(Apparently I posted this as a “page” the first time ’round. Let’s try that again!)
Last time I talked about a bit of advice that differed depending on who you asked. Today, I’m going to go over a piece of advice that was consistently given at Sew Pro: Do The Work.
Now, this is not any sort of implication that you, or I, or any of the attendees are lazy. Rather, it gets at a number of stumbling blocks.
Just Do It
The only way to get your name out there and become what you want to be is to DO stuff and share it. It matters not how many brilliant ideas are swirling in your head – only what other people can experience of them. This can be a hard first step. You’ve made a pattern! Great!! What if nobody likes it? Well, the only way to find out is to make it available.
Your Baby, Your Responsibility
Nobody else, especially in today’s market, is going to make your work a success. You may be the most brilliant designer the world has ever seen, and it’s still not going to beat a path to your door. You – and only you – need to develop a plan for your own success. Decide how you’re going to handle social media, build an audience, promote your work. If you have a distribution deal or a book deal or a fabric deal – yes, your company will promote your stuff. But they don’t bear full responsibility for your success or failure. It’s in your hands to make it work, cross-promote, and understand your customer. Every designer who ever says, “Oh, my company didn’t have a good enough marketing plan,” is really denying responsibility for their own failures. And when you deny responsibility, you can’t correct your own issues. Which means – your next project won’t succeed, either.
There Is No Shortcut To Success
There is no class you can take. There is no magic “formula” for getting that contract, after which you can sit back and watch the world go by. There is no path but to Do. I happen to be particularly guilty on this count. Hmmm, making surface patterns is really hard – maybe I should watch another Skillshare class. And, while there’s value in those classes and new things to be learned from different teachers – nothing can replace time in harness. I won’t learn to do it until I DO do it. You can take every craftsy class there is on machine quilting, but until you get out your own machine and practice, you won’t be proficient. And there is no amount of instruction that can substitute for doing.
Corollary – It is vastly important for any design work you sell to be you. Your style. Your vision. The world, as seen through your filter. And there is no better way to find your style than to just make stuff. Make quilts. Make patterns. Make surface patterns. Again, and again, and again. Until it’s second nature to draw from yourself in what you create – and not just imitate someone else or try to make something “trendy.”
Sometimes Education Gets In The Way of Experience
Research is great – until it starts becoming a crutch to procrastinate. And this is another place I’m guilty. Feeling uninspired? Maybe I should make another Pinterest Mood Board or go read some articles on surface pattern design. That’s OK – up to a point. But when it starts becoming a way to avoid buckling down and working on the project you’ve been “researching” – it’s time to tell yourself: Do the work.
Know When It’s Done
It’s possible to over-polish a project. Sometimes this is an anxiety thing. We want so badly for our stuff to be liked, that we go back over it again and again, looking for how to make improvements. As Tula Pink said during one of her presentations, “It may not be perfect, but it’s mine.” And Tula even quoted an oft-repeated maxim from Angela Walters, “Finished is better than perfect.”
So – go Do The Work!!