116 – Getting Your Artwork Seen with Elizabeth Silver
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In episode 49, we introduced you to Elizabeth Silver, a surface pattern designer and educator who is the creator of a fantastic course called Start Your Surface Pattern Business. This week, Elizabeth is back to talk to us about reasons you might not be getting your art in front of potential paying clients. We know you’ll love Elizabeth’s frank, no fluff business advice as much as we do! 

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Laura

0:00
Way back in episode 49, we interviewed Elizabeth Silver, a surface pattern designer and educator who is the creator of a fantastic course called Start Your Surface Pattern Business. What we love about Elizabeth is her frank, no fluff business advice.

Nikki

0:17
And this week, she’s back to talk to us about reasons you might not be getting your art in front of potential paying clients.

Laura

0:29
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin

Nikki

0:32
And this is Nikki May, with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:41
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

0:53
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

1:02
Elizabeth, welcome to the Startist Society. We’re so excited to chat with you again.

Elizabeth

1:06
I’m so happy to be back. Thank you for having me.

Nikki

1:09
So Elizabeth, we’ve already heard a lot about your Startist story and career in Episode 49, but for those who either haven’t listened to that episode, or maybe just need a little bit of a refresher, can you share a bit about yourself and your business just to get us started?

Elizabeth

1:25
Yeah, definitely. I am a professional surface pattern designer, and an educator and I have been designing for 20 years at this point, which is way too long. And I started my career working in house for home textile companies and apparel companies in New York City. I did that for about 10 years. And then for the last decade, I have been a solo business and I have been creating for freelance clients and for licensing partners creating all types of art for products. And mostly I do work in the gift and stationery realm, but I’ve designed for a lot of different products. And so through all of this industry experience I’ve had, I have started sharing that information and talking about what it’s really like. I think my point of view from having worked in house is really valuable in the online space because lots of people are freelancers and licensed artists, and they’ve never worked in house, so I love to give that feedback as well. And now I share all that through YouTube and courses and my blog.

Nikki

2:38
And we love your YouTube channel and we love everything you put out, so we’re super excited to have you back today.

Elizabeth

2:46
Thanks so much, because I love your podcast. So…we have a very similar like, let’s just get it vibe, so that’s why we work well together.

Laura

2:55
We have a mutual appreciation society here for sure.

Nikki

2:59
So let’s get into the topic that we’re here to talk about today. There are so many excuses that we make up and some reasons are real and some are imagined about why we’re not getting our stuff seen by people. So let’s hear what you have to say on the topic.

Yeah,

Elizabeth

3:21
Yeah, definitely. I love this topic, because I mean, really the best way to start finding paying clients to get your artwork on products, whether it’s your surface pattern designs, whether it’s your illustrations, whether it’s your hand lettering, the best way to get your art on products is to try to connect directly with people who need your art. Art directors, creative directors, companies that manufacture goods. But so many of us are really scared about that first step, right. We work on our portfolios.

Speaker 1 3:57
It’s

Nikki

3:57
It’s so overwhelming. It’s like, okay, I’ve been making work, now what the hell do I do with it? How do I find people? Where do I go?

Elizabeth

4:07
I agree, it is very overwhelming. So it’s like, I know so many of us are working on our portfolios. Yeah, just like you said, we’re working on art, we’re figuring out all the programs. We’re working out how to make more marketable art we’re doing, you know, we’re building things up, and then it’s not going anywhere, because we’re not putting it out there directly in front of art directors. So first of all, I’m here to encourage everyone to start making those first steps. But I wanted to talk about some of the reasons that we might be holding back and I think the thing that I hear in the most general sense is I don’t feel ready yet. You know, I’m not ready yet, right? But I think we need to dive in when we hear that or when we say that to ourselves, I think we need to dive in a little deeper of like, what is the thing you don’t feel ready about? It’s not just a general sense. It’s like what what isn’t ready? What part isn’t ready. And I think the first thing that most artists are concerned about is their artwork. Their artwork’s not good enough. Maybe they don’t think they have enough designs to show things off. Maybe they… there are other reasons that maybe they’re not feeling that their art is good enough.

Nikki

5:19
Maybe they’re not sure that their style is cohesive enough.

Elizabeth

5:23
Yeah. Or they they might be worried about. Yeah, exactly a signature style or having a, you know, having collections in their portfolio, or having, as I said, enough designs, I hear that a lot. They don’t have enough designs. And so I mean, look, that’s a valid concern to think that your work might not be good enough. But I want to encourage everyone to try to figure out, you know, get to the bottom of that, I would say when we talk about not having enough designs, that is not, it really depends on what your goal is. Are you trying to freelance with your artwork? Are you trying to license your artwork? Are you trying to sell your artwork outright, because in some of those cases, you might need a slightly larger portfolio. But for something like freelancing, for example, you really just need a portfolio that can show off your skill set, you don’t need to have a million pieces. If you’re trying to sell your work, maybe you need to have more pieces, you know, if you’re going to a trade show, yes, you probably want to have a lot of pieces. But if you’re emailing an art director to say, I have this artwork, and I’m hoping to work with your company, you don’t need to have a ton of pieces, you just need to have work that shows your skills and is marketable.

Laura

6:46
Right, so you’re saying in a case of freelancing, you’re showing you have the skill set, so if they come back to you and give you prompts of here’s a brief of this is what I need, they know that you could actually create that artwork.

Elizabeth

7:00
Exactly, exactly. I do a lot of freelance work, so my portfolio is really about showing I know how to create the art that they might at some point look for. So when they come to me, they give me Okay, we’re gonna use these colors, we’re going to do this type of work, we want it to look, you know, maybe they see something on my website that they say like, Oh, we love this style. So maybe do it in this type of style. But what we’re going to be doing is Christmas cookies, and we’re going to have a phrase that says, you know, baking spirits bright or whatever, you know, something like that, and then I’m creating something new for them. So my portfolio only needs to reflect that I know how to letter or potentially draw something like a Christmas cookie, right?

Nikki

7:43
I know how to eat cookies.

Elizabeth

7:45
But I don’t have to have 10 Christmas cookie designs in my portfolio, right, they have to be just be able to show. So I think that you know, it really depends on what your goal is, but in order to show off that you have a skill set, you don’t need that many designs. I think if you have 10 strong designs, that you can start reaching out to people because it also, even if your goal is licensing, or even buyouts or anything else, you need to start making connections. Most deals don’t happen on a first cold pitch email. So you start to make a connection, you start to show off what you can do. And then you follow up in three months with more artwork. And then you follow up in another three months with more artwork after that. So you’re really just you know, making yourself known and starting to breed familiarity with with someone new.

Speaker 1 8:37
develop

Nikki

8:37
Develop new relationships, make connections.

Elizabeth

8:40
Yeah, exactly.

Laura

8:41
And everybody has to start somewhere. So even if you’ve never had any kind of freelance work, licensing, this is your first time reaching out to someone if you have you know, a solid 10 pieces that you can show them, then that’s great. Get them out there.

Nikki

8:57
And the advice that everybody in every business gives is you have to start before you feel ready.

Elizabeth

9:04
Exactly.

Nikki

9:05
If you wait until you feel ready, you’re never going to do anything. You have to get those first. You got to get those first rejections under your belt too.

Elizabeth

9:13
Yes.

Laura

9:14
Well, Nikki, we wouldn’t have started this podcast if we waited until we were ready.

Nikki

9:17
Oh my gosh, we’re still not ready.

Elizabeth

9:20
Exactly. That’s the thing. The best way. And you know what I also say to the people who are feel like they might not have enough in their portfolio is that two skill sets you need for having a career, an independent design career is being able to pitch yourself and make connections and being able to make the art. So you can be building your pitching skills while you build your art portfolio. So when I started my course Start Your Surface Pattern Business in 2020, I started looking back at all my emails from when I had just left working full time in 2012 and 2013. My emails were bad, y’all! They were really really bad. I actually have a part in Start Your Surface Pattern Business that I go through one of my 2013 emails, and I basically am like, nope, shouldn’t have done that. No, it’s gonna be better this way. Nope. I like self edit myself. So guess what, like, if I hadn’t done it like, it’s okay. It’s okay. You get better you practice you get better, you find a better way. And it’s okay.

Nikki

10:31
By the way, the title of this episode is going to be, “My Emails Were Bad, Y’all!”

Elizabeth

10:41
Totally fair. I deserve it, because they really were. They were long. And like, they sounded like kind of professional and stuff, but like, ooh, no one wanted to read all that.

Laura

10:51
Yeah, yeah. People, art directors don’t have a ton of time, right? So they don’t need three paragraphs about why they should hire you.

Elizabeth

10:58
Exactly, exactly. And your whole life story. And like, why you’re yeah, like, no. I mean, I had the credentials, because I had worked in house, you know, I, but I was trying to tell them, all of them. It’s like, no one cares. Like, it’s about your artwork. And so that leads us to another point, which is might be holding you back, which is the idea of being worried about sounding like an amateur or not knowing how to interact professionally, maybe not knowing how to present your work professionally, basically, feeling like you’re not, you know, in any sort of professional manner, in order to put your work out there.

Laura

11:34
And we actually just released an episode a little while back on that topic, I think, Nikki was episode 112?

Nikki

11:41
112, Presenting Your Work Professionally.

Laura

11:44
Presenting Your Work Professionally. So that’s a good place to start and take a listen.

Elizabeth

11:48
Awesome, yeah, if you need help on that.

Nikki

11:51
But for sure, nobody is super, super professional their first time out of the gate, you learn from it and you know, there’s tons of resources out there, our podcast, your course, all kinds of things that can help you. But again, you have to take that first step. And you know, your first attempt is not going to be the most professional, but you’ll learn what works from it and what doesn’t.

Elizabeth

12:17
I agree. And I also think, remember that art directors and creative directors, we hold these people because they have the power to give us a job, we hold these people very in high regard, I think people are very, like sort of scared. But PS like they’re just people and we’re trying to relate to people. So if you’re worried about you don’t have to have like a bunch of lingo and a bunch of, you know, professional, what is professional, it’s be kind, be respectful and be brief, as we just talked about, like it doesn’t need to be long. It’s really about your artwork. It’s not about, you know, some long, long diatribe about that uses a bunch of industry buzzwords. So really, that’s all you need to know, in order to be able to move forward.

Nikki

13:04
The people that you’re reaching out to are also people that were afraid to get started. And they’re probably concerned about how professional they sound too.

Elizabeth

13:15
Yes, and it’s a whole wide range of people too. Because I mean, you know, I get responses, and I have different clients and I’ve had responses and some people you know, are super on point and have everything all together and some people you can tell are flying by the seat of their pants, and that’s okay, because we all are too at some point, sometimes we have it all together and sometimes we’re just like, dashing off an email through our iPhone and just hoping it works, you know, so. So we get it, you know, we’re just everyone’s just out here trying to do their best, so.

Laura

13:47
And Elizabeth, another thing I’m thinking about is that I faced even myself is okay, I’ve sent something out to someone and it’s crickets, and there’s no response. And then it’s like, Ah, well, they just don’t want to hear from me.

Nikki

14:02
Or I wasn’t professional enough.

Elizabeth

14:04
Right, right. Yeah, you can. That’s the thing. We make up stories to make ourselves feel bad. Like that’s…

Nikki

14:09
But we’re so good at that.

Elizabeth

14:11
Yeah, that’s sort of how the human brain works. It’s kind of a bummer, but it is true. I always joke like, what if it was the other way? Like, what if we were imagining the absolute best case scenario always like they haven’t reached out because they are mid flight headed directly to my house to show up with a bouquet of balloons to present me with the job like it’s a sweepstakes winner. Like, that’s the reason not because it was the worst pitch they’ve ever seen in they’ve already like printed it in. The thing is, we do make up these stories. The reality is that art directors are very busy. They first of all, maybe they didn’t even see the email at all because maybe it didn’t go to the right you know, email address or that person no longer works there anymore or or, or whatever. Maybe they did see it, they wanted to respond, then they got called into a meeting, blah, blah, blah, we all know how our inboxes go. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right fit at that moment, and they don’t have time to individually reach out and respond. So that is why follow up is so key, you have to continue to follow up until they say, Don’t ever contact me again, which they probably never will.

Nikki

15:24
Until they block you.

Elizabeth

15:26
But until they say like, your art is really not a fit, like, it’s not you know, we or we’d never worked with outside artists, or whatever the situation is, until you get a real like, this is never gonna work type thing. You keep sending work

Nikki

15:41
Until you get that restraining order.

Elizabeth

15:43
Exactly, exactly. If they don’t show up with balloons, then you might know that… So follow up is everything. So yeah, the crickets can definitely be a disappointment, because I feel like we take it… is a big hill to climb to get ready to pitch your work to get that, you know, write that email and get that artwork, you know, set up and on to, you know, JPEGs or however you’re going to present it and, and then to like finally push and get the courage and push send. And we kind of feel like we got the top of the hill, but the truth is like, oh, sorry, you have to keep going, you have to follow up in a few months, you know, follow up in a couple of weeks, and then follow up with a couple of months with new artwork and, and just keep going. So

Nikki

16:31
There’s a couple of artists and different people out there that I’ve heard of who’ve done little experiments about let’s see if I can reach 100 rejection letters. And that’s an interesting way to turn it around so that you’re not afraid of the rejection. You’re like, Okay, let’s go get one more rejection. Because you get enough rejections, you’re gonna get somebody accepting it. So there’s just kind of mindset tricks to play on yourself.

Elizabeth

16:59
I love that. I absolutely love that. Yeah, I’ve heard of those type of things, too. And I know that fear, generally fear of rejection is a big reason why we don’t put our work out there.

Nikki

17:12
It’s huge.

Elizabeth

17:12
I have to say, like, if that’s something that’s holding you back, I mean, if you don’t think you can work through it, then this might not be the industry for you. We hear this about aspiring actors as well, right about all the auditions they have to go on. And all the rejection, right, there are just some industries that require a lot of rejection. And this is one of them, okay. We put out our work and we put it out again, and we put it out again. If you can’t deal with that real talk here. You’re probably, you know, this might not be for you, because you really do it is just part of the industry. But one thing I will say to encourage people is that I know from having worked in house, I’ve been in these meetings before, the rejections are never personal. And most of the time, they’re really not even about the quality of the artwork. I have seen artwork get taken off, get rejected, get get moved, like, you know, oh, we’re gonna put this in than taking it off the line basically. I’ve seen it for the most inane reasons, it’s all about, you know, marketing and the buyers and it could just be a color thing. Or it could be that they already have that theme or that theme didn’t sell well, last season. So therefore..

Nikki

18:39
Your work is too similar to somebody they’re already…

Elizabeth

18:42
Representing. Yeah, exactly. There’s 100 reasons. And they’re all like business decisions. They’re not like, oh, that, you know, unicorn that you drew looks a little wonky. So no thanks. It’s like it’s it’s like no, we have two other unicorns or whatever it you know, we don’t we don’t do juvenile.

Nikki

19:00
And somebody else is going to love your wonky unicorn.

Elizabeth

19:04
Exactly. Exactly. Wonky is hot.

Nikki

19:06
So on the flip side of that fear of rejection is sometimes people are afraid of success. They’re afraid they’ll be accepted. And then what?

Elizabeth

19:18
That is true so I remember one time in Start Your Service Pattern Business I came in, I was like all hyped up about – this was like for an office hour, so I do monthly office hours where people you know, we do these calls, and I came all hyped up to like basically shut down everyone’s like fear. So I was like, Guys, what are you worried about, about getting your work out there? And I’m expecting some of the things we’re talking about. And I was like, all ready for them and someone was like, I guess what I’m really afraid of is that someone’s gonna say yes. And um, then I’m gonna do have to do this job like then I’m gonna have to be like freelancing or licensing my work and then what I don’t know what to do.

Nikki

20:00
So there’s like, there’s pressure, there’s pressure there. If you get rejected, then you don’t actually have to come up with something great. You can hide behind that rejection. But if if they accept it, then you have to actually make it.

Elizabeth

20:13
Yes, exactly. So that’s totally valid. Like I do get that. But I mean, that’s definitely, like, okay, so you’re not going to work then like, the point is that you need you’re trying to, you know, is this is this the career that you’re interested in, because you’re going to have to get some yesses at some point. So we cannot let that stop us. Because the best experience no matter what, like, you can take courses, you can listen to podcasts, you can do YouTube, and it doesn’t matter the best, the best experience is just doing it and, and trying it out. And so no matter how much information you might have on how to do a creative brief, or how to work with the licensing partner, or any information that you might have talking to your artist friends who have done it before, it’s going to be different for every client and everything. I myself, like, I’ve worked with lots of different clients and I still have to ask a million questions when I start with a new client. And it’s not because I don’t know what I’m doing. It’s because every client does things slightly differently. And yes, there are some overlaps. And but sometimes there’s not. So it’s okay to ask questions. And, and, you know, just get to the bottom of what the information that you need in order to design and do the do the project when it when you get those yeses. So knowing that and knowing that there’s no secret to it, hopefully gives people some peace of mind.

Nikki

21:41
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s definitely understandable that that’s a fear. And, I mean, I felt that myself when I’ve gone after something huge. And then I got it. And I’m like, Oh my God. Now I have to actually follow through on this

Laura

21:55
Like an airport commission.

Nikki

21:57
Yeah. Like when you like when you do a 70 foot long piece that’s going to be in an airport. Yeah. But there’s always somebody you can ask. And if you’re too afraid to ask the client or the art director, there’s always ask

Elizabeth

, ask us, you know, there’s always somebody that can give you that little boost of confidence.

Elizabeth

22:22
Yes, that’s why community is so important.

Laura

22:25
And you know, another thing though, is, is, in order to get a job, you’ve got to reach out to the right person. And when you’re getting started, you kind of don’t even know how to do that. So how do I find that art director? How do I find that person to connect to to even send the email? I think that’s another thing that stops people.

Nikki

22:44
Well you take a course that’s called Start Your sSurface Pattern Business?

Elizabeth

22:49
That will set you right up. Yes, certainly. And that’s the thing there are, there’s so many resources out there you right, like that’s, that’s that’s an excuse for like, you know, 1992, but like…

Nikki

23:06
Pre-internet.

Elizabeth

23:07
Yeah, in 2024. On the internet, you can find the answer to anything right. I could be dry-walling my house right now if I wanted to, because that is how much information is out there. And I’ve never done that once. But I can do it because of the internet.

Nikki

23:25
I could I could build a school bus.

Elizabeth

23:27
Exactly, exactly.

Nikki

23:29
I mean, I didn’t, but I designed it.

Elizabeth

23:32
It could happen. It could happen. So that’s, that’s the thing that the information is out there. I mean, I certainly have on my YouTube, you know, I have information about that, you guys, I’m sure have talked about that on various podcasts and definitely, you know, Start Your Surface Pattern Business dives into that deeply and where to find but, you know, it’s like looking for companies that create artwork that you feel like is a match with what your art is. And then diving into finding who those art directors and creative directors are. And that’s also a thing you can do on the internet. So…

Nikki

24:07
And we probably have 10 or 15 episodes that talk about just that topic, interviews with different people. Yeah.

Elizabeth

24:14
Sometimes people come to me with these questions. And I’m like, Have you ever heard of Google because like, you know, like, I get it, I get it. But sometimes I’m like, Really, you could have typed that same thing into Google and gotten way more information than you’re gonna get out of my DMs right now. Like,

Laura

24:33
Although I will say it’s nice to take a course when all the information is in one place so that you don’t have to like search YouTube.

Elizabeth

24:39
Sure, exactly. Which is I mean, yes, exactly. That’s the benefit. That’s the thing, like you can find anything on YouTube, but it is nice to have that step by step those clear, you know, steps to go through and you know, when we talk about being worried of, you know, looking like an amateur or not having things ready, you know, in my course we talked about building a website first before we start pitching because you do want to legitimize your business by having a website, by having some social media, even if you’re not a huge fan of social media, having an Instagram that has your art on it, rather than just your cat is really going to make a difference.

Nikki

25:14
But my cat’s really cute.

Elizabeth

25:16
Oh, I know, I know you’re not on your other Instagram, okay?

Nikki

25:21
My bus is on my other Instagram.

Laura

25:26
All right, so let’s talk a little bit more about social media, Elizabeth. So I think a lot of people see it as a double edged sword a bit, we all have kind of a love hate relationship with Instagram. A lot of people are scared now of putting their artwork out there, and having it stolen, you know, like, Oh, if my idea is stolen, or my work, my artwork is gonna get stolen, somebody’s gonna take it and, you know, make it high res and use it on something and all of a sudden it’s on Shin or one of these websites on clothes, you know, that they they’ve never had a license for. Right. So how does that… How would you respond to that?

Elizabeth

26:05
Well, yeah, I definitely get this question all the time, too. And I think, you know, it’s tricky, because we do hear those stories a lot. And the good news is, as artists, you know, we pass those stories along and try to and sometimes use, you know, we see artists, sometimes using social media to leverage the fact that their work has been taken and have people you know, approach those companies and get it taken down as best they can, and all that. But the truth is, you know, getting your work out there, in all forms, social media via direct, you know, emails in any way that you can, it’s not a bad thing. And if your work is hidden in a folder on your hard drive, no one seeing it, no one knows that you’re a designer, no one knows that you provide this service, and you have this talent. So I mean, I’m really just all for getting your work out there. Keep it you know, social media and whatever. And kind of trying to put that fear aside, there are a couple things that you can do to sort of protect yourself like, you might, of course, none of them are foolproof, but you can when you show off your work, if it’s a pattern, not showing off the full repeats, you can show it on a mock up so it’s harder to just sort of grab a flat, you know, image, you can make sure that you put your logo or your copyright, you know, copyright, Elizabeth Silver – your name along the bottom. Again, obviously, none of these things are foolproof. If someone really wants to steal your work, they’ll steal your work. But I think that the risk is worth the potential reward of getting your work out there versus hiding it. Right.

Nikki

27:49
100%.

Laura

27:50
Now, you had mentioned having a website as one of the first steps that you should do, and I think a lot of people are intimidated by that as well. It’s like starting a website, do I need an email list? Do I have to do all of these things before I pitch my work to sort of show that I’m legitimate? What are your thoughts on that?

Elizabeth

28:11
I don’t think you need an email list. I do think you need a website. And I think that the thing about websites is again, God bless the internet. It’s so much easier now than it was, and technology because it’s so much easier now than it was, you know, 10 years ago to start a website, and I make it really clear, I know that artists get overwhelmed by the idea of starting a website because we’re visual people and it’s like, okay, now I need a logo. Now I need colors. Now I need this whole branding scheme. Now my work isn’t good. Basically, the idea of needing a website can spiral you so far that you are nevermind the fact that the website was to get you ready for the pitch, right? You’re like, that’s your next year of like, trying to figure out how to make this work. But I promise that it really doesn’t have to be that fancy of a website. In fact, it’s probably better than it’s not a fancy website that isn’t really just about clarity, about making sure you say what services you offer. So not just putting up your work, but also saying, I provide you know, I do designs for the home decor fields. Or, like I licensed my work for the gift and stationery categories, you know, saying what you do rather than just putting up the artwork, and making sure you have plenty of calls to action and ways for that people to contact you in order to work with you. But most likely, they’re not necessarily going to find your website right off the bat. But at least if you send your work to an art director, they can verify that you are an artist by then clicking on your link and then you can show them more work that you have on your website.

Laura

29:59
And I think that’s great. because one of the things with websites, too, is we’re not all SEO experts, right? So it’s not like you’re going to create a website and magically everybody in the universe and every art director is going to come and say, oh, there’s your website and your artwork, like you have to then pitch it.

Nikki

30:15
If you build it, they will come.

Elizabeth

30:17
Yes that is totally what I tell students to because people are like, we’ll be working. And they’re scared to push publish, basically. And I’m like, no, like, just push Publish. And if even if you have typos, like, I mean, obviously, try not to have typos. But if you have typos, I’ve had I’ve had typos on my website. I’ve had typos on my front page of my website, somebody will email me and say, Oh, you actually have that spelled wrong. I’ll fix it. We’re good. It’s okay. You know, you can fix that’s the thing. Everything is so easy to change like with. So I recommend Squarespace. I love Squarespace. After recommending it for years, I’m actually a Squarespace partner now, because that’s how good I love how much I love Squarespace. But like it’s so easy, you just you can change it yourself, you don’t have to be a computer whiz, you don’t have to be… like I had an HTML website when I first started. And I don’t know, HTML, it was a real slog to make it work like I did it myself, but with some help from my husband, who is a little more tech savvy than me. But it was really, really hard. Anytime I added wanting to like add a button or anything, it was like so difficult. Now it is so easy. And it’s so easy to just jump on your site and change something really quickly or put new art up or whatever. So it doesn’t have to be something that we feel is some permanent testament to who we are as an artist, because my website changes so often and has for the last decade like it’s been through so many iterations, it’s fine. If the first one isn’t, you know, pristine.

Laura

31:48
I absolutely love your website now. And you have such great blog entries. There are so many great resources for surface design on Elizabeth’s website. So you guys will have to check that out.

Elizabeth

32:00
Thank you so much.

Nikki

32:01
But I also have to say if you want some help building your artist website, I happen to know a professional website designer, and her name is me. So get in touch.

Elizabeth

32:17
Yes, you should definitely contact Nikki, if you want the help, but I was I did feel very special when you guys want. Last time we were on this podcast together, you had looked through my course and you said that you as a professional web designer, you thought all the advice about building a website was very legit. And I was like, well look at me.

Nikki

32:40
Well, it’s absolutely true. I mean, I do build websites for a living. But I can also say that, and I use WordPress, not Squarespace. But if you want to build a website yourself, there is no reason you can’t build a beautiful artist website using Squarespace without knowing much of the tech at all. So.

Laura

33:03
Yeah, it’s a great way to go.

Elizabeth

33:04
So one last reason that I sometimes hear from people is this idea of not wanting to bother an art director. Maybe this is your first pitch, but maybe it’s just this idea of like, I don’t want to send my work in and basically be salesy, you know, trying to show off my work. People have this idea that they’re bothering someone who is trying to, you know, trying to get through their day, and they’re showing up uninvited into someone’s inbox, which I understand, but.

Nikki

33:42
But that’s their job.

Elizabeth

33:44
That’s their job. Their job is to find artwork, and if someone shows up in your inbox helping you do your job better, then you should be happy for that person. Right? Even if that’s not the perfect artwork for what you’re looking for. You’re really helping them do their job. And I have this, one time I went into this whole like metaphor about like, imagine you’re trying to make tacos, you’re throwing together dinner and you don’t have any salsa and someone rings your doorbell with homemade salsa, like, you know, right? Like, are you mad at that person? You might be a little weirded out like I don’t know this person, why is she at my doorstep but like, you’re probably gonna buy the salsa like it you know, as long as it looks semi professional, as long as they have maybe a website that you can also go to.

Nikki

34:31
homemadesalsa.com

Elizabeth

34:33
You are probably going to be cool with that salsa, right? So that’s the same concept. Obviously your art is the salsa in case you missed. If you show up in and they happen to need, you know, disco ball art because that’s what everyone wants right now or bow something with bows all over it you show up in their inbox with something that they’re specifically looking for a theme that they’re looking for a type of style that they’re looking for. for that particular season, then you might be that salsa that there they have to buy.

Laura

35:05
Yeah, like 8000 mushrooms. Right. So everybody loves mushrooms.

Elizabeth

35:09
Exactly.

Laura

35:12
No, I love that. I love that salsa metaphor. That’s great, Elizabeth. So I have one last question for you. And that’s sort of around, you know, a bit of a somewhat controversial topic, right. And that is AI. As AI is getting sort of better and better. And even the a lot of the software that we utilize to create patterns, for example, Photoshop, and even Illustrator, now Adobe Illustrator, have an ability to create patterns in seconds that are vector. So. So how do you feel that impacts the market and impacts people who are pitching their work?

Elizabeth

35:51
Great question. Yeah, obviously, the AI discussion has been getting louder and louder over the past year, year and a half. And I’ve definitely heard this from people of like, Is there even a point in being an artist at this point, like, are getting started or getting into this field? And the truth is, I don’t, you know, I can’t predict the future.

Nikki

36:14
Oh, well, forget it, what are you doing on our podcast?

Elizabeth

36:17
My wizard skills are not yet there.

Nikki

36:19
Get out! False advertising. Sorry, carry on.

Elizabeth

36:26
We have to, you know, we have to imagine that, you know, the handmade aspect of our work, the human aspect is going to be a still an important part as we move forward. You know, when I first started working in house, working as a staff designer, I worked for a bedding company. And when I started working, we were working on computers, and but it hadn’t, it was 2003. And it hadn’t been that long, since they had done things by hand. And so we had, you know, designers who were like, we used to have to paint every colorway. And we used to have to, you know, hands, you know, tracing paper, this that I learned in school. So I also studied surface pattern design as a major in college. And when I did it in college, I learned it fully by hand. I mean, we use computers and like senior year, but I did it with tracing paper and wash and all this stuff. So the people who did it in the industry, you know, they used to do it all by hands, and it took way longer. And now you know, then computers came along, and obviously, much faster. And yet, probably some some people did, maybe they didn’t need, you know, 20 man hours to do a pattern, they only needed five man hours because it could do it on a computer. And the same thing is probably going to happen with AI, the thing that took us, you know, all day might take us an hour to perfect you know, to get we might maybe we get a rough draft through AI and are able to sort of perfect it. But yeah, at this point, we don’t know how that’s going to happen. And I think I think the best we can do is keep creating with our imaginations and keep the you know, keep the human aspect into it and, and use it as a tool for ourselves. And, you know, understand that some companies Yeah, maybe some companies that have low budgets will just go to AI and I don’t want anyone getting paid $20 for a pattern anyway. So if they, if it’s between that and getting some sort of AI thing, then okay, but let’s hope that the good clients still are going to be looking for something with that hand done touch, even if it’s digital work.

Nikki

38:45
Yeah, I mean, it’s, we have to remember, it’s just a tool. And really, we act like AI is brand new, but it’s not. I mean, it’s been built into the software that we’re using forever. This just, you know, it’s moving faster, developing faster and getting better than it ever was. But yeah, like you when I was in, when I was in grad school learning surface pattern design, we did repeat patterns by drawing things on paper and cutting it apart and moving it around. And so being able to do that through illustrator was like, I wasn’t afraid that, you know, nobody’s gonna want me to design something anymore. I’m just like, thrilled that I can do it faster and easier, so that I can do more work or more of the fun part of it. So it’s, it’s, it’s just a tool, and yeah, some people will use it in a really crappy way.

Elizabeth

39:43
Yep. And some people will use it like, you know, designers will use it as or wouldn’t be designers might be using it as an excuse, right? Why bother? Why get started? Because AI is just going to take over. Why do this because I’m definitely going to get rejected. Why do they is because you know there’s there’s a we have all these excuses that we can kind of roadblocks we can create for ourselves. But there are enough real genuine roadblocks that we should…

Nikki

40:13
That we don’t have to make up.

Elizabeth

40:15
We should try to not worry about the ones that we’re making up. Yeah, exactly.

Laura

40:20
Agreed and and I think there’s so much room still in the in the industry and so many exciting clients that we could all work with if we can get past some of those roadblocks we were talking about earlier. And there are a few people I just need to reach back out to after I heard crickets. I just gotta reach back out.

Elizabeth

40:39
It’s all about the follow up for real.

Laura

40:41
Yep. It’s all about developing those relationships. Alright, so Elizabeth, tell us a little bit more about your your course. Because I think you I think it’s going to a new version of it might be launching soon.

Elizabeth

40:54
Yes, I’m so excited. So start your service pattern business has been around I made it originally in early 2020. And my first launch was right when everything was shutting down back then. And thankfully,

Nikki

41:07
Which was actually a good time for online courses.

Elizabeth

41:12
Yeah, it was actually ended up being kind of good. I was like, Okay, I guess we’re doing this and my first cohort was like, actually, I’m really glad to be distracted and be doing this course rather than worrying about the fact that we’re all home right now. So anyways, so since then, it’s been around and I’ve, you know, made small updates each year, but this year, I am doing like a full rerecord. You know, reimagining it thinking how basically starting from scratch of like, how would I teach this if I am if I’m starting from scratch. And so I’ve added in some some really interesting sections, one of my favorite things I’ve added in is motivated mindset breaks, where we do the kind of thing that you guys do on this podcast, which is like break down these topics that are getting in our way, when we’re trying to move forward. You know, the marketing that I talked about in the course, is important, the strategies, there are plenty of strategies in this course, you know, I give lots of ways to find companies, I get lots of ways to contact companies, I get full templates of, you know, pitching your work, I have all kinds of resources, contracts, all this kind of stuff for getting ready to get your work into the right hands. But the truth is, if you don’t believe that you can do this, then unfortunately, you’re never going to do it. So I have added those type of things in because it’s something that I end up talking about all the time in my office hours, in my live sessions. And so now it’s part of the actual curriculum as well. So I’m really excited to be adding that. But basically, I take you through, if you have if you’re the type of artists who has all that artwork, but you’re not putting it out, the kind of person that we talked about at the beginning of this, because you’re like, not sure you’re not ready, you don’t know how to do it, I’m going to get you set up with you know, getting your social media and your websites ready, getting, you know, finding some community, finding those potential clients and then reaching out to them, hopefully finding some paid work. So that class is going to be the new version of the class is going to be launching open for enrollment April 3. So I’m really excited about that.

Laura

43:32
And what I love about your teaching style, and all the information you share, Elizabeth, is that you are so generous. And also, you’re to the point and you provide a lot of value without a ton of fluff. And I’m just saying this out loud, because I’ve taken some courses before that were like 90% fluff and 10% meat. Yeah. And that’s and that’s frustrating. Right? Whereas I think you provide a lot of value, so it’s terrific.

Elizabeth

43:57
I appreciate that. That’s why it’s been hard for me to add some of these mindset things because I know some people can feel like it’s fluff, but I do just keep seeing students struggling with the same thing because my because my original versions, you know, we’re very much like full strategy full like step by step. Okay, now let’s do this. Now let’s do this. Okay, next thing you need to do is search here and do this. But, but I kept seeing students struggling with the mindset stuff. So if you’re one of those people who who is like I got this, I just need the How to then you can cruise right through the how tos. But if you need to take some like slight detours and get a little pep talk, I’m there for that, too. So that’s what 2024 is going to bring to Start Your sSurface Pattern Business.

Laura

44:41
But let’s be honest, the mental aspect of this is half the battle, right?

Elizabeth

44:45
It sure is. Yeah, I’ve always felt it’s that important. It’s just that yeah, I’m very action oriented in my own my own self so I teach in a very action oriented way of like, okay, here’s your next step. up. But you know, I know that that mindset is critical. So it’s, as I said, it’s something that I always wove until sort of the live parts of it. But now I want it to be part that everyone can reference.

Nikki

45:12
That’s yeah, and we totally get that because that’s, that’s what our podcast is about when we you know, it’s 50% like, really specific tactical advice. 50% mindset, because we all need both of it.

Elizabeth

45:27
Exactly.

Laura

45:27
So Elizabeth, where can our listeners connect with you online?

Elizabeth

45:33
Well, you can find me at elizabethsilver.com. And I’m on Instagram @esilverdesign.

Laura

45:40
And for your new course, what is the website for that if people are interested and want to check it out?

Elizabeth

45:45
They can check it out at elizabethsilver.com/start.

Nikki

45:49
Or you can wait until we share our affiliate link.

Elizabeth

45:53
Yes, exactly. Check out the description in the podcast for Nikki and Laura’s link, because that will work just as well.

Nikki

46:00
Excellent. Elizabeth, thank you so much for coming back and talking to us again, we always enjoy talking to you.

Elizabeth

46:09
Thank you guys for having me. It’s been so fun to see you. And, you know, like I said, we always kind of align on some of these things. So it’s been it’s been great to talk through some of this mindset stuff with you guys.

Laura

46:21
I love it. Thanks so much for coming and we always have so much fun.

Nikki

46:27
To learn more about Elizabeth and read today’s show notes go to startistsociety.com/gettingseen.

Laura

46:35
if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, we’d love for you to share it with a friend. Sharing helps us reach more Startists like you and keeps us inspired to create new episodes.

Nikki

46:45
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.

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