Today, we're starting a new feature, and taking a look 'Behind the Design' so some fab card & gift Designers and Makers.
Say hello to ...
Jennie Louise Whitham from JLW Illustration.
Tell us a little about yourself and your company?
I am a Freelance Surface Pattern Designer/Illustrator. I have a degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design. I have recently completed the amazing online E-Course 'The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design', created by Beth Nicholls and Rachael Taylor. I have my own online store JLW Illustration via Etsy, where I sell my designs on paper based products that I make myself. I also have an online account with Spoonflower where my designs can be purchased on Fabrics. I have 3 amazingly inspiring children and have been with my husband for 13 years; he has been my rock throughout my journey, encouraging and praising at all the right places. He keeps me grounded when I feel I'm about to tip off the edge, which can happen a lot!
Describe your typical working day …
I work around my children, so my average day changes dependant on them. My eldest two are of school age so once they are safe inside the school gates I come home and do some networking via Twitter, Facebook and often update my Blog. When my youngest goes to sleep after lunch, I catch up on admin, emails and sometimes I get to create a design concept or two. I have an agent who I send work to, so sometimes I will sit and contribute to an ongoing collection. The hard work begins when my children are sleeping, as soon as they head to bed, I really dive into a mixture of promoting my products, networking, designing and researching trends and forecasting. I often enter design competitions and that has helped me gain an online presence that is beneficial.
What is the best thing about your job?
That I get to stay at home and be a full time mother as well as achieving my dream. I have worked at various points where I have to be away from my children and it wasn't easy to leave them every day to go got work. What I do now allows me to be there when they need me, attend the school plays, and still be a creative enjoying my field of work.
Do you use any specialist techniques or equipment to create your products?
As I sell mostly paper-based products I couldn't live without my tools. My printer, scalpel, the various papers, my tiny desk in the corner of the dining room. Its all vital in my daily tasks.
What is your personal favourite product in your collection?
Currently its a collection of notebooks that I recently designed. I'm becoming quite fond or Nordic patterns, its becoming quite popular at this time of year, and I was inspired to create this collection as a gift idea.
What are the most popular products in your range?
I Sell a lot of Notecards and blanks, as they are suitable for any occasion. As I sell via Facebook and Etsy I tend to print as a sale occurs, rather than printing and storing the products. Here are two popular designs:
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm preparing to attend a Christmas craft fair at a local farm, so at the moment I am working on making new products, such as Keyrings, coasters, fridge magnets. Alongside that, a work in progress is going back to some old designs created while on the E-Course and re working them in the hopes to create a few new collections. I have also just released my very first collection of digital papers for scrap-booking and paper craft. I has been a dream of mine for a while now to create a collection as I've always loved scrap-booking. I made them a free item to download, which is available right up until Christmas. Click here to get the free download .
What do you have planned for 2013?
I am hoping 2013 is the year I can be able to work full-time from home. My youngest will begin nursery, so I will be able to spend more time focusing on getting JLW Illustration recognised even more. I'm hoping to open my own online store from my own website, although I intend to continue selling via Etsy; and I would love to expand my paper based ranges.
What inspires your products?
Whatever I see that I find beautiful. Sometimes it's something of nothing; an iron gate, cloud formations (I often take snapshots of the clouds), and sometimes other Designers (Pinterest is a fabulous resource for inspiration). What I know of all my sources of inspiration, is that it all boils down to geometrics. They literally do shape our world, so I am quite obsessed with making all my designs from geometric shapes. I love stationery, I always have, and I believe that a hand written letter is much better than an email or a tweet. So naturally paper-based products are what I like to create.
What other card and gift designers do you admire?
I have to admire the wonderful Rachael Taylor, she is such an inspiration. She has a range of everything out, cards, tea towels, tote bags, bedding etc. Such a determined individual deserves to be recognised for their talents. She has always inspired me and taking her E-course was the best thing I could have done.
What current or upcoming trend are you're coveting?
Nordic is massive for me at the moment. Its a festive time of year coming up, its always popular on paper based products and being a geometric fan I'm naturally drawn to it. I'm really looking forward to creating some neon patterns to turn into new collections in the near future.
Quick questions ...
What's your favourite book?
I read a lot of fantasy fiction, I tend to read collections over one book, my favourite collection is the 'Sookie Stackhouse Collection' by Charlaine Harris. My favourite design book is Print and Pattern, by Bowie Style.
What's your favourite film?
13 Ghosts – Horror fan!
What's your favourite album / band or song? (all 3 if you want!)
Album: P!nk The Truth about Love
Band: Lacuna Coil
Song: How come you're not here, by P!nk
What's your favourite card or gift brand?
Caroline Gardner has some fabulously comical cards at the moment.
What's your favourite website or blog?
Print and Pattern Blog and Dots and Spots Blog
What can't you live without?
My Wacom Tablet and Pen. I have a damaged right hand so I couldn't draw with a mouse, I can no longer navigate the Internet with a computer mouse anymore, so without it, I wouldn't be able to do what I do.
Last but not least, what's your guilty pleasure?
I like really trashy novels, something to get lost in and forget the real world.
Thank you Jennie!
If you'd like to take part in a 'Behind the Design' feature email me for a questionnaire.