Today we’re chatting with one of our talented up-and-coming Designers, Nicole of Zazzle store NB Paper Co, to find out more about her long history of making art and the inspiration behind her Zazzle designs.
Tell us about you! (Where you are from/where you live, any fun facts about you, interests)
Hi there! My name is Nicole, I’m from the suburbs of New York City and have been living here my whole life. I grew up living between Portugal and New York, sometimes traveling to Europe twice a year for a few months at a time. I’m first generation Portuguese-American on my mother’s side and second on my father’s, and I try to visit Portugal as often as I can to see my family. Family is number one for me and I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful and supportive family by my side. My interests include dancing silly like no one’s watching, wearing PJs, traveling, and eating great food. Fun fact: I am the mother to two adorable pomchi pooches (pomeranian chihuahuas) and I couldn’t be more obsessed with them.
What is your background in art/design? What got you started creating?
My aunt once beautifully described how I started creating art when she told me: “As long as I can remember, you have been making greeting cards (and many other things)! After opening presents, there you were collecting the wrapping paper and ribbons with scissors, tape, and glue in hand at the ready. In moments, you created the cutest cards, pictures, and even hats and jackets.”
When I was in kindergarten I had more interest in excelling at cutting paper and coloring within the lines than I had at actually spelling my own name. Later on, it was hard for me to relate to the kids in school because of my culture so I took to drawing and art to spend my time. I didn’t take many art classes because I didn’t like the idea of someone telling me how to make my own artwork and then judging whether or not it was good. I took two photography classes and one studio art class in high school and went to college undecided. Two years into undergrad I declared myself a marketing major and during my first marketing class had a life-changing epiphany to follow my heart.
Very long story short, I transferred schools and completed my undergraduate education as a studio art major and graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. In college I loved being able to dabble in all kinds of art including painting, ceramics, printmaking and photography. I find it ironic that I only took one graphic design course in college and now that is most of what I do (with great joy!!!). After school, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do until after I worked for a small graphic design company for a few years where I was really able to hone my skills and learned invaluable lessons. I am incredibly thankful for the special people and teachers that have pushed me to follow my dreams and to continue with my talents.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration wherever I am and pretty much anywhere. I was just in Miami, Florida on a mini vacation (literally just got off the plane a few hours ago) and I found inspiration yesterday, for example, at lunch. The restaurant’s menu had all these crazy font and color combinations that I would’ve never thought to combine. I thought about how I could translate what I saw to an awesome kid’s birthday invitation. I’m also a much more observant-type person than I am a talker so I’m always looking around and taking everything in. I’m mostly drawn to architectural and natural elements so you can find a lot of that in my work.
What are your favorite products to design on Zazzle? Any favorite or best-selling designs in your store?
My favorite products to design are definitely anything wedding related! When I was in my teens I joked around that I wanted to open up my own business called something like “Everything Weddings” and I would do everything from decoration design, stationery design, makeup, hair design, planning etc. all under one roof. It was just a thought (and far-fetched idea) but I’ve always been drawn to pretty things and it can’t hurt that I’m also a hopeless romantic by nature. It’s so great to have a creative outlet that can keep up with my head, which is always full of new ideas. It’s a race against the design ideas and Zazzle makes it incredibly easy to keep up with. My bestsellers have definitely been cards and invitations, but I just opened my shop a few months ago so it’s hard to tell. I recently came across the wood sign products and because they’re so different and pretty I can’t wait to create some customizable designs.
If you could wish for one new product you could design on Zazzle, what would it be and why?
I think it would be really nice to have a folded card option that had the same paper type options as invitations. Right now the folded card only comes in a glossy paper and only has a limited area for template. I’d love to be able to give options for the back of the card. Also, waterproof beverage labels that could be sold singularly and that came in different size and shape options!
Do you have any advice for other Zazzle Designers?
I’m still just trying to figure things out for myself but here is what I feel to be true: create designs that you or your best friend would buy. Every design that I create comes from a level of love and if I don’t love it, I would never try to sell it. For me, it has always been about quality and patience. Utilize your social networks and friends to find out what people want. If you create quality designs, word will spread – sooner or later. I want to share a piece of advice that my grandfather recently told me (with his heavy foreign accent and broken English): “Do what you design to do.”