chronicle reporter. Current gig: The Bloggess. Weblog Awards finalist for Best Writing and Weblog of the Year. Sarcasm queen.

 

Perhaps you’ve read her dry-as-a-martini posts on TheBloggess.com? Or her “mostly true memoir,” the New York Times bestseller Let’s Pretend This Never Happened? Her tales of arthritis, depression, and OCD, pics of her daughter, ruminations on ninjas?

 

Let’s be honest: we could all use a bit more Bloggess in our lives. Sometimes you just need to say the f-word, giggle hysterically, cry hysterically, or scream a lot, or all of the above. And sometimes you just want to share that. With hundreds of thousands of fans.

 

Here’s another way to share the hysterical crying-screaming-giggling love — go bananas in the Bloggess Shop. It’s the ultimate homage, the most delicious of treats. Start with the perfect enabler for your laziness — the Hunter S. Thomcat Mug, made for that soothing cup of camomile (or strong coffee, if it’s one of those days):

 

Hunter S Thomcat Mug

 

But let’s not forget Ferris.  The Ferris Mewler Postage Stamps are, as she says, “way better than those stamps with flowers on them.” Ferris Mewler dons a cone of shame with a drawn-on mustache: you’ll take how many?

 

Ferris Mewler Postage Stamps

 

And for the little one, you can never go wrong with an organic onesie, especially when (in her words) it “will make strangers stop wanting to touch your baby. Everyone wins.” Yes, please:

 

I Can’t Go Back to Prison Baby Shirt

 

We’re off to read her blog because she’s just utterly fantastic.

Thanks! I hope you liked it.