We caught up with Zazzle designer Marceline Smith, also known as askingfortrouble, to chat about her freelance life, her “kawaii” style, and how owning her own Zazzle products has helped her spread the word about her store.
Zazzle: Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from/where do you live? Any fun facts about yourself we should know?
Marceline: I’m originally from a seaside town in the North East of Scotland but I currently live in Glasgow. For a major city, it has a really friendly community spirit and it’s a creative place to be. I work from home as a freelance designer and illustrator under the name Asking For Trouble. The name pretty much sums up the way I work: I like to do things my way even if it’s not the “correct” way!
Zazzle: What is your background in art or design? When did you first start creating?
I wanted to be an artist from a young age, that is, after I stopped wanting to be an astronaut.
Marceline: I’ve always been creative and wanted to be an artist from a young age, that is, after I stopped wanting to be an astronaut. I studied Printmaking at art school, but ended up in a web design career. I eventually realised I needed more freedom to be creative in lots of different ways and so I left to go freelance nearly six years ago. Now I get to do all my favourite things for a living: web coding, illustration, product design and writing.
Zazzle: Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
Marceline: I’m very much influenced by Japan. I’ve visited three times and I just love the mix of kawaii (cute) characters and traditional patterns. My house is full of cute and colourful things with happy faces and it just makes me smile every day. I also love to read and travel, both of which keep me inspired with new ideas. I always hope my designs bring a little bit of happiness into someone’s day.
Zazzle: How did you hear about Zazzle?
Marceline: I found Zazzle about 5 years ago when I was frustrated by how expensive it is to have your own products manufactured. I used to make all my products by hand, but there’s a limit to what you can make yourself. Once I moved on to doing more pattern and character design, I wanted to see them on lots of different products, and Zazzle has helped me do that without having to spend a fortune.
Zazzle: What is your favorite type of Zazzle product to design?
Marceline: It’s always the newest thing! Whenever there’s a new product added, I love thinking about how my designs will work on it and trying them out. Recently, the wrist watches and lamps have been really fun to do and I’m looking forward to designing some lunch boxes next.
Zazzle: What seems to be your best-selling design or product?
Marceline: T-shirts and cards with customisable text are the most popular overall. I’ve never sold t-shirts myself so it’s great that fans of my designs and characters can buy them in so many different sizes and styles. I also love being able to refer people to Zazzle when they ask if I can do a personalised card for them. My most popular characters are Grr! Bear and Bread Slice, who was the second character I ever drew.
Zazzle: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own Zazzle store?
Marceline: Keep adding new designs and products regularly. I try to add some new things every month, so it keeps the shop fresh, and I check Zazzle often to see what products and offers are new. I write regular posts on my blog to highlight the various products I have available and to share the best offers. I also like to buy my own products and use them. It’s great advertising as people are always impressed that I designed my own laptop case, wallet and even my shoes! People can be wary of ordering things unseen so it’s great to be able to show them the quality.