Tell us about you! Where are you from?
I live in the UK – I come from London and I’ve done graphic design most of my adult life. It’s something I find I just fell into, as a result of my interest in video games and websites.
What is your background in art and design?
I’m mostly self-taught. I decided to start making my own websites back in 1998, and to do that I was playing around with code. But of course websites need pictures, so I ended up creating my own images.
From there, I got various jobs in web design and they would often ask me to make posters and other graphic projects like that. So in that way I ended up being self-taught, without pursuing a degree. If I want to do something I just learn how to do it, and that’s how I’ve learned everything I’ve done so far.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
It all depends on what the designs is about, but I have a few niches that I focus on. Sometimes the designs come from things people are talking about at the time, like a meme that happened or a new album that’s come out with lyrics that inspire me.
Another thing I do now is a lot of cartoon animal characters for my Fuzzballs store, and a lot of the inspiration for those come from the pets I’ve owned and the things that they get up to.
You have a few different stores, is there a favorite or one you focus on more than others?
I flit between them. I have 3 larger stores and 3 smaller ones that I’m starting to grow more. The three larger stores have always been my most popular, but with Zazzle I’ve been able to introduce more variety with wedding cards and postcards.
Now I’ve started doing my little animal character cartoons, and expanded into creating photo quotes as well. I tend to create these for Tumblr, and they then end up on Zazzle as a way of earning money out of something that I just find fun to do.
I like all of my stores equally, but the one I think has the most fun images right now is the Fuzzballs store. It’s cute and fun and the images really pop compared to some of my other stores, which are more t-shirt designs which might not be as visually appealing on a website, but look great on a shirt. I’ve been adding my more visual designs like the Fuzzballs to Pinterest and hoping that they get spread around a little more.
What is your favorite Zazzle product to design?
I think my favorite is probably t-shirts, because that’s where I started. For many years even before I came to Zazzle I always wanted to make my own t-shirts. Especially in the UK, making a t-shirt was either horribly expensive or made with poor quality iron-on transfers which were no good for anyone. So, that’s what I’ve stuck to mostly because I just love designing for t-shirts.
There are so many other great products now, I wish I had time to design for them all! Other than shirts, I’ve been concentrating lately on products like posters, postcards, and wedding invitations. The paper products are easy to promote, and they always look great. Not every style or color of t-shirt works with every design – you sometimes have to work hard to make the design fit a wider range of shirt – but with postcards and other paper products you know it’s going to look good no matter what.
Are there any designs in your stores that stand out as best sellers?
My best sellers can be odd, really! There are a lot of designs I make that I personally adore that don’t sell very well, and other designs that I’m not as happy with that go on to sell a lot. I don’t think there is a particular design sells fantastically, I guess it’s just whatever captures people’s imaginations.
For my Fuzzballs store, the one people like at the moment is the cat eating the slice of pizza – that’s the one that people find the cutest. I definitely want to keep going with these characters, because I have so many other ideas for them, and people find them really adorable.
Are there any new product types you would like to see Zazzle add?
Good question! What I think I would like the most would be plushies that you can design yourself. I think a lot of people have a lot of little creations like that they would like to make, such as of their pets.
What advice would you give to a new Zazzle designer?
The biggest thing someone starting out on Zazzle needs to think about is, would they actually pay money for their own designs? When you create a design and put it out there, you’re competing against a lot of other designers, and they might be better than you! So you need to make sure that you’re putting designs out there that are at that level. If you wouldn’t buy your own product, then it probably means that someone else won’t want to buy it either. Do a lot of research on what you think people buy, go make your own, and make sure that if you were the customer you would buy it yourself.