I want to introduce you to two designers who have experienced a huge leap forward in their career by exploring new markets, communities, and shifting their understanding of what is possible in their careers. Their stories are inspirational and provide us some valuable insight into the way they went about achieving their goals and creating new opportunities.
Sherry London is an accomplished writer, teacher, and Photoshop expert, but when it came to her own artistic style she was lost. She knew she loved to create textural, motif-less patterns, but she didn’t think there was a market for her work. In most of the courses she had taken and contests she’d entered, it seemed like the cute illustrative work always stole the show. These experiences led her to believe that “this was the wrong career path completely” and she came very close to giving up on her dreams of selling her work in the marketplace. But here’s the thing—Sherry’s textural patterns are gorgeous and, in fact, there is a HUGE market for this style of work in the apparel industry.
Sherry had the opportunity to explore the apparel market further in Mastering Your Market and everything “clicked.” She had finally found her design home and immediately began to design with more confidence and purpose. In fact, Sherry recently signed on as one of Patternbank’s newest designers. By exploring a new market, Sherry is now creating the patterns that come most naturally to her and beginning her career as a professional surface pattern designer.
I first had the pleasure of working with Ellie a few years ago through one of our Pattern Observer courses. Despite her innate talent, Ellie felt a bit lost when it came to finding a market for her work. Again, she knew what she wanted to create, but she didn’t know how to find the right market for her work. Despite this fact, Ellie kept creating the flowers that inspire her so and began sharing them through her blog and Pinterest community and boy was that ever the right decision!
In May of 2013, an image of Ellie’s “Dark Floral” wallpaper went viral on Pinterest. Purchase inquiries streamed in from all over the world, prompting Ellie to launch her very own web shop with a signature collection of wallpapers available for purchase. She now creates her signature floral patterns for her wallpaper collection, which is shipped across the world. Had Ellie not stayed true to her style, while exploring new markets and new communities, her business may have never come to be.
“Pinterest and Instagram give designers the ability to connect directly with consumers for free, so just keep making work that reflects your authentic style and getting it out there for people to see. This is the most valuable feedback you can get and it costs you nothing and teaches you so much! It’s a really exciting time. Designers can bring their products to market and don’t need to wait around for the endorsement of manufacturers or brick and mortar stores. The internet has blown everything open and that makes this a really exciting time for us! I think one of the most beautiful things that will come out of this is more variety, more choice, because there are so many millions of creative styles and visions and so many millions of consumer niches to be discovered. There’s no longer any reason to force ourselves to design for the status quo/mass market, so put your time and energy into doing what is YOU and that will always be time and energy well spent!”
Two Examples, A World of Opportunity
In both Sherry and Ellie’s cases, you can see how each designer stayed true to their innate style, but found success by challenging what they knew to be “the norm.” Instead of focusing on what their friends or peers were doing, and forcing themselves to fit into that box, these designers found success in markets, communities, and businesses that they never thought were possible.
How could a new technique, market, or community positively affect your business? Would it bring in new clients, help you grow your services business, or inspire innovative ideas? Let me know in the comments below.