49 – Surface Pattern Design with Elizabeth Silver

This episode is perfect for any of our listeners who are interested in surface pattern design.

Today we’re speaking with Elizabeth Silver, a professional surface pattern designer and a licensed artist for the stationery, gift and textile markets. With 18 years in the industry and hundreds of designs in her portfolio, she also teaches beginner surface pattern designers how to move past overwhelm and obstacles to create a profitable creative business. She’s passionate about keep it real business advice, and moving forward even in a messy way. She’s also passionate about ice cream.

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Topics discussed

  • Elizabeth’s Startist story and favorite ice cream flavors
  • Her path to discovering surface pattern design and becoming a freelancer
  • Balancing freelance work and growing a licensing portfolio
  • The process of working on clients briefs
  • How to know when you’re ready to put your work out there. Hint: don’t overthink, just do it!
  • Nikki’s shameless plug for her web design services and Elizabeth’s advice on what you need to get started
  • What you should include in your first art portfolio
  • Transitioning from freelance work to teaching
  • Elizabeth’s Start Your Surface Pattern Design Business course and what’s included (contracts, websites, portfolios, pricing and more!)
  • How to decide which product categories and markets you want to work in and Elizabeth’s helpful “Design Niche” quiz
  • What we can do to get past fear and just get started
  • Elizabeth’s personal design challenge (prompted by our interview with Lisa Glanz!) and how to get past a creative funk 
  • How to identify industry trends
  • Elizabeth’s amazing free resources on her website and YouTube channel (interviews, tutorials, trend reports, business advice and more!)
  • Elizabeth’s words of advice to those just getting started

Laura

0:04
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Nikki

0:06
And this is Nikki May with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:15
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:30
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours. Laura, who are we talking to today?

Laura

0:40
Well, this episode is perfect for any of our listeners who are interested in surface pattern design.

Nikki

0:43
Like us?

Laura

0:43
Like us. Today we’re speaking with Elizabeth Silver, a professional surface pattern designer and a licensed artist for the stationery, gift and textile markets. With 18 years in the industry and hundreds of designs in her portfolio, she also teaches beginner surface pattern designers how to move past overwhelm and obstacles to create a profitable creative business. She’s passionate about keep-it-real business advice, and moving forward even in a messy way. She’s also passionate about ice cream. Elizabeth, welcome to the Startist Society.

Elizabeth

1:23
Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Nikki

1:26
Thank you so much for being here. So we like to start our interviews by having our guests share their Startist story with us. But first, we need to know your favorite flavor of ice cream.

Elizabeth

1:37
Hmm, good question. I mean, I like something that’s like a vanilla base with a lot of extra candies or chocolates in it. You know what I mean? Like moose tracks, or like a peanut butter cup or something like that. Vanilla base, but just add in all the chocolate extras.

Nikki

1:55
Alright, that sounds delicious. What about you, Laura? What’s your favorite ice cream?

Laura

1:59
Okay, my favorite growing up was mint chocolate chip. My brother and I had that every time we went to the – what was the 32 Flavors? Baskin-Robbins.

Elizabeth

2:09
Oh yeah, Baskin-Robbins. I used to get the rainbow sherbet at Baskin-Robbins.

Laura

2:13
I loved Baskin Robbins mint chocolate chip, but I kind of turned into like a butter pecan girl now. But because I live in Texas, it has to be Blue Bell. That’s it. Blue Bell ice cream. So if you haven’t had Blue Bell, you gotta have it.

Nikki

2:13
Alright, mine is 100% coffee. I know you expected me to say bourbon, but coffee ice cream. And if you can mix in some Heath bars…

Elizabeth

2:33
Mmmm… now we’re talking.

Nikki

2:38
You know, or bourbon. Alright, but let’s get back on topic.

Elizabeth

2:44
This is stuff people want to know, I’m telling you.

Nikki

2:46
I know, this is hard hitting news!

Elizabeth

2:49
Journalism right here, yeah.

Nikki

2:51
Right, right, right. Alright, so we know you’ve been a surface pattern designer for quite some time, like eighteen years? And you even studied surface pattern design in school which, I didn’t even know that was a major.

Elizabeth

3:05
Yeah, neither did I really. I mean it was actually a stroke of luck, I think. I was thinking about this and you know, I was lucky to have grown up, I have a sister who’s 10 years older than me and she was a graphic designer and my mom studied art education, she ended being a regular elementary school teacher rather than an art teacher, but she studied it, so I never had that thing that you hear sometimes from artists who like I didn’t know this could be a job like I always knew art can be a job and so I was pretty, you know, sure that that would be my job you know.

Nikki

3:42
That’s awesome.

Elizabeth

3:43
So I ended up going to Syracuse University. I was definitely going to college I was like you know had really good grades and all this stuff and just like typical path, but like I also was totally dragging my feet about it. So I didn’t apply very many places and then only got into two places. And one was a state was UConn a state school and one was Syracuse and I was like, I’m going to Syracuse like I basically my mom was like, well, you should at least check it out and like go to it. Maybe you want to go to UConn I was like No, I’m just going to Syracuse that’s it. Like whatever.

Nikki

4:19
Where did you grow up.

Elizabeth

4:20
Connecticut?

Nikki

4:21
Okay, I spent my childhood summers in Connecticut. I went to camp in Connecticut.

Elizabeth

4:27
Oh, nice. And so yeah, UConn was like called Husky High, like everyone goes to the state school you know so that’s like the safety you know, I just was like, No, I’m gonna go to a university like a real you know, whatever. There’s, this is no shade against any state schools like whatever. This was just my mindset when I’m 17. Anyways, it ended up being very fortunate because I studied ad design for about one semester and took an elective in surface pattern, and I had never heard of it either. But it was just the absolute perfect thing because honestly graphic design, I always wanted to do something functional I was never like into fine artistry as as you know in high school or anything like that I wasn’t, I feel like I’ve always been more of a left brained creative, so the idea of designing for a product, for something that people are going to buy is like just so perfect. But all the cute stuff, right that’s yeah you know just for decoration, I mean it’s really the perfect thing for me so I was lucky to discover it early.

Laura

5:35
That’s awesome.

Nikki

5:37
So tell us how you… what happened after that… so you found the perfect major for your skills for you and then and then what next? What was next?

Elizabeth

5:50
And then I graduated and I said I’m gonna take the summer off and then I’ll start looking for work and in August one of my college classmates reached out and said Hey, would you like to work for a betting company because they need some help and you know I put your name and kind of things so I sent my resume I interviewed a few times and lugged a really really heavy old school portfolio down to New York through the commuter rail and everything like that, all through the city. I painted in gouache at the time and this just giant portfolio and so I worked at a bedding company for two years and then did home linens, I did tabletop for four years in New York and then I did kids apparel for two years so I had a good career working in house for various companies in New York until I was ready to leave that behind and get a house and potentially have a kid and I didn’t want to do it on the subway, so I went freelance and that has has been a totally different experience. I thought you know, I say I’ve been working for 18 years as a surface designer but truly it’s been two separate careers like leaving corporate and becoming an independent artists has been so such a learning curve and so different than I expected I thought it was kind of gonna be an easy transition.

Laura

7:21
Tell us about the transition.

Elizabeth

7:23
Yeah, so I mean, I’ve told this story before so if people have heard it I’m sorry but I worked for Baby Gap for the last two years of my career and it was a great job I really loved working there and people were wonderful and I get to see all my… I was the baby designer so every thing in the in baby gap.

Nikki

7:46
You made designer babies?

Elizabeth

7:48
I made designer babies.

Nikki

7:49
Nice

Elizabeth

7:50
They were very fashionable.

Nikki

7:51
I think there’s a big market for that.

Elizabeth

7:53
They were very fashionable, I’m telling you, it was a great prop for Fashion Week. Yeah, no, so anyways, I knew different people working, who had worked at gap and then move to other companies in New York and some of them are big name like Victoria’s Secret and stuff like that, and I just kind of was like, Well, I’m just gonna work a little bit for the Gap for a while until they find my replacement. And I’m gonna be in New York for a little bit before we actually make a move so I’ll have some time to make some connections. And I’m just gonna find two or three clients and you know, do 15 hours a week for each of them or something or go in seasons or however you know, whatever works for them, I’m very flexible.

Nikki

8:38
Sounds perfect.

Elizabeth

8:40
And then there’s my living and I’m good. And the reality was, I mean, you know, I did I was lucky, I still was lucky to start out with Yeah, the first couple years I did a lot of work for the Gap. So I had a good base with that. And then I was able to make some connections, you know, from other colleagues and have some big projects but they were something like, Oh, it’s a big project and then nothing for six months or a year from that same company or I just totally fell off and never worked with them again. And so then it’s like scrambling to find other opportunities and clients and connect with people and it takes a long time to build up the client base that is, repeat clients, pay you well, respect your work and are fun… you like what you’re doing and you know, so…

Laura

9:31
So about how long did it take to get to that place where you felt like, you know, you, you had that clientele.

Elizabeth

9:40
I mean, the point where I really felt like I’m doing all client work, and I don’t have time for anything else wasn’t really until 2018 or 2019. So that so that’s just a random year, that makes no sense. But there was about four or five years, four or five years into it, but like that was all client work and freelance work. In the meantime, like when I was first starting, I was also starting to develop a licensing portfolio. So when I wasn’t working on… my plan was okay, so the 50/50 business. 50% is going to be freelance and 50% is going to be licensing. So when I don’t have client work, I’m going to just work on my own portfolio and that’s gonna hopefully, you know, eventually sell, you know, license. And so that was a good plan, it just didn’t really like licensing hasn’t brought me like a ton of income. And so it has, while it has certainly taken up 50% of my time, throughout the years it hasn’t been 50% of my income by any stretch. So I just started leaning harder into freelance work and taking more freelance work on and doing less for my own portfolio. And so that’s what brought me to a point where I was like, Okay, now I have too much client work. And okay, we’re done for now. Like, okay, you know, I’m full.

Laura

10:57
Let’s talk a little bit about the licensing, because I think you have an agent, is that right?

Elizabeth

11:02
That is correct. I am represented by Jewel Branding and Licensing.

Laura

11:07
Okay. And how did that come about? Did you search out them? Or did they approach you? Or what was that process?

Elizabeth

11:14
Yes, I searched them out. So like, I, a lot of people who got into surface pattern design around the same time I did well, I mean, I was into it. But you know, starting a freelance career, I took Lilla Rogers, very first, MATS course, Make Art That Sells, and in 2013. And it was a great course, very inspiring, as I’m sure you have heard, if you haven’t taken it yourself, it is very inspiring. And so she inspired pretty much like a generation of like independent artists to get into licensing and which, you know, for better or for worse, and so I was like, yeah, that’s cool. Yeah, I can just make my own portfolio, and then it’ll take some time to make the portfolio because like, most of… I had a portfolio, but it wasn’t anything that I owned, right? It was all stuff I had done for corporate. So I could show people that I know how to draw, but I couldn’t, you know, I couldn’t…

Nikki

12:07
You didn’t have anything to sell.

Elizabeth

12:08
Yeah, exactly. So I was like, once I do some patterns, like we’re just gonna, you know, I’m gonna be living off that sweet, sweet licensing cash. So, I’ve had great deals, and I have continued to have good deals. And I think that, from what I also do interviews with artists on my YouTube channel, and from what I have learned talking, I always am asking people basically getting up in their business about their income and stuff. So from what I have learned from people who really do make licensing a big portion of their income, is it’s such a numbers game, like, it’s so much artwork, it’s constant, like churn of artwork, that’s what it seems like, I don’t think that maybe there are different types of licensing artists, I think. But since it was something that I spent a lot of time with upfront, but I haven’t been, I don’t contribute to my portfolio new stuff, as much as you know, as much as I used to. And I’m going to chalk it up to that as the reason that I’m not, you know, a licensing superstar.

Nikki

13:18
Well, we’ve looked at a lot of in preparing for this, we looked at a lot of your, you know, interviews you’ve done and your YouTube channel, which, by the way, is fantastic. I just had to throw that in there, you know, you have a ton of great videos and great topics from like Illustrator, Photoshop, workflow, tutorials, portfolio and business advice. And I love the interviews that you do with other designers, for sure. But, um, but so from from all of that, I’ve learned that you are definitely more freelance than licensing.

Elizabeth

Yeah, yeah, I would say so.

Nikki

So, um, I guess you started with that. And then you you got signed with the agent? And like, how do you figure out that balance? And how does the freelance work come to you? Is that also through the agent or?

Elizabeth

14:14
No, so yeah, different agencies definitely have different agreements. But the way that my agreement with Jewel works is that my freelance work is fully my own. So they don’t get any cut of that. And it’s clients that I’ve sought out myself. And I usually say like, 75% of my art income is freelance, and like 25% of my art income is licensing. So those clients have come through me reaching out, through them finding me on Instagram through connections with other artists, who say like, Oh, this client, you know, I can’t work with this client, but would you know, like, let me hook you up with them. And things like that. And so that is, that’s how I’ve gotten that work. And I just as far as finding the balance, it’s really just in the past, it’s been, you know, just the idea of working 40 hours a week sort of. It’s like, Okay, if I don’t have any client projects do then Hey, why don’t I brainstorm about a licensing collection, I have some time, you know, so why not? Let’s think of something new. But as client work picks up, and like I said, 2018 and 2019, it was starting to, like, really get like a really full schedule of client work. That’s when you know, I wasn’t doing as many new collections.

Laura

15:39
So I have a question, when you say freelance, just to clarify for our listeners, you mean, basically, the work that you’ve done that is a buyout, right, like that, they own the copyright to it? Is that an accurate statement?

Elizabeth

15:53
Yes, that is… it’s not, it doesn’t always have to be like that. But that is true for me, I usually sell my copyright, but a little bit more specifically, I’m doing it to the specification of the client. And it’s not always a pattern. I mean, like, it’s not always like a, oh we want something with monkeys, can you design some monkeys, and then I sell it to them for whatever $700. And a lot of time, it’s ongoing, sort of, like production work, to some degree, or like, you know, I’m creating art for a whole suite of products. And so it’s like, you know, fitting things in together and trying these different designs for different products and stuff like that. So in fact, I do a ton of like, party paper stuff. So I do like, you know, birthday plates and napkins and stuff, and all the things that go along with that. And then like, all the decorations that might go along with that. And then you know, gift bags and wrapping paper and stuff like that. So a lot of times they’ll be like, Alright, we need five designs for like Christmas gift bags in this trend, like theme and stuff like that, but they’re giving me creative briefs. It’s not so much my own from my own head.

Laura

17:03
Okay, yeah, that makes sense, that you’re working on basically off of a brief.

Nikki

17:09
So our main focus with most of what we talk about is just about getting started.

Elizabeth

17:17
Yes, that’s why I love it!

Nikki

17:19
Yeah, we talked about your story about getting started. But let’s talk about some advice for our listeners who are trying to create a career for themselves like yours where it’s either freelance or licensing or a combination. It can be super intimidating, there are so many things that you need to do… you gotta learn the technology you’ve got to learn how to actually make patterns, you got to create websites, put together portfolios, research companies, it’s hard to know like where to start and when you’re ready and how to like put yourself out there.

Elizabeth

17:59
Mm hmm.

Nikki

18:00
So can you give us some tips about how to know when you’re ready and give advice to some people who are just getting started?

Elizabeth

18:09
I love that, yes. And that’s why I really love this podcast because you guys talk about a lot of the same themes that I like are really important to me which is pretty much the idea of moving forward, getting started, you know taking imperfect action, getting over all those fears and just like putting yourself out there. So I love that you guys have so much content on that and it’s definitely like a favorite topic of mine. So as far as advice for people… start now is all there is I mean that’s overwhelming and like crazy but like when you kind of said you know how do people know when they’re ready? It’s like you’re ready yesterday like if we…

Nikki

18:48
Well yeah, it’s like they say like the best kind of investing advice. The best time to start was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Elizabeth

18:56
Yeah exactly, exactly. It’s exactly that and so that’s what I feel about people who are creating their work and and trying to decide like, Am I still someone who’s doing this for a hobby? Or am I going to make this a career or can I make this a career? Or should I just make 75 more patterns? And the answer to me is always like don’t make 75 more patterns yet. You’ll get there you’re gonna have plenty of time in your whole life to make 75 more patterns you will be making those patterns but like start now with like thinking that this is going to be your like you know, if it’s something that really speaks to you that this is gonna be your career. Start with moving forward with trying to connect with clients and and doing those those you know, steps to get yourself lined up. And I know that it can be overwhelming. This is something I talked about in my course Start Your Surface Pattern Business. But the reason I created that course is because there are so many different things that you can do to get your business started and as I know you guys know from talking to so many different artists, there’s so many ways to to profit in this business. And yet it’s still really difficult and overwhelming because the options are like everywhere. So,

Nikki

20:10
Well the great thing is there’s so many different ways and the scary thing is there’s so many different ways.

Elizabeth

20:16
Exactly. I mean, I literally say that and Yes, totally Yeah. And it’s it can be, you know, paralyzing. So, boiling it down to the simplest steps and just like remembering you don’t have to overthink things and like, things like a website.

Nikki

20:31
Did you hear that, Laura?

Laura

20:32
Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh

Nikki

20:33
You don’t have to overthink…

Laura

20:35
I need that tattooed on my forehead. Pretty much.

Elizabeth

20:38
No, I forget it too. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely need to take my own advice more often. But like, you know, something like a website, a portfolio website, I think this is something that sends people into such a tailspin of like, Oh my God, I’ve never made a website before. Now I gotta find a web designer. I don’t have a brand. I don’t know this, that the other. It’s like…

Nikki

20:58
Wait, wait, wait, do we know a web designer?

Laura

21:01
I think we do. I think her name is Nikki, Nikki May…

Elizabeth

21:05
If you need a web designer, now I’m not trying to take away from your business. If you need a web designer, and Nikki is unavailable, after you call her, just know that it doesn’t the first draft of your website doesn’t have to be this incredible thing. You know what I mean? You just start where you are, you know, it’s okay.

Laura

21:23
Exactly.

Nikki

21:23
And actually, Elizabeth, the, the course that you just mentioned about starting your surface design business, Laura and I have been poking around in it. And I watched today, your super great advice on putting together that just your first version of a website where I mean you give great advice about how to start simply, and you don’t have to have all the bells and whistles, you don’t have to do everything. And you do a great job of breaking down, here are just the basics you need to get started. So I mean, you give some really great advice.

Elizabeth

22:00
Well, from a web designer, I very much appreciate that. Yeah, it’s low tech, it’s like just go for it. It’s really not that serious. And and I will say that, you know, that wasn’t something that I concentrated on. You know, it wasn’t like my main focus in putting together this course. But when I’ve heard students say, like, I have my first web… I did it. I did module two, and I made my first website. It’s like, super gratifying, because I know that’s such a huge hurdle for people because it’s so hard.

Nikki

22:31
It’s harder, it’s harder in theory than in practice, but it’s so many people are so afraid of it’s a mental, for sure. That instead they make 75 more patterns, because it’s easier for them to do than to think about what can actually move their career forwards.

Laura

22:48
Yeah, oh, it took me a whole year to do my last website, because I had it built up so big in my head that the tech was going to be so difficult. And I mean, it took me a while to do it. But not nearly, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I really thought it was.

Nikki

23:02
Yeah, really Laura, I watched you do it. And once you actually got started, you figured it out and you put it together pretty quickly and did a great job.

Laura

23:10
Yeah, thank you. So when we talk about websites, one of the main reasons to have one is to have that portfolio you were talking about. So let’s talk a little bit about portfolios. And what do you really need to start? You know, before you begin pitching, you said, don’t go out and make 75 designs? You know, is there a right number to start, do you think?

Elizabeth

23:32
Of course there’s not really, but I do tend to say like 10 designs, 10 solid designs. You know, they might not be your first 10 designs that you’ve ever created. You know, obviously people have to sort of experiment a little bit and figure out how to actually put together a pattern and work it a little bit in their drawing skills, you know, who knows, but, but if you have 10 decent patterns that you’re happy with, that you feel proud of, for where you are. Not saying I look on Instagram, and I don’t feel proud, because how many talented people are on Instagram, but if you’re proud of the work that you’ve done, and it fits in with what you’ve seen in the market in some way, 10 is enough?

Laura

24:17
And when you say 10 designs, do you mean like a just a single design or like a small collection?

Elizabeth

24:24
It could be either honestly, a mix of both. I sort of recommends like if a student was asking me. I mean, what’s the difference?

Nikki

24:33
A student is asking you.

Elizabeth

24:34
Yeah, exactly. I’m like, I don’t know why. Okay, so like ideal situation is what I would say is five individual patterns that aren’t a collection and then maybe five mini collections where you have one hero image, a secondary and then something more simple or like one placement print and two patterns or something like you know, like a group of three. I think that’s enough to get started. Now that really depends on what your goals are. So is it licensing? Is it to find an agent? Is it freelance work? That’s something you have to consider, like freelance work, you’re only showing your artwork to show what your skillset is, because they’re going to ask you to create new art based on what they need. So you just need to be able to show them that you can draw and can put something into repeat. For licensing, people are looking to use what you actually have. So 10 designs is not a huge bank of designs for a company to look through, I will give you that, but making that connection and having someone actually pay attention to your work can take some time. So get started now, and you’ll continue, you’re not gonna have 10 designs for the next year, you’re gonna have 10 designs now and next month, you’ll have 12 designs, and then 14 designs and so you have something new to send, and make that relationship happen. And then as far as agents, I have heard such different things. My own personal agent, I interviewed her and she said she likes to, like really hit the ground running, and she likes to see an artist who has at least 50 pieces. And then I’ve talked to other agents who think, you know, they kind of like to start with you and help you grow. And so seeing like, 10 really great pieces is enough, and moving forward from that. So that just kind of depends on I guess you know, who you’re talking to.

Laura

24:51
And I’m curious, when you do freelance work, do they ask for a lot of collections? Like do you work in collections mostly? Or is it single designs?

Elizabeth

26:25
Um, it depends, it depends. Um, like I said, I’m really designing a lot for product, I’m not doing as much where it’s really just a flat repeat. Sometimes, you know, I do design for apparel, and so that would just be a flat repeat. But a lot of times, if we’re thinking about plates, and gift bags and stuff like that, the front of the gift bag is something that’s really exciting and detailed, but they might ask me to design the side of the gift bag, which is going to be like a coordinating pattern or the gift tag, which is going to be like a just a little shape that’s related to that. And you know, things like that, or if you know, sometimes I’m asked to do just like the main dinner plate of a party collection, versus, you know, the napkins and the smaller, like dessert plate or whatever. And sometimes I do it all. So it just depends.

Laura

27:24
And from a I’m a finance girl, too, in my day job. So I’m always curious about these things. Do they consider these coordinates as separate items that they purchase outright? Or do they purchase like as a bundle?

Elizabeth

27:37
Um, usually as a bundle or in some cases, I do still charge hourly, depending.

Nikki

27:48
So they might come to you and say, Okay, we’re putting together this holiday, like, gift presentation and so it’s x amount for this whole product suite or something?

Elizabeth

28:00
Yes, exactly. And then when you get really comfortable with your clients, they can say, can you do all this and just bill me at the end? Tell me what it costs. And that’s, that’s a good spot to be in. You just do it, figure out how and then you know how long it took or how complicated the patterns were and then you can just be like, Alright, that’s, that’s around this much let’s say.

Nikki

28:20
I want that job. 

Elizabeth

28:24
That’s after you’ve got a relationship with them and they know you’ve done it for a while, because at first you’re getting the real like, back and forth of like, Alright, this is gonna be this much does that work for you? Okay, that sounds good. And, you know, and then after a while they get used to, they know that your price range is in their budget, or whatever it is, and you know, works out.

Nikki

28:41
What do you think is the way that most people wanna to pay you? Is it more hourly? Or is it more a whole project? Or like, what’s the majority? I know, everything’s different.

Elizabeth

28:56
Yeah, I know, it really is. It? It really depends, you know, I kind of go with whatever the client prefers. I mean, there’s a conventional wisdom, which I do understand that, you know, hourly isn’t the most ideal way to charge for the artist because as you get better and more proficient, you’re faster. And so then you’re getting penalized for not…

Nikki

29:23
…for your efficiency.

Elizabeth

29:24
Yeah, exactly. And I am a very fast worker. So I mean, I’m the first to say that that’s not always the best thing. But what I do is, you know, I’ve just made sure and I always recommend to everyone, it’s like continue to raise your prices, like if you’ve been working with someone for three years, you should have raised your prices three times at least, you know your rate. And so with projects, you can kind of do that a little bit more easily and gradually with an hourly it’s like they’re probably going to expect if you’re working multiple times together having the same hourly so you have to have that conversation really specifically. Whereas with projects, you can just start quoting a little higher and see how it goes I guess, since but you know, as long as you’re raising your prices, you know, sometimes it really is easier for me just because of some of the type of work that I do can be really, you know, a lot like back and forth. And then like add in this at the last minute. And there’s a lot of tight turnarounds in these kind of situations, and so sometimes hourly really just is like, almost simpler. Like, if I was trying to figure it out, it’s like, Well, I’m not really sure, because then you added in the gift tags, and then there’s, you know, like, Yeah, sometimes I don’t mind that kind of like easiness of an hourly fee.

Nikki

30:34
Pricing really is the hardest thing hard to figure out.

Elizabeth

30:37
It’s super tricky.

Nikki

30:38
Do you talk about that in the course that we’re taking, because we’re getting it dripped to us. So we haven’t reached that part yet.

Elizabeth

30:46
Haven’t gotten to the end yet, so all will be revealed in a few weeks. So the whole course is about getting started and finding those clients and then the, at the end, I have some things so as not to leave you hanging when you do find some. But I don’t really go deep into it but I have what I call the first clients foundation kit. And so that gives you a bunch of contracts that I’ve actually just upgraded this last couple months with with an attorney. So I know it all totally checks out for freelancing, for hourly, for flat fee, for licensing, for those contracts where if someone wants to show your work, but doesn’t want to buy it yet, because sometimes companies want to show… they work for retailers and so they want to show it to the retailer and get it approved before they commit to paying you. So contracts for that kind of stuff anyways, and then I kind of go into sort of like an overview of my my, you know, how I kind of like keep my accounting and stuff like that, like, it’s it’s simple, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. And that’s sort of the thing. So I do talk about pricing there a little bit and dig in, and what I say sort of briefly on the subject, and this is like evolving for me as well, I think the conversation continues to evolve as I get to here as more people feel much more comfortable talking about that, which I love. After working in house, I base my pricing a lot on how studio textile design studios sell their work, because when I worked in house, you know, we would just buy art flat out from from design studios, and I knew the price ranges for that, which is like around $500 to $1200, depending. And so I always sort of kept in that range. And you know, now, it really it depends, but I really do kind of kind of stick with that. And there’s you know, it’s really just like an evolving conversation trying to find out what other people are charging. Sometimes, you know, people are charging much lower than me. And then sometimes I’m, I really feel like oh, I’m at the higher end. And then I’m like, Oh, wait, no, there’s way higher to go like with my hourly and everything. So…

Nikki

32:00
In case we weren’t already confused.

Elizabeth

32:58
Yeah, exactly. Like I’m just trying to get as much information as I can and push it and not be afraid to have those conversations and not be afraid to move forward and know that when I first started freelancing I charged way too little. But if someone does that today, I don’t blame them for it, for starting, you know, starting really low. I think there’s a lot of like, pricing pressure in this industry of like, Don’t even think about selling, you’re like ruining the industry if you sell a print for less than $1,000. And it’s like, well, that puts a lot of pressure on new artists, you know.

Nikki

33:36
Yeah, if you’re just starting out and you don’t have that track record, you don’t want to start so low, but you’ve gotta have a baseline and you can always go up from there.

Elizabeth

33:47
Yeah, exactly. And it is it is really a difficult situation like, you know, topic. And I certainly I’m not one to have all the answers on that. Everything else I have all the answers, but pricing…

Nikki

33:58
Of course. I just watched your interview with Shannon McNab, where you were talking like you guys did an Instagram Live, I think, and you were talking about the difference between having an agent and not having an agent, which was really great. But I would say that, like your course is perfect for somebody getting started. And then her Artful Pricing course can be like a jumping off point to that.

Elizabeth

34:28
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, for sure. And neither of us teach – well, maybe she does in some capacity, but we don’t, I don’t teach how to actually design. Like I give hot tips in my in my YouTube and stuff like that, but I don’t teach like the very basics of how to create a pattern. So that’s, you know, other courses that are available.

Nikki

34:52
Although you do have some interesting, some interesting YouTube videos about like, workflow, and so it’s not the basics of putting a design together. But I like that you’ve got some information about taking those design skills and developing your workflow from it.

Laura

35:11
So let’s talk a little bit about this transition because you’ve been a freelance artist for so long, and now you’re also teaching others how to do that. Can you tell us a little bit more about how that transition came about for you?

Elizabeth

35:25
Yeah, definitely. So as I have said, like, in around 2018, 2019, I started having, you know, like a full client load, sort of like, finally, quote, unquote, and I was working 40 hours or more on client work, and I was at capacity. And then it was sort of like, Okay, and now what? Like, I can’t take on more client work, I can’t take on more client work. Like I can raise my prices and stuff, but they’re, you know, like, there’s nothing scalable here. Really?

Nikki

36:00
How do you scale when your hours are all occupied?

Elizabeth

36:03
Yeah. So you know, the time for money thing that we’ve all heard about. So I had done a couple courses prior to that in 2016, and 2017, smaller courses, like two and a half hours. They had a really great reception, you know, they were really, I was really proud of them, still am proud of them. And so I knew that I had like a much kind of, like larger scale course in me. I hadn’t been focusing on it for a while because I was like, deep in client work, but I just was like, ready to do it. And so I was like, I’m gonna do this. And, and so 2020 I headed it in with like, oh, gusto are so ready. I got a business coach. I’m like, I’m gonna nail this and do like a live launch. And, and I did, but also COVID.

Nikki

36:53
But also COVID.

Elizabeth

36:54
Yeah. Not to take away from me, because I did. You know, my first lunch I’m very proud of, but it was literally the week of like that, America shut down. So I got a little bit of head start on it.

Nikki

37:08
Hashtag, but also COVID.

Elizabeth

37:12
Little head start on it. Tom Hanks was not yet sick when I did my first webinar. By the time we were closing cart, we were all under a rock because we were scared. So no, but actually, it ended up being like a really, you know, fortunate thing, because I had already started making this shift. And so client work did well, I would say client work was slow, because of COVID and because everyone was kind of scrambling. But also I had zero time because suddenly I had two children all up in my life. They were in my life before, but it was, you know, like…

Nikki

37:50
But they went to school. And how old are they?

Elizabeth

37:56
They’re four and six now, but it was three and five.

Laura

37:59
Wow. Wait, and you still have your sanity? That’s, that’s amazing.

Nikki

38:03
That’s debatable.

Elizabeth

38:07
Well, it was a really rough year. So I did not have the extra time for clients. I wasn’t reaching out to I mean, I didn’t… if people reached out to me, I would, you know, do what they needed me to do, but I was not reaching out to anyone to say like, hey, just checking in, does anyone need any, you know, like, I wasn’t, I wasn’t doing any of that. So it was really fortunate that I had this course. And that first, that first spring semester was really, really fun because everyone was kind of like, oh, we’re all in this and this is something that’s really distracting us and this is you know, giving us a time to like you know, focus inward on our own businesses and not worry so much about what’s happening with the rest of the world. And so that just ended up being really fortunate timing.

Nikki

38:47
And are you doing open and closed launches or it’s evergreen?

Elizabeth

38:51
Now it’s evergreen. I do like promotional weeks. So just like last month I did a bonus week which basically is like when I’m doing like a webinar and doing some fun stuff, I’ve done challenges before, stuff to kind of get some attention but also having you know people who register at that like week that specific week get some extra fun bonuses. So a little bit of motivation, but then I always say like, Okay, well this is the end of the bonuses but you can still buy it tomorrow and people do. People still like, they wait til the last day and then like I’ll also get a couple after a few days after that finally caught up so yeah, but it is always open.

Nikki

39:34
Cool. And we’ll absolutely link to that and to your other courses in our show notes. Yeah, but let’s let’s step back a little bit to talk more about, about artists just getting started. And let’s talk about narrowing down, narrowing down what you want to do, narrowing down your niche and figuring out what’s my style.

Elizabeth

39:59
What should I do.

Nikki

40:00
Yeah, what sectors do I want to work in? Do you have any advice about that?

Elizabeth

40:05
Yeah, it can be really tricky and and I’ve had the good fortune of working in a lot of different product categories over the years. So finding, you know, I think there can be a limited view of what you can do with your art like as much as people are like, Oh, it can you can put it on anything. It’s art. It’s a pattern it can go on anything. I think people still think like, wallpaper, quilting fabric and like, I don’t know, I don’t know what the top things that people think about for surface pattern but quilting fabric is you know, maybe scrapbook paper I don’t know.

Nikki

40:40
Or like home decor.

Elizabeth

40:41
Yeah, upholstery, I guess or like pillows? Yeah, bedding.

Nikki

40:45
Yeah, looking at your art, your stuff, you have a very distinct style. And it’s, it’s easy to tell the background you came from because your work is young and cute and vibrant. And you know, you have a very distinct style. So there’s certain industries that that lends itself to but like, what comes first? Do you choose an industry and make your style work with that? Do you look at the style that you naturally have and pick an industry? Like what kind of recommendation do you have?

Laura

41:25
Or if you’re doing freelance can you do more than one style? Because you know, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Elizabeth

41:32
I’m gonna, I’ll start with Laura – all of them are great. So like yeah, finding your style is like a major stress point for new artists as well and I am surprised to even hear you say like you have a very distinct style because me, having come from working in-house I’ve done so many different styles that it has been really hard to narrow in on what I really enjoy because I like to try it all and truly what I show on like Instagram and my website are the things that I see as the most like me, let’s say, but if you saw my full licensing portfolio, you’d see some stuff in there that you’d be like what? who? why? It’s like hand painted looking and it looks really really different from what you what you see, you know when…

Nikki

42:21
I say you have a very distinct style, that’s what you’ve chosen to show us.

Elizabeth

42:26
Yes, exactly. It’s a very curated style maybe.

Nikki

42:29
I don’t know what it is all in that whole big portfolio but what your show is…

Elizabeth

42:34
It’s a bit of a mess there’s a lot in there there’s a lot in there. You can get a little bit of everything, a candy store.

Nikki

42:40
Well who doesn’t like a candy store?

Elizabeth

42:42
I mean, that’s like my new tagline. I’m so excited about this now. Yeah so I so actually having multiple styles is really great for freelance. For licensing it seems like zeroing in on a style can be the you know a better way to go to sort of have your own art brand. But as far as picking like what lane to go and I think it’s a matter of you do have to start with creating the work and you know, just having fun and doing you know as you’re learning pattern design and motifs and stuff. Doing the work and seeing what you enjoy drawing. Do you like doing more botanical stuff? Do you like doing more abstract? Do you like cute you know bunnies? Like what what’s what’s the thing that really like lights you up, what makes you you know excited and then once once you have you know seven or ten designs and you’re starting to like know which which ones you you lean towards and which ones you like, I think you can evolve your style by picking out you know your top two or three from that and seeing what about those designs do you enjoy so much. Like why why are those one standing out to you? Is it because of the motifs? Is it because of the type of line work you did? Is it because of the techniques or the scale or whatever and sort of building on that and so that is a way to sort of speed up the evolution of your styles like looking at your last five pieces and choosing your favorites and then seeing why, you know trying to like get those same elements into your next pieces. And then there’s some like hallmarks of certain industries where you know certain industries do look towards certain types of artwork, right? So fun juvenile is going to be more for well obviously kids is one thing. If you’re really into, I have like a little quiz on my website to help people narrow down their niches and basically, you know, kind of revolves around like if you’re into like celebrations and then like holidays and you really like the idea of doing all these different holidays then like you know gift wrap and party paper could be something for you. If you’d like more abstract stuff and geometric, then like apparel or home decor could work for you. You know there’s some other, you know certain motifs and certain colors and certain styles really work for particular industries or product categories I should say.

Nikki

45:17
Nice.

Laura

45:18
I’m really curious, of the work, you know you’ve done this now for 18 years. Is there a particular project that you’re sort of most proud of that you worked on?

Elizabeth

45:27
Hmm, good question. Love that. I think my… oh… it’s so hard to choose now but I really love to do… I have a partnership with Camelot Fabrics and I do you know, quilting fabrics with them and I’ve done now we’ve worked together for three or four years, I’ve done probably 10 or 11 collections with them and it’s something that it’s sort of what it was such a big goal of mine to get out to get you know, fabric licensing deal and you know, it was something I worked towards and was like actively you know, like I really you know, doing a lot of prints, I’m thinking about this as fabric, like I’m designing with this in mind. And so when I finally had that deal in hand and my first collection we designed, well it was already designed it was from my portfolio, but we kind of tweaked and then it was actually fabric and then I got the samples and stuff like that is like so amazing and now you know I get samples every six months or five months, I have stacks of them I don’t know how to sew so it’s just really piling up.

Laura

46:33
That was my next question.

Nikki

46:37
And really what’s more exciting than seeing those first samples actually in print? I mean that’s the best.

Elizabeth

46:46
So, it’s like it’s something that this many you know this many collections later it is a little like oh here’s another one. It’s a little less fanfare but truly if I think about it it’s still like oh my gosh this is amazing and when and when people like see it in stores and tag me and stuff like that it’s like oh my gosh I mean seeing it in store no matter what you’re designing, when you see it in stores or somebody else sees it and sends you a picture that’s that’s like… we don’t do this job for like riches but we do it for the dopamine of like seeing it in stores basically.

Nikki

47:19
Oh yeah, the first time I walked into a Kmart which was you know 20 something years ago, 30 years ago and saw a t-shirt I designed in Kmart I was like…

Elizabeth

47:33
You’ve made it.

Nikki

47:33
Oh my god, I made it. I didn’t actually make any money off of it, but it was there!

Elizabeth

47:40
That’s the thing, you know the samples are 80% of the like you know benefit of it.

Nikki

47:48
So let’s talk about – always going back to artists getting started. What do we do to get in our own way that we can and what can you tell us, what advice can you give us to stop that shit?

Elizabeth

48:08
Oh lord, we do get in our own way so much, don’t we? Yeah, you guys have so many great episodes on this too of just you know like the fears, assuming just like making assumptions about what is really happening and all that there’s just like there’s so much that we do. I’m trying to think about what would be… At the end of the day what works for me and I don’t think everyone has this personality but what works for me is really action. I mean with action brings clarity and I was actually just talking about this, well this just rang true for me like yesterday because I’ve been sort of moaning about oh you know I’m really in this creative slump like I don’t you know I haven’t had this many ideas lately and everything I make I don’t really like and this that the other and I’m and I’m like well what should I do about it and there’s you know, I have all these ideas of what I could do about it. Oh get some new art supplies and try something new. Take a class, do this, do that. And then I was actually listening to you guys’ podcasts with Lisa Glanz and she was like oh you know you need to you need to draw every day and I was like well of course I’ve heard this advice a million times right and I don’t do that I never have done that. But I was like I should just do a little mini challenge for myself.

Nikki

49:30
I saw that in your Instagram story.

Elizabeth

49:33
Exactly. I was like I’m gonna do it and then I was starting – again with the action – like you know I was starting to think like okay, well October is coming up, I think I want to do a Halloween, a little Halloween one. I started to like pull up Instagram and start to look at what people are doing. No, no, no, don’t look at Instagram if you want to have action! Throw your phone across the floor. Do not try to look at what anyone else’s challenges. I got a notebook, I wrote down seven prompts, and then I was like, Oh, I could do starting October 1 and then I was like today’s the 28th, we’re starting today! What’s the point of waiting? Just do it and I’ve already made two patterns because it’s been two days now. And I’m excited about it, you know. I was like I’m just doing you know 30 minutes like put a time limit on it put up you know don’t force yourself into more than you know if you get started and you’re excited that’s obviously great news but the same thing with anything that you need to do. Put a time limit on it, say I’m gonna do 30 minutes of this and I’m doing it today and you know just start, just go for it ,just get that action once you start doing it then you realize oh okay, well I do need to tweak this a little, you know you bring some clarity it gives you confidence because again now I’m like psyched to do the rest of my days. If I had done two ugly things I might be a little psyched, but I did some things and I was like oh yeah, this isn’t so hard and yes there’s cute things for Halloween and I can draw these cute things and it’s okay and like this is fun. This is what I love to do, this is what I you know, really truly enjoy so you know it brings that confidence back that you can do these things and just getting started is the best way to do it. I don’t know if that really…

Laura

51:12
It’s great advice for someone anybody like me who’s in Overthinkers Anonymous.

Elizabeth

51:18
I can get there too, I really can. So that’s why I was like why am I not, this is my whole thing is like just get started… an action move forward and move forward. Why am I sitting here like pondering How am I going to get out of this funk? It’s like just start drawing.

Nikki

51:33
Just do something. And anybody anybody who’s listened to this podcast knows that we are all about the challenges, so a 30 day challenge, 100 Day Challenge or, you know, if you’re crazy like me, you’ll do a 365 days.

Elizabeth

51:47
Oh my gosh.

Laura

51:49
Or just picking up your you know, your iPad and your Apple Pencil and doodling and just saying I’m going to make something ugly right now. I don’t care there’s nothing I have no attachment to it. It doesn’t have to… nobody has to see this thing. But I’m just gonna make something and it just sort of gets your juices flowing a little bit and you never know. I mean it could be horrible or some little aspect of that might spark something in you to go to the next step right?

Elizabeth

52:12
Yeah, totally agree with that.

Laura

52:14
I mean I was joking about overthinkers anonymous but I think it’s really, it’s really true when you’re when you’re overthinking something and not doing it you just get stuck in a cycle and like you just think and think and think that they can have all the reasons why you can’t do something.

Elizabeth

52:27
Yeah, you’re just throwing things…. you give yourself you know limitations and roadblocks just just come up because you’re like well now I need to… that’s the thing with the website it’s so overwhelming because it sounds like a big project but it really it doesn’t have to be if you just say okay, well I just need thesee four things. I need my top five designs, I need a little blurb for my about page, I need you know two sentences about what I do. And yeah, let’s start with that.

Nikki

52:56
And a way to get in touch with you.

Elizabeth

53:00
Yes, exactly. Call to action at every juncture.

Nikki

53:03
Definitely.

Laura

53:05
So can you tell us a little bit more about the free resources that you offer to other surface pattern designers that are starting down their creative path? Because we’ve mentioned a little bit about YouTube and how fabulous that is can you tell us what all you offer?

Elizabeth

53:17
I have too many free resources.

Nikki

53:22
There’s no such thing!

Elizabeth

53:23
I know but you know what, I want to like organize them a little bit because I feel like it’s like yeah if you land on my page and you’ve never been there like people do email me and like I’m so glad I found your page but I know that like then if they come at with me with a question and I’m like but I answered that in like six videos so you just have to find them. But yes my YouTube channel has a ton of stuff and I have a blog as well and the blog, a lot of it is you know based on the YouTube videos but there are some like standalone blog articles where I like answer questions and adjust different things. And I have a surface pattern boss toolkit is like what you get when you sign up for my newsletter and that has some different resources in it as well. It has some bonus videos from YouTube interviews I’ve done where we kind of dig more into income so that my lovely guests don’t have to talk about their income on like the full public YouTube if you sign into my like subscriber thing and get some more like you know, private details and but also like templates and like a course on like illustrator hacks and different stuff. So there’s some free resources there. Trend guides. I used to do a ton of trend stuff now, twice a year, but I love trends and so…

Laura

54:41
In fact, that’s how I found you originally or heard about you originally somebody told me that you had a trend guide and I went out and found that, so i think i think that’s awesome.

Elizabeth

54:53
Yeah, for four years I did a trend board every month for my newsletter. And sorry guys in 2021 I was like alright enough of this anymore but I still do it you know for a couple times a year.

Nikki

55:11
Talk to us about about trends. How do you know, okay we can learn about trends from connecting with you and signing up for your newsletter but how do you figure that out? Is it do you just kind of go out and research what’s going on or

Elizabeth

55:28
Yeah so I you know I never pretend that I’m like 1000 years ahead of the curve with trends. I mean, I

Nikki

55:38
Just 999?

Elizabeth

55:39
Just 999, yeah no big deal. No, but like you know, so when I worked in house you can buy these trend guides from these big corporations that cost like $2,000 and they’re telling you what’s going to happen in like the year 3000 and everything’s super like abstract I always like like you know just digital jungle and like intergalactic this that it’s like the craziest like, you don’t even know what they’re talking about.

Nikki

56:06
That’s because they’re just making shit up.

Elizabeth

56:08
Yeah, well yeah, exactly. And actually when I was doing my trend guide I think at the like at the end of last year I think I was saying I wonder how those trend guides are doing for the year 2020 like you know just what was coming in 2017? What did they predict and how did that shake out? But anyways yeah so me I’m way way way my trend stuff is way more like tangible motif based like because sometimes yeah, I get these trend guides and like I said it’s like a random picture of holographic material and like something and then some a picture of like a mural, a wall like it’s like what can I do with surface pattern on this this is a little too abstract for me. So I do stuff like bees and like 70s fonts and like, trying to think what was in my most recent trend guide I’m like totally blanking but…

Nikki

57:02
Well, you’ll have to share a link.

Elizabeth

57:03
Yeah, you’ll have to check it out. This is a spoiler, not a spoiler alert, this is a cliffhanger

Nikki

57:08
Yeah. Um, well we’ll get that link from you.

Elizabeth

57:12
Perfect. Yeah, yeah. But so yeah, and the way I find it is really just like market research. So it’s stuff that’s already in stores and so you know, it’s not 1000% ahead of the curve but seeing it you know, putting it together and seeing the things all lined up it’s like okay, I can see that this is a trend and also you can see you know, these trends last longer than you think they do you know, they’re necessarily like two seasons they’ve they’re usually three to five years it seems like some of them hang on for, so it’s like you know, if you start designing something that you know, I’m seeing some in stores and some on Instagram or you know on Etsy and and you start designing now it’s still totally relevant for like next season.

Laura

58:02
I remember when owls were out there for like five years.

Elizabeth

58:06
Yeah, exactly. Ten years it might as well be and cactuses are still still hanging I mean, they’re definitely fading but like cactuses…

Nikki

58:16
Succulents, all kinds of succulents.

Elizabeth

58:17
Yeah, succulents are, yeah, those ones are fading too but but you know, what I noticed about trends and I talked about this too is it’s an evolution right? So it went from cactuses to succulents to now it’s houseplants, right? And what’s the next thing after houseplants it’s like just it’s just moving it forward just a little bit and just a little bit different and yeah, and that’s actually something that is in my, my, like free toolkit as well as how I use trends to brainstorm new ideas that aren’t based on trends but they a lot of the times they end up lining up with trends because it’s like a twist or an evolution…

Nikki

58:52
A reaction to what’s already out there.

Elizabeth

58:53
Yeah, exactly.

Laura

58:55
That’s interesting. Yeah, I’d always heard that fashion was one of the places things start so if you’re looking at fashion and you see let’s say a lot of jungle cats, all of the sudden on the runway, then you you can think okay, jungle cats are gonna start showing up on water bottles, you know, we’re gonna start showing up on bedding.

Elizabeth

59:12
That is like the traditional thinking and also the European markets being being more advanced trend wise than the United States markets. So like when when I was working in house, my design directors and creative VPs would go and see Heimtextil which is like a big show, like a housewares show in Germany and you know, go to see print shows that were in Europe because they were a little bit more forward. But I think a lot of that has, you know, the internet has really tightened that cycle. Fashion is still ahead, but…

Nikki

59:48
Not as far ahead.

Elizabeth

59:49
Not as far ahead. It’s…

Nikki

59:50
Yes, I when I went to art school in Italy in the in the late 80s. So I was here in 1988. And the things that I saw everywhere, when I was in Italy, like four years later, I saw them here.

Elizabeth

1:00:04
Yeah.

Nikki

1:00:05
But that was pre-internet. So now, yeah, now it’s like as soon as it’s all over Instagram, then it’s here.

Elizabeth

1:00:13
Yeah, exactly. And I mean, I think there is still like, you know, a cultural divide, like, you know, there is some things that are, you know, more popular in different areas and maybe start out more popular in Europe and stuff. But it doesn’t it does seem to be kind of shrinking down. So

Laura

1:00:29
Awesome. So, Elizabeth, where can our listeners find you online?

Elizabeth

1:00:34
Elizabethsilver.com. You can go there and you’ll find my blog. It links to my YouTube channel, you’ll find my Instagram, I’m at @esilverdesign, because there was another Elizabeth Silver and so here I am. And I know, I want to reach back out to that person now like 10 years later, because um, I don’t think she does anything, but

Laura

1:00:57
I actually finally got my own name, by the way. Yeah, somebody else had it for like 10 years and posted once.

Elizabeth

1:01:02
Tell me what that process was like, did you DM them?

Laura

1:01:04
No, they ended up they Instagram canceled their account after like 10 years of inactivity.

Nikki

1:01:10
Because they hadn’t used it.

Laura

1:01:11
They hadn’t used it and I snuck in and grabbed it like as soon as they…

Elizabeth

1:01:15
Did you get like notified? How did you know? Did you just check regularly?

Laura

1:01:17
I just checked regularly?

Nikki

1:01:19
Yeah, I mean, I couldn’t get mine. I couldn’t get just nikkimay. So mine is nikkimayart

Laura

1:01:24
But E Silver Design is a great name.

Elizabeth

1:01:26
It’s fine, it’s fine, I’m not too worried about it.

Nikki

1:01:28
We have one last question that we always like to end on. And we’ve talked about this a bit, but give us one piece of advice that you would give to people who are just getting started, or the piece of advice you wish somebody had given you when you were just getting started.

Elizabeth

1:01:48
I think persistence and perseverance is something that is super important in this industry, or in any industry that you’re working for yourself, right? It’s self built, you have to make those connections, you have to do those things. And understanding that things aren’t necessarily personal. I think people take things really personal, but the thing is something that’s really served me well has after having worked in house is just knowing that like, it’s not about my the quality of my art, it really isn’t the decisions that are made are fully business decisions, they’re made not anything to do with how beautiful one pieces versus another piece. And so, you know, we get in our own heads about especially art is, you know, for many people so personal, it’s such an expression. So when we have to put ourselves out there and make those connections with clients or put our work on a website or just you know, get it out there to start making, you know, money with it. It feels like a personal rejection, a personal attack, when we don’t get chosen for whatever we’ve put ourselves out there for. But the truth is, it really is never personal, you know, thing, it’s really not about the quality of your work. It’s just about what was working for that product at that time for that buyer for that particular subjective opinion. So moving forward and getting started and understanding that it’s not, it’s, it’s not personal, you can you know, just just roll with it and be persistent and you will get there you’ll start making those connections and start having that success that you’re hoping for.

Nikki

1:03:25
That’s perfect.

Laura

1:03:26
Awesome.

Nikki

1:03:27
That’s perfect. It’s not you, it’s me.

Elizabeth

1:03:32
It really is true.

Nikki

1:03:33
It absolutely is.

Elizabeth

1:03:35
The stories of… because I’ve been in those meetings – I’ve been in those design meetings and the things that, you know, are the reason why one thing is rejected and one thing is is bought is so so so unrelated to the quality of the art. It’s what fits on the shelf. We have four other red designs. So there’s no way we’re buying this red design. We’re definitely buying this blue design, you know, or right, we did peacocks last year and sales were medium. So we’re not doing this peacock, we’re 100% getting the whatever other animal so yeah, totally.

Laura

1:04:14
Well, we just want to thank you for being here with us today, Elizabeth. It’s been awesome learning so many things from you about surface pattern design and about just getting started and getting that courage to get out there and do it.

Elizabeth

1:04:25
Thank you guys so much, I really appreciate what you guys are putting out there because I’m sort of vying for like a third chair in this podcast. I hope this wasn’t an audition cuz I didn’t do great, but I really love… if anyone’s sick.

Nikki

1:04:44
At least you didn’t spill water all over yourself like I did.

Elizabeth

1:04:48
Yeah, well, that’s true.

Nikki

1:04:49
And drop your mic on the floor.

Elizabeth

1:04:53
Fair enough. Fair enough.

Nikki

1:04:54

Leave that in.

Laura

1:04:54
Yeah. For our listeners, this happened before we hit record. For today’s Startist Society show notes and links to all things Elizabeth Silver, go to startistsociety.com/elizabethsilver.

Nikki

1:05:11
And if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, we’d love for you to leave us a five star rating and review. Reviews help us reach more Startists like you and keep us inspired to continue creating new episodes.

Laura

1:05:22
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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